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Paperd.Ink – A hackable e-paper display (paperd.ink)
242 points by robertlangdon 42 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 83 comments

It looks like a great project, but please don't put Show HN in titles until it's ready for users to try out. This is in the Show HN rules: https://news.ycombinator.com/showhn.html.


Unfortunately our website crashed and we're fixing it.

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srrAUOsWHMs&t=3s

User Research Typeform: https://prasad463729.typeform.com/to/cmp81P

Hackaday: https://hackaday.io/project/168668-paperdink

Github: https://github.com/rgujju/paperdink

Specs: Monochrome, 4.2", 400x300 resolution

We're looking at a selling price of $59 currently however there's a lot of scope to improve further. Looking at crowdfunding and other options for funding.

Lastly, this is the first time we've posted on HN so please bear with me if there were any novice mistakes (like spamming link/lines in every comment, which has been rectified now).

Thanks for all the support and feedback coming in!

Have you shared this on /r/HomeAutomation and /r/HomeAssistant?

Much less technical crowd in general than HN, but framing old tablets (as informational displays of 'smart home' state etc.) is quite popular, and I think your project is much more suited to it: much lower-power (such a device is only useful if always-on really), and much less distracting (e-paper not glaring bright colourful iPad or whatever).

Looks great, I'd definitely be interested at $59 (in £) if it's sufficiently/easily enough hackable!

Check this out: https://homey.ink

Ah, making it run on Kobo is a neat solution, I didn't think of that.

Hadn't heard of Homey.app that that's for, but yes I guess what I'm suggesting is that Paperd.ink could be a good 'that, but for people that DIY with HomeAssistant/OpenHAB/whatever'.

Absolutely, this project has a great DIY vibe and might be better suited to build into the wall.

Using a Kobo eReader on the other hand is a great purpose for when you’re not using it. Now when I leave for holiday I just take it from the wall :)

Have posted on couple of others, will check these out

Are you guys located in Pune? Could help you demonstrate this product at a small scale IOT meetup in in the city if you are interested. Left a comment on your YouTube.

Can you write to me on prasad[at]paperd[dot]ink? Or let me know what's the best way to connect

Hi, this looks interesting. What are the specs? Physical size and pixel resolution width * height? Number of levels of grey?

I spotted a couple of typos in the initial message in the setup screen: "Lets setup" should be "Let's set up". ("let's" = "let us", but "lets" = "allows", and "setup" is the noun but "set up" is the verb form.)

Have updated the specs. Thanks for pointing out, typos seem to be a careless mistake.

im in the market for a 20~40 dol e ink, delivered in EU, programmable screen that could last unmaintened for 6-12 months at a 1/day refresh rate. Should be in the 12x12 cm surface and needs to showcase a ~15 characters simple QR code.

nice to have : JavaScript programmable

Any experience with that ?

This eink display[1] from taobao is 7.5" and 800x480 resolution with a price of CNY 375(USD 53.67).

1. https://detail.tmall.com/item.htm?id=611687850885

Also available on ebay for 59.99 along with hardware to connect it to a raspberry pi.

edit: Of course all you get is the display. Paperd comes with a battery, esp32, buttons and so on plus I'm guessing examples of how to code the things.

Here's some hopefully constructive feedback.

The RGB LED looks jarring against monochrome e-ink screen. It also gives impression of cheap electronics, and rough 3d printed case doesn't help. The e-ink feels elegant, solid (no flickering) and timeless, while LED is nervous, overly bright and loud. If you really need a LED, put a white one.

Maybe try to prototype audiophile hi-fi style case. Something wooden or even black glass. It would raise the price but there is obviously large interest.

The site doesn't give any information on programming, only that UART-USB is included. Is it serving web page? Can it execute user binaries? Is some GUI toolkit supported? Without providing this info you can hardly claim it's hackable.

If you checkout their hackaday and github page it seems to be programmable with arduino. [EDIT] links: https://github.com/rgujju/paperdink https://hackaday.io/project/168668-paperdink

That was surely insightful. We'll test with a white LED.

And we're working on the binaries and GUI, it seems like current hardware won't be able to serve web pages.

Why do you need an LED at all?

Fully agree. A white LED might be better, as long as is for notifications only. There's no need for having a constant light otherwise (that's the beauty of eink)

we're tinkering around designs, will check without LED too

A red LED is better IMO. Especially in the dark of night. A dim red LED is preferable to a blue LED

> Enclosure doesn't look great.

Wow, that’s an understatement. It looks dirty and ragged.

Thanks for the feedback, its 3D printed and we're actively looking out for better options.

Friendly advice: don’t post the same link in response to every comment. It looks like spam.

EDIT, for context: User robertlangdon originally included the same typeform.com link in every comment, but has now edited most of the comments to remove these links.

Oh I am so sorry, my bad. I'll be careful.

