Adding a display to your Arduino can serve many purposes. Since a common use of microcontrollers is to read data from sensors, the display allows you to view this data in real time without having to use the serial monitor in the Arduino IDE. It also allows you to personalize your projects with text, images, or even touch screen interactivity.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the different types of displays, where to find them, and how to set them up.
1. Liquid crystal display
Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) is the most common display found in DIY projects and household appliances. This is not surprising as they are easy to operate, low power and incredibly cheap.
This type of display may vary in design. Some are larger, with more character spaces and lines, some come with highlighting. Most of them connect directly to the board via 8 or 12 pin connections to the Arduino, making them incompatible with boards with fewer pins available. In this case, buy a screen with I2C adapter allowing only 4 contacts to be monitored.
Available for just a few dollars (or as little as $1.95 on Aliexpress with the included I2C adapter), these simple displays can be used for real-time feedback on any project.
The screens can display many predefined characters that cover most use cases in different languages. Control your LCD with the liquid crystal library provided by Arduino. Methods display() and noDisplay() write data to the LCD as shown in the official manual on the Arduino website.
Note. If you are using an I2C LCD adapter, you will need to use the LiquidCrystal_I2C library.
If you prefer video tutorials, Circuit Basics there is a great way to set up and use LCD display 16×2 :
2. Seven segment displays
Are you looking for something simple to display numbers and a few basic characters? Maybe you’re looking for something with an old school arcade feel? Seven segment display can meet your needs.
If you haven’t come across these handy little displays yet, our Buzz Wire game uses one of them to display game status:
These simple boards consist of 7 LEDs (8 if you include a dot) and work just like regular LEDs with a common anode or cathodic connection. This allows them to take one connection to V+ (or GND for common cathode) and be controlled from your Arduino’s pins. By combining these pins in code, you can create numbers and a few letters, as well as more abstract drawings — anything you can think of using the available segments!
For a complete understanding of how these displays work, check out this detailed beginner’s guide from AllAboutCircuits .
As video guide Christian Blosol dedicated an episode of his series Anything Arduino seven segment displays: