List of older character LCDs

Sometimes you find a character LCD from an older equipment or buy one off a surplus store. You tried the LCD tutorial and it didn’t work. You tried everything and it turned out that your older LCD is not up to the spec of more recent LCDs, which most of us use. To save you time, I am compiling a list of older character LCDs that people have been having problems with so you can check yours, wherever you got it, against this list to see if yours is “old”. My opinion, go get a new one on ebay. ūüôā


Truly MCC162A4-5

On back of PC board, in dot-matrix print: MTC-C162DPRN   D0025

Forum post link,59382.0.html

Phi_prompt new version soon

I am revising phi_prompt library to hopefully make the following features available in the next release, two days from now:

  1. Support 20X4 character screen with more flexible “2X2” list mode so you can list M columns by N rows with X¬† characters per row, all M, N, and X are your choice (Done)
  2. List your “2X2” list anywhere on a larger screen instead of the basic 16X2 screen (Done)
  3. Easy to call “YES/NO” dialog.(Planning)
  4. Easy to display “YES/NO”, “HIGH/LOW” options for numerical inputs so you don’t have to construct a list and do it the list way.(Planning)
  5. Add scrolling texts that scrolls to fit in smaller space (Done)
  6. Add floating point number input (Done)
  7. Add event function so each time the user changes a number, a function is called to update operations (planning)
  8. Add dialog functions to make a dialog. This function creates a complete dialog with various controls and the user uses left and right keys to navigate among the controls and change their values. It is going to look like a dialog on your computer. You make some choices and push yes. (planning)

Check back in a couple of days!

Here is a teaser:

Phi-connect is available

After some long planning, prototyping and production, the phi-connect system is available for sale. This is a big time saver and headache remover for arduino users. Connect and disconnect your arduino from a project and switch to a different project in seconds. Please check out its own blog page for more details.


Here is the list of online stores that sell the kits:

Phi-2 shields available at

Phi-2 shields are available at now. They are also available at the open source hardware place as well. You are welcome to visit both places!

Here is a coupon SPRING10

Middle click on laptops – for EAGLE

A quick trick in EAGLE is to middle-click while moving a part to mirror it, essentially putting the part from top layer to bottom layer in board view, or mirror a bottom layer part to top layer.

A friend asked me how to middle click on a laptop. Here is an answer I found on my laptop. Hope it helps you too.

Find mouse property either from control panel or bottom right corner of your screen.

  1. Click Device Setting ( the red symbol is Synaptics touch pad)
  2. Click Settings
  3. Select Tapping and expand it
  4. Select Tap Zone and expand it
  5. Select one of the zones you desire
  6. On the right side, select middle click.
  7. Click OK. You have just assigned the bottom left corner of your touch pad as middle click button. Tap it and it mirrors your parts.

Phi big fonts available as a library

After some initial success, I made some major upgrading, the phi_big_font has rolled out of the “Liudr factory”

Here is how big they look, on a 20X4 screen, showing both regular and inverted fonts.

Details are in the phi_big_font library page.

A video:

Phi shields users’ map

Phi shields are on the map!

Since there have been over one hundred users of the Phi-1 and Phi-2 shields, I decided to create this Arduino Phi shields users’ map so that we can share who’s out there doing what projects with the shields. So potentially interested individuals can share projects and or codes!

Click here to add yourself to the map.

Directions to add yourself to the map:

1) Click the above link.

2) Log on to your Google account on this page. (top right side)

3) Press the red edit button on the left.

4) Click the middle button and place a blue pin on the map to indicate your approximate location

5) Once you place a pin, you can edit its contents. Then click on the blue pin on the top right corner (boxed up by a blue square) of the dialog to change it to a symbol you want.

6) Click save on the left side and then done.

Organize your code – big ASCII art font

I have written several post on how to optimize your code, specifically optimizing memory usage, and keep them in separate tabs to organize a longer project. This time it is a trick I do (didn’t see anyone else I know do this yet). In Arduino, you can create block comments as the following:


All is comment



So besides using these block comments to document how to call a function you wrote or how to configure a library or else you can also do the following:

.___  ___.  _______ .__   __.  __    __
|   \/   | |   ____||  \ |  | |  |  |  |
|  \  /  | |  |__   |   \|  | |  |  |  |
|  |\/|  | |   __|  |  . `  | |  |  |  |
|  |  |  | |  |____ |  |\   | |  `--'  |
|__|  |__| |_______||__| \__|  \______/

Pretty cool, right? It clearly indicates the content after this comment has something to do with menu. If you scroll through your hundreds of lines of code, this will catch your eyes much easier than any comments. Although some programmers use a row of # or – to separate codes, this is better. you can have all of these elements together to improve the overall readability of your code:

.___  ___.  _______ .__   __.  __    __
|   \/   | |   ____||  \ |  | |  |  |  |
|  \  /  | |  |__   |   \|  | |  |  |  |
|  |\/|  | |   __|  |  . `  | |  |  |  |
|  |  |  | |  |____ |  |\   | |  `--'  |
|__|  |__| |_______||__| \__|  \______/
Menu functions go here!

Here is where I found this starwars font:

Just scroll down the font list and find your favorite!

To read all my posts on coding, press the “coding” button on my blog.

Oh here, someone made a movie with ascii art:

Morse code translator new version

This version is completely rewritten with the Phi-prompt interface for Phi-2 shields. Should be easy to use on Phi-1 shields by changing the #define phi_1_shield in main program.

The new program is easier to understand, and has a new library feature. Right now I have about 12 short words in the library. You can just browse the library of words and press confirm or right to play the Morse code for that word. It’s handy for training so you don’t have to enter it in painstakingly. Change the words anyway you want. They don’t have to be 7 letters long. The list can only fit 7 characters.

Here is a video:


->code<- This library includes the above example’s code, which requires phi_prompt and phi_buttons libraries.

The newest edition is based on phi_morse library now and is totally easy to use. I will upload as soon as possible.


I am exchanging all my new arduino shield and gadget kits if you’re willing to dig up some old stuff to trade with me. Here is a list of wanted old stuff:

1) Computer processors such as 386, 486, Pentium, Pentium pro, AMD K5, K6, 6502, Z80, Motorola 6800, 68000, 68010, DEC processors etc. Anything that is processor is wanted. I want older ones more than newer ones, such as P4 or else.

My personal collection of 200+ computer processors from the late 70’s to dual core AMD! (Thanks Matt and Chris)

Some old-timers! Z80, 6502, 8088, 286, etc.

Nice DEC processors, shiny! (Circular object is the heat sink.)

2) Classic computer games (original copy): Wolf3D, warcraft, Dune, Dune2, quake, etc.

3) Old computer software such as original copy of IBM DOS or MS DOS or else.

4) Old computer-related literature such as books on how to select a computer in the 80’s, computer dictionary or other interesting literature revealing the good old time of rams in KB, hard drives in MBs and Pentium was the highest level of computer game graphic details.

My very small collection of old computer books and games. That cassette on the right side is actually a program recorded on tape!

Right now, exchange of PCB and kits is open to everyone interested. Leave me a message of what you have or even a link to a picture or two so I can decide whether to make the exchange. If I don’t know you on the forum, I may need to mail you the trade after I receive your package.

My favorite exchanges from last time with Phi-1 shields:

The left side is a part of a mother board for a pre-Pentium processor. A friend couldn’t remove the processor without damaging it so he cut the board and shipped it with other processors all the way from Europe so I could extract the processor with a CPU extraction tool. The right is a surface mount processor another friend painstakingly removed from a board with professional tools among the dozen or so other surface mount processors.