The official 7 inch DSI Raspberry Pi screen is now launched and available for purchase. It’s been a long time in the making, but the B+, the A+ and Pi2B have all been responsible for pushing this display to the back-burner.
When there finally was some ‘engineering time’ to get on with it, hurdles were faced with EMC compliance and chip availability. But those hurdles are now overcome and the screen is now launched. And it looks great (click any photo for higher resolution).
Here’s a video overview. There’s more detail in the text below…
- Fantastic price
- Capacitive Touch
- Uses DSI connector
- Can Power a Pi from the driver board
It’s going to retail for around £50, depending on where you buy it. The official headline price is $60 + shipping and local taxes. For a long time I’ve thought it would be awesome if there was a decent screen available for the Pi at the £50 price point. Now there is.
It Has Capacitive Touch
It has capacitive, 10-finger touch. This will be most useful in applications where people want to create their own graphical user interface (GUI). It will enable the Pi to be used for controlling all manner of systems with no need for keyboard or other interface peripherals. Touch works in LXDE if you update/upgrade on the latest Raspbian.
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
Note that there is no ‘pinch to zoom’ like you have on tablets. (There would need to be GPU accelerated X for that.)
Uses DSI Connector
Because it uses the Pi’s DSI connector, you can still drive another display from the same Pi at the same time. This can be either composite or HDMI. You’ll see a demo of this in the video.
Can Power a Pi from the Driver Board
As long as you are using a decent power supply and connector lead(s) you can run a Raspberry Pi and the DSI screen from just one supply. You can power the Pi via GPIO jumper leads, the USB power port on the driver board, or separately.
What Are The Specs?
- 800 x 480 WVGA
- 7 inch
- 10-finger capacitive touch
- 24 bit RGB industrial quality display with wide viewing angle
- Viewable screen dimensions 155mm x 86mm
- Overall dimensions 194mm x 110mm x 20mm (35mm with a Pi2B attached)
- Weight (I measured this) 277 g
- Power consumption (I measured this) 2.23 Watts
What’s It Good For?
Apart from pretty much any application where a 7 inch screen is a good size, I think it’s going to be perfect for…
- point of sales (POS) displays
- control panels
- Pi-based cameras
- in-car systems
- applications needing a clean, simple, controlled user interface
- digital photo frames
- dual-screen setups
And someone’s bound to find a creative way to slim it down and hack it into a tablet. With a Pi2B on the back, the total depth is 3.5cm, which is a bit ‘tubby’.
Can We Trim It Down A Bit?
I think we can. You could ‘lose’ a lot of z-axis depth if you didn’t need the USB power port. I can see that being the first way people hack the driver board to get it slimmer.
From measurements I’ve made, if you’re willing to butcher away the USB power port, you could potentially position the Pi 7mm closer to the board. You could also save another ~6mm by using an A+ instead of a Pi2. (The highest point on A+ is the GPIO pins – you could potentially shave another 2mm there.) So, in theory, you could save 1.5cm of that depth with some butchery. There may well be other creative solutions using longer ribbon cables and placing the Pi next to the driver board. It’ll be interesting to see what people come up with.
Yes. It needs something to mount it to. A case, a box, a panel or some sort of stand is going to be necessary for most applications or we’ll see broken bezels before long. There are four threaded mount holes on the LCD back. You could also use an adhesive to glue the bezel into some kind of panel.
Pimoroni have designed a lovely perspex layer case with integral stand that will be available to purchase from them separately. It’s £10 including VAT, and is available in Noir, Flotilla Blue, Tangerine, Coupé Red and Green.
There are some rubber ‘feet’ that fit into the cutouts in the stand. I forgot to put those on before I took this photo…
First Batch Self-Assembly
The first batch of these displays comes as a self-assembly kit. Future batches will be assembled. It’s not a difficult assembly. I managed to work it out with no instructions and I made a little video to help you…
What About In Use?
As long as you have updated/upgraded your Raspbian, it should all ‘just work’ out of the box. The display will be automatically detected and the login screen will appear on it with no additional software tweaks.
Colours are vibrant and the screen is clear. 800 x 480 pixels is enough for most applications and the 7 inch size is great for portable use.
Even watching HD video looks a lot better than I expected. It scales down perfectly with no issues.
As long as you’ve allocated 128 Mb RAM to GPU, dual-screen use is flawless. I plugged in my 23″ Samsung HDMI TV and sent a video through HDMI with
omxplayer --display 5 filename.mov This then played flawlessly while I messed around using the camera module on the DSI display. I had it showing live camera video output and also made it wrap live video round a spinning 3d teapot to try and stress the GPU. Neither display skipped a beat. You can see that in the video.
Is It A Power Hog?
No. I measured the display’s power usage with my Emeter while powering the Pi separately. The display used 2.23 Watts. (0.43 A at 5.19 V). A Pi 2 model B uses about 1.5 Watts, so this would give you a system using ~3.75 Watts altogether.
Where Can I Get One?
It’s an awesome little cap-touch screen done properly. For ~£50 I think it’ll be very popular for portable applications. It will need some sort of case or support though.