Getting predictable output


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Troubleshooting the HP455 RIP     Rotated text tip

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We're collecting our experiences and technical tid-bits here. The more the merrier.
Would anyone else appreciate a table of acronym-to-english equivalants?

HP 750C + HP 455CA + HP5000 + Apple 16/600 + Epson Stylus 1520

Our Architecture firm has the following networked printers:

1. HP 750c Design Jet accessed via a 10 base-T JetDirect card and driven by PowerPlot 2.03 RTL and HP/GL drivers (depending on file content)

2. HP 455CA Design Jet accessed via a 10 base-T JetDirect box and driven by the associated HP RIP running full time on a 7200/90 with 160MB RAM and a 2GB IBM HD pulled from a PowerComputing PowerCenter. 54 MB of RAM are assigned to the RIP. This setup can spool dozens of jobs at a time, with the only sticking point being the occasional timeout as the job is sent from the client computer to the server.

3. HP 5000 series Laserjet accessed via a 10 base-T JetDirect card  and driven by Apple's Laserwriter driver.

4. Apple 16/600 LaserWriter accessed via a the built in 10 Base-T chip and driven by Apple's Laserwriter driver

5. Epson Stylus Color 1520 accessed via an Epson Ethernet card and driven by Epson's bundled drivers.

The entire office is networked with 100Base-T ethernet. My experience is that the lowest-end computers are more than sufficient to run print servers (and even lighter-duty servers of other stripes such as mail, FTP, and even low-volume file servers such as the one we have to provide file sharing services to the few Windows boxes we use.) Disk speed seems to be much more relevant than CPU speed for most server duties required in offices such as ours. In fact, the 455CA outputting large scale full color presentation drawings served by the 7200/90 with all settings at maximum quality easily outpaces the 750C outputting the same file from a G3 client computer driving the printer via PowerPlot's RTL driver again with all settings at the equivalent of "Best".

Our preferred methods for outputting your average PowerCADD-generated construction document is to use either the 455CA or the HP/GL-2 driver due to the speed with which the print request is processed by an entity other than the client computer from where the print job originated. RTL jobs tend to tie up the client computer's processor, resulting in the infamous "jumpy cursor" phenomenon, making drafting accuracy iffy at best. The "lighter" output produced by PowerCADD's round pen option in combination with either the 455CA RIP or the GL-2 driver can be overcome by judicious selection of lineweights (nothing less than .13 mm, most lines at .25mm or .35 mm) and use of the slightly blockier, heavier Zurich BT font instead of Helvetica.

With the advent of OSX, we'll be installing a hardware postscript card in the 750c and abandoning the PowerPlot solution. We'll leave the 7200/90 running OS 9.x and the RIP and pray that Apple's implementation of the new LaserWriter driver is still capable of communicating directly with the RIP.

Now what? the queue is hung.

Erik Mar

HP DJ350C with PowerPlot

Printing with PowerPlot from PowerCADD2000 has shown no noticeable changes from printing with older PowerCADD versions.

I use PowerPlot version 2.02a. Version 2.03 has problems with the DesignJet 350c that were never remedied.

I have a 350c with a roll feed attachment. You have to be there to cut the paper with the slide cutter (works great) and push a button to reset for the next plot. Or you could run a bunch of plots and cut them somehow later (never tried it). This is fine with me as I am usually there checking plots and setting up the next plot in the meantime. One design snafu: You always have to return the cutter to the left--if you forget, your next plot could end up crumpled. Of course for single plots you can set it going and leave indefinitely.

I use the PowerPlot Appletalk/Serial powered connector that plugs into the back of the plotter. I use plain old phonenet AppleTalk which is a bit of a hassle when you switch to non-AppleTalk. Today's option would be ethernet which can be used with a Jet Direct card.

I print RTL in the background all the time. Takes 6 minutes for a 24' x 36" for a line drawing with grayscale fills and lots of text. Be sure to have plenty of memory for PowerCADD, PowerPlot and some left over in the system. This slows the computer some, but you can still carry out operations. You could slow up the printing with memory-intensive work.

I like RTL's handling of all images and I like sending RTL files to others, using the PowerPlot software. The only thing is: it uses a "square pen" and you get diagonal lines fatter than horizontal or vertical lines. HPGL2 plots (which you can do as well with PowerPlot) do not look robust enough for me (some text appears weak) and the process holds up the computer some. RTL is suggested for handling colors, fills, bitmaps and text better.

