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speedup scanner/486 system?

Posted on 1998-07-25
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Last Modified: 2010-04-12
Recently I bought an Artec Viewstation AS6E flatbed scanner to
work (I hoped) on my circa-1993 486DX/66MhZ.  After a fair
amount of upgrading (CD ROM, Win 95, ESS Sound Card to drive CD)
I am disappointed that the scanner still takes 10 minutes
to prescan/scan.  The scanner is epp/ecp, and after a while I found the bi-dir switch on the IO card.  FAster but now 10 mins instead of 20.  Video card: 1MB Cirrus; IO card has 8250 UART.  CAN I make a cheap upgrade and see things improve?
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Question by:tednewell
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by:rmarotta
ID: 1019997
Tednewell,

1) How much RAM in your computer?
Swapping to the hard drive takes a long time.

2) Have you tried reducing resolution?
A much smaller file will be generated, resulting in less time to scan and much less storage space.  I see 1MB video card, so that limits your color depth to 256 colors.  If you don't need hi-res graphics, you won't waste time by forcing the computer to do a lot of extra work.

3) Have you tried both EPP and ECP settings?

4) Do you have the proper cable?
Some printer cables won't operate bi-directionally.

Regards,
Ralph
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Author Comment

by:tednewell
ID: 1019998
Ralph: YES to all suggestions!  The cable was supplied by the scanner maker; I have 20 Megs Ram; Virtual memory 180Megs.
As far as I can see from the IO card specs (found on the net) the only option ecp/epp is "bidirectional" -- nothing more specific.  Might even be ps/2 standard rather than epp or ecp.
And, my main interest is OCR, so I have set the resolution on the scanner as low as 50dpi without significantly faster scan times.
Is the cause of speedier scanning lost?
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by:JBURGHARDT
ID: 1019999
PP scaner is slow you need to get scsi scaner if you need the speed.
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by:rmarotta
ID: 1020000
Ted,
JBURGHARDT is correct in that SCSI will be much faster.
But I feel that ten minutes is an inordinate amount of time, even for a parallel scanner.
Does the scanner use a Twain driver for Win95?
If so, are you using a 16 or 32-bit version?
Ralph

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Author Comment

by:tednewell
ID: 1020001
Ralph--
The scanner is using a Twain 32 scanner interface.
Ten minutes prescan/scan _Does_ seem a bit long.
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by:rmarotta
ID: 1020002
Suggestion:
Why bother with the pre-scan?  Just stop when all the text is scanned from the page.
Ralph

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by:tednewell
ID: 1020003
Ralph:  Since I was hoping to OCR chapters (e.g. 20 pages) even at a 5 minutes scan the whole process is way too slow.
I understand motherboard design has moved beyond separate IO/IDE controllers to having the IDE controller right on the motherboard.
So--is there some way to get the data from the scanner into my circa 1992 motherboard, or should I try and sell the scanner, do you think?  Or, would a different parallel port make any difference?  What should I look for?
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by:tednewell
ID: 1020004
Adjusted points to 130
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by:rmarotta
ID: 1020005
The SCSI scanner interface should make a big difference.  You might try to look for those that advertise the time for a scanning a page to compare.
Ralph

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by:pctech052197
ID: 1020006
is the scanner attached to a shared port? (printer)

If so, especially with Bi-Di, try just attaching the scanner, and nothing else, directly to the port(LPT1?)

even if all seems to be working well with a shared port, drivers contest if they are on the same port.  Some work, some do not.
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Expert Comment

by:OAKESM
ID: 1020007
Parallel scanners connect to the parallel port of the computer. They normally have a connector on the back which allows another parallel device, such as a printer, to be connected at the same time. They are usually cheaper and slower than SCSI scanners and have slightly lower image qualities.

When scanning an image , it is not uncommon for a computer to appear to lock up. This is NORMAL. Depending on the amount of RAM (memory) the PC has, and the resolution of the scan, it may also take several minutes to complete.

