PLOTMATE A4 software

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flaxcottage
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PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by flaxcottage » Tue Jun 12, 2018 4:33 pm

Having just taken delivery of a working Liner Graphics PlotMate A4 plotter I am keen to get it working properly.

BITD when I had one of these it came with a system disk and an optional ROM. Both of these I need.

I have hundreds of ROMs and ROM images but no PlotMate.

There is a website http://www.crumblenet.co.uk/plotmate/ which has some information and software but this is for the A4M variant.

So, is there anybody out there in stardotland who has copies of this software and could post it on the forum? [-o<
- John
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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by matt_nottm » Tue Jun 12, 2018 4:48 pm

Is this what you are looking for? I cannot remember the model we had in our CDT department.
plotmate2_00.rom.zip
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RobC
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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by RobC » Tue Jun 12, 2018 4:52 pm

There's some software here - I'm not sure what it contains but there's a ROM image which may be the same as the one Matt just posted:
http://archive.retro-kit.co.uk/bbc.nvg.org/sw/hardware/

There's also this recent thread: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=15125

[I must have been bidding against you on that auction - if you decide to pass on one of the plotters, I'd be interested :D ]

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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by matt_nottm » Tue Jun 12, 2018 4:56 pm

Yes, that looks like the same image.

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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by flaxcottage » Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:38 pm

Thanks for the A3 image links guys.

Unfortunately the A3 one will not drive the A4 plotter properly. :(
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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by RobC » Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:47 pm

flaxcottage wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:38 pm
Unfortunately the A3 one will not drive the A4 plotter properly. :(
That's a shame. I wonder if anyone has the Bitstik multi-plotter driver software? The case is on sale on eBay at the moment.

Also, does anyone have MiCAD which is supposed to support the Plotmate?

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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by billcarr2005 » Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:45 pm

RobC wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:47 pm

Also, does anyone have MiCAD which is supposed to support the Plotmate?
No idea if the ROM will still be required to make the software recognise the Plotmate...
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MICAD computer aided design 2D.zip
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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by flaxcottage » Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:47 am

Not exactly software this but I have found a cheapish way to fit a pen to the plotter.

The original pens, type 1CY14P5-N, for black, are very expensive and, as far as I can tell, are only available from a single company worldwide. The pens have to be made to order, which means expense and a long lead time. Even China does not do these.

This modification uses easily available components;
Pens and mod.jpg
The modification uses half a 3mm black Hellerman sleeve, which is placed over the part of the pen shown in the photo. The tool at the top is used to slip the sleeve over the pen nib. OK, if the tool and sleeves are not in stock the capital cost is high but thereafter it is just the cost of the pens. At the end of plotting the pen is removed from the plotter, the sleeve removed and the cap placed on.

The output is shown below.
Plotting.jpg
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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by RobC » Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:58 am

Great idea =D>

Are you using MICAD to drive the plotter?

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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by flaxcottage » Fri Jun 15, 2018 2:48 pm

Not at the moment - just a BASIC program.

I'd like to get it working with LOGO but that would need a ROM.
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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by flaxcottage » Sat Aug 25, 2018 7:21 pm

Just resurrecting this thread in case anyone remembers having the Plotmate A4 ROM version 1.4. [-o< [-o< [-o<
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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by SimonSideburns » Sat Aug 25, 2018 8:59 pm

I haven't forgotten about our conversation in which I said I'd try to dig out the ROM and make a copy of it for you.

Unfortunately for me I recently tore my calf playing badminton, but two weeks later I'm walking around without the crutches and will get back into my large cupboard at some point and dig out the Beeb and associated gubbins to hopefully do so.

It's surprising you're still looking without success. I can't believe it's in that short a supply, but I did look myself online and didn't get any joy (thought it would save me the trouble, ahem).
I'm writing a game where you can change your character from a Wizard to a monkey to a cat.

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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by flaxcottage » Sat Aug 25, 2018 9:07 pm

Thanks, Simon.

Sorry to hear about the injury. I didn't know that Badminton was that ferocious - at least it wasn't the way I played it.

Yes, the ROM is as scarce as hen's teeth. The plotters are not that common either. :( I'm going down to Cambridge at the start of September for the ABUG meet. I was hoping that the museum would have a plotter there. They do not have one mentioned in their exhibits but upstairs is (or was) very disorganised; they could have anything and not know it was there. :lol:

I have re-typeset the A4 manual (the original pdf was a bit tatty) and I am trying to re-build the floppy disk. The disc software works great and with the new pens I bought (an arm and a leg they were! :shock: ) the plotter is working really well. I'd like to use it with LOGO and to do that I need the ROM.

Take care with the leg. There is no rush so don't worry on that score.

