Summer of 2010 I picked up an Arduino board from adafruit and took some time to walk through all of the tutorials available with it. Since then I have spent most of my time on other projects including my bachelor’s. Recently I have obtained the Motor Party Pack, LoL Shield Kit, and a 20×2 VFD (Vacuum Fluorescent Display) to go with the original board so my interest is sparked again. I have found that the Motor Party Pack and LoL Shield have adequate instruction and tutorials, but the VFD is lacking in beginner level instructions to get started. As such I have decided to write a tutorial for the 20×2 VFD available through adafruit.
The adafruit VFD is made by Samsung and is model No. 20T202DA2JA, this is really unimportant though as adafruit is nice enough to link you to the spec sheets for both the module and the controller chip. What you would be looking for is the pin-out found on page 4 of the module controller sheet.
20×2 Character VFD (Vacuum Fluorescent Display) – SPI interface – 20T202DA2JA. One up your plain old character LCD with a gorgeous VFD! These displays look and act just like character LCDs but are way glowier, and are very readable even from a distance. As a bonus, you only need 3 digital pins to control it as it is a SPI/serial interface not parallel.
We have a datasheet for the module and the datasheet for the controller chip (with much more detail in case you need it)
These are often used at point of sale machines (at the checkout counter) so that’s where you can go take a look to see what they appear like in person.
We don’t have a detailed up tutorial yet but we have do have an Arduino library that works great and has a bunch of examples showing how to do everything from print messages, to scrolling, to making custom characters. Any normal character LCD code can be adapted to this display by turning the parallel interface into a serial interface (check the datasheet for how the data is stored and transmitted).