Plotter recommendation wanted

Hi all,
Looks like I will be upgrading to Land Development 4 and associated software (Civil and Survey) in the near future, seeing as Autodesk has decided to
make 2000 obsolete. I am also looking at a new plotter to replace my old but functional HP 650C. HP says that the 800 series plotters are the "replacement" for the 600 and 700 series plotters, but I am not too thrilled with spending over four thousand on a new HP 800.
I have heard that there are some unique problems with plotting to the 500 series of plotters, maybe unfounded rumors. If no problems, does anyone run a 500 or 500 ps with ACAD 2000 (or ACAD 2004) and have any issues? I'm also looking at "low-end" in the 120 series, although I think that's a bit too low-end for me.
Would like some recommendations on the ideal bang for the buck in a small engineering office - we have three workstations on a network, I would like to run USB cabling, and two of the systems will be running Win XP Pro, one still has Win 2K.
Thanks for any advice. I'm also going to post a question on archivability of inks.
--
Jon Endres, PE
Reply To: wmengineer (at) adelphia (dot) net
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Is there some reason you want to lose the 650C? If you are experiencing problems with it, often times the problem is reparable. We had somebody service our HP 430 DesignJet, and it has been working fine since for two years. My thought is that if you have one that does well, there may be no need to replace it unless it is too slow. But then how much faster can you produce with a new one? Speed is the only thing that would make me R&R a plotter. What reasons are you entertaining?
-- Bill DeShawn snipped-for-privacy@nospamsterling.net http://my.sterling.net~bdeshawn
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Speed. On a fairly good sized plot (1KB) it takes the better part of fifteen minutes to get to the point where it will start plotting, and another ten to plot. My settings may be off a bit, but if I have a large number of plots, or I'm in a crunch, I don't need to be waiting all day.
Quite honestly, I don't have the time to spend a day or an evening farting around with the settings, either. I had quite a bit of difficulty setting up the 650c with Autocad 2000i, and I was hoping a new one would be a bit more "plug and play".
--
Jon Endres, PE
Reply To: wmengineer (at) adelphia (dot) net
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Then I agree with you. However, I can't see what in the world is taking so long! At Phoenix Gold, I was using an HP 600 DesignJet and it didn't take that long to get a plot started. Did you check with HP to see if it was normal to take so long?
-- Bill DeShawn snipped-for-privacy@nospamsterling.net http://my.sterling.net~bdeshawn
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Check with HP? You gotta be kidding. They literally hung up the phone on me when I told them I had a 650C. If you don't have the latest and greatest, forget it.
FWIW, I am using 2000i, on an AMD 1 GHz machine, parallel port, and the plotter has the full 68 MB of memory installed. I used the plotter configuration from HP, and it works. One thing I have noticed - if I don't plot a border on my drawing, but just the contents, it starts within 30 seconds. If I plot the border it takes up to ten minutes to start plotting.
Jon E
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Just a border? Or is this a title block complete with TrueType fonts, attributed blocks, etc.? ___
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Are there true type fonts in the titleblock? They can (IME) really slow things down. Also, is there anything else in the titleblock that could be causing the problem (i.e. xref's or images)?
Michael (LS)
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Jon: Please read this site: http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/ps/item?siteID 3112&id(68932&linkID $75323
Good luck
-- Bill DeShawn snipped-for-privacy@nospamsterling.net http://my.sterling.net~bdeshawn
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It's been my experience that the new plot drivers (as well as API) are junk. Try some older drivers - that is, drivers for older devices. Any of the DesignJets will take simpler HPGL2 output than their own drivers. The simplest color -that will carry all your HP2 features - is the HP 7600C electrostatic driver. It is the simplest HP2 color implimentation - if 2000i & up still list it. If you use the newer configurations, set them to "Process in Computer," this will allow the device to start printing raster data immediately and avoid topping-out the plotter's internal registers.
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Sounds like good advice to me.
-- Bill DeShawn snipped-for-privacy@nospamsterling.net http://my.sterling.net~bdeshawn

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Thanks, good advice, and thanks to all who have responded. The border is full of Truetype fonts. It may be the driver, not optimized for such. When I plot 11x17 to my Epson 1280, it comes out immediately. Not so with the 650C.
Jon E
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Yep I have the same issue. I have a DesignJet330E and a DeskJet1220C. The plotter is slower with Truetype fonts than the printer is (though not terribly slow, just slower). The biggest slowdown I've noticed with TTF's is in regens & Osnaps. I only use TTF's in my titleblock and when working in paperspace I just turn off my titleblock layer until I'm reading to print (having the TTFs turned off does eliminate the lag I experience).
HTH,
Michael (LS)
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A standard problem with Autocad, HP plotters, and truetype fonts. Solution? Set textqlty variable lower. I found that settings for inkjet plotters can easily be reduced from the default of 50 to 8 with no visible deterioration of quality (my eyes may not be as good as yours) and the start plot time is reduced by 70% or better. The loading of the truetype fonts through the parallel port is what takes so long. Look at the plot file size by opening the print spool for the file when you send it to the plotter. The file size can shrink to as little as 10% depending on the number and complexity of fonts used.
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I have an older DesignJet 330E (so old and low-end it doesn't have an auto cutter) and it's slow, but not that slow!!! Even really "complicated" drawings process in under 5 minutes and print in ~5 minutes. I'd guess you've got a settings problem (is your driver good?) Has it always been this slow? What settings are you using ("best" mode on my plotter is terribly slow and looks no better than "normal", though "fast" does look like crap). Also, you might check plotter memory and try processing the file in the computer versus in the plotter.
Hope you figure it out!
Michael (Keep in mind, I'm using R14 daily and ADT3.3 occassionally - so some of this info may not apply)
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In alt.cad.autocad , some wrote :

<snip>
Some dies though, my DJ600 plots went from taking 6 or 7 minutes to plot under R14 to 20-25 minute under r2k :-(((( Plot files grew from 250k to 1.3Meg !!!! and I had to track down more ram just for it to be able to continue to function at all. If next acad 'upgrade' makes it worse I will just email the files to a repro shop ... Ron
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Whooooo hooooo!!! I knew I was right to stick with R14!!!! Seriously, I hope that 2004 doesn't have this "feature" because I'm going to be making the jump into ADT2004 in the next few weeks and hope my productivity doesn't suffer.
Michael (LS)
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My memories a bit foggy, but if I'm not mistaken, you must talking about the first 2K version that was released. There were several major patches that 'corrected' the major plotting troubles. The only plotting we do with 2Ki that takes long on our 750c are those with large solid fills and/or large images (aerial photography, etc.).
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In alt.cad.autocad , TomD wrote :

I'm talking 2000i, and solid fills make little difference here, seems more like the XP &/or A2Ki drivers for the plotter treat plot files more like 'bitmaps' than 'vector' drawings. as file is _very_ similar for any plots on same size paper. Even plotting a blank title block for a little hand drawing is almost the same file size ! Ron
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Ron McNeil wrote:

As you said, maybe an OS/driver issue. We're using 98se here, still for the workstations, still using 2ki, as well.
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The long time bane of the CAD draftsman - PLOTTER CONFIGURATION! Sorry, but buying a new plotter is only rolling the dice regarding success in this area. It might work wonderfully out of the box... then again it might not. Or it might work well now, and then inexpiably cease to function properly 6 months from now.
I suggest that you fix the problem with your current plotter configuration (or the network, or the operating system, or the cable picking up noise from the fluorescent lamp you put in 2 months ago, or an infinite number of other possibilities) It is preferable to do this on a plotter you already know, rather than a plotter you are new to.
Joe
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