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Topic: large e-paper display - waveform / SPI / EPSON uC (Read 10670 times) previous topic - next topic


Like many people on this forum, I'm interested in connecting a e-paper display to an Arduino.

But then I'd like something larger than the Sparkfun thing. I want to make a paper terminal for my PC, so I can stare at VIM on a piece of e-paper instead of a big lamp.

I've been talking to MSC - the distributor of Pervasive Displays for Europe - about their displays, and there seem to be 3 methods of control.

  • SPI via a TCON board

  • An EPSON chip in a BGA package

  • Directly via waveforms

I think SPI would be the easiest, but then you can only refresh the complete screen with 1 bit B&W. When typing on my terminal, I don't want to wait for the whole screen to refresh every time I press a key.

The EPSON chip allows you to do partial refreshes with grayscale, but I'm not sure how hard it would be to integrate that chip.

I have no idea what it even means to do waveforms, and if that is possible with the Arduino. The spec for 1 bit is free, the spec for grayscale waveforms is 5500USD.

They also ignored my requests for a price.

Advice needed :)

If this is even remotely feasible, I would buy a prototype screen, and later a batch to resell to other enthusiasts.

I am a programmer, not an electrical engineer. I did make this PICAXE controller before: http://studl.es/2012/05/diy-servo-controller/


I suspect the company probably doesn't deal with retail customers.  If you were planning on ordering 10,000 screens, it would be a different matter.

Another approach might be to get a used Kindle or other e-book reader that has been rooted (or can be rooted easily), and write an Android app that interfaces to your Arduino.  There are various Android/Arduino development kits out there, such as the following links I found via a google search:


They also ignored my requests for a price.

That has got to tell you something, as Michael said they are not interested in the very small numbers you could take.

I have no idea what it even means to do waveforms

It means having the arduino generate the waveforms to drive the display. These will probably be multi level not logic signals and will require the arduino to have an area of bit memory to transfer to the screen. The arduino does not have enough memory to do this.

Advice needed

Forget e-paper, it is not ready for hacking yet.


Another approach might be to get a used Kindle

Like this - http://www.ponnuki.net/2012/09/kindleberry-pi/.


I told them I wanted to buy 10.000. One reason I have no price yet is that they wanted to know if I want them with or without TCON boards. They could have given me the price for both but no...

Okay, so waveform is out of the window. SPI is too limited. That leaves the EPSON chip.

Or is there a DIP chip that could do waveforms?

It is nearly impossible to hand-solder BGA chips, I've been told. So that would complicate development a lot. I guess that brings me to (multi layer)PCB design, simulation and manufacturing?

I'm not hacking I'm.. ahem, developing a product for a niche market :)

P.S. I tried the kindleberry, but there is no terminal emulator for my K4NT.


I believe e-paper is very expensive and they only make money on the e-reader content, not the hardware - thus the cheapest way to acquire a display is to get an e-reader and hack it.

In the early days of mobile phones the networks subsidised the cost of handsets a lot in order to get people hooked on a contract.

This page has some links to interesting projects:
[ I will NOT respond to personal messages, I WILL delete them, use the forum please ]


Oct 12, 2012, 05:38 pm Last Edit: Oct 12, 2012, 05:40 pm by spass2000 Reason: 1
take a look  8)

you can connect the e-paper-display with the SPI Interface, no epson chip or TCON board is necessary, they only want to earn money...

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