Hardware and electronic lists to make an Ereader

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by ParoSprint, Mar 14, 2013.

  1. ParoSprint

    Thread Starter New Member

    Mar 14, 2013
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    Hi,

    I would like to understand what type of hardware I need to design an ereader considering this specific aspect:

    1) I will use Eink screen (no touchscreen) black and white

    2) Only buttons to go back and forward in the pages and to go back to home page where I have a list of books

    3) Long life battery (at least 2 weeks)

    4) Read at least pdf and epub format

    5) usb socket

    6) able to connect to a local network and download books

    7) recharge with solar panel

    Maybe I gave more informations that are needed but just be sure I described it.

    thanks
     
  2. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
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    You cannot beat the kobo mini for $80 or the txtr beagle for $70.
    Why reinvent the wheel?
     
  3. ParoSprint

    Thread Starter New Member

    Mar 14, 2013
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    I need it for a different enviroment than western country. I need to use it in rural areas in schools in Zambia where they dont have electricty grid but a lot of sun, where they just need to improve the reading ability and not use internet or doing strange stuff with an ereader. Thats the reason. I know about the txtr but as is not yet to the market and I dont know how is it exactly Im not sure if it really fit in my needs. For example I know that the txtr read image and not pdf.

    So I need more or less a description about the hardware needed. I dont have this particular technical background and I need some help. I know that if I think about the prototype it will cost a lot but this is the first step.

    I guess for you is quite easy to explain me in general which type of electronics is better to use and maybe the chipest one!
     
  4. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
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    With the danger of going a bit off topic, many times we attempt to apply new technology in the wrong places for the wrong reasons.

    What is wrong with a printed book?
     
    mcgyvr likes this.
  5. mcgyvr

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 15, 2009
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    screen, buttons, batteries,enclosures,solar panel, processor,display driver, dc/dc convertor,etc...
    That's the basics of the hardware.
    Now combining that into a usable tablet, creating the software,testing,debugging,etc.. is where you will spend thousands and thousands of dollars and months and months of time.

    IMO your project without substantial financial backing and software/hardware engineering support you have NO chance in actually building these devices. Its A LOT more than you think it is. Its not just plug and play in this realm. Its WAY too much to ask of anyone on a message board like this. I'd happily design it for you. I'd only charge $500,000 US dollars.

    Just wait a few months and the company/guy that did the one-laptop-per-child has a tablet coming out. or get ANY sub $100 Android tablet and a solar charger.
     
  6. Brownout

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2012
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    I could never understand why you need Android for a basic reader. Why can't you use a low end tablet, PDF reader and Linux? That and a solar charger and your one and done.
     
  7. ParoSprint

    Thread Starter New Member

    Mar 14, 2013
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    screen---> eink pearl bacl and white

    batteries--> I more or less know what is the best

    enclosures--> what do you mean?

    solar panel

    processor---> which type?

    display driver---> does the eink needs drivers?

    dc/dc convertor---> which type?

    etc...?---> whats more I need?

    Im asking a list, nothing more.
    Even I would not be able to make it. I want to know what there is inside.
    Lets put it like this. :)
     
  8. mcgyvr

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 15, 2009
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  9. ParoSprint

    Thread Starter New Member

    Mar 14, 2013
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    Thanks mcgyvr.
    so maybe instead of tablet I should put kindle teardown or something that remind the eink display then? Because from the link you posted it showes lcd display if im correct.
    or the hardware anyway could be more or less the same?
     
  10. takao21203

    Distinguished Member

    Apr 28, 2012
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    DO you have any actual samples of the EINK displays? Datasheet or product flyer?

    It could be done with STM32 or PIC32 probably.

    Do you need support for all PDF or only specific PDFs in one language?

    Do you have made yourself familiar with the PDF specification?

    -Building a display hardware prototype: Depends from a few $100 to quite into the $10000 range. You get what you pay for. With good will it is really doable for little money, if you have samples available + tech sheets.

    -Writing the PDF interpreter software. This will take a couple of hours * hourly rate of at least $20 to $30. Many western programmers charge $80 to $100 as a starting point, but Asia or India are cheaper.

    -The pilot assembly run, basically small scale, and testing with real users.

