As a hackerspace we’re lucky to have donations come in. Recently our first big lot of electronics came via Aaron and what a ginormus lot it was. Amongst the stepper motors, BASIC chips, odds and ends was a whole bunch of 16×1 and 16×4 LCD screens. By a whole bunch I mean around 30.
Mark A.K.A. @mehuman has managed to get these up and running on his Arduino with little difficulty.
It is important to note that the 16×1 screens consider it to be two rows of 8 columns so the setup command is lcd.begin(8,2);
Also, there isn’t a need for a potentiometer your can bypass it by running pin3 into the gnd.
Check out the tutorial here and come in and hack away at one (if you’re a member).