Setting up an Epson receipt printer

I recently picked up one of these networked thermal receipt printers.

Epson receipt printer
An open Epson receipt printer

Being Point-of-Sale equipment, these come from a different tradition of printing, and have only a few things in common with regular laser printers. This post will cover the basic steps to getting the printer up and running.

This one is model TM-T82II.

Setting up the printer

Firstly, this particular printer only has an ethernet interface, which comes configured with a static IP by default, rather than DHCP. Holding the button next to the network port prints out the settings:

Epson receipt printer network card.
Epson receipt printer network settings.

The IP address of the printer is shown, and subnet mask To speak to it, we need a computer on the same subnet— in this case the last number of the IP address is the only part which needs to be different.

On GNU/Linux, this is best done with ifconfig:

sudo ifconfig eth0 netmask

If you used the correct interface, address and netmask, then you should now be able to ping the printer:

$ sudo ifconfig
eth0      Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr ...
          inet addr:  Bcast:  Mask:
$ ping
PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=255 time=1.09 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=2 ttl=255 time=0.506 ms

The printer has a web interface, and is open on two ports for printing:

$ nmap
80/tcp   open  http
515/tcp  open  printer
9100/tcp open  jetdirect

The web interface will let you set different IP settings, so that you can get the printer on your network. If you mess up and can’t connect, then do a factory reset: Hold the button used before, and then reboot the printer.

Using the printer

Epson provides drivers for several platforms, which may fit your use case.

However, these printers do support ESC/POS (See Wikipedia). making it quite accessible without installed drivers.

The printer will immediately print any regular text it receives over Port 9100, line by line:

echo "Hello World" | nc 9100

ESC/POS commands allow you to to format the text, print barcodes, and cut the paper. A good resource for them is this PDF reference from Epson.

I’ve included a PHP script to produce the ESC/POS commands for the below receipt, showing how to use a few of the supported features:

Example receipt from an Epson receipt printer, printed using PHP

And the script which created it:

/* ASCII constants */
const ESC = "\x1b";
const GS="\x1d";
const NUL="\x00";

/* Output an example receipt */
echo ESC."@"; // Reset to defaults
echo ESC."E".chr(1); // Bold
echo "FOO CORP Ltd.\n"; // Company
echo ESC."E".chr(0); // Not Bold
echo ESC."d".chr(1); // Blank line
echo "Receipt for whatever\n"; // Print text
echo ESC."d".chr(4); // 4 Blank lines

/* Bar-code at the end */
echo ESC."a".chr(1); // Centered printing
echo GS."k".chr(4)."987654321".NUL; // Print barcode
echo ESC."d".chr(1); // Blank line
echo "987654321\n"; // Print number
echo GS."V\x41".chr(3); // Cut

This would again sent to the printer using netcat:

php foo.php | nc 9100

Good luck!

HP Mini 210 review

I used a HP Mini 210 netbook for around 18 months. It costed just $329 AUD when I bought it, and had Windows XP and a 160GB hard drive.

I was originally interested in dual-booting Windows alongside Linux, but HP support proved to be very stubborn and would not provide recovery disks or the Windows licence key, so I ran it with only Linux instead.

Here are some features to note:

  • An SD card can be placed in the slot and stays out of the way.
  • The VGA port makes it suitable for doing presentations.
  • The battery life is not fantastic. Around 3 hours when new, and reduced to just 20 minutes or so by the first year.
  • Not particularly durable. The right-click stopped working on the mousepad after a while. I enabled mac-style gestures in Ubuntu to overcome this.
  • The ventilation is poor. It has no vents on the bottom at all, which is great for keeping the inside dry, but it has a very weak fan and does not handle heavy loads gracefully.

Some things you can do to improve it.

  • As soon as I found out how to open the case (video), I got an Intel SSD, which was quite expensive, but can be used in whatever netbook you have. It makes it quieter, faster, more power efficient, and removes the shock-sensitivity that plagues notebook hard-drives.
  • Consider getting a high-capacity battery. I replaced the dead standard size one with a cheap 3rd-party battery (link), but it could still do with more power.
  • The default install is filled with crapware. Either reinstall windows or run something else. GNU/Linux compatibility is great, and it also runs Windows 7 with no worries. It turns out your Windows XP key is inside the case, so open it up and use it.

It was a good laptop for the price, but not exceptionally fast, durable, or long in its battery life. This netbook should be purchased with the understanding that it will have a short life.