Electronics > Projects, Designs, and Technical Stuff

OLED dot matrix display life?

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I see a fair number of these advertised on Alibaba/Aliexpress, at prices around $20, but there seem to be issues with them, like the one in the Voltcraft VC890 DVM which goes dim and dimmer over just a few years of very light usage.

I don't know whether this is normal with OLED displays, or whether there is something wrong with the ones used in Chinese DVMs.

Then I see some sold by e.g. Mouser (don't know how to create a clickable link, and the URL is very long)
which one would think can't be complete trash, but actually one Futaba data sheet gives a 4 month life to 50% brightness, which is a joke.

I am looking for an SPI-interfaced one, about 5cm x 5cm. There isn't a lot I can see, apart from ones which are self evidently junk.

It's a real problem, at least with the ones I've used.  I have one project where the same status message is displayed when the unit is idle (which is most of the time).  After a few months the "on" pixels are significantly dimmer than they originally were, and when the displayed image changes you can really see the difference.

So I am now reducing the brightness and/or displaying a screensaver that exercises all pixels equally when things are idle.  I am curious about the degradation rate at lower intensities, but haven't tested or researched this.  There are control messages you can send to the displays to control intensity, but apparently not all displays behave identically to these messages.  I'm using the little I2C 32x128 displays from various sources, similar to this:

OLED displays are really best for intermittent applications, battery powered devices where the display is active while you are using it and then turns off. In continuous use they will wear relatively quickly although the actual lifespan seems to be highly variable.

Yep. Although they are not all made equal, lifespan is a general issue with those. It's no secret: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OLED#Lifespan

Screensavers "that exercise all pixels equally when things are idle" are a bad idea. It will just help degrading all pixels more equally, if you think that's good. The best screensaver for those is complete OFF state.

The best screensaver has always been to turn the display off. They only ever really made sense on machines like the compact Macs that had a built in CRT that could not be separately powered off and even then the best screensaver would simply blank the display. Admittedly some of the screensavers on the market were cute and provided something interesting to look at in the background but in many cases they actually encouraged people to leave the monitor on rather than turn it off when not being used.


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