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Old 10-02-2018, 03:58 PM
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Default Vintage plotter refurbishment

I mentioned (off topic) in another thread that I'd bought a vintage computer plotter on Ebay for only 0.99 - though I did have to drive 300 miles to collect it! It's a CalComp 1025 and probably cost about the same as a small car when it was new. It's now about thirty years old, I think.

Computer plotters have been totally obsolete for about twenty years now - so it's high time that I got one.

JoeP said he wanted to see more information (including video) about it - so that's what this thread is about.

I've not done much with it in the last couple of weeks - I put it together, cleaned a lot of dust and fluff out of the works and managed to do a self test (aka 'Confidence Plot'). But one of the pinch rollers that hold the paper against the drive rollers had gone soft (I suspect ink contamination from a leaking pen) It was leaving dirty marks along the paper where it rolled, but worse than that, after one confidence plot and some manual paper moving tests it collapsed completely and was then ripping the paper to shreds.

I searched on line for a replacement roller, but it seems completely obsolete and even close equivalents that would still need modification are selling for stupid money.

So I decided to try refurbishing the existing roller with a 3D-printed tyre. I removed the traces of the old rubber using an electric drill like a lathe, then cleaned the bearing in an ultrasonic bath ready to accept a new tyre.

I measured up the remaining good roller and designed this in Fusion360.



Then used Slic3r in the usual way to convert the design into something my printer can use.



My printer can print using a rubbery filament - but I don't have any of that so I printed out one to try using regular PLA - I happen to have orange PLA in the printer right now.

I filmed the very first power-on after fitting the new tyre, and it seemed to work remarkably well - I don't know how durable the PLA tyre will be, but if and when it fails it's easy for me to try alternative materials.


I've bought some new (old stock) pens on Ebay for a few pounds (they've not arrived yet). I've also begun investigating how to get some dried-out clogged pens that came with the printer working again and bought some A1 paper! :)

Next thing is to get it doing some test plots driven by a PC, and then move on to plotting some artistic drawings - I have some software that converts photos into line drawings, so it will be interesting to see how those come out.

I shall report on future progress (or lack of it) in this thread.
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File Type: gif TyreInFusion360.gif (26.3 KB, 150 views)
File Type: gif TyreInSlic3r_PE.gif (26.8 KB, 144 views)
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  #2  
Old 10-02-2018, 04:34 PM
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Default Re: Vintage plotter refurbishment

Quote:
Originally Posted by ceptimus View Post
JoeP said he wanted to see more information (including video) about it
And you believed me.
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Old 10-02-2018, 04:40 PM
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I read some of your foolish scree, then just skimmed the rest.
 
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Default Re: Vintage plotter refurbishment

'Vintage Plotter Refurbishment'... Wow we get some strange spam these days!

...Oh hey, that's neat!
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Old 10-02-2018, 04:43 PM
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Default Re: Vintage plotter refurbishment

* JoeP finishes watching video

OK, that is awesome.
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Old 10-03-2018, 07:42 PM
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Default Re: Vintage plotter refurbishment

So I hooked it up to a PC and eventually figured out how to send it data that it liked. I plotted out a few rectangles (writing the hpgl by hand) to figure out where it has the origin (at the centre of the paper apparently) and the units (it seems to work in 1/40 millimetres and with the X and Y axes reversed). :shrug: There may be ways to make it auto-scale and rotate etc. - I'm still learning.

I decided to film the first ever 'artistic' plot for your pleasure - but in trying to reach over the camera to load the paper I didn't line up the paper squarely. :doh:

Anyway it worked. :woohoo:

I need to work now on my modified travelling salesman algorithm that converts pixels into paths to plot - and I also need to tweak my edge-detection algorithms to get rid of all the double edges. :geek:

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  #6  
Old 10-03-2018, 10:25 PM
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Default Re: Vintage plotter refurbishment

That's awesome. eta: even though I used the same word one post up.

When do the other colour pens arrive?
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Old 10-03-2018, 11:04 PM
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Default Re: Vintage plotter refurbishment

Dude, now I want a plotter!
Does it need specific types of pens or just anything that fits?

My first thought is this could be used to plot white, silver or even neon ink onto a black paper.
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Old 10-04-2018, 11:28 AM
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Default Re: Vintage plotter refurbishment

@Joe: Yes, pens arrived this morning. I've got about 7 black ones now that either work or look like they should work because they've never been initialised (you have to screw the nib part into the ink reservoir and it punctures a hole into a sealed-off ink chamber). I've also got four coloured ones, and another 4 clogged-up originally black ones - but I suppose I could try different ink in those if / when I get them cleaned out.

@Ari: You can see from the attached photo (two four-packs showing the top of the coloured pack and back of the black pack) that the plotter uses special pens - but the 'writing hand' part that grips the pens only holds them by the 'collar' and steadies them down near the nib. It might be possible to 3D-print a collar to slide over some ordinary pens so that they fit. Another restriction is on the height (length) of the pens, but you could get around that by removing the top cover of the plotter, or sawing a slot in the top cover - it makes a sort of bridge that the pens pass under when moving from the pen storage carousel to the plotting bed. I've put an ordinary Sharpie in the photo for comparison - that would hit the 'bridge' even if it would fit in the holder.

The plotter manual says it recognises four different types of pen by looking at 'bands' around the top part - and you can set up different plotting speeds and how much downward pressure is applied to the pen when writing for each of the types. I've not looked in to that yet as all the pens I have are the same 'ink on paper using a Radiograph-style nib'. You could also get ball-point, felt-tip and some other variety back in the day.

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  #9  
Old 10-07-2018, 01:06 PM
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Default Re: Vintage plotter refurbishment

Experiment didn't work. I was trying to post an svg (scalable vector graphics) file directly into a post to illustrate how the image conversion pipeline works - but :ff: didn't like it.
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Old 10-07-2018, 03:15 PM
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Default Re: Vintage plotter refurbishment

:sadcheer:
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