jim-analog

Printer question for AP Porta1 users
« on: July 12, 2018, 08:30:13 PM »

 Greetings,

 We have a AP Porta 1 (analog only) running V2.03 firmware. It's the version with a parallel printer port as opposed to the GPIB port.  Has anyone found an available printer that will function with this unit? The manual doesn't mention anything specific,  but the data sheet states:

 " Portable One prints graphs, panel setups
and measured data either to laser (PCL compatible)
or inkjet printers."

  Either new or used (but available without too much difficulty) is fine. I really like this instrument and the many tests that can be done with it, but still having to do any type of plots/graphs by hand (for clients) seems silly and a huge time investment. Thanks much for any suggestions.

PS...............if anyone has a source for the factory IMD option, PLEASE let me know! Any 3rd party firms that may be a helpful long shot (other than Duke A, whom I've spoken with  a few times)?

 Best, Jim


squarewave

Re: Printer question for AP Porta1 users
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2018, 10:09:41 PM »
You might look into parallel port to USB adapters and associated software so that you can just "print" to a PC and either get an image or PDF maybe. This is the sort of thing that the Kermit project used to be used for but no doubt there are more direct software solutions available.

jim-analog

Re: Printer question for AP Porta1 users
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2018, 02:45:28 PM »

 Greetings,

 Thanks for the tip Squarewave. The problem is that AP did a test using a few of the available USB adapters and printers some years ago. The later Porta1 series units seemed to function ok, but the early version that I have failed with all of the test scenarios. There is a short write up on this at the AP web sight. I may give it a try anyway, but was hoping there was another solution that current Porta1 users may have.

 BTW, what was the "Kermit" project?

 Best, Jim

squarewave

Re: Printer question for AP Porta1 users
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2018, 03:13:42 PM »
Greetings,

 Thanks for the tip Squarewave. The problem is that AP did a test using a few of the available USB adapters and printers some years ago. The later Porta1 series units seemed to function ok, but the early version that I have failed with all of the test scenarios. There is a short write up on this at the AP web sight. I may give it a try anyway, but was hoping there was another solution that current Porta1 users may have.

 BTW, what was the "Kermit" project?

 Best, Jim
Kermit [1] is software that is ancient but surprisingly still useful for negotiating and reading / writing serial and parallel data. Based on what you've said, it might actually be what you're looking for because you will almost guaranteed be able to read the output and write it to a file. What you should then have is basically a file that should be PCL or whatever it is. PCL  is just a drawing command language not completely unlike PDF actually. From there you can figure out how to convert it.

My only reservation would be that you might need a parallel port on the computer. The USB to parallel is honestly something that I'm not familiar with and actually somewhat suspicious of because USB is a serial protocol and I'm not entirely sure how such a thing would work. But if anything is going to be able to do it it will be Kermit because you can change how the communication is performed, the baud rate and all aspects of the stream negotiation and so on. Of course you have to be a bit of a nerd to use it and understand hexidecimal codes and such. It's got a GUI last I checked but still have to know things like some bit has to be high and then this mask is used and parity that and blah, blah, blah. It's not for everyone.

[1] http://www.kermitproject.org/
« Last Edit: July 13, 2018, 03:19:45 PM by squarewave »

jim-analog

Re: Printer question for AP Porta1 users
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2018, 07:01:47 PM »
Greetings!

 Thanks again Squarewave, very interesting and may indeed be a solution. FYI, here is a link to the short note AP regarding printing via USB adapters:

https://www.ap.com/technical-library/printing-from-portable-one-and-ats-1/

 So, yes, PCL (I think it was yet another "HP" x Language" initially, is the format the AP printer output is in. As an aside, I'm having similar issues with HPIB (IEE-488/GPIB) bus comms and the lack of hardware/driver/windows inability to allow applications direct port access, etc. with all of my other (mostly HP) test gear. The same issues come up using an HPIB:USB adapter (except for one specific HP (Agilent) unit that seem to now be almost all awful chinese clones that don't work), there hasn't been much success as far as I can tell.

 So, I keep a couple of old Win98 boxes running off line as they provide serial and parallel ports and apparently also allowed applications direct port access. I have to add, I'm not a coder at all (since VAX/VMS machine language anyway), so much of the particulars may require some help. I just book marked the Kermit page and will start to investigate it.  Your input is much appreciated!

 Best, Jim

jim-analog

Re: Printer question for AP Porta1 users: UPDATE
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2018, 07:41:22 PM »

 Greetings,

 Well, both good and bad news on the AP Porta1 printing problem.

  First, a couple of friends that are very good with computers hooked me up with a converter device, a Photologic CS-ZN2, which takes a parallel port input and has a USB output, which they were able to install. Two types of software ended up being installed, first TeraTerm (the recommended program for that device) and then Print Capture (something I'd found before). FYI, the Porta1 has 3 print options; screen, graph and table.

TeraTerm was set up and worked for screen dumps and table results. Any attempts to use it for graphs failed, no matter what we tried.
 I had previously tried to down load Print Capture, but the install failed twice. My friends were able to find a different download site and get it to install correctly. This program allowed the graphs to display and print perfectly over my local network printer! Happiness!

 Problem is that it was a 30 day trial version that has now run out.

 The time out message says to go to printcapture.com to purchase the full version. I'd be quite happy to do just that, but it seems both the company and that web page are no longer in existence.  So, wondering if anyone out there knows of  a way to purchase a version of this program that won't time out? Or, has anyone found a different program that will print graphs?

  I'm still searching for other solutions and will update if I come across anything.  Thanks for reading.

 Regards, Jim

squarewave

Re: Printer question for AP Porta1 users: UPDATE
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2018, 08:03:54 PM »
The time out message says to go to printcapture.com to purchase the full version. I'd be quite happy to do just that, but it seems both the company and that web page are no longer in existence.
Use the wayback machine to look at the site and find clues / contact info.

Audio1Man

Re: Printer question for AP Porta1 users
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2018, 10:26:50 PM »
Hi Jim
The CANNON BJ100 works.
Duke

jim-analog

Re: Printer question for AP Porta1 users
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2018, 05:45:30 PM »

 Greetings,

 Squarewave...............I did some further looking into PC  via Prologix. They make an HPIB to USB or E'net converter (I have the E'net version) and print capture is on their suggested list of programs to use with their products. According to their rep, they know of no way to get in touch with anyone affiliated with PC or find a non time limited copy.

Duke..........thanks for that tip! I'll see if I can find one. However the major upside of what I had (briefly) working was also having the ability to save the graphs as an image file for reference/use in the future.  A printer is certainly better than nothing and would be a big help.

 Along the way, someone suggested 7470.exe, which is a plotter emulation program as a possibility. I downloaded it, but haven't installed  yet.  Reading the docs, I don't think it's going to work unless there is an overlap between HPGL (plotter/graphics language) and the early,  limited set of parallel print conventions issued by the AP.  Another suggestion was HyperTerminal, which apparently earlier versions of Windows came with. I'll be looking into that as well.

 So, I am going to try the above programs and also keep looking for other options. I'll report back with any success or failures . If anyone out there knows of a program that has worked for them, please reply to this thread. I know I'm not the only one still using a Porta1 here.  It's a really great machine,  just a bit of a shortcoming getting data out of it.

Thanks for reading!

 Regards, Jim

 

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