I acquired a Bruning Zeta 924 8 Pen C/D size plotter in 1997.This web page seems to be the most useful source of information on the web for the orphaned Zeta plotters; I get many quite a few inquiries and statements to that effect. The information on this page should work for the Zeta 924 and Zeta 936 and probably also applies to the Zeta 824 and Zeta 836 which were apparently fairly similar (to the point where the dip switch settings are apparently the same or similar enough that you can get one model to work with the settings for the others).
As of11/4/97, I could send HPGL commands to the plotter and get it to move around. I had my plotter draw string art using a simple shell script.
It appears that Nicolet was bought out by Bruning, who reportedly mismanaged the company badly, and sold it to one of the original owners (circa 1991) at which point it apparently became Zeta Graphics or Zetagraphics. There is no affiliation with the folks who own the domain www.zetagraphics.com. Zeta Graphics reportedly went out of business in October of 1995. The company laid of the whole engineering department in the summer of 1992.
This plotter speaks HPGL. It can also speak Zeta's proprietary GML, emulate tektronix TGE, emulate a calcomp 960, emulate IBM-GL, and emulate a 80 or 132 column line printer.
This plotter seems to be a pretty well engineered, high performance, servo motor driven unit, although the front panel user interface is convoluted and they should have made the pen holder bigger so you could use standard pens.
This is not a flatbed plotter. It has a small drum platten with vacuum holddown and pin-feed mechanism. This plotter takes 25-3/4" wide pin-feed roll paper. The pin-feed holes are 25-3/8" apart and spaced the same as on standard fanfold computer paper. The tractors tear off to yield 22" or 24" wide papor. For single sheet use, it has a shuttle rail assembly with two rollers that press the paper against the platten (although I am missing one of the shuttles).
The unit appears to work with fanfold computer paper but that limits you to half the plot width. It appears to halfway work with non-pinfeedpaper without the shuttle rail but I suspect it would not maintain registration. Small sheets (like 8-1/2x11) which have been laying flat come loose when plotting near the edges but 24" wide banner paper (on rolls) from the office supply store appears to feed pretty well as long as you cut it a few inches oversize on each end so it doesn't break vacuum; it can run test plots at full pen speed (fast) this way with the paper making a loud report as it hits the stand although I suspect that the registration may not be very good using this method.
When you press the Liquid Ink pen, the plotter becomes a 4 pen instead of 8 pen plotter, skipping every other pen. From this, I assume that you need a different pen holder that holds 4 wider pens. I am thinking about machining a holder that will accept HP plotter pens since these are very readily availible. They might need a small portion of the flange removed so they don't collide.
There are three banks of dip switches and 2 thumbwheel switches. Via experimentation, I found the two thumbwheel switches set pen speed and pen pressure. I have found a switch combination that initiates a test plot, although this can be done from the front panel.Chris Horihan <email@example.com$gt; sent me some DIP switch settings from a Zeta 8A plotter which also work on my plotter:
0=up or open. SW01: 01100000 SW02:01111100 SW03:01111100I am still using these settings, although I now have the manual.
The dip switch settings are very complicated, in part because they vary by mode.
0=up or open SW01 1-7 0110000 Selects HPGL/RS-232 mode 8 0 no power stand SW02 1 Output Identification (OI) Command response 0 emulated HP model 1 Zeta model number 2 On-line/off-line selection 0 need
.Y or .( 1 do not need .Y or .( 3 Default handshaking protocol 0 Hardware handshaking 1 Software handshaking 4 "IN" command respons 0 No page Advanced 1 Page advanced 5 Emulation 0 HP7585 1 HP7475A 6 0 not used 7 Plot limits 0 Clipping 1 Simulated Mechanical 8 Cut sheet or Continuous 0 Continuous 1 Cut sheet SW03 1-3 Baud Rate 000 110 100 300 010 1200 110 1800 001 2400 101 4800 011 9600 111 19200 4-5 Parity 00 None/Space (0) 10 Even 01 Odd 11 None/Mark (1) 6-8 Auto Repositioning or Drawing Size selection SW04A Pen Speed, 1=10%...9=90%, 0=100% SW04B Pressure: 0=minimum...9=maximum
The plotter originally shipped with a smart cable; if this is not availible, you will need to make a special cable. It should be a null modem cable (reverse TD/RD, etc.) and pin 20 on the plotter should be wired to CTS on the computer since the plotter apparently asserts handshaking on the wrong pin (which is also true for HP plotters). HP recommended pinouts have been reported to work. A Mac Serial Pinouts page is handy for understanding the mac pinouts but the cable shown there does not have prober handshake (see table below). The table below shows the recomended pinouts in the Zeta manual.
