I use my printer about twice a year. I went to use it the other day. The ink was dry. What type of printer will work when I want?

Inkjets go dry. I suspect lasers cost a lot of money when they stop working. Dot-matrix printers don't exist anymore.

How about a thermal printer, like those old fax machines? If I print something at home, I probably don't need the printout to last. They don't have ink that can run out. (They have paper that runs out, but I'd think its shelf life is pretty good.)

One problem, faxes aren't designed to print - at least the old ones that use thermal paper - so how do I print with it?

A few options:

  • Use a microcontroller to talk phone signals to it. I'm not sure if the microcontroller would be fast enough, but talking the protocol would be tricky.

  • Use an external modem and a fake phone line to talk to it. It solves the protocol problems but it takes a lot of equipment.

  • Open up the fax and drive the heaters and rollers directly. No protocols to get working, only random parts that I have no idea how to operate.

Time to get my hands on an old fax machine...