DIY "Internet of Things" printer

AdaFruit has released a set of plans for building your own Internet of Things Printer. It's a weekend project that ends up with a homebrew analog of BERG's Little Printer. They also have a kit for sale.

Build an "Internet of Things" connected mini printer that will do your bidding! This is a fun weekend project that comes with a beautiful laser cut case. Once assembled, the little printer connects to Ethernet to get Internet data for printing onto 2 1/4" wide receipt paper. The example sketch we've written will connect to Twitter's search API and retrieve and print tweets according to your requests: you can have it print out tweets from a person, a hashtag, mentioning a word, etc! Once you've gotten that working, you can of course easily adapt our sketch to customize the printer.


  1. Could not think of a more wasteful use of paper. Next up, why not print the 50,000 shitty photos you have on your hard drive? Not even close to being a tree-hugger, but this is silly. But maybe that’s the point ;)

      1.  You and many others are horribly missing the point of this exercise. Re-read the article, and don’t focus so much on the function of the device.

    1. hey mark, i’m one of the folks who work at adafruit on projects like this – here’s part of goal with this open source project…. we think this is a great way to learn how to a build a physical object that does something based on what you code/choose to trigger an action that’s online. we also sell just the printer and customers, educators and open source makers requested an “internet of things” project to use with it. we think this is a lot of fun. 

      i suppose it’s fair to say a kid scribbling on paper, making art or just drawing is a waste of paper too, but there are benefits to learning to make something like this, learning to program and sharing with others. it’s always a challenge of tradeoffs when we learn, teach and make progress. i’ve heard that computers are too toxic and  are a waste too, but i think we can work towards making them more eco-friendly while still using them as amazing tools.

        1.  A weak argument? Learning and enriching yourself sounds like a noble pursuit to me. The point of this device isn’t the destination, it’s the journey. Anything that can be done is worth doing, particularly if you haven’t done it before.

  2. Can I install this under my toilet seat? Then instead of unrolling some paper, folding it up, and performing a manual removal process I can just print out some articles about reducing waste and perform the task automatically? 

  3. Every time I see someone posting about it, I feel like Gretchen Weiners is still trying to make “fetch” happen.

  4. I get that this is easy to mock. And it is kind of a goofy idea, which is kind of the point. 

    But anyone reading this on their computer in a nice climate-controlled building somewhere in the first world who thinks that burning through a roll or two of thermal paper per year is some kind of environmental calamity is insane. Simply existing in the society we do is orders of magnitude worse for the environment, and that’s before we turn on a light switch (or boot up our computers). And I say that assuming that we’re all vegetarian locavores living in yurts with reflective roofs and riding used tandem bicycles to our jobs at the wind farm.

    Yeah, it’s stupid. But it could also be fun, for certain people’s definitions of fun. Especially making one from a kit.

    (EDIT: This isn’t really directed at anyone in this threat [so far!]. I read the other thread before posting this, where there was a stampede of high horses.)

    1.  Easy to mock AND a goofy idea? That’s exactly why I commented! It’s like a volleyball that goes un-spiked, or eating the last chicken wing left sitting on a platter at a party – it HAS to be done.

      That being said, I may build this an set it to monitor #goofyideas.

      I also agree that my existing is worse than a roll of thermal paper. And that makes me sad.

  5. Wikipedia:
    Some thermal papers are coated with Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical considered to be an endocrine disruptor.
    So there are good reasons not to use more thermal paper (ask for “no receipt”).

    1. not all receipt / thermal paper contains BPA, you just need to order BPA-free which is widely available.

  6. This would be pretty practical if you could set it up as an actual printer. There’s tonnes of people who don’t want to shell out for a full scale printer and all the hassles that requires but could still make use of something that prints out barcodes, street addresses, etc

    1. yup! it’s all open source so that’s exactly what anyone will be able to do. a browser add-on “send to mini-printer” stuff like that. when limor and i released the kinect hack stuff people did amazing weird stuff, we expect folks will do amazing stuff with an open source interface to this little printer too.

  7. This is simply a wonderful kit and a great way to introduce people to projects that layer hardware and data feeds. I may build one just to counter the negative comments here.

  8. I would not mind seeing a non-thermal small roll printer that i could use to quickly hammer out lists and such because my hand writing basically sucks and phone notes are still not easy to share with others.

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