Posts Tagged “polaroid”

Extra little update: since I bought my PoGo back in 2009, Polaroid have released a newer, bigger bluetooth printer called the Polaroid GL10 which prints on 3×4 inch zink paper. I expect everything I do here for the PoGo would also work for that. Anyway, on with the code…

Time to get down to business then. First to see if I can get the Pi to successfully send an image over bluetooth to the PoGo.

I’m using a TOPDIGI UA01 and the PoGo already has its own bluetooth hardware built in.

As an aside, the PoGo also has a USB port which you use when sending images straight from a digital camera to the printer. I’m sure it’d be possible to print from Pi to PoGo using this and maybe the cups package or similar but the advantage of bluetooth will be that in the final setup the Pi (and all its wires) can be hidden away in the corner away from the printer and the printer itself will only require a power cable, like in the setup Creature have created…

I believe Creature are using an Apple script to do the final push to the printer over bluetooth (rather than Python which the rest of their code is written in). Obviously we don’t have this luxury on the Pi so we’re going to have to do some of the bluetooth legwork ourselves…

…unfortunately the most popular bluetooth package for linux is something called Bluez which provides little to no documentation and for which most of the information on the internet is out of date. There is a way to work with Bluez through Python which I may end up switching to as I’ll probably code up the Instagram photo grabber in Python and I believe the whole process would be easier through an X GUI but for now I’m working only on the terminal.

Step 1: Download a test image file to print with something like

wget -O testimage.jpg

(Note that I think the PoGo can only cope with jpgs and is sometimes even fussy about those)

Step 2: Install some bluetooth packages. Unfortunately I’ve been playing around with lots of ways to get this up and running and don’t know exactly which of the packages I’ve downloaded are the ones making it work! I started with this…

sudo apt-get install bluetooth bluez bluez-utils ussp-push

…but have subsequently removed bluetooth and bluez-utils and it still seems to be working (?).
Once that’s all installed, it’s worth checking that the dongle is being recognised. I rebooted the Pi with it plugged in and ran “lsusb” which shows the connected devices which included “Cambridge Silicon Radio, Ltd Bluetooth Dongle (HCI mode)” in my case).

Step 3: Do some bluetooth checking…
Is bluetooth running?

/etc/init.d/bluetooth status

Can we find bluetooth devices? (Turn on the PoGo before this step so it can be found!)

hcitool scan

At this point we should get a list with and entry for the PoGo that looks like this (where Ys and Zs are numbers specific to your device)…


Step 4: Attempt a print. I need to start again on all this with a fresh install to check exactly what’s required but it may now be as simple as these two lines…

sudo rfcomm bind /dev/rfcomm0 YY:YY:YY:YY:YY:YY 1
ussp-push /dev/rfcomm0 sourcefile.jpg destinationfile.jpg

If that says…

name=sourcefile.jpg, size=123456
Connection established

… you may be there and the PoGo may print your test picture. It does for me but that may be due to something I did and have forgotten and therefore isn’t in the steps above. If it’s not working here are some other things to try…

1. sudo rfcomm -a should show an entry for your device. If not the bind didn’t work. The binding of the device to rfcomm0 can be stored in /etc/bluetooth/rfcomm.conf which may help ensure it’s ready at start up.

2. I would expect the PoGo to require a pin code to be specified at some point along the way (it’s required when I print from my Windows laptop and is 6000 for all PoGos) but we haven’t specified one yet! I spent a long time struggling with obexftp thinking that not having specified a PIN was my problem. There’s a lot of out of date info around the web about how to provide Bluez with a PIN. The following is, I believe, the correct method now…

Create this file…


…where XX:XX:XX:XX:XX:XX is the bdaddr of your bluetooth dongle which you can get from

hciconfig hci0 -a

Now in that file we write a line for our particular device we’re trying to pair with a PIN using the format…


…where YY:YY:YY:YY:YY:YY is the MAC address of the device (PoGo/phone/etc) and 1234 is the PIN (6000 in the case of a PoGo).

