Basic Character LCD Hookup Guide

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Introduction

Printing data to a serial terminal is a great way to see data from a microcontroller. But, what if you want to make your project mobile and see sensor values away from your computer? Liquid crystal displays (LCDs) are a great way to output a string of words or sensor data to a display for visual feedback. In this tutorial, we'll learn about LCDs and how to print a strings of words to a basic character LCD.

Basic 16x2 Character LCD - White on Black 5V

Basic 16x2 Character LCD - White on Black 5V

LCD-00709
$18.95
13

Required Materials

To follow along with this tutorial, you will need the following materials. You may not need everything though depending on what you have. Add it to your cart, read through the guide, and adjust the cart as necessary.

SparkFun RedBoard - Programmed with Arduino

SparkFun RedBoard - Programmed with Arduino

DEV-13975
$19.95
47
Breadboard - Self-Adhesive (White)

Breadboard - Self-Adhesive (White)

PRT-12002
$4.95
41
Jumper Wires Standard 7" M/M - 30 AWG (30 Pack)

Jumper Wires Standard 7" M/M - 30 AWG (30 Pack)

PRT-11026
$2.25
20
Break Away Headers - Straight

Break Away Headers - Straight

PRT-00116
$1.50
20
Basic 16x2 Character LCD - White on Black 5V

Basic 16x2 Character LCD - White on Black 5V

LCD-00709
$18.95
13
SparkFun USB Mini-B Cable - 6 Foot

SparkFun USB Mini-B Cable - 6 Foot

CAB-11301
$3.95
2

While not necessary, we'll be using a breadboard holder to hold the circuit together.

Arduino and Breadboard Holder

Arduino and Breadboard Holder

DEV-11235
$3.95
13
SparkFun Mini Screwdriver

SparkFun Mini Screwdriver

TOL-09146
$0.95
3

Depending on your LCD's specifications, the input voltage may be 3.3V or 5V. For the LCDs listed below, the input voltage for the LCD must be 3.3V. The logic levels will be the same as the input voltage.

Tools

You will need a soldering iron, solder, and general soldering accessories.

Soldering Iron - 60W (Adjustable Temperature)

Soldering Iron - 60W (Adjustable Temperature)

TOL-14456
$14.95
11
Solder Lead Free - 15-gram Tube

Solder Lead Free - 15-gram Tube

TOL-09163
$3.50
2

Suggested Reading

If you aren’t familiar with the following concepts, we recommend checking out these tutorials before continuing.

Binary

Binary is the numeral system of electronics and programming...so it must be important to learn. But, what is binary? How does it translate to other numeral systems like decimal?

What is an Arduino?

What is this 'Arduino' thing anyway? This tutorials dives into what an Arduino is and along with Arduino projects and widgets.

Installing Arduino IDE

A step-by-step guide to installing and testing the Arduino software on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Logic Levels

Learn the difference between 3.3V and 5V devices and logic levels.