Educate me on microcontroller options


New member
Hi everyone. First post here.

I'm an electrical engineer by education but I changed careers a decade ago so I'm not updated with the microcontroller world anymore. Lately I got into the hobby of restoring/fixing cars. Dead instrument clusters are always a problem, so I thought of modernizing and putting in a customized digital display that includes readouts of water temps, oil temp/pressures, speed, air-fuel ratios, etc.

Googling around I found CrystalFontz and the OLED displays like the CFAL12864L-G-B2 piqued my interest:

Of course I would need a microcontroller to use it for my purposes. Since this is for an automotive application, my requirements would be:
- capable of interfacing with the OLED above or other CrystalFontz products
- 12-24 channel ADCs to read multiple automotive sensors
- A few DAC outputs for analog gauge displays
- A few high-power outputs for controlling relays/actuators if needed
- Datalogging is an option

Although I haven't touched a microprocessor in maybe 10 years, I'd say I still would be comfortable with them. I was a prolific C programmer during my time, and some ASM for Z80, 80xx, 68xx and yes the 6502 from the Apple II for those who remember it. Was also fairly decent with digital and power electronics, so I'm ok reading datasheets and timing charts.

Googling again I found products from TERN that seemed promising. But searching this forum their name didn't come up so I guess there are more popular products out there.

So how do I start coming back to the fold? Any good FAQs out there to refresh an oldie like me? :D
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CF Tech

Our demo board is not a bad place to start developing with an LCD and AVR. Really quick way to get started. Probably not a bad development platform for the rest of your stuff.

You would have to add a few more ADCs (TI makes some nice SPI ADCs that would probably work well, the TLC3548IPW for instance), those could be connected to the CFA1006's expansion headers.

There are many ways to go of course. Atmel makes demo boards or you can roll your own.

You might have to fudge a few connections to the OLED, since the demo board was made for and LCD. A positive mode LCD that will not wash out in sunlight might be a better choice for a car though:

Search Here


New member
Thanks for the quick reply. I see that the Atmel AVR is very popular. Which sites or vendors are good for getting assembled AVR boards?


New member
Great info in that site. Thanks. Looks like AVR has a lot of fans.

Just ordered the CFAG12864A-CFH-TA with the demo board plus a couple other displays to experiment on.