Thermal printers have gotten (again) very popular in the last few months; lots of people seem to be quite interested in having relevant info pop up on a little reel of thermal paper instead of in phone alerts or the like. Take a look:

BERG made the Little Printer, which is sort of unbearably cute. You need a little hub to get your printer connected to the internet.

Adafruit did an ethernet printer project kit with a slick enclosure, built on arduino with an ethernet shield. Then they built a wireless one built on Raspberry Pi.

Sparkfun's done a component pack for a USB-connected thermal printer, too.

Lots of printers. And as objectively silly as it feels to channel various data away from the tailored interfaces I'm used to on my phone or computer, I found myself really wanting one as well. Why not have the weather forecast waiting on a little slip of paper by the closet door, or build an old-school stock ticker that reels off prices onto a big heap of paper tape, or have my desk spit out a list of my meetings for the day when I get in in the morning? Sure, it's technically old-school, but something about it just feels so... future.

Not that I needed much more of a push at this point, but here it does come into play that building one of these with an electric imp is easier that falling off a log. I mean solder-five-wires easy. I mean no external components. Don't cancel your weekend project in favor of this one. Do this one on saturday morning while you're having your coffee, and have it print encouraging messages for you while you're refinishing the deck or changing your oil or building an arc or what have you. You'll have time.

Step 1: imPrinter: what you'll need

Let's have a look at what you'll need to build the imPrinter. This one's a short list.
  1. The printer (obviously). You probably need paper and a power supply, too. You'll need a 5V, 2A wall wart to run your printer, and Adafruit's got that packed up with paper and a printer and cables that conveniently already match the sockets on the printer. You even get a nice barrel jack adapter, so you don't need to lop the end off your power supply and solder it to the imp breakout board. $61.95 for this, or you can get the pieces separately for a bit more
  2. The imp. If you're already putting in an Adafruit order, you can add this to it. Sparkfun's got them too. $29.95.
  3. The imp breakout board. This essential bit provides the imp with it's 3.3V supply (the breakout runs off of 6 to 17 volts DC), gives you access to the imp's pins, and has nice 0.1" pitch holes, which fits perfectly into a standard breadboard, if you're into that sort of thing. Adafruit and Sparkfun both have them. $12.50
That was a quick shopping trip. You'll need some tools, too - make sure you've got:
  1. Wire cutters
  2. Wire strippers (probably you've got one tool for 1 and 2, and that's just fine)
  3. A soldering iron and some solder
  4. Perhaps a bit of foam tape, if you want to pack it all up nicely.
  5. A computer to program the imp with (any OS is fine; you just need a browser other than IE)
  6. A smartphone, android or iOS, to use blinkUp to configure your imp.
Alright, let's build this thing before your coffee gets cold.
<p>Thanks! With these instructions I managed to make myself an Imprinter too! Keep on providing these good INSTRUCTables please!</p>
<p>Hey <a href="/member/r00ntje/" rel="nofollow">r00ntje</a> I made this printer too but I have some trouble making this work for more than one line and about 20 characters, none of the styles works neither the image, could you help me?, if needed I would pay your time, thanks in advance</p>
Very cool! Excellently detailed instructions.
<p>The device log reads printer ready and then nothing happens. I'm new to the imp and I can't figure out what's wrong. please help</p>
<p>Hi Tombrew. I try to compile the index.html with adobe dreamworks but when I do it and open the file with chrome I only get the oringinal code. What do I do wrong</p><p>Plz HELP.</p>
What is the name of the laser printer you used?
<p>It's actually a thermal printer. I linked to it in the instructable; it's this one: http://www.adafruit.com/products/600</p>
Why is internet toaster in the create a new model?
<p>Just happened to be the screen shot I had ;)</p>

About This Instructable


287 favorites


Bio: Developer at Electric Imp
More by tombrew: NeoWeather: Ambient Weather Indicator Imp Chef: Internet-Connected BBQ Thermometer imPrinter: the Electric Imp wireless, internet-connected thermal printer
Add instructable to: