Hacking a Brother thermal printer to use non-OEM continuous rolls

You can get your hands on a Brother thermal label printer for $65-75. But if you don’t want to buy the Brother branded continuous feed paper for it you’re out of luck. Unless you pull off this hack which lets you use any thermal paper you want with a Brother QL-500 printer.

The printer is tied to the OEM paper because of a pattern printed on the back of the roll. It’s basically an encoder strip made up of black rectangles spaced at regular intervals. Surely there are other brands that come with this pattern on them, but if you want to use paper without it the secret is in moving the sensor that reads that strip.

The brilliant solution is to use one of the white feed-gears as an encoder wheel. [CheapSkateVideo] used a magic marker to paint two opposite quarters of the gear black. He then removed the optical sensor and placed it on the side of the case facing the wheel. It needs to be adjusted along the radius of that gear until the timing is just right, but once it is you’re ready to go. The sensor is a safety feature to ensure there is media in the printer. If there’s not you can burn up the print head so keep that in mind. See the explanation in the video after the break.

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Modifying a servo for continuous rotation

[robomaniac] shows us how to modify a standard servo to allow continuous rotation. This is a classic robotics hack and has been around for a while, but we really like the way he put this together. Although you may need some soldering and desoldering tools to open the servo up, the hack is a physical one. All you really need to do is cut off a plastic tab on one of the gears. If you want to see an example of a bot you can build with one of these CR servos, he just posted this one motor walker.

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