India Navi

old school new tech outdoor navigation system

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Imagine being outdoors in the middle of nowhere and want check your route. If your phone has reception you might be able to get a map on. But what if you had a map that already shows where you are and nothing else? Nothing distrecting you from nature and you still got an accurate GPS position. The India Navi can do exactly that. Using an 7-color ePaper Display combined with OpenStreetMap Data that is specifically rendered to look good on the ePaper. No notifications, no calls no texts. Just a map with our position on it.

This device combines a 7-color e-paper display with an ESP32 microcontroller and GPS Receiver to display a map of the current location. The e-paper display is very well readable in bright sunlight and therefore ideal for outside use during the day. The energy efficiency of e-paper displays cause this device to last for several days on just one battery charge.

  • 3D Model 4 NaviCover

    theBrutzler20 hours ago 0 comments
  • We are building a prototype run

    Platinenmacher5 days ago 0 comments

    Ok, we are finaly done with the hardware design and it looks gorgeous! The design was done by The Brutzler.

    With this hardware we are going to build a small prototype run. If you want to be involved wih the project, you can donate to either my or The Brutzlers paypal moneypool:

    The Brutzler:

    Building the prototype can be watched on twitch. So if you are interested in getting one for yourself:

    Follow Platinenmacher and thebrutzler.

  • OTA Download

    Platinenmacher06/04/2021 at 16:38 0 comments

    Today i implemented OTA firmware download. It takes around 10 seconds to download a new application. So updating the Screen does not really make sense since this takes around 12 Seconds

    I also improved the GUI by showing WiFi connection state

  • More patterns for the different colors

    Platinenmacher06/03/2021 at 16:50 0 comments

    I improved the converter a little bit more so it matches more coluors. For that I built a script that generates a picture to review the patterns on screen before generating new map tiles with it.

    The long strip is dynamically generated based on the colours in the palette. Using these mixed colours on the screen gives more available colours to chose from.

    looking at the colour orange gives a strange effect. This needs to be investigated further

  • Hardware issues are getting sorted out. New converter code.

    Platinenmacher05/30/2021 at 14:47 0 comments

    We found that the issue with the strange colours is probably because of a broken connection inside the flat flex cable of the screen. I did fold the display quit a lot during initial bring-up. So we will continue with a new Display and try not to move it around so much.

    Chris, my partner in crime, is going over the hardware issues we found during bring-up. You can check out his progress on the GitHub for the PCB. Now with all the functions running I can concentrate on bringing a more advanced Firmware to the device.

    First step will be to enable OTA Firmware download to the ESP32 and hopefully get it to flash without removing the SD-Card. This is currently necessary since the card detect messes with the strapping during POR boot. Causing the Downloader to go into UART Mode, but not UART Download mode.

    On the Server side of the project I improved the Converter a bit. Now the Converter can run a function to map a colour at a specific position. This will enable us to use patterns of colours for mapping more than 7 colours to the screen. The last version just looked at the closest colour and used this to replace the original in the PNG.

    Original Image from MapNik showing a piece of the Rhine river
    Original Image from MapNik
    Same image but the river is black because it is closer to black than blue
    River colour got mapped to black because it is closer to black than blue
    New function mapps blue and black in a dotted grid
    New function maps blue and black in a dotted grid

    How the new style looks on the screen and what else we can improve is going to be in the next log.

  • So that's where we are right now

    Platinenmacher05/22/2021 at 14:03 0 comments

    This whole project began last year with the idea of a stand alone hiking navigation system that does not rely on an internet connection, has a minimalistic user interface and is readable in bright sunshine. Brainstorming the whole idea lead to this project. A outdoor navigation system working by GPS positions only and not connected to the internet.

    IndiaNavi 7-color ePaper display with India Navi written in all 7 available colors on the screen ion random positions
    India Navi written in all 7 available colors on the screen on random positions

    We started building a prototype by combining a 7-color ACEP display on a SPI interface board with an STM32, SD-Card, GNSS module and some capacitive touch buttons on a second board. Cobbled together the prototype and found all the issues with the design.

    After I built the first firmware prototype we got a feeling on how much resources we will need for the final version. So we decided to pivot away from STM32 and moved everything over to ESP32. The STM32 was there in the first place, because I have a lot of experience in building low power applications with STM32. ESP32 now allows for integrating some kind of Internet connectivity.

    Currently we have prototype hardware 2 running with ESP32 as a controller, the display directly connected to the Board (no SPI interface board) and a different GNSS module. The old Module did have issues with position drift.

