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I'm looking for an e-ink display (pixel-based) that is as cheap as humanly possible, and tiny, yet still a fully pixel-based display that can refresh within a hundred milliseconds.

The "custom display" products from Aveso are almost what I am referring to. But they are immutable displays, ie, not pixel based.

The displays must be very small — 1cm, and ideally they would work with a multi-head controller.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Weird - when I just tried to go to avesodisplays.com, Chrome put up a malware alert. \$\endgroup\$
    – Toybuilder
    May 5, 2011 at 18:49
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ Same here, with Firefox. \$\endgroup\$ May 5, 2011 at 18:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Opera doesn't for some reason. \$\endgroup\$ May 5, 2011 at 23:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @aSandwich, seems you can have a virus to go with it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    May 6, 2011 at 12:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @roberto, I removed the link because of malware. \$\endgroup\$ May 6, 2011 at 18:13

5 Answers 5

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I had, for a brief period of time, considered the idea of tinkering with the eink displays; and followed up with e-Ink Corporation. They are the folks holding the eInk IP. They referred me to PrimeView, which is a well established LCD manufacturing company. (And as I googled to do some fact-checking, it turns out PVI has now acquired EInk.)

I was able to talk my way into some datasheets and pricing data. I'm afraid it doesn't look good for the average tinkerer. They were quoting $ 200.00 per piece for the display. and 4.50 per piece for the controller (in sample quantities). The panels were quoted at 60.00/pc for production volumes. Of course, that latter quote would depend on the volume - and I suspect Amazon gets much better pricing! (BTW, this was for the 6" panel, quoted around December 2007)

If you are really serious about it, they did offer their development kit for around $3,000.

Given that the technology is still relatively new and much of the key technology (versus the enabling technology) is under a lot of patent protection, it'll be a while before we'll see commodity (generic) e-ink displays.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ what size display was the quote for? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    May 6, 2011 at 12:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ That was for a 6", back around December 2007. I'm sure prices have fallen significantly from there, but not "dirt cheap" levels. I updated the main text of my answer to reflect this. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$
    – Toybuilder
    May 6, 2011 at 17:36
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Here is my experience of the SeeedStudio E-Ink.

http://www.picaxeforum.co.uk/showthread.php?23583-E-ink-on-PICAXE-see-it-now-!

The Seeedstudio E-ink is an Arduino compatible shield. ( However, it's not quite fully Arduino compatible !. See Seeedstudio Forum : http://www.seeedstudio.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=16432#p16432)

Here is the PICAXE code :

    #PICAXE 28X2


    Eeprom %00001111, ( %00000000 ) ' %00000000
    Eeprom %00011111, ( %11000000 ) ' %11000000
    Eeprom %00101111, ( %00110000 ) ' %00110000
    Eeprom %00111111, ( %11110000 ) ' %11110000
    Eeprom %01001111, ( %00001100 ) ' %00001100
    Eeprom %01011111, ( %11001100 ) ' %11001100
    Eeprom %01101111, ( %00111100 ) ' %00111100
    Eeprom %01111111, ( %11111100 ) ' %11111100
    Eeprom %10001111, ( %00000011 ) ' %00000011
    Eeprom %10011111, ( %11000011 ) ' %11000011
    Eeprom %10101111, ( %00110011 ) ' %00110011
    Eeprom %10111111, ( %11110011 ) ' %11110011
    Eeprom %11001111, ( %00001111 ) ' %00001111
    Eeprom %11011111, ( %11001111 ) ' %11001111
    Eeprom %11101111, ( %00111111 ) ' %00111111
    Eeprom %11110000, ( %00000000 ) ' %00000000
    Eeprom %11110001, ( %11000000 ) ' %11000000
    Eeprom %11110010, ( %00110000 ) ' %00110000
    Eeprom %11110011, ( %11110000 ) ' %11110000
    Eeprom %11110100, ( %00001100 ) ' %00001100
    Eeprom %11110101, ( %11001100 ) ' %11001100
    Eeprom %11110110, ( %00111100 ) ' %00111100
    Eeprom %11110111, ( %11111100 ) ' %11111100
    Eeprom %11111000, ( %00000011 ) ' %00000011
    Eeprom %11111001, ( %11000011 ) ' %11000011
    Eeprom %11111010, ( %00110011 ) ' %00110011
    Eeprom %11111011, ( %11110011 ) ' %11110011
    Eeprom %11111100, ( %00001111 ) ' %00001111
    Eeprom %11111101, ( %11001111 ) ' %11001111
    Eeprom %11111110, ( %00111111 ) ' %00111111
    Eeprom %11111111, ( %11111111 ) ' %11111111

