Forth Estuary Experimental Data Network

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Most of what can be achieved via FEEDNET is courtesy of open source software. The sheer hard work, altruism and inventiveness of all open source authors is gratefully acknowledged here.




Remote Message Printing - A new application for FEEDNET.

The concept.

From the early days of the ticker-tape there has been nothing as reassuring as being handed a small piece of paper with written text to be sure that you have received the message. The FEEDNET team thought it might be worth revisiting this idea and are trialing a new form of text messaging service.

The idea is to have at several key locations small ticket printing machines to which messages can be sent by means of a simple web application. Even without the public internet, anyone connected to FEEDNET can use Laptop, PC, Mobile Telephone or Tablet to access the web page, type in a simple message and have it printed out at one or more remote locations.

The remote operator tears off the message and hands it to the recipient.  A log is kept on the FEEDNET server of all messages for use either during, or after the event. The whole system makes economical use of channel space, and it is a highly accurate way of sending complex messages involving numbers or other data that has to be charcter perfect.


FEEDNET is designed and managed by a voluntary group and a key design criterion is to gain maximum benefit for minimum cost. These days a small 58mm Till/Ticket printer can be purchased for 20.  Paper "till roll" can be purchased very cheaply indeed.  FEEDNET already makes use of several servers on the network (although in practice only one is needed). One server can support more printers than we would ever likely need. The printers do not need to be located at the same place as the server (Its a data network after all!).

Technical Detail

The printers are known as POS printers. POS signifies "Point of Sale" since they are manufactured in huge numbers for shops and other retailers all around the world for use with their till systems. They are available with USB, Serial, Parallel and Network interfacves. We are interested in network interfaces. The cheapest way of operating them is to use a USB printer with a small embedded Linux print server which these days can be obtained for under 10. The server and printer are configured to handle raw data using the lpd protocol.

Applications for FEEDNET are written in PHP. A library of simple functions (line feed, centre text etc ) send the approriate control codes to the printer. This can be invoked from the command line or from the web server.  If the web serve roption is used, we have a powerful printing system that can be operated from any machine and person that is capable of using a web browser.




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Last updated: 02/26/16.