Wi-Fi Connected E-Ink Display

People implementing the Scrum Methodology for project management often record all their tasks on a big whiteboard. However, it’s useful to have up-to-date graphs to ensure projects are on track. [Sprite_TM] augmented the whiteboard by building an Wi-Fi connected E-Ink Display.

Interfacing with E-Ink displays isn’t easy. A variety of voltages are needed, and the connectors used are tiny. We’ve seen some nice solutions, such as the RePaper display. [Sprite_TM] chose the ED060SC4 display which is available from eBay and has been throughly reverse engineered. A custom breakout board was built up to connect to the tiny FPC pins and generate the required voltages using the LT1945 DC/DC converter.

The next step was adding on Wi-Fi. The ESP12 module was an obvious solution. This module provides Wi-Fi connectivity and a processor capable of controlling the display. The display is powered by a tablet battery, which makes it totally wireless and operates for about 200 days.

A simple laser cut enclosure holds all the bits together, and contains magnets that stick the screen to the whiteboard. On the software side, images are streamed to the ESP12’s processor and loaded directly to the screen, since the ESP12 doesn’t have enough RAM to store an entire screen worth of data. All the firmware can had by cloning a Git repository.

26 thoughts on “Wi-Fi Connected E-Ink Display

  1. Nice usage for an e-ink display.For anybody that wants an easier way of doing something similar:
    low end Kobo E-readers are cheap, run Linux,have wifi and are easily rootable/hackable.
    Their internal storage is also a micro SD card accessible by popping the case open for easy mod swapping/restoring to actual function.
    What else could one ask ?

  2. It’s so sad to see that only people of the caliber of Sprite_TM are able to play with those ED060SC4. He figured out some nifty details in his text that I would have never catched. If only there were a 2×2 breakoutboard for the display to gain easy access. He mentioned in his text, that the circuit is not yet perfect (100mA draw by the 78l15/79l15) yet I would buy that pcb already in this stage :D

  3. I think you could do the same thing with a rooted nook simple touch (it runs android). But you’d only get about a months battery life. Perhaps a cheap USB battery pack tacked on.

    Mine only cost £29 and those screens look to be about half that on their own!

    Saying that, I always love Sprite_TM builds as he’s what got me into embedded hardware in the first place! Its a fantastic hack!

    I wonder if the flash on the ESP8266 could be used to hold a full frame? Or perhaps generate the frame on the fly from a REST call?

      1. Ah crap, I missed those caps :X I’ll try and draw them in on the schematics. I don’t have a schematics source file: I usually don’t bother and just draw the PCB without a rats nest for PCBs I build at home. The BOM should be complete; maybe something got lost when I put it online.

  4. This is amazing, I have been wanting to put an e-ink screen on a Raspberry Pi for some time now, but I didn’t want to sacrifice a Kindle to do so. Plus it seemed like a waste to use a full ARM computer with wifi just for the screen. I just ordered one of the screens in question on ebay and I will try to replicate this hack as soon as the parts come in from China. Great write-up and awesome idea!

  5. I must be missing something here. Like many have mentioned. Why not just hack a Nook Simple Touch? It runs Android and has a decent battery. I am sure it can be made last even longer using some software magic. If not, an external batter should not be hard to do.

  6. How about a make your own e-reader kit that has a case and the interface board with a micro running a program capable of reading and rendering to screen any non-DRM e-book file format? The buyer would need to buy and install a battery and e-ink screen.

    Formats, mobi (all versions), PalmDOC, TealDOC, LIT, EPUB, RB (Rocket eBook), plain text and ???

  7. What should be really interesting : a breakout board with FPC connector and components to generate voltages from a single +5V (or 3.3V) power supply. All signals of edisplay exported to a 2.54 connector.
    Make that and i take 10 !
    Strange that chineses friends on ali does not yet sell this kind of breadboard !

  8. Hi, also working on this to go onto a Pi Zero.
    Also these draw a lot less power so in theory a simple output circuit could generate all the needed voltages directly ie the quite common HV850 (+/-60V) with enable/clock inputs hooked up to the data lines.
    Generating +22,+15,-15,-20V would normally need 4 regulators.

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