Last time I showed You how to control 1 digit 7 segment LED display with Arduino. This time it’s not 1, but 4 digits. To connect 1 digit to Arduino we had to use 8 ports, so to connect 4 digits we need to have 4×8=32? Not necessary. Where is a way to use much less ports, it’s called multiplexing. Using multiplexing at one time only one digit is active(e.g. for 2ms). All digits is turned on is serial, but because human’s eye is inert we have illusion, that all digits are lighting at same time.
As You can see form schematic bellow with multiplexing implemented we required only 4 additional ports compared to 1 digit circuit, total – 12.
Because at the same time only one digit will be on All 4 digits segments inputs are connected together. By connecting digits common cathodes to ground we are controlling which digit shall be turned on. Atmega 1280 µCPU port can drain(receive) maximum 40 mA current. If all one digits segments are on, we are having 20×8= 160 mA that is to much, so we can’t to connect common cathodes directly to Arduino ports. Therefore I have used BC547 NPN transistors as switches. Transistor is opened, when positive voltage is applied at the base.
Let’s see the code.