[Woz] prints and spend his own $2 bills

[Steve Wozniak's] damn the man, devil may care attitude continues to show with this recent interview. Here he shows off the pad of $2 bills he had made up. He’ll sell one sheet of them to you for $5. Do you think that’s a scam? He say’s “you’d be an idiot not to buy it for five bucks” and after we dug a little deeper, he’s right.

Now, you really need to watch the video after the break before you read the rest of this feature. Trust us, it’s extremely entertaining. [Woz] mentions that he hired a local printer to make the pads for him, but he got the paper from a high-quality print shop. They meet the specs of the federal government and by law they’re legal tender. Each pad has a page of four bills which can be torn off of the gummed top, and there are perforations between each bill for easy separation.

Nothing illegal is going on here. We followed one of the YouTube commentor’s links to this article [Woz] wrote about his $2 bill exploits. The high-quality printer he buys the paper from is the Bureau of Printing and Engraving. He buys the bills in sheets and pays a premium for that option. Each $2 bill costs him $3. But the fun he’s had over the years is probably worth it.

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Tearing through floppy drives to build a small-format dot matrix printer

The accuracy which [Mario] achieved in his pen plotter dot matrix printer is very remarkable. He tore through a pile of floppy drives to get the parts he wanted, and chose to go with a fine-point Sharpie marker as a print head. In the video after the break he flatters us with a printout of the Hackaday logo, but you also get a look at one problem with the build. The ink doesn’t always flow from the felt tip and he has to coax it (almost like priming a pump) with a piece of scrap paper.

He was inspired by the pen printer we featured back in June. This rendition features a printing area of 1.5×1.5 inches that can accommodate 120×120 black and white pixels. He’s not a microcontroller type of guy and is driving the printer from the parallel port of his computer.

The best printing technique puts the pen down and moves it around just a bit (helps prevent the ink flow problem we mentioned earlier) and produces images like one in the lower right. We love the 8-bit nature of the result and would use this all the time to make our own greeting cards.

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Self-feeding pen printer

At first look we thought this was a plotter, but it’s really more of a dot matrix (or line matrix) printer. [Bruno] whipped this up using parts from a DVD optical drive. It is capable of moving the pen along the Z and X axes, and feeding the paper along the Y axis.

The video after the break shows the machine printing Megaman, an image perfectly suited to the low-resolution pixels this can put out. But even without the high-pixel counts you might get from a thermal printer, we just love the look of this one. And who doesn’t have an optical drive sitting around just waiting to be hacked? It looks like the one part you’re going to have to source is the stepper motor and geared feed wheel that moves the paper.

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Turning an IBM Selectric into a printer.

In the days when computers took up an entire room, a CRT monitor was a luxury. Most of the time, input and output was handled with a teletype – a typewriter connected directly to the computer. [Josh] wanted his own typewriter terminal, so he took apart an IBM Selectric II and got to work.

Instead of an electronic keyboard, the IBM Selectric II uses and electromechanical keyboard to tilt and rotate the Selectric’s typeball. In normal operation, a series of shafts underneath the keyboard are engaged. [Josh] added parts of an erector set to those levers and tied each one to one of 16 solenoids.

With a set of solenoids able to print any key with the help of an Arduino, [Josh] had a fully automated typewriter from the early 1970s. [Josh has been printing out a lot of ASCII art lately in preparation for the Kansas City Maker Faire later this month. You can check out the build videos after the break.

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Free Linux computer from a printer’s WiFi card

Whether it’s building a 3D scanning system with a Kinect, or using a USB TV tuner dongle for software defined radio, there are a lot of interesting off-schedule uses for commodity hardware. The latest comes from the fruitful mind of [sjMoquin] and a Lexmark N2050 WiFi card that runs Linux.

This build started off with a Lexmark X6570 all-in-one printer available for about $100 USD on eBay. This printer comes packaged with a Lexmark N2050 WiFi card running BusyBox. After soldering a few wires to the USB/UART pins on the N2050, [sjMoquin] had a very cheap but highly useful single board computer running Linux.

There is still a little more work to be done – the WiFi and USB on the N2050 aren’t currently supported. [sjMoquin] and [Julia Longtin] are working on that, so a fully functional embedded Linux board based on a printer’s WiFi card should be available soon. It might be time to hit up eBay for a few of these cards, you know.

Your mug on an Etch a Sketch — automatically

[Jim's] pretty serious about his Etch a Sketch. He’s gone to the trouble of building a rig that will automatically render a photograph as Etch a Sketch art. Do you recognize the US political figure being plotted in this image? He actually cracks these open and removes all of the internals to preserve the artwork when the reassembled body is ready to be hung on a wall. But we like it for the hacker-friendly interface techniques he used.

He moves the knobs using a pair of stepper motors. They attach thanks to a pair of 3D printed gears he modeled which go over the stock knobs and secure with four set screws. He says he can be up and printing in five minutes using these along with the MDF jig that holds the body and the motors.

He converts photos to 1-bit images, then runs them through ImageMagick to convert them into a text file. A Python script parses that text, sending appropriate commands to an Arduino which drives the motors. The image is drawn much like a scanning CRT monitor. The stylus tracks one horizontal line at a time, drawing a squiggle if the pixel should be black, or skipping it if it should be white.

We wish there was a video of the printing process. Since we didn’t find one, there’s a bonus project unrelated to this one after the break. It’s an Etch a Sketch clock.

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Printing PCBs on a junked Epson printer

When it comes to making PCBs at home really quickly, there’s not much to improve upon with [Ryan]‘s bodged up Epson printer that prints an etch mask directly on a piece of copper clad board.

Like most of the direct to copper PCB printer conversions we’ve covered ( 1, 2, 3 ), [Ryan]‘s build relied on an Epson printer and Mis Pro yellow ink. The Mis Pro ink is one of the most etch-resistive substances that can be shot out of an inkjet printer, and Epson printer cartridges use a piezo pump that is perfect for squirting ink out on command.

After tearing the printer apart and lifting the print head a bit, [Ryan] needed a proper feed system to control where on the copper he was printing. He managed to make a board carrier out of a sheet of aluminum. By taping down the copper clad board, everything seems to work phenomenally.

After the break you can check out how fast [Ryan] can print out a fully etch-resisted PCB. It’s not improbable that he could produce a few dozen boards an hour; something our toner transfer PCB production method would kill for.

via makezine

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