Introduction: Amazon Kindle E-ink Screen Transplant From a Sony Reader

Picture of Amazon Kindle E-ink Screen Transplant From a Sony Reader

Having purchased the $400 Amazon Kindle, while I was visiting family last Christmas my little sister accidentally stepped on the device, shattering the screen. It laid around for eight months in storage before I decided to try the impossible- a cross species transplant! Muahahahahahahaha!


This instructable will show you how I removed a broken screen from my Amazon Kindle and replaced it with the screen from an old Sony Reader. I make no guarantees that this method will work for you, and be aware that you'll need to destroy a $300 device to try and salvage a $400 device ($360, now).

ALSO BE AWARE- after I was finished the Kindle had some nagging button issues, so don't expect it to be perfect.

Let's get started:

Step 1: Gather the Tools and Materials

Picture of Gather the Tools and Materials

1. An Amazon Kindle with a broken screen, and ONLY a broken screen. If the motherboard is cracked as well, you're pretty much screwed.

2. An e-ink Sony Reader. I used the original black one that came out a few years ago that has been collecting dust. I have no idea if the newer white model will work.

3. A Dremel rotary tool with cutting and grinding wheels suitable for use on aluminum. I just used the ones that came with the tool.

4. A tiny Philips screwdriver for dismantling. Tweezers and a magnifying glass might be helpful, too.

5. A Well-Lit Work area, Determination, Steady Hands, and a bit of Luck.

Step 2: Dismantle the Sony Reader

Picture of Dismantle the Sony Reader

This step is fairly simple. Just use the Philips to remove the screws from the back, pry open the case, and start carefully unplugging things and removing more screws, until you get down to the screen.

There's a lot of little pieces- lots of springy metal tabs and plastic. I would probably have a lot of trouble putting it back together, so if you have a change of heart later be warned that this a pretty much a one way process because reassembly would be fairly frustrating.

When you remove the screen, you'll notice that an aluminum frame is glued onto it. Those jutting metal parts will prevent it from fitting into the Kindle case. We'll take care of that in a later step.

Step 3: File Down the Sony Reader's Screen

Picture of File Down the Sony Reader's Screen

This is the most delicate part and also the Heart of this little Hack. The metal parts that stick out along the edges and back need to be sawed off and filed down.

Unfortunately I lost the picture of the screen pre-modification, so here are the results. You need to get the metal down as close as you can, being extremely careful not to damage the screen in the process.

I actually did chip the edge, right next to an embedded wire. Fortunately it hasn't seemed to cause any problems.

Step 4: Dismantle the Amazon Kindle

Picture of Dismantle the Amazon Kindle

We can Rebuild it. We have the Technology!

But first, we have to break it down into its base bits.

Compared to the Sony, this is a little easier. After you remove the battery and screws from the back, you need a tiny flat head to pry open the edges. It's best to start in a corner and work your way around the bottom. After the bottom is open, the top usually lifts out.

There's fewer little bits to lose- just disconnect the flimsy metal/plastic grounding thingy, SD Card Reader slot, the e-ink screen (located under neath the SD slot), keyboard, power switch, etc.

It's helpful to take some pictures so you know how everything was laid out originally.

After that's removed, you can remove the main board, leaving the faceplate, screen, and metal frame.

Be careful removing the frame and screen, as part of it is glued to the faceplate.

Step 5: Transplant!

This is pretty much just reverse assembly. Depending on the filing job you did, the Sony Screen may fit in the case perfectly or, like me, you'll have to improvise a little bit.

I had to slide the screen around half a millimeter to find a position for it to "sit" in, and in the end there were a couple of problems that I'll explain in the next section.

Make sure you screw everything back into place and re-hook up all the wires. Ensure that they're properly connected. During my first attempt, the device turned on but the screen was dead and I figured it was another failed experiment. I decided to reopen it one last time though, and discovered that I hadn't properly reconnected the Screen Cable.

The wire really needs to be pushed into the connecting slot- you should feel it when it settles home.

