Plotter Tips by qlc15660


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									                                          Plotter Tips
                                        Version 1.4 (061006)
                                        Bio & Ag Engineering
                                             UC Davis
This is the newest version of the Tips, in conjunction with a major driver update that took place
some time ago.

The plotter was purchased by Bio & Ag Engineering and the College of Engineering for use by
BAE for posters and related departmental needs, and by Tom Anderson for Engineering Shop
drawings. Use for other purposes and by other individuals has been periodically accommodated in
conjunction with supplied ink cartridges and paper.

This document will help you properly set up your poster or related document (PowerPoint,
Illustrator, Word, and other software) for hopefully trouble- free plotting on the E-size plotter fitted
with 36” roll paper but capable of using up to 42” roll. The concept of this Tips document is
consistent with but much more detailed than what apparently other plotters on campus have, those
having been historically plagued by particular technical issues. Specific procedures are often posted
at the plotters. The aim here is to provide users with a standard operating procedures of sorts to
explain this valuable departmental resource, and to avoid unnecessary multiple prints and the
associated frustration, time, paper, and of course costly ink.

The plotter’s primary use is engineering shop drawings and secondary use is posters and special
research needs. Tom Anderson maintains primary oversight, and all functionality issues should be
communicated to him, because he uses it the most, it is critical to his job, and it sits in his office.
He also manages spare ink cartridges and paper needs, part numbers for which are listed later in this
document for those folks who periodically “donate” to the cause. Victor Duraj helps coordinate
poster plotting and special requests, to reduce the impact on Tom’s time. General access to the
plotter and the software driver has been somewhat discouraged because of a history of various
network and user problems brought on by changing computer systems, updated plotter drivers, and
infrequent use. However, if you feel you have a need for the driver, the BAE Computer Support
staff should have the driver and network address information necessary to configure the plotter on
your computer. We discourage people simply downloading the latest driver, because we have had
frustrating issues with various version drivers disabling computers with older drivers. There have
been discussions but no official proposals nor funding for a dedicated computer located next to the
plotter to avoid network driver and other issues.

Posters and other files that have been checked for the issues outlined in this document have been
consistently successful. The typical staff-assisted process has been to email the readied PPT file to
Victor, who, time permitting, verifies that the plotter is turned on, there is adequate paper and ink,
goes through the file and plotter settings, and then sends the poster to the plotter, usually a
combined five minutes or so. Bringing a CD or USB drive to Victor’s office in 1337, after
confirming or scheduling a time, is also a good approach for delivering the file. In any case, you’ll
probably be asked if you checked for page setup, image types, GIF image size, linked charts or
tables, etcetera. A quick proof-reading can also be done upon request, time permitting, at no charge
of course. Tom Anderson can also assist with poster plotting when necessary.

If you are in a terrible bind, or the plotter is being repaired or down for any reason, the following
information about Kinko’s might be helpful -- at least the pricing schedule should be informative.
A couple things to keep in mind include the fact that Kinko’s Davis is no longer a 24-hour operation
and the recommendation to download from the software that helps make your file
more easily manageable by Kinkos. Incidentally our inkjet plotter cost about $4,500, and those of
you who have inkjet printers know how costly ink cartridges are.

Kinko’s Prices: (as of 060706)… A 36”x48” poster is $120 minus 30% UCD discount.
   Posters longer than 56” require special procedures. (This applies to our plotter also.)
   Color: $10 /sqft B/W: $0.75 /sqft MINUS 30% discount (must indicate ahead of time)
   Printing on glossy paper ranges from $7 to $16 depending on particular paper selected.
   Lamination costs $3 /sqft regardless of whether we or they make the plot. Call for more info.

This document is especially useful when:

       1. Beginning your poster in Powerpoint;
       2. Editing an existing poster, especially if you are NOT the original creator and don’t know
          the origin of logos or images that may view on your monitor but won’t plot.
       3. Using the plotter;
       4. Requesting assistance with producing a plot; or,
       5. Requesting access to the plotter.

Some General Notes for Plotting in 1307A:
      Department pays, but sometimes users may be asked to chip in for a cartridge or two.
    • We don’t have per/poster ink usage data, but inkjet inks are expensive, a full color 36” x
       48” poster likely uses $10 to $25 of ink. Paper is ~$0.75 per lineal foot.
    • There usually are spare paper rolls, ink cartridges, and printhead cartridges. Ink and
       printheads are distinctly different items, requiring different procedures.
    • Please do not replace cartridges, printheads, or paper without training.
    • A low-ink signal in any cartridge immediately stops the plotter, and the plot job fails.
    • No computer lab machines are set up, due to past inadvertent use as a regular printer or for
       purposes inconsistent with campus computing policies.
    • Faculty/Staff can use the special log-in on Victor’s machine in 1337 Bainer at any time. A
       call to his cell phone is appreciated (evenings okay).


