In this video we learn how to drive the new, low cost big, Arduino 3.5″ Color TFT display and we learn how to use it with the Arduino Uno and Mega.

A few weeks ago, I discovered this Arduino 3.5″ Color TFT display on and thought that it might be useful in some of our projects. The price of the display is very low for such a big display, it costs 10$ and was kind enough to send me a sample unit in order to test it and share my opinion about it with you.


3.5″ Color TFT:

Cheap Uno:

Arduino Mega:


As you can see the display is big, and it offers a resolution of 480×320 pixels. If I turn it around, you can see that it comes with presoldered pins for Arduino Uno, which is nice since there are not many big TFT displays that work with the Arduino Uno. At the back we can also see that there is an SD card slot available. But there is also one disadvantage. This display needs a lot of digital and analog pins in order to work. So, if we don’t use the SD card module of it, we are left with 6 digitals pins and one analog pin to use with other modules or sensors. If we are going to use the SD card module of the display, we are left with only 2 digital pins and one analog pin which is of course very limiting. But, we can always use the Arduino Mega board which offers many more digital pins to work with.

This Arduino 3.5″ Color TFT display uses the ILI9481 driver and it works fine with the Adafruit libraries. I have loaded a demo sketch that is included in the library and as you can see the display is working as expected. It is not the fastest display I have tried, but for its size and resolution it is a very nice display. Check this out, I have loaded another demo that is included, and it loads images from the SD card and displays them on the display! Great isn’t it? The old and slow Arduino Uno which has only 2KBs of RAM memory is capable of driving and displaying images on a big color TFT display! In order to speed things up, I thought I could use the display with the fast Arduino Due board, but unfortunately it does not work with it. It works fine with the Arduino Mega but it does not work with the WeMOS D1 board since it only has one analog pin and the display requires five.

Let’s now see the software side of the project. First of all we have to download the appropriate driver for the display. You can find the driver files on the product page on All we have to do is to install the library and load any of the examples that are designed for this shield. Since the display uses our familiar Adafruit libraries, we can easily build impressive projects. I have developed a simple program just to demonstrate how easy it is to use the display thanks to Adafruit libraries! It uses some of the basic functions in order to display text and simple graphics. You can find the code of this simple example for the Arduino 3.5″ Color TFT display in a link in the description of the video.









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