Kindleberry Pi the second

Did you get a nice shiny new Paperwhite Kindle to replace your old one? (I haven’t yet. I’m waiting until the inevitable moment when I drop my Kindle Touch and break the screen; I’m currently on my third.) If you did, you might be interested to learn that when you’re not using it to read books or jailbreaking it so you can change the wallpaper, you can use your Paperwhite as a wireless, ultra low-power display for your Raspberry Pi.

We featured the original Kindleberry Pi hack from Ponnuki back in September. That hack required cables, and only worked on the old Kindle 3 (the version with the keyboard), not any later versions – plus, it looked a bit odd because to keep the screen in landscape mode you had to turn the whole assembly on its side, so the keyboard was rotated by 90 degrees. The new Kindle 5 (the Paperwhite) has no keyboard, a faster refresh rate, and a backlight that can be turned on in dark conditions. So Max Ogden has polished Ponnuki’s original Kindleberry Pi idea, and produced a really tidy piece of kit: a Raspberry Pi with a Paperwhite display, a wireless keyboard and a tiny wireless router. He says:

The advantages of the Kindleberry are pretty desirable for me:

  • Week-long battery life: the Pi and the Kindle both have low power ARM processors so you can use any USB charger to power them
  • The Kindle screen is designed for use in direct sunlight
  • The whole setup is small enough to carry around in a pouch inside my normal backpack along with my normal laptop. I work from coffee shops in Oakland and often move around by bicycle during the day — now I can work from almost anywhere and still be at least a little productive.

Here at the Foundation, we’re watching the development of e-ink products with great interest. At the moment it’s nigh-on impossible to buy an e-ink display as a consumer unless it comes bundled as part of an e-reader like a Kindle or a Nook; and that makes them very expensive. The technology has all kinds of potential for applications we want to see the Pi being used for: the low energy requirement makes an e-ink screen a perfect choice for places where you’re off the grid or reliant on solar power. We’re looking forward to seeing prices come down and displays becoming more easily available to consumers.

Obviously, you’re not going to be watching video on an e-ink display any time soon; the refresh rates just aren’t there yet, and if they ever do get there, it won’t be for many years. But for everything else, e-ink’s a great choice. Max says that the Paperwhite’s refresh rate added to the tiny lag that you get using a wireless keyboard means that he sees a ~200ms screen delay when using the Kindleberry Pi, but that this is barely noticeable when typing.

Max has made code and a list of required hardware available at his website.



Jim Manley avatar

Very nice, Max!

Please consider bringing your Kindleberry by the Raspberry Jam Silicon Valley, 1 – 5 PM the third Saturday of each month, normally by the cafe in the lobby of the Computer History Museum at 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View (in May, it will be at the Maker Faire Saturday, May 18th, of that same weekend).

Montekuri avatar

Are you using a USB Portable Power Supply like this, to power the RPi?:

poing avatar

Very cool!
One comment about the ‘week long battery life’:
– model B: 260mA
– two dongles: about 150 mA
– USB hub: 60 mA
– TPLink AP: about 400 mA
That is a total of about 870 mA. The battery of 12,000 mA uses 30% for conversion so what’s left is 9,000. Power time about ten hours. So if you use it for one hour and a half per day then yes, you can run it ‘for a week’ :-)

Better would be to ditch the hub and the TPLink AP and use a WiFi dongle in the Pi that’s configured as AP. You’ll get twice the battery time.

JH avatar

Didn’t really get why the Pi couldn’t act as the wifi hub?

Really hope they’ll be options for e-ink screens like this without the thin-ish terminal style work around

fos avatar

Awesome! Another project on my RPi list! Thank you!

royord avatar

Any thought to a kickstarter for consumer available e-ink display that works with rPi and arduino? I’m not the guy to do it but I’m sure that there’s someone out there with the means.

There is a small e-ink display here but that won’t do half of what a terminal would need to function.

Kevin Campbell avatar

In China there are e-ink readers a plenty. Walk into any large computer market and you’ll see loads of small brands producing these, very cheap. The same also applies for android tablets. The problem isn’t that they aren’t made, it’s just there’s no distribution channels in the US.

Cameron Little avatar

This is also possible with the Kindle 4 NT (cheapest kindle available right now) over usb and wireless, and I’m working to be able to use it’s wifi on the Raspberry Pi.

Mark Routledge avatar

Could this be done with a £30 NOOK??? now available in the UK?

clive avatar

I have no idea – but I’ve just bought one each for the kids. Bargain, thanks! :)

Mike avatar

Your “will not watch video on a Kindle” comment is a year out of date:

Kunal avatar

Can this be used with the Kindle 4 ( the $69 one.) ?

gianni avatar

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