|Zeta 25 pin||PC 25 pin||PC 9 pin||Macintosh 8 pin|
|1 FG||1 FG
|2 TD||3 RD||2 RD||5 RXDB-|
|3 RD||2 TD||3 TD||3 TXDB-|
|7 SG||7 SG||5 SG||4 GND
|20 DTR||5 CTS
Wang PC requires: 1 straight through, 7 straight through, 2&3 swapped Zeta 20 to Wang 5, and connect 4, 6, and 8 on the wang together.
If your cable does not have proper handshaking, the plotter may handle very small plot files (which fit entirely in the plotters bufffer) but fail for larger files. You might also try changing the dip switch for XON/XOFF and enabling responding to XON/XOFF on the computer too.
A former zeta engineer informed me that the bizare front panel interface was an anachronism from before they added the additional buttons.
The hp2xx package can translate HPGL to metafont, emTeX, epic, encapsulated postscript, simplified HPGL, pcl, img, pbm, pcx, rgip and can provide X11, DOS VGA, Amiga, or Atari previewing. This package includes a listing of the two letter HPGL commands. More information can be gleaned from the source.
The program hp2xx contains code to read and write hpgl and also contains partial documentation on HPGL. It has a list of 119 different two letter commands and what their purpose is but does not describe the parameters.
You can write programs to create hpgl in any language. Assembly language would be more cumbersome than a high level language for this purpose.
I don't know of any site which has the full documentation online.
You can order manuals from Hewlett Packard which would document this;
the owners manuals for specific plotters (such as the HP7475) contain
the documentation for the HPGL commands supported by that model.
Some manuals availible from
HP-7475 Operation and Interconnection Manual 07475-90002
HP-7475 Interfacing and Programming manual 07475-90001 This should have documentation on HPGL commands.
Plotter Comparison Guide 5954-7124 (for HPGL)
HP-GL/2 Reference Guide 5959-9733 (for HP-GL/2)
HP-GL/2 Comparison Guide 5959-9734 (for HP-GL/2)
At least one book is availible for HP-GL/2: The Hp-Gl/2 and Hp Rtl Reference Guide : A Handbook for Program Developers . Another book, has a chapter on HP-GL/2 which is readable online.
The following example program will plot two squares. Do not include the comments.
IN; // Initialize SP1; // Select Pen 1 PU; // Pen up PA0,0; // Move to coordinates (0,0) PD; // Pen Down PA0,1000; // Move to (0,1000) PA1000,1000; // Move to (1000,1000) PA1000,0; // Move to (1000,0) PA0,0; // Move to (0,0) PU; // Pen up PA1000,1000; // Move to (1000,1000) PD; // Pen Down PA1000,2000; // Move to (1000,2000) PA2000,2000; // Move to (2000,2000) PA2000,1000; // Move to (2000,1000) PA1000,1000; // Move to (1000,1000) PU; // Pen up PG; // Eject Page (optional) Other commands exist to print text, arcs/cicles, etc.
Quint Computer Solutions 1076 Horizon Drive, Suite 4 Fairfield, CA 94533 Phone: 800-733-7568 (supplies) Phone: 800-366-7568 (Tech Support) Fax: 707-435-1074 Phone: 707-435-1070 (switchboard) Email: "Gary E. Crowson" <firstname.lastname@example.org>. You may reach a Rodney McClelland instead.
Quint has parts and supplies you will have trouble finding anywhere else. I have done business with them. I was not impressed. Well actually, I was impressed, but the impression was not favorable. Their ability to waste your time and mess up an order was considerable and their "catalog" descriptions range from poor to inaccurate. I have grown tired of trying to get them to give me a part number and a price for a replace shuttle; even though they apparently have the part, giving me these two little pieces of information apparently taxes their mental abilities to the breaking point. They have also disturbed my sleep by making unwarranted phone calls in the morning. Although they have an email address and even managed to stumble accross my zeta page via one of the search engines, they just do not seem to grasp the concept of email.
