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Printing with AutoCAD (release 12)

Introduction

This document is designed to aid GCC Technical Support staff, field sales personnel, and customers with technical questions pertaining to AutoCAD for DOS, Windows, and Macintosh. The document consists of two parts:
  • Detailed platform-specific descriptions of the procedures necessary to configure AutoCAD (release 12) for optimum output to GCC PostScript printers.
  • A list of typical printing problems and their solutions, plus some setup tips.

PostScript vs. PCL printing

Currently, a user can elect to print to a GCC printer using either PostScript or PCL (HP-GL/2). Choosing PostScript will give the user more versatility: the user can print on any paper size supported by their printer (up to 12 x 21), print out in color/grayscales, and provide higher print quality. Choosing PCL will limit the user to three paper sizes (letter, A4, and legal), black and white output, and lower resolution, although jobs will print faster when using PCL. The user should choose which language to use based upon their particular printing requirements.

Note: Specific menu items or titles will be in bold type.

Using AutoCAD for DOS/Windows (Release 12) with GCC printers

From the standpoint of GCC products (SelectPress, Elite 600 and Elite XL) there is no difference between release (12) of AutoCAD for DOS and AutoCAD for Windows. Structurally, the two programs are the same; with the exception of calls made to the Operating System.

AutoCAD for Windows cannot use GCC custom PostScript drivers because AutoCAD has its own proprietary printing architecture. Instead, users must create a driver for one of our printers, via the Configure option located in the File menu. Note: The same procedure would also normally hold true for AutoCAD for DOS, except that GCC does not currently provide PostScript drivers for DOS.

To configure an AutoCAD Windows driver for a GCC printer:

  1. Select Configure from the File menu.

    A description of the current system configuration is displayed, followed by the Configuration Menu.

  2. Select option #5, Configure Plotter. (Note: AutoCAD for Windows configuration menu is text-driven, not mouse driven.)

    The Plotter Configuration Menu appears,

  3. Select option #1, Add a plotter configuration.

    The Available Plotters Menu appears.

  4. Choose a plotter type.

    For output to a GCC printer, select one of the following:

    Select a PostScript device by choosing option #12, PostScript ADI 4.2
    or
    Select a PCL-HP-GL/2 device by choosing option #9, Hewlett-Packard (HP-GL/2) ADI 4.2.

PostScript selected -

Users will be prompted to enter the following information:
  • Choose one of three resolution settings: 300 dpi (option #1), 1270 dpi (option #2), or 2540 dpi (option #3). Use the highest resolution.
  • Choose color or black/white output: Enter Y for color (grayscale) or N for Black and White.
  • Append a ^z (control-z) to the end of their print jobs: Enter Y or N. Since the control-z is not necessary, the user should select N.
  • Select a port: Serial or Parallel. This question is answered with S or P. Since printing through the parallel port has proved to be more reliable, the user should select P.
  • Select the name of the port they will use: LPT1 is the default, but LPT2 or LPT3 can be chosen as well (Windows generally supports three parallel ports: LPT1 is a physical port on the back of the computer, while LPT2 and LPT3 are "shadow" ports used most frequently to redirect jobs to a network printer). The port chosen here generally does not matter, as the user can configure Windows to redirect data sent to the ports as necessary. If the user plans to print over a direct connection, however, they must choose LPT1, unless their computer has more than one parallel port. Refer to the Windows and DOS manuals for more information on port connection and networking.
  • A list of options will scroll up the user's screen, followed by a prompt to change any of them. The options (with defaults in the form [default]) are:
    • plot optimization level [1]
    • write to file [NOT]
    • size and orientation (style) [Inches and Portrait]
    • plot origin [0.0, 0.0]
    • plot area [8.0 wide by 10.5 high]
    • plot rotation [NOT]
    • area fill adjusted for pen width [NOT]
    • hidden line removal [NOT]
    • plot scaling [available area]
    By typing Y at the prompt, the user can change any of these settings. There is no need to worry about the paper size here; the AutoCAD PostScript driver will support any size paper up to 51.6" x 51.6". This can be set in the Plot dialog inside AutoCAD itself.
  • Enter a description for the plotter: This is the name that the user will select in the Plot dialog, so it should remind them of the printer's configuration, e.g., R&D 600dpi PS @LPT1.