The plotter is in 1307A Bainer, the office of Sr. Development Engineer Tom Anderson. This room
is located within 1329 Bainer (i.e., the Engineering Shop), which means that going to see Tom
during lunch hour is usually not possible because 1329 is locked at lunch. Both of these rooms
require a staff key. Between Tom’s usual presence in 1307A and Victor’s availability via office and
cell phone, you should be able to get any needed assistance.

Paper & Cartridge Numbers

Ink Cartridges:                                    Printhead Cartridges:
82 cyan        C4911A                              11 cyan        C4811A
82 magenta C4912A                                  11 magenta C4812A
82 yellow      C4913A                              11 yellow      C4813A
10 black       C4844A                              11 black       C4810A
Paper: Bright White Inkjet Paper     C1861A       One source of purchasing is
PowerPoint Poster Creation:

  •   Before working on poster content, set the size in Page Setup. Be aware of the
      Portrait/Landscape selection. The maximum dimensions are 36”x56” because of paper
      roll size (36”) and an inherent PPT maximum dimension (56”). Plotting posters longer
      than 56” is possible, but has not yet been tried on this machine.

  •   Be aware that the plotter margin is larger in the paper-roll width dimension than in paper-
      roll length (unrolling) dimension, leaving a little more plain white border than you might
      be expecting.

  •   If your paper size encroaches the margins, you may be prompted to “Scale and Print”
      during the plotting steps, which usually works well unless, e.g., an Excel item is pasted in
      as a linked object rather than as “picture.” When an Excel item is “linked”, it has been
      our experience that text wrap-around problems are likely. Even slight resizing of the
      linked Excel object can be problematic.

  •   Paste Excel charts and sheets with Edit -> Paste Special -> Picture. Although you lose
      update abilities, the size is much smaller and you avoid scale-and- fit problems we have
      experienced in the past.

  •   Do not use EPS (encapsulated postscript) images or objects, because they do not show up
      on the plot, except sometime as merely an empty box. To have this happen at the end of
      an otherwise perfect print is horrible, and it has happened all too frequently. The EPS
      issue has arisen primarily with logos copied from some www page. The EPS file pastes
      perfectly into PPT, appears in the preview, but will not print on the plotter.

  •   Use JPG (joint photographic experts group) or PNG (portable network graphics) images.
      When using GIF (graphics interchange format) be sure that the pixel size of the original
      image is known and understood; you will be surprised when the image looks very
      pixilated on the actual plot even though on your monitor it looked good. TIFF (tagged
      image file format) files are usually very large and can affect plotting time and sometime
      contribute to plot failure.

  •   High-MegaByte image files, especially when many are used in a poster, slow down
      processing of the file, especially when in conjunction with a high Print Quality setting.
      In part because of this, we have frequently seen posters seemingly randomly not print a
      particular image. However, randomly missing images have also been apparently the
      result of the EPS issue mention earlier and also of the “send file as bitmap – process in
      computer” setting that in the most recent driver is located in an unusual location. This is
      further discussed later in this document.

  •   Please keep in mind your color schemes. It often prints out differently than seen on the
      computer. Solid shaded backgrounds are acceptable, but please consider whether the
      audience for or the location of the poster truly warrants the ink costs. Please also
      reconsider any needs for multiple shades of multi- layered backgrounds. One student
      went through 5 iterations before the background was acceptable, adequately contrasting
      with the poster’s text. If absolutely necessary, try the plot on an 8.5x11 and cancel the
      job as soon as you see part of the result.
    •   From a layout standpoint, you are well advised not to create the entire poster as one table
        with rows and columns of cells. This is difficult to edit and adjust. Drawing individual
        text boxes is much more preferred, because they can be easily sized, moved, and

PowerPoint Poster Plotting:

STEP 1: Verify that plotter is ON

* Power is ON        * Paper roll is not near end    * No ink level warnings   * Room access

This is probably a good time to turn on the plotter, because it is usually off both day and night as
a result of a history of inadvertently sent print jobs. Also, the plotter may have been taken out of
service for some reason. You could probably check through your Control Panel to see if the
plotter is on- line, but a physical check is a good idea for at least two more reasons. One,
sometimes the paper roll is down far enough that the paper is actually crinkled along the edges,
which isn’t a problem for shop drawings but probably would be for your conference poster.
Two, an ink cartridge may be low, and that will show up as a warning on the liquid crystal
display on the plotter. If you’re doing a heavily colored poster, the possibility of a spent
cartridge stopping and aborting your job is increased.

