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Replacing OLED screen on an Agilent U1253A Multimeter

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metacollin:
So I have an Agilent U1253A multimeter, the blue kind, the one famously reviewed by Dave himself in one of his videos.  My warranty is long toast.  My OLED screen was always kind of a lemon I think.  It was never very bright, even at the highest setting, nowhere near like the video.  It also burned in some digits, faint but noticeable, the first day I used it.  Anyway, I modified the driver board (warranty of any kind is totally out of the question.  I voided the hell out of it, even if it wasn't expired) so the boost converter put out a couple volts more, and that vastly improved the brightness.  And made it draw more current.  And made the useful life of the OLEDs that much shorter, as they dim over time.

Well, I've reached that time.  The screen is really dim.  I am going to bump the voltage up again, this time to just under the maximum, but it will dim even faster after that, and there is no head room to up the voltage once it's gotten too dim a second time.


Does anyone know if/where a replacement screen might be had? I don't want the actual Agilent board (plus I already asked and they don't sell it to customers, and if they did, it would probably cost a trillion dollars and probably at least one human sacrifice, so might as well just get a new meter at that point), just the display with the ribbon sticking out.  The part printed on it is SSD1303T10, but that sounds like the display controller, not the display.  I am not even sure of the resolution, I think it's 128x64.  Dimensions are 6cm by 3cm.  I would like a screen of the same size and resolution, and definitely needs to use the SD1303 controller, but there is room to bodge something if the pinout is arranged differently, so different pinout is even ok.  Different color, ok.  At this point, I am desperate enough that I might even go with a smaller display, as long as the controller is the same, because I was only able to get this U1253 meter because it was at a great price ($300), open box return, probably cause of the screen.  If anyone has any ideas on the screen, or suggestions, for a replacement of any kind, I'd appreciate it.  Buying a broken meter from someone is also an option, assuming the screen is intact, but I really can't pay much more than $50. 


I can't afford a $450 meter, or a new $500-$550 meter, and couldn't really afford a $300 meter, but I found a way.  But basically my options are fix this meter, or revert back to some shitty $40 meter.  I really don't want to do that,  since $40 meters are the ones that might murder you.

nanofrog:
Not sure where to get an OLED that will fit (suspect custom part), but I think it might be possible to swap in the LCD screen that's in the U1252B.

FWIW, the P/N for the LCD screen is U1252-39300, and it's not expensive ($17.58).

metacollin:
nanofrog, thank you so much. I contacted Agilent support about this, and they said they did not sell the screen or screen assembly, that it was not customer replaceable (despite being a pluggable pin header module) and that my only option was to send them the multimeter and pay a repair fee.  So I didn't even know to look.  I am going to try to find the u1253a or b assembly part now that I know it can be done.  Maybe.  Unless all you could find was the lcd screen.

I highly doubt the LCD screen can be swapped in.  The U1252B has a fixed segment LCD display, the U1253A/B have full graphic displays.  But regardless, you've been a big help.  Thanks again!

nanofrog:

--- Quote from: metacollin on July 27, 2014, 03:17:21 pm ---nanofrog, thank you so much. I contacted Agilent support about this, and they said they did not sell the screen or screen assembly, that it was not customer replaceable (despite being a pluggable pin header module) and that my only option was to send them the multimeter and pay a repair fee.  So I didn't even know to look.  I am going to try to find the u1253a or b assembly part now that I know it can be done.  Maybe.  Unless all you could find was the lcd screen.

I highly doubt the LCD screen can be swapped in.  The U1252B has a fixed segment LCD display, the U1253A/B have full graphic displays.  But regardless, you've been a big help.  Thanks again!

--- End quote ---
Unfortunately, they don't offer the OLED display at all (no P/N listed at all). FWIW, this thread might be of interest.

