Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Canon X-710 Plotter

I've always sort of wanted to own a plotter, but never went for full pro equipment. Guess I knew I'd just want to play with one. Plotters at home never caught on that much, as the other printing techniques were eventually able to produce similar results on the A4-size. Still, there's something elegant about that paper-traversing pen.

Well, here's one tiny toilet paper holder plotter for Canon X-07. It came together with yet one more Canon X-07 computer. One of the neat ideas was that grey binder that covers the machine. Now, here the very same design has been simply extended to cover both the computer and the plotter, and it looks simply ridiculous. For comparison, Canon X-07 and a Canon X-07+plotter side by side:

It will probably fetch $1000 from eBay at 2025.
Incidentally, don't think the X-07 is worth more than 40-50$, please.
The plotter is simply packed together with the computer, and it has to be connected to the X-07 with an external parallel cable. The connector is an 8-line wide bus, activated with a strobe signal. The plotter prints straightforwardly any text you throw at it, except in the drawing mode text commands are used to move the pen around.

PSU-modded. I suppose the mechanism is identical between CBM, Sharp etc. models.
First, I had to do the power supply mod to make the plotter work without the battery. Canon apparently aimed to create a fully portable system so the power supply included is really a "battery charger".

The pens that came with the plotter had dried a long time ago, and attempts at rejuvenating them with water have failed despite coughing up some ink. So, I ordered some plotter pens from eBay. These are old too, but supposedly never opened. (They cost more than the plotter. Some things never change). They are not perfect, but still, I'm surprised they work at all.

Cleverly, the pens are contained in the paper roll axle. (centimetre grid)
The graphic mode has to be activated with LPRINT CHR$(18). Subsequently, commands such as LPRINT "M0,0" will move the pen to coordinates 0,0 with the pen up. LPRINT "D100,100" will bring the pen to coordinates 100,100 with the pen down, drawing a line in the process. Pressing Reset on the plotter will reset the pen and takes the plotter back to the text mode. The new 0,0 coordinate will be at the new pen position.

At the moment, it seems my plotter has some difficulties changing the pen colour reliably. It may be because I somehow wrecked the delicate parts of the pen revolver when replacing the pens. Oh well.

Note that here the black pen had some trouble when moving right.
The bottom left corner is "bolder" from multiple passes.

From what little I have seen this tiny plotter is able to keep the coordinates very well. The printer uses a mechanism to perforate the paper slightly from the edges. These tiny holes are at the same time used for holding the paper in position (much like matrix printers use the ready-made holes to align the paper).

It appears that most of these small plotters of the era used the same ALPS mechanism with pens of same size, so Sharp, VIC, Casio and Canon plotters might have interchangeable parts.

But who was the intended user for the plotter, or for that matter, the strange Canon X-07+plotter combo? Imagine in 1983, a businessman pulling it out of the bag during a meeting, throwing together some lines of BASIC that plot out the latest sales curve projection...

It's a big world out there, son, and you've got to compete. No time chasing balls of string.
With the Canon pltoter, you can have that crucial edge...

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    You will find Nine pens on this site (specializing in medical equipment, which still uses SPLA plotter) there even has paper roll.