Not so long ago, “Magic Mirror” builds were all the rage, and we have to admit getting out daily reminders and newsfeeds on an LCD display sitting behind a partially reflective mirror is not without its charms. But styles ebb and flow, so we don’t see too many of those builds anymore. This e-ink daily calendar reminder hearkens back to those Magic Mirrors, only with a double twist of AI.
This project is the work of [Ilkka Turunen], and right up front we’ll say the results are just gorgeous. A lot of that has to do with the 10.3″ e-ink display used, but more with the creative use of not one but two machine learning systems. The first is ChatGPT, which [Ilkka] uses to parse the day’s online calendar entries and grab the most significant events to generate a prompt for DALL-E. The generated DALL-E prompt has specific instructions that guide the style of the image, which honestly is where most of the artistry lies. [Ilkka]’s aesthetic choices, like suggesting that the images look like a 19th-century lithograph or a satirical comic from a turn-of-the-(last)-century newspaper. The prompt is then sent off to DALL-E for rendering, and the resulting image is displayed.
It has to be said that the prompts that ChatGPT generates based on the combination of [Ilkka]’s aesthetic preferences and the random events of the day are strikingly complex. The chatbot really seems to be showing some imagination these days; DALL-E is no slouch either in turning those words into images.
Like the idea of an e-ink daily reminder but prefer a less artistic presentation? This should help.
Continue reading “Double-Dose Of AI Turns Daily Tasks Into Works Of Art”
LCD photo frames never really caught on — by emitting light, they didn’t seamlessly blend in with a home’s decor in the way printed photos do. [Sprite_tm] decided to see if a color e-Ink screen could do any better, and whipped up a WiFi-enabled photo frame using a Waveshare display.
The part in question is a 5.65-inch display with 640 x 448 resolution, and is capable of displaying seven colors. It’s not designed to display photorealistic images, so much as display simple graphics with block colors. However, with some dithering, [Sprite_tm] suspected it might do an okay job. An algorithm that uses Floyd-Steinberg diffusion and the CIEDE2000 color space takes regular RGB images and breaks them down into dithered images that are displayed using the screen’s 7 available colors.
The build relies on an ESP32-C3, which drives the display and fetches new images daily over WiFi. Thanks to the e-Ink screen, which uses zero power when not updating, the whole setup runs off two AA batteries and a Natlinear LN2266 boost converter.
There are some limitations; the screen’s color space is altogether quite limited, and images don’t look very high-fidelity in such low resolution. However, it does an able job of displaying photos for a device that was never designed to do so. It looks rather handsome all wrapped up as a 3D printed picture frame, and [Sprite_tm]’s monkey test photos are very cute.
Files are on GitHub for those that wish to roll their own. We’ve seen similar works before, like this e-Ink wall-hanging newspaper display that keeps up with the times. If you’ve got your own neat e-ink build, hit us up on the tipsline!
Anyone looking for components for electronics projects, especially robotics, microcontrollers, and IoT devices, has likely heard of Waveshare. They are additionally well-known suppliers of low-cost displays with a wide range of resolutions, sizes, and capabilities, but as [Dmitry Grinberg] found, they’re not all winners. He thought the price on this 2.8-inch display might outweigh its poor design and lack of documentation, and documented his process of bringing it up to a much higher standard with a custom driver for it.
The display is a 320×240 full-color LCD which also has a touchscreen function, but out-of-the-box only provides documentation for sending data to it manually. This makes it slow and, as [Dmitry] puts it, “pure insanity”. His ultimate solution after much poking and prodding was to bit-bang an SPI bus using GPIO on an RP2040 but even this wasn’t as straightforward as it should have been because there are a bunch of other peripherals, like an SD card, which share the bus. Additionally, an interrupt is needed to handle the touchscreen since its default touch system is borderline useless as well, but after everything was neatly stitched together he has a much faster and more versatile driver for this display and is able to fully take advantage of its low price.
For anyone else attracted to the low price of these displays, at least the grunt work is done now if a usable driver is needed to get them up and running. And, if you were curious as to what [Dmitry] is going to use this for, he’s been slowly building up a PalmOS port on hardware he’s assembling himself, and this screen is the perfect size and supports a touch interface. We’ll keep up with that project as it progresses, and for some of [Dmitry]’s other wizardry with esoteric displays make sure to see what he’s done with some inexpensive e-ink displays as well.
There are plenty of reasons to devote oneself to the care of houseplants — after all, a room full of bright, glossy-leaved plants can be a joy to behold, and that’s not even one of the more tangible benefits they bring. But as any green thumb knows, there’s a fine line between a healthy, vibrant plant and one that’s soon to give up the ghost.