    -Upscaling for larger production run. Logistics, assembly, wrapping, marketing, distribution. This is where a lot of money has to flow into the project in advance.

    Or you simply replicate the prototype.

    -Enclosure can be plastic from China 1000pcs or 2000pcs minimum.

    Or do you have a low-cost solution in mind, domestically made in Africa?

    Creative minds can reduce costs a lot if they wanted to.

    Expensive mobile phones have a lot of unneeded functionality, professional + space optimized enclosing assemblies, cable sets, all things you probably do not need or want.

    Be careful not to meet with people telling you fairytales and ripping you off and in the best case, leaving you with a piece of outdated, expensive and incompatible hardware.

    Maybe see if you can find some Intel students doing parts of the work voluntarily. Or similar to that, Intel. The PC market is shrinking a lot, so they have time on their hands now :)
     
  11. takao21203

    Distinguished Member

    Apr 28, 2012
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    Like the Amazon Kindle Fire, the Nook Tablet is a no-frills tablet. It’s designed for reading e-books from the Nook Book store, streaming videos through Netflix or Hulu, running apps from the Nook Apps store, and browsing the Web. The Nook is larger than the Fire but weighs slightly less. It also has a slight advantage over the Fire when it comes to hardware, which helps explain the Nook’s higher price.

    Kind of "Hey you guys down there in rural Africa need to drive to school"?

    "OK. We are going to setup a dealer network for Mercedes + roll out 6 lanes motorways all over the place".

    When 10 or 20 battery powered E-buggys probably would have been more they ever were able to imagine.
     
  12. ParoSprint

    Thread Starter New Member

    Mar 14, 2013
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    thanks takao21203.

    thats the kind of input and questions that Im looking for.
    Im trying to get grant for this. I work in university so I know more or less the procedures to apply for grants.

    The questions you made are the one that Im looking for to give a direction to my project.

    1) DO you have any actual samples of the EINK displays? Datasheet or product flyer?

    Its seems to be difficult to get eink display here in europe. Eink seems to be a closed company if you are a single asking for a screen like these one.

    http://www.pervasivedisplays.com/products/panels

    I will go for the china solution. I think I saw somewhere that you can buy somes without asking at the question why.

    2) It could be done with STM32 or PIC32 probably.

    Can you please explain me what they are. I will of course google it but if I can have a brief description why you mention this would be nice.


    3)Do you need support for all PDF or only specific PDFs in one language?
    Do you have made yourself familiar with the PDF specification?

    I would like to have local content that actually means make connection with editors there (that I already have) and try to convince them to put in pdf version.

    what do you mean with: "Do you have made yourself familiar with the PDF specification?"

    4) do you have a low-cost solution in mind, domestically made in Africa?
    Im trying to get students from an university there involved in this project.
    We have to loose a little bit the idea that africa is just a poor continent to help. There are smart people also there. The only problem is that they dont have the same possibility to connect to the world like us.

    Im thinking about using the Arduino platform as a first step. What do you think?

    thanks a lot for the great input and questions. Looking forward to your reply. :)
     
  13. takao21203

    Distinguished Member

    Apr 28, 2012
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    I think I can read your reply too.

    http://www.eink.com/modules.html

    So these are the display modules.

    Did you try to contact them?

    http://www.pervasivedisplays.com/products/panels

    Did you try to get a quote for a single display?

    The largest displays I have handled so far are 320x200 color TFTs. But certainly I have capabilities to handle some SMD stuff.

    The larger the displays, the more specialized are the connectors.

    STM32 is a microcontroller platform from ST Microelectronics. About 150 MHz. These chips have for instance 512K FLASH, I think enough for a simple PDF interpreter.

    PIC32 is a microcontroller chip with 80MHz, these cost about $5 per chip, and also some of them have large FLASH memories.

    Arduino is just one level below the computing power you need. Arduino is a 8bit microcontroller platform.

    You can not handle 800x600 with this, not comfortable.

    PIC32 and STM32 can handle monochrome 800x600.
    As well they can host FAT32 file system for SD cards.
    PIC32 also can work as USB host, means they can read USB drives.

    I understand you are a university student with a project idea, but not so much technology background.

    PIC32 is really possible to mount the chip on a blank SMD adapter and ready to go. STM32 is available as low-cost evalution board, really costs only $20.