Cheers,
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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by SimonSideburns » Mon Aug 27, 2018 7:12 pm

Tadaaa

Here's a floppy image containing the file R.PLOTMAT which is the ROM image of Plotmate A4 1.90.

I had already previously dumped the ROM when I had the machine set up last time, but for some reason I couldn't find it when I looked in my DataCentre USB drive.

This evening, the wife is trying to watch the Andy Murray match on Skybet which seems to be using up all our broadband bandwidth, so I decided to play on BeebEm and have found the floppy image.

Crazy.
Attachments
EPROMS.SSD
R.PLOTMAT is the Plotmate ROM
(200 KiB) Downloaded 12 times
Last edited by SimonSideburns on Mon Aug 27, 2018 7:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.
I'm writing a game where you can change your character from a Wizard to a monkey to a cat.

Well, Imogen that!

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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by flaxcottage » Mon Aug 27, 2018 7:51 pm

Thanks a bunch. You are a star! =D> =D> =D>

Now all I have to do is work out how it works. Ha ha! A quick disassembly is indicated, I feel.
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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by SimonSideburns » Mon Aug 27, 2018 7:56 pm

I hope you find out more about it. It would be great to learn more about the plotter and its capabilities.

I think I have a manual (did I mention this)? Quite a big white folder if I recall correctly.

I could maybe have this confused with something else (there was a lot in the job lot I picked up from ebay last year).
I'm writing a game where you can change your character from a Wizard to a monkey to a cat.

Well, Imogen that!

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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by flaxcottage » Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:25 pm

Ah, the ROM manual would be really good if you have it.

I am re-writing the Plotmate manual. There is a scan on the internet but it is poor quality and there are errors in the code as well. :? The character set is also missing so that will be added.

I'll add a section on the ROM. All that I have discovered, that is.

I checked out the ROM with LOGO and it works a treat. I have a booklet from the Walsall LOGO Project on Islamic Patterns. There are some superb patterns in there. These will be great to investigate with the plotter now. :D That's another booklet that needs scanning and preserving! :wink:

When I have finished I'll post it on the flaxcottage.com website along with the software and ROM image (if you don't mind).
- John
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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by scruss » Mon Aug 27, 2018 9:29 pm

flaxcottage wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:25 pm
I have a booklet from the Walsall LOGO Project on Islamic Patterns. There are some superb patterns in there.
As a pattern artist and plotter nerd, this booklet would very much be my jam. Should you be able to scan it, I'd be very happy to do the cleanup and OCR, and possibly even port the examples to more modern languages. Python has a fun little turtle module that can generate output for plotters …

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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by flaxcottage » Tue Aug 28, 2018 3:41 pm

The Plotmate drivers and manual have been uploaded to the archive website (address given on the image in the signature).

The original Plotmate A4 drivers disc is still MIA and the ROM manual is MIA too. The manual included with this package on the website is one that I have reconstructed from some original material for the A3 Plotter.
- John
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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by SimonSideburns » Tue Aug 28, 2018 10:00 pm

I've just dug out my copy of the manual. It seems that many of the A5 pages are stuck together. Not in an impossible to separate way, but in one of those ways where separating them apart will likely transfer some of the printer toner (or whatever the ink is) from one sheet to the other.

Therefore there may well be plenty of locations where it will become hard to read, especially were I to attempt to scan the manual in.

I'm quite happy to spend the time typing it all in again to create a new version of the manual.

Having briefly flicked through some of the pages, there's a lot more content than in John's copy. My first page talks about fitting the ROMS and there are sections about users of LOGO, something about a program called LINSCAN which is a digitizing package (which uses a small optical scanner in place of the pen on the plotmate in order to scan in whatever is on the page on the plotter), something called LINMAP. This, when used in conjunction with a mouse, trackerball or grafpad can manually digitise an image and store the points that make up the image onto disk. These digitized (sic) diagrams can then be output to the plotter.

Appendix A of the LinMap manual states:

Appendix A : Compatibility with other LGL packages.

Later issues of software such as LINCAD, LINCHART and LINTRONIC have the option of creating a 'standard VDU file' from the data. Files created in this way will be treated by LINMAP in exactly the same manner as the files created by the digitizing facility. Thus, the filling facility must be used on curves created by LINCAD, bar-charts created by LINCHARD, symbols created by LINTRONIC, and so on.

That's an awful lot of additional software that may be MIA. I don't think I have these other software programs.

There's also a manual that on page 1 paragraph 1 says:

Using the HERSHEY character generator with PLOTMATE A4 (for use on the PLOTMATE A4M see stage 4)

Anyone know what this HERSHEY software might be. I've only ever heard of a typeface with that name.