I know you said it's no longer under warranty, but Agilent might be able to give you a newer LCD version with quite a discount (possibly free, but wouldn't expect it to be zero cost). What I expect they'd do instead of repairing the existing unit. Certainly worth getting a quote.

As per modifying it to accept the LCD screen, it may still be possible. I seem to recall there's 3x boards in it, and the LCD screen assembly (can't recall if the driver circuits are soldered to the back of the screen or on the board it's headers connect to). Worth checking out if you don't get good news from Agilent. Going by the previous link I gave (LCD screen), I'm able to add it to the shopping cart here in the US. Perhaps this isn't possible for those outside of the US/CAN.  :-//

FWIW, I have a U1252B and can open it up and take some pics and/or tell you the IC P/N's used if it helps you.

Let me know if you need them, and I wish you luck getting this sorted.  :)

BTW, where are you located?
Setting your country in your user profile helps immensely, especially with posting links (relevant pricing and availability).  ;)

metacollin:

--- Quote from: nanofrog on July 27, 2014, 08:38:10 pm ---BTW, where are you located?
Setting your country in your user profile helps immensely, especially with posting links (relevant pricing and availability).  ;)

--- End quote ---

Whoops, fixed that!


--- Quote from: nanofrog on July 27, 2014, 08:38:10 pm ---
As per modifying it to accept the LCD screen, it may still be possible. I seem to recall there's 3x boards in it, and the LCD screen assembly (can't recall if the driver circuits are soldered to the back of the screen or on the board it's headers connect to). Worth checking out if you don't get good news from Agilent. Going by the previous link I gave (LCD screen), I'm able to add it to the shopping cart here in the US. Perhaps this isn't possible for those outside of the US/CAN.  :-//

FWIW, I have a U1252B and can open it up and take some pics and/or tell you the IC P/N's used if it helps you.

Let me know if you need them, and I wish you luck getting this sorted.  :)

--- End quote ---

Yep, got the worst news possible from Agilent - they have completely dropped all support for the U1253A.  They will not repair, replace, to a trade-in discount, or even still provide paid calibration service for the meter.  Basically, I managed to buy the only meter Agilent (Keystone Light or whatever they are called now) has decided to wash its hands of entirely. Nor can you get the U1253B screen except with warranty service on the meter. 

The good news is I actually looked at the SD1303 datasheet.  It has some extra instructions for a shading/grey level look up table, but otherwise it is identical, byte for byte, to the SD1306, used in pretty much all the 128x64 OLED screens I can find.  And beyond that, the SD130x chips are basically just pixel buffers, and all have a 6800 or 8008 parallel interface, as well as an I2C and SPI interface.  I haven't actually checked yet, but I am guessing the U1253A uses one of the parallel interfaces, I base this on the number of pins the display assembly board has plugged into the board below.  So, at least as a emergency ghettobodge, I can probably just, uh, creatively wire and mount one of the readily available 1.3" OLED modules directly to the multimeter, and save for a loss of the left 4 pixel columns (which is fine), I can still use the meter, but it won't be pretty.  That's one option - the other is simply make a little go-between board with a uC on it that will handle house keeping stuff and clock in the data from the multimeter directly to a direct SRAM write mode on a 128x64 graphics LCD...uh...probably glued onto the front. 

There are $35 2.7" (same size as the one in the meter) OLEDs on digitkey, but they use the SSD1325, which, depending on what commands the U1253A is using, could also work as a drop-in replacement, or may not.  I'll have to sniff the bits.  Anyway, for the short term, I am probably going to bodge in a SSD1306 display, and may attempt something more if it seems worth the effort. 

Since it's sending pixels directly, the only way I can think to adapt that to the LCD screen for the 1252 is using some pretty painful brute force pixel checking (are these random bits that only light up if there is a 1 displayed here lit or not? And so on. )  And I'd lose access to a the menu and several other functions that require the graphic display, and I am not sure having a native, perfect fit screen is worth the effort and feature loss, at least for me anyway.

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