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Add Physical Port LPT4 in Windows XP

Posted on 2004-07-31
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Last Modified: 2008-02-26
Hi,

I require a computer running windows XP to have 4 physical printer ports. I have installed 2 PCI Cards containing 2 Parallel Printer ports each.
The cards are both MRI PCIPP2.

The ports are displayed under Device Manager as LPT1-4.

Ports 1-3 work perfectly well, but I can't print to LPT4!

I have used the registry hack to add LPT4 to the ports list, so that I can select the port when adding a printer.

It seems that this new port doesn't actually correspond to the physical port.

Any ideas? Or is Windows XP limited to use just 3 physical LPT ports.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

 
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Question by:segibson77
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10 Comments
 
LVL 31

Expert Comment

by:rid
ID: 11715915
Usually, the LPT ports are detectd by BIOS, by a scanning process to the 3 standard I/O addresses that are set aside for parallel ports. So my first concern would be whether BIOS has found all 4 ports.

The "LPT" name is an O/S thing. DOS windows call the parallel ports LPT1 etc, whereas other O/S's use other names for them. If BIOS cannot find the 4th parallel port, I think you must use some software to create a "virtual" port, but then again this may not be of any help as you apparently have 4 physical ports.  Do you know that windows can handle 4 parallel ports?
/RID
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LVL 21

Accepted Solution

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wyliecoyoteuk earned 250 total points
ID: 11897577
It is more likely that the IRQ sharing on the Motherboard is causing a snafu,
also, have you disabled the motherboards builtin Parallel port?
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LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:hdhondt
ID: 12082792
No comment has been added to this question in more than 21 days, so it is now classified as abandoned..
I will leave a recommendation in the Cleanup topic area that this question is:
Accept wyliecoyoteuk
Any objections should be posted here in the next 4 days. After that time, the question will be closed.

PLEASE DO NOT ACCEPT THIS COMMENT AS AN ANSWER!

hdhondt
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LVL 31

Expert Comment

by:rid
ID: 12083381
I don't object to the suggestion.
It would have been interesting to learn how the issue was resolved.
/RID
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Author Comment

by:segibson77
ID: 12087233
Hi,

Not sure what I should do - noone really provided a suitable answer so I find it hard to award the points, but thanks for all the suggestions.

I could get 3 printers to work perfectly, but 4 - no chance. I guess it was a limit with the motherboard or IRQ conflicts or something. I'd like to have tried it on another machine if I ever had the chance.

Incidentally I solved the problem by buying a new laser printer that was network enabled and ended up running the 3 parallel impact printers from one add-in card (2 ports) and the standard lpt1. This is the best solution we have ever had, no printer problems in 3 months!

Regards

Stuart

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LVL 31

Expert Comment

by:rid
ID: 12087873
I suppose your Q may qualify for a refund. I still think, without being able to prove my point, that it is a limitation in BIOS and/or the O/S because there hasn't been any provisions for a 4th parallel port in any standard PC BIOS, AFAIK. There are 3 standard I/O addresses for parallel ports that a normal BIOS would scan to detect any port present. A 4th port would in all probability have to be based on special drivers or customized software, like a virtual COM 5 port or whatever the soft modems like to hide themselves behind; a normal BIOS will only detect 4 hardware serial ports - just as a comparison.

This above is just a theory.

Cheers
/RID
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LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:hdhondt
ID: 12091267
As long as wylie's answer is correct it does not matter whether it solves the problem or not. If it is a motherboard problem that prevents you from using 4 ports, then he should get the points.

And yes, direct network connections are *always* preferred over parallel ports. Apart from the fact that you can have many more of them, remember that with a parallel port the cpu has to spend large amounts of processing power shepherding each individual character to the printer. Might have been acceptable in the days of MS-DOS...
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Author Comment

by:segibson77
ID: 12093298
I'd be glad to know if there is a network capable impact (high speed dot matrix) printer available! As far as I am aware there isn't, therefore it is necessary to use the parallel port. Plus the software we use is custom written in a language that isn't really windows compatabile, so I was trying to find a solution that worked practically and not just the optimum theory.

Once again thanks for all the input.

Cheers

Stuart
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LVL 21

Expert Comment

by:wyliecoyoteuk
ID: 12128352
just got back from holiday :(

If you want to use a dot matrix printer on a network port, you can use a network printserver unit, (small box with a printer port, a network port, and usually a 486 or equivalent processor and 4mb of ram.
They are even available with usb ports, wireless , or with multiple ports.(we have in the past used 3 printers on one unit) they are not expensive, and are usually quite reliable, if not handling huge graphics files, and you can map up to 6 lpt ports to network ports.
Thanks for the points:)
0
 

Author Comment

by:segibson77
ID: 12132200
Hi,

Print server - no good - can't handle the volume of traffic!
Been there and had many many nightmares..

hence why I wanted to put all the printers back on one computer.

Cheers

Stuart.
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