The first Kindle e-reader was released in 2007, and the popular product line has continued to evolve with improved models ever since. But with each new release, you might end up with an old model that you don’t know what to do with.
Instead of throwing it away, here’s what you can do with it. Whether it’s a DIY smart home display or a homemade message board, these projects will show you how you can recycle your Kindle.
What you will need
The projects listed here do a fantastic job of reusing an old Kindle. Some will be working on the end of the software to change what the Kindle can display. Others include adding functionality with electronic components like an Arduino.
In most cases, however, you will need to jailbreak your Kindle. Concretely, this means making changes to the software to remove restrictions imposed by manufacturers.
Here’s everything you need to know about jailbreaking.
If you feel comfortable following the directions, it’s not too complicated. And the advantage of preventing another technological device from ending up in the landfill is a huge advantage.
1. Smart home display
The e-ink display on a Kindle is unobtrusive and easy to view. It is also a very valuable electronic part that can be used to display more than just books. In this case, it is perfect for a DIY smart home display.
Matt Healy had a few design goals in mind when figuring out how he wanted to recycle his Kindle. The screen had to show data on upcoming deliveries, weather, calendar events and general notes, all in a timely manner. The solution that was chosen was to pull a screenshot of a website at an interval of once per minute.
The Kindle 4 was used in this case, which can be brought in for under $ 30 second-hand. This is the only material you need. The rest is to follow some not too difficult instructions to set it up.
Once attached to the wall, it is beautiful and minimalist. A wonderfully satisfying upcycle project that is completely free if you have an old Kindle lying around.
2. Kindle Literary Clock Display
A Kindle e-reader plus a literary clock equates to a perfect match. For every minute of the day, your Kindle may display a quote from a book that tells you what time it is.
It’s been 1,440 minutes, and quotes, to be exact. Fortunately, the hard work has already been done behind the scenes; all you need to do is follow a few installation steps.
Project designer Jaap Meijers found most of his quotes in a list compiled by the Guardian newspaper. He then turned those quotes into pictures and wrote a script that would grab the right quote at the right time. After you jailbreak your Kindle, you will need to install these files and scripts on the device.
The only hardware used is a Kindle 3 WiFi, a very old model to which a keyboard is connected. You can try to find this used model on eBay or ask around to see if someone will give you one. However, other people managed to get the clock to work on later touchscreen models.
You can find the full guide on Instructables. And for a nice web version of this clock, check out the work of Johannes Enevoldsen.
3. Kindle music player
For musicians, iPads are the perfect alternative to paper sheet music. You can even buy foot switches that work with an iPad to flip pages wirelessly. But buying a tablet just for that purpose is way too expensive, especially when you can use a Kindle instead.
To build this project you will need an ESP8266 for wireless communication. After jailbreaking your Kindle, you will need to install several software that will allow you to run custom scripts. You can download the scripts from the project’s Instructables page, where you can also find the configuration steps.
On the hardware side, you’ll build a simple two-button switching circuit. It’s not complicated and can be redesigned to meet your needs.
4. Kindle Fire + Raspberry Pi monitor
Kindle Fire was another line of e-readers / tablets that has since abandoned its name Kindle. Despite this, older Kindle Fire tablets still exist and people are still looking for ways to recycle them. This is how this Kindle Fire was transformed into a monitor for Raspberry Pi.
It works by connecting your Raspberry Pi to the internet and using the Microsoft Remote Desktop app. Of course, you can’t just download the app to your Kindle, so you will need to download an Android APK file for the app.
Visit the Instructables page for step-by-step instructions. Once the monitor is up and running, you can use it however you want. For models with slow refresh rates, its use for relatively static displays is suitable. This may include viewing live data, calendars, computer statistics, temperature, art, etc.
5. Kindle Refrigerator Notice Board
Are you tired of dealing with social messaging apps or slack work channels? With people trying to contact you all the time, communicating online becomes a chore.
To turn the tide, you can try this: a Kindle-powered message board that you can send emails to. Fun, light and potentially very practical.
With a Kindle mounted on your refrigerator, anyone with their email address can send them a quick note. The message is then displayed until the next email arrives. It’s the perfect way to reuse your old Kindle.
In order for this project to work, you will need to run a web server on a Raspberry Pi, in addition to installing a few dependencies. Peter Vojtek, the creator of this awesome little project, documented the process on his website.
If you’re looking for an easy way to secure your Kindle to the refrigerator, a few strips of magnetic tape should do the trick.
Don’t throw away your old Kindle
Devices like the Kindle are constantly getting new and improved versions which unfortunately push older models to the dump. Fortunately, for DIY enthusiasts, there is another option.
With a little ingenuity, an old Kindle can be turned into a multitude of creative projects. It’s the perfect device to recycle, and these awesome projects prove it.
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