    pause 5000

    sertxd ("Eink_8",cr,lf)

    setfreq m16

    Symbol Eink_CS1 = S.6           ' Chip select for Eink driver
    Symbol Eink_DC  = S.5           ' Data/Command control for Eink driver
    Symbol GT_CS2   = S.4           ' Chip select for character ROM


    Symbol i           = w4
    Symbol Xs          = b10
    Symbol Xe          = b11
    Symbol Ys          = b12
    Symbol Ye          = b13
    Symbol Char        = b14
    Symbol Char16      = w8
    Symbol Char16Lo    = b16
    Symbol Char16Hi    = b17
    Symbol CommandByte = b18
    Symbol DataByte    = b19 
    Symbol t           = b20


    HIGH Eink_CS1
    HIGH Eink_DC
    HIGH GT_CS2


    hspisetup spimode00e, spimedium
    sertxd ("hspisetup done",cr,lf)

    Gosub initEink
    sertxd ("init done",cr,lf)

    Gosub clearScreen
    sertxd ("clear done",cr,lf)

    Ys = 170

    Xs = 2 : Ys = 179
    for t = 0 to 13
    lookup t, ( "PICAXE RULES !" ),Char
    Ys = Ys - 8 : Gosub displayChar
    next 
    sertxd ("line 1 done",cr,lf)




    Xs = 7 : Ys = 179
    for t = 0 to 20
    lookup t, ( "Eink from Seeedstudio" ),Char
    Ys = Ys - 8 : Gosub displayChar
    next
    sertxd ("line 2 done",cr,lf)



    Xs = 12 : Ys = 179
    for t = 0 to 18
    lookup t, ( "Cheers, from Buzby." ),Char
    Ys = Ys - 8 : Gosub displayChar
    next 
    sertxd ("line 3 done",cr,lf)



    Gosub refreshScreen
    sertxd ("refreshScreen done",cr,lf)
    sertxd ( "Done",cr,lf )

    End



    ' =================================================================

    writeComm:
        LOW  Eink_DC
        LOW  Eink_CS1
        hspiout ( CommandByte )
        HIGH Eink_CS1
    return

    ' =================================================================

    writeData:
        HIGH Eink_DC
        LOW  Eink_CS1
        hspiout ( DataByte )
        HIGH Eink_CS1
    return

    ' =================================================================

    clearScreen: 

        CommandByte = 0x24 : Gosub writeComm

        HIGH Eink_DC
        LOW  Eink_CS1

        For i = 0 to 3095
            hspiout (0xFF)
        Next i

        HIGH Eink_CS1   

        Pause 1000
    return

    ' =================================================================


    initEink:
         CommandByte = 0x10 : Gosub writeComm ' exit deep sleep mode
         DataByte    = 0x00 : Gosub writeData 
         CommandByte = 0x11 : Gosub writeComm ' data enter mode
         DataByte    = 0x03 : Gosub writeData 

         CommandByte = 0x44 : Gosub writeComm ' set RAM x address start/end, in page 36
         DataByte    = 0x00 : Gosub writeData ' RAM x address start at 00h;
         DataByte    = 0x11 : Gosub writeData ' RAM x address end at 11h(17)->72: [because 1F(31)->128 and 12(18)->76] 
         CommandByte = 0x45 : Gosub writeComm ' set RAM y address start/end, in page 37
         DataByte    = 0x00 : Gosub writeData ' RAM y address start at 00h;
         DataByte    = 0xAB : Gosub writeData ' RAM y address start at ABh(171)->172: [because B3(179)->180]
         CommandByte = 0x4E : Gosub writeComm ' set RAM x address count to 0
         DataByte    = 0x00 : Gosub writeData 
         CommandByte = 0x4F : Gosub writeComm ' set RAM y address count to 0
         DataByte    = 0x00 : Gosub writeData 

