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HP Designjet Printers - Configuring and Plotting from AutoCAD LT

Introduction
Plotting from AutoCAD LT is done through the PLOT command, where many configuration options are included. AutoCAD LT stores all the current plot specifications in the configuration file ACLT.CFG so that it is not necessary to re-enter the same parameters every time the Plot command is issued.
The plot procedure in AutoCAD LT is very easy because there is no need to select specific devices. There is only one default device that is the System Printer. By default, AutoCAD LT uses dithered output to allow the printer to simulate more colors than it actually supports by creating combinations from the pure color palette. The dithered output can be disabled for those printers that do not support it, like pen printers, simply by changing the DITHER setting to 0. This is done from the AutoCAD command line by typing: DITHER 0.
The Plot command performs the following tasks:
  • Set the Pen Assignments such as pen number, pen width and linetype, all of them associated with each color that appears in the screen.
  • Select the printing area with the variables: Display, Limits, View or Window area.
  • Remove hidden lines.
  • Select the units and specify the paper size in inches or in millimeters.
  • Specify the orientation of the paper.
  • Set the scale, rotation and origin parameters.
  • Obtain a full or partial preview of the drawing.
  • Save all the plot settings to a file with the .PCP extension for future use.
  • Plot the drawing to a file or directly to the printer.
Typing PLOT in the command line by choosing the Plot button of the Toolbar or selecting the File menu then Print/Plot can access the plot dialogue box.
Setup and default selection information
This area is used to save the setup information to a plotting configuration file and specify the print setup parameters. Choosing the Print/Plot Setup & Default Selection button will open the dialogue box.
File defaults
Save defaults to file
This option will save all the basic plot specifications and pen assignments in a file with the .PCP extension. The PCP files can be edited with an ASCII editor like the Windows Notepad. This provides an easy way of modifying the settings of the pen assignments.
Get defaults from file
Loads all the plot specifications from an existing PCP file. It is a useful way of saving all the plotting parameters together with the drawing.
Device specific information
Show device requirements
The Show Device option displays additional configuration information about the current printer driver.
Print/Plot setup
This option will access the driver configuration. Because the System Printer is being used it will display the Print Setup dialogue box.
Pen parameters
This area of the PLOT command controls the pen settings. Each entity of the drawing is assigned a color. These colors can be assigned either to a specific layer or to an individual object. When plotting, all entities with the same color are drawn using the same pen parameters (pen number, linetype and pen width). Therefore the user must assign pen parameters to the colors currently used in the drawing. It is possible to work with 255 different colors. The width will be expressed in inches or millimeters depending on the setting of the Paper Size and Orientation option.
Choose the Pen Assignments button to open the next dialogue box.
The Feature Legend button will display a window with the possible linetypes that can be used in the drawing by assigning them to a pen number.
Additional parameters
In this section of the PLOT main dialogue box it is possible to select a rectangular area of the drawing to be plotted -Display, Extents, Limits, View or Window- or to select parameters such as Hide Lines or Adjust Area Fill.
Display
Plots the view in the current viewport, be it model space or paper space.
Extents
The plot will consist of the portion of the drawing that currently contains entities, similar to the ZOOM Extents command. These extents are updated automatically as new entities are drawn, but reductions in the extents (as produced with Erase, Move or Scale) are recognized only when a Zoom All or Zoom Extents are performed. So, if the drawing has been edited, it is safer to perform a Zoom Extents before using this option.
Limits
Plots the entire drawing area as defined by the drawing limits.
View
Plots a view that has been previously saved using the View command. To select a view, choose the View button and AutoCAD will display all the views currently saved for the current drawing.
Window
Plots any portion of the drawing by specifying the lower-left corner and the upper-right corner of the area to be plotted. To specify a window choose the Window button.
Hide Lines
Selecting this option will mean that at plotting time, all hidden lines will be removed from the objects drawn. For a complex drawing removing hidden lines can add significantly to the plotting time.
Adjust area fill
This option will adjust the pen width when plotting solid-filled traces, solids and wide polylines.
Plot to file
When this option is selected AutoCAD will send the plot output to a file rather than directly to the printer. This option will prompt the user for a file name for the plot file, which will have a PLT extension.
Paper size and orientation
In this section it is possible to select the units for all plot size specifications and the paper size of the plot.
AutoCAD allows to select between inches and millimeters as the units to specify the plot size. This selection will affect: Paper Size, Plot Area, Pen Width and Plotted units=Drawing units. They will all be expressed in the appropriate units.
Choosing the Size button will open a dialogue box that displays all the paper sizes supported by the printer. The page sizes shown here will depend on the printer model and the Page Size setting selected in the Windows driver.
It is possible to select the paper size both in this dialogue box, and in the Control Panel - Setup dialogue box. To avoid confusion select the desired paper size in the Control Panel - Setup dialogue box, and in the AutoCAD Paper Size dialogue box select always MAX size.
Scale, rotation and origin
This area allows the selection of the plot scale, rotation and origin.
Plot rotation
It is possible to specify a rotation of 0, 90, 180 or 270 degrees. The plot will be rotated in a clockwise direction on the paper.
Plot origin
To place the plot origin at another location on the paper, enter its position in the X and Y Origin edit boxes using the units previously specified.
