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This page should make it easier for you to get all the parts you need to easily make a compatible printer. Note that there are many different ways to do this -- what is presented below is only one way.
If you know of a different supplier for anything, please do add them to this wiki page!
Thermal Printer ($50/£35)
If you want to do as little software development as possible, you'll want the "A2" thermal printer that has appeared in a bunch of electronics shops lately:
- Adafruit (Adafruit also sell a starter pack which includes a US power supply and some paper)
- Cool Components
If you already have a thermal printer of a different kind, and are happy write a Print Processor class for the server (be sure to submit a pull request!), you can just use that.
I have run the sketch against an Arduino Uno + Ethernet Shield, and an Arduino Ethernet board. While the Arduino + Shield is more flexible, the single Arduino Ethernet is cheaper.
Arduino Uno + Ethernet Shield ($75/£55)
- Sparkfun Arduino + Shield
- Adafruit Arduino + Shield
- Cool Components Arduino + Shield
- Oomlout Arduino + Shield
- Proto-PIC Arduino + Shield
- RS Components Arduino + Shield
This costs around $30 or £20 for the most recent Uno, and $45 or £35 for the ethernet shield. For both, thats $75 or £55 in total.
Make sure you get an Ethernet shield that has an SD card slot, as we'll need to use that as temporary storage. RS Components seem to have the best prices at the moment - £17 for the Arduino, and £25 for the shield.
or... Arduino Ethernet ($65/£33-£42)
Arduino also make a combined Ardunio + Ethernet + SD card board, which is more compact than the Arduino + Shield open, and also slightly cheaper.
This board should cost around $65 or £42 (though RS Components seem to have it for £33 at the moment).
Other boards and controllers
There's no reason why you can't use a different controller board, such as the Nanode, a Raspberry Pi, or whatever else you have to hand, as long as you're able to write some software that downloads a file from a server via HTTP, and then spits it out to your printer.
Power supply ($10/£8)
You can power an Arduino via USB, but that won't provide enough current for the printer when it's actually printing, so you will need an external power adapter. I've had success using 5v and 9v AD adapters that output 1500mA to 2500mA.
If you bought the Adafruit printer starter or IoT printer kits, you'll already have a suitable power supply, but if you need to get one, here are a few options:
You shouldn't expect to pay more than $10 or £10 for this.
The rest: LEDs, resistors, buttons, SD card ($15/£10)
We are investigating the possibilities of making an Arduino shield that will replace all of this, but in the meantime (or if you want to do it yourself), here's the other electronic miscellanea you'll need.
The building instructions requires a handful of LEDs, resistors and wires. If you've done some tinkering with Arduinos before, chances are that you already have these lying around, but if not you can pick them up very cheaply at almost every electronic store. Unfortunately you can't really buy just 3 LEDs or 1 button, so you may end up with a bunch of spares, unfortunately.
- 1 x Micro SD card (to fit in the Ethernet shield or Arduino Ethernet)
- 1 x Green LED
- 1 x Amber LED
- 1 x Red LED
- 4 x 560ohm resistors (or thereabouts; it depends on the current rating of your LEDs)
- 1 x push-button switch
- A breadboard
- Enough wires to hook it all up on the breadboard
- Headers for connecting the printer (although you can also use breadboard wires too).
Note that not every product is available from every supplier; below are really just pointers. Some of these stores have a huge selection, and I might not have found the perfect item to order!
- Adafruit LEDS, Wires, Buttons, Breadboard, Headers
- Sparkfun LEDS, Resistors, Wires, Buttons, Breadboard, Headers
- RS Components LEDS, Resistors, Wires, Breadboard, Headers
- Oomlout LEDS and resistors, Wires, Buttons, Breadboard, Headers
- Cool Components LEDS, Resistors, Wires, Buttons, Breadboard, Headers
- Proto-PIC LEDS, Resistors, Wires, Buttons, Breadboard, Headers
Total - $145/£91
So, to buy everything required, it will cost you:
- $50 (printer), $65 (Arduino Ethernet), $10 (power supply), $20 (other components) = $145
- £35 (printer), £33 (Arduino Ethernet), £10 (power supply), £13 (other components) = £91
We've looked at what discounts we might be able to achieve buying in bulk, but it only really affects the "other components" figure by a few dollars/pounds. We would also need to charge VAT (where applicable) on whatever we sell, potentially adding another 20% to the cost to you.
As mentioned above, we are investigating producing a self-contained Arduino shield which has all of the required components on it, which might be able to slightly reduce the overall cost for you, and hugely increase the convenience of plugging it together.