The Inkplate 6 Turns Recycled Amazon Kindle Screens Into ESP32-Based Low-Power Wireless Displays

Featuring an ESP32 WROVER microcontroller on a board with three capacitive touch inputs, the Inkplate 6 aims to make ePaper displays easy.

Croatian electronics specialist e-radionica.com is back on Crowd Supply with a new maker-friendly display board, this time pairing an electrophoretic ePaper display with an ESP32 module for a wireless low-power design dubbed the Inkplate 6.

"If you’re like us, the first time you saw an e-reader, you thought to yourself, 'I could do something with that.' Thanks to clean lines, high contrast, daylight readability, and the remarkable level of energy efficiency that comes from drawing power only when changing the contents of the screen, ePaper is uniquely suited to many applications," e-radionica.com explains. "After experimenting with the handful of readily available ePaper screens, however, we just couldn’t shake the sense that none of them was really a finished product.

"We had to wire them up to external microcontrollers, learn device-specific commands to update their screens, locate hard-to-find sample code, cobble together our own power management, and provide whatever interfaces our project ideas might require. It was a mess."

The solution: the Inkplate 6, combining a display salvaged from discarded Amazon Kindle e-readers with an ESP32 WROVER microcontroller offering Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connectivity. The board also finds room for a microSD slot, from which images can be loaded, and three capacitive touch-sensitive pads as inputs. The software side, meanwhile, is handled through Arduino libraries — completely compatible with programs written for Adafruit's GFX library — and a MicroPython module support image loading as well as text and vector rendering.

The Inkplate 6 crowdfunding campaign is now live on Crowd Supply, with the board priced at $99 with shipping due for late March 2020. The Inkplate 6 can also be seen in the latest Crowd Supply drop box over on Hackster TV.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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