Anyway, I'll start typing these in as and when I get the chance, and will hopefully start posting them soon.
I'm writing a game where you can change your character from a Wizard to a monkey to a cat.

Well, Imogen that!

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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by scruss » Wed Aug 29, 2018 3:21 am

SimonSideburns wrote:
Tue Aug 28, 2018 10:00 pm
Using the HERSHEY character generator with PLOTMATE A4 (for use on the PLOTMATE A4M see stage 4)

Anyone know what this HERSHEY software might be. I've only ever heard of a typeface with that name.
It's just font outlines, if extremely complex ones. They'll be derived from the Usenet Hershey font distribution from the earl;y 1980s.

They're pretty much all that's left of a very extravagant publishing system developed by Allen V. Hershey of the US Naval Research Lab in the mid-1960s. It was meant for publishing all of their papers, and was written in FORTRAN to run on their very large IBM computer. Apart from the fonts, only snippets of the code survive.

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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by flaxcottage » Wed Aug 29, 2018 8:05 am

SimonSideburns wrote:
Tue Aug 28, 2018 10:00 pm
I've just dug out my copy of the manual. It seems that many of the A5 pages are stuck together.
Yep, that's 80s ink for you. It is a big problem when archiving manuals. The number of times I have had to rub out 'stuck' ink to get a decent image ...!

I did know about the other software you mention though I never saw or used it.

This just goes to show how much of the BBC micro stuff is missing.
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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by RobC » Wed Aug 29, 2018 8:37 am

scruss wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 3:21 am
SimonSideburns wrote:
Tue Aug 28, 2018 10:00 pm
Using the HERSHEY character generator with PLOTMATE A4 (for use on the PLOTMATE A4M see stage 4)

Anyone know what this HERSHEY software might be. I've only ever heard of a typeface with that name.
It's just font outlines, if extremely complex ones. They'll be derived from the Usenet Hershey font distribution from the earl;y 1980s.

They're pretty much all that's left of a very extravagant publishing system developed by Allen V. Hershey of the US Naval Research Lab in the mid-1960s. It was meant for publishing all of their papers, and was written in FORTRAN to run on their very large IBM computer. Apart from the fonts, only snippets of the code survive.
Isn't there a Hershey package for the Beeb? I think it may have been from Beebug? Definitely played with something like that on my Beeb a few years back...
Last edited by RobC on Wed Aug 29, 2018 8:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by scruss » Wed Aug 29, 2018 8:33 pm

RobC wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 8:37 am
Isn't there a Hershey package for the Beeb? I think it may have been from Beebug?
Yup, from Beebug. Only copy I could find in any archives has a corrupted disc 1 of 2.

Beebug's version pre-dates the Usenet Hershey posting by a couple of years, so some poor sod at Beebug must've typed all those numbers in - or sent of for a nine-track tape of the coordinates. Seems that the original data are lost: NTIS no longer supplies it.

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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by billcarr2005 » Wed Aug 29, 2018 9:08 pm

scruss wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 8:33 pm
RobC wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 8:37 am
Isn't there a Hershey package for the Beeb? I think it may have been from Beebug?
Yup, from Beebug. Only copy I could find in any archives has a corrupted disc 1 of 2.
Since it's been mentioned :)
V1.1 of the program disk!

[Deleted attachment due to updated archive below]
Last edited by billcarr2005 on Fri Aug 31, 2018 3:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by scruss » Wed Aug 29, 2018 9:35 pm

I found that disc 1 to be unreadable too

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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by billcarr2005 » Fri Aug 31, 2018 8:27 am

scruss wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 9:35 pm
I found that disc 1 to be unreadable too
It seems fine here.
Perhaps the original download you found is fine too!
Can you describe the way in which it's corrupted / unreadable?
You may have some incompatible software, or wrong DFS...

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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by CMcDougall » Fri Aug 31, 2018 9:13 am

^Seems good here too BillC.
One disc is the full 40T, the other only &F tracks, last files on discs are also fine, no 'FF's all over them. 8)
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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by billcarr2005 » Fri Aug 31, 2018 3:08 pm

CMcDougall wrote:
Fri Aug 31, 2018 9:13 am
^Seems good here too BillC.
One disc is the full 40T, the other only &F tracks, last files on discs are also fine, no 'FF's all over them. 8)
Hadn't noticed that!
It's how the original disk is... it's only used to report how many tracks are in use, which is where *VERIFY gets the maximum from... doesn't make any difference to the data, which is still 40 tracks / 102,400 bytes.
Maybe something can baulk at the misrepresentation
I've set it to the appropriate size anyway...
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Re: PLOTMATE A4 software

Post by scruss » Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:42 am

Don't really know the ways of DFS, but when I tried to load it in b-em, the disc wasn't accepted. I'm sure it's fine elsewhere.

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