Meme investing is all the rage these days, and what better way to get in on the loss fun than with your very own old-timey mechanical stock ticker? Unfortunately, they’re about as expensive and rare as you might expect for a piece of Victorian-era electronics. Lucky for us, [secretbatcave] has shown that you can put together a functional look-alike that costs about as much as a GameStop (GME) share was worth before it started heading to the Moon.
This might seem like an ambitious project, but in actuality the machine only has a few moving parts. There’s a stepper motor to feed the paper, another to spin an inked embossing wheel, and a couple of solenoids attached to a pusher plate. Rather than trying to move the heavy wheel, the pusher plate smashes the paper up into it. The fact that this produces a satisfying “clack” sound as each character is printed is just an added bonus.
To sell the look, [secretbatcave] put the whole mechanism inside a tall glass dome from IKEA. The matching wooden base was extended so the pusher plate solenoids could fit inside, after which it was dunked in ink and sprayed with a gloss sealer to give it that shiny black finish people seemed to love in the 1900s. With the addition of an engraved brass nameplate, it looks like the machine fell out of a time warp.
In terms of electronics, there’s an ESP32, a pair of stepper motor controllers, and a relay for the solenoids. As of right now it all lives in a rather utilitarian box that’s tethered to the ticker, but we’re sure the lot could get tucked under the base with the help of a custom PCB should you be so inclined.
With an ESP32 at the helm, the ticker could easily be configured to print out whatever data it receives over the network or picks up from MQTT. With hardware like this and a pair of Diamond Hands, those tendies are as good as yours.
[Ames]’s father has had an old stock ticker sitting on a shelf for some time. He may have become quite listless over his spring break, because he decided connect a century-old stock ticker to his laptop.
When stock tickers were in use, they were all connected to a stock ticker circuit that would broadcast stock prices as a sequence of pulses. For each of these pulses, the letter wheel would advance by one character and finally print the letter with a great ca-thunk. Because stock tickers are incredibly simple devices – just a few solenoids and a couple of gears – [Ames] knew it would be relatively easy to connect one to his laptop.
[Ames]’ tool of choice for moving electrons back and forth in a wire is an Arduino, with none handy he needed to rig up something with the tools available on hand. [Ames] took a USB FTDI serial port connected the flow control lines to his ticker. A pair of MOSFETS and a tiny Python script advances the letter wheel and prints on the paper tape, a success by any measure.
After the break, you can see [Ames]’ stock ticker going about its antique machinations for the first time in possibly a hundred years. Not bad for a something put together over spring break.
Maybe we’re a little bitter because we held on to our pumpkin futures well into November, but we’ve got to respect [Nick]’s stock ticker ornament. It’s an Internet-connected Christmas ornament that queries stock prices and displays the change with an RGB LED.
The build uses a Propeller Platform USB and the Propeller E-Net Module to pull stock quotes down from Google. With the attached source, selecting any traded company is easy enough; all that’s needed is to select a company is changing a line in the code. The Propeller pulls the quote every 30 seconds during the trading day, and parses it into a ‘percent changed’ format. The ornament glows red if the change is more than a 4% negative change, green for within 0.2% of open, and blue if more than a 4% positive change.
[Nick] is more of a ‘set it and forget it’ investor, so this ornament is a handy, passive way to keep an eye on his investments. Check out the demo vid after the break.