Serial VFD Module

VFD-220 Two-line by 20-character Serial VFDs

VFD-220s are vacuum fluorescent displays with an advanced serial interface factory-installed. The VFD displays text received serially, and the interface understands common terminal-style formatting instructions (e.g., carriage return, tab, etc.)

In addition to these standard features, VFD-220 has EEPROM memory for storage of a custom startup screen and configuration settings; a screen-saver to prevent premature aging of the VFD; and an automatic bargraph generator with multiple styles.

VFD-220 Features

  • Terminal-style control codes for easy programming
  • 2400/9600bps serial input with 64-byte buffer
  • Configurable screen saver dims the display when inactive to prevent burn-in
  • Automatic right-alignment feature for spreadsheet-perfect formatting
  • EEPROM storage of settings, startup screen
  • Deep inventory for no-lead-time delivery

Basic Specifications

Power Requirements 4.8 to 5.25Vdc at 300mA max
User Connector 5-pin header, 0.025in. posts on 0.10in. centers
Connector Pinout +5V Gnd Serial Gnd +5V
Serial Input RS-232 (negative swing OK) or inverted TTL, 2400 or 9600bps
Operating/Storage Temperature -20 to 70 C
Operating Humidity 20 to 80% RH, non-condensing

Dimensions (in mm)

Total depth (front of screen to tips of interface header pins) is 30mm.

A y offset edge to hole center (top & bottom) 4.00
B y pcb height 37.00
C y hole spacing 29.00
D y display area 11.50
E y character height 4.70
F x character width 2.40
G x offset pcb edge to hole center 4.00
H x screen frame (glass envelope) 95.30
I x display area 70.80
J x hole spacing 108.00
K x pcb width 116.00
L y frame height (glass envelope) 25.35
- mounting hardware size 4-40
- screen depth 14.00

VFD Instructions

The VFD-220 works like a mini-terminal, displaying text and responding to traditional control characters like linefeeds, carriage returns, tabs, etc. Its instruction set also includes shortcuts like automatic right-alignment and bargraphs, etc. VFD-specific features include screen saver, brightness control, and EEPROM storage of a startup screen and configuration settings.

VFD Instruction (ctrl code) ASCII Hex
Null; ignored but may be used for timing (ctrl-@) 0 0x00
Home cursor (ctrl-A) 1 0x01
None (ctrl-B) 2 0x02
End right-alignment (ctrl-C) 3 0x03
Hide cursor (ctrl-D) 4 0x04
Show underline cursor (ctrl-E) 5 0x05
Show blinking-block cursor (ctrl-F) 6 0x06
Pulse piezo buzzer output (ctrl-G) 7 0x07
Backspace (ctrl-H) 8 0x08
Tab: jump to next multiple-of-4 column (ctrl-I) 9 0x09
Smart linefeed: move down one row (ctrl-J) 10 0x0A
Vertical tab: move up one row (ctrl-K) 11 0x0B
Formfeed: clear the screen (ctrl-L) 12 0x0C
Carriage return: move to beginning of next line (ctrl-M) 13 0x0D
Turn VFD driver on (ctrl-N) 14 0x0E
Turn VFD driver off (ctrl-O) 15 0x0F
Accept cursor-position data (next byte) (ctrl-P) 16 0x10
Clear column (ctrl-Q) 17 0x11
Accept right-alignment data (ctrl-R) 18 0x12
Ignored 19-26 0x13-0x1A
Escape character: begin multipart instruction* 27 0x1B
ESC D n B0-B7 defines custom character n with bit patterns from bytes B0-B7
ESC E n displays custom screen (n=0) or restores custom characters (n=1)
ESC W B0-B7 writes eight bytes of configuration data to EEPROM
ESC X 0 writes VFD text to EEPROM as custom screen
ESC n sets VFD brightness in 25% increments (n= 0-3)
ESC = {style}{width}{value} generates a bargraph (style is A-H indicating type of bargraph; width is width in characters of the graph; and value is the number of bars to be lit.


  • BSW-CBL wiring harness, 12" power, ground and serial wires to breadboard pins
  • PDI-CBL wiring harness, HD-style power connector, DE-9 female for PC internal hookup
  • PDX-CBL wiring harness, power, ground wires and DE-9 female for PC external hookup

More Info

SAVE: Include a wiring harness with your order.

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