If your thumb tends less toward green and more toward the brown and crusty side of things, something like [Jon]’s Smart Plant system might be just the thing for you. These low-power plant tags are built around increasingly ubiquitous e-Paper displays, like the kind you might find in a retail shelf price tag system. The current version of [Jon]’s tags uses a Waveshare 2.9″ tricolor display and a PCB with capacitive probes that stick into the plant’s soil. An ESP32-S lives on the top section of the PCB, along with a 1,000 mAh LiPo pack that’s charged off USB-C. The design includes an optional solar panel for keeping the battery topped off, which may or may not help depending on the plant’s place in your personal jungle.
In addition to the soil moisture sensor, the Smart Tag has an ambient temperature and humidity sensor and a light sensor — everything to keep your plant happy. The power-hungry sensors are only powered on when the Smart Tag pops out of deep sleep; this gives and estimated five to six weeks runtime between charges, without solar charging of course. The e-Paper display shows custom graphics of the plant’s current environmental state, and the same data is also available via Home Assistant thanks to the ESPHome firmware.
These are nice-looking plant tags that can really pull a lot of weight in keeping plants healthy. Check out the other offerings in our Low Power Challenge Contest, and maybe get an entry together yourself.
You’d think that now that the 2022 Cyberdeck Contest is wrapped up, we’d stop writing about it. Sorry, but no — there were so many great entries that we just can’t help but keep focusing on them. And this wearable hybrid interface cyberdeck has a look we love so much that we can’t resist spotlighting it.
We wouldn’t go so far as to call the “hgDeck” a PipBoy, but [Igor Brkić]’s wrist-worn deck certainly bears some similarity with to the Fallout-famous terminal. In fact, the design for this one is based on his earlier hgTerm Raspberry Pi mini-laptop, which honestly would have made a great entry all by itself. But while the two version shares some similarities, the hgDeck puts a serious twist on the form factor. In the stowed configuration, the Pi Zero W puts the main display, a 3.5″ Waveshare TFT, to work using the resistive touchscreen interface. But with the flick of a finger, a motor flips the monitor up on a set of pantograph linkages, which exposes a compact Bluetooth keyboard. Another touch stows the screen and returns you to touchscreen-only operation.
There were a fair number of wrist-worn decks in the contest’s final results, and while this one didn’t win, [Igor]’s build has got to be one of the cooler designs we’ve seen, one that almost seems practical in the real world.
Continue reading “2022 Cyberdeck Contest: A Wrist-Worn Deck With A Hybrid Interface”
One of the more recent trendy builds we’ve seen is the slow-motion movie player. We love them — displaying one frame for a couple of hours to perhaps a full day is like an ever-changing, slowly morphing work of art. Given that most of them use monochrome e-paper displays, they’re especially suited for old black-and-white films, which somehow makes them even more classy and artsy.
But not every film works on a monochrome display. That’s where this full-color ultra-slow motion movie player by [likeablob] shines. OK, full color might be pushing it a bit; the build centers around a 5.65″ seven-color EPD module. But from what we can see, the display does a pretty good job at rendering frames from films like Spirited Away and The Matrix. Of course there is the problem of the long refresh time of the display, which can be more than 30 seconds, but with a frame rate of one every two hours, that’s not a huge problem. Power management, however, can be an issue, but [likeablob] leveraged the low-power co-processor on an ESP32 to handle the refresh tasks. The result is an estimated full year of battery life for the display.
We’ve seen that same Waveshare display used in a similar player before, and while some will no doubt object to the muted color rendering, we think it could work well with a lot of movies. And we still love the monochrome players we’ve seen, too.
Cyberdecks make for interesting projects, some are a bit rough while others are beautiful, but it’s maybe something that even the most ardent enthusiast might agree — these home-made portable computers aren’t always the most convenient to use. Thus we’re very pleased to see this machine from [TRL], as it takes the cyberdeck aesthetic and renders it in a form that looks as though it might be quite practical to use.
It takes a Raspberry Pi and a Waveshare 1280×400 capacitive touch screen, and mounts this combo with a keyboard in an uncommonly well-designed 3D printed chassis. With the screen flat it resembles the venerable TRS-80 Model 100 “slab” computer of the early 1980s, but flip it up, and a surprisingly usable laptop appears. Power comes from an external battery pack with a lead, but this is due more to thermal management issues with PSU boards than it is to necessity. The finishing touch is a stylish custom laptop bag, making for a combo we’d take on the train to bang out Hackaday articles any day.
Looking around, we think perhaps it might give the Clockwork DevTerm a run for its money. Alternatively, you might take a look at this upgraded TRS-80 model 100.
Continue reading “At Last! A Cyberdeck You Might Want To Use”