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HP Designjet Printers - Printing/Plotting from AutoCAD 12/13 for Windows Over Networks

Information

This document contains information about printing/plotting of AutoCAD files on an HP Designjet printer. The document also contains a reference section that may be helpful in understand terms used when using AutoCAD.

Printing to a captured or virtual port

ISSUE: Network printing (such as using a "capture" statement, or printing to a virtual port such as LPT4) using AutoCAD 12 or 13.

AutoCAD will not allow a virtual port setting with ADI device drivers. In this situation, you may see error messages such as: "illegal device" or "illegal filename" or "Windows cannot open port."

This is not an HP driver or printer-specific issue. This issue is not seen in AutoCAD 14.

SOLUTION: Listed below are three solutions or workarounds to try.

AutoCAD for Windows users

The easiest solution for AutoCAD for Windows users is to configure AutoCAD to use the System Printer ADI 4.2 by AutoDesk. When using System Printer, AutoCAD uses the default Windows printer driver. So, if you can print over the network in Windows, you will be able to print over the network in AutoCAD.

The only drawback of using the System Printer is that it will print slower even though it will increase the quality of output, and HPCONFIG is not an option.

AutoCAD for DOS or Windows and Autospool

Included in AutoCAD 12 and 13 for DOS and Windows is a feature called Autospool that allows printing to a network port. This is just a brief description of how Autospool works. Autospool is an AutoCAD specific feature and any questions regarding it and its use should be addressed to AutoDesk (www.autodesk.com).

When using Autospool, AutoCAD will create a unique name for each plot file, add the configured network node name to the plot file, and move the plot file to a user created spool directory. When the plot is complete, AutoCAD will check an AutoCAD variable set in the operating system and then execute the arguments set in that line.

Again, this is an AutoCAD specific command and any questions should be addressed to AutoDesk. AutoDesk’s Web page is an excellent source of information on this subject. Direct any questions to www.autodesk.com.

Additional workarounds

Print to a file, and copy the file over the network to the printer.

Plotting from AutoCAD over a network
NOTE: AutoDesk documents this issue on their Web site at: www.autodesk.com

ISSUE: When plotting from AutoCAD to a virtual port - meaning a port such as LPT2 that is not a physical hardware port, but one that has been redirected by the network to a printer or printer on the network - the message: "AutoCAD detected the following errors on LPT2, cannot open port, printer disabled," or a similar message, appears.

SOLUTION: AutoCAD does not support printing to a virtual port. AutoCAD offers the following three solutions:

  1. When configuring the printer, specify a default plot filename of LPT2, or whatever the name of the virtual port happens to be, or manually configure AutoCAD to plot to a file named LPT2. This will cause AutoCAD to plot to a file named LPT2, which will cause the data to travel over the network to the printer.

  2. Plot the drawing to the hard drive and use the following command to copy it to the printer: copy /b filname.ext lpt2.

  3. Set up AUTOSPOOL, an AutoCAD feature. This feature essentially automates Step 2 above by writing the plot to a file and copying it to the specified port.

Plotting to File

Plotting directly to devices in AutoCAD can be a time-consuming task. Plotting to File has the following functional and technical advantages:

  • Plot files may be re-plotted at a later date without the necessity of reprocessing the vectors.

  • Plot files may be sent to remote sites that do not have AutoCAD but have access to a printer or plotting service. This allows them to create additional original plots.

  • Plot files of "final release" drawings may be archived for document control purposes.

  • Plot data can be saved to a file much faster than most printers can accept the data, resulting in less time to wait for AutoCAD to process plots.

  • An inexpensive PC may be used as a plot server. The plot server does not require:

    • An AutoCAD license or to have AutoCAD installed

    • A color monitor

    • A floating point (math) coprocessor

    • A digitizer or mouse

  • The printer's availability to others is increased.

  • Once plot files are generated, they can be copied to the printer from a PC or a plot server. It is possible to plot the file using the same techniques used on AutoCAD networks or select a filename and transfer the .PLT file with the DOS COPY command.

  • To plot to a file, ensure that there is sufficient disk space to store the plot file containing the HP-GL/2 plot commands.

  • Note that the plot file sizes are generally larger than the corresponding AutoCAD drawing file. This is because AutoCAD can store complex geometry such as text and hatch patterns very efficiently in the drawing file, but must convert each "pen stroke" into an HP-GL/2 command simply to dot an "I."

  • Once the drawing is plotted to a file, a plot file can be sent to the printer by typing a DOS command. The following example is for a file named Test and a printer installed on parallel port number 2. (AutoCAD always adds the .PLT extension when creating the plot file, but it must be specified explicitly when using the DOS COPY command.)

