SUPPORTTechnical support FAQ

VFD

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General

What is VFD (Vacuum Fluorescent Display)?
This is a unique display panel (display) that was invented by us at the beginning of the world, in which electrons are emitted by using the same principle as a vacuum tube to make a phosphor emit light. In English, "Vacuum Fluorescent Display" is abbreviated as "VFD".
When did it developed?
It was invented in 1966 by Dr. Tadashi Nakamura, the founder of Ise Electronics Corportion (now NORITAKE ITRON CORPORATION). While continuing to develop, it produces over 100 million panels per year.
Is it different from liquid crystal (LCD)?
According to a completely different principle. You can see the difference at a glance if you compare it, but unlike LCD, which looks at the transmitted light by applying a light source from the back, VFD has a very high-class feeling because the display itself emits light (self-luminous). You can get an easy-to-read display.
What is the drive voltage?
Depending on the size of the VFD, VFD alone is about 12V to 70V. Also, many VFD modules can be driven from a single 5V power supply.
How to apply the voltage?
Apply a specified voltage (12-70V DC) to the filament (-) and grid / anode (+). The filament requires a separate power supply (2-15V AC) for filament heating.
How is the life time?
Generally, it is over 30,000 hours. (Color phosphors such as red become shorter.) With a small clock, the brightness is practically sufficient even after 10 years. Also, even if you say "life", it does not suddenly disappear like a bulb out of a light bulb, but in the case of VFD, the brightness gradually decreases, so when it becomes dark to some extent (in the specification sheet the half value of MIN. luminance) is defined as "life".
What is "itron"?
A registered trademark of the Vacuum Fluorescent Display tube manufactured and sold by NORITAKE ITRON DORPORATION (Ise Electronics Corp.).

BD series

What is BD series (BDVFD)?
It is a new driver built-in type (CIG) VFD developed by NORITAKE ITRON CORPORATION. This is a slim high-density driver chip built into the VFD.
Is there anything different from conventional CIG?
The conventional CIG has a relatively large chip, and an extra space for mounting the chip was required. In the BD series, by adopting a specially designed chip, it is possible to embed a chip with the same external size as a normal VFD.
What is the function of the built-in driver chip?
It consists of a CMOS driver, level shifter, latch, and shift register, and has the same configuration as a conventional VFD driver. In the static drive type, the latch operates as a memory, so the display data once written is retained inside the driver.
What are the selling points of the BD series?
There are various characteristics such as;

-Easy to realize static drive with high brightness at low voltage.
-The multiplex display greatly increases the number of controllable segments. Therefore, complicated dot matrix display can be realized.
-Since it is a CIG type, no external driver is required. It can be driven directly from a general CPU.
-Easy mounting and standardization because only a few pin connections are required.

Is there anything good with "static drive"?
There are advantages such as;

- Free pattern layout is possible because there is no grid division
- Can be driven with a low voltage of 12V to 15V
- Easy to get High brightness
- Low power consumption, long life, low noise
- No display flicker
- Display control is easy because no grid scan is required

Why is "static drive" easy with BD?
Static drive is a method of driving one segment with one driver. When trying to drive statically with a conventional VFD that is not the CIG type, it is necessary to connect each segment to the lead pin one by one, so the number of pins becomes very large. In the BD series, many segments are connected to the driver inside the VFD, and the number of lead pins pulled out to the outside of the VFD is drastically reduced, so it is possible to realize even in the case of display patterns where static drive has been given up to now.
Is there anything good about "multiplex drive"?
There are advantages such as;

-Since the number of pins is reduced, VFD mounting becomes easier and PCB layout flexibility is also improved.
- PCB can be downsized because no external driver is required.
- It is possible to control a huge number of segments that far exceeds the limit of one-chip microcomputers.
- If the number of segments per grid is increased and the number of grid divisions is reduced, high brightness can be achieved at low voltage.
- Reducing the number of grid divisions and increasing the flexibility of pattern layout.

