E-ink displays, for typewriter;

Hi all;

I really, really want an e-ink display, for a distraction-free ‘typewriter’, running off an RPi and Raspbian. Greyscale, low refresh rate in practice (<2s) is fine. Partial refresh (and being able to use it) is obviously ideal.

I’m trying to consider my best way going forward…

This 10-inch display is a great size.

I don’t know much about SPI though. I’m assuming it works something like the following?

  • for it to be able to use the display as a ‘monitor’ - the distro I choose, would need to have a ‘driver for SPI display’ configured. (I wonder if this is in Raspbian?)
  • I’d have to configure the RPi to display graphics via it’s SPI Interface, and not the two Mini-HDMI interfaces
  • Then, I’d be assuming because the graphics are being sent to the SPI interface, the two Mini-HDMI interfaces are now unable to be used?

If somebody knows how this works, and can give me a quick good-steer, that would be sensational for me :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Is it more certain, to consider the HDMI-fitted E-Ink ‘Monitors’? These are presently not available in the country, via the usual channels.



Hi Michael,

This display isn’t intended to be an HDMI display replacement as it’s not really intended to be updating continuously. I think the majority of your e-paper displays at the moment are best suited to applications like e-readers or smart mirrors. Where you have static information that is updated at most every few seconds.

The best documentation on how to use it with a Rasbperry Pi can be found from this link on the manufacturer’s wiki.

I can’t imagine a typewriter application with this display would be enjoyable as you’d be waiting to see if your keystroke was registered before continuing to type everytime you thought you may have mistyped.

I am keen to see what the next generation of e-paper displays can do though if they do develop displays that are more “HDMI-like” with vastly higher refresh rates.

Tim wrote a guide demonstrating some of the coloured E-paper displays if you wanted to see what they can do when they are using in their element.


I’ve been looking at e-ink displays, mostly playing with the pimoron inky series, eg Pimoroni Black/White – Inky wHAT (ePaper/eInk/EPD) | PIM432 | Core Electronics Australia, also the Badger 2040 - Badger Only | Pimoroni PIM607 | Core Electronics Australia

However all the screens are a bit small.

The most reasonable large format screen I’ve seen is the Inkpate 10 however that’s a ESP32 microcontroller, not a raspberry pi, though it might be possible to make it work as a text editor. It does have a micro-sd slot for storing files. The main issue is getting a keyboard to work with it. It does have bluetooth, so that might be possible. BTW there’s also the Inkplate 6COLOR E-Paper Colour Display | Pimoroni | Core Electronics Australia but it’s out of stock here :frowning:

One other option I’ve looked at is repurposing an old kindle, it runs a cut down linux and can be modified to run other apps. There’s a whole lot of 3rd party hacks etc to get it to work. I’m not sure about connecting a keyboard. You might be able to find an old Kindle DX (10" screen and built in keyboard)


A little more digging found this EPDiy: 9.7"/6" E-Paper controller | Hackaday.io not something you can buy, but (like the inkpad) it’s opensource hardware, so you could thoretically build one yourself. Or have it made, I’m not sure where the best place to have boards made is.

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Hi Trent; thank you!

Re: perceptions of consumer electronics.
It’s a matter of economics and what the customer accepts. Dave Schappelle tells a joke about an airline customer; on the first flights they offered in-flight Wifi, the passengers are amazed. With the hour, it drops out. Cue outrage - customers upset over the loss of something they never had - never knew could be offered - only hours before… I’ve got a ~10yo Kindle. Still rocking. I’m very willing to accept the product - and it’s qualities, and it’s limits - that I bought ~10 years ago, now :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

I’m going to take the jump, with a HDMI e-ink display. My eyes need the relief, more than my pocket needs my dollars. I’ll be able to accept performance comparable or lesser than my kindle. Guess I’ll come back here, with a review :slight_smile:

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Hi Doug! Thank you very much! Those are great links - inkplate’s site is down, but the others are brilliant!

I do think that the electronics involved is outside of my wheelhouse… It’d be cheaper for me to buy a $$$ monitor.

My kindle model is a D009001 (6", capsule qwerty kb + nav, very early on?) but I like it, and it’s not getting innarded :wink:

this link is me:

considering I want to run emacs+lisp repl, I figure that maybe a monitor is the absolute easiest path… that way i can be device agnostic. Auxiliary monitor. Again, will return with reviews :slight_smile:


A bit more digging found this GitHub - joukos/PaperTTY: PaperTTY - Python module to render a TTY or VNC on e-ink
looking at the drivers https://github.com/joukos/PaperTTY/tree/master/papertty/drivers it says

All of the SPI displays listed on the Waveshare Wiki at the time of writing are supported.
And the latest update is only 6 months ago. Any that support partial refresh & spi should be ok.

disclaimer I haven’t tried any of this, but I’d be keen to hear any updates :slight_smile:

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Hi Michael,

Glad to hear your 10-year-old Kindle is still going strong, I’ve got a similarly aged Kobo e-reader which is still as good as ever.
My initial comment was especially cautionary as I wasn’t sure if you were familiar with existing e-paper displays and would be set up for disappointment if you’re expectations weren’t aligned.

I’d love to hear your review once you have a chance to try the new generation e-paper displays.

Hi Doug,

You’ve found some great projects there, I wasn’t aware there had been so many advances with e-paper recently. Thanks for sharing all the extra links!
Perhaps we’re on the verge of an e-paper devices renaissance and might get some cool new tech coming out soon?

Hi Trent,

E-ink is a tech I keep an eye on, there’s always a lot going on. There’s a whole class of device: e-notes, that are e-ink devices with stylus so you can take notes/draw. Remarkable is probably the best known, but the kindle scribe shows promise. There are also a few android based devices: tablets, some of the e-notes, e-readers and even e-ink phones. I’m still waiting to see some of the full colour e-ink screens, they are constantly improving, but I’m not sure if they are really ready for the mainstream.

I recently did a bit of a deep dive as my wife said she’d like a low power smart display/calendar, the inkpad looks great, but we’ve got a couple of spare kindles lying around so I’ll probably go that path first.

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Hi Doug; more absolute gold. Thanks for your help! There could be something in this…
BTW: I have been disappointed with so few e-ink phones.
I’m keeping an eye on this:

for myself and people like me.