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lowvolt

Older DesignJet Plotting with OS X.2

Question

I have a DesignJet 250C with a JetDirect EX ethernet interface. I'm running Vectorworks 9.5 on an Apple Cube with OS X 10.2.1. After installing the latest editions of gimp-print and ghostscript, plotting was easy to set up through Print Center. I used the pcl-750 driver. Printing works through Page Setup and Print... just like any other Apple printing operation. I believe that this driver will work for any large format designjet from the 200 through 700 series but I only have tested it on the 250C. CUPS with gimp-print and ghostscript makes printing setup a breeze. I think this is a great example of Open Source Software in action.

The only problem was that the ppd generated by the installation did not have the correct settings for Hardware Margins or ImageableArea. I was able to edit the ppd file for all of the page sizes supplied, and now, the images are the correct size, centered on the page, and fill the allowable ImageableArea. The page area shown on VectorWorks is the correct size as well.

I can e-mail the ppd to anyone interested in trying it on any of these hp plotters.

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YOU ARE A GENIUS!!! I LOVE IT. THIS WILL PUT MACPLOT OUT OF BIZ IF THE SECRET GETS OUT. I STILL NEED TO FIGURE OUT AND FINE-TUNE THE PRINTABLE AREA, BUT I THINK THAT SHOULD BE EASY. BTW: I AM ON A MAC G4/450/DP AND PRINT TO A DJ230.

THANKS! PLC

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Good Job Lowvolt ! If you could emaill me the PPD that would be great. Also any tips on the gimp print and ghostscript installation would be apreciated. Can this work on a network or are you directly connected to the plotter. I have a 455ca plotter on a network.

Kurt Magness

magarc@earthlink.net

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KURT, All you need to do is go to the GIMP PRINT site and download and install BOTH ghostscipt & Gimp Print. Look in their list and if your printer is supported you can create your own PPD by simply adding a printer to your print center (they have good instructions at the site). I use it over a LAN to a DJ 230 and it works like a charm. Have Fun! Peter

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I got the gimp print and ghostscript fine from their web page. Installation went smooth, followed their instructions for a network, no problems. Found my plotter ppd, a HP 455ca in the print center, cool ! Printed out some test plots from VWKS 9.5.3 on Mac OS 10.2.2 at 8 1/2 x 11 fine. This is great ! Then went to a D size plot (my 455 is d size) off some old drawings and then I get error message in print center, show jobs, "no pages found! ". It sits and thinks about it, then the print jobs just stop. Got any ideas on what's happening? Does the ppd need to be modified? The same file plots ok if I do just a portion of the it at C size or 8.5 x 11. Also if i que up more than one file it freezes and all the error lights go on the plotter. I hope this is a minor tuning thing because I was so stoked when the first plots came through.

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Kurt, sorry to hear you're having problems. I know this is kind of obvious, but just a thought, have you gone through the PAGE SETUP dialog with each drawing before printing? It seems like the info VW passes to a printer file is very sensitive to page setup /drawing size issues. Just a thought. Beyond that, maybe the guys at GIMP PRINT can help???

Peter Cipes

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Thanks guys for all the imput. I just downloaded gimpprint and ghost script the other day and double check the versions. They are the lastest so I do not think that is the problem. I did go to page setup and choose the arch d from the new ppd. I also printed the file at 8.5 x 11 first and it printed fine, then changed the page setup to arch d and then got the " no pages found" error message. I will post a thread on the gimprint site and see if they know anything. Unfortunately I cannot test anything again on my 455 for a while because the drive belt just broke. I know it had nothing to do with gimp print but it is still a flukey coincidence. May be it is kind of like when I installed OSX on my wife's imac and then the mother board died. The repair guy in that case said that when ever you switch some thing major, like the OS, it puts a little more stress on the whole system and if there is any weak link, it tends to break. My wife keeps saying I wreck her machine. I tend to beleive it was her when she got water on it when watering a plant. Who do you beleive?

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Kurt;

I am sorry about your drive belt. You did however make me feel better. A few months ago I bought a drive belt for my 455 to have "just in case". I did not know if anything could go wrong with a drive belt. Now I don't feel so stupid having a spare drive belt sitting next to my 455.

Let us know how the repair goes. I am interested to know how easy it is to replace.

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Good News!

The latest version of gimp-print 4.2.4. which supersedes 4.2.4-rc1 now generates the correct margins for hp plotters and includes page sizes such as 'ArchD transverse' which allows D size plots to print on 36 wide sheets. There is no longer any need to manually modify the ppd.

Another point. When I was experimenting with printing and changing PPD's, I found that it was necessary to "activate" ppd changes for each drawing. By this I mean that if a drawing had been previously set up to print to ArchD for example, I had to go to Page Setup and select a different page size and then go to Print and actually print a copy (to save trees, you don't need a hard copy, preview print will do), then, go back to Page Setup and select the desired page size again before making an actual print. It seemed like the old ppd data was carried along with the drawing and did not get changed if the name of the ppd was the same even though the actual ppd file data had changed. Apparently, the change in the drawing data doesn't occur until there is a difference in the drawing page size name at the time of printing.