    One mayor issue we have at the moment is that the display starts out working as intended but over time degenerates into something like this:

    Resetting the whole system does nothing and we are currently on the look out for what is causing the tint and how to avoid it. A second display does not come with the tint but instead comes with colours missing. So maybe we have an issue with inductance on the traces or the on board boost circuit or the register settings inside the display got bust. We are investigating.

    Development of the project is streamed live on Twitch. You can follow me or my buddy. Stream language in German but you are welcome to join and I give you a short rundown of the project.

View all 6 project logs

  • 1
    Get PCB, Display and Battery

    There are two ways to get the PCB. Prepopulated or plain PCB.

    Talk to me to get a PCB with most of the components. You can order the parts for yourself or get a populated board if I have some spare.

    Or you can go to and download the latest gerber files to order your own PCB or even PCBA.

    The display can be bought at WaveShare:

    A Battery can be found at several supplier. Choose your trusted and get a LiPo with charging protection and max. 70x100 mm size

  • 2
    Assemble PCB, apply display and solder battery

    If you got your PCB manufactured you have to solder all the components to the board. If you got something prepopulated, then you just add what is missing.

    Glue the display to the PCB front with doublesided tape. Apply the take to the display, put the connector cable through the PCB and push it into the connector. After the display is connected fold it over and glue it to the PCB. Solder the battery wires to the PCB and use an USB-cable to charge the battery.

  • 3
    Get SD card files

    Check the repo here if your area is available for download. If not, leave an issue and I will see if I can add the region. This part is under heavy construction.

View all 5 instructions

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rpmchugh wrote 05/26/2021 at 22:34 point

The UV issue on some displays can be solved easily with a UV film for the display.  Likely not a bad idea anyways.  I like it though.  On the pink display part - I have no doubt this group will have that sorted out quickly.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Platinenmacher wrote 05/29/2021 at 16:49 point

good idea I will have to watch for a future revision

  Are you sure? yes | no

Frank van der Hulst wrote 05/26/2021 at 18:44 point

What displays are you using? Some e-Paper displays are UV sensitive and not suitable for use in direct sunlight. Look for DES displays that are UV safe at

  Are you sure? yes | no

Platinenmacher wrote 05/29/2021 at 16:48 point

the display did not receive to much sunlight. I think it is a broken wire on the flat flex connector. I folded the display a couple of times and sometimes it is better, sometimes it is worse.

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initrd wrote 05/26/2021 at 17:33 point

Awesome. You might want to check out and

  Are you sure? yes | no

Platinenmacher wrote 05/29/2021 at 16:55 point

thank you for the links. Very interesting projects

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Kyle wrote 05/26/2021 at 16:16 point

Great work! I've been dreaming of doing something similar. There's of course a million features to add that would slowly morph the project into a monster but one thing I dreamed of is a hardware button that prints the current magnetic bearing on the top right corner. The idea would be to wake up the mcu, read the compass, sleep for 5s, then erase the number and go back to sleep.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Platinenmacher wrote 05/29/2021 at 16:46 point

nice Idea we will have a look into that feature. Would be a nice addition to the map.

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dearuserhron wrote 05/20/2021 at 20:34 point

Very interesting. I have used to download PNG from openstreetmap and then print it on A3 paper before traveling. And, you know what, I used GIMP to increase image contrast to make printable results look better.

OSM renderer is a very needed thing. I wish I can customize street names font size and disable smoothing, to make it more readable.

Idea for hackaday prize - rethink openstreetmap renderer.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Platinenmacher wrote 05/21/2021 at 18:44 point

Yeah we did setup a OSM tile renderer instance to generate PNGs that are then modified for the display. I hope we will have the display up and running soon. The current hardware has an issue with the screen and we do not know what the issue is.

  Are you sure? yes | no

dearuserhron wrote 05/21/2021 at 19:36 point

> we do not know what the issue is

Symptoms? No display reaction at all? Black lines appearing? Maybe power?

Gray-scale e-paper will show more accurate picture, I think. And it is easier to obtain and get it work.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Platinenmacher wrote 05/22/2021 at 10:04 point

We hve two displays and one does not show all the colors and the other also does not show all the colors but also has a red tint to all its area. It might be a damage that was caused by voltage spikes on the supply line. I am currently in the progress of putting up documentation while a buddy of mine is doing the hardware diagnostics.

  Are you sure? yes | no

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