Edit: After user tobr's useful advice, I've edited and removed links from most comments, hope that's fine. Our website will be up asap.

Thanks for the feedback, we're working on making the MVP better. The website is down unfortunately (trying to work on it asap)

Well, it's 3d printed, so, yeah, probably shitty because printed on the faster settings.


Yes it 3D printed, we wanted to test the prototype. If you have any suggestions do let us know.


You should expect much better results for a 3d print nowdays.

For a prototype which is expected to drive some interest 3d printing is fine, but print at 0.15 layers and do a couple of runs of sanding combined with filler before applying some paint. The case will look just like a regular finished product. I do this for custom projects where I want a perfect finish and/or show-off prototypes.

The layering is really annoying for some people.

For a final product, depending on the sale numbers, injection molding might be the only option. SLS and MJF give a very nice result, but the price range where they're economically viable is very narrow.

I think some combination of paint, sanding, and clearcoat would clean it up to the point of looking like it came out of a mold.

If you search for something along the lines of "paint and sand 3d print" or "finish 3d print" you'll find lots of different articles.

What is the expected retail price? The information is not present on the page but it’s a really important one.

Edit: $59 mentioned lower in the thread.

Well, 3D printers does far better with quality parts, dry PLA and in expert hands, and thus people are stupid, except it works so they are not.

I've wanted an e-ink display for a while, to display persistent-ish information for a while, like the Premier League table, local weather forecasts, and upcoming events from my Google Calendar, all in one screen.

Unfortunately, they tend to be quite pricey and small, and I can't find pricing on this anywhere.

Last time I looked into this, for a potential project, I found Waveshare seem to be the leaders for the hacker/hobby space.

They’ve got a nice 12.5” display (1304x984) @ $170, which is pricey but big enough for league tables.


The refresh times on waveshare panels are bad enough to make them useless for most interesting applications. That particular panel takes 16s to refresh.

Because it has 3 colors. Sometimes you can put them in two colors. For the Pwnagotchi project, the consensus has been that the Waveshare B&W v2 is the best [1].

Based on my own experience (I have one) I can say it has a high enough refresh rate, and little ghosting (none is impossible as costs too much battery to do full refresh).

Also, the UPS Lite, also from China (AliExpress or whatever), is excellent.

Do keep in mind this is a specific/different project, with a much smaller screen, meant to be portable (for on the go).

[1] https://pwnagotchi.ai/installation/#color-vs-black-white-e-i...


Paperd.Ink has a refresh rate of 4s for full refresh and <1s for partial. We're working on lowering it further.

16s would be for a full refresh though. If you're making an information based display you might only need to change a small area per update, which would be faster (though I couldn't find. any refresh speed in the datasheet).

WaveShare supplied code only allows full resolution full refresh with half tones and everything.

IIRC someone figured how to expedite it but that someone had to.

That one has red as well as black. They have a bunch more, mostly standard monochrome (a bit cheaper, and probably faster to update): https://www.waveshare.com/product/displays/e-paper/epaper-1....

I bought a Nook e-reader off ebay a while back for something like this. You can root it and it's just Android 2.2 underneath. Not a fantastic dev platform, but my plan was to just have it display images, and all the real work is done on a server somewhere.

I saw this product a couple of days ago: https://sync-sign.com/eink-for-developers-turn-key-solution/...

I am not affiliated with that company in any way.

This reminds me of that old SNL commercial for Newton post-it notes.

Try Inkplate. Uses a good screen (recycled Kindle) and has a battery charger built in. Very cheap. Only just funded though: https://www.crowdsupply.com/e-radionica/inkplate-6

This is an amazing idea that I am coming across for the first time! I wonder if there is already some implementation of it for Kindle!

Edit: just found out this project.


I built one of these with a kindle + rust - https://github.com/davidhampgonsalves/life-dashboard

The version of the e-reader is important if you want to access deep sleep / RTC for lower power usage.

This is awesome! I love how this is independent of setting up your own server. I wish there were a little bit of more documentation though - I am unsure if this will work on my kindle (PaperWhite 2015).


Thanks for the info, will definitely check it out. You can fill in our form if you'd like.

Take care!

Please stop spamming this same sentence in response to comments.

It says crowdfunding coming soon. Most likely the price is TBD.

We're looking at a selling price of around $59 currently. We're checking for financing options in addition to crowdfunding.

I remember a similar looking project from a few years ago fwiw:


Another, inspired by that: https://shkspr.mobi/blog/2020/02/turn-an-old-ereader-into-an...

A little off topic, but for anybody interested in doing something for themselves, there are various "smart mirrors" that aren't e-ink, but use a tablet screen behind a mirror.

Eg. https://www.instructables.com/howto/smart+mirror/

This is a cool idea, but I think the capacitive touch buttons are a mistake.

I have two different appliances that have them, and the lack of tactile feedback is really irritating, especially when a button press doesn't result in instant visual/audio feedback from the device. (Makes you wonder whether or not you actually activated the button.)

