Aftermarket OLED/LCD/VFD front panel displays - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 04-26-2011, 06:02 PM - Thread Starter
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I've had cases with both VFD and LCD Soundgraph iMon models integrated into them - and to be honest haven't liked either that much (software and hardware - particularly not being able to disable the IR receiver without disabling the display as well for instance).

Does anyone have any experience of rolling their own - or a source of HTPC-friendly OLED displays? I really just want to display useful stuff in Media Center like channel and programme being viewed, elapsed time when watching DVDs etc.

I have a few bits of equipment (DAB Radio, Huawei MiFis etc.) with really nice clear OLED displays - and it would great if I could install one in one of my HTPCs in place of the iMon LCD/VFDs...

I have parallel and serial/COM port headers on my motherboard as well as USB headers. It looks like LCDWriter or LCDSmartie are the right kind of software to use - and HD47780 compatiblity is a 'good thing'.

Anyone else done this? I've looked at Crystalfontz and Matrix Orbital but neither seem to do quite the right thing.
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post #2 of 20 Old 05-18-2011, 05:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Well - as nobody seemed to have any suggestions I went down the homebrew route!

Definitely a work in progress, but since I last posted I've researched components and built a working prototype!

Winstar make some nice OLED character displays that are very close to HD44780 LCD compatible and look a LOT better than LCD displays - I've got a 16x2 Amber model running at the moment.

I've interfaced this to an Arduino Uno (will use a Nano when installed internally) which connects to the PC via USB (appearing as a COM port) and the Arduino is running some code emulating a Matrix Orbital display. Using LCDWriter with a Matrix Orbital LCD Smartie DLL I've got Media Center status working - so I get the title of my recorded or live shows - and for DVDs and Recorded programmes I get duration and current playing time displayed (There's a bug in the way Media Center reports timing on Live TV which was introduced with Windows 7 which apparently means you don't get position and duration in Live TV properly. MS are apparently deprecating the MSAS system that allows other apps to know what Media Center is doing, and are thus not bug fixing it...)

It's not finished by any means - and I've now found a 20x2 Amber OLED is likely to be sold in the UK (I had to import the 2x16 display from the US) - but it looks a lot nicer than the Soundgraph iMon LCD did (and I think it is nicer than their VFDs as well).

I've also found a fully Media Center eHome compatible USB IR receiver which is not much bigger than a USB plug - which will also fit inside my case - so with the right internal USB motherboard header to USB A Socket and Mini-B Plug cable, I'll have a neat internal OLED display and IR receiver solution.

Wish someone made this - but I've learned a bit about LCD and OLED displays and Arduinos, and I might even get into C# or C++ to develop my own drivers if I get time...

Here's a quick pic of the current work-in-progress. (NB protective plastic film still on display!)


The garbage character bottom left should be a Play/Pause/FF/REW/Rec/Stop icon but I haven't got the custom character stuff debugged yet. I'm also struggling to get European accented characters like ÅÖÄÆØåöäæø to display correctly (important to me as I watch Nordic TV in Media Center) - but this appears to be nothing to do with the Arduino code and either LCDWriter or the LCDSmartie DLL is replacing non-standard ASCII characters with ?s (confirmed by PortMon-ing the output sent to the Arduino)
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post #3 of 20 Old 05-18-2011, 06:06 PM
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Depends what u want displayed.

I run smartie on a parallel port Displaying CPU Load/Network throughput/Physical Mem.

At the same time am running 2 instances of LCDC displaying Winamp Player info mostly. The double 47780 displays are hooked up like this: USB-(converter)-RS232-XBOARD-(converts RS232 to parallel AND interpret Matrix Orbital commands)-447780.
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post #4 of 20 Old 05-18-2011, 06:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrBobb View Post
Depends what u want displayed.

I run smartie on a parallel port Displaying CPU Load/Network throughput/Physical Mem.

At the same time am running 2 instances of LCDC displaying Winamp Player info mostly. The double 47780 displays are hooked up like this: USB-(converter)-RS232-XBOARD-(converts RS232 to parallel AND interpret Matrix Orbital commands)-447780.
Hi MrBobb - I particularly wanted output from Windows Media Center - and Frontview (the iMon software) did this but was really buggy (and the LCD display was awful) - but when it worked I liked what it did. LCDWriter seems to be pretty solid. It would be nice if I could also get PowerDVD stuff onto the display as well - but Media Center was the most important for me.

The reason I went the Arduino route (rather than a USB to serial to parallel route, or just a straight parallel route) was that it allowed me to customise the OLED specific bits of the code without having to delve into PC drivers. The OLED has 4 different font tables (Eng/Jap, Eng/WestEurI, Eng/Russ, Eng/WestEurII) unlike most HD44780s which only have one - so there are a few extensions to handle font table selection, as well as internal power control, and it looked as if it was easy-ish to modify this stuff in an Arduino (which is simple to prototype and re-program). Plus the Arduino is kind of a fun thing to learn about and play with !

I'm really pleased with the quality of display you get with the OLEDs (great contrast and very fast refresh) - and although they're character displays like the HD44780 LCDs, there are no gaps between the dots between characters - and there is an extension to the HD44780 emulation that allows you to run the display bitmapped rather than character mapped. Not something I'm looking to do at the moment - but potentially a very neat solution.
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post #5 of 20 Old 06-02-2011, 11:02 AM
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try this:

mcedll.codeplex.com

it shows media centre info via lcdsmartie and tcpcontroller and you can show other stuff with lcdsmartie too.
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post #6 of 20 Old 06-02-2011, 11:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dperrow View Post
try this:

mcedll.codeplex.com

it shows media centre info via lcdsmartie and tcpcontroller and you can show other stuff with lcdsmartie too.
Thanks for sharing, I'll check it out this PM when I get home.

