one pin diy dot matrix printer

I’m pretty sure that in 1986 all I wanted was a new pair of hi-tops. While I was hoping for new shoes, [Matthias] built this printer for his commodore 64 using a ball point pin and a solenoid to form a hybrid plotter/one pin dot matrix. If you’ve got a few minutes, [Matthias] has quite a few interesting hacks on his site.


  1. curious george says:

    Heh I wonder if this can be adapted to make tatoos on your arm. Done in five minutes!

  2. bird603568 says:

    sweet updated before midnight. too bad it cant make music

  3. Wow, this hack is just insane.
    The hugely complex DIY involved.
    Also, I think you meant ball point pen, not pin,but no biggy.

  4. Ziggit says:

    I remember coming across this a while back, I’ve always wanted to try it, but haven’t ever gotten to, maybe I can try using a floppy drive instead of the solenoid seeing as they are super abundant

  5. Tom says:

    Is it really a dot MATRIX printer if there’s only one pin? :-)

  6. agent420 says:

    Gotta love Fischertechnik for mechanical prototyping!

    I wonder if he got his ideas from the Fischertechnik Plotter kit from 1985 (they also offered a simpler version way back in ’77)…

  7. thetable says:

    The whole site is well worth spending some time at. Dude seriously must have way too much time to create some of the crazy stuff.

  8. stillboy says:

    Hey, check out his brother’s site too– he has a pretty good writeup on his build of a cnc pcb router.

    and this: mechanical pong –

  9. Groxx says:

    @Tom: you can have 1-element matrices, so yeah.

  10. drew says:

    i was going to build something like that once but with a led pencil and then make a text fort that was copied from my hand writing then i could write papers for school and type them with spell check and other stuff like that you should consider trying something like that i would like to see how it turns out.

  11. austin y, says:

    what time zone are you in will? because it’s 12:47 am where i’m at and i don’t see the next days hack ;)

  12. Ishkabibble says:

    Yes, it is. “Matrix” refers to the patterns of dots making up characters. It has nothing to do with pin configuration of the head.

    If it did, even real matrix printers wouldn’t be considered “matrix” printers, because their pins comprise a single, vertical line, not a grid.

    Tom said:
    >Is it really a dot MATRIX printer if there’s only >one pin? :-)

  13. Chris says:

    Back in the day I had a Silver Reed EXP 400 “Daisy Wheel” printer. I could print flowcharts on it. It did that by using only the “period” to bang out the lines. Of course printing out a 1 page text only resume took 7 min so you can imagine how long it took to print a one page flow chart.

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