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Electronic reader project

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AlexBDI

New Member
Hi everyone!

So i joined today because i need advice on a small personal project. Unfortunately my knowledge does not cover anything electronics related so i am here asking for you help. What i need is a list of items that are required for my project. My plan is to design it myself with the help of the good oul internet and have it assembled by an external party, which i will pay. I don't really know what to call it so i will describe it and you will probably be able to get a good idea of what i am looking to do. The idea is pretty simple:

First of all it has a screen and i would like it to be something like this:
https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/4-56-inch-transparent-multi-color_153500419.html

I need the gadget to be able to memorise text and show the text on the screen. The screen will be controlled by two buttons which will have one function each: scroll up or down on the screen. The board should be able to connect to a laptop device where you will be able to copy notes into the device.

It should be small. The idea is that this device (circuit board) should be portable. It will most likely by attached to items of clothing and sports accessories.
All i need is a shopping list and links to websites / threads that can help me with more information.

Any help would be appreciated.
 

Reloadron

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Something you may want to think about is the Raspberry Pi - Model B what that gives you is a tiny but capable little computer the size of a credit card. I am not a Rasberry Pi type but they seem to be a promising little computer for the few bucks they cost at around $40. They can interface with various displays. I believe we have some people here in the forums that are familiar with the things. I also understand they are pretty easy to write programming code for. There are user groups dedicated to these things as well as forums as I understand it. Anyway, it may be worth considering for what you are looking to do. When you say Memorize Text do you mean convert text to speech? Not sure what you have in mind there?

Ron
 

alec_t

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Many cheap cell phones have a memo function and can link to a PC. Could you use one of those? Probably cheaper than trying to build the gadget described.
 

AlexBDI

New Member
Something you may want to think about is the Raspberry Pi - Model B .

Hey Ron! I know of it. unfortunately it is too big / bulky for what i need. This is gadget has many more functionalities than just sent a signal to an LCD screen.


When you say Memorize Text do you mean convert text to speech? Not sure what you have in mind there?

I mean for the user to be able to type out a notepad file in his pc and write it on to the board using a USB connection.

In my research I have come across this project:

https://www.makestuff.eu/wordpress/electronics/nanduino/20x4-lcd-display/

Nanduino seems to do to be very close to what I need however due to lack of technical expertise It’s very hard for me to understand exactly what it does. It seems to be more of a modular device with more functionalities, maybe more than what I need. The schematics and board are open sourced:

https://www.swaton.ukfsn.org/uploads/2009/12/nanduino-0.9.brd

I would like to tweak the design for the Nanduino board in order to make it more compact and give it just the capabilities that I need but I really don’t know where to start. Is there anyone here that would be able to help?
 

Wilksey

Member
Couple of things:
1) How much text do you wish to store?
2) Continual text or individual text files?
3) How are you envisaging input to the device to "memorise" the text?
 

Reloadron

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Hey Ron! I know of it. unfortunately it is too big / bulky for what i need. This is gadget has many more functionalities than just sent a signal to an LCD screen.




I mean for the user to be able to type out a notepad file in his pc and write it on to the board using a USB connection.

In my research I have come across this project:

https://www.makestuff.eu/wordpress/electronics/nanduino/20x4-lcd-display/

Nanduino seems to do to be very close to what I need however due to lack of technical expertise It’s very hard for me to understand exactly what it does. It seems to be more of a modular device with more functionalities, maybe more than what I need. The schematics and board are open sourced:

https://www.swaton.ukfsn.org/uploads/2009/12/nanduino-0.9.brd

I would like to tweak the design for the Nanduino board in order to make it more compact and give it just the capabilities that I need but I really don’t know where to start. Is there anyone here that would be able to help?


OK, I had it backwards thinking device to PC rather than PC to device of text files. :(

That brings us to Wilskey's questions in post #5 and yes, the Raspberry would likely be overkill. Little micro controllers are growing like weeds throughout the industry. The board you linked to uses an Atmel uC (Micro-Controller) I believe. So what it comes to for starters is determining which family of uC you need. Back to file sizes. Screens like those shown are pretty common. This will come down to how many lines of text on a screen and how many characters per line. So all you are looking to do is take a text file like a Notepad .txt file and transfer it from a PC to your device, display it and read it. Like scroll through it. If this is going to be a dedicated little device, meaning it only does certain task, there are likely several uC boards out there that will do the trick. Eventually it may come down to how much data (file sizes) bringing us back to post #5. I don't see this as being a real difficult task, however, while I have worked a little with uC I am far from a guru with them.