Scale
The label Plotted units=Drawing units, sets an explicit scale for the plot by specifying the number of drawing units to be plotted per inch or per millimeter on the paper. To scale the plot so that the chosen view is made as large as possible for the specified paper size, choose the Scale to Fit check box; the edit boxes will reflect the actual scale used to fit.
Plot preview
This is a very useful feature of AutoCAD that displays a preview of the drawing on the chosen paper size.
Partial
Shows graphically the effective plot area on the paper size and how correctly the plot will fit. AutoCAD will consider the area selected (Display, Extents, Limits, View or Window), the paper size, the scale, the plot origin and the rotation.
Full
A full preview displays the drawing on the screen as it will appear on the paper. It is possible to perform a Dynamic Pan or a Zoom of an area in the drawing.
Plotting
When sending the drawing to a printer, AutoCAD LT scans the drawing from top to bottom processing horizontal strips to be plotted. For many devices, AutoCAD LT can truncate trailing blank spaces from the right end of each horizontal strip, saving time by not processing this information. Thus, a drawing without border lines can often be processed more quickly than the same drawing with border lines. When finally choosing the OK button to plot the drawing, AutoCAD will display the following messages:
  • Effective plotting area: wide by high
  • [where wide and high are expressed in the current size units (inches or millimeters).]
  • Position paper in printer
  • Press RETURN to continue or S to stop for hardware setup.
  • Regeneration done: nn%
  • Vector sort done: nn%
  • Plot complete.
After a Full Preview, the "Regeneration done" message is not displayed because it has already been done to provide a Full Preview. The vector sort is done depending on the contents of the drawing and the device selected.
Configuring AutoCAD
The following tables offer an overview for recommended configurations.
HP Designjet printers (all)
With Windows 9x
Use the HP provided HPGL/2- RTL Windows driver
With Windows NT (all)
Use the HP provided HPGL/2- RTL Windows driver
With Windows 3.1x
Use the HP provided HPGL/2- RTL Windows driver
For current driver download contact HP Driver Support at www.hp.com
 note:
If the HP driver is properly installed, printers will be listed by model (name/ number) under the printer choices.
Older HP Pen Plotters (without HP-GL/2 support)
With Windows 9x
Use Software Mechanics third-party WinLINE driver. For more information contact Software Mechanics at www.winline.com
With Windows 3.1x
Use LT's internal HPGL driver
For more information contact Software Mechanics at www.winline.com
 note:
LT's internal HPGL driver can be used with Windows 95 if you plot to a file and copy the file to the appropriate port.
Newer HP Pen Plotters (with HPGL/2 support)
Windows 9x
Use Software Mechanics WINLINE driver or Use HP's HPGL/2 Windows driver v 1.4
Windows 3.1x
Use LT's internal HPGL drivers or Use HP's HPGL/2 Windows driver v 1.4
For more information contact Software Mechanics at www.winline.com
 note:
Use of the v 1.4 driver is untested by Autodesk's Product support. In many cases, this driver may work because it is configured differently than the other revisions of Windows pen plotter drivers.
General driver information
  1. Do not try to use ADI drivers. ADI drivers are not supported by AutoCAD LT. Any issues or problems with ADI drivers do not apply to AutoCAD LT. AutoCAD LT uses regular Windows drivers like any other windows program, or can use its own internal HPGL driver to support Pen Printers.
  2. Never use the HPGL drivers that ship with windows with a Pen Printer and AutoCAD LT. These drivers do not work properly with AutoCAD LT and will result in pen up/down cycles between nearly every vector. This hammers the tips of the pens, results in very slow plots. This is why Autodesk included their own HPGL support in AutoCAD LT.
  3. The only situation which requires the WinLine driver is an older (non HP-GL/2) Pen printer running under Windows 95. All other combinations can be resolved by using either LT's internal HPGL drivers, or the proper HP-GL/2 Windows driver from HP.
Specifics of configuring Windows and LT for the options listed above
To configure AutoCAD LT for HP's HPGL/2-RTL Windows drivers
  1. Obtain and Install the proper HP Windows driver (v 2.1 or v 1.4).
  2. Set the printer as the default printer in Windows.
  3. Go into Windows "printer" settings and set all defaults to properly reflect paper size, output port, etc.
    1. If using a black and white HP Designjet printer, you may want to select the True black option under the Color settings.
  4. Set LT to print to System Printer, paper size to Max etc.
    1. For the HP Designjet printer, set Pen Widths in LT's Pen Parameters dialog. LT defaults to a .003 inch (.08 mm) pen (1 dot at 300DPI). A width of .01 inch (or .3 mm) works better, especially for dithered colors and Grayscales.
To configure AutoCAD LT for the Winline driver
  1. Obtain the WinLine driver from Software Mechanics.
  2. (Optional) Prior to installing Winline, either remove or rename all other Windows drivers for the printer. This avoids confusion later by ensuring that the WinLine drivers can be easily distinguished from the default Windows printer drivers.)
  3. Install the WinLine driver.
  4. Set printer as Default Windows printer and set paper size etc.
  5. Set LT to print to System Printer, paper size to Max etc.
To configure for the internal HPGL driver in AutoCAD LT
  1. Set LT for Hewlett-Packard (HP-GL).
  2. Go into Print/Plot Setup... button and pick Printer and Port.
  3. Select paper size in LT.
 note:
The sizes listed in LT reflect the printable area, which is less than physical sheet size.
 note:
When using the internal HPGL driver, The printer must be set to even parity.

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