Seven-segment display character representations

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The individual segments of a seven-segment display.

The topic of seven-segment display character representations revolves around the various shapes of numerical digits, letters, and punctuation devisable on seven-segment displays. Such representation of characters is not standardized by any relevant entity (e.g. ISO, IEEE or IEC). Unicode provides encoding codepoint for segmented digits in Unicode 13.0 in Symbols for Legacy Computing block.

Digit[edit]

Digits
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
U+1FBF0 U+1FBF1 U+1FBF2 U+1FBF3 U+1FBF4 U+1FBF5 U+1FBF6 U+1FBF7 U+1FBF8 U+1FBF9

Two basic conventions are in common use for some Arabic numerals: display segment A is optional for digit 6 (6/6),[1][2][3][4] segment F for 7 (7/7), and segment D for 9 (9/9).[1][2][3][4] Although EF (1) could also be used to represent digit 1, this seems to be rarely done if ever. CDEG (0) is occasionally encountered on older calculators to represent 0.

In Unicode 13.0, 10 codepoints had been given for segmented digits 0–9 in the Symbols for Legacy Computing block:

Symbols for Legacy Computing[1][2]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+1FBFx 🯰 🯱 🯲 🯳 🯴 🯵 🯶 🯷 🯸 🯹
Notes
1.^ As of Unicode version 13.0
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points

Alphabet[edit]

In addition to the ten digits, seven-segment displays can be used to show most letters of the Latin, Cyrillic and Greek alphabets including punctuation.

Example set of roman letters
Uppercase A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Lowercase a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z
Punctuation " ' eq - _ sp

One such special case is the display of the letters A–F when denoting the hexadecimal values (digits) 10–15. These are needed on some scientific calculators, and are used with some testing displays on electronic equipment. Although there is no official standard, today most devices displaying hex digits use the unique forms shown to the right: uppercase A, lowercase b, uppercase C, lowercase d, uppercase E and F.[5] To avoid ambiguity between the digit 6 and the letter b the digit 6 is displayed with segment A lit.[2][6][7][8][9]

However, this modern scheme was not always followed in the past, and various other schemes could be found as well:

  • The Texas Instruments seven-segment display decoder chips 7446/7447/7448/7449 and 74246/74247/74248/74249 and the Siemens FLH551-7448/555-8448 chips used truncated versions of "2", "3", "4", "5" and "6" for digits A–G. Digit F (1111 binary) was blank.[2][3][4]
  • Soviet programmable calculators like the Б3-34 instead used the symbols "−", "L", "C", "Г", "E", and " " (space) to display hexadecimal numbers above nine. (The Б3-34 character set allowed for a cross-alphabet display of the English word "Error" as either EГГ0Г or 3ГГ0Г, depending on the error, in all-numeric form during error messages.)
  • Not all 7-segment decoders were suitable to display digits above nine at all. For comparison, the National Semiconductor MM74C912 displayed "o" for A and B, "−" for C, D and E, F, and blank for G.
  • The CD4511 even just displayed blanks.
  • The Magic Black Box, an electronic version of the Magic 8-Ball toy, used a ROM to generate 64 different 16-character alphanumeric messages on a LED display. It could not generate K, M, V, W, and X but it could generate a question mark.[10]

For the remainder of characters, ad hoc and corporate solutions[clarification needed] dominate the field of using seven-segment displays to show general words and phrases. Such applications of seven-segment displays are usually not considered essential and are only used for basic notifications on consumer electronics appliances (as is the case of this article's example phrases), and as internal test messages on equipment under development. Certain letters (M, V, W, X in the Latin alphabet) cannot be expressed unambiguously at all due to either diagonal strokes, more than two vertical strokes, or inability to distinguish them from other letters, while others can only be expressed in either capital form or lowercase form but not both. The Nine-segment display, fourteen-segment display, sixteen-segment display or dot matrix display are more commonly used for hardware that requires the display of messages that are more than trivial.

Examples[edit]

The following phrases come from a portable media player's seven-segment display. They give a good illustration of an application where a seven-segment display may be sufficient for displaying letters, since the relevant messages are neither critical nor in any significant risk of being misunderstood, much due to the limited number and rigid domain specificity of the messages. As such, there is no direct need for a more expressive display, in this case, although even a slightly wider repertoire of messages would require at least a 14-segment display or a dot matrix one.

16×8-grid showing the 128 states of a seven-segment display[11]
On ON   Off OFF  
Open OPEN   Close CLOSE  
Play PLAy   Pause PAUSE  
Stop StOP   Error Error  

See also[edit]

7, 9, 14, 16 segment displays shown side by side.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Nührmann, Dieter (1981). Written at Achim, Bremen, Germany. Werkbuch Elektronik (in German) (3 ed.). Munich, Germany: Franzis-Verlag GmbH. p. 695. ISBN 3-7723-6543-4.
  2. ^ a b c d BCD-to-Seven-Segment Decoders/Drivers: SN54246/SN54247/SN54LS247, SN54LS248 SN74246/SN74247/SN74LS247/SN74LS248 (PDF), Texas Instruments, March 1988 [March 1974], SDLS083, archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-03-29, retrieved 2017-03-30, They can be used interchangeable in present or future designs to offer designers a choice between two indicator fonts. The '46A, '47A, 'LS47, and 'LS48 compose the 6 and the 9 without tails and the '246, '247, 'LS247, and 'LS248 compose the 6 and the 0 with tails. Composition of all other characters, including display patterns for BCD inputs above nine, is identical....Display patterns for BCD input counts above 9 are unique symbols to authenticate input conditions.
  3. ^ a b c Beuth, Klaus; Beuth, Annette (1990). Digitaltechnik. Elektronik (in German). Vol. 4 (7 ed.). Würzburg, Germany: Vogel Buchverlag [de]. pp. 301–303. ISBN 3-8023-0584-1.
  4. ^ a b c Datenblatt FLH551-7448, FLH555-8448, 74248 (in German). Siemens.
  5. ^ "Application Note 3210 – Quick-Start: Driving 7-Segment Displays with the MAX6954" (PDF) (Application note) (3 ed.). Maxim Integrated. March 2008 [2004-06-25]. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-03-20. Retrieved 2013-05-06.
  6. ^ "Driving 7-Segment Displays". Maxim Integrated. 2004. Archived from the original on 2017-03-20. Retrieved 2017-03-20.
  7. ^ electronic hexadecimal calculator/converter SR-22 (PDF) (Revision A ed.). Texas Instruments Incorporated. 1974. p. 7. 1304-389 Rev A. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-03-20. Retrieved 2017-03-20.
  8. ^ electronic calculator – TI programmer (PDF). Texas Instruments Incorporated. 1977. p. 7. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-03-28. Retrieved 2017-03-28.
  9. ^ electronic calculator – TI LCD programmer (PDF). Texas Instruments Incorporated. 1981. p. 8. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-03-28. Retrieved 2017-03-28.
  10. ^ Friese, Michael (January 1980). "Electronic Magic Box" (PDF). Popular Electronics. Vol. 17, no. 1. pp. 61–66. Retrieved 2021-12-30.
  11. ^ Diehl, H. P.; De Mulder, H. D. (April 1981). "junior cookbook: a few healthy recipes to keep your computer in shape" (PDF). elektor (UK) – up-to-date electronics for lab and leisure. Vol. 1981, no. 72. pp. 4-28–4-31 [4-30 Figure 4]. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-07-03. Retrieved 2020-07-03.

External links[edit]