I generally use the plotter for black and grayscale vellum plotting. I set PowerPlot Color Options to "Grayscale" and "Scatter" for smooth shading. You will often need to check the color options when you print, because they can default back when you switch printers. Also you need to check your page setup each session. I choose the Architectural D in the first dialog and "plain paper" in drawing size.

I do not keep color ink cartridges in the machine. I find that prints come out blacker. This is true for older models too. You get a warning blinking panel--just hit cancel once.

Another fault of the system is that if you do not clear and reset soon after a plot is done, the driver will give up and cancel the following plot. You need to learn to handle canceling plots correctly or you'll hang up the printer and have to turn it off-even reload the paper!

It's great for my setup, working alone. I sometimes produce 30-50 plots at a time. This is always a "process", but the software or DJ350c is not the issue. I am spending most of my time checking the files, calling for a print, and checking the plots as they come out. I don't find myself waiting for the machine, in other words.

These systems are out of date and working great. However, this info might be helpful for someone buying an old DesignJet 350C.

Peter D


Our architecture firm is running PC2000/5.0.12 on mixed G3 Macs ethernetted to a PPC 8500 file server + HPDJ455CA + GCC XL 608 + Epson Stylus 850N. We're currently running OS 9.04 with LaserWriter 8.7.

The HP455CA is connected to the network through the HP JetDirect interface card, and we run the HP RIP (V1.1.a) on the file server. The RIP is always running. We found the same endless problems with botched print queues, endless freezes and nightmares at plot time until we ran the HP PosterJet 8.5 Patcher v 1.0. This patch seems to adjust the LaserWriter so that the Chooser can select the correct PPD. Without running the patch the print queue was limited to 3 prints or so. Now it hoovers them up and spits them out no problem. We've assigned 100 megs of RAM to the RIP.

HP has posted some info at If you need the patch, email me. It is a 12k file uncompressed (compressed it is about 100k !).

When the RIP is running it grabs all print requests off the network and sends them to the plotter, if the correct button has been pressed. You can tell because when all systems are go, there is a little red light on the dashboard. The RIP seems to overrule (or supplement) the directions about orientation, media, page size, that you select in your print dialogue, so you have to carefully double check your settings in both places before assuming that you can print effortlessly.

You can also save a .ps file from PowerCADD and then queue them into the RIP, but we found this method to be very cumbersome. It does have the advantage of leaving you with an easy-to-archive record of your plots.

Matt Arnold




Our small architecture firm is running PC2000/5.0.11 on G4/400 Macs ethernetted to a G4 file server + HPDJ488CA + Xerox N2025.

The HP prints through the external JetDirect print server that came with the printer.

For the first month or two the HPDJ488CA gave us endless grief - I went so far as to get return authorization from HP before achieving a tense, but workable truce.

Our work-around is this: Load full HP RIP software from CD to all workstations. (don't try their client/server setup) Configure printer per HP installation instructions.

If you're roll feeding 24" width, set media size to "Other" at 24.00in. x 1800.00in for 50 yd. roll. (Change media to "Other", close dialogue box, open dialogue, change width, close, open, change height - seems to be what it takes to get this to "stick".) (We never print using single sheets so I'm not sure what headaches await us there.)

Go to chooser and build desktop printer from Laserwriter 8 - not from Adobe PS.

Select appropriate PPD for your printer's width. PrintingLib 8.7 needs to be in Extensions folder/ system software.

When you configure the printer ICC output via File>Print.. make sure to choose "Bright white" rather than "coated" or "Photo" - the printer assumes that those printing stocks need a lot of time to dry the ink - hence the 20 min. plots.

The HP RIP software doesn't truly run in the background - we have to leave PC200 and go to the desktop to "help" the RIP software through it's paces - particularly if multiple print orders have been sent. The desktop dialogue box that comes up during printing also may need to be closed and reopened as drawings spool. (I've aliased the HPDJ488CA driver software on my desktop to simplify this step.)

As a piece of hardware the HP is a good solid printer - HP's RIP software for Macs is half-baked at best (criminal on my less charitable days).

