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Introducing OLED Displays

Organic LED technology is now affordable for the hobbyist. In this article, we survey some available OLED screens and modules and give an example for a simple oscilloscope.

By Mauro Grassi

OLED displays are becoming mainstream and are now commercially available at prices affordable for educational and hobby use.

While the technology may still need further development to seriously challenge LCDs in the bigger sizes, OLED screens of modest sizes can be purchased in Australia from a number of distributors at comparable prices to LCDs.

OLED screens emit light, rather than relying on backlighting like LCDs. For that reason they have a much wider viewing angle. They also use less power than LCDs, exhibit higher contrast, are lighter and can be manufactured on more flexible materials.

All these advantages over LCDs are making them the display screen of choice. For example, mobile phones using OLED screens are now on the market.

In Australia, 4D Systems have a range of OLED displays, including modules and standalone screens. The modules are essentially a screen and an embedded graphics processor.

By contrast, the screens contain a driver IC embedded in the flexi-cable connector and can be directly driven by a host microcontroller – see photos.

Some driver ICs, like the SSD1339 used in the 4D OLED-282815 screen, have inbuilt graphics acceleration for drawing lines, rectangles and circles. This means that you can draw primitives, simply by writing commands to the display from a microntroller.

Instead of having to control individual pixels to draw a circle you can simply send the opcode corresponding to the command to draw a circle. You also send the associated data like the coordinates of the origin and the radius.

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