It’s hard to beat the fidelity and durability of printed text on paper. But the e-paper display gets pretty close, and if you couple it will great design and dependable features, you might just prefer an e-reader over a bookshelf full of paperbacks. What if the deal is sweetened by making it Open Hardware? The Open Book Project rises to that challenge and has just been named the winner of the Take Flight with Feather contest.
This e-reader will now find its way into the wild, with a small manufacturing run to be put into stock by Digi-Key who sponsored this contest. Let’s take a closer look at the Open Book, as well as the five other top entries.
You may remember seeing the Open Book back in October when Tom Nardi looked in on early testing for the board. It was prototyped using the Adafruit Feather, which of course was the main requirement of the contest. The controller is now built into the board for standalone functionality with the Feather header providing an opportunity for expansion.
The screen is 4.2″ with a resolution of 300×400. It reads files from a microSD card and uses seven buttons on the front of the board for user input. A dedicated flash chip stores language files with the character sets of your choice. The small LiPo cell can be charged via the USB port, and of course e-paper helps greatly in reducing the power consumption of the reader.
You’ll find a few extras on the back. There’s a headphone jack for listening to audio books, and get this, a built-in microphone and a TensorFlow-trained model allow for voice control! There are STEMMA headers to add your own hardware options, and designs for laser-cut and 3D-printed enclosures.
It includes a large screen and buttons for navigation, as well as audio options for accessibility and ports to extend its functionality. Its detailed silkscreen, with the all the manic energy and quixotic ambition of a Dr. Bronner’s bottle, aims to demystify the Open Book’s own design, breaking down for the curious reader both how the book works, and how they can build one for themselves.
The Open Book is not yet available for purchase, but you can order the board from OSH Park, and the BOM is available at the project’s GitHub page. Instructions for assembly are printed on the front of the PCB.
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Friend of Hackaday, Drew Fustini, came to our Breakfast at DEF CON meetup sporting a name badge of his own design. The E-Paper Badge uses a Teensy LC to drive a 2.15″ E-Paper display. The row of capacitive touch buttons to the left allow the image to be changed, and he just happened to have the Jolly Wrencher in the gallery of choices for this picture.
This badge gets me really excited for this year’s Open Hardware Summit which is at MIT on September 27th. This year’s badge is a collaborative effort between a group on Hackaday.io! It’s basically Drew’s badge on steroids, and he told me the experience of working with a team has been really positive. It seems each time the group hits a hard problem or a pile of work that needs to be done, someone on the team grabs it and runs with it. It’s a great example of both certified open hardware and team development.
It is ordered on Super Swift today and should be validated next weekend. This will allow us to order the full quantity PCB panels in August 13th. Assembly is estimated to be 10 business days from the day when all components and PCBs are received.
Rev 2 photos:
And for those interested, here is a link to a gallery:
[Ben Krasnow] is known for his clear explanations alongside awesome hardware, being one of only a few hackers who owns an electron microscope. This time he’s explaining how E-paper works while modifying the firmware of a 4.2 inch E-paper module to get a higher refresh rate. As for the awesome hardware, he also analyses the…
When we announced the Hackaday Prize with its Best Product category, [PK] polled his wife and co-workers about the idea of making a desktop monitor using 6″ 800×600 ePaper, which he has since built and calls the PaperBack. One such requirement for a monitor is to be able to connect to it using one of…
[Nick Ames]’s Flexible Smartwatch project aims to create an Open Source smartwatch made out of a flexible, capacitive e-ink touchscreen that uses the whole surface of the band. This wraparound smartwatch displays information from the on-board pulse and blood oximetry sensor as well as the accelerometer and magnetometer, giving you a clear idea of how stressed…
[Frank Buss] designed an electronic version of a sticky note: a WiFi enabled, solar-powered ePaper, with magnets embedded in the casing. It’s based on the new ESP32, and the idea is that you can update it via your smart-phone or over the internet via a cloud app to show any message you want. Being an…
E-ink displays are awesome. Humans spent centuries reading non-backlit devices, and frankly it’s a lot easier on the eyes. But have you looked into driving one of these critters yourself? It’s a nightmare. So chapeau! to [Julien] for his FPGA-based implementation that not only uses our favorite open-source FPGA toolchain, and serves as an open reference implementation for anyone else who’s interested.
Watch the E-Ink controller in action:
Design files and source code are available on GitHub: