As e-paper modules have become more affordable, we’ve started to see them pop up more and more in hacker projects. It used to be that you had to force a second-hand Kindle to do your bidding, but now you can buy just the screen itself complete with a header to plug right into your Raspberry Pi. It will still cost you as much as a used Kindle…but at least it comes with some documentation and there are Python libraries to talk to it.
But where to start? If you need some inspiration, and perhaps a little source code, this very slick weather display put together by [James Howard] is a great as baseline. Not that it really needs any additional refinement, as we think it already looks gorgeous. But rather than starting from scratch for your own project, it would be much easier to graft some additional functionality onto his code.
A lot of that has to do with how concise and well commented his code is. We’ve seen enough of these projects to know the kind of spaghetti that’s often running on the backend, but there’s none of that here. [James] assembles the display using the powerful Pillow graphics library, which lets you draw primitives and drop in text and icons with just a couple lines of code.
Once all the data is plugged in, the entire screen is saved as an image file which is then opened up on the e-paper display. Even if you aren’t a Python expert, you should be able to understand what’s happening and how to bend it to your will.
We’ve always had high hopes for electronic paper, and it seems the technology might finally be hitting critical mass. While it’s still a bit expensive, we’ve started seeing it pop up in unexpected places to great effect. Hopefully projects like this one will inspire others to take the B&W plunge.