E-ink displays used to only be found in products like the Kindle e-reader, but that’s changing now. Companies are responding to the demand for standalone e-ink components by making e-ink displays of all shapes and sizes.
With all these options available, you might be wondering what can you do with an E Ink display? To help you spark some ideas, we’ve rounded up the best projects to get you up and running.
1. Shower Thoughts from Reddit
If you’re a fan of the popular subreddit Shower Thoughts on Reddit, then this perfect micro-project is for you.
YouTube host ACROBOTIC found a way to pull the day’s most popular posts straight onto its e-paper display. The hardware uses a Raspberry Pi 4 and a HAT 2.7-inch e-paper display. However, these parts are interchangeable if you have a different model or want to use a larger display.
If you’ve never worked with JSON files before, this project might also help you get started. ACROBOTIC shows you in detail how to set up the software. And once you know how to scrape data from Reddit, you can choose any of your favorite subs to display on your e-paper.
2. Cryptocurrency Display
Cryptocurrency has caught the attention of many people and is slowly becoming an acceptable transaction method. If you are one of those people who keeps a close eye on the crypto markets, then this build will help you.
CRYTOiNK combines a 7×7 inch e-ink display with an interface that shows up to seven cryptocurrencies and their real-time status in the market. The Waveshare E Ink display used in this project can also show red, allowing you to quickly see when a currency has fallen in the last 24 hours.
Creator John Loeffler even designed a 3D printed case to house all of the components, and along with a few magnets it fits just right when attached to a fridge.
3. Open source fully customizable E Ink smart watch
In 2006, Seiko created the world’s first e-ink watch, but it never really caught on. Now, with a growing industry of electronic hobbyists, we’ve gotten back to building e-ink watches.
Squarofumi (SQFMI) has developed an e-paper clock that features both open-source hardware and software. Watchy is the name of the small circuit board they developed, which contains an ESP32-PICO, a LiPo battery connector, several tactile buttons and a vibration motor.
Use it as a guide to build your own e-paper clock, or start with the Watchy kit and see what you end up building.
4. Beer fermentation monitor
Using electronic sensors and a display for real-time data is a fantastic way to start brewing beer at home. Add an E Ink display and you have a beautiful and elegant beer fermentation monitor.
The project uses an incline hydrometer and an ESP32 to monitor the beer. The Firebase library is then used to store the data until it can be retrieved from an ESP8266 E Ink display every 20 minutes. You can find the files you need on the project’s Hackaday page.
Finally, a custom font library and a minimalist IKEA frame bring it all together for an aesthetically pleasing beer monitor setup.
5. Open Source Information Dashboard
There are many e-ink dashboards out there, but Inkycal puts the design in your hands, so you can turn any e-ink display into an information dashboard.
This open-source software can be downloaded from GitHub, complete with installation instructions that walk you through a simple setup. You can add modules as you like including Calendar, Image, Slideshow, Feeds (RSS/ATOM), Stocks, Weather and Todoist. And since it’s open to third-party modules, it’s flexible to fit everyone’s needs.
It offers broad support for any 40-pin Raspberry Pi model with WiFi and currently works with a range of Waveshare e-paper displays. Along with Inkycal, you can create just the right info dashboard you want.
6. Dungeons & Dragons Hit Point Tracker
It turns out that an E Ink display offers a novel way to view your teams’ stats in Dungeons & Dragons. Clearly designed by a D&D player, this hit point tracker has all the features you need to run a successful campaign.
The e-ink display shows the hit points of all players and connects via bluetooth to an android phone where you can change all the stats. Instead of a Raspberry Pi, this project runs on an Arduino Mega 2560 with a Bluetooth module. It’s powered by a 9V battery, but if that ever fails, the data is stored in EEPROM so you don’t lose any points.
7. 32 inch Digital E Ink Newspaper
Most e-ink projects use small displays, but for this e-ink digital newspaper we’re going big with a 32-inch display!
The large format e-ink display serves the purpose of recreating a newspaper feel. Albeit one that has access to real-time headlines from around the world.
Wireless and incredibly energy efficient, it can run for months without a battery before needing a recharge. If you already have a home server set up, you can follow the steps outlined by creator Greg Raiz to get started.
8. IoT E Ink Message Board
An e-ink shopping list will perfectly suit the needs of tech hobbyists. While using pen and paper will do the same thing, the ability to make changes to your e-ink shopping list remotely is a good reason for this build.
Creator James Bruton chose to use the Google Docs API for this build. This allows anyone with access to the Google Doc to make changes, which will then appear on the E Ink display.
If you have a family that usually leaves messages on sticky notes or pin them to the fridge, here’s a modern alternative.
E-Ink: An energy-saving, beautiful display solution
So when does it make sense to use an e-ink display? The answer to that lies in the growing list of brilliant DIY e-ink projects out there.
E Ink displays are perfect when you want your project to use as little energy as possible. And if you want to display real-time data that requires little physical interaction, e-ink is the way to go. With both integrated and wireless IoT solutions now also widely adopted, e-ink is a beautiful and practical solution for your next project.