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Peter Phillips

Agonisingly slow printing to HP500PS

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I have recently bought an HP500PS but am very disappointed to find that it is agonisingly slow to rip and then print, and it locks up my computer whilst it is doing so. I have Vectorworks 9.5 with Architect, and I run it from a G4 Mac. I Have allocated plenty of memory to the rip and to Vectorworks. I use the rip and driver that came with the printer. They were difficult to set up, but with a lot of patient help from the HP tech line, I eventually managed to do so.

Before getting the HP I used to print tiles onto my A3 Epson Stylus inkjet printer and stick them together. It was a tedious process but the print quality was excellent and it printed each tile in no time at all. Why does one have to go through the rip process and postscript? Isn?t it possible to use the HP printer in the same Quickdraw mode?

Please help. I?m desperate. The present speed is totally unacceptable.

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Peter, Unfortunately, speed is the nature of the rip software. The ripping process on that model with the HP driver can be dredfully slow. We do not reccomend using the HP Rip software due to instalbility with complex drawings and slowness. We do reccomend MacPlot for HP printers using the RIP software. This rip software is not as slow from what I've seen and heard. It will produce drawings with patterns and images without black blocks, hatches will print the way they should, and in cases where fonts are skewed with the HP Rip driver, they are resolved in MacPlot.

You may want to read other posts in this forum regarding HP 500ps and the 455ca.

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Many thanks Katie. I wish I had known this before I bought the printer.

How much faster is MacPlot? I would not want to spend the rather expensive ?300 or so for it only to find it perform not a lot better.

Seeing as HP machines are widely used, couldn't Nemetscheck produce its own more reasonably priced drivers?

Is there no way of using Quickdraw instead anyway, rather than postscript and rips? It works so well on my Epson inkjet.

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I have had good luck using Adobe Acrobat to print Vectorworks file to an HP488CA plotter (the predecessor to the 500PS).

I use Acrobat distiller to generate a PDF file of the sheet and then print the PDF file to the HP plotter using the HP plotter's software.

Don't ask me why, but this is much faster than printing directly to the plotter from Vectorworks.

The incredibly poor quality of the HP software is a real scandal. It makes the HP products almost unusable. Someone previously suggested the idea of a class action suite against HP.

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There is a big difference between the 500ps and the 455ca in the ripping mode used.

It's like comparing oranges to apples.

My point in looking at other posts in regards to this issue is to see there are a number of plotters having difficulties with HP's rip software packages.

Unfortunately, we do not have enough resources to develop our own set of printer drivers for the vast diversity of OS's and printers we work with.

Not to mention if we did make our own drivers, it would probably limit the amount of printers we support. Relying on Printer Manufacturers is the best way to go at this time given the fact that in most cases, there is a solution available. The one exception that I am aware of (and can think of off the top of my head) is the 600-1200 serices of HP DeskJets under OS 9 and printing larger than 8.5x11 sheets of paper.

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Peter, You can contact MicroSpot for information on quickness and so forth of the software. I don't have exact numbers available for you.

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I think the hp 500ps is a great machine. Athough I do not have one, my friend does and the output, especially on canvas from photoshop is remarkable. I have had alot of problems with my hp 455ca and vector works in the past, but only because I did not have the rip and the host machine dialed in correctly. I had macplot products before and they were ok, but I think HP rip is a good product, you just have to be patient and "dial" it in. HP tech support seems great too and more accessable than microspot i feel. Making the transition to a plotter is rough because you woul expect it to work just like a cheap inkjet printer we all are used too. Not so, and a getting the rip program working takes some fiddling. A couple of tips. Run The RIP on a separate machine through a ethernet network using HP's jetdirect print server. It frees up your main machine and speeds up the whole process. Use an old g3 to run the rip. it does not take that fast of a machine to run it. Printers /plotters only can go 10 base speeds anyway. I use a 3400 powerbook which works great. It's small, sits buy the plotter, and only runs the rip. Have plenty of ram on the vectorworks machine. The rip needs 40 mb min to run. With the only other thing running is the system software so the powerbook gets by with only 75 MBs of ram. The HP software seems to work much better and faster in a network environment. You can get older jetdirect print servers ,$50 vs $250 new, on ebay and upgrade the firm ware to the lastest for free from the HP web site. Check with HP on the Jetdirect model they recommend. and get a cble/ dsl router to hook up the network to. Even if you have only one machine now I think this is a better solution than the Microplot xrip because you get more for your money. and expandablity in the future. Plus the base xrip only works on one machine. If you ever get more and want to plot from all the machines you spend even more $. The Hp RIP is fine plus it is free and HP will support it and the 500ps for a long while. Having 2 tech support guys to talk to is better than 3. VWKS tech seems great at working on any problems, just be patient.