Also, there are now specific ppd's for a range of HP plotters. The following two quotes are from the release notes.

" The following HP DesignJet large-format plotters are now supported: DesignJet 230, 250, 430, 450, 455, 488, 700, 2500, and 3500. Other DesignJet printers may work with one of these drivers."

" Transverse versions of the US CAD standard paper sizes (ArchA, ArchB, ArchC, ArchD, and ArchE) have been added. This permits printing e. g. ArchD size (24x36) plots on 36 inch wide paper."

The latest versions of gimp-print and ESP Ghostscript, which is also required, are available for download at

http://gimp-print.sourceforge.net/MacOSX.php3#4.2.4

Finally, in my case, the plotter is a designjet 250c with a jetdirect EX interface connected to my intranet so it is accessible over the network.

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Keven:

About as easy as driving it to the HP repair center. Fortunately they are only a 1/2 hour away. They say $17.00 for the belt and $75 hr labor. I expect it should be about $100 bucks. Plus they will tune it up by cleaning and oiling stuff, etc.

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WOW! this is great. We were just looking at new plotters because HP does not support DesignJet 700 on Mac OS. Now we can use it and don't have to throw it away.

Actually it is still too slow for us. But know we do not have to worry about only buying a plotter that Supports Mac OS. This is so cool! [big Grin]

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can this gimp print/ghostscript method be used to send out plot files to a print house? they told me to use hp650c when setting up the plot files. i'm running vw 9.5.3 on osX.2.2. i had originally bought a copy of macplot pro so we could plot on our old hp design jet200 but it died before we could get it running.

also, which plotter works best with the system we are running? we will be getting a new one soon.

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Ok so I got my 455 back from repair. A week to get the belt, an hour to put it in. $85.00 total. not bad. Now I still get that "no pages found error "when plotting D size from an existing file. When I test plot a D size with a new file with just a square and a circle, it plots ok but cuts the sheet right after the image of the circle, not a full D size. I think got all the right versions of gimp print 4.2.4 and Ghostscript 7.05.5 I went to gimpprints help forum i got no responses to my "no pages found" message. I saw that there was a cutter issue in a bug report but it says to make sure the plotter is set to software instead of "imageable area" for the cutter. Does anybody know how you do that? By looking at the help file and bug reports, this software is a long way from being stable and workable for a office. Lowvolt, Peter or Keven, Have you got this setup working on all files, old and new?

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Kurt, yes my setup seems to be working without problems. One thing I might toss in, though, is that I never use the setup assistant, or the print sheets command. I manually choose a saved sheet and then print it out, one at a time (ie no roll feeder). Your last post, esp, the "no sheets" message, leads me to believe you may be doing something differently.

Please keep us up to date and good luck... Peter

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Kurt, yes my setup seems to be working without problems. One thing I might toss in, though, is that I never use the setup assistant, or the print sheets command. I manually choose a saved sheet and then print it out, one at a time (ie no roll feeder). Your last post, esp, the "no sheets" message, leads me to believe you may be doing something differently.

Please keep us up to date and good luck... Peter

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Kurt,

It looks as if there are two problems to solve here. First, regarding existing drawings, I think that you have to "activate" the new PPD. My experience has been that, if I change something in the PPD, I had to open an existing drawing, go to Page Setup... , pick a different page size, go to Print... and actually print a Preview at the new page size, then go back to Page Setup, reselect the desired page size, and then finally print at the desired page size. Only then will the drawing print using the latest PPD. It seems as though print setup data is carried along with the drawing based on the name of the paper rather than the date of the PPD. Could you try this with one of your drawings and let us know what happens?

With regard to the paper cutting size, I have no solution. My plotter is sheet feed only. I did set up a dummy 455ca plotter so that I could examine the PPD. I didn't see anything there relating to paper cutting. If you have a small image, say taking up only the first half of the desired page, does your plotter cut the paper at the end of that image, or, does it cut it at 0.67 inches before the end of what would be the desired paper size? The ImageableArea variable used in the PPDs is the paper size minus the hardware margins. Those are 0.2 inches side to side and 0.67 inches end to end.

My guess is that it has something to do with the plotter setup but, I don't have a roll feed plotter to examine.

Let us know what you learn.

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Kurt;

I applaude you and the other intrepid visionaries who are trying to get this new software to work.

For me I am still using the HP RIP and OS9.2 and LaserWriter 8. I did once have a problem with the size of the output image. It turns out that there are two places for scaling.

One is the usual scale field under page set up. But there is another one hiding under a Vectorworks pull down tab in the same window. This was set to other than 100% and is what was giving me grief.

