LCD DISPLAY FOR PC
Here is a cool project that I think you might like.. During the creation of the mini stereo and the research process for mobile MP3 player, I was fascinated with implamentation of a LCD display on some units and wanted to create the same for my project or at least have a great addition to my PC.
The hardware aspect was not difficult but the software support made it very complicated when I first looked at the task. Changes in interest in this process recently has made it a relatively simple process.
Imagine a display of your PC's status. Time, Date, voltage temperature and even the size and remaining space of any hard drives not to mention, of course, a running display of music name, length, All of this is possible and more.
Programs like Winamp and motherboard utilities like BMB can now directly comunicate with a variety of LCD moduls using the HD44780 standard. The connection for the LCD can be made to any serial port or parallel port. I decided that the parallel port was the most viable port as my printer is USB as is most of my other devices. I think the writers of some of the utilities necesary considered the same thing when they created the program or atleast came to this assumption .
I fitted the display module into a floppy disk 5 1/4 bay adapter and routed the cableing through the case to the port in the rear of the machine. We won't discuss cosmetic construction and I leave this part to your own ingenuity.
Keep in mind that you should have reasonable knowledge of your PC and electronics to attempt this. I assume no liability for any damage you may create by inexperience.
You will need a LCD module, a 10k potentiometer to control the display contrast, and an optional switch to control the backlight display if your display has one. You can use either a 2 or 4 row display with 16,20 or 40 characters. To power the display you will need a molex power adapter but only if the display has a backlight. The parallel port can power the LCD directly but doesn't have the current to feed the backlight.. I got my molex connector from an old 486 fan. I used a parallel pass through cable cut in half for the data line.
Once your parts are collected, famiiliarize your self with all the components. As always handle the LCD and your computer with care and beware of static. As in all electronic components, the display is extremely sensitive to discharge.
To limit confusion and to support my own laziness, the schematic above is drawn to show the connections if you have a backlight display and no power is taken from the parallel port. Note the 100 ohm potentiometer was a consideration for dimming the backlight but isn't necesary. The chart below is based on no back light and all power drawn from the parallel port. You should receive a data sheet with the display. Ask for it and study it before construction.
The finished display.
Power down the computer and attach the display to the power first, then connect the data cable and turn on the machine. The display should display a row of squares as above. If all is ok, proceed to the cosmetic portion and install your new display.
PROGRAMMING & SOFTWARE
The software part is actually quite easy as the hard stuff has been done for us. For the music display you need to download WINAMP ver 3. You will also require the LCD plugin available from the winamp web site under plugins. The display of critical system info is provided via a utility called MBM. Most motherboard manufacturers provide this utility with the motherboard but you can down load this at CNET.COM
The main program that brings it all together is LCD CENTER. This program takes all the information from both MBM and WINAMP plugin and provides the apropriate output to the LCD. Note that you only have the selection of COM1-4 in the configuration window. If you use the HD44780 device, it will assume a parallel connection. If you need to add a port to the list for what ever reason you can accomplish this by downloading an old VB program called "port95nt". A link for this can be found at the bottom of the page. Make sure you load this program first if you decide that you need this as the program adds the port to LCD CENTER during installation.
The setup is quite simple. If you are using a HD44780 LCD, under the LCD settings you need only adjust the driver, rows and Cols.
The left hand portion of the screen is the variables window and shows you as reference what information can be displayed. The tabs running vertical switch between assigned variables for each section. The right hand top, "DISPLAY", shows 2 lines that represent the actual LCD display and where in the display this info will appear. You can control wether the info scrolls or not as well as the length of time the display will hold before switching to the next screen. You can custom edit your display by removing the variables from the text window and selectng the appropriate variable in the left window and clicking "insert" at the bottom left. You use the pull down menu at the top right to select between each display screen. Once the customization is complete, save the profile in the bottom right window. You will now have to place the run time file (lcd center) in the startup directory to auto start the program when you turn on the computer....Enjoy!
WINAMP ver3................. www.winamp.com
Much thanks to the following for there creations, input, consideration and Energy.
Over Clockers Australia.
Borderfiield ( LCD Center)
Winamp ( media player)
Mike Lynch ( LCD Center)