A small 1.14" SPI-based display. Image: Adafruit

In the previous page of this guide, we took a look at the types of display interfaces available to hardware designers. The first installment of this guide looked at low-power, low-resolution, and (potentially) small displays. These are the types of displays you’d connect to a small microcontroller for an IoT thermostat, for instance. Or a smartwatch. Something like that.

For this installment, we’ll be taking a look at vastly more complicated display interfaces, and those usually mean larger, higher-power displays. That’s not a guarantee, though: small, low-power displays can and do use one of the following display interfaces. …


If you’re a hardware designer, the hardest part of any project is always the part with human interaction. An IoT sensor will dutifully report temperature and air quality data, but if there’s no way for a human to interpret those readings, that piece of hardware is no better than a brick.

One of the best ways to give data to a user is with a display. This can be anything from a single LED blinking out Morse code to a high-resolution TFT display. Blinking a LED is easy, but TFTs not so much: there are decisions to be made about…


The coronavirus pandemic has put supply chains under intense scrutiny. While most reporting on this focuses on the delivery of essentials to grocery stores, it’s also found in the engineering of high-tech medical equipment.

A patient in a ventilator, 1938. Image: Keystone/Getty Images

A few years ago, one of a handful of Americans still living in an iron lung faced a problem. Martha Lillard spends about half the day inside a negative-pressure ventilator, better known as an iron lung. Infected with Polio in 1953, she’s spent the better part of seventy years inside a canary yellow cylinder. …


If there is one thing the world learned about this month, it’s supply chains. There is no shortage of toilet paper in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and it’s not as if people are using more toilet paper while under quarantine.

The shortages of toilet paper on supermarket shelves are simply a result of a very small uptick in demand. Stores simply don’t keep a lot of toilet paper on hand; it’s bulky, it takes up space, demand is fairly constant, and in a world of just-in-time supply chains, everything should work out alright.

Of course, this isn’t the…


The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is currently sweeping across the globe. Infection rates are doubling every few days and models by epidemiologists indicate most of the world will be infected in just a few months. While the absolute death rate of coronavirus is small compared to other historical pandemics, there is the very real possibility many areas will run out of medical supplies.

Personal protective equipment is already in short supply, and in countries like the US and UK, there aren’t enough ventilators to support the expected number of coronavirus patients.

Workers produce facemasks at a factory in Yangzhou. Image: STR/AFT via Getty Images

While many cases of COVID-19 infection will only require…


Supply chain management is a hard problem for engineers to solve. There are fake chips everywhere, and those chips may inexplicably make it into production. This means op-amps that don’t have the right capabilities, capacitors that are the wrong value, and chips that simply don’t work.

Derf Electronics in Poughkeepsie, NY is an electronic parts distributor specializing in managing excess inventory from contract manufacturers. These are the left-over reels of parts from board assembly houses, and every part must be verified to make sure it’s a real, genuine component.

Derf must then verify every single batch of parts, and to…


Someone does something the wrong way and I get mad about it, 5G is coming, and so is 5nm, Vatican responds to AI, and Efficiency at Scale

Efficiency goes up at scale, who knew?

Apparently data centers all look like 90s raves with the blacklights turned waaaay up. Image: Josh Edelson / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images
  • Like it or not, the last decade of computing can be defined by The Cloud. Need a server? Amazon’s got it. Need to store multiple Terabytes of data? Throw it in the cloud.
  • At the beginning of the decade, some wondered if this increase in computation would mean greater energy usage. This would, in turn, mean greater emissions.
  • A new study revealed while computing output jumped sixfold from 2010 to 2018, energy consumption…

The Startup Boom Has Bust, The Internet of Things is Terrible, Baby Yoda LED Wall, We Might Be Done With Coronavirus!

The Startup Boom Has Bust

For those of you who weren’t around in the late 90s, here’s a quick refresher. Sears didn’t think that whole ‘Internet’ thing would work out, but let me tell you about Prodigy. Pets.com was shipping kitty litter (heavy!) at a loss. There was a unique, online currency that somehow wasn’t money called ‘Beenz’. There was also an ‘Internet Time’ that didn’t correspond to any existing calendar, and I think the time was words or something. The iPod would arrive…


Despite the problems Boeing is facing over the 737 Max fiasco, the market for airliners has never been better. A report from Airbus says nearly 40,000 aircraft will be needed over the next twenty years. That’s a market worth multiple trillions of dollars.

Boeing and Airbus have captured the market with derivatives of the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320, with inroads being made with Bombardier CSeries/Airbus A220 and a partnership between Boeing and Embraer. The market is a duopoly, but one country wants to challenge that.

The COMAC C919 / Image Credit Weimeng / Airliners.net

Over the last decade, China has been growing their aerospace industry for a very…


Nintendo Playstation! Coronavirus Is Making Manufacturing Difficult! Aronofsky-esque! Vinyl is hot!

There are far, far, better things you could do with that money.

The Nintendo Playstation. Image: Heritage Auctions

Yes, a Nintendo Playstation exists. It began as a collaboration between Nintendo and Sony in the early 90s to put games on a CD-ROM. The deal fell through, but not before about 200 prototype units were produced. Only one remains, and it’s on Heritage Auctions right now. I’m not even going to put the price in here, because it’s a lot, and it’s going to change before it’s published.

  • The owner of the Nintendo Playstation, Terry Diebold, is a reddit user who was looking through a box of his…

Brian Benchoff

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