The text below
is a part of LCD Serial Backpack App Note No. 2
from Scott Edwards Electronics,
Inc. In case you wondered, The LCD Serial Backpack ® is a
daughterboard that attaches to standard character LCD modules.
It receives data serially and displays it on the LCD. The Backpack
supports any alphanumeric LCD up to 80 screen characters (e.g.
4 lines by 20 characters). It accepts serial data at 2400 or 9600
baud (switch selectable). It is sold by itself, or preinstalled
to high-quality 2x16 LCD modules.
edited the application note slightly to suit paralell LCD modules.
You can find the original document in PDF format at
are inexpensive and easy to use. But there are times when you'd
like to add some graphical pizzazz to your display without the
expense and code overhead of a graphics display. With a little
ingenuity, you may find that the block-graphics capabilities of
standard LCDs can fill the bill without busting your budget.
ROM and RAM.
When you send the
ASCII code for a character like "A" to an LCD module, the module's
controller looks up the appropriate 5x8-pixel pattern in ROM (read-only
memory) and displays that pattern on the LCD. That character-generator
ROM contains 192 bit maps corresponding to the alphabet, numbers,
punctuation, Japanese Kanji characters, and Greek symbols. The
ROM is part of the main LCD controller (e.g., HD44780, KS0066,
etc.), is mask-programmed, and cannot be changed by the user.
The manufacturers do offer alternative symbols sets in ROM for
European and Asian languages, but most U.S. distributors stock
only the standard character set shown in the LCD Serial Backpack
manual. Alphanumeric LCD controllers do not allow you to turn
individual pixels on or off-they just let you pick a particular
pattern (corresponding to an ASCII code) and display it on the
screen. If you can't change the ROM and you can't control pixels,
how do you create graphics on these LCDs? Easy. There's a 64-byte
hunk of RAM (random-access memory) that the LCD controller uses
in the same way as character-generator (CG) ROM. When the controller
receives an ASCII code in the range that's mapped to the CG RAM,
it uses the bit patterns stored there to display a pattern on
the LCD. The main difference is that you can write to CG RAM,
thereby defining your own graphic symbols.
Each byte of CG
RAM is mapped to a five-bit horizontal row of pixels, and LCD
characters are typically eight rows high, so 64 bytes of CG RAM
is enough to define eight custom characters. These characters
correspond to ASCII codes 0 through 7, which normally serve as
control codes for marking the beginning of a serial transmission
or ringing the bell on a terminal. Since these have no meaning
to an LCD module, the designers appropriated them for CG RAM.
When an LCD is
first powered up, CG RAM contains random bits garbage. If necessary,you
may clear CG RAM by writing 00 into each CG RAM cell.
to CG RAM.
Writing to CG
RAM is a lot like moving the cursor to a particular position on
the display and displaying characters at that new location. The