Multiple TFTs for slideshows - advice sought


#1

Hi, folks! So I’m looking at a hopefully interesting project. Specific questions below.

Basically I want to install a bunch of tiny TFT displays into a model, in order to simulate control panels. Think of the square-ish displays used in 2001: a Space Odyssey. Each display in that movie would display some sort of status output - sometimes text scrolling down, or a static display. Occasionally visual animations would appear.

Now, I could just make some static displays on transparency materials, but I want the displays to change like they do in the movie! So I thought some tiny TFT displays would be great - just cycle through some bitmaps.

Thing is I’m having difficulty figuring out a simple way to do it. So my questions are:

  1. I need maybe 3 or 6 tiny TFT LCDs in the model, controlled by as few microcontrollers as possible. Can any of the popular microcontrollers drive multiple TFTs?

  2. I need to load maybe a dozen colour bitmaps, and cycle through them, ideally with varying time values. The fastest change in bitmap might be 1/10 sec, but mostly they’d cycle through every few seconds, so shoving a bitmap over SPI should be fine. What LCDs can do that? I’ve found at least one TFT that only supports plotting pixels and can’t support bitmaps.

  3. because I’m lazy I’d love to be able to use Makecode/drag’n’drop coding or something instead of coding in C on an Arduino, but I’ll take what I can get. :) Can any Makecode-codable device drive bitmaps to a TFT?

  4. I’ve seen a couple of TFTs that have micro SD card slots on the back. I don’t quite get how this works. Is it possible to have the microcontroller simply tell the TFT to “load bitmap X from flash” or whatever? Or is the memory card sort of like a filesystem for the microcontroller, which then has to send the bitmap over SPI to the TFT?

Any thoughts on the simplest way to do this would be appreciated! Thanks. :)