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Need a parallel printer

Posted on 2013-02-02
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Last Modified: 2013-02-22
I have a customer that still runs old DOS applications.  They are running them on computers with Windows XP and Window 7.

One of the local printers (HP P3005D) is failing.  I need to find a replacement printer that is as capable or more capable than the 3005.  The problem is that it must have a parallel port since the DOS programs only know about LPT1:

Any suggestions?
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Question by:tcampbell_nc
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by:Robby Swartenbroekx
Robby Swartenbroekx earned 167 total points
ID: 38847402
It doesn't need a parallel port.
Share the printer and in dos prompt type the following:
net use lpt1: \\pcname\printsharename /persistent:yes
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by:Michael-Best
ID: 38847426
This program allows you to print reports from old DOS programs into new printers irrespective of their types:
 http://www.dosprn.com/
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by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 38847484
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by:Sandeep
ID: 38847967
You may need to have something like this.

http://www.parts-data.com/descr_artikel/U/USB-0530-AK/USB_PARALLEL_REVERSE2_BIG.jpg

You may find it on ebay or local store
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Herman D'Hondt earned 333 total points
ID: 38849570
You need to make sure that the printer supports the same language as the P3005 (PCL5). The P2035 is primarily a host-based printer, but the data sheet implies it also supports PCL5. Xerox also have parallel port printers that support PCL5, for example the Phaser 3600.

You say the new printer needs to be "as capable or more capable than the P3005". By that, do you mean print speed, number of trays, or anything else?

You should seriously consider LordPan's suggestion as parallel ports these days seem to have only one purpose: to slow down the printer as well as the PC!
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by:eerwalters
ID: 38850898
If the printer is setup in Windows, you can also use it in DOS.  Just enable printer pooling on that printer for LPT1. Anything sent to LPT1 in DOS will go through the Windows printer to the destination, regardless of whether that destination is local or networked.

To enable printer pooling for LPT1, do the following.
  1) Go to the Properties of the desired Windows printer
  2) Click on the Ports tab
  3) Click the box next to Enable Printer Pooling at the bottom left
  4) Look back up to the available port selection window at the top and scroll up to the top (Do not uncheck your existing port)
  5) When you see LPT1, click the box to the left of it
  6) Click on Apply
  7) Click on Ok to exit

You can now launch your DOS application and you will be able to print to your Windows printer when you print to LPT1 within that application.
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by:tcampbell_nc
ID: 38851659
Thanks for all the comments.

Capability Question - I saw the HP P2035, but it seems like going from a 3000 series to a 2000 series printer is a step down.  

Xerox - I have no experience with Xerox printers.  I have worked with their multi-function devices with little problem, so I assume their printers are probably just as good.  I guess I am so old-school that I have a difficult time moving away from HP.  I have been installing and servicing HP printers since the Original HP LaserJet days.

Software solutions - I think I may have to agree.  I think I have attempted the printer pooling somewhere in the past and it did not function properly with the DOS applications (dBaseIII, Clipper).  It has been a while, though, and I know that we have to pay extra to get parallel ports installed in a new PC these days.  I think I may have to try it again and see if it works better now.
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by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 38851894
I'm pretty sure that the DOS applications (dBaseIII, Clipper) won't make full use of anything past a Laserjet 4 from the early 90's.
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by:Michael-Best
ID: 38852442
"Software solutions - I think I may have to agree."

Yes, this is the most logical solution to print reports from old DOS programs using new printers.
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by:Robby Swartenbroekx
ID: 38852527
My solution never failed me up until now. Have used it with different cobol and dbaseII applications.

I'll try the printer pooling option next time I have to migrate a dos app. Didn't think it would also work that way.
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by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 38852550
I just keep old DOS/Win3.11 machines running along with a Laserjet III or 4.
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by:Herman D'Hondt
ID: 38852928
http://www.dosprn.com/ (Michael Best's suggestion) works very well indeed, as does LordPan's.

