Tontec Touch Screen Set Up

Having purchased a Tontec Touch Screen (Model MZ61581) for the Raspberry Pi from Amazon I went about following the instructions found via the product description.  These instructions are what I used for the Raspberry Pi 2 (or Model B+).   I was using the 2015-05-05 version of raspbian-wheezy.

My screen was installed as below

***The unmodified instruction file can be downloaded at

1.     Initial Config of New Raspberry Pi Install

After booting your Raspberry Pi for the first time on Raspbian-Wheezy, we will need to perform the normal tasks of setting up our Raspberry Pi. including: expanding the filesystem; and setting the timezone.

You also need to set the date correctly as otherwise the rpi-update command in step 3 will error with tar timestamp is in the future.  The following instructions taken from this Stack Exchange Post explain what we need to do:

Go to, select your region, then your country and a list of servers will be display.  Now edit your /etc/ntp.conf file e.g.

sudo nano /etc/ntp.conf

Replace the list of servers with the one you found in the webpage. e.g.

server iburst
server iburst
server iburst
server iburst

Save and exit.

Before restarting the ntp deamon I would advise setting your time manually to a time close to the current time.  Apparently if the pi time is too different to ntp time it will not sync and my investigations seem to support this.

date -s "8 Jul 2015 19:00:00"
sudo /etc/init.d/ntp restart

check that the date is correct.  There maybe some delay in it setting and you could also reboot.


2. Update and upgrade the Raspberry Pi Install

Then we need “update” and “upgrade”.  If you want to learn more about the update, upgrade and rpi-update process read Michael’s post on the subject.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo reboot

3.    Update Firmware

We now need to update our firmware to the newest version to support Tontec screen.   Check that your date  is correct (step 1) before starting this process.

sudo rpi-update

My first attempts failed with a white screen on the Tontec.  Further investigation via the main HDMI showed that the boot sequence was freezing on fbtft_register_backlight:

(Edit) This is actually normal behaviour and once the Tontec screen was working the main screen still froze at this point. I contacted iTonTec support and they suggested running

sudo REPO_URI= rpi-update

instead of the plain rpi-update, which appeared to make the difference.

sudo reboot

4.     Enable SPI and set overlay for Tontec MZ61581 Screen

Open Raspi-Config and set the following on:

  • Auto boot to X Windows
  • SPI is turned on (advanced settings)
  • I2C is turned on (advanced settings)

Thanks to the amazon commenters for this as it was missing from the user guide.

Open /boot/config.txt

sudo nano /boot/config.txt

And add these lines to the bottom


Then save and reboot

sudo reboot

4.     Set Tontec 3.5 Screen as the default display instead of HDMI

Here we will change the default output display from HDMI to Tontec Screen

sudo nano /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/99-fbturbo.conf


Option  "fbdev" "/dev/fb0"


Option "fbdev" "/dev/fb1"

Note: if you want to switch back to the HDMI display, just change it back to fb0

5.     Edit cmdline.txt

Here we will enable Tontec Screen to display during the booting process

sudo nano /boot/cmdline.txt



at the end of current line. (No need to start a new line)

6.     Reboot


Touch Calibration (optional)

If you need to calibrate the touchscreen for X, Please download the instruction at

8 Comments on “Tontec Touch Screen Set Up

  1. Thank you very much for the REPO_URI trick! I recover my touch screen from the latest rpi-udpate (4.0.6).

  2. Thanks for the instructions. The picture and URI trick were very helpful.

  3. This setup worked for me (Rasbian Jessie)
    Thank you so much!

  4. did you manage to calibrate your screen? I followed the instructions in the document provided by tontec but the option “calibrate touchscreen” is not available in the menu…

  5. Great Summary – worked fine for jessie and Raspi3 🙂 Thank you! BTW: The tontech docx files are not viewable on a mac – don’t know why they do not publish them as pdf, html or .md documents… :->

  6. Hallo cayman, I could start the calibration from a SSH-session via the command
    DISPLAY=:0.0 xinput_calibrator
    After that you have to add the config-snipped dumped to the console on raspian to the file nach /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/99-calibration.conf to make it persistent.

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