Agfa Accuset 1400 Plus - how to connect?

lkavan

Member
Dear friends,
I have bought old imagesetter Agfa Accuset 1400 Plus with internal RIP. I would llike to use it sometimes to make films for PCB samples production.
Machine came without any docs, software etc. It seems it works, I am able to print machine's test page. But I don't know how to send image data to it. I tried to ask at AGFA support, they wrote me, no more support for this machine and they sent me a service manual only, which is available on internet. I cannot find any info about model 1400 and especially with internal RIP. It seems, everybody have Agfa with external RIP. I have never had any imagesetter, so I hoped, I will connect it to the PC like classic printer and that's it. But not :-(
I tried to connect Ethernet (I have twisted pair Ethernet transceiver for machine) and after connect to network, machine sending RARP request packets only. I don't have RARP server, it is possible to set fixed IP? But I aslo connected machine by Centronics and sent Postcript file to it, but nothing happend. I cannot find any driver for this machine.
Can somebody help me how to setup this machine and make it working?
Than you very much.
 

maxon

Well-known member
The internal rip has an APIS 37-pin interface, a Centronics parallel 18 pin interface, Ethernet 15-pin, a serial comm DB25 and an AppleTalk old-style 15 pin RS422. You must connect an ethernet trasceiver to RG coax 75-ohms terminated or UTP 10Base-T and check if it responds from an old Mac computer running classic native OS 8 or 9. Yes I know it's ancient, but try to find a working PowerPC mac G3, G4 or older models. Once the internal rip responds, you'll have to install a mac printer via chooser using an Agfa PPD, postscript level 1 or 2 to actually output something. Don't expect to send anything else but tiff images or EPS files. Do not expect accurate placement of PCB points and landing zones better than half a millimeter because of imagesetter non linearity across the film, also poor linearity in film travel direction due to aged rollers and motor encoder degraded signal. So if your pcb layouts are anything above average complexity i.e. fine pitch, BGA areas or anything more complex than DIL circuits you can forget about using such an imagesetter. Complex layouts only work on internal or external drum imagesetters with very accurate encoders.
 

lkavan

Member
Thanx for your answer Maxon. Yes, there are connectors like you wrote. I have UTP Ethernet transceiver for this machine. Unfortunatelly, I am not Apple fan at all and I don't have any experience with it. I would like to find any PC based solution - DOS, Win, Linux... I know I must send Postscript files to machine, I tried to connect machine by Centronics and send eps file by "copy /b file.eps lpt1" and nothing happend :-(
Do you know if I need Agfaset utility to setup this Accuset?
Well, I want to use it for PCB samples only and I am usually creating small size PCBs, so poor linearity should not be so big problem. I hope it will be better then common office laser printer I am using now. But with laser printer I have a problem with very low contrast (black is not black enough) and not possible to print negative image (weak black) BGA I don't need, I would like to use QFN, at least and 0603 passives.
 

maxon

Well-known member
Might be a better idea to look for an inkjet printer able to run decent resolution on transparent (polyester, mylar) substrates so you can obtain a reasonable quality mask ...
 

spapa

Member
Accuset had a firmware error in centronics communication. You should use an old (286) pc to send data or use a specific msdos utility that mitigated the miscommunication back then (1990+).

You better send data through rs232 in stead of censtronis. Works well and for PCB the potscript sizes are quite small (vector graphics need far less data than bitmap). Of course placement of job (or even the film load function) will be inaccurate because accuset used mechanical potensiometers in stead of infrared encoders to count film advance.
 

lkavan

Member
Accuset had a firmware error in centronics communication. You should use an old (286) pc to send data or use a specific msdos utility that mitigated the miscommunication back then (1990+).
Thanx for info. Finally, I have made it working! I have used Win98 with Appletalk drivers from W2000, Accuset in Appletalk mode, Ethernet AUI tranceiver connected from machine to PC directly. When I sent PS generated from old OrCAD, it works and draw the picture!!!! Unfortunatelly, black is not so black as I would like to have :-( I ordered new chemicals, it is better, but I saw more black films from professional graphic company. I don't have automatic film processing machine, so I am processing it manually in trays without any light - pretty crazy job :-D
Unfortunatelly, Agfaset software still do not want to communicate with machine :-(
You better send data through rs232 in stead of censtronis. Works well and for PCB the potscript sizes are quite small (vector graphics need far less data than bitmap). Of course placement of job (or even the film load function) will be inaccurate because accuset used mechanical potensiometers in stead of infrared encoders to count film advance.
I am usually need smaller PCBs, some non-linearity should not be so big problem. I am going to make first PCB this way, finally.
 

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