ThE HEWlETT-PACkARd DESkJET 500:
A NEW WAVE IN 8-BiT DESkTOP PUbliShiNG?
A NEW WAVE IN 8-BiT DESkTOP PUbliShiNG?
FRANk KWEdER, AC CONTRibUTiNG AUThOR
Changing With The Times
CHANGE is what we need! Throw out the Old and embrace the New! Well, the only CHANGE you get may be the "change" in your pocket where your wallet use to be! I suggest you can "invest" your money and make a "contribution" to upgrading your computer infrastructure (I don't know what effect this will have on the national debt). But, why buy a new horse and wagon when the horse you've got is fine? Just look for the right wagon!
My new wagon is the Hewlett-Packard DeskJet 500 inkjet printer. At under $400.00, the DJ500 is priced near top quality dot matrix printers. A look at Computer Shopper will show that, new or used, DeskJets are getting cheaper and cheaper. While there are newer (and older) DeskJet models, the "500" best fits the requirements of the Classic Atari.
The DeskJet 500 is larger than most dot matrix printers (17.3" wide; 14.8" long; 8" high), but is self-contained, meaning there are no external knobs or paper path requiring extra space. The paper (up to 100 sheets) fits in a tray at the bottom and feeds automatically. All movement is controlled by panel buttons. There is a special guide for inserting #10 envelopes (one at a time).
DIP switches are easily accessible on the front. Serial and Centronics ports are located underneath. You can transfer your existing printer cable with no problem. There are two socket receptacles for font and memory cartridges (more about these later). Rollers, guides, etc. are all easily accessible for cleaning, making maintainence a breeze. Print speed is comparable to dot matrix but startlingly quiet! The manual is excellent with lots of examples and diagrams.
I said above that the printer was self-contained: well, almost. The Nostalgia Factor rises here because, like most of your Atari equipment, a big black power supply box joins the spaghetti and square meatball family behind your computer. But I'm here to tell you the addition of a little more to your existing tangle will be worthwhile.
Standard paper size is 8 1/2" X 11", but the paper guide can be extended to accommodate 14" lengths. I use plain copier paper or special inkjet and laser papers, whatever gives me the results I like. I also preprinted stationery featuring a cloudy sky with a rainbow in the corner, and other designs with trees or textures or graduated color scales. Papers in various colors, weights and textures add a great new look to anything you print.
Ink comes in a special cartridge and at about $15 is more expensive than ribbons. A newer type of cartridge at $25 has recently been introduced which holds twice as much ink. Handled with care, you can refill and re-use the cartridges many times. Refill kits are available in black or blue. You get two refills per kit for about $15. A great feature of the DeskJet 500 is an inksaving draft mode.
In addition, Computer Friends Inc. in Oregon- a great source for ribbon inks in the past- offers a variety of inks in many colors, including bright process inks (magenta, yellow and cyan). The DeskJet 500 is not a color printer, but I've used YEMACYB, the best program for making color prints in 128 colors, with excellent results. The ability to feed the same sheet of paper through the printer again and again with near perfect registration makes this possible.
The DJ-500's standard internal fonts are less than the latest dot matrix printers provide. They are: Courier, Times and Letter Gothic (san serif). They come in two sizes: 12 point and 6 point (72 points = 1"). Only the Courier and Letter Gothic come in multiple widths: 10, 16.67, 20 CPI (characters per inch). Times is proportional. Only the Courier font can be selected with panel buttons. You must use escape codes to access the others. The BASIC program, DESKJET.BAS, which accompanies this article will demonstrate some of the font variations you can achieve.
The fonts all print vertically (portrait mode). In addition, Courier can be printed horizontally (landscape mode). This should appeal to Syncalc users. Paper length of 14" and CPI's up to 20 should give you an approximation of how wide a sheet you can make.
Hewlett-Packard font cartridges include several sizes of one font. The actual number depends on font characteristics and size. Larger sizes take up more memory space. There are also non-HP cartridges available.
