Introduction: 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

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

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

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

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...)

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.