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Adafruit I2C / SPI character LCD backpack

by Adafruit

LCD backpacks reduce the number of pins needed to connect to an LCD. LCDs are a fun and easy way to have your microcontroller project talk back to you.

Character LCDs are common, and easy to get, available in tons of colors and sizes. Adafruit have written tutorials on using character LCDs with an Arduino (or similar microcontroller) but find that the number of pins necessary to control the LCD can be restrictive, especially with ambitious projects. They wanted to make a 'backpack' (add-on circuit) that would reduce the number of pins without a lot of expense.

By using simple i2c and SPI input/output expanders they have reduced the number of pins (only 2 pins are needed for i2c) while still making it easy to interface with the LCD. For Arduino users, they provide an easy-to-use library that is backwards compatible with projects using the '6 pin' wiring. The breakout comes with a 2-pin and 3-pin terminal block as shown (you can snap it together to make a 5-pin terminal and then solder it to the backpack for easy wiring)

This backpack will work with any 'standard' character LCD, from 8x1 to 20x4 sizes! As long as they have a 16-pin single-line connection header at the top. It does not work with the 16x2 OLED displays.

For advanced users, this project can be used for general purpose I/O expansion, the MCP23008 has 8 i/o pins (7 are connected) with optional pull-ups, the SPI 74HC595 has 7 connected outputs.

Note: The terminal blocks included with your product may be blue or black.

For a detailed tutorial on usage, including an Arduino library, wiring diagrams, and files, please visit the product page

TECHNICAL DETAILS

EagleCAD PCB GitHub files and Fritzing object available in the product tutorial

  • This board/chip uses I2C 7-bit address between 0x20-0x27, selectable with jumpers
  • Works with 16x2 and 20x4 Character LCDs
  • It does not work with 16x2 OLED displays