4-Wire Interfaced, 7-, 14-, and 16-Segment Alphanumeric Vacuum-Fluorescent Display Controller

Industry's First 96-Character 7-, 14-, and 16-Segment VFD Controller with Built-In Filament Drive Control

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The MAX6850 compact vacuum-fluorescent display (VFD) controller provides microprocessors with the multiplex timing for 7-segment, 14-segment, or 16-segment alphanumeric VFD displays up to 96 characters and controls industry-standard, shift-register, high-voltage grid/anode VFD tube drivers. The device supports display tubes using either one or two digits per grid, as well as universal displays. Hardware is included to simplify the generation of cathode bias and filament supplies and to provide up to five logic outputs, including a buzzer driver. The MAX6850 provides an internal crosspoint switch to match any tube-driver shift-register grid/anode order, and is compatible with both chip-in-glass and external tube drivers.

The MAX6850 includes an ASCII 104-character font, multiplex scan circuitry, and static RAM that stores digit, cursor, and annunciator data, as well as font data for 24 user-definable characters. The display intensity can be adjusted by an internal 16-step digital brightness control. The device also includes separate annunciator and cursor control with automatic blinking, as well as a low-power shutdown mode.

The MAX6850 provides timing to generate the PWM waveforms to drive the tube filament from a DC supply. The filament drive is synchronized to the display multiplexing to eliminate beat artifacts. The MAX6850 is compatible with SPI™ and QSPI™.

For a 2-wire interfaced version, refer to the MAX6851 data sheet.
MAX6850: Typical Application Circuit MAX6850: Typical Application Circuit Enlarge+

Key Features

  • High-Speed 26MHz SPI-/QSPI-/MICROWIRE™-Compatible Serial Interface
  • 2.7V to 3.6V Operation
  • Controls Up to 48 Grids of 7-Segment, 14-Segment, or 16-Segment Alphanumeric Digits
  • One Digit and Two Digits per Grid and Universal Displays Supported
  • 16-Step Digital Brightness Control
  • Built-In ASCII 104-Character Font
  • 24 User-Definable Characters
  • Up to Four Annunciators per Grid with Automatic Blinking Control
  • Separate Cursor Control with Automatic Blinking
  • Filament Drive Full-Bridge Waveform Synthesis
  • Buzzer Tone Generator with Single-Ended or Push-Pull Driver
  • Up to Five General-Purpose Logic Outputs
  • 9µA Low-Power Shutdown (Data Retained)
  • 16-Pin QSOP Package


  • Bar Graph Displays
  • Display Modules
  • Industrial Controllers
  • Professional Audio Equipment
  • Retail POS Displays
  • Weight and Tare Displays
  • White Goods
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Note : The failure rates are summarized by technology and mapped to the associated material part numbers. The failure rates are highly dependent on the number of units tested.

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