Tag Archives: electronics

SparkFun Color LCD Shield – First Impressions

I picked up a SparkFun Color LCD Shield while I was shopping for some sensors and battery packs.  I thought that maybe I could use it to help visualize sensor data prior to passing it off to my Raspberry Pi.

The shield itself didn’t come with headers… which is okay, because I had a few extra from a purchase I made from adafruit. A short solder job later, It’s plugged into my Uno.

I grabbed the Arduino library from github, plugged it in and tried to run the examples.  Initially, the board didn’t seem to function, but after reading the documentation a little more, I realized that sparkfun ships one of two different models. I happened to get one that didn’t run with the default code. The change to the examples is extremely trivial.  You change the following line:




One thing that I noticed about the shield… the updating is very slow, so you have to be extremely mindful of how you want to change your pixels. Simply clearing the display has a visible redraw. I wrote a short program to play around with the buttons on the shield. Essentially, it just draws or undraws rectangles based on whether or not buttons are pressed. Here’s the code itself.  If you try it out, you can see what I mean about the redraw rate.  Either this is an artifact of the sparkfun library or it’s a limitation of the device itself. I guess I can look at the library and see if there’s anything obvious.

#include <ColorLCDShield.h>
LCDShield lcd;

byte cont = 40;  // Good center value for contrast
int lastS1 = 0;
int lastS2 = 0;
int lastS3 = 0;

void setup() {
  pinMode(3, INPUT);
  digitalWrite(3, HIGH);
  pinMode(4, INPUT);
  digitalWrite(4, HIGH);
  pinMode(5, INPUT);
  digitalWrite(5, HIGH);


void loop() {
  int s1 = digitalRead(3);
  int s2 = digitalRead(4);
  int s3 = digitalRead(5);

  if (s1 == lastS1 && s2 == lastS2 && s3 == lastS3) {

  if (s1 != lastS1) {
    if (s1) {
      lcd.setRect(80, 35, 131, 51, 1, WHITE);
    } else {
      lcd.setRect(80, 35, 131, 51, 1, CYAN);
    lastS1 = s1;

  if (s2 != lastS2) {
    if (s2) {
      lcd.setRect(80, 67, 131, 83, 1, WHITE);
    } else {
      lcd.setRect(80, 67, 131, 83, 1, MAGENTA);
    lastS2 = s2;

  if (s3 != lastS3) {
    if (s3) {
      lcd.setRect(80, 99, 131, 115, 1, WHITE);
    } else {
      lcd.setRect(80, 99, 131, 115, 1, BLUE);
    lastS3 = s3;