E-paper shows fragments of huge shared artwork-in-progress

Volodymyr Shumara wanted to zoom in on small pieces of reddit’s r/place throughout the day, so he made a Raspberry Pi Pico W-powered e-paper display that flashes up randomly selected sections of the digital art canvas.

r/place E-Paper digital art display

What is r/place?

The r/place subreddit is a gigantic collaborative digital canvas where users can add a single pixel of colour every five minutes. It’s the Wild West of digital art, with collaborators able to override each other’s work by stamping their own pixels on top of pre-existing ones.

r/place E-Paper digital art display

Fun fact: the idea for r/place was conceived by Welsh software engineer Josh Wardle. We love things that were made in Wales. Josh also created the game Wordle, which we play every single day, so in short, he is our favourite person on the planet.


How does it work?

While the Pico W here gets the glory for powering the e-paper display, there is a second Raspberry Pi doing some heavier lifting in the background. The r/place digital canvas is gigantic — 1000 × 1000 pixels — and Pico W can’t crunch those numbers quickly enough unaided. A Raspberry Pi Zero W running Flask hosts the full-sized images and wirelessly sends the smaller images to the Pico W, which then throws them up onto the e-paper display.

r/place E-Paper digital art display

Make your own r/place frame

 If you’d like to make your own version of Volodymyr’s digital art display, you can download the r/place canvas. All the code for the Raspberry Pi Pico W and Zero W parts of this project is available on GitHub.

r/place E-Paper digital art display

If you’re not up for a tech build but you would like to delve into the r/place world, I’m looking for volunteers to trawl 1000 × 1000 pixels of digital art and screengrab all the weird crap you find. We love all the examples Volodymyr included in his GitHub repo, but we’re craving something a bit more edgy.

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