Here are some excepts from their catalog, which are intended to give you an idea what they have since they are not competent enough to have a web page of their own (I shudder to think how badly they would mess it up if they did) and it can take quite a while to get their print catalog via US Snail. I have just listed parts which fit the 924. These will also probably fit other plotters in the 900 series and many also fit plotters in the 800 series and the 3600, 5400, and 5500 series. It appears that the 800 series cannot take the ink sensible pens and that the 3600/5400/5500 series of plotters can take pens 3.5" high whereas the 800 and 900 only take 3" high pens. The "CP" models appear to take 3" ballpoint only. These are from an undated catalog which I received some time around the end of 1997 or beginning of 1998. I have absolutely no intention of keeping this list up to date.
Part numbers given for black, other colors availible 300401 Nylon Tip 0.3mm black 6/pack $15.00 300400 Nylon Tip 0.3mm blk,bl,rd,gr,vi,or,cy,mag 8/pack $20 300421 Fiber Tip 0.7mm black 6/pack $21 300420 Fiber Tip 0.7mm blk,bl,rd,gr,bi,ir,cy,mag 8/pack $26 300831 Standard Rollerball Pens 0.4 to 0.6mm 6/pack $14 300829 Standard rollerbal asst 0.4 to 0.6mm 8/pack $20 300841 Labyrinth rollerball black 0.4 to 0.6mm 6/pack $40 300852 Labyrinth rollerball asst 8/pack $43 301551 Ink Sensible Labyrinth Rollerball black 0.4 to 0.6mm 8/pack $48.00 303211 3" Pressurized Ballpoint Fine black 0.8mm 5/pack $45 303331 3" Pressurized Ballpoint Medium black 1.1mm 5/pack $45 303351 3" Pressurized Ballpoint medium black 1.3mm 5/pack $50 above pens require 8 pen block assy. Presurized pens availible in black, blue, red, green, brown, violet, and orange but not as assortments. Stainless steel technical tip pens for vellum (require 4 pen block assy) 301011 Stainless Steel Technical Tip 0.25 Ex fine black 4/pack $30 only in black 301021 Stainless Steel 0.35mm Fine 4/pack $30 301020 stainless steel 0.35mm Fine blk,bl,rd,gr 4/pack $30 301031 Stainless steel 0.50mm Medium black 4/pack $30 301030 Stainless steel 0.50mm blk,bl,rd,gr 4/pack $30 301041 Stainless steel 0.70mm Bold black 4/pack $30 Tungsten technical tip pens for matte film (require 4 pen block assy) 301161 0.25 Ex Fine black 4/pack $46 also avail in red or blue 301171 0.35mm Fine black 4/pack $45 black only 301181 0.50mm Medium black 4/pack $45 availible in black, blue, red, green 301191 0.70mm Bold Black 4/pack $45 also avail in red Pen holders and adapters: 001-300895-S Ballpoint Adapter 8/pack $42.50 001-850847-S Standard 8 pen block 1 each $75 001-850854-S Liquid Ink 4 Pen Block 1 each $105.00 001-840055-S Paper Roll Adapter 1 each $31.50 What they fraudulently call a paper roll adapter is actually merely a replacement part for a paper foll adapter. You get one of the two expanding rubber rollers that you stuff in the end of a paper roll so you can hang it on the brackets (not included) which bolt to the back of the plotter. Worse, yet, instead of changing this description, they wasted my time with a pathetic attempt to justify it. The following two items are not really plotter specific, but if you are ordering from them anyway can be somewhat useful. 000-200989 Cutter Key 1 each $1.75 This is just a keyring size utility knife with "Zeta" printed on it which is useful for cutting paper against the grove in the front of the plotter. 000-200990 Zippy media cutter 1 each $5.00 This is a plastic razor blade paper cutter which is typically sold for cutting newspapers. The (replaceable) blade is captive inside the unit. You slide the paper into a groove in the unit and then slide the unit along to cut the paper. Works better than scissors. You can probably buy these at office supply, "dime", "dollar", or department stores. cables are availible PAPER 202110 Translucent Bond 22"x120'PF 1 roll/box $24 202310 Translucent Bond 24"x120'PF 1 roll/box $24 202130 High Gloss Bond 22" x 60'PF 1 roll/box $24 202330 High Gloss Bond 24" x 60PF 1 roll/box $22 202120 Vellum 22" x 120'PF 1 roll/box $50 202320 Vellum 24"x120'PF 1 roll/box $50 202140 clear inking Film 25.6"x50' NPF 1 roll/box $90 202150 Matte Film 2DM/Mylar 25.6"x60'NPF 1 roll/box $70 PF=perforated, NPF=no perforation
DO NOT EMAIL ME WITH WINDOWS QUESTIONS.
