Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 5, NO. 1 / MAY 1986


Graphics dump for non-graphics printers


If you have a so-called "non- graphics" printer, this is the program for you. Poster Maker creates huge, poster-sized ASCII printouts from any picture in Micro lllustrator format. And it will work with almost any printer-- including letter-quality daisy wheel printers! This BASIC Program will run on any Atari 8-bit Atari computer with 32K and a disk drive.

If you own an "impact" (daisy wheel) printer, you probably enjoy professional looking, letter-quality printouts. But you also may have wanted--just once or twice to be able to do a screen dump, like those dot-matrix printers.

And there are probably a few readers out there with dot-matrix printers incapable of handling graphics--such as the Atari 1027 or the Epson HomeWriter.

Surely, all of you are aware that none of these printers are capable of graphics. Obviously none could print a 160 x 192 pixel four-color Micro Illustrator screen, right? Wrong. With Poster Maker, it is possible to print any screen drawn with Micro Illustrator on most non-graphic printers.

If you can think back as far as the late '80s or early '90s you may recall "typewriter" pictures of subjects like Abraham Lincoln, meticulously made up of X's and O's on someone's typewriter.

Poster Maker does the same thing, only the computer does all the hard work. The program converts screen pixel values to ASCII characters. Of course, these screen dumps are not quite the same as graphics dumps.

For one thing, Poster Maker creates BIG pictures. Depending on your printer, your final picture may measure over 2 feet wide and 11/2 feet high. Also, since the picture is made up of ASCII characters, you might want to stand back a bit so that you can identify the subject matter.

If you're wondering how a two-foot poster can come out of a printer with an 8 1/2 inch carriage, the answer is simple: You're going to have to do a little cutting and pasting.

But don't let that scare you. The result is well worth the effort.


Begin by typing in Listing 1, POSTRMKR.BAS. Of course, check it with TYPO II and SAVE a copy before you RUN it. If you don't wish to type the machine language strings in lines 310 and 470-530, simply leave those lines out. SAVE the incomplete program, type NEW--then type and SAVE Listing 2.

When you RUN Listing 2, POSTR2.BAS, it will create a disk file called STRINGS.LST containing the special lines. To merge these lines with the incomplete program, LOAD Listing 1 and type ENTER "D:STRINGSLST" [RETURN]. Be sure to SAVE the completed program before you RUN it.


Poster Maker can only print picture files created with Micro Illustrator-style software, such as the software supplied with Atari Touch Tablet and Light Pen, KoalaPad, Tech-Sketch, Chalk Board. etc. If you have other graphics software, see Charles Jackson's Rapid Graphics Converter in Antic, November 1985.

When you RUN Poster Maker, you will see a directory of all files on disk drive 1 with ".PIC" extenders. So make sure your picture files contain this extender.

You will need nine or ten sheets of tractor feed paper. It doesn't matter if your printer accepts tractor feed, as long as all nine sheets are attached and can run through your printer without skewing out of line. Poster Maker will not wait for each sheet.

Line up the edge of the paper, turn the printer on, and type the name of the file you wish to print. (Don't type in the "D:" or the ".PIC" extender) Brief instructions will appear on the screen. Press any key to load the picture file from the disk.

You will now see the picture on the screen. The background will be white, and three other colors will be shades of gray. If your picture looks fine now, press [*] to begin printins.

If you don't like the shades, you can alter them. Press [1] to alter the shade of Color 1, [2] for Color 2, [3] for Color 3, or [0] for the background. When the shades are set to your liking, press [*].

The screen will blank and the printing should begin. You may want to turn off the monitor and disk drive and relax. The printing will take a while. If the printer runs out of paper or is switched off, the program will start over.


When the printing is complete, remove the strip of paper and take a look at the printout. You should see three long groups of printed characters. Each group--or section--will be approximately three pages in length.

The first section printed by Poster Maker, when viewed horizontally will correspond with the bottom third of your screen picture. The next section is the middle, and the third section is the top.

Okay, get out your scissors and tape and go to it. (Antic takes no responsibility for those programmers unable to put together a three-piece jigsaw puzzle. Please, do not call or write. --ANTIC ED)


I borrowed the subroutine that loads Micro Illustrator files from the Antic Rapid Graphics Converter program mentioned above.

I modified the original routine only slightly. In my version the data is printed to the screen instead of being stored in a string. This subroutine (lines 420-560) can easily be used in your own programs. Your program must first DIM MAIN$(342) and FN$(16), then place the name of your picture file in FN$.

Before calling the routine, your program must also be in ANTIC mode E--or on XE/XL computers, GRAPHICS 15 + 16. For the sake of 400/800 Atari models, we've added line 310 to accomplish this.

Michael Krueger, 16, is a high school sophomore from Vermillion, South Dakota. He debuted in the March, 1986 Antic with Build Your Own Lie Detector and seems to be some sort of Atari hardware adaptation whiz.

Listing: POSTRMKR.BAS Download