    C:\DWG>copy /b test.plt lpt2:

    The /b option is required so the printer or printer will interpret the plot file as a binary rather than an ASCII text file. The second example will copy the Test plot file to the first serial port.

    C:\DWG>copy /b test.plt com1:

  • Before copying a file to the printer or printer connected to a serial (com) port, first issue a DOS MODE command to match the port's communications parameters to the printer connected to it.

  • Example for HP Paintjet XL and LaserJet III printers, type:

  • C:>mode com1:9600,n,8,1,p

  • Example for HP Designjet, 7600, and DraftMaster printers (note that this should agree with the communications parameters set in the printer and the driver):

  • C:>mode com1:9600,e,7,1,p

  • These commands may be included in a batch file used to send plot files to the printer.

Plotting on Novell Networks

Those using AutoCAD on a Novell network benefit in sharing a common set of drawing and support files. In addition, networked AutoCAD sites gain improved plotting throughput by sharing printing and plotting devices.

To take advantage of sharing a printer on a Novell network, take the following steps:

  1. Configure AutoCAD to Plot to File.

  2. Specify the file name to be AUTOSPOOL.

  3. Create a \SPFILES directory on the hard disk.

  4. Create a SPOOL.BAT file per the following example:

    • @ECHO OFF

    • NPRINT %1 J=DNJET600

    • In this example, DNJET600 is the print job name. The network administrator will have set up the Novell server for the printer by making a PRINTCON entry for J=DNJET600.

  5. Set AutoCAD's ACADPLCMD environment variable to invoke SPOOL.BAT.

    • This variable should be placed in the AUTOEXEC.BAT or AutoCAD start-up batch file. Include SPOOL.BAT's full path unless it is placed in the client's DOS path.

    • SET ACADPLCMD=c:\acad\novell\spool %%s

      NOTE: The note from the driver disk only has one % sign in front of the "s" character. This causes a problem because DOS will interpret the first % sign as something other than what HP wants. To correct this problem, a second % sign must follow the first % sign.
    • This allows AutoCAD 386 to create a temporary plot file in the \SPFILES directory. AutoCAD 386 will execute the command specified in the environment variable ACADPLCMD upon plot termination. Novell NPRINT command will queue the file contents into Novell NetWare’s print server queue. Then, AutoCAD will automatically delete the temporary file.

      NOTE: Do not use the Novell CAPTURE command to map an LPT port to a print server. AutoCAD does not use the BIOS for plot output. Please refer to the AutoCAD Release 12 Installation and Performance Guide page 47 and page 81.

Reference

This section is a list of terms and their respective definitions.

HPConfig Field-by-Field

The information below is the same as in HPConfig's help screens.

HP Printer Configuration (Main Dialog Box)

  • The information in this dialog box, and in the five others that can be accessed from here, relates to the printer selected at the top.

  • To change the printer selected, scroll through the list of configuration files. When one is selected, that printer's full name appears above.

  • To add a customized printer configuration, choose an existing configuration file as a default, make the changes and then choose OK. The next dialog box asks to name the new file.

Number of copies

Enter the number of copies wanted from each AutoCAD Plot command.

Print quality

Select a quality level, or accept the printer's default. Higher quality output takes longer to plot. Not all options are available for all printers.

To define pen attributes

Select Pens.

To add annotations to the plot

Select Annotations.

To define the drawing's orientation on the media

  • Select Media Options.

  • To avoid clipped plots or clip warnings:

    • Choose Advanced Media Options.

  • To see the printer's current media and I/O status:

    • Select Printer status.

      (Not available for all printers)

Pens

This dialog box allows definition of pen attributes for the pen numbers specified. Most pen printers have eight pens, numbered 1 through 8, which will be activated as the following pen numbers defined here: 1 through 8, 9 through 16, etc. Inkjet printers have no physical pens, but attributes defined here will be assigned to "logical pens."

To change the number of the pen being defined, choose the arrows on the bar below the pen number or enter the number in the box.

To have the specification apply to all pens, choose Apply to all pens.

  • Plot Merge Control

    • (inkjet printers only; applies to all pens)

  • Select Lines Overwrite to make intersecting areas show only the last entity plotted. Select Lines Merge to make intersecting areas show all lines and fills. This setting will apply only if Merge is OFF on the printer. If Merge is ON the printer, it overrides this setting.

Halftoning

(HP Designjet 650C printer only)

Select Halftoning to access the Halftoning dialog box. For an explanation of halftoning, see below.

  • Line End

  • Select the shape for line ends. Round ends are recommended for most AutoCAD plots.

Line Join

Select the shape for line joins. Round joins are recommended for most AutoCAD plots.

