The little Radio Shack TRS-80 model TP-10 was a thermal printer with a serial interface, formerly sold for use with machines like the Color Computer. They show up on eBay from time to time, sometimes for very few dollars. They’re small and quiet, and suitable for utility printing such as when developing BASIC programs. You wouldn’t want to turn in a book report printed on one, but they’re fine for utility purposes. I got mine for next to nothing as a ride-along with some other items in an eBay lot. It had a bit of paper left in it, but the paper appears to have weathered a lot of hot summers in somebody’s garage, and it doesn’t give very good print quality any more.
Unfortunately, paper for the TP-10 isn’t so easy to find. They use 4-1/8" wide thermal roll paper, which doesn’t seem to be a common size in the US at this time. When original TP-10 paper shows up on eBay, it’s listed at $10 a roll or more… I think I paid about that much for the whole printer! I decided to try an experiment to see how easy it would be to cut down common (for the time being…) FAX machine paper. My results were not too bad!
8-1/2" wide thermal FAX machine roll paper is still available at the local office supply store, and it’s wide enough for each roll to be cut into two rolls of TP-10 paper. For this experiment, I marked the spots to cut the paper, taped down the edge, and taped around the cut lines to hopefully help prevent tearing of the cut edge. Then I just made a couple cuts on my power compound miter saw.
Unsurprisingly, the cut edges of the thermal paper blackened from the heat of sawing the roll of paper. The edges also came out a bit ragged, but not too ragged to keep the paper from working in my printer. I’m calling this a successful experiment, but I still hope to come up with an easy way to make neater cuts in roll paper. In particular, I hope to find a techniques that also works well for making narrow paper rolls for cipher machines such as my M-209.
I could have lit the scene better for these photos, but much like the cut FAX machine paper, the pictures are "good enough".