Turning a pickup truck into a giant dot matrix printer

Originally published at: Turning a pickup truck into a giant dot matrix printer | Boing Boing


Neat project! Reminds me of another water display I saw a few years back near Osaka station:


Can I borrow this so I can print some “messages” in front of a certain place in West Palm Beach?


I can think of other uses: drop herbicide OR fertilizer onto a football field, or use a dry-powder dispenser and drop seeds

A pigment in the water would leave more permanent messages, perhaps for road work.


It looks like the same concept as this project from 2020: Message In A Bottle: Bicycle Trailer On A Mission | Hackaday


This is making me dissociate. You could do this with a Pico, or an Arduino, a PIC, a Z80, a 6802… given that much faster printers existed in the 1970s, I literally don’t know how you’d get hold of an MCU ancient enough to not handle this project.

For Tom’s Hardware(!) to suggest that a Pi Zero might struggle to run a dot matrix printer makes me think we’ve already gone a couple of orders of magnitude past how fast processors need to be, and are now increasing the numbers for religious reasons and creating ever more bloated software stacks to ritually undo the increase.

I’m not saying a sentient botnet has tricked us into increasing the world’s compute supply a billion times while the time to open a Word document remains constant. But I’m not not saying that.


I could do this with a motor, a roll of punched paper, wiper contacts and solenoid valves.

But this is still cool and gives me ideas that might test some bylaws around here.


Yes, I think this could have a lot of useful protest applications. You could write the names of bicyclists (and/or or people in cars) killed, in the spots where they died. You could write the names of people killed by police violence. You could put reminders on the streets outside the houses of certain members of the judiciary.

Or for fun: you could put a line of Pac-Man dots, fruit, and ghosts down a lane of a road.


It’s a reverse-Turing test: can you tell the difference between the actions of a sentient botnet and those of a Microsoftian mega corporation? I think our economic system virtually guarantees that the latter need to behave as profit maximizing automata.

Have you got enough pee in the printer tank to express all of your thoughts? :grin:

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