Driving and old receipt printer

It seems like receipt printers are pretty popular as hacking targets lately. Aside from the wasted paper, they cooler than plain old blinking LEDs and we’d image there’s a ton of them floating around out there as advances in technology have prompted retailers to trade in the bulky dinosaurs for slimmer thermal printers. [Philip Hayton] picked up this Epson model at some type of equipment sale and set to work figuring out how to control it.

This unit is addressed via a parallel interface. After assessing the pinout and searching a bit for protocol information [Philip] hooked up his Arduino and printed out a fitting first message that reads: “Hello World”. He’s got a few tricks you can learn from when trying to talk to hardware with which you are not well acquainted.

Need a reason to go out and find your own receipt printer? Check out this paper-based gaming system for some inspiration. Now develop your own paper recycling setup and we can file this one under ‘green hacks‘.

[Thanks Andy]


  1. that1guy says:

    Driving and old receipt printer what?

  2. Noodle says:

    In the title, “driving an old”.
    “they cooler than plain old blinking LEDs and we’d image there’s a ton of them floating around out there”, *they’re, *imagine

    Great spellchecking.

  3. lbozz4 says:

    “Driving and old receipt printer”

  4. truthspew says:

    If you can find em’, Eltron label and receipt printers are for the most part all serially driven and you can still find the docs for em’.

  5. xeracy says:

    Judge not a man by the quality of his grammar, but by the contents of his articles…

  6. Hans says:

    Where’s the hack? He has just implemented Centronics, hooray. Nothing new here, not even an attempt to reverse the printer control language, just simple ASCII.

  7. Jax184 says:

    Reminds me of one I got from a hat store. Took a bit of fiddling to figure out, but it eventually worked. I couldn’t think of a use for it at the end though, beyond stuff like http://www.jax184.com/pictures/P1100557s.JPG

  8. patman2700 says:

    Corrections v2

    “and we’d image there’s a ton of them”
    There IS a ton of them?
    “and we’d imagine there are a ton of them”

    I’m surprised Noodle didn’t catch that one.
    Listen, HAD, if you’d like a volunteer assistant editor, I would love to help.

  9. rd says:

    they’re still in use in a many libraries and make me want to tinker when i encounter one that is printing highRes which takes about twice as long as the lowRes mode which is all you need for a receipt.

  10. zigzagjoe says:

    Yeah, this is just a *little* weak. Both in the article and the post on this site.

  11. Dave says:

    Don’t care if it’s a brief overview… I’m inspired to pull a few of these off the shelf and play. :)

  12. M4CGYV3R says:

    Nice. I have a Citizen iDP-3535 here that I could do some fun stuff with.

  13. blue carbuncle says:

    Someone gave Jamarius an OLPC without a phonics monkey. Gonna guess that there are spelling/syntax errors in the code too lol.

  14. Colecoman1982 says:

    Heh, I don’t usually complain about the occasional typo in posts but this one reminded me of reading a spam e-mail selling v1@gr@…

  15. Soundwavehi says:

    Do you folks need a proof reader? Not trolling, I just need a job… Plus I form coherent scribblings quite well.

  16. Soundwavehi says:

    So as not to totally burn Mike, I understand everyone has a different grasp of English. Lots of my friends happen to write the same as they speak. Plus English is complicated as hell for my friends from Denmark. Kinda like those family guy characters that almost pass for American…

    I do enjoy seeing people repurposing old tech, I love that this will undoubtably trigger a wave of receipt printer hacks.

  17. uzerzero says:

    I used that exact model of receipt printer for years when I used to work as a circulation specialist at my school’s library. Working in a library is, oddly enough, very boring, so I discovered lots of interesting features.

    As one commenter mentioned, you can print in low and hi-res modes. The drivers that we used (for XP) also enable it to be used as a printer in any program that supports it, so you could print fairly decent images and text. It was also capable of printing in portrait or landscape mode, although I can’t remember the max character width. My favorite feature was its ability to auto-cut the paper when it was done printing. All in all, a great little printer. I might have to pick one up whenever they decide to upgrade their systems.

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