Introduction: World's First E-Ink Shirt (Ghetto Version)

Picture of World's First E-Ink Shirt (Ghetto Version)

Or Maybe just The World's First E-Ink Name Tag (Only if your name happens to be 'The 21st Century Begins Now ;)' Eesh, that would kind of take the drama out of killing Count Rugen.)

Anyway, having just purchased Esquire's 75th Anniversary Special with the "World's First E-Ink Magazine Cover", I immediately commenced the deconstruction as soon as I returned to the dank depths of my luh-BOR-atory.

Fresh off my previous Sony/Kindle E-Ink screen transplant, I figured it would be cool to play with.

Various ideas entered my mind as I hacked the magazine to shreds, but why not see what I can make in a few minutes first?

Hence, the World's First E-Ink Shirt (Tank Top, in this case) was born- in under five minutes and only cost me the cost of the magazine. ($5.99, without Tax)

And yes, this whole build is a rather tongue in cheek joke ;)

Step 1: Gather the Tools and Materials

Picture of Gather the Tools and Materials

First off, of course, you'll need the 75th Anniversary edition of Esquire Magazine. I think something like 100,000 of them are out there (99,999, now).

I live in San Francisco, and the little Borders Newsstand I went to at Powell Street Station had about a dozen.

Next up, just some electric tape (or similar), safety pins, scissors, and...

...Umm, that's it. This is probably my simplest project to date (and boy, does it show ;)

Step 2: Deconstruct!

Picture of Deconstruct!

Ahh, my favorite Gadget Hack step- even if it is essentially just tearing up a magazine.

First you should remove the cover, sticking close to the spine when you cut. It's up to you what to do with the rest of the magazine.

Once the cover is separated, just pull the edges apart slowly and the glue will begin unsticking. The electronics are near the middle. Though the E-Ink screen is flexible, the circuit board is not, so try not to use too much force.

Step 3: Exposed!

Picture of Exposed!

There it is- the cheap PCB, and upper and lower E-Ink screen. There's a bit of light foam cushioning them, and a plastic sheet that lies on top of the screens. I removed these but kept them handy.

As you can see, the PCB has six button cell batteries, which should last about three months. They're easily replaceable.

The lower screen is simpler and ugly, so I removed it by pulling the flex cable from its slot on the board. That did not seem to interfere with the top screen and it still flashes normally.

Step 4: Play!

Picture of Play!

It's hard to resist the urge to play around with the screen a bit once it's free, and I indulged my id.

Most LCD's and similar displays that we interact with are rigid, so it feels really cool, and a tad weird, to have one rolled up in my hand.

It seems pretty durable, but I wouldn't bend it too far.

Step 5: Science!

Picture of Science!

Ok, let's keep going. Using the bit of foam that came with the magazine cover, cut out two pieces that will cover the PCB and stick out about an inch on both sides.

After that, just apply a liberal amount of electric tape to the foam, wrapping around so it keeps the PCB in place and covers up the glare of the foam. Everything looks better in black.

After that, just flip the Screen back so it rests on the PCB and use some more tape to keep it in place. If you want, you can also put some of the plastic sheet with pictures back on it, if only to liven the thing up a bit.

Step 6: Apply to Shirt

Picture of Apply to Shirt

So I suppose the seamstresses in the audience could make a little 'Window' and 'Pouch' in a shirt to stick this thing in, making it look ten times better. So hop to it! Me, my sewing skills end with buttons, and I usually mess those up too. (Why do I need to learn to sew when I have Duct Tape?)

Anyhoo, I, in keeping with my self-inflicted five minute time frame, opted to just use a couple of safety pins to attach it. You should probably take the shirt off FIRST, Genius ;)

Step 7: Wear!

Picture of Wear!

As I said, I had a few ideas that maybe I'll try later, and this was just a quickie to hopefully inspire smarter and more creative people than I into taking a crack at it.

Good luck, and for Goodness Sake, stay out of the Rain.


memcha (author)2014-01-21

Great instructable. You are so hot too.

LinuxH4x0r (author)2008-09-09

Nice! How much did the magazine cost you?

boisei0 (author)LinuxH4x0r2010-10-07

Let me quote Joe Martins quote from out of the story:

"Joe Martin says:
Hence, the World's First E-Ink Shirt (Tank Top, in this case) was born- in under five minutes and only cost me the cost of the magazine. ($5.99, without Tax)



rustygray (author)2010-07-19

I can already see the advertisers and mass media brand merchants arguing over ad space ont he average shirt. maybe a shirt that has built in blue tooth that will change ads as you walk past particular businesses. Cool stuff Blakebevin. Keep up the good work.

rattyrain (author)2010-07-08

I think this would be a good idea for a weird-looking (as in it already looks strange before the e-ink) suit jacket.

Probasco (author)2010-01-05

 A few thoughts come to mind.  Isn't t-shirt material (Cotton) Relatively thin?  Could you project this from the back side?  Isn't that what this basically is, a t-shirt projector?  You could use longer wires and put the battery pack and mainboard in a different part of the shirt, allowing a flexible screen to be constructed because what I see is a flexible screen.  It would take some money or some skills at soldering, but it can be done.  You just need some ribbon (electronic ribbon), some know, and some dimensions.  You could do it like the old photo albums, securing each corner and securing the center of the image.  Pretty much what you have is a mainboard that has been set to flash wired to some LED's and a projectable unit on top of that, so with this, all options are endless.  You could move it to the heart, put a picture of a heart, and freak some ppl out.  Or is it like a calculator that has a glass insert?

rexifelis (author)Probasco2010-07-08

awesome thought about the heart... a beating heart... hmmm

mycroftxxx (author)2008-09-11

Have you played with one of the panels using a magnet? They should be as responsive as a magna-doodle. If you really wanted a custom nametag-shirt, manually switching the state of the E-Ink would seem to be fairly easy and could look good with some effort.

