Getting Started

Getting your Board

At the current point in time, there is no official way to buy an epdiy board. Fortunately, it is quite easy to order your own. There are many PCB prototype services that will manufacture boards for a low price.

To use one of those services, upload the “Gerber files”, usually provided as a zip file, to the service. Please consult the README of the epdiy repository for a link to the gerber files for the current revision. Some services also offer automated assembly for all or a subset of components. Usually, you will have to upload a bill of materials (BOM) and a placement file. Both are provided in the hardware/epaper-breakout directory.

Choosing and Finding Parts

The parts needed to assemble the epdiy board are listed in the BOM.csv file. Commodity parts like resistors, capacitors, coils and diodes are interchangable, as long as they fit the footprint. When in doubt, use the parts listed in the BOM file.

However, some parts are not as common, especially the connectors. Most of them can be found on sites like eBay or AliExpress.

  • Use the WROVER-B module instead of other WROVER variants. This module exhibits a low deep sleep current and is proven to work.

  • The LT1945 voltage booster seems to be out of stock with some distributors, but they are available cheaply from AliExpress.

Calibrate VCOM

EPaper displays use electrical fields to drive colored particles. One of the required voltages, VCOM (Common Voltage) is display-dependent and must be calibrated for each display individually.

Fortunately, the VCOM voltage is usually printed on the display, similar to this:


The VCOM value is usually between -1V and -3V.

For the v6 board, you can enter the desired VCOM value in make menuconfig. No interaction is required.

For the older models, use the trimmer marked RV1. You can measure the VCOM on the VCOM test pad (if your board has one) or directly at the amplifier:

_images/vcom_tp.jpg _images/vcom_opamp.jpg


Although most boards do not have it yet, image quality for partial updates can be improved by adding a (at least) 4.7uF capacitor between VCOM and GND. When adding this capacitor, take care with the polarity as VCOM is negative!

Flashing the demo

First, connect you board with the computer. In the output of lsusb you should find something like:

Bus 001 Device 048: ID 1a86:7523 QinHeng Electronics HL-340 USB-Serial adapter

This means the serial adapter is working and there a serial like /dev/ttyUSB0 should appear.

Next, make sure you have the Espressif IoT Development Framework installed. The current stable (and tested) version is 4.0. For instructions on how to get started with the IDF, please refer to their documentation.

Then, clone the epdiy git repository (and its submodules):

git clone --recursive

Now, (after activating the IDF environment) you should be able to build the demo:

cd examples/demo/ build

Hold down the BOOT button on your board, while quickly pressing the RESET button. The ESP module is now in boot mode. Upload the demo program to the board with flash -b 921600 && monitor

Pressing RESET a second time should start the demo program, which will output some information on the serial monitor.

With the board power turned off, connect your display. Power on the board. You should now see the demo output on your display.

Use with esp-idf

The neccessary functionality for driving an EPD display is encapsulated in the components/epd_driver IDF component. To use it in you own project, simply copy the epd_driver folder to your project-local components directory. The component sould be automatically detected by the framework, you can now use

#include "epd_driver.h"

to use the EPD driver’s Library API.

Selecting a Display Type

To select the display type you want to use for the project (see Display Types), run menuconfig

And navigate to Component config -> E-Paper driver -> Display Type, select the appropriate option and save the configuration. You can use the defines


to make your code portable.

Enable SPI RAM

The ESP32-WROVER-B comes with an additional 8MB external PSRAM, where the epd_driver is going to store ~2MB for its internal frame buffers. Since it is dynamically allocated from the heap, and the built-in SRAM of ~160KB is insufficient, we need to enable external SPI RAM first.

Open the menuconfig again (see above) and navigate to Component config -> ESP32-Specific -> Support for external, SPI-connected RAM and enable it.

Use with Arduino

Epdiy can be used as an Arduino library. Additionally, epdiy comes with board definitions for its supported boards, which must be installed separately. To install epdiy to work with the Arduino IDE (>= 1.8), follow the steps below:

  1. Download / Clone the epdiy repository into your arduino libraries folder.

  2. Install the arduino-esp32 core.

  3. Due to a limitation in the arduino-esp32 core, the epdiy board definitions must be installed manually. To do that, copy the boards.local.txt file that comes with epdiy to the directory you installed the esp32 core in.

    • On Linux, this will be somewhere in ~/Arduino/hardware/esp32/esp32.

    • On Windows, this will look something like C:/Users/<username>/Documents/Arduino/hardware/espressif/esp32 or a similar path in AppData.

    You can also search the Arduino logs to find the arduino-esp32 install directory.

    If you have the correct directory, there should be a boards.txt file in it. Copy the boards.local.txt in this directory.

  4. Re-start the Arduino IDE. The Epdiy boards should now show up among the other ESP32 boards.

  5. Select your epdiy-compatible board. You can now select your display from the board menu.

  6. Try out an example sketch! Some of them are not very Arduino-Style yet, but they should help getting you started.

Alternatively, it is possible to use the Arduino APIs as an IDF component, which allows you to use the Arduino ecosystem (Except for a different build process).