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ESP32 controlled VFD screen. This device supports date/time, weather, random number generator, etc.

Last year, I got an old Sharp EL-8109 calculator. Which uses a 9-digit Futaba 9-ST-08A VFD display. The calculator still works, but the shell is in bad shape, making it worth almost nothing. So I decided to use the screen inside to make something useful and look good.

This is the first hardware project I’ve ever made, so maybe I will do something wrong. Since I’m not a native English speaker, if you found any strange grammar, it’s possibly my fault.

What is a VFD
VFD means vacuum fluorescent display. Widely used in DVDs, radios, cassette decks, and so on. VFD screens look bright and visible from all angles. Making them the best choice for these devices. Today you can still see VFD screens in POS machines.

But LCD screens are becoming a better choice these days, and VFDs are no longer popular. Today, the green color of VFD screens gives them a retro vibe. If you want to see more beautiful VFDs, I recommend you watch this YouTube video by Posy: VFD Displays.

The screen 9-ST-08A was used in a variety of calculators around the 1970s, like Sanyo CX-8032 or Unisonic 1040. The company Futaba (双葉電子工業株式会社) was Founded in 1948, making vacuum tubes and related things. They produced VFD screens until the end of 2021. Now they are moving on to newer display technologies.”

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