Anyone remember a four colour ballpoint pen plotter?

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hjalfi
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Anyone remember a four colour ballpoint pen plotter?

Post by hjalfi » Sat Jul 28, 2018 11:12 am

Way back when I knew someone who had a rather nifty four-colour plotter which draw onto rolls of, apparently, shiny loo paper.

Now, I know that this was almost certainly the same ALPS plotter mechanism which was inside the Commodore 1520 or Atari 1020 etc:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_1020

But I've never seen any mention of a version for the BBC Micro.

Does anyone remember these or know anything about them?
Last edited by hjalfi on Sat Jul 28, 2018 11:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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BigEd
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Re: Anyone remember a four colour ballpoint pen plotter?

Post by BigEd » Sat Jul 28, 2018 11:18 am

I do remember seeing the Tandy one in the shops. The Tandy shops, no doubt. It has an ordinary parallel port interface so no special problem hooking it up, I would think. And it works as a printer so nothing special needed to drive it for listings. For graphics, you would need something which produces the right codes.
http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/det/ ... y-CGP-115/

Edit: some technical details here: http://tandy.wiki/CGP-115

Edit: oops, it has both standard parallel and a 4-pin serial input. User manual here:
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/ ... VdWc2VrdTA

Edit: short demo videos here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pR5loGPCU1E
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1YLB-aNNAo

Edit: the Commodore 1520 prints and plots
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JT5Ef4bJz7M
Last edited by BigEd on Sat Jul 28, 2018 11:26 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Anyone remember a four colour ballpoint pen plotter?

Post by RobC » Sat Jul 28, 2018 11:35 am

I have one of those in the loft somewhere. I've even got new pens for it but haven't tried using it with the Beeb.

I'll have to dig it out and give it a go!

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Re: Anyone remember a four colour ballpoint pen plotter?

Post by colonel32 » Sat Jul 28, 2018 12:54 pm

I used to have the Tandy one. It was ace. I used it with the spectrum, with the centronics interface on the Wafadrive. I think the printer might have had serial too.

I used to do all my mum’s business invoices on it(!). It was also great for printing cassette inlays in 80 column mode.

I wore it out in the end - the pen change mechanism I think.
Last edited by colonel32 on Sat Jul 28, 2018 12:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Anyone remember a four colour ballpoint pen plotter?

Post by tricky » Sat Jul 28, 2018 2:44 pm

I had the Tandy one (not seen it for 30+ years) and wrote a few screen dump programs for it.
I remember one that drew small boxes for each pixel and one that drew lines of repeated pixels, then, at the end of the line, drew them back the other way to try and get the full line width as sometimes the pen didn't draw immediately and you missed the first "pixel" or two.
It gripped the paper with small gears and if you went up and down over the same bit too many times, it made holes in the paper and the paper stopped moving.

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Re: Anyone remember a four colour ballpoint pen plotter?

Post by RobC » Sat Jul 28, 2018 5:01 pm

tricky wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 2:44 pm
It gripped the paper with small gears and if you went up and down over the same bit too many times, it made holes in the paper and the paper stopped moving.
Doesn't sound great!

On the subject of old printers, I dusted down one of my Integrex 132s a couple of weeks ago to make an 8ft banner for my daughter's stall at the school fete. She'd designed the banner in Microsoft Publisher and, as I couldn't find a Windows driver, I transferred it to my RiscPC as a PDF. Once there, it printed in about an hour - very slow but I was amazed that it still works! The colour dithering was pretty bad close up but it looked good from a distance.

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Re: Anyone remember a four colour ballpoint pen plotter?

Post by scruss » Sat Jul 28, 2018 7:38 pm

Hanging around Commodore users and their (many) woes, it seems that the nylon gears in the Alps plotter mechanisms grow brittle with age. I've seen attempts at 3D printed replacements, but I'm not sure they are accurate enough.

I thought you were going to mention the Linear Graphics BIC-based plotters from the subject …

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Re: Anyone remember a four colour ballpoint pen plotter?

Post by jonb » Sun Jul 29, 2018 11:46 am

I've got a Tandy one on the shelf. Model CGP-115, with spare paper and pens. Serial and parallel ports, uses an ALPS DPG1302 plotter mechanism.

Always liked the idea, but it's quite slow with text. 12CPS - imagine listing a 48k BASIC program (from, say, a Speccy) - it'd take decades.. Makes an interesting noise in use, though.
Last edited by jonb on Sun Jul 29, 2018 11:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Anyone remember a four colour ballpoint pen plotter?

Post by colonel32 » Sun Jul 29, 2018 5:08 pm

tricky wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 2:44 pm
I had the Tandy one (not seen it for 30+ years) and wrote a few screen dump programs for it.
I remember one that drew small boxes for each pixel and one that drew lines of repeated pixels, then, at the end of the line, drew them back the other way to try and get the full line width as sometimes the pen didn't draw immediately and you missed the first "pixel" or two.
It gripped the paper with small gears and if you went up and down over the same bit too many times, it made holes in the paper and the paper stopped moving.
Ha me too! I think it was the first asm I ever wrote. I also experimented with the different ways of drawing, and hit the paper slippage problem.

I eventually settled on drawing squares for each pixel, with up to four colour passes per line. This fixed the slippage, but was what ultimately wore out the pen change mechanism.
Last edited by colonel32 on Sun Jul 29, 2018 5:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Anyone remember a four colour ballpoint pen plotter?

Post by hjalfi » Sun Jul 29, 2018 5:31 pm

Wow, more about than I thought! Was the BBC one just the Tandy model (the CGP-115) with a serial-to-RS423 cable, or was there explicit beeb versions?

Incidentally, if anyone happens to have a broken one lying around --- or even a non-broken one! --- that they'd be willing to sell, PM me? I'd be happy to take it on and see if I could get it going. I'd love to wow my orkers at work by drawing graphs on long pieces of paper on a printer older than most of them are.

Or, you know, print out a facsimile Bayeaux Tapestry.
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Re: Anyone remember a four colour ballpoint pen plotter?

Post by iainjh » Sun Jul 29, 2018 10:14 pm

It was a great little printer, same mech used in the Atari 1020 as well

The gears age and crack so don’t move the paper

They can be replaced with a particular part from a model helicopter... I can search it but google Atari 1020 gear model / radio control and I think you’ll find it

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Re: Anyone remember a four colour ballpoint pen plotter?

Post by paulxtr » Mon Jul 30, 2018 6:25 am

Also used on the Sharp PC-1500 pocket computer cassette/plotter interface CE-150.

How I lusted after one in 1982...

See it in action here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tlxz5uaceRg

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