Large display monitor, village network

For the elderly, in step 1, receive messages (step 2 send coded messages e.g. different buttons). These people are not always used to mobile phones or computers.

Having two Heltec running I am looking for:
a simple solution to display messages on a large dedicated monitor (min 8, better min 12 inch, the larger the better).
(0) EPaper is a solution but still expensive and it has not really been brought down in the past years.
(1) FabGL -ESP32 Display Controller and Graphics Library
FabGL: VGA output schema and
ESP32 VGA Beginner Tutorial [Arduino Library ESP32Lib] - YouTube
(2) Another option could be to use a small computer (RaspII, the small ones), and connect it with a LoRaWAN device. E.g. Seedstudio Grove Grove - LoRa-E5 - Seeed Wiki

The idea, a (small) village where:
(a) people get news. (Living in South Germany they charge nearly 50 US$/month for the daily printed newspaper whilst (old) people only want to know the local news titles, who has died etc). ((For now I would keep the newspaper)).
(b) coded buttons to send messages where the people can demand something (maybe a different network as not all need to know what someone needs).
(c) send messages with a simple keyboard etc.

(if there is a better place for this question just move it).

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I think of this as something like a digital community bulletin board. I think I have posted about the idea before. In addition to a larger display offering limited digital services over wifi would be cool.

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This is part of the conversation we’ve had a very long time ago about having an information radiator. The work done in our javascript library and/or python library can enable this sort of effort. Thanks for bringing it up!

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Thanks for the feedback.
Let me try in the 1st step to have a ESP32 with a working VGA connector.

LilyGo already has a ESP32 product with VGA connector

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Thanks Mark. LilyGo. 15 US$. They also have LoRaWAN.
So it could make sense, trying to convince them to have an integrated product with LoRaWAN and VGA/Keyboad/Mouse.
Or is there a solution to combine these two ESP32?
Better ideas are always welcome.

I suspect that the path of least resistance here is to prototype this with an existing Meshtastic device attached to a Windows/Mac/Linux system over the Python API or JavaScript API and render the information on a screen on web browser.

Could even be a modification of the existing web ui.

My 0.02 :slight_smile:

I totally agree with @klausz and I have been thinking about something similar for a long time as well.

My father for example has no interest in technology and struggles with the most basic concepts on the phone and computer. It can be quite frustrating, but I must put myself in his shoes and understand that he came from a time when everything was manual. As he puts it, he just doesn’t ge this “cyber space stuff”, haha.

For that reason, I have come to the same conclusion as @klausz. We need some highly simplified tools that “just work” in a plug and play fashion for those less interested, less inclined, or less capable in the technical details than we are. The UI needs to present very simple controls without 1000 options or menus within menus within menus. We need simple large buttons with a minimum of capabilities.

What do you guys think are the most important things a senior or lay person may wish to do with this while keeping it extremely simple?

Things that come to mind for me are:
1) Send a short message to a desired recipient.
2) Be alerted to a message or response.
3) Send a call for help to all listening devices with a preset message include details such as location, name, age, etc.
4) Maybe a list of brief local news highlights.

Jared

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There are very similar ideas with Jared.
Technically, last night having unsuccessfully tried to create a VGA cable for an ESP32 (could be a minor issue) and having considered SparkFun LoRa Gateway - 1-Channel (ESP32)
now I ordered:

  • ESP32 VGA32 V1.4 Controller PS/2 Mouse And Keyboard Controller Graphics Library and
  • [868MHz SX1276 LoRa Breakout Board, Antenna, Long Range Funkmodul z.B. Arduino and Raspberry Pi]
    which should arrive latest coming monday.
    Either it could be possible
    (1) to connect the LoRa Breakout board with the ESP32 VGA32 (most realistic I won’t manage) or
    (2) make the Heltec rudimentary working with a VGA cable.

Meshtastic does not use LoraWAN, it is Lora p2p

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Not sure if the VGA solution is going to work out of the box, meshtastic has a pretty limited and specific graphics libraries that work with the 1306 OLED and a couple of specific eink screens.

We have heard this simple messaging request before, the code reality is what is being requested is a complete messaging client which then requires a persistent connection via BLE or serial, a database of sent and received messages, DM’s, replies, tapbacks, notifications and a contact screen.

I think as MC Hamster suggested I would look for ways to add a small amount of functionality to an existing client with messaging to facilitate this use case. Maybe working to get the android app supporting landscape and fixing any bugs found when running on the new compatibility layer on windows or install the WebUI as an “app” which you can do with websites in edge.

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“Not sure if the VGA solution is going to work out of the box”

Nearly for sure not. Up to now i never looked into the Meshtastic code. For sure, if, then it should start on a very low level. Maybe some more good ideas come up.

Now that I think of it … may be able to have the vga code run on the second processor core. Second processor is very lightly used, mostly just for the tcp/ip stack.

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I really like what mc-hamster has been saying on this topic.

I understand the stated goals. Any idea to consider when reading about what others have said is splitting the off grid network side of things and displays / interfaces into different devices.

When you start thinking like that a really old laptop could be used a web browser ‘kiosk’ display. Check out something like this: https://johndunning.com/yalpf/

Then the meshtastic device can be placed in the location where it can provide wifi coverage while being in a good sport for the LORA radio to have good long range performance.

And then… You could have more than one display device, or, the best yet, use smart phones as generic interfaces without needing an app download.

A lot of that is really handy for tech limited remote villages, or most of the world after the nukes start flying.

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