Custom Large Font For 16×2 LCDs using Arduino

A couple of years ago i was learning to use the Ardiuno and started playing around with an Hitachi HD44780 based 16×2 LCD screen. I soon learned that the screen has 8 customizable character slots. I had found a project where someone used those slots to create there own custom characters that could then be used to form large character font using both rows of the screen. I didn’t like the look of those characters and couldn’t make since of the sketch that person wrote. So i decided i needed to create my own set and use my limited programming skills to create a more user friendly sketch to support my large character font.
Arduino with LCD

In this Instructable i’ll show you how i designed my large character font and break down the sketch to make it easier to understand. But first we need to set up the Arduino and LCD.

Materials Needed:

– Arduino (i used a Nove)
– Hitachi HD44780 based 16×2 LCD
– Breadboard
– 5K Potentiometer
– button or switch
– jumper wires

Step 1: Connecting the LCD to the Arduino

First i want to cover how to connect a Hitachi HD44780 based LCD screen to an Arduino. The first thing you need to do is identify Pin 1 on your display and figure out which pins you need. The first image shows a very simple layout for connecting the LCD to your Arduino. Here is the pin Layout for the LCD.

  • Pin 1 – Grd
  • Pin 2 – VCC
  • Pin 3 – Vee (controls screen contrast)
  • Pin 4 – RS (controls where in the LCD’s memory your writing too)
  • Pin 5 – RW (controls weather your Reading or Writing to the LCD)
  • Pin 6 – E (enables writing to the register)
  • Pin 7 – D0 (not used)
  • Pin 8 – D1 (not used)
  • Pin 9 – D2 (not used)
  • Pin 10 – D3 (not used)
  • Pin 11 – D4
  • Pin 12 – D5
  • Pin 13 – D6
  • Pin 14 – D7
  • Pin 15 – LED+ (LCD back light)
  • Pin 16 – LED-  (Grd)
READ  Arduino-based master clock for schools

My LCD only had 15 pins which is fine since 16 should be tied to ground anyway. As you can see in the picture Vee is tied into a potentiometer. This controls the contrast of the screen. The data pins are the individual bits your writing to or reading from the register.

For the purposes of keeping things simple i wired mine up a bit differently. I like to use ribbon cable whenever possible to keep the clutter of wires down. I makes keeping track of the connections allot easier too.

  • RS pin to D7
  • E pin to D6
  • D4 pin to D5
  • D5 pin to D4
  • D6 pin to D3
  • D7 pin to D2
  • V0 tied to a pot to control brightness
  • Grd and R/W tied to ground
  • Vcc to +5V
  • pin 15 to push button/switch that is tied to ground for control of back light

With everything connected we can now go over how i created the fonts.

Step 2: Numerical Font Design

It then came time to think about the font design. What kind of segments would i need to create to make a nice and sharp looking large character font for this screen?

I wanted to start simple and get numbers out of the way first. I figured people would be looking for a good large font to use for an Arduino based digital clock or other project. So logically i started by designing the number 8 since all the segments that comprise the 8 can be mixed to create most of the other numbers. This used up only 6 of the custom blocks. But i still needed one more custom block to be able to display a 0, 1 and  7.
Arduino with LCD connection
The images show the first generation of numbers i produced. A couple of changes where made in the custom blocks to make the numbers look better. I’ll show them in a later step.


For more detail: Custom Large Font For 16×2 LCDs using Arduino

This Post / Project can also be found using search terms:

  • ug8lib pdf
  • 16×2 large font lcd display measurement
  • arduino 16×2 large font
  • arduino big font lcd

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