Full-color eBook reader needs only 8-bits of muscle

[Rossum's] still coming up with great ways to use his microtouch hardware. This time, he’s taken his inspiration from Amazon’s announcement that a full-color eBook reader (and movie player) is on the way. Judging from the video after the break, his fully functional reader is a big win for the device.

You’re probably familiar with the hardware, an ATmega644-based board connected to a touch sensitive LCD screen. You can make your own or buy one pre-assembled (but currently out-of-stock). The board has a microSD card slot making it quite easy to add books to the device. At the start of the project [Rossum] thought he might be able to read ePub files directly, but the embedded images, and unzip function needed to open the package file is a bit too much for the 8-bit processor’s restrictions. One simple step does the trick. A helper script can be used to format the files before transferring them to the device. This does the unzipping, scales the images, and repaginates the text into a format friendly for the display size.

Now if we only had a nice little case to house the hardware we’d be in business.

19 thoughts on “Full-color eBook reader needs only 8-bits of muscle

  1. This is one of the best projects featured on this site this year, one of the best ever. The performance puts many commercial readers and smartphones to shame.

    I like it a lot.

  2. well if its 8 bit, it might be able to run wolf3d on it. Doom would probably be too much, and i dont even know if its possible to run that in 8 bit without some super heavily modification.

  3. I don’t understand how he can update the display so damn fast. With a PIC running at 48MHz just toggling its ports to send data (just filling the screen with alternating solid colours) and absolutely nothing else I can still see the updates. He’s scrolling frigging pictures read from external memory absolutely smooth…

    Very impressive but also extremely frustrating :P

    1. The display he is using has “scroll up/down/left/right” commands, so he only needs to update 1 line at a time during the scrolling. Still impressive, but explains the scrolling a bit ;-)

      1. Aha! No wonder his updates are so much quicker! A bit of a difference to fill in maybe 300-400 pixels as opposed to almost 80000… hehe.

  4. Wow. That’s awesome.

    If someone can give me a drawing / links to the hardware mech drawings I’ll design & make available a nice case for it…

    Anyone know how many they have sold, over what period? I need to choose an appropriate method of manufacture first…

  5. But that doesn’t defeat the purpose of a e-reader ? I don’t think i could read more than a chapter at time in a lcd screen, but on my kindle 3 things go smooth.

    just saying, still impressed by the quality.

  6. I was really hoping he would move to 32bit ARMs a year ago after the last demo. They cost the same (or even less), are ~7 times faster, >2x ram, have more resources/ios, viable upgrade patch, and are easier to obtain than Atmel chips.

    1. I wonder about that too, as I’m entering into the ARM world as well. But the main problem is tools, from what I could figure for now. Its far more complicated than AVRs.

  7. this guy is the bomb. just seeing the picture i knew it was rossum . there is just something about his work that is iconic and sets him a part from the rest. he makes me wish i was that good in electronics .

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