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4Duino combines Arduino, WiFi, and a 2.4-inch touchscreen

Aug 25, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 5,293 views

4D Systems launched a $79 “4Duino-24” Arduino compatible board, with a 2.4-inch resistive touchscreen and an ESP8266 WiFi module.

One reason you might choose a Linux SBC like a Raspberry Pi over an Arduino is that it’s easier to control an LCD display for simple IoT GUIs and other HMI applications. Now the 4Duino-24 board aims to smooth the path to Arduino-based IoT displays with an Arduino Leonardo clone board that not only adds an ESP8266 WiFi module, but also includes a 2.4-inch TFT LCD display with resistive touch.

Two sides of the 4Duino-24
(click images to enlarge)

4Duino is an open source project launched by 4D Systems, a 26-year old Sydney, Australia manufacturer that makes LCD and OLED displays. The company offers a wide variety of “uLCD” display modules, including displays for the Raspberry Pi ranging from 2.4 to 4.3 inches, and BeagleBone touchscreen capes in 4.3- and 7-inch sizes.

4Duino-24 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The 4Duino-24 is driven by an Atmel ATmega32U4 8-bit MCU compatible with the Arduino IDE, with 32KB flash, 2.5KV SRAM, and a 1K EEPROM. The 4Duino communicates using the popular, open source ESP8266 802.11 b/g/n WiFi module from Espressif, which is found in a variety of Arduino-driven products including the Arduino STAR Otto. On the 4Duino, the 1MB of flash on the ESP8266 is pre-programmed with the AT command set firmware for easier development. The module supports WiFi Direct (P2P).

4Duino-24 with GUI
(click image to enlarge)

The 4D Systems uLCD-24PTU touchscreen, which covers one whole side of the 4Duino-24, costs $59 on its own, making the 4Duino-24’s $79 price seem very reasonable indeed. The display is driven by 4D Systems’s Picaso embedded graphics processor. Picaso has a virtual processor core called EVE that integrates byte-code instruction set optimized for 4D Systems’s high-level 4DGL 4D graphics language.

4Duino-24 detail (left) and Picaso block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The Picaso chip is backed up with its own 14KB of programmable flash and another 14KB of SRAM. The 2.4-inch TDT-LCD touchscreen displays 320 x 240 pixels with 65K colors and 4-wire resistive touch. The display is said to support color images, animations, icons, and even video clips, although no frame rates were listed.

The 4Duino-24 is further equipped with a microSD slot, a micro-USB port, and a variety of interface pins laid out like an Arduino Leonardo. These include 20 digital I/O pins, 7 of which can be used as PWM outputs and 12 of which handle analog input.

There are also 5V, 3.3V, GND, and VIN power pins. The 72.8 x 53.3 x 14.6mm, 36-gram board runs on a 4.0V to 5.5V power input with a 5V DC jack. Main through-hole headers are unmounted, and need to be soldered by the customer.

4Duino-24 dimensions
(click image to enlarge)

The 4Duino-24 offers FAT16 file access, and the ATmega32U4 can be programmed via micro-USB by 4D Systems’s GUI-ready Workshop4 IDE or the standard Arduino IDE. The newly updated Workshop4 IDE, which works only on Windows desktops or virtual environments, can now program the ATmega32U4, in addition to the Picaso chip.

The IDE offers four different 4Duino-24 based development environments. These include a Designer environment for standalone operation and 4DGL code development, and two environments — Serial and ViSi — designed for slave serial display setups in which the display is controlled from an external host. There’s also a new, more advanced ViSi Genie environment. ViSi Genie builds on ViSi’s display layout, but also lets you set the events to drive the objects. It then automatically generates 4DGL code.

Further information

The open source 4Duino-24 is available now for $79. More information, including full schematics and detailed documentation, may be found at the 4D Systems 4Duino-24 product page.

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One response to “4Duino combines Arduino, WiFi, and a 2.4-inch touchscreen”

  1. Jerry says:

    Uh, don’t get these Arduino products. Why is the most powerful chip (ESP8266) used as a slave in the system?! It’s like having a Core i7 4770k as a modem for a 8-bit MCU.

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