I recently relocated to Manhattan, and one of the things that I really wanted next to my apartment's front door was an ePaper weather display with a three-hour segment forecast for the coming day. ☀️ — For those unfamiliar, “electronic paper” (ePaper) is a display technology commonly seen in the Amazon Kindle that mimics ink on actual paper.
“ePaper” uses very little power, and does not have a distracting backlight that might otherwise light up a dark apartment at night, so I figured that this might be the perfect fit for this project. At first, I actually considered repurposing an old Kindle for it, but ultimately decided against that for practicality's sake.
After looking around a bit, I found the ThingPulse 2.9" ESPaper Lite Kit, ESP8266 WiFi ePaper display which is programmable with the Arduino IDE. — You'll probably also need:
- A USB to TTL Serial Adapter, such as this one.
- The setup guide (which links to the weather software), and a computer to transfer the software with.
- An inexpensive Micro-USB cable to provide constant power.
The ePaper board arrived pretty quickly, but the serial adapter that I ended up ordering was coming from China, so that took about a week more. — However, setup was easy since I was already familiar with the Arduino IDE!
… When it had finished downloading, it instantly booted and just worked. 🆒
So, I put it by my door (within range of my Wi-Fi) and connected some USB power to ensure that it'd continue to run standalone, indefinitely:
… Done! The two requests that I've put in to the software's developers are:
- Vertical display rotation. I chose to mount the board upside down so that the power cord was oriented to the left, which will require a software UI tweak to reorient the button text shown on the screen to match the actual corresponding hardware buttons. #24
- Support for hiding the “Wi-Fi failure” screen and using some sort of other visual feedback instead. Occasionally, I've found the board temporarily won't reconnect to my Wi-Fi. You can manually reset it using one of the buttons on it (and it seems to retry on its own periodically), but I'd honestly prefer to only show the error after several repeat failures in order to not block the full weather report unless it's become seriously stale. #25
… I might contribute some code to this repository in order to tweak these behaviors with new configuration options, although, because I personally haven't touched Arduino in a couple of years, it might take me a while to get around to that.
There are other great projects for signs/lighting for your home, too, such as the SF Muni LED Sign at Home with Raspberry Pi, so feel free to get creative. — This ePaper display in particular can run other software that you write for it, so if you're into that, you could use it for a calendar or something else cool, too. 👍🏻