You should have read earlier about the plotter’s location and access issues. Knowing where the
room is and being able to verify access provides the opportunity to go to the plotter as soon as
the file is sent. This allows for cancelling the plot at the plotter if it appears to be coming out

STEP 2: Page Setup

* Actual size     * No setting for margins      * Scale-and- fit concerns

Verify size in Page Setup. A common
error is to leave this set for a default
8.5x11. Time, ink, and paper are wasted
when you figure this out after it has been
plotted. This happens pretty frequently.

So, please enter the actual final size you
plan to plot; you can adjust it later if you
need to.

Although it is possible to scale-and- fit up later from 8.5x11 to the desired size, it is not the
preferred method because people forget to make the setting, they don’t realize that the setting has
reset to default, or the scaling doesn’t fit as expected on the poster size that you expected or the
conference mandated. Plus, if you’re on the third floor you’ll be making unnecessary trips. J
Also, remember to leave enough space along the borders of the PowerPoint slide when you
actually start building the slide, although this doesn’t have to be much. There are no margin
settings like you might be accustomed to in Word and Excel. If you get too close to the edge,
you’re likely to get prompted for a “Scale and Print,” “Print Anyway,” or “Cancel” set of choices
when you do a Preview or when you go directly to OK’ing the plot.

STEP 3: Access Print Dialog Box & Select Printer

The printer is an HP DesignJ et
500PS42+HPGL2 Card, as shown in the
screen grab showed here on the right, but
your printer name may be different.

The rest of the settings should be as seen
in this dialog box. Scale to fit paper is
not selected here, but you may decide to
do so anyway, especially after a Preview.

The Preview button at lower left is useful,
of course. However, it is probably not
useful to click right now. If you do click
it, you’ll get a screen with buttons at the
top. The Print button returns you to this
dialog box, and the Close button exits the
dialog box completely.

STEP 4: Properties – Paper/Quality

* Paper size    * Printable area    * Autorotate     * Print Quality

Click on the Properties tab to get the dialog
box shown on the right. The default tab is
Paper/Quality. You’re probably best off
clicking on Custom and entering your desired
paper size. Usually you’ll enter 36” for height
and something between 36” and 56” for width.
Although the plotter can accept 42” rolls or
sheets, we have standardized on 36” (for “E”
size engineering drawings) and we don’t use

                                     The “HP
                                     purple pie-
                                     object will
                                     orient itself landscape or portrait based on the current
                                     setting in the Finishing tab, which we’ll go over again later.
The Autorotate box does not need to be checked. What it does is automatically rotate your
poster to use less lineal feet of paper from the roll, if one dimension of your poster is less than
the paper roll, which in our case is 36”. Although our plotter can handle 42” paper, we use 36”
rolls. We have not used single sheet paper.

The Print Quality selection does not need to be better than Normal and often does just fine in
Draft mode. You may be interested in using Best as well as Maximum Detail if you have a
reason for a very high resolution plot, if for instance you are going to laminate the poster for
long-term use. There are significant differences in plotting time for the different Print Quality
settings. The Best setting can sometimes result in an hour- long plot job. Using the highest
settings probably just means unnecessary wear and tear on the plotter, a $4,500 machine.

(Not yet available.) The Small Margins
tab will allow for smaller margins if the
plotters firmware is of certain version.
Regular ma rgins can be inferred from the
Printable area values shown in the
Print/Quality tab above. The small
margins feature changes the 36” paper-roll
width printable dimension from 34.66” to
35.61”, a significant change. Because our
current firmwares are A.01 series, we can
not take advantage of this feature. We
may look into updating this in the future.

