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Questions on Programming a Touchscreen LCD

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Newbie level 3
May 7, 2011
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Hi guys. I'm beginning research on a project where I will be needing to program a touchscreen LCD to talk with a micro-controller and have a nice GUI.
I've taken digital logic and microprocessors in college but never anything as complex as this.
I don't really know where to start. I assume I'll need a CPLD or FPGA to program the LCD. Could someone shed some more light on this? I'm not too familiar with the advantages and disadvantages of each. I've done basic C and assembly coding. Will this be good for programming a GUI?
And also, does anyone have any good suggestions for touchscreen lcd distributors?
And lastly, please let me know if this is posted in the wrong section, I wasn't sure were to post this.

One solution would be to look at Microsoft's micro net framework.
The framework is open source and free to use.
You can use Visual Studio C# express for code development and real time debugging. Again, a free download from Microsoft.
Makes GUI a drag and drop exercise.
The development boards are mostly Arm processor based, and expandable with 'Shields', boards that stack up on the processor module.
Touch Screen displays are available off the shelf.
There is a lot of information and forums on the net.

For Example:

FEZ (Fast and Easy!) Cobra is a tiny board running Microsoft .NET Micro Framework. This allows developers to write code with more efficiency using C# and Microsoft's latest Visual C# Express edition.

**broken link removed**
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Thanks for the useful info btbass.
So from what I understand, I can do all my coding and debugging for the touchscreen from the development board.
If I wanted to turn my project into a nice module, would I just order the same uP that I'm using on the development board and use that on my PCB design?

Did you visit the 'FEZ Cobra Main Board' Link that I gave above?

There you will find some examples of the touch screen modules.
You do your coding and debugging using a desktop or laptop pc, using Visual Studio and the C# programming language, connected to your development system via usb cable.

If you know C then you will find it easy to use C#, which is a modern, type safe, rapid development, and really cool language.

You don't necessarily need to design a PCB. There are a lot of pre-built modules that might suit your requirements.
If you do need to do a custom pcb, again, it is open source and the schematics are available to download.
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The main part of the project is that a microprocessor is going to be regulating an air pressure valve. There are some sensors as well that will be sending data to this uP in addition to an XBEE. I'm confused on the FEZ board though. To run the touchscreen LCD GUI, I won't need to have the FEZ board connected if I'm understanding correctly. So will I be able to run the touchscreen code off the same uP that is controlling the valve and other functions as well? Can the FEZ board program a separate uP that will be used for the LCD and all other functions. Do you have any suggestions for a uP suited for these tasks? I would also like the uP to be able to connect to a wireless network to transmit data if this is possible although I realize I'll probably have to buy a separate module for this function.
Sorry to keep asking more questions. You're helping me out a lot!


How does the FEZ Cobra run C#? Does it have a version of Windows Embedded? Is this license included in the price? How does it bootup?

there is a module ezLCD (**broken link removed** and **broken link removed**) which is everything you need -an LCD (many different sizes) with touchscreen and built in OS (based on LUA) over 400MHz microprocessor. Because LUA is open source platform you have free development tools. I made many projects with ezLCD and can say that it's ideal for small volume fast prototyping where you need to get professional view. ezLCD is a small computer with LCD and touchscreen.

It runs the Microsoft .net micro framework, which is a stripped down version of the windows .net framework designed for embedded systems.
It is open source and free to use. At the moment, it only supports C# language and is used either with Visual studio C# (or the free down-loadable Visual studio express C#) as a front end and real time debugger to boot your code into the embedded system.

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