Typewriter to Printer Conversion

Earlier this year I got myself a typewriter. I was on my way home and spotted this beauty at the local second hand / old / random things store. The owner told me he wants just 50$ for it since it was broken.

Challenge accepted.

50$ later I found myself schlepping this very heavy piece of solid steel home (almost 100 years old and purely mechanical).

Took me about 15 min to fix it. Just the spring that pulls back the cartridge was disconnected.

It is a 12 – 12 Remington in case you are interested.

Since it was working I had fun typing some letters on it. Learned fast why word processing / printers won over typewriters. Anyway, …

Since it is such a beauty and working well, I was day dreaming about combining two things, the ease of word processing on your computer and the character of those “hand” typed letters. (crazy maybe?) . Imagine you hit print on your computer and the typewriter over there starts typing it for you.

So I put my idea on twitter and soon I got a lead to Jonathan M. Guberman, here in Toronto, who did something like it already. Thanks, Jennie.

However, I what I want to do with is is a bit different:

Connect the typewriter to a twitter account and load it with endless paper while a webcam is showing you  how your tweets to it get ‘printed’

Reason to do it for me is to get back into hardware again with an arduino and to get more out of this typewriter than just sitting around and look good. (some learning & entertainment, mostly, I guess)

Why don’t you just get a typewriter font for your computer?

– well, that is just not the same.

Things I figured out already:

  • Typewriter will be installed on a nice old table, permanently
  • Solenoids are going to pull strings attached to the keys from under the table (not visible spot) (already had 30 solenoids delivered (12v with hopefully enough pulling power to trigger))
  • Arduino with network shield will control the solenoids from the web (multiplexer to use least possible pins, instead of relays work with transistors to handle different current/voltage of solenoids)
  • Continuous Paper to handle the load (where to get it) Still wondering.
  • Cartridge return (many ways to do it, most promising right now is to have a stepping motor with a gear on it.)
  • New typewriter ribbon toner / colour (or what is it called?) if not offered any longer, can make my own from newer roll and put it on old roll. Will probably find some at staples, thanks Jonathan.

Right now I am collecting the tools / hardware I need and trying to figure out how it will all go together.

Please let me know your ideas / feedback / comments and stay tuned for progress updates in the next weeks!

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