Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Sharp PA-1050 Thermal Typer

Sharp PA-1050 Thermal Typer
Sharp PA-1050 Thermal Typer

It's been fun digging into these devices, brings back lots of memories of my days, in the 1980s - about concurrent with this machine (circa 1986 according to the date stamp inside the top shell) - when I repaired consumer electronics for a living.

I'll be doing more videos about each of these machines, then eventually a comparison between all five in my collection.

There's a bit of wonkiness to the line spacing in the image of the typecast, that's not the fault of the typewriter but rather my "scanning" technique; I use an iPhone's panorama mode, and irregularities in the movement of the phone during the scan will cause these issues. I'm still thinking about building a slider rig for doing these scans. The typical thermal typewriter output is a long scroll, too big for a conventional scanner - even if I had one!

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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Manzano Musings

Hiking and Cogitating
“Typing With Disability”

I "scanned" this piece using the panorama mode on the iPhone, which can result in wonky borders unless you're careful to keep the phone exactly aligned, and move it at a smooth, constant pace. But for these long scroll-like writings, it's about the only way to get a seamless image of the piece, without chopping it into separate images. This particular image is not perfectly straight, if you examine the edges there's a bit of wonkiness. I need to build a more precise fixture for this purpose, something like a manual slider that moves the phone horizontally past the typewritten piece at a precise speed and alignment.

Even my flatbed scanner is limited to pieces about 12" long. And a single still camera image would require a sensor with many more pixels than mine, to resolve the individual characters properly. Also, many such camera lenses, especially wide-angle lenses, exhibit field curvature, that make the edges of the image curved, which would then require correction in post.

Now, regarding this idea for a cobbled-together mobile electronic typewriter-like system, the Canon Pixma IP110 printer seems to be about the only small printer with a battery-power option, the battery costing another $100 or so. I've seen the whole package - printer, ink cartridges and battery - for around $300. Which sounds expensive, but considering the idea for a mobile, paper-based writing/typing/printing solution (there aren't any other options that I know of with new equipment), it's an interesting concept worth entertaining. Keep in mind that this cost assumes you already have a mobile device (i.e. smartphone) with which to link up to the printer via Bluetooth. I would also opt to use just black ink cartridges in the printer, to keep the cost down.

Certainly a person could buy a handful of used, 1980-era thermal typewriters for that $300, but those are used machines with uncertain lifespans remaining. Case in point: my beloved Brother EP43 has recently bitten the dust, the plastic gear train that drives the print head back and forth is now slipping. Yes, I'll probably replace it at some point with another (or just keep using the Canon Typestar 4), but for a battery-powered portable typewriter-like system comprise of newly manufactured components, this is probably the only option.

I recall several years ago using my 60% mechanical keyboard with my iPad2 via a USB adapter. Combining a mechanical keyboard with an iOS device and the Canon IP110 printer could be an interesting project - especially if a custom case is built to house all the components into a typewriter-looking housing.

I'll keep you updated on any progress I make with this project.

In the meanwhile, enjoy the video I made today:

Post-Script: I need to mention that the fall 2019 ABQ Type-Out is happening at Pennysmiths Papers, 4022 Rio Grande Blvd NW in Albuquerque, on Sunday, November 3, 2019, from 1pm-4pm. I hope you can make it, I'd love to meet you in person.

fall type out

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Monday, October 07, 2019

Overdue Update

1962 Torpedo De Luxe
Recently acquired 1962 Torpedo De Luxe, featuring the wonky 5 & 6 keycaps, and decades of grime.

“Overdue Update”

I've been tinkering some more with the citric acid / hydrogen peroxide reversal process for direct-positive prints from silver gelatin photo paper exposed in-camera. Here's a recent still-life.

Owl, Citric Acid + H2O2 Reversal Process, Fujinon 135mm @ F/5.6, 45 second exposure, 4x5 format Arista RC grade 2 paper

I've found better results by processing the print face-down in the citric acid and peroxide bleaching solutions, and also do two passes, before the second exposure and development.

While up till today all of my reversal tests have been under shaded daylight, the multi-seconds-long exposure times were not compatible with the possibility of seated portraits. So today I made a series of test exposures in the bright morning sun of my front patio, with Your's Truly as subject. For focus I used a test card tied to the camera with a string. I use a yard stick to stretch the target out in front of the camera until the string is taught, then focus the camera on the target. Then I approximate the composition, based on my experience, and once the exposure is determined via light meter and set on the lens, I sit down in front of the camera, long shutter release cable in one hand and focus target in the other. I assume my pose, bring the target up to my temple and adjust my fore-aft seating position to tighten the string; then slowly lower my arm and trip the shutter.

I thought the results were rather fair, given the harsh light; and the 1/2 second exposure time at F/5.6 was quite adequate for seated portraits.

Self-Portrait, grade 2 RC paper, direct reversal using citric acid + H2O2 process, 1/2 second exposure at F/5.6

I have the 8x10 sliding box camera, currently fitted with a Fujinon Xerox machine lens, 240mm at a fixed F/4.5 aperture. Fast glass, but no possibility of a variable aperture. And the box camera is fixed at a landscape orientation, whereas I'd like to use it for portraits. Perhaps I can rebuild the camera so the cross-section is square instead of rectangular, and the sliding rear portion could therefore be inserted into the front half in either orientation - dark slide facing to the right for landscape orientation, or facing up for portraits. Of course, for accurate exposures with sub-1 second times I can't rely on the accuracy of a lens cap shutter, so perhaps an ND filter can lengthen the exposure times to around 1 second in bright sun - long enough to be timed accurately by hand, while short enough to reduce the chance of motion blur. Always another project!

I'm still using the same batch of citric acid and H2O2, so I don't know how long I can go before they expire. Thus far it's proven to be a very economical process, as long as I ensure consistency in everything I do.

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