LCD/VFD Display addin RRS feed

  • Question

  • I am in the process of developing a service to run on my WHS which uses a VFD display (a HD44780 based 2x16 line display via the parallel port) to show "status" of my server.

    Currently it shows a rotation of information

    * Current Date/Time
    * Time since last restart
    * Network Health (as on the WHS console)
    * Storage Space Free
    * Backup Status (i.e. Idle, Running, Restoring etc)
    * Server name and IP

    It's not quite ready to release publically yet, but I'm posting here for two reasons - one to guage interest, and two, to ask if there's any other information you think might be worth adding. (I'm already looking to see if it's possible to retrieve the system temperature without any 3rd party software)
    Thursday, July 12, 2007 8:58 AM

All replies

  • I'd certainly be interested, the only things I can think people might want are number of logged on users and processor load.





    Thursday, July 12, 2007 9:16 AM
  • Sounds good. Here are a couple of suggestions:


    • Include the name of the computer being backed up if a backup is in progress
    • Cycle through each computer name and give health status/date of last backup
    • Select which information to display, cycle time, etc (i.e. customize the time to show each info, a check-box style list so if the user didn't want server ip to come up, etc)


    Would this add-in require a specific VFD or would it work on different ones? It's not that I have a specific one already (I've been considering getting one for my whs so I could do what you are doing- albeit with a smaller list than what you have already achieved), but I'd like to know which ones it would work with so I may get one to work with it (I live in Australia, so getting the exact same hardware that is available in US is sometimes touch and go).


    If I can get a VFD that's compatible, I'd definitely be interested in your add-in.


    Hopefully my suggestions give you some ideas,



    Thursday, July 12, 2007 9:26 AM
  • The VFD I'm using is a Silverstone SST-FP54 unit and from some quick websearching, it does appear to be available in Australia - however any 2 line HD44780 based LCD or VFD display should work fine.  (I only have the one panel, so can only be absolutely sure it works with that one!)

    Panels which aren't HD44780 and connected via the parallel port (in SPP mode) won't work - and as I don't have access to other panels, that is unlikely to change.

    Thanks for the suggestions - I think a control panel for the display is a good idea, and is something I was planning to add (once I've figured out how to pass the settings through to the service), as it'll be necessary to specify what size of panel you're using anyway.


    Thursday, July 12, 2007 9:40 AM
  • Thanks for the reply and info on the VFD.


    Looks like I might have to get one of them; the info you have already got it to display would be handy, and if you can add stuff like processor loading as well.....





    Thursday, July 12, 2007 9:52 AM
  • Sounds great! Good idea!
    Thursday, July 12, 2007 11:47 AM
  • Can i recommend an *off the shelf* USB panel that iv used in the past.. something to consider for future compatibility... and easy enough that it can be installed by a non-tech user... Not overly expensive these days either


    Pertelian External LCD Display

    (Least in the US yah can find it )



    Thursday, July 12, 2007 1:01 PM
  • Hi  Tom,

    That  sounds like a good add-in. I'll  give it  a  go when it's  ready.
    Thursday, July 12, 2007 3:38 PM
  • This is a good idea and I would be interested in having such a device.
    Thursday, July 12, 2007 3:47 PM
  • The box I'm currently using for my WHS is a Silverstone case with a built-in VFD display also, so I would be very interested in your add-in.


    The only suggestion I can think of is if a critical notification is received, to display that.





    Saturday, July 14, 2007 1:40 AM
  • Both MBM 5 and LCD Smartie will work with WHS and they are both free.  They have multiple setting that monitor a large variety of things.



    Saturday, July 14, 2007 1:07 PM
  • MotherBoard Monitor is no longer maintained. The author found it increasingly frustrating to try to pry information out of motherboard manufacturers to keep it up to date. It may still work on your current motherboard, but don't count on it working on the next one you buy.

