Hackers love the warm glow of vacuum fluorescent displays (VFDs), and there is no shortage of discarded consumer electronics, which can be pulled out to keep our collective parts bins in sufficient inventory. Unfortunately, figuring out how to actually drive these recycled modules can be tricky.But thanks to everyone’s hard work [Lauri Pirttiaho], We now have a lot of information about The front panel with VFD is used for a variety of Topfield personal video recorder models.
The board is powered by the Hynix HMS99C52S microcontroller and includes five buttons, a small four-character 14-segment display, a larger eight-character field and a series of icons related to media playback. There is also a real-time clock module and an IR receiver on the board. [Lauri] Tell us that there are at least six Topfield models using the same circuit board, which should make it relatively easy to find one.
After determining the position in the 6-pin connector that connects the module to the recorder, I checked it with a logic analyzer and found that they were communicating via UART. With the decoding of the command, [Lauri] Be able to write a simple Python tool that allows you to drive the front panel only by using a USB to serial adapter. But remember, you need to provide 17 VDC on the corresponding pin of the connector to start the VFD.
what is that? You don’t need the entire front panel, just want to pull the VFD itself off the board? not a problem.Our people [Lauri] It is a good record of how the data is transferred from the Hynix microcontroller to the display itself; if you want to free the screen from the PVR decoration, then the key information.
If you manage to master one of these modules, it will be an ideal addition to custom media streaming. Although we think that if you are looking for something simpler, simply converting it to a network controlled clock will be a suitable choice.