         CommandByte = 0xF0 : Gosub writeComm ' booster feedback used, in page 37
         DataByte    = 0x1F : Gosub writeData 
         CommandByte = 0x22 : Gosub writeComm ' display updata sequence option ,in page 33
         Databyte    = 0xC0 : Gosub writeData ' enable sequence: clk -> CP

         Gosub configureLUTRegister

         CommandByte = 0x2C : Gosub writeComm ' vcom
         DataByte    = 0xA0 : Gosub writeData 
         CommandByte = 0x3C : Gosub writeComm ' board
         DataByte    = 0x63 : Gosub writeData 
         CommandByte = 0x22 : Gosub writeComm ' display updata sequence option ,in page 33
         DataByte    = 0xC4 : Gosub writeData ' enable sequence: clk -> CP -> LUT -> initial display -> pattern display

    return

    ' =================================================================

    configureLUTRegister:

        CommandByte = 0x32 : Gosub writeComm ' write data to LUT register

        HIGH Eink_DC
        LOW  Eink_CS1

        hspiout ( 0x00,0x00,0x00,0x55,0x00,0x00,0x55,0x55,0x00,0x55, _
                 0x55,0x55,0xAA,0xAA,0xAA,0xAA,0x15,0x15,0x15,0x15, _
                   0x05,0x05,0x05,0x05,0x01,0x01,0x01,0x01,0x00,0x00, _
                   0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00, _
                   0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00, _
                   0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00, _
                   0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00, _
                   0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00, _
                     0x22,0xFB,0x22,0x1B,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00,0x00 )

        HIGH Eink_CS1   

    return


    ' =================================================================

    refreshScreen:
        CommandByte = 0x20 : Gosub writeComm
        Gosub closeBump
        Pause 2000
    return

    ' =================================================================

    closeBump:
        CommandByte = 0x22 : Gosub writeComm    
        DataByte    = 0x03 : Gosub writeData 
        CommandByte = 0x20 : Gosub writeComm 
    return


    ' =================================================================
    #rem
    Xs --> X start  address   0~17
    Xe --> X end    address   0~17
    Ys --> Y start  address   0~171
    Ye --> Y end    address   0~171

    #endrem  

    setPositionXY:

        LOW  Eink_CS1

        LOW  Eink_DC    
        hspiout ( 0x44 )' set RAM x address start/end  command
        HIGH  Eink_DC
        hspiout ( Xs , Xe )

        LOW  Eink_DC
        hspiout ( 0x45 )' set RAM y address start/end  command
        HIGH  Eink_DC
        hspiout ( Ys , Ye )

        LOW  Eink_DC
        hspiout ( 0x4E )' set RAM x address count to Xs
        HIGH  Eink_DC
        hspiout ( Xs )  

        LOW  Eink_DC
        hspiout ( 0x4F )' set RAM y address count to Ys
        HIGH  Eink_DC
        hspiout ( Ys )  

        HIGH  Eink_CS1

    return

    ' =================================================================
    #rem
    display character in the Eink screen:
    x:the X start address,X value can be 0 to 14;
    y:the Y start  address, Y vlue can  be 171 to 7;
    the charater diplay erea is from x to x+3 in X position and from y to y-7 in Y position
    unicode_char:the character machine code
    */
    void E_ink::displayChar(INT8U x,INT8U y,INT16U unicode_Char)
    {
      INT16U i;
      getCharMatrixData(unicode_Char);
      converCharMatrixData();
      setPositionXY(x,x+3,y,y-7);
      writeComm(0x11);     /*data enter mode command */
      writeData(0x05);     /*set Y-mode:X address is increment and y address decrement */                       
      writeComm(0x24);
      for(i=0;i<32;i++)
      {
          writeData(matrixdata_conver[i]);
       }
    }
    #endrem

    displayChar:


       ' Make address of character in ROM
        Char16 = Char - 0x20 * 16 

        ' Reset scratchpad pointer
        ptr = 0

        ' Get 16 bytes character data from ROM into scratchpad
        LOW GT_CS2
        hspiout (0x03,0,Char16Hi,Char16Lo)
        hspiin  (@ptrinc, @ptrinc, @ptrinc, @ptrinc,@ptrinc, @ptrinc, @ptrinc, @ptrinc, _
                    @ptrinc, @ptrinc, @ptrinc, @ptrinc,@ptrinc, @ptrinc, @ptrinc, @ptrinc )
       HIGH GT_CS2

