ESP32 Weather Station Looks Great With Color E-Paper Display

[] has built weather stations before, but his latest is his best yet. It’s all thanks to its low-power design, enabled by its e-paper display.

The build is based around an ESP32 microcontroller, combined with a BMP180 sensor for measuring barometric pressure, and a DHT22 sensor for measuring temperature and humidity. By taking these values and feeding them into the Zambretti algorithm, it’s possible to generate a rudimentary weather forecast.

The weather station looks particularly impressive thanks to its six-color e-paper display. It’s brightly colored and easy to read, and displays graphs of temperature, pressure, and humidity over time. Plus, by virtue of the fact that it only draws power when updating, it allows the project to last a long time running solely on battery power.

As far as DIY weather stations go, this is an attractive and clean design that offers plenty of useful data to the user. We’ve seen some other neat builds in this vein before, too.

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Custom Multi-Segment E-Ink Displays From Design To Driving

With multi-segment displays, what you see available online is pretty much what you get. LEDs, LCDs, VFDs; if you want to keep your BOM at a reasonable price, you’ve pretty much got to settle for whatever some designer thinks looks good. And if the manufacturer’s aesthetic doesn’t match yours, it’s tough luck for you.

Maybe not though. [upir] has a thing for custom displays, leading him to explore custom-made e-ink displays. The displays are made by a company called Ynvisible, and while they’re not exactly giving away the unique-looking flexible displays, they seem pretty reasonably priced. Since the displays are made with a screen printing process, most of the video below concerns getting [upir]’s preferred design into files suitable for printing. He uses Adobe Illustrator for that job, turning multi-segment design ideas by YouTuber [Posy] into chunky displays. There are some design restrictions, of course, chief of which is spacing between segments. [upir] shows off some Illustrator-fu that helps automate that process, as well as a host of general vector graphics design tips and tricks.

After sending off the design files to Ynvisible and getting the flexible displays back, [upir] walks us through the details of driving them. It’s not as simple as you’d think, at least in the Arduino world; the segments need +1.5 volts with reference to the common connection to turn on, and -1.5 volts to turn off. His clever solution is to use an Arduino Uno R4 and take advantage of the onboard DAC. To turn on a segment, he connects a segment to a GPIO pin set high while sending 3.5 volts out of the DAC output into the display’s common connection. The difference between the two pins is 1.5 volts, turning the segment on. To turn it off, he drops the DAC output to 1.5 volts and drives the common GPIO pin low. Pretty clever, and no extra circuitry is required.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen [upir] trying to jazz things up in the display department. He’s played with masking LED matrix displays with SMD stencils before, and figured out how to send custom fonts to 16×2 displays too.

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Giant Demonstrator Explains How DLP Projectors Work

Texas Instruments developed digital mirror devices, and the subsequent digital light processing (DLP) projector, starting in the late 1980s. The technology is a wondrous and fanciful application of micro-scale electronics and optics. Most of us that have tangled with these devices have had to learn their mode of operation from diagrams and our own imagination. But what if you just built one at a large enough scale that you could see how it worked? Well, [jbumstead] did just that!

A real Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) consists of hundreds of thousands of mirrors, which would be impractical to recreate. This build settles for a simpler 5×5 array made using half-inch square mirrors. It uses solenoids to move each individual mirror between a flat and angled position to create the display. The solenoids are all under the command of an Arduino Mega which controls the overall state of the display and shows various patterns.

It’s not perfect, with the mirrors not quite matching in angles at all times, but it demonstrates the concept perfectly well. When you see it in action with light bouncing off it, you can easily understand how this could be used to make a display of many thousands of pixels in a projector arrangement. We’ve featured some other DLP hacks before, too, so dive in if you’re interested.

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Wio Terminal Makes Passable Oscilloscope

There was a time when getting a good oscilloscope not only involved a large outlay of capital, but also required substantial real estate on a workbench. The situation has improved considerably for the hobbyist, but a “real” scope can still cost more than what a beginner is looking to spend. Luckily, plenty of modern microcontrollers are capable of acting as a basic oscilloscope in a pinch, provided there’s a display available to interface with it. Combined with the right software, the Wio Terminal looks like a promising option.

The Wio Terminal is a platform gaining some popularity due to its fairly capable SAMD51 microcontroller and also its integration with a display and a number of input buttons. On the hardware side, [mircemk] mounted the Terminal in a convenient vertical orientation and broke out a pair of connectors for the inputs.

