I recently started messing around with an Arduino and I have made a few "gadgets" using shields. I then wondered how I would go about using things I can't find shields for.

One specific thing I want to do is to be able to use the larger e-paper displays from Pervasive Displays (7'' and 10'') but a brief consultation with Google found no Arduino kits or shields. I then looked through the documentation of the timing controller for the 7'' display and found the information required to be able to use it (initiation, sending data to be drawn, opcodes, etc.). I then decided to check the Github repo for the examples for the 2'' displays and they seem to just do what the documentation says to do.

Is my observation naive here? Is it really as straightforward as following the documentation? No magic sauce?

Note: I don't have a clue how complex using the 7'' display actually is, I just used it as an example because I had just looked it up...

  • 2
    You discovered the secret of Arduino and its shields. Don't tell anyone black magic does not exist in Arduino-universe.
    – jippie
    Apr 25, 2014 at 21:56

1 Answer 1


Your observation is correct. Everything breaks down to some number of physical connections and some protocol for communicating with the device. Shields and libraries associated with them do most of the work for you, but not everything comes in a shield.

There are some common protocols for interfacing with devices, including SPI and I2C. From a quick peek at the driver interface sheet, it looks like they're using SPI. Well, your Arduino already supports that so you can hit the ground running with this display. You just need to know what commands to send to it, which you can find from the display's datasheet.

Note: It looks like the 2" screen requires 3.3V while the 7" one supports up to 7V.

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