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Powerless Display Technology (Part 2)

Written by Jeff Bachiochi
Interface an MCU to an E-Ink Display Module Last month in Part 1, Jeff explained how to interface a microcontroller to a 2.7” e-ink display module. In this article, he covers the process of preparing new image data, details how temperature affects writing to the display, and explains the potential of partial screen updates. Turn off almost any appliance or mobile device and its display will most likely go dark (blank). We’ve been used to this limitation for so long that it seems like the only game in town. The Sony Librie was the first product marketed in 2004 as an e-reader or tablet style e-book reader, shortly before Amazon’s Kindle. They employ e-ink technology developed by E Ink Corp. in the late 1990s. While many of today’s portable devices have e-book apps, most of these do not use e-ink displays since they must also perform other functions that are outside of this technology’s limitations. E-ink’s claim to fame is its readability (especially in sunlight) and battery life (since it can be turned off and still retain its display image). It does have its downside, however. It’s a monochrome display with low refresh rate and potential ghosting on partial screen updates. Even with these limitations, we are seeing more and more products taking advantage of this technology. Last month, I showed how to interface an Arduino microcontroller to an available 2.7" e-ink display module (consisting of the display and associated circuitry.) My application presents a menu of selections via the microcontroller’s console I/O. Photo 1 shows the user menu presented along with some additional information (debug). Display data for a single 2.71” screen require 5,808 bytes. While the display has no storage per se, external circuitry contains a serial flash memory that can hold up to 128 images. The first exercise was to dump data from the flash memory to the console using “.” and “X” to simulate white and black data such t
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Powerless Display Technology (Part 2)

by Jeff Bachiochi time to read: 12 min