Printing anything with a thermal receipt printer

Over the last year, [James] has been a part of a few commercial projects that used a thermal receipt printer as part of the build. Something must have cracked in his mind, because [James] spent a lot of time developing a way to print customized content on receipt printers, connecting these printers to the Internet, and sharing content with other Internet-connected receipt printers. Even [James] doesn’t know why he spent so much time on this project; [James] figured he was bound to find something interesting. We’ve got to commend him for that.

[James] had been aware of the Adafruit Thermal Printer Library, but this library is a little kludgy. Text is the Adafruit Library’s forte, and while graphics and non-ASCII characters are possible they’re certainly not easy to print with the existing libraries. With his current system based on HTML, CSS, and Javascript, [James] has a really easy way to print anything he can put on a webpage on receipt paper.

Getting his receipt printer onto the Internet had its own challenges. After wrangling with the Arduino Ethernet library through the month of February, [James] realized larger prints (about 15cm of paper) would fail inexplicably. To get around this, [James] wrote an HTTP client for the Arduino that would fetch data, put it on the SD card, and then start printing.

Right now, [James]’ project is a polished as anyone could hope. We’re a bit concerned – although we completely understand –  that he could get sucked into the black hole of pointless development of receipt printer software so easily. All was not for naught, though; now anyone can make very professional-looking prints on receipt paper very easily.

Twittertape machine keeps track of your social media stock.

During the gilded age, oil magnates, entrepreneurs, and robber barons would have a ticker tape machine in their study. This machine would print stock and commodity prices and chart these men’s assets climbing higher and higher. A lot has changed in 100 years, as now [Adam] can be kept apprised of what @KimKardashian, @BarackObama and @stephenfry ate for breakfast with his Twittertape machine.

Interestingly, [Adam]’s build didn’t start off as a tarnished lump of 100-year-old brass; he built his beautiful ticker machine out of old clock movements he picked up on eBay. Even though the shiny part of the build only holds the roll of paper, it’s still a wonderful build. Right now the machine is connected to Ethernet, but he’s planning on adding WiFi and a few batteries for a completely wireless build.

Unlike the other ticker tape machine we saw this week, [Adam] did away with the loud clashing of gears and solenoids found in 100-year-old ticker machines. This ticker machine prints on cash register receipt paper and a very small thermal printer in the base. Although [Adam]’s build doesn’t sound like two robots trading blows, there’s no ink needed and no danger of the letter wheel becoming misaligned and misspelling everything.

Check out [Adam]’s build in action after the break.

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Link spam your friends with printed QR codes

qr_printer_sharing_links

While [Oryx] is down with social media like Facebook and Twitter, there are times when he wants to share things with people he is hanging out with in the real world. Sure, he could always email his friends links to the latest video of a cat doing something totally hilarious, but he wanted something a bit more tangible.

He had a small thermal printer from SparkFun kicking around, and thought it would be the ideal medium for sharing things with others. He sat down and put together a bit of code that allows him to interface the printer with his computer, generating QR codes from his web browser with the simple click of a button. Now, when he wants to pass something along to a friend, he can quickly print out a label bearing both a QR code and URL for easy access later on.

All in all it’s an interesting idea, though we would be curious to see what would happen if we handed our non-techie friends a printed QR code.

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.

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Arduino based thermal printer

[Manuel] built his own thermal printer based around an Arduino. We’re a bit confused about the parts, his webpage specifies an EFA-1019HW2 print head but the bill of materials on his github shows EPT-1019W2. We can’t find a source for either product number, but we did find similar thermal line printers for as low as $32.00. The controller boards on the other hand look to be around $150 so building your own is a definite win. [Manuel’s] version can print 96 points and has a font set that prints 32 characters per line. Check out the video after the break and let us know if the noise of the print head is a deal killer for you.

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