Success! Happy fish. :)
To really put this into perspective, you should also consider the extra
performance of the SmartGLCD compared to most hobby level projects. Its 80pin
18F8722 has a huge amount of spare pins and you can add lots of extra
features to your fishtank controller later, upgrading features anytime
you like! It has a BIG graphics LCD that can show a lot of info including
graphic icons and charts. It has massive ROM memory to add features.
It has a touchpanel, so you can make virtual buttons, slider controls etc
as needed on the screen. And change them at any time with no more wiring
needed! And it has handy features like the colour changing RGB backlight
and USB cable to upload your last month's water temperature charts to
your PC (or saves them to the SD card).
So the ease of use of the SmartGLCD is excellent, provided of course that you can
write the code to go in it.
Fortunately the MikroE compilers
are excellent for ease of use, with things like writing text to the
LCD being very easy;
// to write some text on the GLCD, positioned at the first char on line 4;
T6963C_Write_Text("Fish are happy now!", 0, 4, T6963C_ROM_MODE_XOR);
// to draw a filled in box (as a "button" on screen);
T6963C_Box(0, 100, 19, 119, T6963C_WHITE);
// Draws a filled-in box between the graphic coords x1,y1,x2,y2 and the box is filled in WHITE.
// read touchpanel, get x_coord and y_ccord;
So as you can imagine it is really easy to draw text and boxes (buttons,
icons etc) on screen, then read the touchpanel X and Y coords and
depending where the user touched the screen (which button) your code
performs different tasks.
Above shows some very simple controls on screen that you can write in C code
with very little effort. You can also include custom graphic icons
and images quite easily (although they are not shown on the simple
screenshot above). The graphics screen of 240x128 pixels is very large compared to
typical "hobby" LCD displays and will also display 16 lines of 40 characters as text.
Above shows a dual simultaneous spectrum analyser I quickly coded up
on the SmartGLCD, for analysing spectral components of DTMF tones. The SmartGLCD is perfect
for making test equipment like this! The SmartGLCD was used to prove that an
analogue DTMF audio signal can be decoded with zero hardware, just using
the SmartGLCD and the PIC's internal comparator (and a math algorithm).
More info can be found in my
DTMF decoding algorithm page.
To make it easy for PIC users who have never worked with GLCDs etc I have
written some tutorials that take you through the process of using your
SmartGLCD including simple display and touchpanel examples, please have a look on my
SmartGLCD tutorial page.
Improvements needed on the SmartGLCD v1.5?
Hmm, there's not much I would improve. The beeper would still be nice to have,
but you can add one in a couple of minutes soldered onto a header pin.
I think I would prefer a standard sized SD card socket instead of the
microSD card socket, but MikroE told me this is a size issue which is
easy to understand seeing how packed with chips the SmartGLCD is! Still for future
revisions I would like a proper sized SD card socket, or what might be
better still would be a header connector so a full size socket can be added
externally (like on a machine front panel).
Also, the price has gone up a bit! This is understandable with the addition
of the onboard USB->UART (which was previously a $10 external product)
and the SmartGLCD v1.5 also has the much larger PIC now compared to the v1.
Of course I'd like the price as cheap as possible but considering it's
ease of use to make powerful controllers (with no work other than code)
the value for money is still pretty good. I'm also not sure how much the
recent world currency fluctuations and the big drop in value of the
US dollar may have affected pricing too, as the MikroE price is in US
dollars which are now considerably smaller than they were 9 months ago...
I liked the SmartGLCD v1, and I like the SmartGLCD v1.5 even more. If they just put
that connector on for an external SD card socket, and a beeper,
it would be perfect!
I wish I had more of them... It's a little beauty.
- end -
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