Solutions:
1) Add more RAM or
2) Scan at a lower resolution or
3) Buy a SCSI scanner (if you have a SCSI port)

PS. Check the computers BIOS, make sure the parallel port type is set to EPP if you have a parallel scanner.
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Author Comment

by:tednewell
ID: 1020008
Ted replies:  I have only the scanner attached to LPT1.  I haven't installed any other drivers (eg printer) to the port, though -maybe- Win95 does so automatically?
I'd still be interested to know whether an inexpensive upgrade might fix my slow scanner problem.
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by:rmarotta
ID: 1020009
About the only things to try are to add RAM and a faster CPU.
Ralph

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by:mikecr
ID: 1020010
If you get a new controller card that supports 16550 UART then you might be able to get more speed, but this would probabaly entail a motherboard upgrade also, so you'd be better off getting a new motherboard and get total speed all around. Just a thought.


Mike
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by:johncook
ID: 1020011
Everyone here keeps refering to the bus speed as being your problem...
It seems to me that consideration to the scanning speed of the scanner itself. 10 minutes IS inordinately long scan time.
I have a printer port scanner(EPP) and I can scan a full page 600 DPI photo in about 1 to 1.5 minutes with prescan.

I would suspect the scanner as a problem at this point.

John C. Cook
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by:JBURGHARDT
ID: 1020012
You can go and get new printer card EPP it will spped your scaning time you can install it as Lpt2
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by:rmarotta
ID: 1020013
Ted,
Since you already indicated that you have your printer port set for bi-directional, I don't think this last answer is going to solve the problem.

Have a look at this page to get an idea of what is available:

http://www.opticalimage.com/canon.htm

Let me know if you need more.
regards,
Ralph

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Author Comment

by:tednewell
ID: 1020014
JB's reply did not really solve my problem within the given parameters; after all, I do not own a SCSI scanner but a  parallel one -- which I regret.-
But I'm beginning to accept that the cause is lost.  My 486, which after the upgrade is as good as most any 486 ever was, is not going to scan at any meaningful volume.
I think Artec, the manufacturer, ought to be honest enough to include the need for a Pentium system right on their packaging.
I was enthralled to read in rm's last post about the Canon machine that performs 40 pages a minute!
I would be content with ONE page a minute.
On reflection, I just can't believe that a 486 w/ bi-dir parallel port is still at 2 minutes prescan 2 minutes scan and who knows how long for OCR.
Can anyone else take a stab at a cheap hardware solution?  a software solution?
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by:gravity
ID: 1020015
Can you just try upgrading to about double the amount of ram you have? It worked for me... I have 48 megs of the stuff on a pentium 60... not that different at all...

Good Luck.
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by:JBURGHARDT
ID: 1020016
try www.onsale.com/computers.html they have motherboard for pentium for 29 also other parts. Also try exchange some people sell good stuff for olmost free I got 486 motherboard with intell 486 50 mhz with 4 mb ram for $12 my local store want $60 just for motherboard
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by:johncook
ID: 1020017
The fact that you have a 486 will exacerbate the speed problem on the computers end...as will a lack of memory.
Remember a graphics image of, lets say, 600dpi at 4.5 x 5 inches will require about 24 Meg of memory. So you are going to have alot of Virt memory swapping going on.
My DX4 100 was slower than My Pent 100...My pent 100 was slower than my AMD 233...I could physically see the difference in speed when the processing portion of the acquire was occurring. I put in 64 Meg a ram and that made even more difference.
Bottom line...Raw prcessing power will improve your acquire times. A SCSI bus would improve it even more. But for the price difference I'll take my 1.5 minutes :-).

Just my opinion,
John C. Cook
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by:rmarotta
ID: 1020018
Ted,
There are many inexpensive scanners out there, but they're aimed more for the occasional user, rather than production.

I presume you are trying to do some serious work with your scanner.  If that work pays you, and your time is valuable, then you need to aquire the best tools the job can afford.

After all, just because a dress can be sewn together using a needle-and-thread, doesn't mean that a successfull dressmaker would use it instead of a commercial sewing machine. (commercial....  not a domestic machine)

Best regards,
Ralph

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by:rmarotta
ID: 1020019
Oops, I almost forgot........
Q:  "CAN I make a cheap upgrade and see things improve?"

