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Converting XBM images to raw data for Nokia 3310/5110 LCDs

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xbm2nokia is a shell script that creates raw data for Nokia 3310/5110 LCD from a given set of XBM files. The created data can be either a set of individual graphics, which then contains the full image graphic, or as an animation, in which case the created data is only the pixel diff between frames. Of course, the full data images can be used as well to create animations on the display. However, the animation mode might be more space efficient (exceptions exist though).

Although the main component is the shell script, the actual conversion is done in C, since XBM images are in the end just C code, too. So in the end, the shell script is generating additional C code and compiles a binary for each individual XBM image. The generated binary itself will generate yet more C code, which the shell script is collecting and writing into the main output files, nokia_gfx.c and nokia_gfx.h. Those files can then be used to display images on the LCD.

The generated files are targeted for AVR microcontrollers, but adjusting the xbm2nokia code to suit for other targets shouldn't be too difficult. The only actual AVR specific part is the added PROGMEM declaration to store the data in program memory when compiling.

Creating image data

Obviously some XBM images are required to run the script, and a Nokia LCD to actually test it. There's an example included for an AVR ATmega328, more on that a bit below.

Ideally, the images are 84x48 pixels, as this is the resolution of the Nokia LCD. Other resolutions can be used, but this will require more adjustments later on to copy the image data to the LCD memory. If the images are 84x48 pixels, the whole image data can be just memcpy'd as is.

So let's say we have three images: test1.xbm, test2.xbm and test3.xbm. To generate three, individual images out of this, the script is called with the -g parameter:

./ -g /path/to/test1.xbm /path/to/test2.xbm /path/to/test3.xbm

This will result in nokia_gfx.c and nokia_gfx.h files in the current directory, with the .h files containing declarations like this:


extern const uint8_t nokia_gfx_test1[];
extern const uint8_t nokia_gfx_test2[];
extern const uint8_t nokia_gfx_test3[];

and the .c file containing the actual data then. These are all just raw char arrays with the image data.

To create an animation (it really just is frame transition diff data, or however you want to call it), the script is called with the -a parameter: the -g parameter:

./ -g /path/to/test1.xbm /path/to/test2.xbm /path/to/test3.xbm

This will again create the nokia_gfx.c and nokia_gfx.h files, but this time the variables are structured like this:


extern const uint8_t nokia_gfx_keyframe[];
extern const struct nokia_gfx_frame nokia_gfx_trans_test1_test2;
extern const struct nokia_gfx_frame nokia_gfx_trans_test2_test3;
extern const struct nokia_gfx_frame nokia_gfx_trans_test3_test1;

In addition, some data structure definitions are added as well, and the data itself is a bit more complex than it was before. Except the nokia_gfx_keyframe char array, this is again just full screen data as before. The other structs contain all individual pixel changes to get from the keyframe test1.xbm to the next frame test2.xbm, from there to test3.xbm and finally back to test1.xbm to have a full loop.

How to actually use the data is probably best understood by studying the included example's code.

Running the example

The example is targeted for an ATmega328 running at 8MHz, using the avr-gcc toolchain and make for building, as well as an USBasp programmer.

The directory contains:

  • some simple XBM images x1.xbm...x9.xbm of a crappy drawn face with moving eyes
  • Nokia LCD control and helper functions nokia_lcd.c taking care of the actual data transfer
  • the main example program example.c, which is probably the best starting point to study how the data is used. Also contains the ATmega pinout.
  • Makefile for compiling and flashing

The example handles both, the individual graphics and the animations. Either option is chosen based on the NOKIA_GFX_ANIMATION preprocessor flag.

To actually test the example, connect a Nokia 5110 LCD to an ATmega328 as commented in the example.c file header.

First step, get to the example directory and generate the iamge data:

$ cd example
$ ../ -a *.xbm
Creating animation
creating keyframe from x1.xbm
creating frame x1.xbm -> x2.xbm
creating frame x2.xbm -> x3.xbm
creating frame x3.xbm -> x4.xbm
creating frame x4.xbm -> x5.xbm
creating frame x5.xbm -> x6.xbm
creating frame x6.xbm -> x7.xbm
creating frame x7.xbm -> x8.xbm
creating frame x8.xbm -> x9.xbm
creating frame x9.xbm -> x1.xbm

The animation mode is probably more interesting to study, but creating individual graphics instead is also possible, just use the -g parameter instead. The example will handle either way - and you can also see how the binary size will differ, while both modes result in the same LCD content.

Once the data is generated, everything else is set up. All it takes is to compile it with make.

$ make
avr-gcc -c -g -Os -std=gnu99 -I. -Iusbdrv -I../lib -funsigned-char -funsigned-bitfields -fpack-struct -fshort-enums -Wall -Wextra -Wstrict-prototypes -DF_CPU=8000000 -mmcu=atmega328p  -Wa,-adhlms=example.lst,-gstabs  example.c -o example.o
avr-gcc -c -g -Os -std=gnu99 -I. -Iusbdrv -I../lib -funsigned-char -funsigned-bitfields -fpack-struct -fshort-enums -Wall -Wextra -Wstrict-prototypes -DF_CPU=8000000 -mmcu=atmega328p  -Wa,-adhlms=nokia_lcd.lst,-gstabs  nokia_lcd.c -o nokia_lcd.o
avr-gcc -c -g -Os -std=gnu99 -I. -Iusbdrv -I../lib -funsigned-char -funsigned-bitfields -fpack-struct -fshort-enums -Wall -Wextra -Wstrict-prototypes -DF_CPU=8000000 -mmcu=atmega328p  -Wa,-adhlms=nokia_gfx.lst,-gstabs  nokia_gfx.c -o nokia_gfx.o
avr-gcc -g -Os -std=gnu99 -I. -Iusbdrv -I../lib -funsigned-char -funsigned-bitfields -fpack-struct -fshort-enums -Wall -Wextra -Wstrict-prototypes -DF_CPU=8000000 -mmcu=atmega328p  example.o nokia_lcd.o nokia_gfx.o -o example.elf -Wl,,--cref
avr-objcopy -O ihex -R .eeprom example.elf example.hex
   text    data     bss     dec     hex filename
   2210       0     523    2733     aad example.elf

All that's left is to flash the ATmega. The Makefile assumes the USBasp is used for programming, you may need to adjust this.

$ make program
avrdude -p atmega328p -c usbasp -U flash:w:example.hex
avrdude done.  Thank you.

That's it. The display should show now some crappy face moving its eyes. Next step could be using the other mode and re-create all image. In that case, it is a good idea to clean the build directory before compiling. So once finishes, run either make clean or make distclean before running make again.


Converting XBM images to raw data for Nokia 3310/5110 LCDs



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