joknrok (author)mycroftxxx2008-09-23

The e-ink doesn't respond at all to a magnet. It's ionic charges that black and white ink inside a tiny bubble are charged with, and the circuitry dictates which bubble gets what charge. It's incredibly facinating technology. Everyone should look up how it works. See
This is one of the most exciting technological breakthroughs in a while IMO. The esquire cover is way simpler than I hoped it would be, but panels like these without the stencils inside and more complex circuitry could actually play video I'm pretty sure.
You can bet that 5.99 is way less than it cost esquire to aquire the panels, so don't miss out. Once they are available as programable kits, the potential for use is so exciting. But they will cost a ton more than 5.99, so if anyone can hack these ones so they can be reprogrammed to display images or even video, that would be the ultimate instructable. Thanks Esquire for this!

general-Insano (author)joknrok2009-02-06

yes the lowest priced E-ink screens that I have seen so far cost about 1500 dollars which is a tad too high for me.

There was some cheap Motorola phone that you could get here in Aus (it was about $60AUD) that had an e-ink display.

headphoned (author)cornflaker2009-12-30

 I have that phone (or at least, the UK version of it). Cost me 5 GBP. Definitely the cheapest E-ink display. However, it, too, uses the stencil tech and can't control individual pixels. Text messages display 8 characters at a time, looking like a digital clock. 

Still, for 5 quid the phone is a great phone and the e-ink is cool.

pandaweb (author)2009-07-01

i want to see the worlds first vacuum tube shirt

foober (author)2009-06-25

Hey, /great T-Shirt/. Wait a minute!?! I just read the mean there's a /screen/ there?

sensoryhouse (author)2008-10-20

will you marry me?

mrbob1000 (author)2008-09-09

you're pretty! and cleaver... i like the idea. plus it looks cool.

shooby (author)mrbob10002008-09-09

clever, right? Oh, hahahahha

StoneCraf (author)shooby2008-09-20

Hey, shooby, chill, she had a good idea and you're jealous. I personally love the mods for clothing and what better than a flashing screen. Blakebevin i praise the work and curiosity it took to bend that thing knowing it was fragile. Great mod. ~Z

shooby (author)StoneCraf2008-09-20

Jealous! Chill, StoneCraf I wasn't laughing at the Instructable at all. What I was laughing at was the use of the word "cleaver". While it was an honest mistake, I noticed after correcting mrbob1000 that "cleaver" is a subtle mix of the words "clever" and "cleavage". This written underneath a photograph featuring cleavage, tickled my sense of humor.

blakebevin (author)shooby2008-09-20

Hehe, maybe I should have done an instructable on the world's first E-ink bulky sweatshirt.

shooby (author)blakebevin2008-09-20

haha fair enough. Sorry to draw out the joke, apparently it needed an explanation though .

StoneCraf (author)shooby2008-09-22

lol, I apologize, i guess i read that too fast. "Clever" joke btw. I reacted too fast when i thought someone's mod was being made fun of , XP that was my fault lol. ____________________ I think that if the shirt would have been a hoody, it would have taken the fun out of this whole mess lol Keep modding Blakebevin, I'm working right now on a Marquee LED sign for my Graduation project at Lincoln Tech, you and Shooby are welcome to comment when i post the pics and indestructible. PS: you can post witty comments, this time I'll make sure to read them well d[' ' ]b ~Z

shooby (author)StoneCraf2008-09-22


xACIDITYx (author)2008-09-09

Sweet! How much was the Esquire magazine?

Joe Martin (author)xACIDITYx2008-09-10

Hence, the World's First E-Ink Shirt (Tank Top, in this case) was born- in under five minutes and only cost me the cost of the magazine. ($5.99, without Tax)



xACIDITYx (author)Joe Martin2008-09-10

You win.

=SMART= (author)2008-09-09

the very last pic is great :D lol nice instructable

rgbphil (author)2008-09-09

A lot of people are complaining the eink is a bit lame because it just flashes...fair enough I suppose. However if the eink film can be seperated from the flexible circuitry that drives the segments, then it could be transferred to a PCB with tracks doing a seven segment or dotmatrix to do more useful work. Other ideas would be to use the film to show electrostatic charge distribution of whatever it's placed on. Here is Oz we don't have the mag yet, can you do me a favour and look at the way the thing is laminated and tell us if the eink film can be separated from the flexible circuitry on the back? Even better...maybe try to delaminate the eink from the flex board yourself. Anyone seen the mag in Australia yet? thanks

Ptr_V_2 (author)2008-09-09

Cool idea. Now if there was only a way to kill the power, to conserve battery life. I couldn't believe how thin these screens were, and how the screen kept it's "lit pixel's" even after i disconnected it.

CameronSS (author)Ptr_V_22008-09-09

Now if there was only a way to kill the power, to conserve battery life.
Like a switch?

ARVash (author)Ptr_V_22008-09-09

Transistors would do the trick (:

okoshima (author)2008-09-09

great instructable...

excuse me if i sound dumb but what is this e-ink stuff?
enjoy the 5*

,and my apologies for being a man but you are absolutely stunning...

fungus amungus (author)2008-09-09

Seems like there's more immediate potential with the other screen since you can create a new overlay for it easily.

ARVash (author)2008-09-09

pretty you, pretty eink. If only you were to sew it into a shirt, but it's not yet a sophisticated enough Eink display for such. Nice job :D

About This Instructable




More by blakebevin:Power Laces- the Auto lacing shoeWorld's First E-Ink Shirt (Ghetto Version)Amazon Kindle e-ink Screen Transplant from a Sony Reader
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