Vacuum fluorescent displays (VFDs) have a distinct cool blue-greenish glow, and were once used in a wide range of devices, from VCRs to microwave ovens and even car dashboards. Although extremely popular way back when, they can be more difficult to source today. In the video below, Scotty Allen of the Strange Parts YouTube channel takes on the challenge of getting a $600 ISE (now Noritake) display up and running with an Arduino Due.
The process starts with examining the datasheet to find that the Due’s 3.3V logic can indeed drive the 20×2 character display, then he constructs a custom adapter board to do just that. After more datasheet lurking, head scratching and hacking, he finally got it to show “Hello world!” toward the end of the clip, along with some simple animations.
The VFD control is part of a larger build that will be revealed in the future, and a good reminder of just how much trial and error is needed to succeed in making something awesome.