I wanted to use one of these cheap hd44780 1602 LCDs (16×2 characters) to display some stats of my headless server. Lcdproc is suitable best for doing this. But how to connect the LCD to to the server? FTDIs came to my mind to connect them via USB. But what to put between the FTDI and the LCD? An Arduino? After some googling I knew that the (all? some?) FTDI232 support a mode called “bit bang” that should be suitable to drive the LCD. After searching half of the net I found a site showing the circuit for connecting the LCD using an FTDI to the computer’s USB port and describing how to configure lcdproc to work. So many thanks to Michael Rogger for the research.
Because you can use ready-made lcdproc binaries you can operate the display using the distro of your choice including rasperry pi’s raspian.
Enclosed some pics of the display I made. There you can see the LCD, the FTDI and two potentiometers to control brightness and contrast. I don’t know yet whether I’ll place it inside a 5.25″ slot or a separate case placed on the desk.
Update: Also works like a charm using a 20×4 (2004) LCD but the potentiometers are no longer reachable. So place them more right on the pcb if you plan to use a 20×4 LCD.