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Vintage vacuum fluorescent display controlled with Arduino Due

Arduino TeamOctober 2nd, 2019

Vacuum fluorescent displays (VFDs) have a distinct cool blue-greenish glow, and were once used in a wide range of devices, from VCRs to microwave ovens and even car dashboards. Although extremely popular way back when, they can be more difficult to source today. In the video below, Scotty Allen of the Strange Parts YouTube channel takes on the challenge of getting a $600 ISE (now Noritake) display up and running with an Arduino Due.

The process starts with examining the datasheet to find that the Due’s 3.3V logic can indeed drive the 20×2 character display, then he constructs a custom adapter board to do just that. After more datasheet lurking, head scratching and hacking, he finally got it to show “Hello world!” toward the end of the clip, along with some simple animations. 

The VFD control is part of a larger build that will be revealed in the future, and a good reminder of just how much trial and error is needed to succeed in making something awesome.


One Response to “Vintage vacuum fluorescent display controlled with Arduino Due”

  1. bperrybap Says:

    I’ve done some work these Noritake displays. I picked up a few of them as they were fairly inexpensive ($10-15 USD) at a local surplus shop here in Dallas.
    There are many different ones and they all seem to have slightly different i/o & communication message interfaces.
    There is support for a few them in my hd44780 library (available in the Arduino IDE library manager)
    Which one do you have?
    You can pm me on the arduino forum and we can chat further.

    — bill

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