The Textspresso machine

I recently received an email from Kelsey at ZipWhip describing their recent project the Textspresso machine. This is using one of my InkShields and an ink head loaded with edible ink.

It’s a cleaned refilled head. We got our edible inks from From there we cut off the top of a standard ink cartridge, swapped the real ink with edible ink, glued the thing back together, and called it good.

In order to combine our cloud texting service with Seattle’s technology and coffee cultures, we created a machine that sends and receives text messages while simultaneously making a coffee. You heard right. We’ve got a robotic barista in the house. Did we mention there’s also a warming plate to keep your coffee warm? Once that feature was completed we decided to take things to the next level. We added an edible ink jet printer that provided a truly over the top touch. The build was completed with lots of head-scratching and weekend work. It was worth it.

They say that they are not selling the machine but that everything will released with an open license soon. I look forward to seeing the source and how others are able to continue to build on it in the future. I am glad people are continuing to find interesting ways to use my InkShield which can bought in my store.

If you know of any other projects that use an InkShield please contact me so I can share them as well.

A “real-life” InkShield project request

I recently had someone contact me requesting some assistance with a project:

Would you or one of your customers be interested in selling an assembled tested kit with the following customization?

My son-in-law is a butcher, and that means wrapping a lot of meat in a white paper wrap commonly referred to as butcher paper. For years and years and years, they have used a machine that prints directly to the paper as it is pulled off the roll. Different engraved wheels may print the stores name, the type meat, cooking instructions… I believe they currently have about 20 different print wheels.

These things do wear out, and apparently there is no one to work on them any more, nor is there a good replacement. Most other people have gone to ordering or printing their own adhesive labels. My son-in-law and his family prefer the print directly to paper, on demand method better, so they asked me if I could “invent” something. I was thinking that the InkShield might be the perfect fit. Of course there are a lot of other design and safety issues to work out, but I thought if someone else was interested in building a working print head as a proof of concept, I could work on the other aspects.

The main problem statement is: “Simple loading and storing of up to 32 text strings of up to 32 characters each. A method of selecting and displaying which of the 32 will be selected. An input that would enable the printing of the selected string, after a second input begins pulsing. The pulse rate determines the speed of the printing. There would need to be a programmable delay of so many pulses before the printing starts. And a second value for delays between repeats of printing the same string.”

I wouldn’t expect any one to work on it for free, but I don’t think we could afford paying consulting engineers rates either. Looking for more of a hobbyist who wanted to prove to his or her spouse, the hobby is not a sink hole. While I could certainly do it myself. I’d prefer to spend my time on other aspects of this family project.


I don’t have time at the moment to work on this particular project but I thought I would post this to see if anyone is interested in working on this project and making some hobby money. If anyone is interested you can contact me via my contact page and I will connect you with Bud to discuss the details.

An InkShield ticker-tape machine

While I was making the InkShield I thought of a very interesting project that it would be perfect for, a ticker-tape style printer. The reason this is so nice is that a ticker-tape machine has a fixed head and only one axis. This makes for a very simple design.

I thought about several ways of doing this and finally settled on a serial printer design with a “driver” on the PC side. The advantages of this approach are that I did not need a Ethernet shield and I could minimize the font table overhead, ~100 characters @ 24 bytes each = 2400 bytes, on the Arduino. The other advantage is that the printer does not care what it is printing and you can send arbitrary 12 pixel high “bitmaps”.

I am using a Darlington array to drive the unipolar stepper motor as shown here.

The current PC side software accesses Twitter and reads tweets containing “#tickertest”, if it finds one it sends it to the printer and then searches again. If it finds a new tweet it prints that as well and repeats the search.




Once I clean-up the code a little bit I will share it on github.

I will try to get a decent video of it in action and post that soon as well.