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.


  1. Mark says:

    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. Beat707 says:

    OMG!!!! :-o I want one!!!

  3. mess_maker says:

    i have watched this guys projects over the last few years… I am always impressed by his work.

    cool project!

  4. aztraph says:

    cool! i wonder if it’ll play zork?

  5. roboman2444 says:

    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.

  6. Person says:

    Wow! I love this guy’s work. It’s what got me interested in diy tech in the first place.

  7. 2tired2care says:

    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

  8. maloushe says:

    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…

  9. Hirudinea says:

    Very impressive, and 8-bit to boot! Next thing you know he’ll be running Windows 8 on a light switch.

  10. Whatisthis? says:

    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.

  11. Roboman2444, he does have a raycasting demo he calls “Doomed”. I don’t think you can compile wolf3d into 32KiB of code though :)

  12. rasz says:

    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.

  13. jowie says:

    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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