RSS Printer Gives You The Hard Copy News You Desire

The days of yore saw telex machines and dot-matrix printers with continuous feed paper churning out data in hardcopy form in offices around the world. [Jan Derogee] wanted a bit of that old-school charm, and set about building a RSS news printer using a venerable old printer in his possession. 

The build relies on an ESP8266, with the WiFi-enabled microcontroller readily capable of jumping online and querying RSS feeds for content. It scrapes the XML files for title, description, and publication date information, and formats this for output to the printer. The microcontroller then spits out the data over a Commodore serial interface to a Brother HR-5C printer. Unlike dot-matrix printers of its contemporary era, the HR-5C is a thermal printer. Once loaded up with a roll of the appropriate paper, it can print continuously without requiring any hard-to-source ink ribbons.

Armed with a continuous supply of wireless internet and 210 mm rolls of thermal printer paper, [Jan]’s system should provide news summaries to him for years to come. We’ve seen similar retro news ticker projects before, too. Video after the break.

23 thoughts on “RSS Printer Gives You The Hard Copy News You Desire

          1. But do you need a carbon copy for a RSS feed? I don’t deny that dot matrix printers exist and have a very real use (accounting also needs cc for checks)

            I’m saying for reading the news.

            Who here prefers a newspaper to scrolling through bookmarks while you poop?

      1. Here in Germany, medical practices still use old style printers (needle/typewriter) for receipts and medical transfers. Some modern models even have USB ports by now. These needle printers etc. also allow for carbon copies. In Germany, medical practices usually don’t have those label printers that are apparently common in the US. Medication also isn’t stored in brown plastic bottles with custom labels for each patient. Patients rather take the printed receipts to their apothecary of choice themselves and get their medication in the original/sealed cardboard box in return. I know, seems very old-school. 😅

        Some pictures are shown here:

  1. Nice! The only thing missing is the noise of the dot matrix printer …. or, better still, the clatter of the teletype. For some reason, I find myself wondering if each printed character could be accompanied by an appropriate DMP head “buzz”.

    Oh, the possibilities…….

  2. When I was in my early 20’s I was employed while still in school in engineering at an FM/AM radio station near Knoxville. They had a UPI and AP teletype both that would chatter all day with the latest (presumably real) news. I remember walking by and there was a news alert that Reagan had just been shot. I quickly tore it off and brought it to the FM newsroom. I guess we were the first to broadcast that news from our area. Much better in my opinion than the Shinola we get off the internet…

    1. Do you recall if they 5 level (Baudot) or ASCII? ISTR they were very old machines, which would mean 5 level…but supply problems might have forced a change to ASCII

    2. RTTY news can still be received via internet.
      Just connect your old Baudot machine to your soundcard (through an appropriate interface) and enjoy the old days.
      – But remember that there were high/low tones! ;)

      A web radio may also do, of course.
      The news aren’t outdated, by the way. It still has a purpose.


  3. Reconstructing a previously printed picture from by analyzing the negative imprints on the thermal transfer ribbon is something that you don’t see everyday, but isn’t difficult at all. The video demonstrates how this can be done after the 6 minute mark. I wonder if this has been by other hackers too? I also wonder if somebody already made a tool to do this automatically?

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.