Coby DP-151SX Hacking – LCD Extraction and Interrogation

8:37 pm Cleverness, Projects

In this previous post I disassembled the Coby DP-151SX digital picture frame. This device is very hackable, and includes a lot of goodies such as a Li-Ion battery and battery charger circuit as well as a neat little color LCD display with a white LED backlight. The pinout for the LCD is in the previous post.

The MAXQ2000 microcontroller development board I have uses a 0.1″ spacing header to connect to the I/O pins, so I made a little adapter and wired it up to the LCD connector using wire-wrap wire. It uses 13 I/O lines, but that could be reduced 11 if CS# is wired to ground and RST# tied to a separate reset IC (such as a MAX811). It’s actually a good idea to use CS#, because you can then multiplex the functionality of all the other pins and recover that I/O.

Here is a picture showing the LCD up and running with a simple test pattern:
Coby DP-151 Photo Keychain - LCD Extraction and Interrogation

It’s not 128×128, but actually 132×132 pixels. The color depth is 16-bit using a fairly standard 5-6-5 bit encoding. See the PCF8833 datasheet for more details.

Spark Fun has a similar LCD display which uses the same controller, only it costs $20. sells the Coby-151SX in black for $10. Not a bad deal: for $10 less you get a Li-Ion battery, mini-USB cable, and a driver CD, which you could use as a coaster for your Mountain Dew to help with the LCD programming. Spark Fun has some sample code which you should easily be able to adapt for parallel mode (since the Coby LCD connector brings out the parallel data lines, unlike the Spark Fun LCD).

The source code for my test program will get posted once I clean it up and possibly add functionality (Character fonts? Bit blitters?)

21 Responses
  1. Hacking a digital picture keychain - Hack a Day :

    Date: January 8, 2009 @ 9:39 am

    […] Coby DP-151sx Digital picture frame keychain seems to be ripe for hacking. At roughly $9, you get a screen, and Li-Ion battery. That’s not bad considering a similar […]

  2. Jon From NJ :

    Date: January 8, 2009 @ 10:22 am

    Thats awesome….so you can run color tests on this? …..

  3. ian :

    Date: January 8, 2009 @ 10:27 am

    Is it possible to configure the PCF8833 for serial mode using the exposed pins?

  4. Darkzero :

    Date: January 8, 2009 @ 11:46 am

    What do you think you’ll be capable of doing with it?

  5. Colin :

    Date: January 8, 2009 @ 5:26 pm

    It would be great to use it for receiving/diplaying video from a 2.4 gig transmitter from my model plane. You would have to know which pin to insert the received video.
    happy hacking

  6. Jake Turner :

    Date: January 8, 2009 @ 6:57 pm

    Very slick. Do you think this could be used as a USB-driven display for PCs? Having a dedicated LCD for something like system temperature would be sweet.

  7. Jokumo :

    Date: January 8, 2009 @ 9:31 pm

    ya I wish i could hook it up to my psp to view my camera 😛

  8. Vhangell :

    Date: January 9, 2009 @ 12:06 am

    Can we make it display date and time, with nice background.. Makes a good watch, clock

  9. Querystring » Hacking a digital picture keychain :

    Date: January 9, 2009 @ 7:49 am

    […] Coby DP-151sx Digital picture frame keychain seems to be ripe for hacking. At roughly $9, you get a screen, and Li-Ion battery. That’s not bad considering a similar […]

  10. eric :

    Date: January 9, 2009 @ 7:43 pm

    There’s a project that has successfully reprogrammed the onboard microcontroller to act as a secondary display for your PC. There’s also extensions for mp3 player programs and so forth.

    It would make a really neat little watch. You’d probably have to put in a way to disable the backlight to save power…

    It won’t take video from a camera directly, however. You’d have to make a circuit to digitize the video and then send the pixels off to the screen. It’s probably easier to buy an NTSC-compatible display.

    I don’t think you can configure this panel for serial mode. To do that you need access to 3 mode-control pins which aren’t available on the connector.

  11. Rachid :

    Date: January 10, 2009 @ 2:55 pm

    Perhaps a silly question, but can you hook a videosignal to these screens ?
    For example, can I hook my DVD-players videout (Composite – Y/C – RGB) to this device ?
    I haven’t found any information (or a good pinout) about this online…

  12. Gregory :

    Date: January 10, 2009 @ 4:45 pm

    I dont think composite or something like that would work, if you had a microcontroller its almost a certainty that you could, but you would have to find out the pinout and the display protocol it uses, i would imagine it would be a fairly standardised one.

  13. Abby :

    Date: January 15, 2009 @ 2:58 pm

    I am interested in using a microcontroller to control which of the images in the digital frame’s memory will be displayed. Is there a very simple way to do this?

  14. ElectricalEngineer :

    Date: January 17, 2009 @ 8:29 pm

    It is possible to do such a thing but as listed above it would be far more cost efficient to just buy a different display. part of the problem is that your working with a digital display, and you want to use analog signals. it would be possible with some conversion ICs or probably an FPGA but again wouldnt be cost efficient to do so. these are really neat displays im interested to see what cool projects are gonna be built.

  15. Ray Alderman :

    Date: February 15, 2009 @ 9:55 am

    Was there any particular reason you used the MAXQ2000 microcontroller, beyond having one laying around? I would like to do this with an AVR 8 bit controller, but want to make sure there isn’t anything funky I should know. Because it’s a parallel interface, the pin count is high for an 8bit, but that is OK for the application I have in mind.

    Looking forward to any code samples and whatnot. Are you finding anything like fonts or basic shapes available in the PCF8833?

  16. eric :

    Date: February 18, 2009 @ 6:19 pm

    You should be able to use any 8-bit micro. Note that the I/O voltage needs to be 3.0V, not 3.3V. The LCD display can’t operate at 3.3V according to the datasheet.

    I picked the MAXQ2000 because I have one, and also because it’s a 16-bit micro with a hardware multiply-accumulate (good for graphics work).

    Eventually I will post some routines I put together for drawing fonts, lines, bitmaps, and so forth.

  17. ZQ :

    Date: February 19, 2009 @ 12:18 am

    Hmm I got a couple of the coby DP-151’s but the circuit board seems to be different. The back casing of the unit indicates 151BW, and the LCD connector seems to have 29 pins instead of 27. Any idea if the pin numbers are the same?

  18. eric :

    Date: February 21, 2009 @ 12:39 pm

    That’s interesting. Can you put up some photos of the board? I would imagine the pinout is similar.

  19. ZQ :

    Date: February 22, 2009 @ 8:03 pm

    This is a photo of the board and connector. It looks very different from the one here.

  20. eric :

    Date: February 22, 2009 @ 8:56 pm

    ZQ: I think the 2 pins at the bottom power the LED backlight. Looks like the same pins are all there just in a different order. It would take a bit of work with a scope to figure out what pin does what.

  21. endy :

    Date: February 25, 2010 @ 5:29 am

    here is the datasheet for the Varitronix display

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