Small, portable receipt-type printer compatible with AirPrint

Discussion in 'iPad Accessories for iPAD 1, 2 and 3' started by Mtnmedic, Oct 10, 2015.

  1. Mtnmedic

    Mtnmedic
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    Is there anything like this? I'm the Fire Chief of a small all-volunteer fire department in frontier north-central Oregon. I'm also a career Paramedic. I've been developing our fire department from scratch since late 2011 entirely from donations of used equipment as our operating budget is less than $3000 per year (for fuel, utilities, insurance and modest repairs). I have been able to get some good used iPads (1, 2, 4 and two first-gen Minis) donated to us for use in a variety of situations. The larger iPads are being used as vehicle-mounted information resource and mapping units. The two minis with some medical patient resources and information-taking apps are placed with medial jump kits in each of our two primary emergency medical response vehicles.

    What we're trying to do is get away from sheets and slips of paper, pens, etc. which at times can be misplaced or hard to find during a call. On medical runs, we usually have one person assigned to gathering information and entering it while the others attend to patient care, rescue, etc. We are almost an hour away from the nearest ambulance or mutual aid so we spend a lot of time at the scene with a patient and constantly getting vital signs, etc.

    The idea is to be able to print out a sheet or slip of patient information for the arriving ambulance or helicopter team and have a copy for ourselves as part of our reporting requirements. There is no set standard for this as it's new territory when it comes to electronic information management. We're primarily a rescue team that will slowly integrate into more formal electronic reporting guidelines later on.

    One solution has been to get a mobile/portable printer which prints on 8.5" x 11" paper amd has a small footprint that would be placed in our each of our two emergency medical response vehicles and just print from the iPad from wherever in range of the printer. That would be the simplest solution.

    Another solution, which I thought would be interesting, is to obtain a couple of SMALL printers, thermal paper printers like those used to print receipts on the go which I could stick in the medical kit bag along with the iPad so that printing right there at the scene could be done. We have two iPad Minis, one for each primary medical vehicle (the ambulance/rescue and the backup/2nd out rescue). This could be an elegant solution that accommodates both vehicles/teams with the added bonus of portability between ANY of our vehicles (we have five vehicles, each of which is capable of providing emergency medical services in some fashion).

    The only requirements are that they are capable of AirPrint for easy compatibility with iPads, easy to set up/use and SMALL. Color is NOT needed- black only is okay.

    Does anyone have any suggestions?? Does anyone have a good used smaller AirPrint-capable printer they might be willing to donate to our department to help us solve this issue in exchange for a letter of donation to a non-profit volunteer outfit for tax credit?
     
  2. goofy8275

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    I love your story, great to see you trying to breath new life into such a vital service such as a fire department using technology :)
    [​IMG]
    I did manage to find such a printer that will hopefully fulfill your needs. It's the RJ4040 Brother Mobile Ruggedjet 4.
    It is a bit pricey. Prices vary substantially so check around, but pay attention to whether it comes with the battery or not (tthe battery can be over $130). It does seem to fulfill your needs, as it is very portable (6.9"x6.3"x3", 1lb), powered by a rechargeable battery, and is AirPrint-equipped. Also, be sure you get the RJ4040 and not the RJ4040-K, as it appears that the latter model is NOT equipped with AirPrint capabilities. Check to make sure it specifies AirPrint compatibility in the description.
    Product Overview Brochure from Brother
     
  3. NSquirrel

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    Just a thought: Reading the above interesting post I wondered if a bluetooth printer would provide a cheaper/ alternative /more readily available solution? (I have never tried it so I assume one can print from an iPad with bluetooth: I hope others will correct me if I am wrong.)
     
  4. goofy8275

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  5. twerppoet

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    There is no native Bluetooth printing support in iOS. To print to a Bluetooth printer you must have an app that directly supports that printer. There are a couple of these, but not many. The printer Goofy linked to is one of them. The printing/utility app is Zebra Utilities. I mentioned this because the linked page dose not make this clear (though I expect the full PDF version of the specs would). You'd want to explore the app and make sure that you can print what you want; since it is specifically designed for receipts you might have to do some trickery.

    I'm not sure it is possible to print directly to an AirPrint printer. AirPrint printers are designed to join a local network. As long as the iOS device is on the same network it should see the printer. However, most AirPrint printers do not 'create' a network that the iPad can join. I'm not 100% certain this is still true, but it was not all that long ago.

    This can be gotten around by also having a wi-fi router and creating a network that both the iPad and printer can join. The router dose not have to have an internet connection for this to work; but it does mean that you can not use your cellular connection and printer at the same time.

    There are several small, cheap routers available.
     
  6. Mtnmedic

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    I've done a little researching since my original post and came up with about the same thing as twerppoet. Bluetooth printers are restricted by app. Unless one comes with an app that allows you to change the data fields/customize the form a good deal, I'll have to stick with a wireless printer that is AirPrint capable.

    Wi-Fi routers are cheap and I have an extra Verizon "MiFi" access device (mobile, very small, about the size of a pack of cards), which isn't cellular activated (we have AT&T out here) but makes for a neat little mobile router. Our rescue vehicle-which physically is a retired ambulance-has actively charged 110v AC sockets in the patient compartment. One is near a rather sizable cabinet, which is where I'm thinking I can stash a small AirPrint capable printer and use that to print universally amongst any iDevices we use. That should solve the problem. Wi-Fi is for a good distance and most of the time the rescue vehicle is within about 30-50 feet of where the action is.

    Now, I just gotta find someone who would be willing to donate to our dinky all-volunteer fire department a SMALL AirPrint-capable printer. :p


    "We did win, didn't we?"

    "No. But if we think fast enough, we just might live to lie about it."
     
  7. twerppoet

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    Thanks for the update. Good luck.
     

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