I do not condone the use of windows 3.x, 95, or NT. However, I have had a number of questions about this and I have printed a test page from Windows 95 a long time ago.
Use the Dip switch settings shown elsewhere on this page.
For a cable, I think I used a Smartcable (which came with my plotter), with the "smart" end connected to the "modem" port on the plotter and the other end connected via a gender changer and, possibly, a 9 to 25 pin adapter to the PC serial port.
I configured Windows 95 to talk to a HP7475 plotter. This worked but limited the page size to A/B. You can work around this problem by using the plot scaling (awkward) or by selecting another HPGL (not HPGL/2) plotter which has a 24" or 36" wide carriage, as appropriate. Try a HP7585A for a 24" wide model. For a 36" model, HP7586B has been suggested. Before trying one of the other models, I would suggest using the HP7475A setting to make sure you can talk to the plotter ok before introducing other variables.
Then print a test page.
If you want to use a CADD package or other software which speaks HTML directly, trying to go through the windows printing system could break things. There is a good chance you will get HPGL commands themselves written on the page instead of executed. You might have better luck configuring the plotter as a generic text printer or getting the software to talk to the COM port directly.
I have gotten a number of emails from people wanting windows 95 or NT drivers for various zeta plotters. If your plotter can support the HPGL language, then the instructions here should work. If your plotter model only supports GML, I can not help you. Maybe quint can. If anyone knows anything about GML drivers, send me an email so I can post the info here.
Note that it is extremely rude to email a computer professional with questions about operating systems such as Windoze that such computer professionals clearly do not condone the use of.
DO NOT EMAIL ME WITH WINDOWS QUESTIONS.
#!/bin/sh stty 9600 -parenb -parodd cs8 -crtscst -ostopb </dev/cua1 echo "PU:" >/dev/cua1 echo "SP1;" >/dev/cua1 echo "PA 0,0;" >/dev/cua1 sleep 5 echo "PA 20000,20000" >/dev/cua1 for i in 0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000 12000 14000 16000 18000 20000; do for j in 0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000 12000 14000 16000 18000 20000; do echo "PU;" >/dev/cua1 echo "PA $i,0;" >/dev/cua1 echo "PD;" >/dev/cua1 echo "PA $j,20000;" >/dev/cua1 done done
If you have some other model, please send the following information if possible (to help others, not me):
The zetadraf 900 was entirely different from the 912/924/946.
If you contact me regarding a Zeta plotter, please let me know whether or not you would like me to add your name to this section.
These do not take the same pens as the zeta 9xx series. However,
you can use koh-i-noor A series pens with the
do a google search on 7155SLV). About $20 for the adapter sleeve
and the pens are about $15 for a 4 pack for rollerball and fiber tip
pens and $39-$56 for a 4 pack of DPP pens (disposible liquid ink).
This pen adapter fits many other plotters including:
Bruning Zeta 600, 650, 675
Graphtec FC2OOO FD5200. FD6300, FP6300, FP7200. FP6302, FP7100. FX5000 FX5100, GP1002. GP1002A. GP1003. GP1004, GP1102. GP1102A. GP2000E, GP2005IE. GP2100/E, GP21OS/F, GP2106. MP3OOO, MP4100, MP4200. MP4300, MP4400, PD9OOO. PD9100, PD9300. PD9400,
Mannesmann Tally Pix~ Pixy 3,
Numonics 5412, 5424, 5460, 5624, 5860, 6412, 7191
Toyo Denki Seizo,
Western Graphtec FD5211, FP52Oi, FP530,. FP5303, GP9001. GP9O11, GP9111, GP9411, MP2000, MP2300, MP3100. MP3200, MP3300, WX4671
GML Protocol Documentation is now availible.