The HP carts cost around $80 each. These are also available used for less than half that price. The non-HP carts are about $100-120, but are a bargain because they contain four times as many fonts and sizes. A big advantage of the HP carts is that font sizes are selectable with the panel buttons. The non-HP fonts are only selectable by escape codes (unless, of course, you can create a printer driver).
Memory and Graphics
Memory cartridges are available in 128K and 256K. They are expensive and are used for "soft fonts" which are downloadable from disk. This isn't a likely option for the Classic Atari owner, although it's possible that high interest might generate action by our programming community.
How about graphics? What about the older wordprocessing software with no printer driver for an inkjet? There is an Epson emulator cartridge which allows your DeskJet 500 to imitate an Epson FX80. The DJ500 can print 75, 100, 150 and 300 DPI (dots per inch). Your graphics won't print at a higher DPI, but they'll look sharper. All the usual Epson font types and sizes (including a few even the Epson can't do!) are available.
I use First XLent Word Processor and made a printer driver for the usual bold, italic, and underline font modifications. Using the Courier font, XLent works exactly as before (without the Epson emulator). Letter Gothic also works, but must be activated by sending an escape code sequence. XLent does that very easily: you can send command codes directly to the printer from anywhere in your document. Using Times, the proportional font, is difficult. The space character, CHR$(32), varies in size. So you get misaligned columns. Double column printing and margin justification don't work either.
It should be possible to use other Atari word processors effectively. I hope my demo program offers enough insight for you to make that judgement about your favorite writing tool.
Page 21 of this magazine was produced entirely on my DeskJet 500; it was not typeset in the usual way by "AC"'s Publisher. The actual page proof copy was generated by running DESKJET.BAS on my trusty 8-bit. The demo program itself is listed as part of the page. I also used DeskJet!, a font cartridge from Computer Peripherals, Inc. which includes more fonts, and more sizes for internal fonts. The price last year was $120, but I've since seen it in a catalog for $89!
[Editor's Note: DESKJET BAS will appear on AC's October '93 Software Disk. Non-Disk subscribers can look for it on the commercial networks, where it will be uploaded as DESKJET.ARC. - BP]
DJ500 BASIC Demo
I chose a BASIC program for the demo to show how useful the DeskJet 500 and a font cartridge can be and how easy it'll be to update programs you're already using. I'm working on a mail list database to print envelopes. Oh boy! No more of those miserable label sheets that drive me nuts!
Here's a breakdown of DESKJET.BAS:
Line 10: DIMension some strings.
Line 20: SPC$ makes it easy to do adjustable spacing with proportional fonts-- every point size is different. E$ is the escape character. On our 8-bits, we can produce it directly, but the rest of the computing world hasn't caught up with us yet! D$ is underline dashes to keep the listing neat.
Line 30: I could have used LPRINT, but it won't perform all of the tricks I use.
Line 40: Printer reset to clear all previous settings. DIP switch settings on the printer can be overridden by software, so it's a good idea. The Skip Perforation DIP switch on my machine is set to OFF. Rather than switch it ON, I just do 3 ?#7's. Here you can add other codes like paper length and CR+LF and margins. Default values apply if nothing else is set.
Lines 100-111: Manipulate the first line of text: "Atari Classics presents".
NOTE: HP codes are quite different from Epson codes. They are short, but they are MANY! And, they **must** be in the proper order. Not all codes must be repeated to change a font, but an overlooked incorrect code can give you unexpected results! Many small codes can be combined into one long code using lower case letters and a capital for the last code in the sequence. The capital signals the end of the code.
Line 101: "P" comes first and is "1" for proportional or "0" for fixed space. "H" is next but is only used for fixed space fonts. It is the font CPI. "V" is the point size and this is a number nn/72 inch. "S" is "0" for straight and "1" for italic (in this case S=1 would be trouble because this large font is not available in italic!). "B" is "3" and this means bold ON; "0" means bold OFF. FONT is the Hewlett-Packard ID # for the font used (Times). VMI is the Vertical Motion Indicator (line spacing in nn/48 inch).
