Since shelter-in-place, we’ve been quarantining our mail and packages for a couple of days (there’s some evidence that the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen doesn’t survive for more than 2-3 days on surfaces). With a small San Francisco apartment however, it’s pretty difficult to keep things organised, and we kept losing track of when parcels had turned up, and when they were ‘safe’ to release.

Determined to solve this in the most over-engineered (and expedient) way possible, I picked up the Adafruit IoT Pi Printer Project Pack and set about customising the software.

The kit uses a Raspberry Pi and a small Python script, which was easy to modify to print a message giving a release date whenever the button is pressed. I also made use of Adafruit’s quotes API to add a little interest to each printout:

Pressing the button prints a receipt that gives the release date and a quote

Powering off a headless Raspberry Pi can be a little fiddly as there’s no way to invoke shutdown using a button with just the basic hardware. Adafruit’s solution is elegant: a long-press on the button prints a goodbye message and shuts the device down.

Startup and shutdown is signalled by a custom printout

Once we’re no longer quarantining mail, I plan to see what other things I can do with the printer–receipt printers are something I’ve been meaning to play with ever since Michael introduced me to Little Printer, and I’m excited to play around.


Update: If you’re looking for the original laser cutter design files for the Adafruit kit, they can be found on Thingiverse.