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Nick Koumaris' Full-Colour Arduino Digital Photoframe

Gareth Halfacree

Nick Koumaris' Arduino-powered photo frame

There's a frequently-seen misconception in electronics: that eight-bit microcontrollers, like the majority of the Arduino family, can't be used to drive higher-resolution, full-colour displays. For projects where anything other than a simple, low-resolution display is required, the recommendation is often to use a 32-bit microprocessor instead - but, as Educa8s' Nick Koumaris demonstrates that's not always necessary.

Nick, who we last wrote about following his experiments into long-life battery power for Arduino projects, has published a video demonstrating the use of the ST7735 colour LCD display with a low-cost Arduino Nano, using it to build a digital photo frame - albeit, at 1.8" diagonal screen size, a pretty compact example.

Aside from its low cost, Nick's decision to build the system around an ST7735-based LCD is for one major reason: the display includes a built-in SD card reader, allowing images to be stored on and loaded from a high-capacity storage card without taking up any of the Arduino's precious static RAM or flash storage. Thanks to a pair of graphics and display libraries from Adafruit, the code is surprisingly simple - though relies on using basic bitmap images, the Arduino lacking the power to quickly decide and display JPEG compressed images in a friendly fashion.

In this video we are going to learn how to use the SD card slot of the popular 1.8" Color TFT display which uses the ST7735 driver. Then we will save some bitmap images in the SD card and we will display them on the display. In other words, we will build a simple Photo Frame using Arduino!


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