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Kurt;

I agree. I have had my 455CA for 4 years now. At first it was a pain to setup and figure out, but now I really don't think about it.

I have never been able to get it to spool directly into the RIP. What I now do is to save all print jobs to File. This way the printing from VW is independant of the RIP. It also gives me something to make PDF's of in Acrobat Distiller if I so choose.

Once the sheets are printed to File, I do just as you suggest. I open the files on a separate G3 that runs the RIP. Once I press the Green Start button the process is automatic. Sure it prints slow, but why do I care. While it is printing I am working in VW on the other computer. Or better yet, it is printing while I am sleeping.

On a separate note: Be sure that you keep the carriage rail lubed. The lube dries out eventually.

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Peter

I have the identical set up, and after months of trying different approcahes to speed the printing process up, I resolved the issue. The only exception being that of 30" paper. But on average I can generally Rip and print 1 page in 24x36 every 5 to 6 min. Don't have time to explain the process write now, but if you like, give me a call at the office and I can step you thru it.

David Nichols, Anderson Nichols Design 910-215-9901

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keven;

i still do not see why you cannot print directly from your vectroworks machine to the spool machine. do you have the current laserwriter driver or carb lib? I use OS 9.2.2 and OS 10.1.5, VWKS 9.5.2, with lot of ram, on my vectorworks machines and OS 9.2.2 & HP RIP1.1a with the OS 9 patch on the rip machine. As far as speed is concerned, I always plot VWKS files in fast mode vs normal or best, on trans bond vs vellum ( cheaper). I have found the print quality is fine for line drawings that will be blueprinted . I also use line weights of .25mm or bigger because blueprints fade and get messed up in the field. The bigger the lines the better the contractors can see them. I keep these setting as defaults then if I do a rendering or photoshop stuff i change to best printing mode. The speed increase in output is substantial. Also in fast mode, the plotter cuts the prints immediately instead of waiting for them to dry as in best mode.

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keven;

i still do not see why you cannot print directly from your vectroworks machine to the spool machine. do you have the current laserwriter driver or carb lib? I use OS 9.2.2 and OS 10.1.5, VWKS 9.5.2, with lot of ram, on my vectorworks machines and OS 9.2.2 & HP RIP1.1a with the OS 9 patch on the rip machine. As far as speed is concerned, I always plot VWKS files in fast mode vs normal or best, on trans bond vs vellum ( cheaper). I have found the print quality is fine for line drawings that will be blueprinted . I also use line weights of .25mm or bigger because blueprints fade and get messed up in the field. The bigger the lines the better the contractors can see them. I keep these setting as defaults then if I do a rendering or photoshop stuff i change to best printing mode. The speed increase in output is substantial. Also in fast mode, the plotter cuts the prints immediately instead of waiting for them to dry as in best mode.

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Hi Kurt;

I have been printing to File for so long that it has become natural. I gave up trying to fix the problem of not being able to print to Print. A while ago you mentioned it is perhaps a font problem. I have purchased several font utilities to both check integrity and to organize, (Suitcase 10). I am hoping that when things slow down over the holidays that I can spend the time to look at the fonts. I would like to fix the printing problem and hopefully be able to use Suitcase to reduce the fonts available in Vectorworks to a dozen or so. (I now have hundreds available).

As for the laserwriter driver and carbon lib, I have decided for now to "let the sleeping dog lie". It seems lately that whenever someone updates there are a new slew of problems.

Thanks for your input.

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Many thanks to every one for your help.

I have recently discovered a way of significantly speeding up the process using HP's postscript printer driver which may be of interest to others. It is simply to set the "Print Mode" menu to "Fast CAD" (instead of 'Normal CAD' or 'Best CAD' or any of the other settings) in the "Printer Specific Options" menu in print dialogue box. In so doing it now takes only about 5 minutes to rip and then print an A1 sheet - still not brilliant, but good enough.

There are quite a lot of other menus in the print dialogue box whose purpose escapes me, so there is probably scope for further improvement if I only knew how. Oh if only computer hardware and software manufacturers provided printed manuals like they used to!

Regards

Peter Phillips

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Peter:

A friend of mine who works in an office full of Macs with Landmark had the same problem with printing to the 500PS. The problem was solved when they installed a PC with XP on the network (PC-mac lan) and hung the plotter off the PC. Now everyone can plot to the 500 through the PC without having to RIP the file. Printing begins in about 20-30 seconds and most take about two minutes.

I also have the 500ps. In the tests I've done for typical line drawings, I can't tell the difference in line quality. I'm using it with win2000 and plot in both ps and non-ps modes.

I realize for a mac user this amounts to heresy, but then again, time is money. Adding the machine would simplify your plotting problems.

Good Luck

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I think if you had a Mac that acted as your print server you would see the same speed gains. The main think is to have a dedicated machine running the RIP and Plotter

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