Your snapshot on a thermal printed receipt, instantly!

What could be better than a low-res black and white photograph printed instantly on paper that will yellow and crumple over time? Wow, we really need to work on our sales pitch. But all kidding aside, we love the idea that [Niklas Roy] came up with in order to build this thermal printing camera.

His Picasa album has two snapshots of the hardware. He’s using an LM1881 for video sync separation just like he did with his PING project. From there an ATmega8 microcontroller grabs each column from the image and prints it using the thermal printer. It looks like everything runs on a 9V battery which is nice for portability (although we still never got our hands on that rechargeable 9V we’ve been meaning to pick up). Perhaps just as impressive is that [Niklas] got this up and running with about 400 lines of code. Nice!

Of course you’ll want to see this in action so we’ve placed a video clip after the break. Just like old-timey cameras it looks like you’re going to need to sit still until the image is done printing.


  1. willow says:

    This is very awesome.. love the idea and re-use of material

  2. Aleks Clark says:

    it looks like an AT-AT. MAKE IT WALK

  3. Tweeks says:

    Wow.. Talk about time lapse.. :)


  4. pdrift says:

    ok now someone figure out how to do this using that msp430 dev board that was on sale for half price and a gameboy printer…

    oh yeah put up your step by step instructions and code also…

    seriously though these types of projects are too awesome! I hope to be able to make cool shit like this someday..

  5. sp00nix says:

    Smile! You’re on gameboy camera!

  6. kalleguld says:

    Nice and lo-tech. Reminds me of a poloaid camea. It could use a stick of memory, though, so you wouldn’t have to sit still while it’s printing.

  7. zigzagjoe says:

    Neat camera.

    Though, it’s highly unlikely that the thermal printer is powered by a 9v – they require a lot of current to work. 9v are best for high voltage and little current use.

    The black box under the roll of paper is likely some sort of lead acid or lion battery pack to power it.

  8. Nice, I was thinking along these lines for making a “poor man’s label printer” to replace the £70 Dymo I broke the other day.

    Hint:- motors don’t like running into virtual brick walls, all you hear is ScrGRRREEESCRSCRRRUNCH as the gearbox converts itself into plastic shrapnel.

    One broken Epson Pre-Cambrian parallel label printer head, and some code (thanks to this guy as it makes things a lot easier) and a USB host device and it ought to work.

    using a camera is pretty ingenious, has the OP considered underclocking it a bit to increase the signal in low light conditions?

  9. Niklas says:

    “The black box under the roll of paper is likely some sort of lead acid or lion battery pack to power it.”

    Yes, 6V lead-acid. 9V was nice small, but finished after printing five images. With this battery it works really long now.

    “using a camera is pretty ingenious, has the OP considered underclocking it a bit to increase the signal in low light conditions?”

    Brilliant idea. Haven’t thought of it.

  10. Jax184 says:

    The computer recycling company I work at (Free Geek Vancouver) was once given a commercial camera that worked just like this. It was from the 1980s and was intended to be used to capture stuff written on whiteboards. I have no idea what it was actually being used from, but it had an A&W asset tag on it.

  11. 1000100 1000001 1010110 1000101 says:

    Very nice

  12. vonskippy says:

    Your portrait printed while you wait…
    and wait…
    and wait…
    and wait…
    still waiting…
    and wait…
    and wait…
    and wait so more…
    and wait longer…
    more waiting…
    did I mention you need to wait…
    and wait…
    and wait…

  13. Mike says:

    Awesome project idea, but 3 mins wait is definitely too long. Think I’ll attempt this one too, got an old label printer at work I can use.

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