DIY Nokia 3310 LCD breakout for embedded experiments

Nokia used to use some simple LCDs in their mobiles in the earlier days. The interfacing of those LCDs are simple and controlled over a SPI protocol. When doing projects with microcontrollers, if we need to add a graphic display, then the cheap solution is to use a Nokia LCD. The most used Nokia LCDs are the Nokia3310 lcd which is a monochrome LCD and the Nokia 6100/2600 lcd which is a color LCD. All these LCDs come with their custom type connector, requiring us to make or use an adapter to use in our microcontroller projects.

At DangerousPrototypes, I have designed a breakout board for the Nokia 6100 color LCD with easy components. You can see the whole thread here.

In the following guide I will demonstrate how to make a Nokia 3310 LCD breakout board in home. This board can be plugged into breadboard, also can be connected in female pin headers, and SATA port(optional).

The following image shows different parts of the LCD package that we get in mobile repair shops at around 100rupees.

To make the breakout board, we need the following items,

  • Nokia 3310 LCD package
  • 2x 3mm led(any color of your choice)
  • A piece of 20×20 hole small perfboard ( i.e 6cm x6cm)
  • 2x 10uF/10V capacitors (get SMD ones from junk motherboard/mobile or use electrolytic ones)
  • 4 inches of  7pin FRC cable(I strip it from 10pin FRC cable)
  • 7 pin male right angle pin header (0.1? pitch)
  • SATA socket(optional) (get it from junk motherboard)
  • Soldering tools, etc

The above image shows how the backside of the LCD looks like. There is a small piece of flexible PCB in which there is the connector’s layout.


We have to cut the upper body plastic like the above figure shows. The middle piece of the plastic will hold the LCD in the place, also the plastic will help the backlight LED’s light to spread over the whole LCD background.

In the next step, solder a 7pin FRC cable to the LCD’s connector directly. After soldering double check every adjacent pins by using continuity tester or multimeter to ensure there is no shorts at all. If any two pins looks like shorted, desolder and solder again. Remember to heat your soldering iron at good temperature and spend minimum time soldering the connector, because excess heat in the glass of LCD will cause it to be damaged.

Now hold the LCD in the center of the perfboard and see through a light source to know where the FRC cable resides. Mark it with a marker pen and also mark the lower plastic’s curved area that is below the LCD.

Next step will be cutting the perfboard and making a rectangular hole for the FRC cable and two 3mm holes for two LEDs that will goto the curved plastic piece. Cut LED’s extra length pins and leave just 5mm only.

Now use the four pieces of LED’s legs to fix the LCD to the board. Loop the pin through the top steel cover and solder it back in the perfboard.

Now solder two LEDs exactly as shown in the above image. Also solder the 7pin right angle male pin header at the bottom of the perfboard. Make sure not to solder two points together thus making a bridge.

Now solder the FRC cable parallel to the pins. 7pins will be soldered with the 7cables of the FRC cable. The pins are so so as per the pinout diagram, the Vout and Vcc pins need external capacitor to ground, that can be done in any area of the perfboard and solder small wires to those. Above I’ve used two 10uF capacitors I salvaged from old motherboard, mobile, etc. Connect both LEDs parallel to each other directly to the GND and VCC line. I’ve used blue LEDs which run well in 3.3V supply. If you are going to use red LED, use a 10~47Ohm resistor in series.

This is how it looks like from the front. I have added a 7pin SATA connector in the right for in case I use a SATA cable for connecting. This is a truly optional part and is not necessary.

I have connected the 7pins of the SATA socket parallel to the 7pin right angle pin header.

Next step is to use hot glue to fix everything permanently to the perfboard. Add glue to the connectors as well.

Now apply 3V to the GND and VCC pins(I’ve used a dead 9V battery) to see if LED glows. When LED glows, you can see the baqcklight is illuminated a little but the brightness of the LED from bottomside disturbs our eyes.

Use a small piece of blacktape to hide it. Then it works well.Now the breakout board is ready to be used in breadboard.

Checkout these few links to learn how to get started with the LCD.

NOKIA 3310 LCD interfacing with ATmega8  -DharmaniTech
Interfacing Nokia 3310 LCD with PIC 18F2520 -bOtskOOl
The idea of designing this board came from DIY plug-in modules to make microcontroller breadboarding easier -Embedded Lab

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