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29425[Semi-OT] Dot Matrix Printer Help

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  • Kyle Owen
    Feb 24, 2013
      After collecting computers for several years, I've accumulated a few printers as well. Just recently, I scored a Unisys-branded Mannesmann-Tally MT440 serial dot matrix printer. I actually see a Sperry sticker on the inside as well. It passes the self-test just fine, but doesn't give me much information for the serial port settings. The DB-25 connector on the back is actually part of a removable module. I traced the DIP switch back to an 8031 microcontroller, but I suppose it really won't do me much good knowing that now without having a dump of the ROM on the board. There seems to be little to no information regarding this printer online either. It's a huge and *very* heavy printer and will print green bar paper fed from the bottom, but can also handle smaller-width paper.

      Assuming the printer does actually send data via serial (that is, not just receive it), how could I use my 'scope to get an idea of what connections to make, and what baud rate it is using? I've already tried to make a "serial printer adapter" as pictured here: http://www.lammertbies.nl/picture/db9_25_printer.png but the printer does not seem to respond whatsoever. I've been simply using `screen` to "talk" to the printer via every commonly used baud rate from 110 up to 19200. 

      I can get some pictures uploaded in a bit, but visually, it's fairly similar to this one, with slightly different button placement. http://www.shakticom.com/images/saletally_big.jpg 

      As if I need another printer to figure out, I also have an OKI Microline 80. Again, hardly any info online. This seems to be a parallel printer based on the Centronics connector (did they ever use serial protocol with a Centronics connector?). I have a USB-to-Centronics adapter that works great for a slightly newer Apple laser printer, but all I get is garbage on the printout with it connected to the ML80. 

      My goal is to get at least one of these working to get some banners printed for the VCF SE 1.0, but I honestly didn't expect the printers to hold me back! I assumed it would be finding the paper that'd give me the most trouble. Green bar paper seems to be rather pricey

      Any tips would be much appreciated.

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