Getting Started

Last updated: August 22st, 2020

Get the Hardware

The hardware is open source which allows you to download the Gerber files and KiCad files and have the board produced by a manufacturer of your choosing. You'll also need this compatible display.

Alternatively you can just:

Buy the Board and Display Here

Install Arduino Library

Arduino IDE

In order to install the FT81x Arduino Driver using the official Arduino IDE, navigate to Tools → Manage Libraries... and search for the FT81x Arduino Driver:

Audio IDE Libraries

After you installed the latest version, you can use the library either by navigating to Sketch → Include Library or go to File → Examples → FT81x Arduino Library to load one of the example sketches.


The library is available on the official PlatformIO registry. To install it, just run the following command in your project folder:

pio lib install FT81x_Arduino_Driver


Pin Description

Please refer to the following pin description when hooking up the board to your microcontroller:

pin Description

The table below prodives a more detailed description for each pin.

# Name Description Required
1 5V 5V power input for powering the the board, the display and the backlight LED. Hook this up to the 5V power outlet of your Arduino board. Requires at least 100mA of current.
2 VCC Reference voltage for all digital signal lines. For 3.3V microcontrollers, hook this up to the 3.3V power outlet of the Arduino board. For 5V microcontrollers, hook this up to the 5V power outlet.
3 GND Needs to be connected to a common ground with the Arduino board.
4 SCK Clock signal for the SPI bus. Hook this up to the SPI clock of your Arduino board.
5 SDO Serial data out of the board. Hook this up to the serial data in signal of your Arduino board (aka MISO).
6 SDI Serial data in of the board. Hook this up to the serial data out signal of your Arduino board (aka MOSI).
7 CS1 Chip select signal for communication with the FT81x IC on the board. It's recommended to hook this up to the default CS pin of your Arduino board. However, any GPIO pin can be configured as CS1 signal.
8 CS2 Chip select signal for communication with the integrated controller IC of the display. Any GPIO pin can be configured as CS2 signal.
9 DC Data/command signal for communication with the integrated controller IC of the display. Any GPIO pin can be configured as DC signal.
10 AUDIO The FT81x is capable of sound synthesis and mono audio playback. This pin is directly connected to the raw audio output of the IC. It's recommended to use additional filter and amplification circuitry for proper audio applications.
11 IRQ Interrupt signal for different applications (e.g. audio playback). As of now, this signal line isn't used by the Arduino library.
12 GND An additional common ground. It's only required that one of the GND signals is connected.
13 GND An additional common ground. It's only required that one of the GND signals is connected.

Common Boards

Please refer to the table below for specific information on how to hook up the display driver board to common Arduino boards.

Name Arduino Uno Arduino Nano NodeMCU-32S Teensy 4.0
5V 5V 5V 5V / VIN VIN (5V)
VCC 5V 5V 3V3 3V
SCK 13 D13 GPIO18 13
SDO 12 D12 GPIO19 12
SDI 11 D11 GPIO23 11
CS1 10* D10* GPIO5* 10*
CS2 9* D9* GPIO17* 9*
DC 8* D8* GPIO16* 8*

* configurable

Hello World

After you successfully installed the Arduino library and hooked up your board, create a new Arduino Sketch and enter the following source code. Be sure to use the correct pin numbers for the CS1, CS2 and DC pins on line 3.

#include "FT81x.h"

FT81x ft81x = FT81x(10, 9, 8);

void setup() {

    ft81x.clear(FT81x_COLOR_RGB(0, 0, 0));
    ft81x.drawText(240, 200, 31, FT81x_COLOR_RGB(255, 255, 255), FT81x_OPT_CENTER, "Hello World\0");

void loop() {
    // do nothing

After compiling and uploading to the mictocontroller, you should see the text Hello World at the center of your display.

Refer to the various example sketches as well as the API documentation for more information.

If you have any issues and you already double checked all the connections and the code contact the seller or open an issue on GitHub.

Audio Setup

The FT81x Arduino Driver has support for mono audio output with its integrated sound effects as well as audio playback capabilites. To make proper use of this, an audio filter and amplifier circuit is required.

For prototyping purposes you can create a simple circuit using the LM386 audio amplifier IC:

Audio Schematics

The circuit above consists of the following parts:

  1. The audio input signal coming from the FT81x Arduino Driver board.
  2. A low pass filter for filtering all the high frequency switching noise.
  3. A 10kΩ potentiometer to act as a volume control.
  4. The LM386 audio amplifier with a 9V power supply.
  5. A Zobel Network for impedence control of the speaker.
  6. A polarized capacitor to block DC current.
  7. A loudspeaker for the final audio output.

Some additional notes:
The power input of the LM386 may be increased up to 12V for less distorted output.
The value of the polarized capacitor in (6) can be anything from 220µF to 1000µF.

The above schematic laid out on a breadboard may look like this:

Audio Breadboard

Be sure to connect all GND lines together and connect the audio output of the FT81x Arduino Driver board to the audio input of the amplifier circuit. Also, beware of connecting the 9V power supply to anything other than the LM386 as it may permanently damage the FT81x Arduino Driver board!

In order to test this setup, check out the Sound Effects Example Sketch of the Arduino library.