Ron
 

Semaphöre

New Member
Have a look at the Arduino Pro Mini, it's about as small as they get:

https://arduino.cc/en/Main/ArduinoBoardProMini

I don't know what size screen you want, but the Nokia 5110 screen is a good choice if you want something small:
https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10168

There's oodles of example code on the net for getting this LCD rolling with the Arduino, so most of your work is done for you already :)

Now all you need is some kind of mass-storage memory. You can either use an SD card or some external flash meant for use with these microcontrollers. I prefer the SD card because it's cheaper and you can write directly to it from a PC, but it's a bit moree complicated to get working. Google around and you should once again find tons of examples for both.

Even if the end result is a bit larger than you'd like, you'll at least have a working prototype that you can improve on once you've learned more and become more confident working with micros.
 

AlexBDI

New Member
Hi Wilksey!

1) Up to 50,000 characters. As far as i know that is about 50kb of disk space..
2) Continual is fine, however i would like to have one paragraph per screen space. Something similar to a powerpoint slide show i guess. however i don't need it to flick through automatically. at the push of a button left/right i would like it to flick to the next sentence / paragraph or pice or text.
3) Remember how you could put notepad files into your iPad if you copy them directly on to the HD? I envision it as connecting it via mini USB to PC and it coming up as a separate driver in my computer (similarly to using a USB flash disk) maybe where you can post a notepad text and the gadget would be able to read it and display it on the screen. Thus the memory has to be "erasable/rewritable". If there are simpler ways of doing it from a technical point of view then i am open to suggestions.

all the best
 

AlexBDI

New Member
It seems like a few replies came in while i was typing my previous post. I will answer them here:


Have a look at the Arduino Pro Mini, it's about as small as they get:

https://arduino.cc/en/Main/ArduinoBoardProMini

I don't know what size screen you want, but the Nokia 5110 screen is a good choice if you want something small:
https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10168

Thank you for the info. This definitely looks like a great pice of kit. I guess you're right. we need a working breadboard prototype before we move on to the real thing. I can't find the one you sent me to buy however i found this

https://store.arduino.cc/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=11&products_id=227

I have a few questions however:
1) I see they do not have a port that links it directly to a PC via USB so does the port need to be purchased separately? and can it be connected to this?
2) There is also no space for an SD card. Can that piece be purchased separately and attached to the arduino?


This will come down to how many lines of text on a screen and how many characters per line. So all you are looking to do is take a text file like a Notepad .txt file and transfer it from a PC to your device, display it and read it. Like scroll through it. If this is going to be a dedicated little device, meaning it only does certain task, there are likely several uC boards out there that will do the trick.

I envision it exactly like that. this device only has one job. Read and display text on a small LED screen. The screen has however to be see-through, i think they are called TOLED. This is why i am very specific about using something like this. It seems like the screen needs to be "clipped on" to the board. I've seen these clips before in the circuit boards of phones/laptops but i don't know what they are called.
https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/4-56-inch-transparent-multi-color_153500419.html

I haven't made a product inquiry yet so atm i am not sure how many pixels i have on it.
 
Last edited:

Semaphöre

New Member
https://store.arduino.cc/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=11&products_id=227

I have a few questions however:
1) I see they do not have a port that links it directly to a PC via USB so does the port need to be purchased separately? and can it be connected to this?
2) There is also no space for an SD card. Can that piece be purchased separately and attached to the arduino?

The Arduino Pro Mini is really just an Atmega328 with some support circuitry around it, so you have to add any extras yourself. Usually Arduinos connect to a PC via a USB -> Serial adapter, which is provided by an on-board FTDI232 chip. On the pro mini, they do not include it in order to save space. You'd need something like this (it would connect to the UART pins on the micro):
https://www.adafruit.com/products/954

You can also buy an SD breakout board like this one:
https://www.sparkfun.com/products/544

Once you pick a platform, I'd suggest you read as much documentation as you can for it. I know it can be tedious, but these electronics projects are tricky and rarely (in my experience) work the first time. The inevitable troubleshooting step is WAY less painful when you understand exactly how everything works :) Luckily there's a huge amateur community around these things nowadays, so you shouldn't have any problems finding information or similar projects.
 

Wilksey

Member
Ah, I see,

So, what you want is a 4 line display or something similar, which can take a "paragraph" of text, say 4 lines at a time (you will have to get a suitably spec'd screen), an SD card for storing your text file on and micro that can use a file system, the SD card can either be connected via USB through the micro and act as a mass storage device, or you can remove the SD card and put it into a PC card reader (most laptops have these as standard nowadays).

It wouldn't be overly complicated to implement this, given someone who has time, if you wanted it "miniaturised" or "tidied up" you will need to spin a custom PCB.
 
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