The Open Book Project: open source e-reader you can make yourself from parts

Originally published at: The Open Book Project: open source e-reader you can make yourself from parts | Boing Boing


In the supermarkets, all the shelf price tags are now color epaper displays of various sizes. They must be quite cheap in the qualities they use, and the stores probably don’t attempt to debug/repair “dead” units.

I’d love to get my hands on a few of them to experiment on. (I wouldn’t be shocked if they had far more processor power than needed for the job.)


Where? Not in the UK - I don’t think I’ve seen a single one.


Oh? These are the big box supermarket chains in Canada. I’ll snap a picture the next time I’m out. While the individual tags are cheap, equipping a store with many thousands of them, plus a system to update them must be expensive.


I would be into this, however, I fear I will have to enjoy it from afar:

(from the PCB review page):

This ended up being a costly learning experience (read, failure). Having had some experience with surface mount assembly, I let the description’s statement of relative (to the main board) ease convince me that I could do this. There were challenges, but I managed to get everything except the microSD card holder and the flex ribbon connector. Those ended up destroyed, so I had to order replacements, adding another delay while waiting for parts. Finally, I was satisfied that everyone was soldered and solder bridges fixed, so I want to assemble. When I tried to insert the flex strip, the connector came off, ripping out the traces. End result, an expensive learning experience and an e-ink display that needs a controller board.

In other words, while it might be easier, it isn’t easy. Do not attempt unless you know what you’re doing.

And a minor complaint about the assembly instructions: It should be clear that the through-hole tactile buttons get mounted on the reverse side from the SMT components.

Also, the board is out of stock since December '20.


Reducing to a previously solved problem:

And now they’re color and larger:


So in Germany, Austria or Switzerland and in Canada. Sounds like good employment protections keep driving productivity up, making the cost of manually updating prices higher than automating it.

I wonder how the cost compares to Amazon’s checkout-less store - the two technologies sound complimentary, though e-paper prices can be more easily implemented incrementally, and reduce paper usage.


I’d buy one in a heartbeat if it came pre-populated, but - I’m old. With my bad vision and shaky hands, SMT soldering isn’t a viable thing to do. There’s a business to be made building (and testing) these and selling them to people who want control over their ebook OS.


I’m tempted to get one of these, not because I need a new ereader (Calibre with some deDRM plugins makes factory readers useful), but because I really, really, love eink screens. There’s just something about the way the image seems to be formed into the very top surface, even after the power is pulled, that captures my eye.
I’m sure there’s people who are well into their CRT screens, at least eink is cheap.

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