    You would be better off with something like SpeedFan, which has a smaller list of things you can monitor, but which is still maintained by the author.
    Saturday, July 14, 2007 1:14 PM
  • Thanks


    I will have to look into that program.  My bad, you are correct that allmost all new motherboards i.e. Intel 915 and above are probably not supported by MBM 5, but most below that should work OK.  The LCD Smartie though is pretty current with new LCD displays being added all the time, case in point is the VLSystems line, they released a driver for it were as the manufacturer pretty much dropped it after Jan of last year.



    Saturday, July 14, 2007 1:18 PM
  • Indeed, LCDSmartie does appear to work on WHS - I've used it in the past (when my VFD was in my "main" desktop machine)


    I've not figured out how to run it as a service, so it'll work without a user logged on to the WHS. Any pointers to this, and I may not continue development if I'm just reinventing what LCDSmartie can do.

    If anyone can find out how to run LCDSmartie as a service on a WHS box (and provide some instructions!), then I'll happily try to port the work I've already done into an LCDSmartie plugin DLL - as there doesn't appear to be a DLL for WHS yet
    Saturday, July 14, 2007 2:13 PM
  • Marcel's "anyserviceinstaller" Is able to run LCDSmartie as a service.

    I'll start porting my LCD service (well, the bits of it that aren't done far better already by Smartie) to hopefully be able to display things like server health, backup status, and disk space from managed volumes.

    I'll post again when I've got something to show for my efforts!
    Saturday, July 14, 2007 2:57 PM
  • The initial version of my LCD_Smartie plugin is now available - at the moment it is only capable of outputting the current backup status - but I plan to enhance it in the future...

    It can be downloaded from my website:
    Sunday, July 22, 2007 9:49 AM

    cpu load and hdd temps (in addition to "system temps") would be awesome...very interested in this plug-in
    Saturday, July 28, 2007 6:35 AM
  • CPU Load is something LCDSmartie can already do on it's own.  As I've said, given that LCD Smartie can be installed, I'm simply developing a small plugin for that to provide some WHS Specific information (currently only the simple backup status, but I'm intending to add server-health too)
    Saturday, July 28, 2007 1:31 PM
  • Well, it seems that my LCDSmartie plugin works fine with LCD Smartie running on the console, but for some reason when running as a service it can't open the plugin.  I have no idea why this is, I've tried permissions etc. 

    Sorry folks, looks like this is a non-starter too.

    If anyone has a solution to get LCDSmartie working properly as a service, please let me know - but for now, I don't have time to try to figure this out.
    Sunday, July 29, 2007 2:46 PM
  •  Tom_TVOTW wrote:
    If anyone has a solution to get LCDSmartie working properly as a service, please let me know - but for now, I don't have time to try to figure this out.

    Forgive the delay in answering this - I've not been able to get the Matrix display out of another computer to test...

    To do this you need the 2003 resource kit from MS for two programs:


    For this I assume they are in C:\TEST

    The only issue I have found is running the application from a normal user reports the serial port in use as teh service has it - but you can change the config.  Note I am using version 4.2

    • Open up an MS-DOS command prompt.
    • CD \TEST
    • Type the following command: INSTSRV LCDSmartie C:\TEST\SRVANY.EXE

    • Open up the Registry Editor (Click on the Start Button, select Run, and type REGEDIT)
    • Locate the following key:
      From the Edit menu, select New, select Key, and name the new key Parameters
      Highlight the Parameters key
      From the Edit menu, select New, select String Value, and name the new value Application
      From the Edit menu, select Modify, and type in the full path name and application name, including the drive letter and file extension
        "C:\Program Files\LCD Smartie\LCDSmartie.exe" -hide
    • Close the Registry Editor

    Sunday, August 19, 2007 9:56 PM

    Hi, cool idea. I am intrested in this project too..though this might help to read sys temps etc. It works on my laptop, mini itx board and desktop computers so i think its will work on most.


