Up & running with the Tontec 3.5 inch Raspberry Pi touch screen display monitor

Up & Running with the Tontec 3.5 Inch Raspberry Pi Touch Screen Display Monitor

This post introduces the Tontec 3.5 Inch Raspberry Pi Touch Screen Display Monitor that can be used with the newest version of Raspbian Jessie to function as a complete stand alone- and/or touch screen. It can be used to display the terminal or the Raspbian GUI with touch screen capabilities. Up & Running with the Tontec 3.5 Inch Raspberry Pi Touch Screen Display Monitor will be updated from time to time when I stumble upon more relevant information. If you stumbled upon more relevant information, see mistakes or doesn’t understand anything, please feel free to comment at the end.

What is the Tontec 3.5 inch Raspberry Pi touch screen display monitor?

The Tontec 3.5 inch touch screen display monitor is designed especially for the Raspberry Pi is officially manufactured by iTontec. The screen transmits data though the GPIO SPI (Serial Peripheral Interface) on the P1 interface. It required no external power source and works with an open source Linux driver.

These screens are easy to come by and doing some research, clone modules can be obtained for around R 400 (including a case and delivery) from sources like eBay and/or BangGood.com. Some screens are obviously better quality than others. Apart from being inexpensive, the one I’ve tested and use work well and look nice.

Sample uses & alternatives

In my opinion, the Tontec 3.5 inch Raspberry Pi touch screen display monitors are perfect to use as display and/or an interface for specific, inexpensive Raspberry Pi projects. With the correct information (see below), they are quite easy to get up and running.

Original screens are available from sources like Amazon, but if you’re from South Africa, like me, postage can cost more than the screen itself.

There are already many other LCD touch screen alternatives on the market, each with their own pros and cons.

Tontec 3.5 inch touch screen display monitor specifications

LCD type: Thin-film transistor (TFT) @ 16 Mhz
LCD interface: GPIO SPI (serial peripheral interface) @ 128 Mhz
Screen size: 3.5″
Touch screen type: Resistive
Touch screen controller: XPT2046
Colours: 65K (65 536)
Backlight: LED
Physical resolution: 320 x 480 pixels
Aspect ratio: 8:5
Power consumption:
Current:
Operating temperature:
Breadboard friendly: na
Pin size: female, fits GPIO of Raspberry Pi model B

Built-in EEPROM storage unit
High speed CPLD chip (EPM3032)
SPI interfaced 4-wire resistive touch screen control chip (XPT2046)
I2C interfaced EEPROM memory storage unit (AT24C02)

Pins

No. Symbol Description
1, 17 3.3V Power positive (3.3V power input)
2, 4 5V Power positive (5V power input)
3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16 NC NC
6, 9, 14, 20, 25 GND Ground
11 TP_IRQ Touch Panel interrupt, low level while the Touch Panel detects touching
18 LCD_RS Instruction/Data Register selection
19 LCD_SI / TP_SI SPI data input of LCD/Touch Panel
21 TP_SO SPI data output of Touch Panel
22 RST Reset
23 LCD_SCK / TP_SCK SPI clock of LCD/Touch Panel
24 LCD_CS LCD chip selection, low active
26 TP_CS Touch Panel chip selection, low active

 

Notes

The Tontec 3.5 inch Raspberry Pi touch screen display monitors currently has 2 versions – V2.0 & V3.o. The version number is indicated on the back of the screen. These versions use different drivers.

Issues

Although I eventually got the screen up and running, the process was fairly specific even though various Google results claim to help. I eventually ended up having to install a pre-prepared Raspbian image to get it running, which i.m.o. is not ideal, but after upgrading the package successfully to the newest version of Raspbian Jessie I felt satisfied.

Getting up & running with the Tontec 3.5 inch Raspberry Pi touch screen display monitor

Download the appropriate Raspbian Image

See Basics of Installing an Operating System to a Raspberry Pi to install the image to a SD card.

Update to the newest version of Raspbian Jessie

In order to minimise the risk for loosing any preparation settings, the upgrade process should be done directly after the installing the operating system. Once the upgrade is successfully done, you can continue as usual.

The images above will automatically boot into the Raspbian GUI. You can either change this behaviour from Raspi-config to boot straight to the terminal (see below) or use the terminal icon in the GUI to do the update process:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Edit /etc/apt/sources.list and change wheezy to jessie:

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

Ctrl X to exit & Y to save changes.

Then update and upgrade again:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

When prompted, use default or recommended settings!

To change the boot up behaviour (i.e. GUI vs. terminal):

sudo raspi-config

Advanced Options -> Enable Boot to Desktop

Summary

From experience so far, the Tontec 3.5 inch Raspberry Pi touch screen display monitors offers good value for money. When using the correct information they are also easy to get up and running.

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About the author
Renier busies himself with improving his English writing, creative web design and his websites, photoshopping, micro-electronics, multiple genres of music, superhero movies and badass series.
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