    #rem

       sertxd ("chardata",cr,lf)
       ptr = 0
        sertxd  (Char, " ", #@ptrinc,",", #@ptrinc,",", #@ptrinc,",", #@ptrinc,",",#@ptrinc,",", #@ptrinc,",", #@ptrinc,",", #@ptrinc,",", _
                    #@ptrinc,",", #@ptrinc,",", #@ptrinc,",", #@ptrinc,",",#@ptrinc,",", #@ptrinc,",", #@ptrinc,",", #@ptrinc, cr, lf )

       for ptr = 0 to 15
           b0 = @ptr
           sertxd (#bit7,#bit6,#bit5,#bit4,#bit3,#bit2,#bit1,#bit0,cr,lf)
       next

    #endrem


       ' Convert data bytes into twos

          for i = 0 to 7

           ptr = i              ' Get single byte
           b0 = @ptr

            ' original in b0, result in w0 - Thanks to hippy !

            b1 = b0 | $0F : Read b1, b1
            b0 = b0 | $F0 : Read b0, b0

           ptr = i + 16 : @ptr = inv b0
           ptr = i + 24 : @ptr = inv b1

        next i


          for i = 8 to 15

           ptr = i              ' Get single byte
           b0 = @ptr

            ' original in b0, result in w0 - Thanks to hippy !

            b1 = b0 | $0F : Read b1, b1
            b0 = b0 | $F0 : Read b0, b0

           ptr = i + 24 : @ptr = inv b0
           ptr = i + 32 : @ptr = inv b1

        next i

        Xe = Xs + 3
        Ye = Ys - 7

        Gosub setPositionXY 

        CommandByte = 0x11 : Gosub writeComm ' /*data enter mode command */
        DataByte    = 0x05 : Gosub writeData ' /*set Y-mode:X address is increment and y address decrement */                       
        CommandByte = 0x24 : Gosub writeComm 

        HIGH Eink_DC
        LOW  Eink_CS1

       for ptr = 16 to 47

           hspiout (@ptr) 

        next

        HIGH Eink_CS1

    return

There are really only two active chips on the Shield, a character ROM and the E-ink driver.

The code reads the ROM to get the the bit patterns, re-arranges the bits, then sends to the E-ink driver.

I couldn't find any manufacturer's name on the E-ink display itself, unless the manufacturer is called 'Good Display' !. ( These are the only words on the back, and a part number GDE021A1 ) ( EDIT : I just Googled the part number again, and this time it found the manufacturer. It is Good Display ! )

My thoughts are that this is perfect for the right application, I just need to find that application.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It's encouraged to post answers with at least some details included in the answer so if the link ever becomes dead the answer is still useful. Downloading the schematic or code from that site also seems to require a sign-up, maybe you could include a bit of code in the answer and a link to the schematic somewhere publicly available. \$\endgroup\$
    – PeterJ
    Apr 16, 2013 at 12:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi Peter, sorry for the poor etiquette, I'm new on this site. I will edit the answer with more details. Buzby \$\endgroup\$
    – Buzby
    Apr 16, 2013 at 12:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just found that Good Display also offers a slightly smaller display, the GDE0210C1. Without cable, the outside dimensions are 59.5×26.6 mm. I just sent them a message, asking how to obtain the display, and whether it's possible to connect the cable in the opposite direction (mirrored). \$\endgroup\$
    – feklee
    Apr 16, 2013 at 15:20
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PervasiveDisplays 1.44" e-Paper display is 13.87 USD (8.8 USD for 100pc.) 128 x 96 Pixels, 111dpi, Outer Dimension in mm: 40.512 x 28.80 x 1.00. http://www.pervasivedisplays.com/products/144

But: it is not as tiny as 10x10mm, and quite sure it is not as quick as required. But at least the prices are significant lower now.

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Seeed Studio offers an Arduino E-Ink Display Shield for 49.90 USD as of 2013-04-16 WEST. Display resolution is 172 × 72 pixel. Footprint of PCB is 68 × 63 mm. Judging from pictures, the display component has less than half the footprint of the PCB.

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Sorry if I'm a little late, try SHARP low energy displays, they are pixel based and offer small sizes. Adafruit carries these and they work exactly like e ink displays. These are found in the original pebble smartwatches and with proper software, they work amazingly.

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