Old Alphacom Daisy Wheel Printer

Posted on 2004-09-08
Last Modified: 2007-12-19
I have this old, old Alphacom daisy-wheel that I only kept for cutting etching stencils.  I know I can use my dot-matrix instead, but I like the job the old daisy-wheel does on the stencils.  It works only if I drag out an old Win95 (I think) vintage computer.  On newer computers it doesn't want to respond.  This printer dates from the mid-to-late eighties when standards weren't as settled as they are now, so I suspect it could be that there is some pin that isn't right for a modern computer, on the parallel port.  Of course the company is long out of business.  Is there some way to set the parellel port that's more friendly to a very old printer, or do I need to get out the soldering iron and a pinout diagram.  Or is it some driver thing.  I don't think I ever had any special printer driver, even in the old dos days.
Question by:mark876543
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LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:Herman D'Hondt
ID: 12011757
You may have to change the BIOS settings for the parallel port so it only looks like a basic parallel port, not ECP or anything like that (the names vary depending on your motherboard).

You don't give any details about the newer computers or operating systems that won't work. If the problem is not in the BIOS, we will need those details. If you are printing from DOS to this printer, remember that DOS standards were broken in XP. In other words, your printer may print fine from DOS under 95/98/ME/2000 yet fail from XP (so much for "settled" standards...)

Author Comment

ID: 12012093
The last time I tried it I tried to use an HP Pavilion P4 with WinMe.  I believe I tried changing the port setting in the bios to all 2 or 3 choices.  Nothing worked.  However when I tried from a much older PC it worked.  

The special cable for the printer has a box that plugs into the back of the printer, and a regular DB25 male to connect to the PC.  Looking inside the hand-wired DB25, they have jumbered together 14-15-16.  This pin diagram from the net says 14=set low to autofeed one line, 15=set low for error/offline/paper-end, 16=set low pulse to init.  I'm wondering if I separate those if it might help.  I wonder if it's getting an error signal carried over across some jumpering.  Maybe that error line wasn't used on the old computer.  Just an idea.
LVL 38

Accepted Solution

Herman D'Hondt earned 500 total points
ID: 12013161
DB25 pins 14,15,16 should not be joined togther. Wiring for the cable can be found here:

It's the last of the wiring diagrams, at the bottom of the page
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Author Comment

ID: 12015528
Thanks.  I had to hunt around on the site, the link wouldn't work but I got it. I used then picked Instructions & GoTo Cable Schematics.
I'm going to undo those jumpers and see if that helps and will report result.

Author Comment

ID: 12023736
I unsoldered the jumpers and it runs ok.  It's on XP-Pro.  I used "generic text only' in printer setup.

Author Comment

ID: 12060957
Interestingly I was able to use the old daisy-wheel printer to punch my stencils, using the old dos program SPFPC and the original files that I made back in the late 80's.  I had escape codes programmed in to make the daisy wheel double-strike the stencil, getting a better punch.  In Notepad in XP it just printed funny characters instead of setting the mode on the printer from these codes.  I opened a command window in the folder where SPFPC was, and typed SPFPC and there it was!  Deja vu.  It printed just fine, from XP, like it used to from dos.  I was happy because now I can toss that old computer that I kept in the closet just in case I needed more stencils.

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