Developer Chris Twomey has written a dashboard for an ePaper picture frame display, designed to pull down local weather information complete with graphical map — and lightweight enough to run on an Espressif ESP32 microcontroller.
"Back in late 2021, I came across a project called MagInkCal that uses a Raspberry Pi Zero WH to retrieve events from a Google calendar and display them on an E Ink display," Twomey explains. "One of the drawbacks of the project however is power consumption and I thought of porting the project over to use the ESP32 platform instead. What resulted eventually was this project, though I decided to focus on more of a weather station aspect rather than Google calendar events."
Rather than connecting a third-party ePaper display to a microcontroller board, though, Twomey decided to go for something a little more off-the-shelf on the hardware front: the Soldered Electronics Inkplate 10, an all-in-one smart display based on a roughly-10" ePaper display panel with an on-board Espressif ESP32 microcontroller and SD Card storage.
"Both a server and client and required. The main workload is in the server [which] allows the client to save power by not generating the image itself," Twomey explains of the project's architecture. "With a 2,000mAh LiPo battery, the client could theoretically go four to five months without a recharge, possibly six months with a 3,000mAh pack."
To keep both cost and power draw down, Twomey opted for a Raspberry Pi Zero W for the server and the Inkplate 10 for the client. The server software is relatively lightweight, pulling down weather and map data from publicly-accessible application programming interfaces (APIs) and rendering the data to a black-and-white PNG graphic for transmission to the client.
As Twomey says, the project was inspired by MagInkCal — first unveiled to the public back in September 2021 as an always-on smart desk calendar. Since then, the project's creator "speedyg0nz" has released MagInkDash with a "glanceable" format for weather, calendar, and more — something Twomey suggests as an alternative for anyone looking for an alternative to his own creation.
The source code to Twomey's project is available on GitHub under an unspecified open source license, with full instructions for its use.