Michael Hassig


Hardware: HP DesignJet 500ps 42" wide format printer - includes stand, with JetDirect 600N Internal Print Server Card #J3110A for connection to ENet 10Base-T. (note: JD card is not nec. this is a USB enabled printer)

Software: "HP DesignJet 500/PS Printer" is shipped with the printer and installs the rip which will run the printer via USB. However, it will not run via ENet and JetDirect Card. For that I had to call and get another CD titled "HP DesignJet 500/PS" "Mac RIP Software and Driver" with software V6.5 Created Sep 27, 2000.

Installation: If you are feeling spunky, then order like I did and build it yourself. I suggest a large garage and at least one big guy to help get it up your spiral staircase! It comes in a package that's about 3'x3.5'x6.5' and weighs a whopping 232 lbs. You will need 3' in back and 6' in front to open and start putting it together. Its really not hard and only amounts to adding the stand and paper roller. Takes about 1 hour and 2 beers of your choice. If you have the JetDirect card you plug it in - very simple and you are ready to go. If no JD card, then just plug in a usb cable. Load the software and go through a setup procedure that varies with your system. You may need to make changes to TCP/IP if you are on a cable modem. I can't remember all the stuff I did, but by following directions and calling HP for help once, I got it done. The tech lead me through my first test print also.

Printing: Once you have the RIP installed, you will be selecting the HP from your chooser just like any other printer. The driver will give you paper options, etc and away you go. If you do not have a print server (I am talking separate computer here) you would be advised to bring the rip to the front and leave it there during the printing to speed things up. I think the speed of printing will depend on your system, chip, and ram as this is a software rip. The prints are great by the way.

Printer cost as described: Depends on state taxes and shipping but it will run around $4100 to $4400.

Notes of interest: If you go for the 500/ps 24" remember it has no legs! That adds about $270 to its cost.

My system: Mac G3/350 Blue w/320 mg ram running Mac OS 9.0.4, Ethernet 10Base-T.

Dave Young

P.S. Print times for a PCadd2000, 960k file that is 60" x 40" in size and includes topo & schematic layout plan for play fields at a 40 acre school site - black and several solid colors used.

When configured with bright white ink jet paper (roll) and CADD Normal speed the spool to final completed print was 25 min.
When I changed the configuration to CADD Fast speed, the time reduced to a 21 min.

During that time the computer was tied up and I read a book. Not too fast, but a great print and faster than the tile method. There did not appear to be any difference in the quality of the prints.

Michael Charak adds: "The HP RIP is not available from HP as a stand-alone product. A company called DCS Software sells a stand-alone RIP called Posterjet which costs $1295, and which is supposed to drive the Designjet 500."



We have the high end HP CAD plotter with built-in PostScript: the 1055CM (36"). It works perfectly - fast, dependable, high quality output - but it'll put you back $10,000.

Our last expensive high-end HP plotter (the Designjet 600) lasted us 5 or 6 years and is still working. We have it in the basement as a check-plot printer for the drafting department.

When you think about it, the plotter is costing the company less than $2000 for each year of its useful life. It's not too bad for a piece of equipment that's so heavily used and so important to the business. If we had an employee who worked as hard as the plotter (certainly not me!), the salary would no doubt be 40 times more.

If you're a five person or larger firm, consider splurging. If your plotter's slow or doesn't work well, it can really effect your productivity and the quality of your output. Hey - you're saving money by not using AutoCAD. Spend some of it on a better plotter.

Dee Calarco

EnCad CadJet 2 & Microspot

To get the best, most accurate plots in the least amount of time on your Microspot-compatible plotter setup, do the following:

Plotter- EnCad CadJet 2

Page Setup- select page size that's 4/10 of an inch smaller than the sheet size, to account for plotter crop area. Select under "dither" popup menu the following: Dither- "Bayer" Check "diffused bitmaps".

Under "Printer effects", DO NOT CHECK "BITMAP ALIGNMENT! Reason: This will reduce the size of the image 4%, throwing the scale off the entire drawing!

Print Dialog:

Even if yours is a full color construction drawing due to layer colors, you can print black and white without having to upset the later color setup.

Under the "General" popup menu, select for "ink" "Black. Select for "Palette" "Small-fastest". Select for "Media" "Opaque" (even if printing to vellum this works). Select for Quality "Normal". It's a good idea to save these settings.

