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Topic: Enhanced LiquidCrystal (Read 15 times) previous topic - next topic


8 data pins + RW 432 milliseconds
8 data pins - RW 641 milliseconds
4 data pins + RW 719 milliseconds
4 data pins - RW 1038 milliseconds

I don't think there should be that big a difference between the 8-bit and the 4-bit speeds for the same RW configuration.  I haven't checked your code but I hope you took into account the fact that there is no delay (or busy check) required between the sending of the high nibble and the sending of the low nibble.  



One more option for connecting the 40x4 LCD that I realized was there--not a change to the code but just using the fact that internally the flag for the RW line not having been passed is 255.

LiquidCrystal lcd(RS,255,Enable1,Enable2,  data3,data2,data1,data0);

which saves one pin in the interface. Again it runs about 1/3 slower this way.


I AM checking the busy flag between nibbles. When I change that, it does speed things up by about 1/3. I have seen a couple of odd characters on the screen though. I will run this through the complete test procedure.

I'm impressed once again at how perceptive you are about problems with interfacing these LCDs!  



Don Weiman pointed out that the benchmark was slower than it should be for the 4 data line options and correctly intuited that I was checking the busy flag between nibbles. He was exactly right. I have updated the zip file and the new benchmark data is:
8 data pins + RW   431 milliseconds
4 data pins + RW   532 milliseconds
8 data pins - RW    641 milliseconds
4 data pins - RW    687 milliseconds

The standard library routine also includes an unnecessary delay between nibbles (calling pulseEnable for each nibble includes the 100 microseconds delay there).

Thanks again to Don


Looks like your site is down again.
I'm not able to download tried yesterday and today.


seems to work, as does the main site.


Feb 09, 2010, 12:40 pm Last Edit: Feb 09, 2010, 07:08 pm by wortelsoft Reason: 1
Ok, it seems to be a problem with the firewall you are using port 8000.
Will have to try it from a different pc.

[edit]it was the firewall[/edit]



I was curious as to how you checked for the busy flag and looked at your code. It seems to me you have a bus issue that may damage the LCD and/or the Arduino when checking the busy flag.

The way I read the HD44780 datasheet is that the full bus (8 datalines) will be reversed when you pulse EN and RW is low. In your code however you only reverse the Arduino busy bit (B7) to input. The other bits (B0 to B3 for 4-bit and B0-B6 for 8-bit) will then be low impedance output as will the Arduino pins. If the LCD/Arduino outputs are at opposing logic levels you will have a dangerous short.

Did I miss something or are you reading the datasheet differently?


Feb 10, 2010, 03:17 pm Last Edit: Feb 10, 2010, 03:20 pm by floresta Reason: 1
... seems to work, as does the main site.
I'm having trouble getting past the second page on my Health Risk Appraisal.  After I click on "Ask me the questions..." I get an almost blank screen with the message "no age,sex cookie found.<BR>Quest1:  {}"  This happens with Firefox 3.5.7 and IE 7.0.x on Windows XP.  Maybe it has a premonition that my appraisal will be too bleak.

Back to the real topic...  
It seems to me you have a bus issue ...

It seems to me that Ben is correct.  I think I reversed all of the bits on the code I sent you.  I may even have reassembled the byte. You can never tell when you might want to use the address information that is provided on those bits.



I was reluctant to set all the pins to input because I thought it would take a long time. I have not seen a problem here after running quite a lot of data through the interface but if Ben and Don think there's an electrical issue, they are probably right. I will work on this; in the meantime stick with the options that don't pass RW since those don't test the busy flag, leave RW low and data in one direction.

We'll see how timing comes out if I switch all of those pins' mode.


quickly ballparking performance -- I'd added a couple of things since the previous benchmark to make println work properly so this isn't quite the same as what was benchmarked before:
8 data pins +RW 619
8 data pins - RW 650
4 data pins +RW 678
4 data pins -RW 734

So I'm thinking that pulling out all of the busy flag testing stuff makes a lot of sense; there are several hundred bytes of code and the performance advantage is less than 10% if I switch all the data pins to INPUT during the busy flag test and then back to OUTPUT when that is done.

It will probably be the end of the weekend before I do all of that and test it thoroughly; it'll be shorter than what I have now, slightly faster than the non-busy flag test above, still work with 40x4, fix linewrap, fix println, fix scroll preceding setCursor, fix the 16x4 thing.

I really have run an awful lot of characters through this thing without seeing an electrical problem but I certainly have to defer to the engineering guys; the logic diagram describing the arduino digital pins, pullup resistors etc is considerably beyond me.


I did get the code modified and reposted tonight.

