Spamming a label printer with #cookiehammer

[John] has always loved stock ticker machines. These machines are highly collectible, so short of finding one that wasn’t hurled from a Manhattan skyscraper in 1929, a stock ticker is out of reach for the casual enthusiast. There is another way to get a stock ticker-like device though: hack a label printer to print out stuff from Twitter.

The build is really quite simple. A Dymo thermal label printer was modified to accept standard 2.25″ point of sale receipt paper. Now that the printer can shoot out line after line of text, [John] wrote a little bit of Ruby code using a Twitter API, RMagick for graphics processing and a Dymo printer driver.

Every 30 seconds, the code does a Twitter search for a specific hashtag and prints those tweets. #cookiehammer was the first thing that came to mind, so it stuck. Right now there’s a few tweets for #cookiehammer, but we expect [John] will have to put a new roll of paper in his printer fairly soon.

It may not be as informative as a stock ticker machine, but we think [John]‘s twitter printer build sure beats watching CNN. Check out the walk through after the break.

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The Water Calligraphy Tricycle

Many westerners visiting or living in China may observe the art of “water calligraphy” and some may even try to imitate it. However, media artist [Nicholas Hanna] decided to take a totally new approach and make his own water painting machine.

Someone less creative would have devised some imitation of a human, but [Nicholas] decided to totally rethink the process in the form of a tricycle.  Using 16 PC-controlled water solenoids, this tricycle is turned into a sort of moving dot matrix printer. It doesn’t have the same sort of grace that the traditional Chinese art does, but it’s quite a bit faster, so if you want to get your message out, this might have some practical applications.

The post doesn’t go into the electronics, but the video after the break includes some close-ups and video of [Nicholas] assembling the device. If you happen to be in china, his tricycle is part of an event for “Beijing Design Week” at the Northern Electric Relay Factory until October 3rd.

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Receipt racer wastes a lot of paper

[Joshua Nobel] and the team at undef came up with a receipt printer game for the OFFF 2011 festival in Barcelona.

The game is a small openFrameworks app that prints a maze on a thermal printer. A ‘car’ is guided through the maze with input taken from a DualShock 3 controller. The game is limited to a maximum distance of 50 meters, the length of the roll of paper. We wondered about the waste of paper this would be until undef pointed out, “ecologically it’s pretty much a disaster, just like any real car.”

The undef team tried to use the printer for the entire visual representation of the game but that didn’t quite work out until [Joshua Noble] came up with a ‘beamer’ to project the car and score onto the paper. We’re not quite sure what the ‘beamer’ is, but everything syncs up and the resulting game is quite nice.

The game itself reminds us of a certain flash game, but that can’t be where the original idea came from. Check out the Receipt Racer gameplay video after the break.

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DIY inkjet printer begs to be hacked

diy_inkjet

[Nicholas C Lewis, Patrick Hannan, Jared Knutzen, and Joy Markham], students from the University of Washington, have recently taken the wraps off a project which they have been collaborating on, a DIY inkjet printer. The group set out to construct a low cost, open source inkjet printer for personal use that utilizes standard inkjet technology. Their working prototype, pictured above, satisfies all of those requirements, making it an ideal device for the at-home hobbyist.

The printer was constructed from easy to obtain components such as steel rods and stepper motors, along with other parts that can be printed using a RepRap or similar machine. An Arduino Mega manages the steppers and repurposed print head, recreating whatever Processing-generated image it has been given.

The printer is quite a hit so far, and people are already talking about adapting the design to print on spherical objects (think EggBot), to create direct etch resist PCBs, and more. We think it would make a great direct to garment printer with just a few small tweaks.

Check out the short video embedded below to see the printer in action.

[via Make]

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Xerox Phaser drum unit hacked, lives to print another day

Faced with a printer that would stop printing for no apparent reason, Finnish pirate and hacker [Janne] decided he had had enough. After doing a bit of research, he disassembled the drum assembly and replaced some components. The end result? Supposedly ‘broken’ printers started working again.

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K’nex whiteboard plotter

knex_plotter

[Jerry] has been wanting to put together a whiteboard plotter for some time and just recently got around to building one.

The plotter draws pretty much about anything he can imagine on a white board measuring just shy of 2′ x 3′. The design first started off with a Basic Stamp board at the helm, which he sourced from another project he no longer had any use for. The Stamp worked for awhile, but eventually he ran into problems due to the board’s limited 128 bytes of program space. Needing a more robust micro controller, he switched to an Arduino mid-project, which he says runs the plotter far faster than the Stamp ever did.

The plotter uses a pair of stepper motors mounted on a horizontal platform situated above the whiteboard. Much like this large-format printer we featured earlier this week, the steppers vary the length of a pair of fishing lines, moving the pen precisely across the board.  As you can see in the image above, [Jerry] has been able to create some pretty intricate patterns with his plotter, and we imagine they will only get better with more refinement.

Be sure to check out his site for more details on his build process as well as several additional samples of the plotter’s capabilities.

Redeye Printer Interface

This handy printer interface started out as a request on our very own forums when forum member [victorf] needed some output via thermal printers. He had scored a number of HP82240B thermal printers intended for use with HP calculators, but of course they used the somewhat arcane HP protocol first drafted in the 1960′s and needed some help.

Fellow forum member [wireb] started to look into it, found out it uses a standard 32KHz carrier signal, and started asking questions about its use. Grabbing a pdf of the manual he was able to find out all the details to what the printer was expecting in the form of communications.

After a few weeks, [wireb] was able to make a convenient, logic level serial to HP-IR adapter based around a PIC16F1824 who’s firmware supports 9600 8N1 or 2400 8N1 speeds, ASCII text, and the printer’s “advanced” graphical modes via escape sequences.

If you have not checked out our forums yet we suggest you do!