Sunday, January 13, 2013

Review: HobbyKing Arduino LCD Keypad Shield

Welcome back. Today I will be reviewing the HobbyKing Arduino LCD Keypad Shield (this blog won't be all reviews I hope, but this seems fitting).

When I first ordered my Arduino this was one of the two shields that I ordered with it. It is just what it says on the package. It is an Arduino LCD shield with 5 buttons (6 if you count the reset). It fits perfectly onto my Arduino Mega from HK. I would post a picture of this, but my Arduino is busy at the moment. I honestly have not used the shield since maybe a month after I got the board. It does have 5 buttons you can use, but I quickly moved on to greater things.

This board does not use the serial connection like I understand some LCD shields do. This one actually uses a combination of pins. While all of the pins it plugs into are not used, and one could theoretically solder on headers to the blank holes left on the unused pins, I do not recommend this to the beginner. Or really anyone. It just seems like a bit of a waste of time. You have another 30 or so IO pins still open for your use.

Now, I began trying to make this shield work with no programming experience whatsoever. I have been around robotics long enough to have a basic understanding of programming logic, but I lacked any knowledge of syntax, etc. I managed to get it to work with only code examples I stole off the hobbyking website. I did not write this code nor can guarantee its effectiveness, but I have put the code in my Google Drive in case Hobbyking decides to remove it. It can be found HERE. I hope this will help anyone that may need it.

But anyway.. I should cover the major points. First, you can buy it HERE.

  • Price: It is regularly $8.99, but if you leave the page open for a while it will give you an offer to buy it for $8.32. So I would do that. This is very competitively priced. You may be able to buy something for that price on Ebay, but I would far prefer to get it from a company with a face and reputation to maintain. Plus, I trust Hobbyking more. Call it a fools trust, but they've never treated me badly before except out of my own stupidity.
  • Documentation: Again, there isn't much, but a quick Google search is all it takes to get some. Besides, you're of the tech generation. you wouldn't have read the papers anyway. And this is more fun.
  • Quality: I must admit, the quality was not as nice as the Arduino itself. It was a little rough around the edges, but overall I would say good quality. Mine worked perfectly. It came wrapped in nice anti-static packaging. Seemed like grade A stuff (perhaps an A-).
  • Durability: Well its an Arduino shield so.. it ain't great. But mine survived while I used it.
Overall, this is a nice little board. If you want one, I'd say go for it. I don't know how it stacks up with the serial version they sell. I don't have one of those, but this thing does what it says. It gives a cheap display and five buttons to play with. 

Now, I am glad I have it, but I honestly haven't used it in a while. I have moved on to do more robotics oriented stuff, and it just gets in the way. If you are tough on cash, I would not rate this as a must have. But if you are looking to build a well rounded Arduino arsenal, for $12 or so with the shipping added, I don't see how you could go wrong, especially when the other one (HERE)  is over double the price.

Check out these cool projects using this shield HERE and HERE

That is my take on things anyway. Hope you found this useful and will tune in again sometime. 
Until later, 

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