Modifications to LiquidCrystal for the Arduino

I made several modifications to the LiquidCrystal library module from Arduino17:

40x4 LCDs
I added support for an LCD of 4 LInes and 40 characters. I think that if 24x4, 32x4 LCDs exist, they would also work with the software as I have modified it although I have not had the opportunity to test that. The 40x4 LCD (and any HD44780 based LCD with between 81 and 160 characters) will have 2 enable lines. To use an LCD with 4 lines and 40 columns you would declare your LiquidCrystal object as:
LiquidCrystal lcd(RS,RW,Enable1,Enable2,  data3,data2,data1,data0); at this time I don't support 8 data lines. (You can pass 255 as the RW item, ground RW and save an Arduino pin.)
Then in the setup function you would call:

When you declare the dimensions of the LCD in your begin call, the LiquidCrystal library remembers how long the lines are. Now when it reaches the end of line 1, text wraps onto line 2 (not line 3 as previously).

Although print has worked properly in the past, println has not. Now the '\r' and '\n' characters are not sent to the screen as though they were visible characters and the '\r' resets the character position to the top of the next line.

16x4 LCDs
The begin statement also correctly positions text at the beginning of the line on 16x4 (and 40x4) LCDs, which were not correctly handled before.

In the past setCursor selected a location in the HD44780's RAM not actually a screen location. If you use any of the commands that shift the display left or right with the previous routines, then setCursor and print, text appears in an unexpected location on the screen. With the new software,  if you call either scrollDisplayLeft() or scrollDisplayRight(), the LiquidCrystal package keeps track of the relationship between RAM and the LCD so that setCursor coordinates are pegged to a specific spot on the screen, rather than a spot in RAM. The sotware does not handle autoScroll, however. Call home() after autoScroll to restore the expected relationship between setCursor and the LCD screen.Speed testing
All of the interface modes go faster than the eye can follow. I compared the speeds of the different interfaces--writing 80 characters to the screen then 80 blanks and looping through that 20 times. The results are:
4 data pins 727 milliseconds
8 data pins 644 milliseconds
The 4 data pin option is significantly faster than the previous LIquidCrystal which takes 1076 milliseconds because of an unnecessary delay between sending the high and low data nibbles.

Crazy 8 Addressing
16x1 LCDs often have an unusual address layout; these modules often have two 8 character halves and work best with this software if you declare them as lcd.begin(8,2); if you do that, then you can print("abcdefghilklmno"); and have all the characters appear as you would like across the screen. If you use any of the scrolling commands, the bizarre addressing of these modules will manifest itself. For details follow the _LCD Addressing_ link at web.alfredstate.edu/weimandn

The two real disadvantages I can see to the changes I have made are:

The code is a little longer than before.

2. The possibility that someone with a little 16x2 LCD is using the scrollDisplayLeft() or scrollDisplayRight() instructions to move data across the screen, but wants to write the data 40 characters at a time with a print statement. This version really does not let the user write data to the HD44780 DDRAM which is not visible. To accomplish a scrolling display with 40 characters per line, you would now need to write 16 characters, scroll the display, write a little more and so on.

There are going to be some incompatibilities between code that assumed that line 1 wrapped onto line 3, etc.

Directions for the future
I see little purpose to retaining the 8 pin interface or RW pin options. Even in the slowest situation output to the LCD goes faster than the eye can follow. The slowest situation would be using the 40x4 LCD, doing a scrollDisplayLeft() or scrollDisplayRight() and then printing 160 characters. When the display has been scrolled, the software actually calls setCursor internally with every character sent to the LCD, so you would be communicating 480 items to the LCD in that instance. As I have tested the various interfaces with the various shapes of LCDs, I have reflected many times on the likelihood that no one else has tried the 8 bit interfaces for some time. Don Weiman argues that inclusion of both 4 and 8 bit interfaces makes the code harder to read. I am more motivated by the idea that the 8 bit interface takes up Arduino RAM and pins but contributes little additional function.

The one bug I am aware of is that autoscroll() on a 40x4 LCD only scrolls 2 lines despite my best efforts.

Certainly my efforts would not have been possible without the help and prior efforts of David Mellis, Limor Friede, and Donald Weimann. Don was particularly patient in guiding me through the idiosyncracies of the HD44780 based LCDs.


The one bug I am aware of is that autoscroll() on a 40x4 LCD only scrolls 2 lines despite my best efforts.

Yeah... :( I don't need that for anything though. Thanks for the updated code.



I've spent several hours trying to fix it and have absolutely no use for autoscroll myself. Interestingly I can get it to be either group of 2 lines depending on where on the screen I was writing last. the LCDtest suite (included in the download) demos this. It of course doesn't affect smaller LCDs with only one HD44780. As far as I can tell it doesn't affect the other commands that need to go to both HD44780 chips on the 40x4--clear, home, righttoleft text mode, scrolling under program control, display on/off etc.  >:(


one more clue, perhaps, is that the while which 2 lines autoscroll seems to depend on where I wrote last (the 2 lines I didn't write last are the ones that scroll), the autoscroll commands are always sent first to the upper 2 lines then to the lower 2 lines.

I think I am finished with the project at this point, unless some smart person can figure out that last bug. I've done a lot more than I set out to do at the beginning, which was just to get it working with the 40x4 display. I've learned a lot and had a lot of fun doing it.

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