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post #7 of 20 Old 04-12-2012, 01:19 PM
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How did this work out?

I would like to do something like this, mainly to get a status display of Media Center recording status, i.e. when the main display is off have the HTPC display show e.g. "Currently recording Lost S99e72 on Fox" or "Next scheduled recording @21.00 - Dexter on Canal+ Series" etc.

Has anyone done this?
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post #8 of 20 Old 04-12-2012, 01:58 PM
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I've searched high and low, east (literally) and west for the same to no avail. It does look like homebrew is the solution. Thanks for the information.

 

 

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post #9 of 20 Old 04-12-2012, 05:46 PM
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I just bump my mouse and up pops all that info.
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post #10 of 20 Old 04-13-2012, 03:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkro View Post

I just bump my mouse and up pops all that info.

Your mouse has a display??
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post #11 of 20 Old 04-13-2012, 03:27 PM
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?????????

-

"Too much is almost enough. Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards."
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post #12 of 20 Old 04-13-2012, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by politby View Post

Your mouse has a display??

No, I have a wireless mouse and mouse pad on the table next to my lazy-boy. I just read the time info, scrolling and what not that pops up in WMC when you move the mouse.
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post #13 of 20 Old 04-13-2012, 03:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by politby View Post

How did this work out?

I would like to do something like this, mainly to get a status display of Media Center recording status, i.e. when the main display is off have the HTPC display show e.g. "Currently recording Lost S99e72 on Fox" or "Next scheduled recording @21.00 - Dexter on Canal+ Series" etc.

Has anyone done this?

I don't think it will tell you the next recording, but I know when I use VL System software on my VFD, it will say what's playing or recording and on what channel. The same software is used by nMEDIAPC's LCDs/VFDs since VL System got bought out by them. You can also configure them for use with LCD Smartie, which has a wide variety of customization options. I'm sure you could make a custom config with LCD Smartie to give you your list of next scheduled recordings on the info display. EDIT: yes, it looks like you can display the next scheduled recordings in LCD Smartie with the MCE dll plugin.

Here's what my nMEDIAPC LCD looks like in my HTPC for example:
http://youtu.be/KIlCH_efUlo
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post #14 of 20 Old 04-13-2012, 04:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StardogChampion View Post

I've searched high and low, east (literally) and west for the same to no avail. It does look like homebrew is the solution. Thanks for the information.

Do you run one?

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post #15 of 20 Old 04-13-2012, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

Do you run one?

No, I haven't build a display. I've been looking into it however. Mouser.com has a good selection of raw displays.

For now I'll just have to drink homebrew.

 

 

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post #16 of 20 Old 04-15-2012, 02:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by w1retap View Post

I don't think it will tell you the next recording, but I know when I use VL System software on my VFD, it will say what's playing or recording and on what channel. The same software is used by nMEDIAPC's LCDs/VFDs since VL System got bought out by them. You can also configure them for use with LCD Smartie, which has a wide variety of customization options. I'm sure you could make a custom config with LCD Smartie to give you your list of next scheduled recordings on the info display. EDIT: yes, it looks like you can display the next scheduled recordings in LCD Smartie with the MCE dll plugin.

Thanks for the pointer! Just ordered a display from nmedia. Now I just have to find a case to put it in - need an mITX case that has a display window, not that easy to find...
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post #17 of 20 Old 04-15-2012, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by politby View Post

Thanks for the pointer! Just ordered a display from nmedia. Now I just have to find a case to put it in - need an mITX case that has a display window, not that easy to find...

It's also very hard when you do find one, to find one that fits the dimensions of the LCD you have. I have the nMediaPC LCD and it is just a hair too tall for the window in the Iwill HT100 case. It would also have to be "creatively" mounted. There doesn't seem to be a standard size for these modules -- it's all custom fit.

 

 

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post #18 of 20 Old 04-15-2012, 11:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StardogChampion View Post


It's also very hard when you do find one, to find one that fits the dimensions of the LCD you have. I have the nMediaPC LCD and it is just a hair too tall for the window in the Iwill HT100 case. It would also have to be "creatively" mounted. There doesn't seem to be a standard size for these modules -- it's all custom fit.

Okay. Assuming creativity when mounting, is the window on the HT100 large enough so that the text on the display will be fully visible? Or does "a hair too tall" refer to the display area being too large for the window?

I have found another M10 clone called "Tendraw H125C" that I can get for 90 GBP; it even includes a display at that price but it looks like the cheap intense-blue variety:

http://item.mobileweb.ebay.co.uk/vie...d=120894211991

I think I will buy one to test with; can always sell it if it does not work out.

I also have a Silverstone LC06 which I might modify and add a display window to the front panel. Much more work though.
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post #19 of 20 Old 04-16-2012, 10:27 AM
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I had tried the nMedia display, and LCD Smartie, both are barely readable from more than 2 feet away. And what is thepoint of having to get up off the couch to see what the screen says.

Plus, all I wanted was a clock.

So, I bought an LED clock on clearance at Target for $6. Took it apart and mounted in the nMedia case windows. It was a perfect fit!


6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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post #20 of 20 Old 04-16-2012, 12:39 PM
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looks like a carnival.
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