STEP 5: Properties – Effects

* Actual Size

* % of Normal Size (MS Word example)

This tab usually does not need any
attention. The Actual Size button is the
typical choice. The % of Normal Size
button can be used to control the scaling,
although we have probably never used it.
It was used recently with an MS Word
document printed 36x48, because MS
Word limits its document dimensions to
STEP 6: Properties – Finishing

* Portrait/Landscape     * Rotate

For posters with dimensions equal to or greater than
36” the selection of Orientation does not seem to
matter. Otherwise, there is the potential for
orientation issues when for example the plot is a 36”
high 24” wide poster. If Autorotate, in the
Paper/Quality tab, is not selected then you are very
likely to end up with a 36” x 36” piece of paper
requiring a manual scissor cutting along one of the
36”. With Autorotate, you give permission to the
software to automatically rotate to save paper and
avoid that extra paper condition. The Rotate by 90
degrees is disabled in this dialog box because of the
Autorotate selection in another dialog box. In any
case, you are advised to do a Preview after you
complete the next two tabs.

STEP 7: Properties – Color

This dialog box should be checked to make sure
that the Color Matching Method is sRGB and the
Render Intent is Perceptual. It may be that the
other settings are acceptable, but these have worked
for us and we have not had occasion to try the
others. For more info, you can right-click near each
item in the dialog box and get a “What’s this”
information window.

The Color Options should not have any boxes
checked, unless of course there is a need for
grayscale, monochrome, or advanced color

STEP 8: Properties – Services

* Send Job as a Bitmap (Process in Computer)

This is a highly critical dialog box. The box for Send
Job as a Bitmap (Process in Computer) needs to be
checked in order to avoid the otherwise freque nt failed
or incomplete plots. You need to click on the icon next
to Troubleshoot Software Problems in order to access
the pop-up. Many of our posters include pictures that
are either necessarily or unnecessarily too large in terms
of resolution (thus file size), leading to overloading the internal processor on the plotter.
Although the jobs are processed more slowly, because of the conversion and network transfer of
a bitmap file, the plotting success rate is extremely high if this box is checked.

STEP 9: Preview

At this point you are ready to Preview your plot from the main dialog box. The preview screen
can be zoomed in very closely for close-up views of key elements of the plot. An older version
of the driver provided warning about objects or the slide not fitting onto your selected paper size
and then would automatically take you to a scaling window; this does not appear to a feature of
the newer driver. When in the Preview screen, clicking Close will exit you completely from the
plot dialog box; some of your settings will be saved but others often will not, meaning you
should double check all of the tabs in the print dialog box before sending the plot job. If you
click on Print within the Preview screen, you will only be brought back to the main Print dialog
box where you then can press OK. Clicking on Print in the Preview screen does not send the file
to the plotter.

The printing process usually takes a number of minutes to complete. Often several minutes or
even more pass while the file is transferred over the network, especially if it is a larger file with
higher resolution images.

The ink is still a little wet as the plot is coming out of the plotter. To avoid smudging, especially
your graphics, handle the poster with care for the first few minutes.

If there is a plotting problem while the poster is plotting, press Cancel on the plotter machine.
The plot should cancel and the paper should be automatically cut. If there is a problem with this,
you may have to reset the entire machine by the on/off button, unplugging the power cord, or
both. You may also have to perform a form feed or fresh cut or both. These methods are from
haphazard experience.


For posters longer than 56”, you must create a proportionally smaller slide, usually
recommended to be 50% of final desired size, and use specialized features to print the poster at
200%. This involves making a PDF or other version of the original PPT, which can have
dramatic effect on, for instance, resolution of graphics. Kinko’s usually tries a couple different
approaches until something works adequately. They recommend downloading some software
from that puts your file into a format that they have more flexibility with


You can plot an Illustrator file from a computer that does not have Illustrator. In Illustrator, save
your Illustrator file as a PDF. In PPT, first set your desired page size in page set- up, and then
insert a “picture from file.” Then scale the scale the object by dragging the corners. We did this
successfully with a poster with images, without any apparent loss in picture quality. However,
our experience is limited so be aware of the potential graphics loss.


You can plot a MS Word file, but the specific procedure depends on the physical size of your
document. Word allows a maximum of 22” in either direction. In order to plot an 8.5 by 11 onto
a 36” wide roll, you’ll have to use the % of Normal Size feature mentioned earlier. In this
particular case, the percentage will be around 425%.


Excel files apparently have been plotted previously, but information from that exercise is not


Softwares such as PhotoShop or even MS Office Picture Manager work just fine. The print
dialog box interface is the same as for PowerPoint although the Preview feature is different. For
PhotoShop, for example, the preview is available in the File pull-down menu and not in the
dialog box. For Picture Manager, the preview shows up in later dialog boxes where you click on
the desired layout, e.g., full page, wallet size, 2 per sheet, etc.

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