M5Paper e-ink device for DIY
#1  Adoby 01-21-2021, 05:05 AM

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I think this is very interesting because this device combines the display and form factor of a small e-book reader with a very power efficient esp32 development kit with wifi, Bluetooth, SD card reader, battery and USB C charging.

The M5Paper doesn't come with any useful functionality, out of the box, except some demo software and examples with source code. You, as a programmer, have to program the device to do what you want it to do. Think Arduino, MicroPython and Platform.IO. And the possibilities are mind-boggling.

It may be seen as a prototyping device, but when it has been programmed it is already good-looking enough for an end-user use as it as it is. Just write the software! Not very cheap at $69. But a super cheap and fast way to create a nice looking finished custom device with these capabilities.

Sure, make an e-reader or news reading device. Or a bedside clock or stock market ticker. Mail notifier or super-pager. Advanced time management event input device. Or one-tap ordering device on the fridge. Or a custom dash/remote/controller for a smart networked home/office/farm/greenhouse/shop/factory. And possibly all of that at the same time, if you are clever enough. Or something completely different.

(No connection, except as a customer. I've bought two... )

#2  rem736 01-22-2021, 06:06 PM
what language would you use to program this device?

#3  DNSB 01-22-2021, 06:14 PM
Quote rem736
what language would you use to programming this device?
If you are going to use the Arduino environment, think C/C++.

#4  Elektron 01-22-2021, 06:37 PM

#5  Adoby 01-23-2021, 04:24 AM
Quote rem736
what language would you use to programming this device?
C/C++, as DNSB said. But there is also MicroPython and something called UIFlow.

Using UIFlow you can program by drag-and-drop of GUI elements to the display and drag-and-drop of code blocks to create functionality. Looks fun and easy, but I haven't tried it. It is based on Blockly and MicroPython and seem to have some nice functionality. Receive and send mqtt messages. Display and use an onscreen keyboard for input. Upload/download your "apps" over wifi. And more.

#6  murraypaul 01-23-2021, 07:56 AM
Looks like a very cool toy to play with.

They have a UK distributor (, but they aren't listing this device yet.

#7  Elektron 01-23-2021, 11:24 AM
UIflow looks very easy for beginners, especially those with high expectations. I was wondering, can I listen to music on this with Bluetooth e arbuds?

#8  Adoby 01-24-2021, 05:30 AM
Quote Elektron
UIflow looks very easy for beginners, especially those with high expectations. I was wondering, can I listen to music on this with Bluetooth e arbuds?
Sure. But you need to figure out how to do it yourself. Easiest might be to connect extra stuff to it and use that to play the music over bt. There are several connectors on it for connecting extra stuff. After all this is a dev kit. You are the limiting factor. Perhaps you even need to solder a little and code from scratch. And then the nice form factor is gone.

I think there is other kit that is better for use as a audio device with bt out.

#9  Quoth 01-24-2021, 08:22 AM
Raspberry Pi and one of the many add-on eink panels.

The M5panel kit is for seriously experienced developers used to working at a low level. The Raspberry Pi solutions merely require experience programming.

Neither is a good starting point if you are not an experienced programmer. Also I don't count experience building Web applications as real programming. Most of that is modifying scripts. I've done both.

#10  hobnail 01-25-2021, 02:00 AM
If you have your heart set on e-ink there's also this (looks like it's using python):

I was going to go that route and bought a Raspberry Pi 4 but I ended up buying a "SunFounder Raspberry Pi 7 Inch Monitor HDMI - 7 inch 1024×600 HD LCD Display Screen Built in Speaker for Raspberry Pi 4 Model B with RPi Case Holder" on Amazon for $60. (The link for it in my past orders page goes to something different.) That display is nice; the Pi mounts on the back of it. It's a full 24 bit HDMI display.

As for programming stuff, I've been dinking around with tkinter, a graphical programming library for Python based on top of the venerable tcl and tk. I've written a slide show program that randomly displays all of the images in a folder. I'm still working out the bugs for displaying animated gifs. My own homemade 7 inch picture frame.

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