Re-Using The LCD & Button Assembly From A Broken Inkjet Printer

Canon Pixma Printer Frontpanel Library

Inkjet printers are a dime a dozen. You probably have taken old printers apart to scavenge parts like motors, pulleys, belts, switches, linear rods, power supply, etc. These parts are easy to reuse in other projects, unlike the controller portion of the printer which not as easy to make use of. [Blaupause] has done something very interesting, and it probably ranks in the ‘extreme difficulty’ category for most tinkerers. He has taken the front panel off an otherwise non-working Canon Pixma inkjet printer and has figured out a way to interface with it.

The front panel of this printer has the standard buttons that you would find on any ole printer, but the Pixmas also has a small LCD screen. [Blaupause] has written a library for the Olimexino microcontroller that can communicate with and make use of the repurposed front panel. And the neat part of this project is that the front panel’s on-board processor does the heavy lifting when it comes to displaying images on the LCD screen or checking button states which frees up your microcontroller to do whatever else. Right now, the LCD screen can display bitmaps and supports image transparency. The library can not display video as of yet, but that option is being worked on.

[Blaupause] makes all his hard work available to the public on the project’s Sourceforge page. In addition to the library, he also includes printer panel pinouts and detailed information on how to communicate with the buttons and LCD screen. Video after the break…


[Thanks Pat]

22 thoughts on “Re-Using The LCD & Button Assembly From A Broken Inkjet Printer

  1. Hell yeah, this is a damn useful bit of work. Modern printers are a goldmine for this stuff that very few people have actually exploited so far – and because they all seem designed to fuck up in some expensive way relating to ink within a couple of years, the dumps are full of them.

    HaD should be offering rewards for reverse engineering & open-sourcing stuff like this, it lifts a big pile of scrap electronics back into the “worth something” category and means people don’t have to glue buttons & screens & UI together from scratch every time.

    1. i agree.
      just recently i threw out a 2 year old brother ink printer with a broken printer head.
      tons of usefull stuff in it, unfortunatelly i don’t have the time or the space for all of this right now. i just grabbed the LCD (or OLED ?). unfortunatelly there is no documentation whatsoever for this peace. seems like it’s build by epson but exclusively for brother printers.

    2. Agreed. I love to see threads like this. There’s faaaaaar too much waste in trashed consumer electronics. It had to have come from somewhere, it had to have used things in its construction, it has to go somewhere after it’s ceased being useful… but yet we don’t consider those factors when we manufacture, market, purchase, or dispose. Maybe someday we’ll take that seriously. In the meantime, this kind of creative re-use is a great response!

  2. Nice work, I am sure many of us have some of these set aside from scrapped printers.

    I realize this is not universal, but it does give me the a little bit of confidence knowing that I have not saved them for nil.

  3. I’ve also ripped apart a broken Canon B200 with a dead printer head. But unfortunately neither the CPU nor the flash has any meaningful part designation on them except a canon part number. Anyone knows what CPU is usually used in canon printers? ARM something presumably?

    Would be quite a nice ARM devboard, since it works quite fine without the rest of the printer (PSU, board and display all inclusive). But without any documentation or a second board for destructive testing with some good microscopes and a xray machine, it’s quite impossible to get it running

    1. In any modern printer (not over 15 years old) you will find a ARM processor for sure. Canon uses a “DIGIC”-chip in it’s cameras, i don’t know if they do this in their printers, too, but it’s simply an ARM proc. bundled with some proprierary DSP magic too. (DIGIC is ASIC)

    1. Dont worry, I am still alive and well. It’s really great to see people find this useful after the hard work. (And long time.) So feel free to ask for support in the “Discussion” section on the SourceForge homepage.

  4. How about the display on a HP Photosmart 3310? I have one with a defekt printhead. Scanner still works and it could be used to send FAXes, but without being able to print it’s just taking up a lot of space.

  5. Have two of these in my junkbox, one has bad scanner and the other says the ink cartridge is stuffed when it isn’t.

    Wonder if someone can collect say 25 of these and make a “Predator” style Halloween mask with them?
    That would be cool and OK if you stand reasonable still.

  6. That’s definitely crazy that this guy was able to reuse the LCD screen in the printer, really intuitive! I definitely agree with people that printers should be reused more often because the dumps are full of old printers. My work alone probably has over fifty old broken printers laying around. Maybe I can follow this guys guide on one of them, get it working a different way.

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