August 04, 2012

Arduino and Vintage Incandescent Displays

 Sometimes you come across a display technology from a bygone era, and relish the thought of firing it up for fun or something useful. In an example of this, John has demonstrated using the FFD51 incandescent seven segment numerical displays from the early 1970s with Arduino-compatible boards and 74HC595 shift register modules. Although each segment of the displays draws around 30mA, the shift registers still handled the current with aplomb and without overheating after a period of time. Here is an example of the displays in motion, notice the glow effect as each segment powers up:

Apart from seeing the older displays, the article is a brief explanation of how to use Arduino and shift registers as well as a real-time clock IC. For more information and sketches, head over to the blog here. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

Instead of using DIP-format 74HC595s, John uses our Freetronics EXPAND: Expansion/Shift register modules. They contain the 74HC595 shift register on a small board with standard 0.1" spacing holes that are perfect for soldering header pins into for breadboard use, and a small "power on" LED. By doing this you have a robust vehicle to insert and remove easily without tools or the risk of bending the IC pins. This is only one of our large range of prototyping modules - check the full range today!

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