Plotter tools

Plotter tools

by hamlet on 16-06-2020, 22:14
Topic: Software
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Many of us still stock one of the famous Sony PRN-C41 pen plotters or similar models. In the eighties it was still a real alternative to the dot-matrix printer as output device, but unfortunately, most of these obscure devices got dusty in the attic due to a lack of pens.
Fortunately, the MSX companies Sony and Toshiba were not the only ones using the pens installed. We also discovered plotters from Sharp and some professional printers in the medical field.
Especially with the Atari 1020 there is a four-color plotter for which you can still buy refills today.
The American Atari veteran Bradley Koda has been running a mail-order service since the early eighties, in which all wishes of the Atari 8-bit disciples can be fulfilled until today, including supplies for the popular MSX plotter. The replacement refills are offered at a moderate price as a color mixture or five black pens at moderate prices, only shipping and customs costs make these pins expensive.
A visit to Koda's homepage is definitely worth it. Also a chat with the owner, who is full of expert knowledge, is fun and invites to buy.

From Sony there was a threesome with the Creative Graphics, the Graphic Master and the Print Master Cartridge that left nothing to be desired. Almost vector-oriented work was possible, files could be exchanged between the applications and the printer program could control either the dot matrix printer or the plotter. Manual colours could be assigned to the plotter pens to achieve best possible results.
Even today it is still fun to control the plotter with these programs and to amaze the audience.

If this was too complicated for you, you could use Sony's own consumer apps Creative Greetings and Homewriter to integrate ready-made graphics into greeting cards and design them individually.

There were also applications in the homebrew area. Here the plotter tools of Frank Horn are especially mentioned. On his homepage Frank Horn gives an insight into his portfolio of that time.

Now a newer program has reached me, Joost Zwijnenburg has published a tool called JoyPlot, which makes you want to use the old plotter again. This tool is also available in our download area. Cheers to Joost!

By the way, the plotter can still be used with modern hardware, the Centronics interface makes it also possible. Happy plotting!

Related links:
BestElectronics.com: Bradley Koda's amazing time travel
Frank Horn's homepage
Download Joost Zwijnenburg's JoyPlot from the download database

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Comments (5)

By Tabajara-Labs

Expert (94)

Tabajara-Labs's picture

21-06-2020, 16:08

As I always say,
"no one reads my blog"
http://tabajara-labs.blogspot.com/2018/08/como-remanufaturar...
Here it is, how to remanufacture the plotter pens
(and I need a set for an Atari 1020 =D )

By hamlet

Scribe (3134)

hamlet's picture

21-06-2020, 16:57

Thanks Tabajara Labs
I see there is a list which counts the different plotters using those pens. Hard to understand that it is so difficult to come by.
I also refilled the pens years ago, used tricks to get the writing again (flames are your friend), but it is good to know there are still new pens available.
There is a medical device mail order in Germany who sells similar pens but they change the design, so the pens are are a bit too large in diameter and made out of plastic. Don't buy them.
Anyway, this is a very well made blog, Tabajara Labs, thanks for pointing me to!
If someone in Europe need some black pens, let me know.

By Louthrax

Prophet (2277)

Louthrax's picture

21-06-2020, 23:03

Aawww... Thanks guys, and now I want an MSX plotter printer Smile !! I always liked those devices but they went out of my mind a long time ago.

By mohai

Paladin (880)

mohai's picture

22-06-2020, 13:55

I wonder if someone can build a plotter in a simple way.
I am thinking of a somewhat simplified 3D printer (or a modified one).
Those printers already have a base, x and y axis and a "printhead" on them...

By Joost

Supporter (7)

Joost's picture

28-06-2020, 15:53