First of all, we must apologise in that progress with this project has not been as rapid as we would have wished, but in reality, the Retro-Printer module is the brainchild of two retro computer enthusiasts who have developed this in our spare time, without the backing of a large company and multitudes of employees to design the hardware and code the software.
I guess that this is in keeping with the retro computer market – reflecting the way products were envisaged and developed back in the 1980s. On the plus side, this has enabled us to finance the project from our own resources, rather than turning to crowd-funding to raise substantial capital; which is an avenue many projects seem to take nowadays.
We have been encouraged by the continued interest in the Retro-Printer module, with various people providing further examples of how the Retro Printer can be used to transform their existing approach to printing and data capture.
Thanks to this feedback, we have some plans on how to develop the ESC/P2 capture and conversion software further, such as implementing a specific option to replicate the (fairly) simple approach used by Sinclair Research Limited in the 1980s to communicate with their iconic Sinclair ZX81 and Sinclair ZX Spectrum home computers with their home-spun ZX Printer.
We have also been in communication with Epson and obtained details of how they expanded the published ESC/P2 documentation in order to handle 1400 and 2880 dpi printing modes, as well as 6 colour printing.
As those who follow the development of the public domain Retro-Printer conversion software will know, the initial release of the software has been proven to work in all Epson ESC/P and ESC/P2 modes up to 720dpi, with various improvements already to enhance the speed of the conversion and quality of the generated image.
This means that the software is now ready for the initial commercial release of the Retro-Printer module.
From a hardware point of view, we have now received the v2 PCB for the module along with all of the extra components required and will spend the next few weeks preparing a small batch of the v2 Retro-Printer module hardware and testing it, with the aim of sending a restricted number of units out to initial purchasers at the start of July – choosing from those who have expressed an interest in order to ensure that we cover a range of different computers, equipment and other applications, before signing off on the v2 PCB and initial software.