First post, and newbie before-purchase question


New member
I crawled a bit in the forums, and I was very surprized to see how all of this is alive :) Tech support seems to be really available, which is more than nice :p
Congratulation for the amazing job you're doing !

I'm going to explain what I'm planning to do, and why I need some LCD displays. I'd like to build a linux computer from scratch (i'm referring to hardware, not the 'distro' LFS), in a barebone, mainly done for parties.
I'm not talking about big huge parties with incredible soundsystems, but just some small parties where the amount of available CDs is restricted to classical, putting everyone in the mood of "hey lets sing with my guitar" instead of "hey lets dance a bit before falling drunken dead on the floor".

I don't know if I will always have a screen to access an X server, but I know how to use CLI MP3 players, and to write some scripts to handle the basic choices of music.

I'd like to use some LCD devices directly mounted into the box, that way, the musicbox will be really really small for a 300Go+ top quality MP3/OGG/AC3 player.

I looked a bit at all the products available here and I felt a bit lost in all of this. Controller cards or not ? Serial ? USB ?
My basic problem is "how much LCD devices can I use at the same time". Here comes the basic solution I've thought of :
  • An LCD screen for the command line, because just to see what I'm typing take at least one LCD screen to be comfortable
  • Another one to see current useful information (bass, treble, volume, time left, crossfade amount - equalizer is nice but ... requires too much screenspace for what it worth. better use some analogic device plugged in somewhere). I thought one graphical LCD display for the infos would be nice, because that would allow analogic like rendering, which is far easier to read.
  • And at last but not least, one to browse the huge MP3 list (think of 100Gig+ MP3/AC3/OGG/MPC tagged branched collection to get an idea).
    Three would be better (one for the album list), one for track list, one for the current playlist. There could be some included keystrokes binded to scroll-up/scroll-down to each of those (I could code that, I think.. I don't think the controller does that does it ?)

No need to precise (in fact there is one, why would I if there wasn't ?) that every LCD screen needs a backlit, parties are usually the wrong places to turn on the big white light near the 'soundsystem'.

Since I'm very far from beeing a big code guru, or a shell guru, or a guru whatsoever, what would you advise me to get what I want (or a modified solution, but something that could do the trick), in the simplest way (possibly the cheapest ? i'm a student, that's not so far from beeing synonymous to heavily POOR).
I'd like to precise that I'm definitely NOT an electronics guru, but I'm not afraid of loosing (a bit of) money into learning, nor using my soldering iron.

That's it. Another little question for this post that begins to be VERY long, I saw on the sticked post of the technical section something that you put on the wires, then it "shrinks" magicly (to me). What is it ? Is it some plastic that under some heat shrinks to fit the wires ?

The last but not least little question is, where do I have to purchase any electronic devices not sold here (besides cables and stuff, since I have some 10+ years old computers stuff laying around, I should find whatever is generic..)

Thanks for any eventual answers, I will monitor the thread very carefully :)
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New member
well, I thought I could use LCDProc, sorry that I didn't think of saying it. (****, it wasn't long enough ? ;))
Indeed, I first heard of Crystalfontz through their weblinks.

Anyway what's the point with LCDProc or elsestuff, why couldn't I just code using directly the serial port device. Is the protocol to hard to implement directly ? (that would be a big loss of time anyway)

One of the adress that are pointed in the thread you wrote up is making use of HD44780 compatible displays, which are if I remember well, compatible with LCDProc. Even if he doesn't mentions the program at all (he doesn't indicate any layout), he may be use something like this, or perhaps (better), not using anything at all, that would mean that you can directly code in order to have your LCD responding. Would be really awesome.

After taking a look at the LCDProc website, I found out that they suport HD44780 STV5730 SED1330 devices, perhaps they support more. Would that mean that I woudl have no chance to have a graphical LCD running on linux, like CFAG160160B-YYH-VU which is based on the LC7981 controller. I'd really like to, anyway, I have no clue about how to code it. Hope the documentation have all the stuff needed in it .. ;)

Anyway, one of the thing that worries me much is the presence of "demo" cards in the catalog. Do I need one to connect one of this jewels on my computer through serial port ? Will I be able to use more than one LCD using such method ?

Thanks in advance for any answer :)