2003 thermal printer from a flea market: what can it do in 2019?

    A couple of months ago I published on Habr a review of the HP PDA , released in 2003, and another review of a laptop 20 years ago . While working on articles, I tried to understand whether devices can be used in 2019. As it turned out, both devices are almost hopelessly outdated. By the way, I bought all this in the Spanish flea market, very inexpensive.

    This Saturday I bought another device there, a contemporary PDA - the Brother mw-140bt thermal printer, which cost 3 euros. Let's see what kind of gadget it is.

    Design, hardware, features


    • print type: thermal printing;
    • printer size: 100 x 160 x 17.5 mm;
    • connectors: mini-USB 1.1, port for the charger;
    • paper format: A7;
    • weight: 300 g;
    • print resolution: 300 dpi;
    • indicators: operating mode indicator and charge indicator;
    • battery: internal, removable, 780 mAh, (7.4 V), Li-ion.

    It does not look like a printer. Looking at him at the flea market, I did not immediately realize that this helped google right on the spot. The printer was sold with paper, documents, a disk, a mini-USB wire and a power supply, but without a box.

    The device is made in Japan, which speaks for itself. The case is made of aluminum with plastic inserts, and after 16 years nothing happened.

    The paper is placed inside, this is a special cardboard cassette with 50 sheets of thermal paper in A7 format. In order to open the printer cover, you need to slide it a little back.

    On the left are the power button of the device, the activation button of the Bluetooth module, the port for the charger.

    The two LEDs at the top of the front panel indicate whether Bluetooth is turned on and how charged the battery is. When the battery runs down, the second diode starts flashing. If you connect the device to charging, the LED lights up with a steady orange light.

    The presence of a battery in the device generally came as a surprise to me. It turned out that the gadget can work without wires at all - it does not need either charging or connecting to a PC if you select the Bluetooth mode.

    A7 format is small, and printing a single sheet takes about 15 seconds if it is a picture. Text is printed in just a few seconds.

    Problem beginning

    Dead battery

    When connected to the network, the charge indicator blinks. As it turned out, this is a sign of a missing battery. I took off the lid and saw that the battery was in place. He took out the battery and measured the voltage at the contacts - it became clear that the battery was discharged to zero. Apparently, the printer has not been used since the release - this was also evidenced by the sealed paper cassette inside.

    When a lithium battery is completely discharged (for example, after lying for several years without work), in most cases it does not die. But the battery controller does not allow it to be charged by the regular method, the usual connection of the charger to the printer or even an attempt to charge using an external power supply, connecting it to the battery contacts, will not lead to anything.

    The most effective and safe way to restore the battery is to use the smart charger IMAX B6 . I shot the battery recovery on the video to make it clearer. After the charged battery was inserted into the printer, it turned on. Having connected the device to the power supply, I saw that the device was charging - the charge indicator was lit with a steady orange light.

    Restored in order to get a fully working printer. It can work with a power supply, but I wanted to take full advantage of mobility.

    No paper

    pickup. After charging the printer with paper, I connected it with a USB cable to my computer. Windows 10 found the necessary drivers and installed them, the printer became available in the system. No drivers were needed from the disk.

    When I tried to print something, the printer was noisy for 10 seconds, after which the indicator began to flash in red. As it turned out, the paper is not captured, over the years of inactivity the rubber roller responsible for picking sheets has become dusty, so it just slipped. The solution is to take the tape, stick it on the roller, tear off. So you need to repeat 5-6 times. By trial and error, it was possible to do everything right, after which the roller began to grab paper, printing went.

    Bluetooth setup

    For wireless connection, Brother drivers were already needed. First, using standard Windows 10 methods, we find a new Bluetooth device, connect it (the PIN code in the case of my printer is the last four digits of its serial number).

    Next, go to the Bluetooth settings, select “Advanced” → COM ports, create an outgoing port and select a device that will hang on this port.

    Then we install the Brother drivers, during the installation process the application will ask you to select the port that was created earlier. We select it, the installation completes, and that’s all - the printer is ready to go.

    Setting up printing from the phone You

    can also connect the printer to a smartphone, but only to Android. Unfortunately, on Apple phones, Bluetooth functionality is stripped down, so iOS doesn't even find the gadget.

    Android sees and picks up the device right away. To print, you need an application. As it turned out, Brother still supports this printer, and it has its own application. After downloading and configuring it, this is what happened: We load the

    image and at the output - the Habr page. The application allows you to print barcodes, images and text.

    10 cents per sheet and current printer features

    I would divide the possible use of the printer into useful and purely entertaining.


    • You can print out addresses when sending parcels or letters. The format is just perfect for sticking on a shipment;
    • printout of bar codes (shops, offices, etc.);
    • quick print from your mobile phone to-do list, shopping list, etc.
    • printing checks for entrepreneurs;
    • printout of cards with foreign words when learning languages.

    Another useful list suggested by Sun-ami , for which he thanks:

    • listing of badges at open-air events when the list of participants is not known in advance;
    • printout of maps of the site area of ​​the area near the housing, the location of which is unknown before the start of the trip;
    • printing of plates with the name of the destination for travel by hitchhiking and public transport;
    • listing of plates with the names of fellow travelers encountered on long trips;
    • listing of the current menu at picnics with invited chefs, in places where there is no power supply.

    Generally speaking, thermal printers are used by trading, transport, and warehouse enterprises. Most often they are used to print barcodes.

    Small sheets can be used for marking cables or sticking inventory tags on things, books, etc.


    • printing b / w photos for yourself and loved ones. For example, you can leave nice messages in the morning on the refrigerator or directly on the beach to do b / w prints of photos to all representatives of a friendly company of friends having a rest with you;
    • listing messages and comments from social networks (in 2014 the printer was released specifically for these purposes, and its price exceeded $ 200).

    The printer, despite the fact that it began to be produced in 2003, is not outdated morally. It can be used to good use now. The manufacturer still supports the device, consumables can be bought on Amazon, eBay and the Brother website. The price of a cartridge with 50 sheets is 5 euros. It turns out that the cost of printing is 10 cents per leaf.

    At first I wanted to resell the device further, but after I figured it out, I will leave it for the sake of the fan.

    And by tradition - a video showing what the Spanish flea markets are like.

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