    Hope it helps



    strComputer = "."
    Set objWMIService = GetObject("winmgmts:\\" & strComputer & "\root\WMI")
    Set colItems = objWMIService.ExecQuery( _
    "SELECT * FROM MSAcpi_ThermalZoneTemperature",,48)
    For Each objItem in colItems
    Wscript.Echo "-----------------------------------"
    Wscript.Echo "MSAcpi_ThermalZoneTemperature instance"
    Wscript.Echo "-----------------------------------"
    Wscript.Echo "CurrentTemperature: " & objItem.CurrentTemperature
    Wscript.Echo "CurrentTemperature: " & objItem.CriticalTripPoint
    Wscript.Echo "CurrentTemperature: " & objItem.ThermalStamp





    Tuesday, August 21, 2007 7:50 AM
  • Thanks for the suggestion as to how to get LCDSmartie running as a service - when I get a chance I'll give it a try...

    Do you know if that'll solve the problem with LCDSmartie not handling plugins properly?
    Tuesday, August 21, 2007 5:54 PM
  • I've now had a chance to test this, and it doesn't appear to have solved the problem.  LCD Smartie still fails to load the plugin when it's running as a service - but it's fine when it's on the console.

    I've not got time to do much tinkering now anyway...
    Monday, September 3, 2007 8:05 PM
  • Did you copy the interop and other required DLLs to the plugins directory?



    Tuesday, September 4, 2007 6:40 PM

    Yeah, the problem was that LCD Smartie couldn't run *any* third-party addins when running as a service - the problem was not specific to my addin.


    Howver, I've now installed the server with the RTM build of WHS and all seems OK.  Now to find some time to resume development of this plugin...



    Saturday, November 3, 2007 3:12 PM
  • I'm intersted in hooking up a CF display but would rather avoid using LCD smartie and keep things tidier.


    I did have a go a programming for an  LCD recently and controlling the display is pretty simple theses days the System.IO.Ports namespace, roughly ripping the basic approach from http://blogs.msdn.com/coding4fun/archive/2005/04/11/407357.aspx 

    Wednesday, November 7, 2007 11:34 AM
  • Your project sounds great.  For users of the normal veriety it wouldnt be that much help but to someone like myself that monitors everything it is a great idea. Another item you could add to it might be a harddrive monitor.  something that displays which hard drive can be removed and activity and even when the drive is becoming full.

    Monday, January 14, 2008 1:19 AM
  • Unfortunately, due to work commitments, this project is currently on hold for the foreseeable future.

    Sorry guys.

    Monday, January 14, 2008 7:56 AM

    HI, do you know if the source code is available for this utility ?



    Monday, January 14, 2008 11:48 AM
  • RBowdenJr

    I don't have the source code to my original version (lost in a HDD crash) but I can probably find the source code for the current vb.net LCDSmartie plugin if you want to continue development on it.

    If you let me know your email address (use the contact form on my website: http://www.tvotw.co.uk/blog/contact-me/) and I'll happily let you have the "work in progress" code that I've produced so far (to be hoenst, there's not that much of it!)

    Monday, January 14, 2008 11:53 AM
  • Hi


    Yeah that would be good, it’s something I am interested in and looks like a good little project.





    Monday, January 14, 2008 12:07 PM
  • I am very interested in this project. I have a old Matrix Orbital 2x20 LCD serial LCD. I have LCDSmartie installed as a service. It runs at start up and displays Internal IP, CPU, Disk, Memory, and a few other things.

    I can't get your plugin to work on the service, but it work great interactivly. Hopefully you can get this fixed as I have a few other plug-in that seem to be working, the service run on the administrator account, not the SYSTEM account.

    I am also played with some plugin to get the External (WEB) IP although those links seem to be broken. So I can't figure out a way to CHECK for internet connectivity, if I could I flash/blink the backlight on the LCD as a warning.

    I would also like to be able to access the NETWORK STATUS text that all the PC have on the tray icon. Maybe flash the backlight if it goes critical.

    Let me know how progress is comming.
    Monday, March 3, 2008 4:50 PM
  • Sorry, there's been no further progress - and work is such that I simply don't have time to look into it.


    I had the same problems you've found, could get it working interactively, but couldn't get LCDSmartie to load *any* plugins when running as a service.


    I'm willing to provide the source code as-it-stands (it's very rough) to anyone who wants to try, but I'm afraid I'm not in a position to continue development of this in the forseable future.


    Sorry everyone.



    Monday, March 3, 2008 8:51 PM