I understand the benefits, but what about the cost?
Compared to the case of trying to realize the same display pattern with a normal VFD "static drive" that is not CIG, it can be said that the BD type has a clear cost advantage. Also, when comparing with the case of trying to realize the same pattern with "multiplex drive" of normal VFD, it depends on the number of segments of the display pattern, but the number of segments is relatively small, so-called VFD dedicated microcomputer ( If it can be directly driven by one chip microcomputer, the BD is more costly. On the other hand, if the display pattern has a large number of segments that cannot be directly driven by a 1-chip microcomputer, BD can be said to be more cost effective.
How reliable is the BD series?
Since the driving part is inside the vacuum, there are few connection points and it is theoretically considered higher than the normal type. In terms of service life, low voltage drive is also advantageous.
Is there a limit to the BD series?
Yes. Since the maximum withstand voltage of the driver that can be built in at present is fixed, the brightness will be dimmed to some extent in the case of multiplex drive in which the number of grids exceeds 100.
What is the compatibility with CPU?
-No need for a high voltage output port like a conventional CPU that can directly drive a VFD tube. Any general-purpose CPU with serial output can be driven.
Is it possible to apply brightness gradation?
It is possible to control the brightness level of the entire screen by controlling the blanking (BK). However, please avoid changing BK during data writing because it may cause malfunction. There is also a model that allows brightness gradation for each segment (dot).
Is BD compatible with custom design?
Yes. It is possible. The development cost and the development period are almost the same as those of the previous VFD.

VFD Module

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General

What is a VFD module?
The VFD module is a display module that has a VFD, power supply, microcomputer, and interface on a printed circuit board so that you can easily control the VFD (Vacuum Fluorescent Display), which is a display with excellent visibility.
Where are they used?
Good visibility, wide viewing angle and wide temperature range display are used in various fields and environments such as POS / ECR, audio equipment, medical equipment, measuring equipment, broadcasting equipment, video equipment, cooking equipment, industrial control equipment, amusement machines.
What are the benefits of using the VFD module?
There are advantages such as;

- Reduction of development time and cost of drive circuit and firmware design
- Reduction of parts procurement and management cost
- Purchasing the required quantity (even small quantity is possible)
- Simple display control by command command
- F-ROM installed The GU-3000 series can also be used in standalone operation.

Where do you manufacture VFD modules?
All are produced in Japan. We provide high quality and service that can be done because it is made in Japan.
What kind of VFD module are there?
There are character type (CU) and graphic type (GU). Many of our graphic types have fonts, so you can display characters as easily as character types. Furthermore, the series is divided according to each unction and feature. For details, please see the product information.

Technical questions

What do I need to use the VFD module?
To use it, you need a controller for control, software (program), power supply, signal cable, power cable, etc. If you want to evaluate immediately, please use the evaluation kit that can be easily lighting and operation on your PC.
What kind of input voltage is supported?
Many products have 5V input. Some products also have 3.3V and 24V inputs. Please contact our sales department as it may be compatible with input voltages other than these.
What kind of interface do you support?
Standard product supports interfaces such as CMOS serial, RS232, CMOS parallel, USB, LAN (using adapter). These differ depending on the product, so please check the specifications. Also, please contact us as it may be compatible with other interfaces.
If I can't get it to work, can you help?
First, please check the solution on the technical support page. If you still can't solve it, our customer support desk will be happy to answer your technical questions. Please ask by email.
Is it compatible with noise?
Compliant with EMI (FCC) / ESD (IEC61000) standards. Please contact us for measurement data of representative products for each series.
How do you conduct an ESD test?
Since the VFD module is used by incorporating it into various products, it is implemented in a method that complies with the IEC61000 standard, which is a product evaluation standard. Since the VFD module cannot be tested for direct discharge, only an indirect discharge test is performed. The ESD test is up to 15KV.
Is there a way to increase ESD resistance?
Regardless of whether the display contents are changed or not, if you regularly rewrite the display contents, the ESD resistance may improve. At this time, it is more effective if you rewrite the registers and setting values ​​within the range that does not affect the display.
What about the environment? Does it comply with RoHS?
We have acquired ISO14000 and are environmentally friendly. All our standard products are RoHS compliant.
Is it possible to adjust the brightness / contrast?
Regarding the brightness, it is possible to adjust the brightness in several steps using the brightness control command. The adjustment range is different for each product, so please check the specifications. Use the color filter to adjust the contrast. For details, please refer to the section of "Optical filter".
Is it possible to change the display color?
The luminescent color is green, but you can change the hue freely by using an optical filter.
Is the optical filter included?
Not included in the standard product. It is common to install an optical filter (acrylic plate, etc.) slightly away from the front of the display to adjust the contrast and color and protect the glass surface.
How is the product life?
Please refer to the VFD life.

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