You’d know thermal printers as the things that receipts come from. They work by selectively heating up parts of thermochromic paper. The parts that are warmed up turn black, the rest stay white. There’s a lot to recommend them: They don’t need ink; they are cheap to run; they’re fast, quiet, and reliable; it’s easy to replace the paper. This is why so many cash registers use them, along with shipping labellers, and undersea explorers.
“Recently, a few accidents of implementation gave more life to my tinkerings than I had originally intended.” So begins James Adam’s introduction to Go Free Range’s Printer, an open source kit “for exploring the possibilities of internet-of-things printing.” He adds two more reasons to dig thermal printers. First, their serial port makes it easy for hardware hackers to work with them. Second, “thermal printers are smaller than normal printers, which makes them seem far less intimidating and more playful.”
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.