From: Dany Qumsiyeh <>
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
Subject: Re: receipt printer
Date: Sun, 29 Nov 2015 18:01:30 -0800
Here's a wiring diagram. The battery turns off automatically if not enough power is drawn for some time, so the transistor and resistor at the top are a hack to keep it awake. The arduino periodically turns on the transistor using pin 10, causing 100mA to be drained through the resistor. We used a normal 1/4-watt resistor: this exceeds its power rating, but works because it's only on for a short time. It would be much better to use a high-power resistor though, because loose wires or arduino errors could cause it to get stuck and burn out!

Laser cutter files (pdf, rendered from the Inventor files):

Source code (public domain)


From: Robert M Ochshorn <>
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
Subject: Re: Journalism in the Desert of the Real
Date: Wed, 9 Sep 2015 17:24:42 -0700
All five of the printers survived their ordeal in the desert!

The keyboards got dusty & squeaky, but it all worked out (& on a single charge, at that). Here are images of the two papers we made:


Here's my co-editor Kate, looking busy at the Daily Playa news desk:

DanyQ surprised me by showing up, and he improvised a rope strap for mobile reporting:

Maria—layout editor for the paper in past years—was very suspicious of this idea on our camp e-mail list, and brought her laptop with InDesign just in case, but ended up the most fervent supporter of the process. It was such a relief for her to not be using a laptop.

For the second issue, we also had Masha helping with layout. The three of us were able to seamlessly hand off tasks, see what everyone was doing, and “interoperate” with analog ease. All of these are affordances we already know about, but all the same it was nice to see them in practice.

I got really into a very direct style of writing where I would sit down somewhere and just write everything I saw and heard. Without a screen, you can see the world. My first exploration of this idea (Saving the Snoring Soldier, published on the back/bottom of the first issue) was re-typed and slightly cleaned up from the raw receipt log, but by the second issue (see Taste of the Dustback-top) we published half a page of direct observation, transcription, guest-rambling, &c. Here’s my take on Burning Man’s wifi camp spot, where I went to upload the paper to Reno:

After uploading the paper, 3000 copies would come back on the “Sewage Sludge” trucks from a company next-door to the printer. I’m still sort of grasping at the meaning of the news-on-the-empty-shit-truck metaphor, but there’s something there, I’m sure.

Speaking of trucks, I also wrote a mini-ramble about labor/body/bureaucracy (Dennis the Trucker, second issue front bottom), adapted from private correspondence. There’s a lot missing from that piece, but some of the thoughts originated in trying to unpack a provocative essay by a recent CDG visitor (“Work has become digital and networked. Any work now done at a computer could be done remotely by members of ‘the crowd.’”)

All told, it was a nice experience. I’ve edited many publications through high school and college, and in many ways publication production was my pathway into media interfaces (i.e. the need that made programming “real” to me), so this felt like coming full circle, but in a Hofstadter strange-loop sort of way. The weird thing is that, even though I’ve edited & produced dozens of publications, I’ve actually written very few articles for them, and always found the writing very tedious/painful. (My journalistic writing was always over-researched & over-subtle—pained to an inappropriate level of precision and completeness.) I’m not claiming that my writing in The Daily Playa was exceptional in any sense, but it felt nice to be easy & lucid and very much a “user” of the tool/process I had set in motion.

Your desert journalist,


From: Robert M Ochshorn <>
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
Subject: Journalism in the Desert of the Real
Date: Thu, 27 Aug 2015 11:20:31 -0700
Many months back, I committed to edit a newspaper at Burning Man. I’ve edited newspapers and magazines before, so I know how they typically work: lots of document management, lots of single-person-doing-layout: screens, all the way down.

I didn’t want any of it, this time.

DanyQ and I designed and implemented a portable, battery-operated receipt printer typewriter:

We made five of them, each different:

They do have tiny screens to show you the current line you’re typing, but it’s a fairly direct way to type to physical newspaper columns.

Still working out some kinks, and we haven’t tested in harsh conditions, but we seem to get about 30hrs of battery life.

At first, I just threw something together on a Raspberry Pi, as I’ve done before. This time, we used an AVR microcontroller. It’s so much better: it boots up instantaneously—everything is faster—and runs seamlessly. (Almost: there are some quirks in the libraries we depend on.) It has me asking: what’s an operating system good for? What remains universal once the Desktop Computer paradigm dissolves?

Your correspondent,


From: Dany Qumsiyeh <>
Content-Type: multipart/mixed;
Subject: Re: receipt printer
Date: Sun, 23 Aug 2015 00:32:59 -0700

Autodesk Inventor files