Little Notes on Little Printer

I’ve been testing a use for my Little Printer from Berg; to send hand drawn notes, rather than using the text templates provided.  It’s been good this week as I’m at a workshop for a few days in London, and want to send Helen and the kids some wee notes and things during the day, just generally to say hello.

It probably shares something in spirit with “Where’s Dad” / Arrivals by Toby and Dan.

Given James is three years old though, he needs something a bit simpler than that.  ‘Dad drew this, and sent it to me, on this here little printer’ is about the right level.

So, if you have a Little Printer, and want to try it yourself, here’s what to do…

Little Printer Love Notes


Step 1

First of all, you’ll need something to draw with.  It needs to be pretty punchy black-on-white, because you’re going to put it through as a theshold image, and not a dithered image.

Mr Reid’s picture, from his ‘Publishing for Little Printer‘ post, illustrates the difference; dithered image on the left, threshold on the right:



Now, I use Artefact Cards, as for obvious reasons I always have them to hand.  The thickness of the Sharpie on the white card creates an image that’s really going to pop as a threshold image, as we’ll see.  But a sharpie on anything white will work well, a thin rollerball or biro not so much.



Now, when you take a picture of the message, most likely on your phone, get the image to fill the screen, like this:



It doesn’t really need to be that clean a shot, lighting wise; Little Printer is going to force the darks to black, and the lights to white.


Step 2

Go and follow the instructions on Dan Catt‘s Little Printer Email Bridge hack.

I’d suggest, if you use IFTTT already, you might want to start a new account rather than make it your existing one, because in a minute you’ll need a new tumblr too.  If I have one bugbear with IFTTT, it’s that it doesn’t support multiple accounts for the same channel yet.

When you finish doing that, you’ll have an IFTTT account with the Little Printer email address down as your email channel with IFTTT:

Screen Shot 2013-01-15 at 23.12.56


Step 2

OK, now you can set up a new tumblr.  You can use an existing one if you wish, but if you do you’ll just end up with the pictures you’re sending sporadically interrupting the stream of whatever else you’re doing.

I think keeping it as its own clean stream is a good idea.  Then you’ll also have a repository of all the notes you send.

When you’ve set up the new tumblr, then also hook that in to your IFTTT account.

(You could also use a flickr account, but again, it needs to be set to public)


Step 3

Create a new recipe in IFTTT, using the step-by-step walkthrough procedure, as follows:

i. IF there is a new post on my tumblr…
ii. tagged with [WHATEVER KEYWORD YOU LIKE]…
iii. Send me an email…
iv. Subject: POSTTITLE
v. Body: <img src=”{{PostImageUrl}}” width=”100%”>
If you want to print normal pictures, rather than the black and white threshold forced image, that last line needs to be

v. Body: <img src=”{{PostImageUrl}}” width=”100%”>



Once all that’s done, give the IFTTT recipe a few minutes to establish itself, and upload a photo to the tumblr.  I use the iPhone app, and post a photo post with a tag; I upload a picture, tag it with James, then it’ll send it to Little Printer.

Take heed of Dan’s advice, though – “Because everything is a bit beta and held together with string at this end, it may take a couple of minutes for your message to show up.” 

Your message could well take fifteen, twenty minutes to get through.

But it’s quicker than a postcard, right?


There you go then, hope that’s interesting/useful.  Any thoughts, builds, examples you have, please do share, either in the comments below, or find me on twitter @willsh.