OLED (organic LED) display’s are a relatively new display technology. They are formed by constructing a small LED for every pixel, with one of the electrodes being transparent so that you can see the light. Because the pixels themselves emit the colour, no backlight is needed, meaning they can be constructed in a very thin form-factor. They can also be printed onto flexible materials that can be rolled up!

OLED’s have the following properties

  • Low power
  • The ability to withstand and operate in very cold temperatures
  • Thin form-factor
  • Flexible

OLED’s are typically connected to a driver IC which is in turn connected to a microcontroller.  Some of the common protocols used to communicate between the microcontroller and the driver IC are

  • 8-bit 6800 (parallel)
  • 8-bit 8080 (parallel)
  • SPI (series)
  • I2C (series)
They are sold in a range of sizes, from a 15mmx20mm or smaller screen right up to computer monitor size and larger. The actual screen requires from 7-16V to run, but two out of three screens have built in boost converters for running straight of 3.3 or 5V.

OLED Controllers

OLED controller IC’s are usually interface an OLED display to a microcontroller. Solomon Systech is a popular brand of IC for OLED controllers.

Controller Part Number Manufacturer Max Resolution Comm Interface
SSD1306 Solomon Systech 128×64 8-bit 6800, 8-bit 8080, I2C, SPI

OLED Current Draw

Typically around 20mA continuous at 3.3V for a small screen.


There are plenty of complete OLED software drivers on the internet. Many of them are designed to run with an Arduino.

Name/Website  Language
AdaFruit SSD1306 Driver (https://github.com/adafruit/SSD1306)  C++


Posted: November 26th, 2018 at 8:43 am