Also, the page turn buttons on the right (left if facing the front of the screen) have no give at all. The extra thickness of the screen keeps them from hinging properly. Your mileage may vary.

Step 6: Success! (Sort Of...)

Picture of Success!  (Sort Of...)

Boy, seeing that Amazon logo pop up was like Christmas. After eight months, my $400 device was Alive again!

...Kind of. There are a couple of problems. There's significant "ghosting" on the screen (faint imprints of previous text or images) when you turn pages, which wasn't as bad with the original screen. According to OrgangeTide in his comment below:

"The e-Ink controller has waveform data that is matched to the display material. Also there is a temperature compensation that is unique for every display. These two factors are going to result in significant ghosting."

Second, as I mentioned before, the Previous and Next Page buttons on the left don't work. I've thought about some sort of modification, but I don't want to undo everything I did and risk it breaking again. The Next Page on the right works- if I need to go back I suppose I can use the menu Go To Location feature.

Third, there's bulging around the LCD bar as some of the metal juts into it. As some of the metal actually rests on the bar, I'm very careful about applying any pressure around that area.

Besides those caveats, some of which would probably be solved with some better Dremel work, it seems to be fine. All the free samples I sent to my Kindle through amazon during the past eight months downloaded fine, and it remembered my place in all the books.

The scroll wheel works good, even though it's not completely set properly, and it's very easy to read, even with the ghosting.

All in all, I'm glad to have my little device back.


conundrum2142 (author)2016-04-29

Re. ghosting, the fix for that is to use a panel with a similar -1.xx voltage to the old one. Its actually easy to do if you have a number of spare panels for another project, +/- 0.02 works then simply adjust the trimpot for best picture with least ghosting.

conundrum2142 (author)2016-04-29

The easy way to avoid troublesome filing of metal and excess thickness is to buy just the EPD glass which can be had for about £15 apiece. The old metal can be separated from the broken glass using hot 44 gauge wire (couple of 9V batteries + some tension) and the new screen simply glued in place with double sided tape.

DevilDogPratt (author)2011-01-05

or you could call customer service and have them replace the kindle for free due to a recent lawsuit regarding very fragile screens :P

Kasm279 (author)2010-07-09

That thing you thought was the keyboard power cable is an antenna, the connector is the same as the one used to connect the wifi card to the antennas in the upper half in laptops.

Weissensteinburg (author)2008-08-22

Wow...i'm impressed that you risked the sony reader for it! For future reference, you can probably buy a broken kindle for parts pretty cheap off ebay.

osgeld (author)Weissensteinburg2008-08-23

on a solid state device like the kindle 99.999999% of the time whats broken is the screen its not like a psp where the drive can magically crap out but it is totally possible!

jridley (author)osgeld2008-08-28

99.999999% isn't really possible; Amazon hasn't sold 100,000,000 Kindles yet. Personally I'd have thought the screen breaking was a good excuse to switch to the Sony reader, but I made the choice for Sony in the first place, and would have even if the prices were the same. Very interesting to see the guts of the machines though. I love product disassembly photos.

Weissensteinburg (author)jridley2008-08-28

99.999999% of solid state devices like the kindle.

lennyb (author)Weissensteinburg2010-06-16

pffft you can use statistic to prove anything...88% of people know that - homer simpson. :)

rattyrain (author)lennyb2010-07-08

But 67% of statistics are completely made up!

lennyb (author)rattyrain2010-07-09

ya but only 13% percent of people know that

skippyconsuelo (author)jridley2010-07-06

your assuming that you have to sell a device before you break it, and that a device cannot break more than once... neither assumption is entirely fair.

zimmemic25 (author)2008-10-13

can someone pls PM me and tell me where to get cheap e-ink/e-paper PDF-readers that work with a SD or CF card? i googled &searched; at ebay. the cheapest thing i found was 200€ (ca. 270$). the fact is that i dont have much money cause i bought a new WII. so it would be best if i could get something for 50-100€ (ca. 70-120$). btw im in germany, so it shouldn't be from US, they want 20% taxes.

lennyb (author)zimmemic252010-06-16

you might try and one of the jetbook readers. but shipping to europe may be problematic. it has a tft screen instead of e-ink but it still works ok now they seem to have the bugs worked out.

confuzedmuze (author)2009-10-08

I did the same thing to my Kindle. After crying a little, I tried calling Amazon's customer service. I simply told them "the screen's broken". After going through the turn-it-off-and-on-again troubleshoot, they sent me a shipping label to mail the broken kindle back to them. Four days later, a brand new Kindle 1 was at my front door. Amazon has always been great with customer service, and if it takes sending you a new Kindle to keep you buying Kindle books, it's still a profit for them.