Godspeed to all of you software pioneers.

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I have been having better luck printing more files without the "no pages found" error. Perhaps the file i was using had some other issues with it. however the auto cutter is still cutting approx 3/4 " after the last image on the drawing so that if the image is aout 12" into the 36" long sheet (D size) the cutter cuts at 12 3/4" . I do not use the assitant but print like Peter does. How do you check the PPDS for imageable areas? How do you check the plotter to see if it is using software or imagable area as the criteria for the cutter? I could use a work around like using a border or putting a dot or something where I want it to cut but that would be too easy. keven I do not think it is a scaling issue but I know what you mean about those 2 places to check for scaling. I probably will have more hours and frustration into getting gimpprint to work than if I just bought Xrip from microspot. Pennywise pound foolish?

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Hi Kurt, I used MicroSpot stuff for years, and it worked fine. They will require a dongle and they will charge you $$$. Your idea about a drawing border is a good one. There's no such thing as too easy. All my drawings have borders, and in fact, when I first bought MacPlot (from Microspot) I had to do a lot of trial and error to determine the printable area.

With my setup now, the newest GIMP PRINT download, printable area shows up as a (very accurate) gray rectangle, which can be moved around with the PAGE MOVE tool in VW's.

Even though I dont have a roll feeder, I think your plotter may be trying to save you paper by cutting at the end of the image.

Keep on keepin on! Peter

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Kurt,

Peter is correct. The printable area as shown on the drawing in VectorWorks is very accurate with the latest versions of gimp-print. It is directly related to the ImageableArea variable in the ppd.

The ImageableArea variable depends only on the paper size and the printer hardware margins and thus is fixed for each page size. It does not change as a function of the graphics being plotted. The paper cutting must be a function of some setting in your plotter.

I downloaded the User's Manual for your plotter. I see on p 1-21, the Setup Sheet page, there is a section 7 for setting page size. In that section, there is a selection for "inked area" or "software". From the behavior that you are observing, you must have it set to "inked area" rather than "software". Try changing that and see what happens.

Ron

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I just did a setup check and the plotter page size is set for "software" versus " inked area". Then I tried plotting and it still cuts short. hmmm, maybe I will try to check "inked area", run it, then back to "software" setting.

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Kurt, I looked at the printer manual again and found some information in section 3 that may help. Paraphrasing, if "inked area" is selected, then you get the behavior you are seeing. If "software" is selected, then the plotter will use the page size specified by your plotting software but only if the software sends a page size instruction in HP GL2, otherwise, it defaults to "inked area".

There is another possibility. For example, if you are using Arch page sizes you can select "Best" in the Arch page size selection on the HP "Setup Sheet". In this case the plotter will always put out a page size with standard Arch dimensions but, it will be the size which is large enough to contain the inked area of the drawing. You can't specify the page size directly. If the drawing is smaller than a D size but larger than a C size, the plotter will give you a D size sheet but if the drawing is smaller than a C size and larger than a B, you will get a C size sheet.

If you want a particular Arch paper size regardless of the drawing size, it appears that your only choice is to select Arch "Best" on the setup sheet and then either put a border on the drawing or even just a couple of small gray dots at diagonally opposite corners of the printable area for the paper size you want.

I don't know if it's possible for Vectorworks to tell the gimp-print system to tell the plotter to use a specific paper size. Ron

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Ron:

Thanks for the tips and caring enough to deal with my problem. I will try your suggestions and see if they work. Gimp-print does not have fast, normal or best modes however. it has line art , solid colors or photographs options. Additionally the gimp-print bug forum suggested to upgrade to os 10.2.3 which I did. so I now I am running OS 10.2.3, vwks 9.5.3, gimp-print 4.2.4 w/ ghostscript 7.05.5-0. I did some test plots consisting of just some colored fill boxes with the last one about half way down the D size sheet. If i plot in 600 dpi monochrome mode (as specified in the print command, not in vwks) it plots fine and cuts at 36", if I plot in 300 dpi color it cuts 3/4" right after the last image. Hmm, weirdness, maybe I will try to re-install gimp-print. Any comments?

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Ron:

Just re-read your post and realized that when you talked about "best" it is on the setup sheet, not in the print command setups.

Kurt

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keven:

Ok so I just did a OSx - gimpprint test of a colored "doodle" 3d rendering within VWKS. When printing to my 455 directly from VWKS I got solid black with streaks for a full 24 x 36 with a little distorted version of the rendering in b/w at the bottom of the sheet. When I printed the same file through preview it look ok on the preview but printed a small 4 x 5 size version of the rendering in color, not that great and then cut the sheet 3/4" after the mini version. Weirdness ! Did you do anything special to the 455 or the jetdirect like setting it to HP/GL instead of postscript like lowvolt suggested?

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