Inkplate 6

Versatile, easy-to-use, Wi-Fi-enabled e-paper display

Dec 30, 2019

Project update 2 of 20

Successfully Funded! (Also: Third-Party Master Controllers and Partial Updates)

by David Z

Inkplate 6 funded after just three days! We would like to send a sincere thank you to everyone who is supporting the project by backing it, talking about it, or introducing others to it. We have now passed 150% of our goal, and – with over a month left to go – we are looking forward to the coming days!

We hosted a small launch party on the day our campaign went live. Here is a (very serious) team photo from that event. :)

Raspberry Pi Controllers & Slave Mode

We have received quite a few questions about the possibility of connecting Inkplate 6 to a Raspberry Pi. The short answer is: yes, of course! You can connect it to any third-party controller board. The long answer includes a bit more detail.

If you set Inkplate 6 to "slave mode", it will wait for commands from a master controller (such as a Raspberry Pi) before changing what’s on the screen. This communication happens over I²C, so it’s easy to connect the two boards, either by using the easyC/Qwiic connector or by running four wires. The list of supported commands includes checkTouchPad and basic drawing functions like drawLine, drawPixel, drawRectangle, drawCircle, drawBitmap, drawText, and drawBitmapFromSDCard.

The full list of commands will be available on the Inkplate 6 datasheet, which will be published by the time we ship. Inkplate comes with support for "slave mode," so you will not have to reprogram it to use a third-party controller. Please note that you will not have access to the built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth interfaces when using Inkplate 6 in this way.

Black & White Partial Update

You may have noticed that we brag about the partial update capabilities of Inkplate 6. So what does that look like, and how does it work?

Partial update is very cool feature that allows you to change specific parts of the screen. Instead of the whole screen flashing as it goes through an update sequence, only the chosen pixels will change. You can use this ability to update the time displayed in the corner of the display, for example, without modifying other screen content. You might have noticed e-book readers taking advantage of this feature.

The partial update refresh time for Inkplate 6 is 0.265 seconds. This is very close to the full refresh time, in black & white mode, so there’s no real benefit in terms of screen latency. But there’s huge visual benefit. Because the screen is not erased and then redrawn, there is no "flashing." You can see for yourself in the video below:

Greyscale Partial Update in Slow Motion

Just one more tidbit for you: a slow motion (60 fps) video of Inkplate 6 updating the screen in greyscale mode, for which the total refresh time is around 1.1 second.

Our Next Update

We are currently making a few small tweaks to the Inkplate 6 PCB. When we’re done, we’ll show off some 3D-printed enclosures (and share the open source design files we used to make them).

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