Standalone printer display hack


[Sprite_tm] sent us his latest project. He has found a way to display custom messages on a laserjet printer without a computer.   He’s using an ATTiny2313 to send signals through a parallel port. This project is so cheap and quick to install it could be disposable. Just program your message before hand, pop it on and walk away.


  1. rsolmn says:

    I’m sure thatguy or gal wasn’t happy.

  2. corn brown says:

    cool except…you’ll have to travel back to 1996 to use it in a widespread manner.

  3. Coderer says:

    @corn brown: you’ve never worked with a government office, have you? We’ll have parallel ports when your grandkids are waiting in line at the DMV.

  4. mike says:

    I work in a municipal government office, and a new printer is a big thing, meaning entire departments will spend a year or 2 analyzing things then put it in the budget and get something mediocre that will be good for a couple years and need replaced, and then 10 years later they realize how old this “new” printer is. (yes, we do have old parallel stuff, shoot we still have a few tractor feed printers)

  5. anonymous coward says:

    Student: Can I get change for a dollar.
    Helpdesk: There’s a change machine next to the vending machines.
    Student: I know, but I need change for the printer.
    Helpdesk: ???
    Student: It says “INSERT COIN”
    Backoffice techs: [giggle]

  6. Jon says:

    This website ( has a little perl script for changing the display over the network.

    It works, I’ve tried it. Many offices use HP network printers.

  7. amk says:

    neat. it wouldn’t be terribly difficult to adapt this idea to work over USB, for those of us who don’t work in government offices.

  8. Jack says:

    ‘PC load letter?’ what the fuck??

  9. _matt says:

    “Please plug me in before printing”
    “Go away”
    “Press ctrl-alt-delete to begin”
    “Place keyboard on head then select paper size”
    “How do I printed paper?”

    The possibilities are endless

  10. ArtemisGoldfish says:

    I have an HP Laserjet 5 (got from Salvation Army, $5. Works great, too) and I’m gonna see if I can get this to work through the serial port instead.

  11. y8 says:

    “Please plug me in before printing”
    “Go away”
    “Press ctrl-alt-delete to begin”
    “Place keyboard on head then select paper size”
    “How do I printed paper?”

  12. eMpTy says:

    ascii tongue anyone?

  13. Josh says:

    lp0 on fire

  14. null says:

    @ #6 – jon

    No need to download little programs to do this…
    Telnet onto port 9100, type @PJL RDYMSG DISPLAY=”MESSAGE”
    Simple as that.

  15. EZ Computers says:

    very cool idea, only problem is that no printers use parallel ports now a days…

  16. dazzam says:

    @jon ( and @null)

    be aware that @PJL needs to be in capitals when using telnet to change the display.

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