The Plotter Configuration menu reappears. At this point, users can:

  • Add another configuration (option #1)
  • Delete a configuration (option #2)
  • Change a configuration (option #3)
  • Rename a configuration (option #4)
Otherwise, entering 0 (zero) will return the user to the Configuration menu.

Entering a 0 (zero) will close the Plotter Configuration window (or screen, in the DOS version), prompting the user to keep the changes by typing Y or N. The user should enter Y at this point, in order to keep the configuration they have just created (they can always change it at any time).

PCL/HP-GL/2 selected -

Users will be prompted to enter the following information:
  • Select a printer type: They should select option #1, LaserJet III.
  • Enter the number of copies of each plot: This answer is completely up to the user; it does not affect printing in any other manner.
  • Select a paper tray: Manual Feed (option #1), Letter (option #2), A4 sheet (option #3), or Legal (option #4).
  • If the user selected Manual Feed, they must now select what size paper will be loaded into the manual feeder: Letter (option #1), A4 sheet (option #2), or Legal (option #3).
  • Select a port: Serial or Parallel. This question is answered with S or P. Since printing through the parallel port has proved to be more reliable, the user should select P.
  • Select the name of the port they will use: LPT1 is the default, but LPT2 or LPT3 can be chosen as well (Windows generally supports three parallel ports: LPT1 is a physical port on the back of the computer, while LPT2 and LPT3 are "shadow" ports used most frequently to redirect jobs to a network printer). The port chosen here generally does not matter, as the user can configure Windows to redirect data sent to the ports as necessary. If the user plans to print over a direct connection, however, they must choose LPT1, unless their computer has more than one parallel port. The Windows and DOS manuals contain more information on this.
  • A list of options will scroll up the user's screen, followed by a prompt to change any of them. The options (with defaults in the form [default]) are:
    • plot optimization level [1]
    • write to file [NOT]
    • size and orientation (style) [Inches and Portrait]
    • plot origin [0.0, 0.0]
    • plot area [8.0 wide by 10.5 high]
    • plot rotation [NOT]
    • area fill adjusted for pen width [NOT]
    • hidden line removal [NOT]
    • plot scaling [available area]
    By typing Y at the prompt, the user can change any of these settings. There is no need to worry about the paper size here; the AutoCAD PCL driver will support any size paper up to 51.6" x 51.6". This can be set in the Plot dialog inside AutoCAD itself.
  • Enter a description for the plotter: This is the name that the user will select in the Plot dialog, so it should remind them of the printer's configuration, e.g., R&D 300dpi PCL @LPT1.

The Plotter Configuration menu reappears. At this point, users can:

  • Add another configuration (option #1)
  • Delete a configuration (option #2)
  • Change a configuration (option #3)
  • Rename a configuration (option #4)
  • Enter 0 (zero) to return to the Configuration menu. Entering a 0 (zero) will close the Plotter Configuration window (or screen, in the DOS version), prompting the user to keep the changes by typing Y or N. The user should enter Y at this point, in order to keep the configuration they have just created (they can always change it at any time).

Using AutoCAD (Release 12) for Macintosh with GCC printers

With AutoCAD for the Macintosh, the user configures AutoCAD to output to the Macintosh Chooser device. This option is selected from the Configure menu, under the File menu. Once configured, the user can print from AutoCAD in the same way they print from a program like Microsoft Excel, using Page Setup and a Print-like dialog boxes. Furthermore, the Macintosh Chooser device has two major advantages over printing through the AutoCAD PostScript 4.2 ADI driver:
  1. The ADI does not support printing over EtherTalk, whereas the Macintosh Chooser Device does.
  2. The Macintosh Chooser device enables the user to use the advanced features supported by their GCC printer (Edge-to-Edge printing, Calibrated Color/Grayscale output, and Larger Print Area).

Important note: If the Macintosh Chooser device is selected, the user should first set the paper size they wish to use in the Page Setup dialog. This setting will determine the paper size options given to the user in the configuration process.