But it’s the software that really makes this project work. [Play With Microcontroller] originally developed the firmware for the PIC24 back in 2017, but ported the code over to the Wio Terminal a couple years back. Noting that the microcontroller is not particularly fast, the project doesn’t exactly match the specifications or capabilities of a commercial unit. But still, it does an impressive job of recreating the experience of using a modern digital scope

The Wio Terminal is a device we’ve seen around here for a few unique projects, among them a device for preventing repetitive strain injuries while using a computer mouse and another that is a guide for game development in MicroPython. And if you’re just itching to port oscilloscope software to accessible but under-powered microcontrollers, be sure to check out [mircemk]’s other oscilloscope projects like this one built around the STM32 microcontroller.

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Obsolete E-Reader Gets New Life

For those who read often, e-readers are a great niche device that can help prevent eye fatigue with their e-ink displays especially when compared to a backlit display like a tablet or smartphone, all while taking up minimal space unlike a stack of real books. But for all their perks, there are still plenty of reasons to maintain a library of bound paper volumes. For those who have turned back to books or whose e-readers aren’t getting the attention they once did, there are plenty of things to do with them like this e-book picture frame.

The device started life as a PocketBook Basic Touch, or PocketBook 624, a fairly basic e-reader from 2014, but at its core is a decent ARM chip that can do many more things than display text. It also shipped running a version of Linux, which made it fairly easy to get a shell and start probing around. Unlike modern smart phones this e-reader seems to be fairly open and able to run some custom software, and as a result there are already some C++ programs available for these devices. Armed with some example programs, [Peter] was able to write a piece of custom software that displays images from an on-board directory and mounted the new picture display using an old book.

There were a number of options for this specific device that [Peter] explored that didn’t pan out well, like downloading images from the internet to display instead of images on the device, but in the end he went with a simpler setup to avoid feature creep and get his project up and running for “#inktober”, a fediverse-oriented drawing challenge that happened last month. While not strictly in line with a daily piece of hand-drawn artwork, the project still follows the spirit of the event. And, for those with more locked-down e-readers there’s some hope of unlocking the full functionality of older models with this FOSS operating system.

STM32 Offers Performance Gains For DIY Oscilloscope

There’s no shortage of cheap digital oscilloscopes available today from the usual online retailers, but that doesn’t mean the appeal of building your own has gone away — especially when we have access to powerful microcontrollers that make it easier than ever to spin up custom gear. [mircemk] is using one of those microcontrollers to build an improved, pocket-sized oscilloscope.

The microcontroller he’s chosen is the STM32F103C8T6, part of the 32-bit STM family which has tremendous performance compared to common 8-bit microcontrollers for only a marginally increased cost. Paired with a small 3-inch TFT color display, it has enough functions to cover plenty of use cases, capable of measuring both AC and DC signals, freezing a signal for analysis, and operating at an impressive 500 kHz at a cost of only around $15. The display also outputs a fairly comprehensive analysis of the incoming signal as well, with the small scope capable of measuring up to 6.6 V on its input.

This isn’t [mircemk]’s first oscilloscope, either. His previous versions have used Arduinos, generally only running around 50 kHz. With the STM32 microcontroller the sampling frequency is an order of magnitude higher at 500 kHz. While that’s not going to beat the latest four-channel scope from Tektronix or Rigol, it’s not bad for the form factor and cost and would be an effective scope in plenty of applications. If all you have on hand is an 8-bit microcontroller, though, we have seen some interesting scopes built with them in the past.

Removing The Air Gap From An IPad Display

Some recent models of the Apple iPad have a rather annoying air gap in between the display and the outer touch surface. This can be particularly frustrating for users that press hard or use the Apple Pencil regularly. It is possible to eliminate this gap in the iPad 9, at least, as demonstrated by [serg1us_eng]. (Warning: TikTok)

Doing the job well takes some finesse, however, and plenty of fancy equipment. The iPad’s front touch glass was first covered to avoid scratches during the work, and then heated to 60 C to remove it. The display was also removed, with several glued-down ribbon cables having to be carefully pried off to avoid damage. A layer of transparent material was then cut to size to fit in the gap between the display and the front glass, with the stack laminated together. Getting this result without air bubbles or dust particles spoiling the result involved the use of a heated press and a clean room, which are now widely used in phone repair shops around the world.

For the average user, it might not be a big deal. For power users and touch-and-feel fanatics, though, there’s great appeal in an iPad without this annoying flaw. Video after the break.

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