Texy’s Mini TFT Screen

Posted: November 29, 2013 in General

I don’t often have time to write product reviews, but I simply can’t help but share the really great stuff:

I can categorically say that Texy’s TFT Touch Screen and Kit is another one of those things which I can’t help but share!

[Click on the pictures to see additional detail]

Texy’s TFT Touch Screen Kit:

Texy’s TFT Touch Screen and Kit itself comes in 2 forms, just the PCB and Display or with an additional perspex case to fit it all inside.

Text Screen installed and running

Text Screen installed and running

The very smart and practical case with screen

The very smart and practical case with screen

The Display:

These are supplied pre-built ready to plug into your GPIO socket.

The display itself is a 2.8″ TFT backlit display, with a resolution of 320 x 240 (QVGA) and 64k colours, drawing just 90mA.  If you override the backlight (by setting P1 Pin18 LOW) to switch the screen off, it’ll only draw 14mA in standby (ideal for battery powered applications).

The following shows the 2.8″ screen being compared to a 9″ DVD player screen 640 x 220 (from the RPi Analog output).  Note standard TV resolution is around 720 x 480 (or 576) and will always be a little blurred due to the analog signals.

 My 9" 640 x 220 screen is less usable than Texy's.

My 9″ 640 x 220 screen is not as clear as Texy’s.

The Raspberry Pi desktop is small but perfectly formed.

The Raspberry Pi desktop is small but perfectly formed.

We can see the TFT is very sharp and easier to read even on the small screen, thanks to its digital connection.

Aside from providing a useful terminal display, the screen is able to display the Raspberry Pi desktop.  It is even possible to show video (although don’t expect full speed frame-rates).

Despite only being 2.1 inches, thanks to compact fonts you can get a lot of text displayed in the terminal

Despite only being 2.8 inches, thanks to compact fonts you can get a lot of text displayed in the terminal

The magical bonus is the addition of the resistive touch-screen, which opens up a multitude of project possibilities where a full keyboard, mouse and display setup wouldn’t be practical.  Combine this with some python code and Tkinter (for example) and you’ll have a very effective touch-based control system in no time.

Texy’s has also added a P1 header pass-through to the display board, so with the use of a ribbon cable you can either connect the display directly to the Raspberry Pi and make use of the GPIO with the cable, OR you can attach the display to the ribbon cable and use the GPIO connections on the underside of the display.  The Display uses the SPI interface, including CE0 and CE1 (as well as GPIO0 Pin11, GPIO1 Pin12 & GPIO6 Pin22).

The GPIO Pass-through allows me to connect my own ribbon cable so I can still add additional hardware.  Plus the RPi-Camera slots neatly in the corner of the case (you may want to add blu-tack to hold it in place).

The GPIO Pass-through allows me to connect my own ribbon cable so I can still add additional hardware. Plus the RPi-Camera slots neatly in the corner of the case (you may want to add blu-tack to hold it in place).

The rest of the GPIO pins are available for other hardware (there is even a GPIO pinout key printed on the board, which makes a handy quick reference when you really need it).  This is excellent since there are so many kits out there which are greedy and hog all of the GPIO pins, even when they aren’t using them (I wish all designers built in GPIO pass-through into their designs).

The Software:

There are pre-configured images available which will drive the display (this is probably the easiest option for most).  You can modify your own setup to use the screen but this may be difficult for some ((as always making a backup before doing so is recommended).  Note, it will not act like a typical plug-in display, so accelerated output from the GPU is not available for example.  No doubt as the display is used by more people the installation will become easier.  This aspect could be more user friendly, I hope to see some  scripts to switch between different screen outputs and setups.

Additional details are also here:  Configuration and Setup

With the addition of a virtual keyboard such as matchbox-keyboard, you can create a standalone setup.  The touch-screen once calibrated allow you to use it like a mouse, tapping acts like the left mouse button, dragging moves the cursor.

Use the tiny desktop with your finger.

Use the tiny desktop with your finger.

The Case:

An image from Texy showing the screen inside his case.

An image from Texy showing the screen inside his case.

Cases are something which I tend not to go for very often, simply because I often find they restrict the Raspberry Pi too much and get in the way of experimenting with hardware (which I do a lot).  However, I’ve found that once you start adding things onto the Raspberry Pi (wifi dongles, sd-cards sticking out, the Pi Camera, GPIO cables, modules etc etc), more and more of it is exposed to damage so some kind of protection is a must.

Introducing Texy’s display case, which not only provides additional support for the Display unit, but extends out to protect the SD-Card while still allowing access to all the sockets and connections.  It should be obvious that the trade off to having open access is that the case won’t be weather proof, but the Raspberry Pi is lifted off the surface so would stand a good chance in a coffee spill type situation).

There is even a neat little gap next to the LAN port where you can tuck the Raspberry Pi Camera module (see above)!

The clear perspex case is perfect to customise.  I plan to let my daughter decorate some cards which will slot behind the perspex and add our personal touch to the mini-computer.

The clear perspex case is perfect to customise. I plan to let my daughter decorate some cards which will slot behind the perspex and add our personal touch to the mini-computer.

Note: Since it makes use of the Model A and Model B Rev 2 mounting holes, Model B Rev1 boards unfortunately won’t fit without some additional mounting (not included).

The Summary:

The full kit adds up to a very neat and tidy solution, while at the same time not adding excessive weight and bulk to the Raspberry Pi it packs in some exceptionally useful features.

The screen is snug on the top.

The screen is snug on the top.

Until there is the possibility of a larger, higher resolution screen which uses the DSI connector (this is something which only the Foundation will be able to produce as it requires detailed information about the GPU interface to implement), Texy’s screen provides an excellent, low power, compact and affordable option.

By combining the screen with a USB power pack, perhaps a wireless/bluetooth keyboard you have a very neat and portable setup.  You will be able to hack anywhere you want to hack!

Editing Python code in Idle on the go!

Editing Python code in Idle on the go!

It is available by contacting him on the Raspberry Pi forum’s/or visiting his eBay listings from his sales page here: Texy’s TFT Touch Screen and Kit

Prices:

Please check on Texy’s pages to confirm these:

Ready assembled and tested unit will cost £25 (plus postage costs).
The case is available for £12
10cm ribbon cable is available for £3

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Of course for something larger (9 inches), there is now Raspi.tv HDMIPi 9 inch Screen , less portable but beautiful none the less.  Prices start at £75.

RaspiTV’s HDMI screen Kickstarter (which was a huge success)

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Comments
  1. […] Texy’s Mini TFT Screen A evaluarlo… […]

  2. Alex Eames says:

    Nice review TIm.

    I bought one of these in September and only just found time to have a play last night. (Bit of a busman’s holiday for me now after HDMIPi). It’s a really nice little screen, and is begging to be integrated into my RasPiCamcorder’s next iteration.

    Texy’s instructions all worked perfectly on a fresh September 2013 Raspbian install. Just how it should be.

    • Yes, I think it sits in well for when a larger screen isn’t practical.

      Works nicely for situations where you are developing something which perhaps you intend to run without a screen but still need to perform additional debugging or testing with it. Or for cases where you intend to install a Raspberry Pi permanently. Having only used small analogue screens previously it was impressive how readable and usable it was in comparison.

      I have lots of planned projects for them.

      Looking forward to seeing a HDMIPi in the flesh at some point, should start seeing them appear at Raspberry Jams in the future.

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