How to Add a Touchscreen to Your Raspberry Pi Projects
You probably already know How versatile is the Raspberry Pi computer?. But it’s not until you add a monitor that you really experience the true power and versatility of the platform.
And not any old screens, but touchscreens.
Here’s what you need to do to build a touchscreen computer using a Raspberry Pi.
First, you need a Raspberries. Easier said than done because they are inside short supplybut search around and you’ll probably find one (here’s ZDNET’s advice on where to buy Raspberry Pi 4 and alternatives).
If you have an older Raspberry Pi 3, you can use it with this monitor.
Also: These are my 3 must-have Raspberry Pi accessories
This is mine – it’s 8GB Raspberry Pi 4B.
Then you need a monitor.
There are several monitors out there, but the one I’m using here is Official Raspberry Pi 7-inch 800 x 480 pixel touch screen.
That, plus a Phillips-head screwdriver, is the bare minimum you need, but I went a little further here and added one more carrying case.
The case helps protect the Raspberry Pi and screen from damage, and makes it feel like a real computer rather than a homebrew project.
Now that you have all the parts you need, here’s the process for adding a touchscreen to your Raspberry Pi.
1. Extremely important ribbon cable connection
Mounting the monitor is fairly easy, but the first part is also a bit tricky to use as it involves the use of a small ribbon cable.
To attach the ribbon cable to the connector on the display, first find the display connector. There is a small gray plastic tab on this connector that must be slid back to allow the tape cable to be inserted. Push the ribbon as far as you can and then push the gray tab back into place to secure the ribbon.
Also: I just solved one of my biggest Raspberry Pi headaches
The ribbon cable in my kit has a blue side and the instructions say that this side faces the breadboard. Your ribbon cable may be different, so check your instructions.
2. Attach the Raspberry Pi to the display controller
Next, I inserted the Raspberry Pi into the board, attaching it with four screws.
You don’t need to over tighten these screws!
3. Connect the jumper
I also need to connect four jumper wires to the monitor’s panel. It doesn’t matter which colors you connect where, but you need to know which ones because you’ll need to connect them to the appropriate pins on the Raspberry Pi in a moment.
For reference, here are the four connections and which pins on the Raspberry Pi they need to be connected to:
- 5V -> Pin 2 or Pin 4
- GND -> Pin 6
- SDA (data) -> Pin 3
- SCL (clock) -> Pin 5
Looking at the Raspberry Pi board with the writing in the right direction, pin 1 on the 40-pin connector along the top is on the bottom left and pin 40 on the top right.
4. Connect that important ribbon cable to the Raspberry Pi
Remember that ribbon cable you connected to the display controller?
Now is a good time to connect the other end to the Raspberry Pi. The process is the same as that of connecting it to the display controller.
5. Put everything in the case
Next, I stuffed the whole set into the box. It took a bit of fiddling to get the display right into the box, but everything seemed to be in place once the screws were in. You can tell when it’s in place because the ports will line up with the cutouts.
Again, you don’t need to over tighten these screws.
6. You’re done!
You have added a touch screen to your Raspberry Pi! Fire up your Raspberry Pi and update the software, and you’re ready to take your projects to the next level.