I strongly suggest using actual buttons.

I also really dislike buttons without feedback - you press them, and get nothing back. I often end up pressing them far harder than I probably should; the lack of tactile feedback seems to trick me into doing this.

My Magic Trackpad's haptic feedback has died, so now my trackpad has no feedback.

Sometimes I'm absentmindedly staring at the screen trying to click the desk, because it feels almost the same as the trackpad now.

Tactile feedback is very important!

I really feel like the E-Ink invention has been mismanaged. These things should literally be everywhere by now and performing all kinds of functions. I want one as a second screen and to do most of my development on it. Maybe have a second one for pulling up documentation. Does anyone know why it has taken so long for these to go to market except, basically, for e-readers? Someone I know uses one of these as their main screen. They said it was like their computer was speaking in an inside voice as opposed to shouting at them.

I remember reading a bit about it. Supposedly the company that produced the displays was pretty stingy with the technology. Unwilling to sell predict to you unless you were manufacturing in very large numbers (like e-readers) That's hearsay of course, take it with a grain of salt

>speaking in an inside voice as opposed to shouting at them

Now that's a way to put it! We were also perplexed while doing research initially as to why aren't these displays used more widely. One of the issues was cost and limited suppliers. So thought this might be a good thing to work on

Unfortunately all of this is hampered immensely by the still way too high price of E-Ink displays.

What are you going to build with this, a price tag? I'd love to make some stuff using E-Ink displays that you can read from a few meters away, but screens at 8 or more inches are virtually unobtainable. :(

You're right, price is a big issue. We want to be able to provide affordable and useful e-paper displays and are actively working towards the vision.


We're live again.

Could not resolve issue with the current hosting service provider yet so made a temporary website and routing everything there, which took its time own again to connect to the domain.

Hopefully this isn't too late. It was really frustrating but many lessons learnt. Thanks everyone for all the reviews and feedback!

Website looks down, so here's a video of the product https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srrAUOsWHMs

Thanks for the help. We're working on fixing the issue.

This looks amazing I can think of some really cool applications like a nice PDF reader that formats technical docs correctly

What’s the status on Color e-ink nowadays? Are we far away from that?

I feel like that’s the holy grail, along with true multitouch on one (last I checked all e ink displays were resistive touch displays)

Eink that supports yellow and red exists, but from what I've seen the refresh times are atrocious (like 10-30 seconds)

We have tri-colour e-ink – perhaps interleaving WYK WMK WCK would allow the necessary colour range?

Colored ones are quite expensive so we started with monochrome

Here's hopefully some constructive feedback:

Showing the battery state in Volts is almost completely unhelpful because of the non-linear discharge curve. An approximate of the battery capacity is more useful (even if not perfectly accurate) than the voltage itself.

You're right, it's on our list for updates

This looks a lot like it's just a waveshare e-ink display in a case with a esp32. Is there something more there?

If that's the case, ALL the work here is going to be software, and I don't see any yet. IIRC, that calendar display is example code from somewhere (the weather icons, in particular).

Yup pretty much. But everything is open source. checkout their github page https://github.com/rgujju/paperdink

Thanks. The code is the example code for our product. but it does not have any other example code. It uses open source libraries and icons.


The video looks great and I'd really like to know more.

It's frustrating that the website has been down all day, though. Seems kind of odd in the world of Netlify / CloudFlare even if it's been HN'd.... :-/

Interesting project, but if you have an old kindle / kobo that is not being used they make a good development platform with similar hardware. The mobileread forums will get you started.

This is cool, but e-ink displays have generally had 3 major differentiators from normal screens:

1. Comfort reading for long periods.

2. Ability to read outside in the sun.

3. Battery duration.

Of those, by far the most important is the first, and this product is specifically targeted away from that. The third isn't a big deal for a stationary item that can be wired or plugged in.

I wish you well, but I don't immediately see the problem it's solving - though there may well be some sort of gap in markets dealing with outdoor products, eg garden centres and the like.

I really like the ambient nature of e-ink displays. I don’t want something emitting light and dragging my attention to it, but I do want to be able to glance at the clock or the bus schedule etc.

This looks like a product well-suited to that sort of use case.

How about energy usage generally?

Reduction seems to be an important trend considering drives to try to reduce green house gas emissions.

4. Aesthetics

Some of us just prefer the look of e-ink displays.

What irks me is that this has been on the front page of HN for the past 10 hours, but the website is still down (and OP said they were going to fix it).

What would it take to replace the page with a static html page containing basic info and the Youtube video until the HN hug of death settles? 10 minutes of work?

There's also this 6" ESP32-based e-paper platform from Crowd Supply for $99: https://www.crowdsupply.com/e-radionica/inkplate-6

I would like to see something drag and drop from iOS/Android.

Love it. You guys could run a kickstarter campaign.

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