PaPiRus ePaper HAT: what about the software?

In my previous post I mentioned that I was still getting the software for PaPiRus installed. Well, success and all is well. Here are a few screenshots of the 2.7” screen. Note as before that this is a pre-production model and I’ve been told that the screen I am using is an earlier version than what will be shipped to backers.

PaPiRus is available for three more days on Kickstarter.

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PaPiRus ePaPer HAT hardware preview

Aaron of Pi Supply has very kindly posted me a PaPiRus ePaper HAT preview unit. This is a work in progress and Aaron was open that the software side of things still needs work. Fair enough, I’m happy with that: after all in a pre-production unit one does not expect perfection. I have previously covered the Kickstarter and the advantages of using an ePaper display. Today we will be looking at the hardware.

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The unit was supplied pretty much ready to go with the three sizes of display (1.44”, 2.0” and 2.7”) along with a coin battery and v1.4 of the HAT itself. The first thing to note, and I owe Aaron and team a beer for this design decision, is that the ribbon connector between display and board uses a click up, insert, click down affair, as opposed to pull, slot in, push that is used on the Raspberry Pi Camera module. This makes inserting the ribbon cable easier and the connection notably more secure when clicked back into place.

The rest of the HAT is similarly well thought out (there is even a slot in place to allow the camera ribbon cable to pass through). As with all HATs this will be equally in place on a B+, B v2 or A+ Pi. The combination of Raspberry Pi A+, PaPiRus and 2.7” screen all in a tasty case mounted on a wall displaying data of one kind or another is very appealing as this will be a very compact, very energy efficient solution for a multitude of projects. I can even see this combination being used as an in-car display screen connected to a car’s OBD port for the same reasons.

The upper side of PaPiRUS is mostly empty, giving you a flat platform to rest your chosen screen upon. Along the top are four tactile buttons which will make interacting with the Raspberry Pi and PaPiRus straightforward.

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On the reverse we find lots of little components, all pre-soldered with precision. This isn’t some DIY rough-and-ready solution, but a professional product. It re-confirms what I’ve known about Pi Supply for a while: this is a professional outfit producing products that us consumers can rely upon.

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For those who like technical details I got my magnifying glass out and noted the following (obviously this is all subject to change, this being a pre-production board):

IC1 (directly above the edge-mounted ribbon connector) is flash memory from Winbond, part number W25Q32FV. This gives me a clue that the firmware could be updated in the future as needed.
IC2 (up-left from the battery) is a NXP 8523T which the datasheet tells me is a real-time clock and calendar
IC3 (above IC2) is a NXP LM75BD which is a digital temperature sensor and thermal watchdog
To the left of IC4 (below the battery) we have a B6MY which Google tells me may be a folding pocket knife. I think my Google Ninja skills failed me at this point.

The hole for the reset pin is present on v1.4 of the board (below-left from the battery) and with less than £3k to go at the time of writing we’re sure to unlock this stretch goal.

UPDATED: Most intriguing of all on the v1.4 design is the inclusion of a second ribbon cable connector at CN4 (above battery). Aaron pointed out what I had completely failed to notice: that this is a GPIO breakout (see the last photo on the Kickstarter page).

The board is rock-solid, with no loose chippery to be found anywhere. PaPiRus is on Kickstarter for 5 more days and looks set to be an excellent way to add an ePaper display to your Raspberry Pi.

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PaPiRus ePaper HAT Kickstarter

Chatting with Aaron of Pi Supply recently I became aware that he was about to put something live on Kickstarter that is really exciting. I promised to keep quiet until launch day despite constantly wanting to shout “This is AWESOME!” from the roof tops.

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Pi Supply are seeking funding for a superb ePaper / eInk HAT on Kickstarter called PaPiRus. It’s an absolutely genius design with four buttons mounted along one edge and up to a 2.7” ePaper display. Why is this “AWESOME” you may ask? Well, ePaper displays only require power when the image is updated. It is this fantastic property that gives the Amazon Kindle such excellent battery life in the “weeks” not “hours” category. Combined with the low power Raspberry Pi and you have something that’s cheap as chips to run. This is even more so with the Raspberry Pi A+. Alex Eames of Raspi.tv did an excellent write-up of the respective Pi’s power usage.

Now, ePaper is not going to be for everyone. If you require colour, or fast screen updates in the ms range then a traditional LED/LCD screen will be more to your taste. But for status displays, Twitter feeds and the like, and especially if you need to run off batteries (this HAT will work stacked with Pi Supply’s Pi Juice) you just can’t beat ePaper. Tim Cox once repurposed a Nook eReader as an ePaper display for his Pi, but obviously this requires a fair bit of effort to get working. The beauty of the Raspberry Pi HATs is that they are pretty much plug and play, hence PaPiRus gets a massive thumbs up.

What’s more, PaPiRus is being made by Pi Supply who have a history of creating superb add-ons for the Raspberry Pi (and PiJuice of course) that are delivered as promised. I’ve no qualms at all about entrusting my money to Pi Supply for one of their projects. Pi Supply just hit the £5k fully funded mark with 30 days to go. This is clearly a project you can have confidence in.

Head on over to Kickstarter to back PaPiRus.

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