Fill

Select a fill pattern. It will apply to TRACEs, PLINEs, DONUTs and ELLIPSEs. Raster Pattern means the pattern whose filename is currently selected on the right. This setting will apply only if Pen Settings/Palette is set to "from software" on the printer.

Spacing, Angle, Shade

These specifications apply to the fill option currently selected above.

Raster Patterns (Inkjet printers only)

The files named on the right contain some pre-defined patterns that can be chosen as the fill selection.

To apply a raster pattern, first select Raster Pattern from the Fill options. The highlighted filename is the current one. To change it:

Choose another in the list displayed

or

Choose Change to select from files in a different directory

Halftoning explained

Halftoning refers to the appearance of vectors drawn by the printer in all colors except the seven "pure" colors: red, green, blue, cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

"Scatter" halftoning is the default, and "pattern" halftoning is an option. It is permissible to experiment between the two, but scatter is likely to give better results in most circumstances.

Benefits of scatter

  • The texture of many colored areas is more consistent.

  • Small text printed in light colors is easier to read.

Circumstances when pattern may be preferable

  • With certain "clip-art" packages.

  • When an HP-GL/2 plot contains a very large number of different colors in one pass of the printer's print cartridges.

  • When scatter creates jagged lines and edges that are less sharp.

Annotations

This dialog box enables the definition of text or crop marks to be plotted:

  • In addition to the drawing

  • By pen number 7 (default black 2.54 mm)

  • On all plots using this configuration file

Text annotation is plotted at the bottom of portrait-loaded media and at the left of landscape-loaded media. Crop marks are plotted at the corners of the plotting area.

NOTE: Annotations shift the plot by 12 mm (0.5 inch). This is not included in the width and height specification in the Plot command.

Drawing File

  • Select to include the drawing filename and pathname.

Plot Date/Time

  • Select to include the date and time the plot began.

Driver Name

  • Select to include the driver name, printer model and configuration filename.

Crop Marks

  • Select to include crop marks at the corners of the plotting area.

Media options

This dialog box allows verification that the drawing is plotted in the correct orientation on the media.

  1. Identify which of the eight pictures matches individual requirements.

    Is the on-screen image:

    landscape (width > height)?

    then left column

    portrait (width < height)?

    then right column

    Is the orientation of the media loaded in the printer:

    • landscape?

    • portrait?

    Where is the biggest margin wanted?

    • (Pen printers only)

    • Where is the origin to be?

  2. Choose the correct picture.
    NOTE: If the physical orientation of the media in the printer is portrait, then at plot time a suitable user size must be entered with width less than height.

Advanced media options

This dialog box helps to avoid clipped plots.

  1. Identify whether AutoCAD's "Scaled to fit" option (in the Plot Configuration window) is ON or OFF.

  2. If it is OFF, decide whether to be warned onscreen that the plot will be clipped. Choose the appropriate box.

  • If it is ON, AutoCAD's standard estimate of the plotting area may not be correct for an individual printer. To scale to fit the real plotting area, choose Don't clip. Adjust to media, (not operational with all printers). If this is not chosen, it is possible to decide whether to be warned on-screen that the plot will be clipped. Choose one of the three boxes.

  • HPConfig cannot access all printer models to see what size media is loaded. If it cannot access the printer, it will use the standard plotting area for the media size identified in the Plot Configuration dialog box, as long as this is a standard media size.

  • Printer Margins

  • For printers with an expanded margin feature, choose either OFF or ON, to match the current setting on the printer.

Printer status

This dialog box shows the current status of the printer -- media loaded, lever/window raised, printer ready/not ready, etc.
NOTE: Any change made here does not change the interface settings in AutoCAD. To change AutoCAD's settings, use Config.
  1. In the Printer connected to: scroll bar, select the port to which the printer is physically connected.

  2. To see the latest status, choose Get Status. (The status is not monitored continuously.)

    • · Media loaded

      The dimensions of the media currently loaded in the printer.

    • Baud Rate, Parity The serial interface settings are only for getting the printer's status in this dialog box. The initial settings are the defaults for this printer.

      NOTE: If there are several configuration (.CFG) files for the same printer model, then changing these parameters here changes them for all those files.

Color palette

The color palette on Hewlett-Packard HP-GL/2 raster printers and printers approximates AutoCAD's color assignments. For example, red will plot red and blue will plot blue on a color device. Monochrome printers map a grayscale palette to AutoCAD's colors. The easiest way to see the color map for a particular HP-GL/2 device is to plot AutoCAD's CHROMA.DWG provided as a sample file with Release 12.

By default, pen table pen numbers 1 to 255 correspond to AutoCAD colors 1 to 255. Colors may be remapped to any pen. However, the pen table is reset to the default each time the driver is reconfigured. Changes to the pen map may be saved and labeled so that different pen tables may be recalled for later use. Gamma correction is done by default to create a closer match to the intended AutoCAD colors.