Line 102: Printer codes subroutine.
Line 103: Read DATA at 2000, sends the code for a floating double underline, and prints some space, a BOLD 30 point "A" plus the underline and holds the cursor in place (LPRINT won't do that).
Lines 110-111: Change point size to 24, BOLD off, print "TARI" and a double space (remember, proportional spaces can be weird!).
Lines 120-121: Back to 30 point, BOLD on, print "C" and hold cursor.
Lines 130-131: Back to 24 point, BOLD off, print "LASSICS presents"
Line 140: Print blank line and underline off.
Line 200: 24 point; italic; bold; Brush font. VMI is still 12. Not needed but here for clarity. Both ITALIC and BOLD are **required** to get Brush font.
Line 210: print space and DATA at 2004.
Line 300: 12 point; italic; bold; Univers font. Change VMI to 8/48 (1/6").
Line 310: print space and DATA at 2005.
Line 400: Getting brave, I just turn off italics and bold and change the font back to Times and send the codes!
Lines 410-430: Set up FOR/NEXT loop to read and print the DATA at 2006-2007.
Line 500: Change to fixed space; font width-10CPI; point size10; italics OFF; FONT=Prestige (like Epson Elite); VMI=8.3! (see next NOTE); send code.
NOTE: Since we're going to print a large number of lines now, we change techniques. A VMI of 8 would leave extra white space at the end of the page. A VMI of 9 would start printing lines on the next page.
Line 510: Set the left margin to 8.
Line 520: LIST the program.
Line 530: Like the "END" statement, the "LIST" statement CLOSEs your I/O channel, so it must be reOPENed.
Line 600: Mostly repeated for clarity. Univers font is selected; VMI is 6.6 to space lettering under underline rule at bottom of page; codes are sent, plus a line feed (LF).
Line 610: Print the underline rule.
Line 620: Print "Atari"; print page number surrounded with commas for best fit to the underline rule (proportional spaces again!); print "Classics".
Line 700: Send code to eject the page from the printer ...it's done!
Line 710: End program.
Line 1010: Put some codes into strings to ensure they are properly represented.
Line 1020: The whole escape code for the font (see NOTE below).
NOTE: The <ESC>"(OU" at the beginning chooses a character set. Not changed for this demo.
Line 1030: Here you have 3 escape sequences: the first is the code to enable the DeskSet! cartridge; the second repeats the character set code (it seems to clear the printer buffer of stray characters); the third code sets a VMI big enough to handle the point size of the font. If too small, you get Egyptian hieroglyphics or running wet ink spots instead of fonts!
Lines 2000-2007: DATA for the first 5 lines of the page.
New Peripherals For Old Machines
Maybe you've been interested in other printers or a hard drive. Many, but not all of the new peripherals work with an Atari 8-bit. Companies and dealers aren't going to look for you and can't answer questions because they don't know you or your equipment. You have to do your own digging, but you might strike gold, allowing you do do things you never dreamed possible without spending a fortune on a new system!
[Editor's Comment. While a few club newsletters- notably the SLCC newsletter- have pioneered the use of advanced printers such as the HP inkjet, this is the first really rigorous tutorial we've seen on the subject. We 're really starved for more info on the use of advanced printers and other peripherals with the Classic Atari. Who will be FIRST among our readers to send us an article on using LASER printers with the Classic 8-bit? -BP]
H-P DeskJet 500
18110 S.E. 34th Street
Camas, WA 98607 USA
Under $400 at mass retail outlets.
Computer Peripherals, Inc.
667 Rancho Canejo Boulevard
Newbury Park, CA 91320 USA
Catalog price: $89.
Computer Friends, Inc.
14250 N.W. Science Park Drive
Portland, OR 97229 USA
Write for their catalog!