Here is a very informative piece of mail I received from a former zeta employee:
Date: Fri, 06 Dec 2002 14:50:17 +0000 Subject: z924 plotters Mark, I have read, with interest, your write up on the Bruning Zeta 924 Pen Plotter. I was, in the mid-eighties, a field service engineer for Nicolet Zeta in the UK . I saw the first of the Zeta 8 pen range, (and their previous incarnations), right the way through to the prototype Vinyl cutter plotter in the early nineties. (All of this information is from memory so if I make any mistakes please be gentle with me !). The Range The range was, in historical order, as follows:- Zeta8: - which was the basic design for all that came after it. Zeta887 :- a Z8 plotter with a 3270 IBM protocol converter built into in,(called the "87 option" in the UK).These are easily recognizable by the BNC connector in the back of it. Z824 & 836 :- a stretched Z8 ,(being 24 & 36" wide respectively). Z824C/S & 836C/S : As above, but with the c/s (Cut Sheet) option. Z8A:- The "Updated look" version,(New "dead flesh" front panel, updated firmware and abit faster). Z924 & 936 :- The updated look gets to the larger format machines... Z924C/S & 936C/S :- Updated Cut Sheet machines. Cutter Plotter :- saw the prototype of this just before I was made redundant. Connection Options The machines were fitted as standard with 2 RS-232 ports , one male, one female. Options wise the all the machines could be fitted with the 87 option, (the IBM Protocol converter bd & connector), or the IEEE-488 interface. Z824/836 & 924/936's could be fitted with the C/S, Cut Sheet, option (with updated firmware). Z824/836 & 924/936's could also be put on a "motorized stand", which was a plotter stand with optically controlled paper take-up, on roll feed paper. I know this isn't a connection option but I thought I'd add it for complete-ness sake. Firmware Options Early versions ('82-85),of the Z8 series would accept GML,(Graphics Machine Language), HPGL ,(Hewlett-Packards Graphics Language) & Calcomp 960 Emulation . Later versions,('85-92), had IBM 3270, Tektronix and an 80 or 132 column line printer added. Switch Settings The switch settings that you have on your site should work for most of the machines in HPGL. The only major things that I remember is to use a null-modem cable and to make sure that the Online Switch,(SW02, Dip 02), is set to online. (I think I have a service manual somewhere in the loft. I'll have to investigate...). Cables The cabling section looks OK. The only cabling I remember was the null modem connections. They are:- 25pin (plotter) 25pin(PC) 2 3 3 2 4 5 6 20 20 6 PMS Codes The PMS codes,(and there entry), made perfect sense to me...but then this was my first job and I didn't know any better. PMS code 23 should work with a straight through cable connecting the male & female RS-232 ports together. (PMS 23 sends one half of the test pattern out of the male port and into the female, then sends the other half out of the female and into the male.) Software The main software that was used with the plotters were: AutoCAD release 10 - @14 (I think the drivers were shipped with the software) made by AutoDesk SASGraph (mainly used with 87 optioned machines on IBM mainframes) made by SAS Software. Techie Stuff Early versions of the Z8 had a switching power supply as the PSU. These were extremely volatile.(So much so that the first models we had in the UK used to be turned on with a broom handle while you were standing in another room!!!) Later versions had a hybrid PSU in them which were not so prone to detonation. There was a problem with the +12v coming up quicker than the +5v on the PSU's. This caused +12v to hack along the +5v line and blow the EPROMs and the processers, thus making them very expensive fuses. This was fixed with a 5.6v zener diode being placed on the +12v as a voltage clamp.(Used to blow the zener instead of the PROMS & Processors). The symptoms of this were all the front panel lights on and the buzzer sounding continuously at power up. If no data is coming through one or other of the RS-232 Ports run PMS 23 to determine which port is failing. Look for a set of ic's in the top left hand corner, (near the RS-232 ports), which the numbers 1488, 1489 on them. These are the RS-232 buffer chips and, at a guess, they may be blown. Error 81 (buffer over-run) was normally caused by parity being incorrect. Try none/mark first. Printer emulation mode is quite handy for finding out what data is being sent to the plotter.(very good for finding the cause of error 86). I can't think of anything else. I hope this has been informative and of help to you. Regards Alan Bradley
From: Jonathan Jones
I came across your site while doing a search for 'Zeta plotter' and I was wondering if you could help me. Do you know of anyone who has a 36" Zeta plotter who would be interested in about 80 rolls of acetate, plain and glazed paper? I once had a Zeta 836 plotter which eventually died and I was left with loads of paper and many, many pens (both for paper and film). I live in the Wash. DC metro area and would love to part with all of it. I will consider any offer.
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