Unbricking and Fixing the IREXes DR1000S Ebook Reader. And on the way maybe learn more about this extinct Freak of Nature kinda Ebook.

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Doing a complete Teardown and maybe necessary hardwaremods
to get it going again. (finding a usable uart, usb or jtag would be nice)
This should lead to the most complete description of this eink dinosaur
available anywhere on the Internets.


Getting Angstrom or some recent Openembedded based Distro to compile and run on the Hardware.


Fix Powermanagement issues. Repair broken Physical Userinterface.

well,and document everything :)

It all began with a big letdown.

Back in 2010 when the grass was greener and the blues bluer i decided to stop ruining my eyes and start taking a part in the e-ink revolution. I choose the IREX DR1000S for obvious reasons. The size and the possibility to scribble. But it failed horribly on me.

And here is how it did...

  • I bought a used DR1000S of the behy. The LiPo battery was already at its end of life and lasted 90 minutes max. Sometimes just 30 with big pdfs and "heavy" browsing(like a page every 30 seconds.
  • Some PDFs did not render or rendered too slow or where not displayed at all.
  • All community effort was spun around some pulled together development environment with a bmware guest, qemu simulation images and loosely knit together anjunta poky gnutools whatnot. Even after updating to the latest Firmware and with the latest Mackx patches applied the device was still too buggy for serious use.
  • It was far to unreliable to use it as primary device for taking notes or .
  • IREX closed the doors. So all hope on support from the vendor to fix the power management and connectivity issues (USB OTG?) was lost like tears in the rain.

After some years have gone by and some occasional remembrances on the joy of reading the big e-ink screen tickling me it only happened by chance that i finally took on the work.

The main problem i had was the power issues. From the beginning until now. The original Varta LiPo was really dead by now so i knew i needed to get some replacement battery. Many have done that surgical operation before me, so i was not afraid. It was known land.

Just another day at the local supermarket i found a slim, big and black thingy sticking out a "battery recycling/collecting" bin. It was a Macbook Air's battery compartment. I tear it open (very good sticking tape and glue there is) and savaged 3 working 3.7V LiPo cells each with double the capacity of the DR1000Ss original cell. The connection leads for the 4th cell where torn out during the removal procedure.

Ten minutes later i cracked the DR1000S open following this guide, snipped of the original batteries connector, soldered it too one of the frankenmac's batterirs, connected it and et voilà the green LEDs started to glow and a screen displayed the familiar IREX boot up screen. Now everything was good. I fully charged and it was almost like a dream come true.

On the left the DR1000S original Varta cell - PLF503759 3.7V 1300mAh. Next to it is the Macbook Air's cell - the Sanyo UPF3768111 3.7V 3800mAh battery.

[INSERT irex bootup video]

With the extra mWh i could use the device almost the whole day. I was happy!

But it did not last. I charged the device maybe 10 to 15 Times. Everything was alright, except maybe the battery gauge that was a little confused by the extra capacity.

Then one day i drained the battery fully and let the device sit alone for a week.

After that it was bricked as i would call it. Some other people have got the same symptoms and no one seems to have had much success in fixing this issue.

The device does not fully boot. It stops progressing a few seconds after the boot starts and displays some color coded blinken lights. All this while the boot animation endlessly continues (a dot running in circles) until the battery is drained.


Not much use for anything.

The debugging options on this device are really limited.

No Documented JTAG

No Documented UART

And a mysterious, undocumented connector on the bottom.

Some people have tried getting USB OTG to work on the DR1000, but they didn't succeed. [INSERT links to mobileread threads, Description blinken pulses]

No one so far seems tho have searched for or found any usable debugging interface


There is a very nice Labeled PCB.

It looks like there are some boundry scan test points right next to one of the CPLDs.

A bunch of freely available source code


There is...

Read more »

  • 1 × IREX DR1000S The humble star of the show
  • 1 × Matador Some wooden construction bricks and sticks i picked up at a fleemarket.
  • 20 × Pogo Pins spear headed spring contact probes.
  • 1 × Arduino The universal little helper!(tm)
  • 1 × Buspirate V3 The Specialist. I am Serial!

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  • Well thats been a time....

    Horst Borst11/01/2015 at 23:01 0 comments

    After some tinkering with the mechanics of a flexible testpin holder i put the idea aside and got back to

    the device itself. The power and battery management are the first candidates id like to look at more closely.

    I dumped the idea of the arduino as main "logic sniffer" and am about to build up a beaglelogic .

    Since i dont have a cape i decided to build a proto cape with the TTL converters i have laying around.

    Ill report back and update the project when i get the first i2c dumps of the DR1000S.

  • needle testbed production

    Horst Borst08/03/2015 at 20:30 0 comments

    Since there are very many testpoints and reachable vias on the pcb i decided to build 2 holders for the pogo pins. since manually drilling is no option for me i hooked up with a friend who tries to get his shapeoko running. Then i can cnc drill the holes for the pins and start searching for the interesting ones. Id like to get that done and start testing next weekend. Updates to the project site are aso not to be expexted until the weekend.

  • documentation and panorama stitching

    Horst Borst08/01/2015 at 21:39 0 comments

    looked up some parts and added them to the parts tables. played around with auto panorama tools to stitch togethere some photos into a hires pcb pic. but failed. started building some x/y axis movement unit. of course all out of wooden construction bricks.

    Finally found out that if js is disabled one can edit the raw html of the project description! this opens up worlds of readability to this project site. mainly a nice index with anchors should help a lot with that..

  • basic documentation

    Horst Borst07/21/2015 at 17:56 0 comments

    Write up basic Documentation i allready gathered and bring it into human readable form.

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  • 1
    Step 1

    dis[TODO} The disassembly of the iRex DR1000S

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