Go now to the "PowerCadd 2000 Options" pop-up menu. Under "Print Area" select "Normal" if you are printing an entire sheet. DO NOT SELECT "CLASSIC IMAGING" for a Construction Drawing or your lines will image out as dots!

You are now ready to print.

The result should be a document that's accurate to scale, the right sheet size, clear linework, the line thicknesses you show on the document, and, in the case of the Encad plotter, it will take all of 45 seconds to plot this D-size sheet.

For the most part, once set up, it's as easy to print to your plotter as it is to print to your desktop printer.

It's the beauty of Macintosh CADD.

John Cruet

Phantom Desktop Printer for off-site printing

Depending on the particular printer that the service bureau has, you may be able to print simply.
If it is a Mac compatible printer with a desktop printer available, you can:

-- download the printer description file from the manufacturer
-- put it in the printer descriptions folder in your extension folder,
-- create a desktop printer icon on your desktop using chooser,
-- 'stop printing' for that icon,
-- print to it (which will create a print file within that printer icon),
-- send that print file to the service bureau,
-- have them drag it to their printer icon and wait for the print.

I used to do this with another office's HP755cm (prior to buying my own) and it worked great.

Patrick Marr

HP Virtual Printer
Virtual Printer

HP offers a download from their web site: here. Download and install this on your computer.

Alert! HP is at it again.

If it's the right file it should give you a HP Laserjet (or Designjet) icon in your chooser. Pick this and in the right side of the chooser an option for "Virtual Printer" will show up. Choose this. Choose "Setup" it will then prompt you to choose the PPD of several different HP DesignJets. Choose the appropriate model. If the model you want isn't there, choose HP700. This usually is general enough for any of the latest HP DesignJets. Now exit the Chooser

This will create a little "Virtual Printer" on your desktop.

In PowerCADD print setup will offer you many different page sizes. A portrait orientation and two landscape orientations. The page setup should really be what you're acustommed to using anyway and shouldn't take too much getting used to except the the multiple page sizes. Just pick the similar options that you would usually pick and hit OK and select the right page size and hit OK.

When you print you will see "Save" where you usually see "Print." There also some options under the "Options" button that you want to take a quick look at, but don't get overwhelmed when you see a lot of things you don't understand. You're main focus here should be where it says "Color/Grayscale" or "Black and White." Just set that according to what you want to achieve and hit OK. Then hit the "Save" button when you're ready. It will bring up a dialog box that will let you save the file. My advice here is to always save as .ps (Poscript File). Don't bother with the .eps (Mac enhanced preview and so on). It seems to me this needlessly bulks up the file size and sometimes throws the services into a tizzy for lack of translation. Also Pick Level 2 only. This seems to help. And under "Font Inclusion" I always pick "All" or "All but standard 35." This will make the file larger, but it's always safe to have all your fonts present if you ask me. If you're not using any fancy fonts, I wouldn't worry about it though. Then you can save.

Little tips at the end:

Keep the file name short and always put .ps at the end. No spaces. No odd characters. (
Some services will try to charge you a ridiculous amount for printing .ps files instead of .plt files. This is what I did: Explain to them that you're not sending them some high end graphics presentation. Tell them, "It's the same as a Floor Plan and it won't use up a cartridge of ink to print out." I got one company to come down from 4.50 a square foot to about a buck a s.f. But any service that worth anything should be able to print out these files for you and they should look as if you printed them when you get them back without too much hassle.

Even though this post is as long as a book it's not as complicated as it seems. I just like to over explain things.


Fails to Print? Try this:

Almost all 'Fails to Print' problems can be attributed to memory or to a single offending object. The question is which object.

First increase the application memory size past what you think will be required. No one can predict what the value should be due to the differences in drawings. Restart the computer and print with no other applications running. Continue to move the memory value up as you test. After all it memory can always be set back. You have nothing to lose.

Second print each layer. The layer that has the offending object will not print. Move half the objects to another layer and try again. Move half the objects and print again. In a few tries you will find the offending object.

At this point the object can be replaced. Very complex polygons and Bezier's are always suspect. High dpi bit images are also suspect. More dpi is not better. Off page objects can also cause printing problems.

