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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Blogger Ted said...

Re: panoramic roll scanning - could you build a frame where the scanning phone is mounted above and the roll of paper to scan is slowly rolled past the phone's field of view rather than moving the phone over the paper?

11:50 PM  
Blogger Bill M said...

I have the opposite problem from you with my hands. If I don't type on a manual typewriter everyday my hands get stiff. I have one or two go-to ultraportables that I like to use in the parks. I only have one thermal, an EP-20. I've stayed away from thermal printers because of wasting paper. If I want longevity I need to scan and print what was done on thermal paper or it'll fade over a few short years. PC to printer would not be the same instant print to paper attainable with any typewriter. I have 2 of the Canon portable printers an older one about 2 years old I bought for our move, and a newer one about a year old. Both print fine, but are noisy. I've not seen any newer ones.

6:36 AM  
Blogger phxxer said...

Don't overlook the possibility of a Bluetooth keyboard to use with your iPad or iPod touch. No wires, and they are very thin and lightweight.

10:28 PM  
Anonymous Chad said...

Hey Joe, just found your blog and am really enjoying it. One app that I use is called Tailor, which can take multiple pictures and stitch them together. It looks like you're writing on a long sheet of paper, which is perfect for the app. It probably wouldn't work as well with several typed pages.

11:50 AM  

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