3. There is some useful info here about pairing to a phone which uses some similar steps and may be of use…

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This thing called Instaprint caused a bit of a stir a little while back. The idea is it sits on the wall at a party/conference/whatever and then as people post photos to Instagram at the event, the printer finds and prints them automatically…


Pretty cool and it’ll cost you a cool $5000 to rent it for half a day at your event! So some people over at some other creative agency came up with a cheaper solution using a Polaroid PoGo, cunningly named Cheapstaprint


The great thing about the PoGo is that it’s designed to be wireless (unfortunately the battery life is terrible so it doesn’t really work out that way) so that you can send it photos from your mobile phone over bluetooth on the move. According to the blog post, they’re running some PHP (and maybe some Python?) on a nearby old computer (an Apple, I think) to do all the Instagram hunting and then push the photos to the PoGo over bluetooth. Simple enough and given the PoGo costs around £60, a much cheaper solution.

I’ve had the PoGo for a while and it doesn’t see a lot of use and now I have a Raspberry Pi and am looking for ways to play with it. Tiny computer + tiny printer = of course I’m gonna give it a go!

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My Polaroid one600 was delivered today (I’m sure if eBay died it would take Royal Mail with it). Here it is…


A few blemishes as you can see but it came loaded with a film pack that had one shot left in it so I used it to make sure it was working after its journey, the result of which you can see on my photo blog.

Coincidentally, Polaroid was in world news as well as Jon news today as a company in the Netherlands have bought one of Polaroids factories with all the contents, hired some ex-Polaroid employees and are hoping to restart production of integral film. Their website suggests that they won’t be manufacturing 600 film (probably the most used Polaroid film) but will be creating something new. Seems like a mistake to shun all the people who’ll be hoping to get fresh film for their old cameras but if they can create something good perhaps they can persuade that market to transfer over to their new integral film format (and sell them all new cameras while they’re at it).


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I bought a Polaroid 600 camera yesterday! I think I might be a little behind the times since they stopped making the film for it (the iconic square film with a white border) last year. Fortunately there’s still remainder stock available on ebay so I decided I’d get in at the end before the world says goodbye to Polaroids forever.

As photography options go Polaroids have been doomed for quite a while. The film cartridges themselves now cost around £15 each on eBay and can only produce 10 photos. The photos they produce are generally lacking in sharpness and contrast. All this makes for expensive, poor quality photos compared to digital (or even standard 35mm film). Unlike your standard camera, a Polaroid 600* camera doesn’t have it’s own battery and is instead powered from a battery within the film cartridge. This and the fact that the chemicals in the film dry out mean that there’s probably no use stockpiling the remaining stock as it will not survive in the same way that expired 35mm film can.


All that said there is something brilliant about Polaroids which is worth celebrating and will be missed. You take a photo and 90 seconds later you are holding it in your hand. Even the top of the range digital SLRs can’t do that**!  And though objectively the quality is poor there’s something special about a Polaroid. We all recognise a Polaroid and the associated foibles and that photo taken in that moment is totally unique – you can’t reprint a Polaroid. That photo becomes part of the grand history of the Polaroid name such as Warhol’s celebrity portraits, Hockney’s composites, 18 years of one man’s life and special or random moments from the lives of  thousands of others. It’s a moment in time instantly and irreversably recorded, printed and preserved. It’s hard to get that enthusiastic about a digital photo which comes and goes at the press of a button.

Also I like the way it makes everything look like it’s in the seventies!

So this year is (probably) the last year of the Polaroid era and it’s the first and likely only year of my Polaroid era so I’ll be trying to capture some of this years’ significant events on instant film as well as digital. This is our last chance to appear in that lob-sided square frame.

* There are many Polaroid cameras with various brand names that all take 600 film – there is an interesting guide to them here.

** Unless you couple them with Polaroid’s attempt at staying afloat, the PoGo. Apparently Polaroid had plans to release a digital camera with the PoGo technology incorporated within it but that looks a bit unlikely now they’ve filed for bankruptcy (again). I imagine the proprietary printer paper for the PoGo will disappear soon too.

(Photo Note: that’s my arm and my lovely new watch that Helen gave me for Christmas but it’s not a real Polaroid)


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