    Without access to display samples, or a quote, or a distributor link, it is difficult even to start off with a prototype.

    Maybe they want to prevent hobby users to mess with the displays?

    PDF is a file format. It can contain text, as well graphics. They are compressed with some kind of JPEG or PNG.

    There exist JPEG firmwares for instance for PICs, but they are not royalty free. Quite hard to program this yourself.

    I have never examined the PDF specification in detail. With some programming background, I understand however there is a file format specification, and in order to use a PDF, you need a software stack or a PDF interpreter firmware.

    It would translate the PDF data into monochrome raster data for the display.

    Getting a prototype working is not so much involved and not so difficult as many people think.

    Large scale production is difficult, as everything is space optimized, cost optimized, and it is involving all the logistics.

    What do you want? One prototype to show off as university project?
    A small scale production run let say 20 pcs, or 50pcs?

    It is required at some point of stage you do research, examine the results, and create a write up as a text document. Create a website even for that.

    I am more than happy to help out if I can.

    All I have here in working order is really only a small 1.8" color TFT board, but I designed it 100% myself. I did not find it difficult at all, even if I used some exotic technology. Runs from 3V.

    If you can get a display sample, and I find a way to connect it to a PCB, I can connect it with a microcontroller board.

    I don't promise anything about the PDF interpreter, as I have never examined the format specification.

    So I just wrote what I see in my mind without to think about it, see if it makes any sense or is any useful.
     
  14. takao21203

    Distinguished Member

    Apr 28, 2012
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    Have you looked at this?
    7.4" demo kit

    It actually contains an Altera MAXII CPLD (They call it FPGA but it is just a CPLD).

    And a second board with USB to PC interface.

    But if you get the information how to drive it with the MAXII chip, it is possible to connect to a Microcontroller.

    I have a small MAXII board here by the way + have the Altera software installed + have read about it recently.

    It is not so trivial as Arduino however. It is really going down to nanoseconds and logic gates.

    http://www.pervasivedisplays.com/kits/demokit

    So these epaper displays are not display modules, they seem to need active driving, as it is done here with an Altera CPLD.

    EDIT: I have read the PDF at the website. The CPLD actually provides a SPI serial interface already. Should be quite easy to use.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2013
  15. takao21203

    Distinguished Member

    Apr 28, 2012
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    Here for instance a small MAXII board, and a STM32 board.

    I'd prefer PIC32 as I am more familiar with these + they have a good USB stack available.

    You'd need stuff like that to build a prototype with these 7.2" displays, if you can get a sample.

    If you contact them in an appreciate manner, you should be able to get a response.
     
  16. takao21203

    Distinguished Member

    Apr 28, 2012
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    Here some labels added to the demo board illustration as far as I understand of it.

    The PC/USB board would become replaced with the PIC32 or STM32 controller board, containing the PDF interpreter, and SD card filesystem.
     
  17. ParoSprint

    Thread Starter New Member

    Mar 14, 2013
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    thanks a lot takao21203.
    I will read carefully your posts.

    I just sent an email again to the guy at pervasive to ask about the kit. I dont remember exactly what he told me during the phone call we had about this kit but I think should be possible to buy it even, again if you click on buy the kit you get a email form to sign to get a quote.
    Lets see what he reply to me.
     
  18. ParoSprint

    Thread Starter New Member

    Mar 14, 2013
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    Did you try to contact them?
    http://www.pervasivedisplays.com/products/panels
    Did you try to get a quote for a single display?

    yes but is not easy to get these display



    What do you want? One prototype to show off as university project?
    A small scale production run let say 20 pcs, or 50pcs?

    yes I want to make a prototype in order to show the possibility to also do research on it.
    Yes, for a pilot test 30 pcs would be enough.



    It is required at some point of stage you do research, examine the results, and create a write up as a text document. Create a website even for that.

    In case the project start to work in a good way, some NGOs will be already happy to put it on theirwebsite and in that case I would also start a no-profit organization or profit (in case is settled somewhere in Africa.)
     
  19. ParoSprint

    Thread Starter New Member

    Mar 14, 2013
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  20. ParoSprint

    Thread Starter New Member

    Mar 14, 2013
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    I sent you an email to reply at some of your previous questions.
     
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