I have worked with a lot of Xerox as well as HP printers, and I have always found that Xerox outperform HP in reliability and price/performance. I have had issues with the P3005 but have not used the P2025. The "host-based" part of it worries me and is only partly offset by it's PCL5 support.
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by:tcampbell_nc
ID: 38853644
WOW!!!

A genuine discussion involving the geriatric members of our profession... <that includes me>.  I thought I would be one of the last poor slobs out here still having to support DOS applications.  I am glad to see that there are other around that still know how to spell DOS. (Now be honest, don't you all REALLY miss that friendly little C:> prompt?  I mean, really, how many BSODs did you ever see in DOS?)

I have also had problems with multiple models of the HP 3000 series.  I think that may have been the bad apple in HP's barrel.  I'll take a look at the Xerox line, but I think, ultimately, we will have to find a solution for when parallel disappears.

And, David, Bless you my child.  I no longer have any DOS machines running.  I understand your point, but this customer's entire manufacturing and accounting system is custom developed in compiled dBase (Clipper '87).  It runs on about 60 computers in the office and plant.  I would be hard pressed to find, much less keep, 60 old DOS computers running in a dusty factory environment.
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by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 38853915
Be nice or I'll make you sit down at my CP/M machine and operate it.  My 'everyday' DOS / Win3.11 machine is a 160Mhz Pentium.  I haven't upgraded it past there because I'm a little concerned that timing loops in some of the old software may fail if it gets too fast.

What computers are you running?
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by:Herman D'Hondt
ID: 38854123
don't you all REALLY miss that friendly little C:> prompt?
I still use it regularly, on my Win 7 machine. There still are times when nothing but DOS (or unix, of course) will do.
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by:tcampbell_nc
ID: 38855291
David... my friend, I too remember CP/M.  I ran it on a Panasonic sr. Partner Lugable suitcase, from a 5.25 Floppy (when floppy's were truely floppy).  I didn't have to worry about printer ports with that machine, since it was a top-of-the-line portable computer with an integrated THERMAL printer.  The only problem with the thermal is when I had to travel in Texas during the heat of the summer.  I learned quickly to never leave the computer in the car.  It ruined the paper.

HD, you have fallen for the conspiracy.... There is no more DOS.  When we put our first Win7 machine at that factory, we promptly discovered that we could no longer run DOS apps in full screen mode, and that we could not issue the Novell Capture command to redirect LPT ports to NetWare print queues.  After much research and head-banging, I was informed that the pretty little C:> prompt in Win7 is actually a graphical representation of our old friend, or as one young whipper-snapper coined it.... a drug induced flashback to the OLD days of computing.  Alas, DOS is gone and has been since Vista.  You are correct though, seeing that little white on black screen does bring calm back to a stressful situation at times.  We just have to keep telling ourselves... "It is DOS, It is DOS, It is DOS" until we believe it.

Computers: Everything from Windows 2000 through Windows 7.  No Vista thankfully.  The older computers are Gateway (original Gateway, not the new ones), and the newer computers are all Dell.  As stated above, we were fine though Windows XP since DOS and all it's functionality still existed.  We are having to dig in to make it all work in Win7.
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by:tcampbell_nc
ID: 38903031
LordPan's suggestion is the only one that works.  The DOSPRN program does not work, neither does the printer pooling.  In both instances, when the DOS program starts to send the print job, it kicks out with a "Printer not Ready" error.

The problem with using the sharing approach is that the customer will sometimes know they need to print in condensed print (16.66 cpi).  We have a little batch file that sends the condensed print PCL commands to the printer before they run the DOS Application.  Running this through a Windows shared printer, it seems like the PCL commands are sent, then the printer resets before we ever get into the DOS application.  