Gamma correction can be disabled by manually inserting "GAMMA 0" into the current CFG file.

Driver files

The HP-GL/2 Driver Software Disk is shipped with both real mode and protected mode drivers. The files installed for AutoCAD Release 12 are:

Filename
Description
HP_DRV.TXT
File that lists instructions to complete driver configuration after the Install program copies the driver files.
HPMPLOT.CF
Holds the name of the current CFG file to be used for AutoCAD printer Config.
filename.CFG
Driver configuration files.
HPMPLOT.DCL
HPMPLOT dialogue control file, which defines the dynamic dialogue box for the HPMPLOT command.
HP_R12.DOC
Reference Guide (this file).
PLHPGL2.EXP
Protected-mode HP-GL/2 driver for AutoCAD Release 12, ADI 4.2.
HPMPLOT.EXP
Protected-mode ADS program that controls merged vector and raster plots.
RHPRTL.EXP
Protected-mode HP-GL/2 driver for AutoCAD Release 12 AVE Render, ADI 4.2.
HPMPLOT.HLP
Help file for the HPMPLOT dialogue box.
filename.RPF
Raster Pattern Files that define fill patterns that can be used by this HP-GL/2 driver with raster printers.
HP_DRV.TXT
File created by the INSTALL program listing steps required to complete driver installation. This file may be deleted after proper driver installation is completed.
TESTPLOT.DWG
AutoCAD test plot drawing that illustrates special features of this driver when used with TESTPLOT.CFG on an HP-GL/2 raster printer. Note that the correct raster printer must be selected with the HPConfig command.
TESTPLOT.PCP
AutoCAD plot configuration parameters file for TESTPLOT.DWG.

The following temporary files are created during driver installation and operation. Normally, they are erased when the process is complete. Files may not be properly deleted if there is an improper program termination such as a power loss or system failure.

Filename
Description
HPMERGE.HP$
Temporary file created by HPMPLOT
HPSMOOTH.HP$
Temporary file created by HPMPLOT
HP_DRV1.HP$
Temporary file used by the INSTALL program
HP_DRV2.HP$
Temporary file used by the INSTALL program

If these files are present when not in AutoCAD, delete them by typing the following command:

C:\ACAD\DRV\HPGL2>del *.hp$

Editing configuration files

The printer configuration file may be manually modified with an ASCII editor. The relevant information is supplied in the files SAMPLE.CFG and SAMPLE.DOC, which can be found in the same directory as this file, by default \ACAD\DRV\HPGL2.

The information is for those with advanced skills and system administrators who may want to change these settings without entering AutoCAD, or who want to have another program read the current configuration.

Raster pattern file definition

HP-GL/2 raster printer devices can substitute user-selected patterns in place of AutoCAD's solid fill entities. The following twelve fill patterns are shipped with this driver.

Filename
Description
AI-LOGO.RPF
Autodesk, Inc. logo pattern
DOTFILL.RPF
Random dot pattern
GRID.RPF
Grid pattern
GRID-5.RPF
Grid pattern with every 5th line bold
HP-LOGO.RPF
HP logo pattern
LINEAR.RPF
Linear gradation pattern
MISSTILE.RPF
Mission tile pattern
RADIAL.RPF
Radial gradation pattern
RIVRSTON.RPF
River stone pattern
SEDIMENT.RPF
Sediment pattern
SHINGLE.RPF
Shingle pattern
SWAMPGRS.RPF
Swamp grass pattern

User-Defined Raster Pattern Fills

Raster Pattern Fills (RPFs) can be created with an ASCII editor by following the syntax listed in this section. The .RPF files provided can serve as examples. The following rules apply to defining raster pattern fills:

  • Comments may be entered in the beginning of the file preceded by one of the following characters when it is the first printable character on the line.
    Double slash
    //
    Semicolon
    ;
    Pound
    #
  • The first non-comment line must be a pair of numbers indicating the number of rows and columns in the pattern. Each number must be a power of 2 that is _8 and _64. Out of range numbers will be rounded to the next higher power of 2, up to 64. Valid ranges are 8, 16, 32, and 64.

  • Each pixel or dot in a raster RPF is either filled or not filled. Zero (0), a period (.), or a blank space means no fill. Any other character will produce a filled pixel.

  • Values will default to blank when there are fewer rows than indicated by the row number at the beginning of the definition.

  • Values will default to blank when there are fewer values in a row than indicated by the number of columns in the definition header.
    NOTE: One or more of the above links will take you outside of the Hewlett-Packard Web site. HP does not control and is not responsible for information outside of its Web site.

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