Pretty damn spiffy eh?
Price: $77 ( currently
on sale @ $67 ) - 29/01/2002
Display, 6 GPOs, Line wrapping, scrolling, contrast,
backlight and time-out setting (up to 180 minutes)
and the facility of upto a 25key keypad.
Hey there, you must be
thinking "wow, chrix, doing an article?
No Way!". Well its true, I thought its
time I come out from behind the scenes and start
writing some content for this excellent website
known as ICEHardware. :o)
Today I'm going to be
reviewing the LK204-25
Orbital. You may be thinking that its just
another boring green alphanumeric LCD, but thats
all wrong (except for the alphanumeric and green
bits :), read on to find out more about this
Setting her up
Now, as this LCD is not
a parallel LCD, its very simple to setup. Infact
you barely have todo anything to get her going.
Its just a case of plugging in the power, the
connection to your chosen COM port and installing
There she is, in all her glory...
Theres her backside...
You can see on the above pic,
the 9 Pin socket and to the right of that something
that looks like a 3pin fan connecter but with
4 pins. The 9 pin socket is obviously where
the connection to the computer serial port is
made, and the red connector is the power. The
pin on the far right marked 'GND' is where you
connect the 0v line of your PSU and the pin
on the far left is where you connect the 12v
line of your PSU.
note, this is the LK204-25V. The 'V' means it
can take a wider range of voltages than the
LK204-25, so dont go putting 12v through that
back to the LCD... :)
going to knock up a quick power cable out of
some bits I had lying around.
Ph34r my gas solderin' iron - hehee
The pin header thingy
Making the cable considerably
longer... ( same length as the serial cable
Dont forget your heatshrink :p
I use a proper heatgun to shrink
my tubing but I think a hairdrier works fine.
Thats the power cable sorted out.
Now all we gotta do is sort out the serial cable
to get the data to the LCD. Wont be able to display
anything interesting (unless you find a flashing
cursor interesting) without that now will we?
"NO!" I hear you cry ;).
Right, about this serial cable.
You may have bought one from Matrix
but if you dont have one I can help you out.
I got mine from Mappers
because I forgot to get one with my MO order -
do'h. All you need is a 9 pin Male to Female lead
of the length you need. I bought myself a 2m one
from Mappers, does the job nicely. The code for
it is DD28.
Here she is with the Mappers serial cable
Both of the cables installed
OK, now that we have both the data
and the power hooked up, we can start testing
this baby. Lets see what she can do. I apologise
in advance for any bad pics, none of them do this
LCD justice, but hey, my camera is old, give it
some respect :P
Now I will try and
show you what this LCD is capable of, it works
with almost all the software out there, and
more is being programmed every minute. You could
also have a go at programming it yourself, so
its capable of anything really. :)
I cant possibly show you everything
( im lazy ) but Ill show you all the things
First, of course, there is the
by Uller which is a simple way of configuring
your LCD once and all your other apps use the
data from it so that you dont have to configure
each one individually.
For my winamp stats and
visualisations I use the Winamp LCD plugin from
Markus Zehnder. Get it here.
The configuration tab
Pretty sweet eh?
I use LCDTime which can
be found here.
Its made by specialK. This needs LCDriver
to be installed and configured before it will
work. Very simple to use.
and various other stats
As I said before, there
are so many different ones, but the following
two are the ones I use regularly.
Its possible to display
any text you want with this app, but also had
Temps, Email status, Winamp, Harddrives etc.
Get it here.
This has its own driver, but you
can also use LCDriver with it.
I always used to use LCDSmartie
from the early days when I used parallel LCDs,
but now basieP has just released a nice new
version with support for the new generation
of serial LCDs :D. Nice small interface, can
be hidden in the system tray. Also has options
to control GPOs according to various other things,
e.g. temps, email etc.
Get it here.
with the apps for now, I'll look at some more
in my upcoming articles which will go into depth
more and really see what this thing can do.
There are many other lcd apps out there, check
for the latest news. Theres also a thread here
with a list of LCD apps.
GPO stands for General
Purpose Output, and this particualr LCD has
6 of them. They are outputs which can deliver
upto 25mA @ 5v and are software controlled.
25mA!?!? thats not much, be that will be 'sorted'
soon ;). The outputs have 2 pins, there is a
positive pin, which is at a constant 5v and
another pin which is at 5v when the GPO is off
( giving a potential difference of 0 ) and is
it 0v when the GPO is on ( giving the stated
potential difference of +5v ). The GPOs can
be controlled by apps such as LCDStats and LCDSmartie
and can turn on when you get new mail for example,
or can turn on if a temperature goes past a
certain boundary. The GPOs can prove to be very
This LCD has the option
of a 25key keypad to be connected to it. The
keypad can be used to control a fair few things.
It can control winamp when used with the right
app, e.g. Play/Pause, Stop, Next track, Last
track etc. It can also be used to turn the GPOs
on and off, which is useful if you want direct
hardware control of your fans.
This is a very nice display,
can be used for virtually anything and is supported
by nearly all of the LCD Apps out there. Its
very easy to setup, if you buy the right bits
Orbital, you could easily get it going in
under 5mins. Its not the best LCD that MO do,
and lacks some nice features that others have,
e.g. it has a LED Array backlight so its not
easy to change the colours, thats about the
only bad thing, but then again its not the most
expensive. It has more 'Mod Potential' than
some of the others too. It begs to be inverted
:D ( well thats another story ;) Its great value
for money, the GPOs and the keypad facility
are very useful, and on sale at the moment,
so head over to MO
and add one to your collection today.