Instant Camera Thermal Printer – RPi polaroid?

Instant camera thermal printer

raspberry pi instant photo printer
this is how the output looks from the RPi “polaroid”

Like many people, I was interested in setting up a photobooth for the wedding of some friends of mine. But, I wanted it to be child friendly and cheap. In fact, I wanted it to be able to withstand being left with a whole bunch of four to fifteen year olds for two days without needing me to spend much time with it for filling paper, loading ink, resetting stuff… I also wanted something very lo-fi and just that little bit retro.

raspberry pi instant photo printer
this is the lo-fi fun thermal printer raspberry cam, “insta-pi”

The answer was to use a raspberry pi and a thermal printer. I found a great resource at Geek Gurl Diaries. She gives a really good step by step guide on how to set up a raspberry pi, and get the thermal printer connected and working, and also how to get a push button wired up. She gives lots of code examples.

Here is a video of it working. It takes a full minute to go from pressing the button, to getting your photo printout.

RPi B+
Raspberry Pi camera
Momentary push button
Led and resistor
Thermal printer
Power supply
Ply wood and screws
Wood filler
Black and cream spray paint
Lid of black spray can (for the “lens” look)
Polaroid 1000 Decals printed from images found on the internet

Software on the raspberry pi:
The project uses python
Wand – to convert the jpeg to png
Adafruit Thermal printer driver (as it is set up to print png)

Here is a close up (well, as close as i could get with my phone camera) of what the output looks like:

this is a slightly out of focus pic of the thermal printer output from the raspberry pi
this is a slightly out of focus pic of the thermal printer output from the raspberry pi

It took a lot of time, and I mean days and days of printing, to get the setting right for the thermal printer to print out png images without horrible lines across the paper, or too dark, or too light. I changed the settings through the Adafruit thermal printer configuration file, where it seemed that the printer speed and the temperature were the key factors. I also manipulated the png to provide a higher contrast. Together it seemed to get the right quality.

You should have a look at the adafruit thermal printer tutorial on how to use the printer with your raspberry pi.