A:  No.
..Ralph

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by:gravity
ID: 1020020
You're talking out of your balls. I know for a fact that more memory always helps, up to 64megs in windows 95, and if you're doing graphics, the more you have, the faster the image manipulation in general. I agree that cpu comes into the equation when doing complicated manipulations of large images, but that's beside the point. Scanning is all about data transfer, therefore maximum RAM, less cpu
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Author Comment

by:tednewell
ID: 1020021
Ted replies: now here's a dilemma!  either take the existing 486 and pour in
more SIMMS and/or a LPT2 capable of EPP data transfer.
OR Go for broke, unload the 486 and acquire a P133 with at least 30megs of RAM, likely a $160 project at least.
I thought, naively, that having a faster processor would compensate
for not having that much RAM.  But I hear some differences of opinion here.
30-pin SIMMS second-hand are cheap; but would I be pouring good money
after bad?
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by:johncook
ID: 1020022
Listen,
If you go to a computer show and purchase your stuff you can come out pretty cheap.
Last show I saw AMD233 processors for 75.00, I bought 64 Meg of SDRAM for 64 bucks, an AGP motherboard(yes for Socket 7) fo 89.00 and an AGP Diamond stealth 4000 for 45.00.
I kept my same case, drives and monitor.
You can do it also. Watch for Computer show is your area.
More info if you are interested.

John C. Cook
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by:harley47
ID: 1020023
have you tried the scanner on a different computer. also have you tried the 16bit twain driver?  I agree that graphics take raw power but I think there is something else wrong here.  10 min is much to long even for a 486.  

Bill
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Author Comment

by:tednewell
ID: 1020024
Ted replies:  I appreciate all the insight I'm getting from per-
sisting with questions here.  Thanks to everybody.
One clarification please:  Am I right that a more RAM might
compensate for a slower processor?  That is, if I acquire another
20 megs of SIMMS somewhere to make 40 total, could I expect
radically improved performance?  I seem to hear two different
answers above.  (After the answer, I'm going to leave off questions!)
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by:harley47
ID: 1020025
yes you will see an improvement. How radical the improvement will be is hard to say.


Regards
Bill
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richrussell earned 200 total points
ID: 1020026
Here's a few benchmarks from my old 486DX80 with a printer port scanner as I tried scanning the same image at the same resolution, but with different amounts of RAM installed:

4 MB - gave up waiting after 30 minutes
8 MB - 20 minutes
16 MB - 14 minutes
24 MB - 9 minutes
48 MB - 5 minutes
64 MB - 2 minutes

From this I'd say that RAM is the main speed determining factor with this setup. No matter what the interface is doing (spp,epp,ecp,scsi,etc), the processor still has to convert the data into an image format in memory. So having more memory in which to do this without resorting to the swap file on the hard disk (60ns access for RAM as opposed to 10000ns access to HDD), will speed up the process.

Get more RAM for faster scanning.

Or the cheap way: scan the picture in in sections, then piece the small sections together in Paintshop Pro (or similar). Not as easy or as good, but I used this way for ages!
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by:rmarotta
ID: 1020027
Ted,
I think you'll find suggestions for more RAM & faster CPU at the very beginning of this thread.
You already have a bi-directional printer port.
I also think that if you are scanning for OCR in B/W, the amount of memory needed for scanning your text documents at low resolution won't approach 20 MB!
You never commented about whether or not you consider that good tools for a job will make doing the job more efficient.........
Remember, running Win95 requires a whale of a computer.  Just because it will run on a 386 doesn't mean that anyone would try to do anything serious with it.
Just my two cents worth.......
Regards,
Ralph

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by:johncook
ID: 1020028
Ralph is quite right!
A 600 DPI full page Line Art(B/W) image will take just under 4Meg of memory. So memory may not be you entire solution here.
.. the benchmarking information provided by richrussell is very interesting. This is a good gauge by which to judge your 10 minute scan times. You seem to fall right in line with his results.

John C. Cook
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by:rmarotta
ID: 1020029
John, how about 200DPI?  Enough for OCR.....
Ralph

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Author Comment

by:tednewell
ID: 1020030
Ted replies: The proposed answer is Excellent!  Thanks to one and all
for every two cents' worth.
I still did not get a direct answer to my proposed CPU/RAM trade
off, that is, faster processor would make more RAM less necessary.
Maybe I just need to read up a chapter on memory somewhere.
AGAIN, Thanks so much to Ralph, JB, and Richard, not to mention
gravity and pctech who had penetrating things to say.  THANKS folks!
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