The easy-to-build E-Paper information display powered by ESPHome

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This ESPHome uses a 4.2″ (10.7 cm) Waveshare E-Paper display which has a special trick up its sleeve: you can buy a ready-made plastic protection case sparing you the work of 3D printing your own case. Additionally, there is absolutely no soldering necessary.

Those of you who have used an e-reader, know that the E-Paper (or E Ink) displays have a few advantages: they only consume power when refreshing the display and they are reflective, making them readable under sunlight without having to power a backlight. Conversely, they aren’t nearly as colourful as LCD displays and have a much lower refresh rate.

You might be asking yourself, what the differences between E-Paper and E Ink are. E-Paper is the generic term referring to displays that work by reflecting light, be it sunlight or artificial light, and thereby mimicking paper. E Ink is a brand of E-Paper display technology commercialised by the E Ink Corporation. All E Ink displays are E-Paper displays but not all E-Paper displays are E Ink displays. Because Waveshare isn’t a part of the E Ink Corporation they use the generic term for their products.

Hardware needed for the ESPHome E-Paper display

The E-Paper information display powered by ESPHome requires only three pieces of hardware: the Waveshare E-Paper display, an ESP32 E-Paper Driver Board, and the protective case. Because the display connects to the board using a ribbon cable you won’t need to heat up your soldering iron for this project. And because you can purchase a ready-made case you don’t need a 3D printer to make this project look good. You can simply figure out a way of mounting the ESP32 behind the display to make it look nice.

ESP32 Universal E-Paper Driver Board

An ESP32 soldered on to an E-Paper display driver

4.2″ Waveshare E-Paper display

This E-Paper display is used to display information from Home Assistant

4.2″ Waveshare protection case

A case to house the Waveshare E-Paper display

How the E-Paper information display powered by ESPHome works

The creator of this project has made their ESPHome code public on GitHub. You will notice that you have to load the fonts and also the material design icons, so make sure you download those too. Because the values displayed are taken from Home Assistant you could, with a few minor adjustments, convert the code to work with your setup. All you’d have to do is change the entity_id und sensor.

If you want to design a customised E-Paper information display the provided ESPHome code will give you a perfect jumping-off point. Once you start analysing it you will realise that it is relatively easy to understand. Because you can buy all of the necessary components “pre-built” this might well be the easiest ESPHome project I’ve featured so far. Just because it is easy it doesn’t mean that it isn’t impressive!

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