Stock Ticker Machine

I wanted to have a stock ticker, after seeing an article about how to value said mechanical marvel. I looked and thought: “Ooo! I’d like one of those, its like a teletype, but much smaller and cooler.”

Turns out the reason why nobody has one is because they cost >£3000 and rarely come on the market.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here is a picture:

By H. Zimmer – Own work, CC BY 3.0,

They are a striking, iconic even piece of late Victorian engineering. They have seeped into pop culture so much that they pop up everywhere, including the Simpsons:

20th Century Fox TV/Disney

If I can’t buy one….

I’m going to have to make one instead. The basic plan was to take

  • an Ikea HÄRLIGA Glass dome with base,
  • an embossing wheel,
  • A stepper to feed paper
  • A stepper to move the type wheel
  • Some solenoids to push the paper into the type wheel

Rough design plan:


First we need to mill a pocket in the base of the bell jar. This will accept the plate that holds the solenoids that pushes the paper into the type wheel

Milling the pocket
I miscalculated the depth of the base
The paper presser plate attached to the solenoid plate.

Now that we have the presser plate more or less sorted we now to figure out the way to hold the paper, type wheel, and the various motors needed to manage them.

But, before we do structural things, we need a logo. As we are dealing with something from the late victorian/edwardian era, we need a decent logo:

Test engraving. You really have to make sure your stock is parallel to the engraving bit…

When I was designing the logo, I realised that the stock base that comes with the HÄRLIGA isn’t tall enough to house the solenoids. So I need to mill a base extension:

Here you can see the bottom of the solenoids
Test fitting the logo plate fitting

Now that we have a logo, base and paper pressing module, its time to make a “main plate” that supports the paper, type wheel and feed mechanism.

Testing the main plate with plywood
A rare picture of the typewheel attached to the main plate

A plain pine base is very un-victorian, so we need to make sure we make it look like its from the 1900s. So we need to dye the base jet black and make it glossy.

I had looked up how to ebonise wood, as I had assumed that’s how they made that glossy black wood. However these techniques don’t work on pine.

So I split the difference and stained the wood with Indian Ink. However the ink will come off in your hands if you’re not careful. So I sealed it all with acrylic gloss.

A quick soaking with indian ink, and a coating of acrylic gloss
With the name plate.

Now that we have the base almost fixed, we can move on to the main plate. It needs a support to stop it falling over. The typewheel also needs an adaptor.

In all its glory.
Paper and inking

Now, most of the physical build is complete, I need to make sure that I can ink the stamping wheel, and reliably guide the paper into the correct place. After that, its all software and electronics, which I hope is a lot easier.

Stay tuned for part II