In my playing with MCUs I finally decided to order an Arduino Uno. Originally I thought of them as a simple toy that would not equate to 'real' MCU programming, however I then realised (and it was pointed out to me) how close these are to the real thing and how great they'd be to get the basics of integration of components. To that end, I snapped one up pronto!
Today it arrived and I couldn't wait to finally attempt my first use of an LCD – in any form. Initially my plan was to try and use my LCD with an ATtiny2313, but it seemed like a bit of a way off as I'd also need to understand how to send the necessary raw data for the HD44780 protocol for an MCU. But the Arduino library has an LCD driver built in, so all I'd have to worry about is figuring out the wiring and just writing some very simple code. In other words, just learn the basics about how to connect up/integrate an LCD into a circuit and later I can focus on writing the low level code.
I'm happy to say, in my first night with my Arduino I succeeded in displaying text on an LCD within a couple of hours – and that was indeed after still making some wiring errors (thought I could skip the contrast control). To achieve the same result with a bare bones ATtiny2313 would have required significantly more effort – and when I stuffed up the wiring I wouldn't know if the problem was my code or the wiring. 😉
So, I look forward to building up a cool little radio project I have in mind that requires an LCD display and has an Arduino at it's core. Stay tuned, and consider grabbing yourself an Arduino – they're CHEAP and FUN!