Serial TFT Display 1.8in

NOTE: This product is now only available as a KIT (not pre-assembled) with a minimum order quantity of 10. It will be DISCONTINUED once existing stock of parts are gone.

Skills required for assembly - due to the fact that some of the pads on the SMD components are under the components, you cannot just use a soldering iron. You will need to use a hot plate or oven. We will send you a stencil as well as the kits so solder paste can be applied accurately to the boards.

At its heart, this is a Serial TFT Display that works with any serial TTL connection, but there is so much more to this product.


  • Serial TTL controlled TFT Display using onboard Arduino based ATmega328.
  • Using the 26 way header on the board, it can plug directly onto a Raspberry Pi computer and connects to the RPi's 0V, 5V and TX pins. (26 way Female header is not supplied with the display and must be bought seperately)
  • Can also be used as a standalone Arduino board with built-in TFT screen and Micro-SD socket

The display is a 160x128 pixel TFT colour display with 18-bit colour, a micro-SD card slot for reading/writing data and images, and an Arduino UNO ATmega328 chipset on the back of the board to control it. As well as displaying text, the serial graphic TFT allows you to draw lines, circles and boxes, change the foreground and background colours and display bitmap images from the SD card socket.

The only connections you need to control all the features of the display are ground, 5V and the RX input line.

There are 2 serial connections on the board.

  1. One has the matching pinout to connect directly to a Sparkfun FTDI Basic breakout boards for programming, and is also used for the serial connection to any microcontroller.
  2. The other is a 26 pin Raspberry Pi header. This allows the unit to plug directly onto a Raspberry Pi and  connects to the 0V, 5V and TX pins on the Raspberry Pi computer. (26 way female header not included - click here for suitable headers)
TFT Serial Display with FTDI Basic TFT Serial Display on Raspberry Pi
Serial TFT connected to Sparkfun FTDI Basic Serial TFT plugged into Raspberry Pi

It's also an Arduino board

The ATmega328 chip on the board is loaded with the Arduino UNO bootloader, so you can easily update the serial firmware for driving the screen or even use it as a standalone Arduino board with built in TFT display. The serial firmware sketch uses up 24k of the available 32k on-board so there is 8k left for your programming.

The ATmega328 uses SPI to communicate with TFT display so is superfast. We have used the excellent 1.8in TFT screen from Adafruit which has a wide viewing angle (unlike STN displays), high-quality colour and a high refresh rate. A full graphics library and example code for Arduino is freely available (see links at the bottom of page).

A micro-SD card slot is provided on the board. This can be used to load bitmap graphics for display on the screen but is not limited to that function. It can be used by the Arduino for any file input/output.


  • 1.8in TFT colour display 160x128 pixels with 18-bit colour (262,144 shades)
  • micro-SD card slot
  • On-board 3.3V 250mA low-dropout voltage regulator to power the display and micro-SD card
  • Can be used with 5V or 3V systems without modification.
  • Turn backlight on and off or control backlight brightness using Arduino PWM output - from 0 (off) to 255 (full).
  • Works in both Landscape and Portrait modes
  • Raspberry Pi expansion port connector. Just plug into your Raspberry Pi for a simple to control TFT screen
  • Fits inside the Raspberry Pi Cases we sell
  • SPI connections on the bottom of the board (used to install bootloader) which can be used for other purposes
  • Default connection is 9600 baud
  • Width: 53mm  Height: 42mm

The board comes fully assembled and tested so you can be sure of a fully working device.

Command Set

The Serial TFT display will automatically display any text sent to it in the currently selected font size and colour, with automatic wrapping.

Commands are sent to the Serial TFT display by sending the ESC character (decimal 27, hex 0x1B), then the command sequence and then finally decimal 255 (0xFF) to terminate the command. (See example programs at bottom of page)

The following commands are available

Function Parameters Notes
0 Clear Screen none  
1 Foreground Colour Colour value (0-7)  
2 Background Colour Colour value (0-7)  
3 Screen Rotation Display Rotation value (0 - 3) 0 - Portrait (left)
1 - Landscape (upside down)
2 - Portrait (right)
3 - Landscape (default)
4 Font Size Size Value (0 - 2) 1 - Small
2 - Medium (default)
3 - Large
5 Goto beginning of line none Based on current text size and position
6 Goto X, Y position (Text) X, Y Depends on currently selected font size for positioning
7 Goto X, Y position (Pixel) X, Y Pixel Positioning
(X = 0 to 159, Y = 0 to 127) - Lanscape
(X = 0 to 127, Y = 0 to 159) - Portrait
0,0 is top left corner
8 Draw Line X1, Y1, X2, Y2 Draws line in currently selected foreground colour between X1,Y1 and X2,Y2
9 Draw Box X1, Y1, X2, Y2 Draws a box (outline) in currently selected foreground colour
10 Draw Filled Box X1, Y1, X2, Y2 Draws a box (filled) in currently selected background colour
11 Draw Circle X, Y, Radius Draws a circle (outline) in currently selected foreground colour with centre at X, Y with radius R
12 Draw Filled Circle X, Y, Radius Draws a circle (filled) in currently selected background colour with centre at X, Y with radius R
13 Display Bitmap X, Y, Filename Display Bitmap (BMP) at coordinates X, Y
14 Backlight Brightness 0 - 100 Set backlight brightness (0 = OFF, 100 = Max).




If you want to see the performance of this little screen, check out this video from Gadgetoid putting it through it's paces


Example Programs

Arduino Example sketch. Displays fonts, circles, boxes and bitmap as seen in the screen images
Raspberry Pi Python program to display RPi logo and current time
Analog Clock from Gadgetoid

Datasheets and source software

Serial TFT Schematic
Arduino Serial TFT Firmware Sketch (Github)
Adafruit GFX Graphics Library for Arduino
Adafruit ST7735 Library and example programs

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Serial Graphic TFT Display 1.8in - KIT

  • Manufacturer: HobbyTronics
  • Product Code: TFTSERIAL-KIT
  • Stock Quantity:  15
      - Backorder not allowed
  • £20.40

  • Ex Tax: £17.00

This product has a minimum quantity of 10

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Tags: Colour, TFT, screen, 128x160, pixels, 1.8, in, display, lcd, raspberry, pi, rpi, serial, 9600, ttl, arduino, microsd, TFTSERIAL, raspberry pi tft lcd, HobbyTronics, micro-sd