MrFairlady (author)2008-08-24

lol in the 1st pic of the cracked screen it looks like the end of an assault rifle

Sandisk1duo (author)MrFairlady2009-01-22

EXACTLY what i was thinking

cornflaker (author)Sandisk1duo2009-06-12

lol same

Fasteners (author)2009-01-05

This is great, thanks for the 'ible.

chorpler (author)2008-12-11

I'm sure the factors that OrangeTide mentioned don't help, but the PRS-500 has a very ghost-prone display anyway. I've got one in front of me right now and every time you change the page, a very visible ghost of the previous page stays on the screen forever, until you change the display again.

I'd be interested to see what it would look like if a less ghosty display (like the one from the PRS-505) was used. Nobody's going to be sacrificing one of those any time soon, though!

Danwiz (author)2008-09-03

A couple of days ago a car ran over my wife's mobile phone and smashed the screen. Verizon is saying they cannot move the data off the phone without the screen working (the phone still works.) Any ideas on how to get around that? Thanks.

tcabeen (author)Danwiz2008-09-29

google "bitpim" From their site, you can find a list of compatible phones. I have an enV and it works marvelously with a USB cable I bought off ebay. Good luck.

vitruvian8807 (author)2008-08-28

The Amazon Kindle has an EVDO card??!?! Are you serious?! Only Sprint has EVDO access cards and phones, and as far as I know, it's the fastest speed available to consumers here in the USA. In other words, at least 15 times faster than the beloved iPhone 3G's internet connection speed!

OrangeTide (author)2008-08-25

The eInk controller has waveform data that is matched to the display material. Also there is a temperature compensation that is unique for every display. These two factors are going to result in significant ghosting. Nice work though!

Lego man (author)2008-08-23

Wow your sister must be heavy because my 150lb father stepped on mine... but he stepped on it really fast. i'm guessing your sister kind of stood on it.. I love my Kindle. Do you get free books from ?

static (author)2008-08-22

God instructable and good to know for those who own or aspire to own the Kindle. Unless I win the lotto, I would be putting the ~$400 towards a laptop. Although the Kindle would be nice to have as well. Who actually manufactures the Kindle and are direct replacement parts available? While it may not apply, did you check to see if your homeowners or renter's insurance would have covered repair or replacement of the busted Kindle?

Nesagwa (author)static2008-08-23

Amazon does. They probably would have repaired it for him for a fee since it was out of warranty and was damaged by outside forces (ie. a foot) He was also not in his home when it happened so I doubt either insurance would cover it (I doubt theyd cover it either way really.) Still, I love my Sony Reader and it makes me cringe to see both devices destroyed (in one way or the other.) :( Still an OK idea I guess.

blakebevin (author)Nesagwa2008-08-23

Hehe, yeah, I'm sure I could have sent it in to Amazon, but where's the fun in that? ;) I did like the Sony Reader, but I felt the wireless features and the Kindle store trumped it. I would love the features of the Kindle with the Sony Reader form factor. Anyhoo, thanks for reading and commenting! (And apologies if I made you wince)

depotdevoid (author)2008-08-22

"Love and sex with robots?" Are you serious? There is really a book by that name? Very nice instructable. Two thumbs up. I laughed, I cried, I stopped fiddling on the internets and went back to work.

CameronSS (author)depotdevoid2008-08-22

"Love and sex with robots?" Are you serious? There is really a book by that name?

Apparently there is...

Sandisk1duo (author)CameronSS2008-08-22


About This Instructable




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