Part review – Batsocks Tellymate Arduino Shield

Hello readers

Every once in a while you have an idea for something that is quite simple in theory, yet complex to implement. Once example of this in my opinion is getting information from your Arduino to the outside world. Sure you can use an LCD, lots of LEDs, use a servo as an analogue meter, etc., but one of the best ways would be to a simple video monitor or TV. Imagine the possibilities that are available if your Arduino project could display data on a simple television screen – suddenly you could commercialise  projects and/or really have some fun.

Well now this is all possible with the Batsocks Tellymate Arduino shield! Sweet. Let’s check it out:



The developers have really made this simple. You just connect it like any other shield, run the included cable from the shield’s socket to the “video in” on the TV or monitor. The shield uses digital pins 0 and 1. There are also seven hard-wired jumpers that you can use to select carriage return attributes, PAL/NTSC output, and so on:



From a software point of view, it is also quite simple to use. Just insert Serial.begin(57600); into void setup(); and you’re away. Just use Serial.write(); or Serial.print(); and it will send the data off to the TV. It can support a resolution of 25 rows by 38 columns. Not the greatest, but for the price it does what it is designed to do. For normal use it supports the characters from code page 437, which for the older readers will look very familiar.

Sending other commands to the Tellymate is done with codes sent to it. For example, to clear the screen is ” E”. But that is not the command. Thankfully the manufacturer’s website has a detailed range of instructions and examples that you can work with to make the most out of it. Personally I just printed out the pages and made my own reference manual, which works well.

To get you up and running quickly, here is a brief sketch that is quite easy to follow. It is the temperature logger sketch from my Arduino tutorial modified to display via the Tellymate. Here is the sketch: sketch.pdf, and a video of it operating.

Unfortunately it is difficult to record the display as we  have a CRT television, but I hope you get the idea. My next example is to recreate the binary quiz game from Chapter Five of my Arduino tutorial. Again, not too difficult. The main caveat is (as usual) to plan before programming. And this proved to be a better rendition of the game – here is the sketch:

… and some screen shots:








And the video:

As you can see it is quite versatile with normal text and characters. Considering it costs under US$40, the Tellymate is quite the problem-solver. You can also define your own characters, for example to create your own symbols or game characters. Furthermore, larger fonts sizes are available (double height and width) and they can mix on the same screen with regular-sized characters. So now you have a better understanding of the Tellymate. High resolution photos are available on flickr. And if you made it this far – check out my new book “Arduino Workshop” from No Starch Press.

In the meanwhile have fun and keep checking into Why not follow things on twitterGoogle+, subscribe  for email updates or RSS using the links on the right-hand column? And join our friendly Google Group – dedicated to the projects and related items on this website. Sign up – it’s free, helpful to each other –  and we can all learn something.

[Note – this product was purchased by myself personally and reviewed without notifying the manufacturer]

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John Boxall

Person. Founder and original author for VK3FJBX

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