I’ve always loved taking things apart. I remember, as a child, trying to sneak a set of screwdrivers onto a transatlantic flight. I wanted to see how the aeroplane worked and figured that unscrewing vital components while in flight would be just fine.
I’ve (mostly) grown out of the habit of tearing down things which are currently useful, and tend to wait until they reach their natural end before poking them with sharpened metal.
In late 2009, I purchased the Elonex E511EB from Waterstones. My review of it on this blog was incredibly popular – with over 250 comments!
As much as I loved the 511EB, it is well past its useful lifespan. I’ve since got a nook and my wife has a Kindle. The Elonex still works, but it’s a little slow and clunky. So – time to break out those screwdrivers and see if I can reuse the eInk screen for something else.
After unscrewing the back and cracking off the case, this is what I found (click the images to embiggen them).
The board, made by Hanvon, runs Windows CE, and appears to be cobbled together from the most random of parts. Here’s a close up of it
In fact, of the three ribbon connectors present, only the one on the left is connected to anything!
I assume the large empty space is for a WiFi / 3G modem to be coupled to the antenna and the smaller ribbon latch.
Perhaps the one on the right is for a touchscreen digitizer?
For the chip nerds among you, this is what’s driving the engine:
Connecting the eInk screen to the board is this component from Ichia.
Nothing of consequence.
What To Do With The Screen?
Some clever people, like Matthew Petroff, have turned their Kindles into amazing displays – but that relies on the Kindle having a network connection. As does the amazing Kindleberry project which links the Kindle to a Raspberry Pi.
The 511EB is dumb. Dumb as a box of rocks. There’s no networking, so that’s out. The system is capable of displaying PNGs, but that would require mounting the internal memory, uploading, unmounting, rebooting, and automatically opening an image. Not feasible.
So, what I want to see is if it’s possible to control the eInk screen directly from something like the Raspberry Pi.
The screen connector is the ED050SC3(LF)
It’s the same screen used for lots of 5 inch PVI displays.
Now, all I need to do is find some (simple) way to drive the screen. Any bright ideas, people?