Bill Stanley

More troubleshooting suggestions:

The Problem

On one of our old machines - a PowerMac 4400/200 running system 9.0.4 and PowerCADD 5.0.10 - PowerCADD keeps dropping out with a type 11 error. Before I wipe the hard drive and do a total reinstall, does anyone know what might be causing the problem and if there's an easier way to resolve it?

Also, my machine - a G4 tower running OS9.0.4 and PC 5.0.12 - is having a problem with the Laserwriter 8 driver running the plotter - an HP 1055CM. The page size sometimes gets messed up and won't set itself correctly, especially with large sheets.

For example, I go to page setup and choose "ARCH E" (36x48). The little window that shows the page shows a funny two-line thing instead of the real page proportions, and then the page size box that comes up next shows what looks like an approx. 20x20 box. Then, whatever page size I choose, the same thing happens. Somtimes it takes a restart to clean up the page setup.

Dee Calarco

A Suggestion Posted by  ob later that day:


First, download and install PCADD 5.012 to your 4400/200.

Adjust the memory allocation to PCADD by incrementing the Preferred (and the Preferred only.)

Ensure your Control Panel - Memory is set to defaults (Click Defaults).

Restart the Mac.

Then run the same file again.

If you don't invoke an Error type 11, you will know PCADD did not have enough RAM reserved.

If you do invoke a Error type 11 again, use the Control Panel's Extension Manager to select "Mac 9.04 all" and restart the computer.
Run the drawing again.

If you still receive an Error Type 11, you will know you need to increase Preferred more.

If the Error Type 11 disappears, you will know that in the "Extensions (disabled) folder" contains the culprit that is causing the problem.

Second: With regard to your 1055 DesignJet.
If you contact HP (particularly HP tech support in Boise) you will find that older 1055 PPDs are not compatible with OS9.

The problem is HP scaling. (Sound Familiar?)
Contact HP Tech support. If you can find one that can spell Mac after you spotted him/her three letters, ask them to send you the last update of the PPD for the 1055DJ.

Otherwise search the laborynth at the HP webpage for the update. Few HP techs on their phones acknowledge Macs.

When using the LaserWriter8 driver:
a) ensure it is the current one - the newer with 9.1.
b) in the Drawing Set up dialogue use only the Plain Paper setting and always click on the black tile on the rightside to ensure the Print driver has comunicated the correct drawing size to PCADD.

NOTE: All other settings in the Drawing Size, such as Architect, Engineering, Metric are specifically for mechanical pen devices and cutters and milling machines that have non-standard clipping.

By the way: In a shared "printer" environment, it is a sound idea to replace the Untitled stationery pad on each PCADD station with a properly prepared stationery pad that fully reflects your default output device. (Properly prepare = correct PPD and proper/full Drawing Setup as described here.)

Also by the way: Turning HiRes printing does not fix this scaling problem -but- it may delay the problem. With the new PPD in hand, ensure HiRes is ON. Setting Output resolution to match the 1044DJ's base resolution of 300 dpi.

Matt: If Dee agrees, you may post her questions and the solutions in the BullPen with our compliments on this one.

Come visit

 To avoid confusion about our suggestion:

go to:

HP's Note re the Download:

It's the HP DesignJet 1150C and 1055CM Adobe PS3 PostScript Driver for Macintosh OS 9, for the following printers; HP DesignJet 1050C and HP DesignJet 1055CM.

This driver supports only non-GX environments and requires System 7.1 or later, it is highly recommended to be used ONLY on MAC OS 9.

Issue Date: Dec 1999

Rotated Text not cooperating?

Here is a ramble on the subject from Ed Groh. He says the credit belongs to Patrick Douglas.

If you're using Microspot, Mac Plot Pro, HPGL2, and have recently upgraded to PC 5.0.12 you may experience a problem printing rotated text.

In the past, simply assigning a white fill pattern to text would allow the text to both print properly and to clip linework below -- the fill color associated with the fill pattern made no difference.

It seems that it is now necessary to assign a white fill color and pattern to get the rotated text to print.

The default fill color is usually black, and if a white fill pattern is used with this black fill color, rotated text does not print, however clipping still occurs.

Oddly, this (black color/white fill) combination prints and clips properly when the text is in the horizontal position.

Furthermore, if the "No Fill" fill pattern (no clipping) is assigned, the rotated text prints fine.

The use of "Classic Imaging" makes no difference.


If you have experience with another setup, please send in a report.