MQTT Thermal Printer "Fax"
YouTuber “Make Fun Stuff” was apparently headed back to work after some time at home, while his wife had instead gotten a writing job that would keep her at home permanently. As their anniversary was coming up – and Mrs. Make Fun Stuff anticipated missing having him around – he decided to make the MQTT-powered Ye Olde Fax Machine.
The device uses a Wemos D1 mini ESP8266 board to communicate with a Mosquitto MQTT server to receive messages. Notes are entered via a custom Android app on a smartphone, allowing 'Fun Stuff to send over messages whenever inspiration strikes. Once received, the D1 mini transfers data to a horrendously overpriced thermal printer to produce a record of the note.
In addition to the thermal printer, the unit includes a servo-controlled feather to simulate a "magic" quill transcribing the message that pops out (like Harry Potter). It's set up so that the D1 mini simply sends a start and stop signal to an Arduino Nano board, which drives the motors for the “writing” effect.
The Ye Olde Fax Machine is finished off with a small wooden enclosure with a slot created by progressively drilling, then chiseling/sanding off the remains. It was made functional in time for the pair’s anniversary, but a few extra features were added later to finish the design. It's an interesting build, as shown in the video below, and great inspiration for using a thermal printer and/or MQTT!