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29431RE: [midatlanticretro] [Semi-OT] Dot Matrix Printer Help

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  • Wesley Furr
    Feb 25 5:43 AM
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      I passed your message on to someone I work with now, and worked with two jobs back too.  "Back in the day" of the other job, they used to use Sperry/Unisys equipment...so I passed along your note in case he knew something about your printer.  I personally worked with some of the leftover big MT band printers...but nothing smaller that had that name on it.  Here's his response:
      Well – up until I displayed the picture I thought I was familiar with the printer.   I have dealt with MT printers in the past – I don’t think they had the Unisys name on them though.  The picture and the MT printer I have in mind do not match.
      The MT’s that I played with had a menu that would allow the print of the current and all possible settings – it printed quite a long list of configurable parameters.
      If the printer has the Unisys name on it – it may have a butchered serial interface.  Depending on what the printer was connected to in its Unisys life, it may not be a typical serial connection.  Long ago we purchased an Epson printer to replace a Unisys (maybe even Sperry) printer and there was a slight change to the serial settings to get it to talk to a Unisys terminal.   But this slight change was made with a dip switch.
      In the very last paragraph there is a statement…” but I honestly didn't expect the printers to hold me back!”
      In my experience – printers ALWAYS hold you back.   I thought at one point that printers and modems would cause the end of life as we know it.
      Sorry – a lot of words -  not much help…..
      Hope this is of some help...

      From: midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com [mailto:midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Kyle Owen
      Sent: Monday, February 25, 2013 2:00 AM
      To: midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [midatlanticretro] [Semi-OT] Dot Matrix Printer Help

      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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