Any suggestions?
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by:Robby Swartenbroekx
ID: 38903103
Maybe starting the program from within the batchscript, so that it keeps it settings.
But the best way is to adapt the program or the template, but I understand it isn't always possible.
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by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 38903108
The DOSPRN program actually feeds the characters to a Windows printer driver.  And the first thing a Windows print job does is send a reset command to the printer.  It also does not pass on control characters except as escaped characters to print, not control the printer.  That's why I frequently recommend keeping a DOS/Win3.1 machine around to run legacy software.  You could get these programs to print correctly on an XP machine with a real parallel printer port because then you didn't have to go thru the Windows printer driver with DOSPRN or 'net use...'.
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by:tcampbell_nc
ID: 38903202
OK, so if I look at the Xerox printers (that support PCL5), will the same printer control codes that we have either batch fed, or embeded in the code, still work.  I guess what I am asking is...  Is PCL5 a standard no matter who the manufacrurer is.  I have always worked with HP, so I am afraid I don't know if the following code will force a xerox into condensed print:

(s0P(s17H(s3T

LordPan, you are correct.  Way to much involved to adapt all the programs.  I have been asking the developer to re-write everything in visual Fox.  He has done some in Fox, but estimates that it would require well over a year of constant effort to re-write everything.  I am not holding my breath.

The printing is not a "finished" report, but simple line prints, thus the "printer not ready" when the first line is sent to the printer.
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by:tcampbell_nc
ID: 38903228
Oh, and I just noticed that the ONLY xerox printer of that class that has a parallel port is the Phaser 3600 (mentioned above).  I guess that Xerox may be phasing these out as well.
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by:Robby Swartenbroekx
ID: 38903232
PCL is a default language, but can't help you with it sorry.
Because you are sending pcl code to the printer, isn't it possible to use "generic text only" as printdriver.
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by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 38903299
PCL is a widely used standard.  But those escape codes will be printed, not executed, if you send them thru a Windows printer driver.  They will only work if you have direct access to the parallel printer port.  Everybody is phasing out parallel ports because most new computers don't have them.
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by:tcampbell_nc
ID: 38903334
Well,

The only users that will have a problem are those that need to switch between normal and compressed print.  On the big system printers (Printronix), they have to switch between saved configurations to switch between pitches.  The HP's can be hard coded for a default pitch, but you have to go through about 17 steps to get to the pitch setting.

I guess we could simply setup two printers for each user that needs to flip-flop.  Then they could icons on the desktop, one for each printer, that point to a net use command for a printer share.

This is making my head hurt!!!!  I hate telling a customer there is not a viable "good" solution, so here is what we need to do.....

Do any of the modern laser printers (HP, Xerox, Brother, etc.) have an easy way to "switch" personalities from the printer buttons (like the printronix).  If I can setup a single printer, and tell the user to "press this button to print at 10 pitch, and press this button to print at 17...."  I doubt this exists in the laser world, but it does not hurt to ask.

Thanks.
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by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 38903382
You're still swimming upstream.  In the Windows world and even Linux and Mac, there is no real need for that anymore.  The printer drivers take care of all of that.  Often, the builtin fonts aren't used because they're not the default fonts for documents.
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by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 38903397
Actually, as I think you know, the 'good' solution is to make a plan to keep the software upgraded to things that will be supported.  That will change over the years no matter what is chosen as the next version.  Manufacturers and software firms stop supporting old stuff so they can sell new stuff and stay in business.  I learned years ago that people who want the 'old stuff' generally just don't want to spend any money.  The manufacturers are uninterested in supporting them if there is no money to be made.
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by:Herman D'Hondt
Herman D'Hondt earned 333 total points
ID: 38903465
"switch" personalities
That is what the different languages do, and most printers switch automatically (or are told to switch in the PJL job header). If that does not work, you can always set the default language to PCL as the Windows driver will use PJL to select whatever language it uses. As for buttons to change pitch, there are some things you can set on the printer's front panel (or via the web browser if networked). They include things like default font. I found a Phaser 3600 that is visible on the internet (not a good idea, even if it is password protected), and you can check its PCL settings.

PCL5 should generally work with any compatible printer. The exceptions are things like tray handling: the tray numbers can vary from model to model.
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