To configure the Macintosh Chooser device:

  1. Select Configure from the File menu.
    Current configuration will be displayed, followed by the Configuration Menu.
  2. Select option #5, Configure plotter.
    The Plotter Configuration Menu appears.
  3. Select #1, Add plotter.
    If the user has previously configured a Macintosh Chooser device, you might want to just edit it; this is accomplished by choosing #3, Change Plotter Configuration. However, there is no problem with just creating another plotter configuration. After a number is entered, the Available Plotters Menu appears.
  4. Select #9, Macintosh Chooser device.
Users will now be prompted to enter the following information:
  • Calibrate plotter: This step is not necessary at this time, so the user should enter N at this prompt.
  • Units size: If printing will be on standard American sizes of paper, the user should choose Inches. If printing will be on standard European sizes of paper, the user should select Metric. This choice will affect the page layout, but it is mostly a user preference, since the user will be able to select a paper size in the Page Setup dialog.
  • Plotter origin: The default value is 0.0,0.0. During testing, this selection has worked without any problems.
  • Plotting size: The options presented to the user will depend on the paper size selected in the Page Setup dialog. At this point, the user can choose from one of the provided sizes, or can enter their own size (in inches or millimeters, depending on what option was just chosen). If the user wishes to use an unlisted (but supported) size (e.g., the size set in Page Setup is letter and the user wants to print on Legal), the user can later change the setting in Page Setup, and then select another paper size in the Plot window when they go to print.
  • Plot angle for printing: The choices are - 0, 90, 180, 270. The user should select 0, since they will be able to select either Portrait or Landscape in Page Setup.
  • Pen width: This setting affects the thickness of all lines on the output. The default is 0.010 inches (0.25 millimeters). This setting will yield good results, so the user will probably not need to change it.
  • Adjust the area fills for pen width: This option can be changed when the user goes to print the drawing, so there is no need to change this value now. The default value, N, has yielded good results during testing in SQA.
  • Remove hidden lines: This too can be overridden in the Plot dialog, so the user should just use the default value (N).
  • Specify Fit: Users should select fit on page (F), the default.

Printing tips when using the AutoCAD PostScript 4.2 ADI driver:

This section contains various hints, tips, and tricks which may not appear elsewhere in this document.

Some items the user should be made aware of if they run into problems printing with the AutoCAD PostScript 4.2 ADI:

  • Clipped output: AutoCAD always believes that it is talking to a plotter. Therefore, the user must take some precautions when printing, because their drawing will start out in the lower left corner of the page. With a plotter, the user has the option to shift the paper over a little bit lower and to the left to compensate for this. With a printer, the user may need to print a Window, sizing this window so that it will place a border of "white space" around their drawing if their output is being clipped.
  • Setting a default source: Since the AutoCAD PostScript 4.2 ADI does not provide support for multiple paper sources, the user needs to set a default source. On GCC printers, the print job will print out on whatever the default source and size are set to in the front panel; in other words, to print on 12" x 21" paper, the user should set the default source to MPF, and the paper size to 12" x 21".
  • Using unlisted paper sizes: If the user wishes to image their drawing to a paper size not listed in the Plot dialog, there are five "User" slots where they may do so. Remember, however, that this is the size of the image sent to the printer, not the paper size to print out on. For example, if the user wants to print out a 4" x 5" plot on 12" x 21" paper, the paper size in the Plot dialog should be set to 4" x 5", and the printer's front panel should be set to 12" x 21".
  • Setting a default resolution: The default resolution set in the printer's front panel can affect the quality of output. The user should set this default resolution as high as possible. This effect of this setting will be most noticeable with text: small letters and numbers will come out more clearly at 1200 dpi, as opposed to 300 dpi, and diagonals will seem less jaggy. However, in order to make curves come out better, e.g., in a capital 'R' or 'P', the plotter resolution (in the Plotter Configuration menu) should be set as high as possible.
  • Lines too thick: If the user feels that the lines on their output are printed too thick, they should change the Pen Width setting in the Plotter Configuration menu. This setting can be changed by entering Y at the prompt to change the list of settings found after the user selects which port to print to.

Printing tips when using the AutoCAD Macintosh Chooser device driver:

Some items the user should be made aware of if they run into problems printing with the Macintosh Chooser device:
  • Setting paper size in Page Setup: The options for page selection in the Configuration menu will depend on the paper size selected in the Page Setup dialog. To ensure that all available options are visible, the user should select the largest paper size possible in Page Setup, and then configure the Macintosh Chooser device. This is more of an inconvenience than anything else, since the user can select the page size in Page Setup, and then pick the imaging area in the Plot dialog (it will be updated automatically).
  • Lines too thick: If the user feels that the lines on their output are printed too thick, they should change the Pen Width setting in the Plotter Configuration menu.
Rev: 12/94
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