KS0108 GLCD shield with cardboard box enclosure

GLCD Ika Musume #1
Part 1: Lots of wires
No more need for 20 wires
Part 2: Made a GLCD shield. No more annoying wires!
SparkFun boxes are the best
Part 3: An enclosure made from a SparkFun cardboard box!!

Ika Musume pixel art by @bitmapchaos. More information about the construction in the full post!

GLCD stuff from Adafruit
GLCD stuff from Adafruit

On Black Friday, I ordered a few things from Adafruit Industries. Most importantly, these things:

I didn’t need them for class or anything, I just thought it’d be really cool to have. With a bit of soldering (I’m not very good, though I’ve definitely improved the past few days), I was able to attach 20 pins of male headers to the GLCD to put it on a breadboard.

GLCD Error
I think I broke something.

However, upon wiring it up and uploading the GLCD test program to my Arduino, I wasn’t getting good results. No matter how I adjusted the contrast, it kept showing random lines across the screen. I was afraid that in soldering, I damaged something, or I received a defective item or something.

Turns out I was just wiring it incorrectly. I had assumed the contrast potentiometer had to go from 0V to 5V, but actually I had to use pin 18’s Vee output (which is apparently negative) instead of 0V. After that, things worked fine. It was running at 8 frames per second, which I guess is okay.

A few days later I found out there was a newer version of the GLCD library (beta) so I decided to download it and give it a try. It ran much faster, at 16 frames per second, even after I changed the pinouts in the config file to something less efficient (I wanted to keep all my analog input pins).

All these wires were a bit annoying though. I decided I’d try to make a GLCD shield with that Adafruit protoshield I got. After a lot of planning, I started putting the thing together.

GLCD shield soldering
Solding the GLCD shield on a really messy desk.

If you’re going to solder something, don’t do what I did. I didn’t plan the layout very well, so I ended up cutting the wire leads and using solder bridges to connect some of the holes, instead of simply bending the wire leads to where I wanted the connection to be made. I also had a mess of wires underneath (you can’t see it in the above photo since that one was taken before I added more wires).

GLCD shield top view
Nice rainbow wires!

Note that in the above photo, I connected one of the wires to pin 1. I learned later that this is a bad idea if you ever want to use serial communication. I ended up desoldering that connection and connecting it to analog pin 0 instead.

GLCD shield success
Success! It fits!

The GLCD screen fit pretty well on the shield I made. The only real problem was that the screen kinda tilted back since it was being supported on only one side. I looked around and saw my SparkFun box I got at MakerFaire and it was actually the perfect size for the combined Arduino+shield+GLCD.

GLCD Ika Musume 3a
SparkFun boxes are perfect!

I cut some holes in it for USB/power connections, another hole for the contrast potentiometer, and another one for the screen itself. It was a bit hard to find screws and standoffs that would fit in the holes on the GLCD (they’re really tiny), but my dad helped look for some. Turns out that the screws that came with my servo were the perfect size. As for standoffs, my dad found that the screws on our old VCR cassettes fit too, so he broke apart some VCR cassettes and made standoffs from them.


I cut another rectangular opening to access the analog pins and power/ground/reset pins. This turned out very nicely in my opinion! Thanks to Adafruit (for the materials) and SparkFun (for the conveniently-sized box)!


One thought on “KS0108 GLCD shield with cardboard box enclosure

  1. That’s very nifty, I regret I didn’t learn nothing about electronics when I had the chance. Now, I just see at the nifty things other people do :s


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