Poor man's DIY little printer
I wanted the Berg Little Printer ever since they announced it, which I think was about a year ago. I loved the idea of having something tangible, and yet ephemeral, like little pieces of paper, printed on demand. I loved that it brought some finiteness to a digital realm that otherwise seemed infinite.
And then reality hit. They announced a price of £199, which at today’s conversion rate works out to approximately $320. Love it as I may, that was too much for a printer. For comparison, the cool new Nexus 7 was only $199.
And thus was born my weekend DIY project to build me my own little printer.
These were the ingredients:
- some cheap thermal point-of-sale (POS) printer I found on Amazon. $51
- pack of 24 rolls of 2.25 inch, 85 ft thermal paper. $9
- Python code for outputting to POS printers.
- My own little scripts for fetching RSS feeds and outputting them in various formats, now updated to output ESC-POS format.
Total money spent: $60.
Because I was doing this on my MacBook and I had trouble finding the Python USB libs, I had to fork and hack the Python escpos code to output to files instead of sending directly to USB. This also let me decouple the fetch/format stage from the actual printing.
On MacOS X, install it as a generic printer, and then print to it using lpr. The scripts will output files in the ESC-POS format, which you can send directly to the printer:
lpr -P posprinter -l nytpic.prn
Now this is certainly not as polished and convenient as what Berg is offering, but at less than one-fifth of the price, I humbly contend that it gets you much more than one-fifth of the way there.