Retro Challenge 2015

I’ve entered Retro Challenge 2015!

My plan is to build a serial-connected receipt printer connected to a Commodore 64.

My goal is to print basic “Business Cards” on this receipt printer during various Exhibitions and/or presentations at Retro Computer events.

The project will be a kiosk-style interface that allows someone to print my basic publicly available contact info (Twitter handle, web address) by just hitting the space bar on the Commodore 64.  In addition, I will have a hidden option that prompts for password that will print my full contact info at my request (e-mail address and cell phone number).

To accomplish this, I want it to be fully retro, so I’m obviously using a dot matrix receipt printer.  After some research, I’ve chosen the Epson TM-325UD model M133A.


(My apologies for the stock photo, my printer has yet to arrive from the eBay vendor)

It has a 3″ print width. This is close enough to the width of a business card (3.5″) for my purposes.  This printer allows some printing for check validation, I might mess with inserting a blank business card and see what I can get done that way.  I’m planning to connect it to the Commodore 64 User Port via a TTL to RS232 serial converter (that has arrived from the eBay vendor but I’m still using a stock photo due to sheer laziness):


I have also received the receipt rolls and ribbons I ordered.  Turns out this printer doesn’t support both red and black colors, so I’ve re-ordered the ribbons.  🙂

The printer supports the ESC/POS Printer Language for communication, I will be programming in BASIC to keep it easy.

As I mentioned, the plan is to take it with to shows and events.  I might consider taking a high resolution scan of the output (if I’m satisfied with it) to make “real” business cards from.

I also have a “stretch goal” to enable printing graphics content like a Twitter logo.  This printer doesn’t support custom font upload, so I’ll have to do that via standard graphics.

More to come shortly, the printer is due for delivery tomorrow.  I might be building the RS232 adapter tonight.  Stay tuned!

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