How To Get Started With PrintCapture

www.printcapture.com

Always keep in mind that PrintCapture is essentially a software printer/plotter that processes Epson (Epson Standard Code) printer data, HPGL (Hewlett-Packard Graphics Language) plotter data, PCL (Hewlett-Packard Printer Control Language) printer data, and pure Text data.  Whenever you see the term 'printer' or 'plotter' it refers to PrintCapture.

More and more customers are asking how to connect a data cable from their source device (oscilloscope, logic analyzer, spectrum analyzer, etc.) to PrintCapture.  This document should provide sufficient information for you to successfully assemble a usable data cable. If you find a mistake in this document, or if it needs clarification, please let us know.

Note: A table of input/output interfaces is maintained on our website. This document is a generic guide and may not cover the particular input/output interface your are using. It should still give you enough information to get started.

Source Device Output Ports

There are four basic printer/plotter output ports, and possibly a fifth port, on a source device. Your source device may have one or more of these output ports. The output ports will be clearly labeled.

Serial Port.
DB9-pin or DB25-pin, Male
Serial port configuration is, by far, the leading item of confusion. The serial port on your source device can be either a Data Terminal Equipment (DTE) or Data Communications Equipment (DCE) port. Most of the time it will be a DTE serial port. It is up to you to determine which type of serial port you have.

Generally speaking, a DTE serial port is a male connector and a DCE serial port is a female connector. However, this is not a 100% reliable method of identification.

A computer's serial port is ALWAYS configured as a DTE serial port with a male connector.

If your source device has a DTE serial port you will need a null-modem serial cable to connect to the computer's DTE serial port. If your source device has a DCE serial port you will need a straight-through serial cable to connect to the computer's DTE serial port. More information can be found at http://www.printcapture.com/faq.html#faqc2. Troubleshooting tips for serial port connections can be found at http://www.printcapture.com/faq.html#faqt2.
Parallel Port.
DB25-pin, Female
This port has a DB25-pin female connector and may be labeled as either "Printer" or "Centronics". It is a parallel port that connects to a printer.
Parallel Port.
Centronics 36-pin, Male.
This port has a Centronics 36-pin connector and may be labeled as either "Printer" or "Centronics". It is a parallel port that connects to a printer.
GPIB Port.
Centronics 24-pin.
This is a normal GPIB connector that usually connects to a plotter. However, it can also connect to a GPIB-capable printer.
Ethernet Port This may be a possible printer/plotter output port.

Computer Input Ports

There are three basic input ports available on a computer, one potential new input port, and one input port that cannot be used. Your computer may have one or more of these input ports. Generally speaking these input ports are not labeled, but they are easily identifiable.

Serial Port.
DB9-pin or DB25-pin, Male.
Serial port configuration is, by far, the leading item of confusion.

A computer's serial port is ALWAYS configured as a DTE serial port with a male connector.

If your source device has a DTE serial port you will need a null-modem serial cable to connect to the computer's DTE serial port. If your source device has a DCE serial port you will need a straight-through serial cable to connect to the PC's DTE serial port. More information can be found at http://www.printcapture.com/faq.html#faqc2. Troubleshooting tips for serial port connections can be found at http://www.printcapture.com/faq.html#faqt2.
USB Port. This port can be used, but only with USB devices whose device driver makes the USB port appear as a serial port in PrintCapture's setup.

The exception is the GPIB device drivers from National Instruments. Their device drive makes the USB port appear as a GPIB interface in PrintCapture's setup
GPIB Port
Centronics 24-pin.
At this time the only GPIB hardware port that is recognized by PrintCapture is the GPIB interfaces from National Instruments. We tried to use other manufacturers GPIB interfaces but their device drivers were not compatible with PrintCapture at the level we needed.

Please don't ask how another manufacturer's GPIB hardware port can be used! At this time they can't.
Ethernet Port. This is a new input port for PrintCapture. Prologix offers a GPIB-Ethernet Controller that connects to your local network. PrintCapture 4.1.0 is the first version to include a software interface for this device. PrintCapture 4.5.0 is the first version to include a generic software interface to an Ethernet enabled source device. We used a Lantronix xDirect Serial-to-Ethernet Converter for testing.
Parallel Port.
DB25-pin, Female.
This port has a DB25-Pin female connector and CANNOT be used with PrintCapture.

Please don't ask how this port can be used!

Configuring Serial Ports

There are a few rules that always apply in order to correctly configure serial ports. Usually your source device, not your computer, is the controlling device for setting serial port parameters. PrintCapture's serial port settings are found in Setup> Configuration> Serial Port.

COM Port PrintCapture setting only. Select the COM port to use.
Baud Rate The baud rate has to match EXACTLY between serial ports. The baud rate setting is usually determined by the source device.
Word Size Sometimes called the 'data size'. Set the word size to 8 data bits. This setting has to match EXACTLY between serial ports.
Parity Set the parity to 'NONE'. This setting has to match EXACTLY between serial ports.
Stopbits Set the stopbits to 1. This setting has to match EXACTLY between serial ports.
Flow Control Hardware Handshaking Set the flow control to either RTS/CTS or DTR/DSR hardware handshaking. The hardware handshaking flow control is usually determined by the source device. This setting has to match EXACTLY between serial ports.

DO NOT use XON/XOFF software flow control. If you do you can experience transfer errors and/or transfer freezes.
End-of-Data Processing Timeout PrintCapture setting only. Set to about 5.0 seconds to begin with. This timeout setting is used by PrintCapture to determine when the data transfer has completed.

Assemble Your Data Cable

Now we can begin the process of assembling the data cable between your source device and your computer. Locate your configuration from the list below. All possible configurations are listed even though some combinations are not available.

Always begin by selecting any hardware converters you will need in your particular data cable. After that you can select the cables with the correct gender connectors to connect your converters with your source device and your computer. It is your responsibility to make sure your cables have the correct gender to connect all parts in the data cable.

Source Device With a Serial Port

Source Device With a DB25 Parallel Port

Source Device With a Centronics Parallel Port

Source Device With a GPIB Port

Source Device With an Ethernet Port

Source Device Serial Port to Computer Serial Port

Source Device Serial Port to Computer USB Port

Source Device Serial Port to Computer GPIB Port

Source Device Serial Port to Computer Ethernet Port

Source Device DB25 Parallel Port to Computer Serial Port

Source Device DB25 Parallel Port to Computer USB Port

Source Device DB25 Parallel Port to Computer GPIB Port

Source Device DB25 Parallel Port to Computer Ethernet Port

Source Device Centronics Parallel Port to Computer Serial Port

Source Device Centronics Parallel Port to Computer USB Port

Source Device Centronics Parallel Port to Computer GPIB Port

Source Device Centronics Parallel Port to Computer Ethernet Port

Source Device GPIB Port to Computer Serial Port

Source Device GPIB Port to Computer USB Port

Source Device GPIB Port to Computer GPIB Port

Source Device GPIB Port to Computer Ethernet Port

Source Device Ethernet Port to Computer Serial Port

Source Device Ethernet Port to Computer USB Port

Source Device Ethernet Port to Computer GPIB Port

Source Device Ethernet Port to Computer Ethernet Port

What Do I Do If Data Transfers Fail

If you have a problem transferring data from your source device to PrintCapture or PrintCapture does not process the data you should:

If you still have a problem transferring data from your source device to PrintCapture or PrintCapture does not process the data you should: