NEWT

Newt is a battery-powered, always-on, wall-mountable display that can go online to retrieve weather, calendars, sports scores, to-do lists, quotes…really anything on the Internet! It is powered by an ESP32-S2 microcontroller that you can program with Arduino, CircuitPython, MicroPython, or ESP-IDF.

Join The Community

Visit the Discussion Board (https://github.com/Phambili-Tech/Newt_Display/discussions) to see see what’s on the roadmap, provide feedback, log issues, or ask questions.

Getting Started

Newt is a low power device, and sleeps when not in use. You can wake up the Newt by pressing the upper right button. This will give you access to the menu. You can use the same button to toggle the menu.

Initial Set-Up (WIFI and Software Update)

Newt requires a WIFI connection to operate; you’ll be prompted to add (or update) your WIFI connection information if Newt does not have valid WIFI credentials stored.

You will most likely need to update your Newt to the latest software after establishing your WIFI connection (you’ll see an arrow in the upper left corner of the screen if a new version is available to download). You’ll be able to down the latest version by accessing the Settings Menu.

Features

Newt comes with the following features:

  • Alarm
  • Timer
  • Pomodoro Timer
  • Automatic Time and Timezone Setting
  • Weather – Daily and Hourly Forecasts
  • Air Quality Index
  • Quotes
  • Habit Calendar

Power

Newt ships without chargers or batteries. You’ll need a 5V USB-C charger and a 3.7V Lithium Ion Polymer Battery. Any 5V phone charger (up to 1 Amp) should work fine for charging purposes.

The battery capacity should ideally be at least 500 mAh (you can use a battery with smaller capacity; however you’ll need to cut the jumper on the back if you use something less than 500 mAh).

The 500 mAh battery from Adafruit is perfectly sized for Newt and will last about 4 weeks between charges. You can purchase an Adafruit 500 mAh battery from Mouser, the Adafruit site, Amazon, or Digikey.

Note: Any 3.7V Lithium Ion Polymer battery will do (and a capacity of 750 or 1000 mAh will give you more time between recharges). I use a small dab of poster putty to keep the battery in place. I also use a small twist tie (like what you use with a loaf of bread) to loop and tie the battery wire (to make it short and manageable). The most important thing for you to be aware of is that your battery connector must match the expected polarity. The POSITIVE input (labeled “+” and typically the red wire) needs to be on the left.

Advanced Usage

Updates via Arduino

Newt software is written in Arduino and is available for download in the Arduino Library Manager (search for Newt Display) or from Github. Note: Downloading via the Arduino Library Manager will also download all dependent libraries

Newt is powered by an ESPS2-S2 and you can program it like any other ESP32 microcontroller. If programing with Arduino, select the following option under Board Manager: Tools -> Boards -> ESP32 Arduino -> ESP32S2 Native USB.

The Newt ESP32S2 comes with 4MB of Flash and with 2 MB of PSRAM (though at this time, PSRAM is not needed for the standard NEWT software).

The USB-C connecter is used for programming. You will need to manually put the board in bootloader mode (which is super easy).

  1. Look for the Reset button and the Boot button (on the top of the Newt, and labeled on the back)
  2. HOLD down the Boot button while you click Reset. Then release Boot button.

You’ll be able to load software via Arduino. Remember, you will need to click the REST button after your code is loaded.

Note: Newt is an “advanced” maker board, so if this is your first maker board, then you might want to start with a simpler board.

Hardware

We consider Newt to be the next step in the evolution of low-power display boards. Perfect for makers, Sharp’s Memory-in-Pixel (MiP) technology avoids the low refresh times associated with E-Ink displays. To support timers and alarms, we’ve also added a real-time clock (RTC). And finally, we’ve designed Newt with battery operation in mind – every component on the board was chosen for it’s ability to operate at low power.

Microcontroller

  • Espressif ESP32-S2-WROVER Module with 4 MB flash and 2 MB PSRAM
  • Wi-Fi capable
  • Supports Arduino, MicroPython, CircuitPython, and ESP-IDF
  • Deep sleep current as low as 25 uA

Display

  • 2.7-inch, 240 x 400 pixel MiP LCD
  • Capable of delivering high-contrast, high-resolution, low-latency content with ultra-low power consumption
  • Reflective mode leverages ambient light to eliminate the need for a backlight

Time Keeping, Timers, and Alarms

  • Micro Crystal RV-3028-C7 RTC
  • Optimized for extreme low-power consumption (45 nA)
  • Able to simultaneously manage a periodic timer, a countdown timer, and an alarm
  • Hardware interrupt for timers and alarms
  • 43 bytes of non-volatile user memory, 2 bytes of user RAM
  • Separate UNIX time counter

Buzzer

  • Speaker/buzzer with mini class-D amplifier on DAC output A0 can play tones or lo-fi audio clips

User Input

  • Power switch
  • Two programmable tactile buttons for Reset and Boot
  • 10 capacitive touch pads

Power

Newt is designed to operate for one to two months between charges using a 500 mAH LiPo battery. The exact run time varies. (Heavy Wi-Fi use, in particular, will reduce battery charge more quickly.)

  • USB Type-C connector for programming, power, and charging
  • Low-quiescence voltage regulator (TOREX XC6220) that can output 1 A of current and operate as low as 8 uA.
  • JST connector for a Lithium-Ion battery
  • Battery-charging circuity (MCP73831)
  • Low-battery indicator (1 uA quiescence current)

Dimensions

  • 91 x 61 x 9 mm

Hardware

Software

  • Newt hardware is compatible with open-source Arduino libraries for ESP32-S2, Adafruit GFX (fonts), Adafruit Sharp Memory Display (display writing), and RTC RV-3028-C7 (RTC)
  • Arduino libraries and sample programs available here: https://github.com/Phambili-Tech/Newt_Display