Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The first project! Big fat buttons for a Kindle

The project:  Modify a Kindle to accept buttons large enough to land a plane on.


  • New Kindle (3rd generation, Wi-Fi only)
  • V.Reader kid's e-reader, chosen because of its large button interface
  • A sweet magnifying ring light, chosen because the Kindle has some REALLY tiny screws on the inside
  • A keen desire to void a warranty
Problem:  My sister loves to read, but has difficulty using regular books.  Try turning pages and holding a book steady with your hands balled into fists, and you'll get an idea of what she's up against.  A device like the Kindle makes good sense for her, except that its keypad is far to small and intricate for her to be able to use it effectively.  During a recent trip to Best Buy she was able to play with a few different eReaders and found that the V.Reader worked well.  The only issue there is that it's made for kids and won't display adult level books.    

So what if we could take the best of both worlds, and make a device she could use?  The buttons on the V.Reader work well, so let's cannibalise it.  The idea is to simply hijack the keyboard interface to the Kindle's motherboard and add our own buttons.  Most buttons are simple dry-contact switches so in theory it should be possible to add our buttons in parallel with the existing switches and use them with minimal modifications to the Kindle.

Next time we'll take a look at the V.Reader's buttons and discuss how best to use them in our project.  After that we'll tear the Kindle apart and see if we can find a good way to solder (painfully small) wires onto the board.

Stay tuned!

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