Good Heavens the LaserWriter IIg is complex!

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pentium
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Good Heavens the LaserWriter IIg is complex!

Unread postby pentium » Thu Feb 04, 2016 9:35 am

Like, I understand that it's doing PostScript 2 and PCL4 locally in hardware, plus the dedicated SCSI, network and serial chipsets are there because it's the IIg but I never really really realized just how beefy it actually was until I pulled the board out for decapping.

IMG_2419.JPG


Christ almighty. It's a 25mhz 68030 with some form of a PDS slot AND there's a spot for a 68882. :shock: You put 32mb of ram in that and you're up there with a really decent Macintosh IIci in terms of hardware. The layout is even amazing. X/Y locations, component numbering and verbose IC identification. I really give props to the team that designed this.
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Re: Good Heavens the LaserWriter IIg is complex!

Unread postby robespierre » Thu Feb 04, 2016 10:37 am

pentium wrote:with some form of a PDS slot.

The only information on the web is that it is a factory test connector.
On the face of it that's a bit odd, as Apple usually used card-edge fingers for that purpose on all of their hardware. Why they would need 96 pins for burn-in is a mystery.
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Re: Good Heavens the LaserWriter IIg is complex!

Unread postby pentium » Thu Feb 04, 2016 11:05 am

Well in one form or another it's PDS. There's literally a ton of traces leaving the 030 and heading for the connector.
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Re: Good Heavens the LaserWriter IIg is complex!

Unread postby skywriter » Thu Feb 04, 2016 7:19 pm

I remember trying to run post script on a Linux system with a 386 with no FP coprocessor - dog slow. Once I popped the FP in, it literally flew.
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Dennis Nedry
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Re: Good Heavens the LaserWriter IIg is complex!

Unread postby Dennis Nedry » Thu Feb 04, 2016 7:40 pm

There's a little known upgrade board for these printers that is just as complicated.

It was called the Xante Accel-a-writer II. It had a Am29000 RISC processor, slots for 72-pin SIMMs, offered a SCSI port you could plug an external disk drive into for font storage, and had a standard PC centronics port on the back so you could use the printer with an IBM PC. It did postscript in hardware as well as some of the HP languages. I owned one for a few years and it was a pretty awesome upgrade. I seem to recall it unlocked the 600 DPI capabilities of the printer engine (which was a standard Canon unit used by a variety of different manufactures), which is something the stock Apple board couldn't do.

Here's some pictures of the unit (the only pictures I could find on the internet). Seems like they were rare to begin with, if I would have known just how rare they were, I wouldn't have trashed mine.

P7170037.jpg

P7170036.jpg


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Re: Good Heavens the LaserWriter IIg is complex!

Unread postby robespierre » Thu Feb 04, 2016 8:47 pm

All of the LaserWriter II printers use a Canon SX engine, which is capable of 300 dpi. There are no printers based on this engine that can print in true 600 dpi because the marking engine can't do it: it scans its laser in 300 lines per inch. The IIf and IIg boards have an enhancement process called FinePrint that tries to modulate the laser power to reduce aliasing on outlines, similar to the LaserJet III's enhancement feature called RET. There were other SX printers that rasterized at 600 dpi and then converted to a lower resolution on output, this was yet another way to improve the 300 dpi print quality.

Apple used the Am29000 in its printers too, starting with the Personal LaserWriter NTR and many of the subsequent models.
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Re: Good Heavens the LaserWriter IIg is complex!

Unread postby robespierre » Wed Feb 10, 2016 6:14 pm

The LaserWriter formatter boards are designed to be debugged using the same tools as Macintosh models, such as the TechStep. They have a "sad mac" diagnostic mode that can be triggered using similar external signals.
https://mac68k.info/wiki/display/mac68k/Diagnostic+Mode
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Re: Good Heavens the LaserWriter IIg is complex!

Unread postby robespierre » Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:49 pm

An addendum to the remarks about the Canon SX and print resolution:
One printer improved the resolution of the SX engine to 400x400 dpi: the NeXT Laser Printer. It seems that many small design changes were needed to achieve this, with the result that only a few parts are directly exchangeable between it and all other SX printers.
Are there any other NeXT owners here?
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Re: Good Heavens the LaserWriter IIg is complex!

Unread postby josehill » Thu Mar 10, 2016 6:10 am

robespierre wrote:Are there any other NeXT owners here?

Me! :mrgreen: Thanks to our pal, skywriter, I have a NeXTstation Turbo Color. Very cool machine!

PS. I worked in an office that had a IIg, and I remember being absolutely blown away by how fast and powerful it seemed at the time.

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Re: Good Heavens the LaserWriter IIg is complex!

Unread postby pentium » Mon Mar 14, 2016 11:48 pm

robespierre wrote:Are there any other NeXT owners here?

Ooh! OOH! Me! Me! Me!
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Re: Good Heavens the LaserWriter IIg is complex!

Unread postby robespierre » Tue Mar 15, 2016 9:52 am

Nice. Have you upgraded your DSP memory?
I know that simms were manufactured and sold during the late '90s (by CCRMA?). You can even find prints (but not gerbers) for them online.
At some point I want to do a run and it would be useful to know whether there is any demand.
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Re: Good Heavens the LaserWriter IIg is complex!

Unread postby ScutBoy » Tue Mar 15, 2016 10:58 am

robespierre wrote:Are there any other NeXT owners here?


I've got an ND Cube, another Cube, and some regular and Turbo slabs.
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Re: Good Heavens the LaserWriter IIg is complex!

Unread postby theinonen » Wed Mar 16, 2016 1:30 am

I had fully loaded NeXTstation Turbo Color but was not overly impressed about it.

It felt slow and in my opinion should not feel like that when you are running the software originally intended at the time. Too much disk accessing for my liking and the operating system was also in German language, that I never learned despite of taking one course when was studying.

Was more impressed when I got my first Acorn system (A4000), and gave the neXT away for coffee money when lost my hobby/storage space.

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Re: Good Heavens the LaserWriter IIg is complex!

Unread postby Tehrasha » Thu Mar 17, 2016 8:33 pm

robespierre wrote:Are there any other NeXT owners here?


Ive got an 030 Cube w/ working MO drive and laser printer, and a Turbo slab.
I need to install 3.3 on them so I can stop setting their clocks back into the 80s.
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Re: Good Heavens the LaserWriter IIg is complex!

Unread postby pentium » Thu Mar 17, 2016 9:03 pm

robespierre wrote:Nice. Have you upgraded your DSP memory?
I know that simms were manufactured and sold during the late '90s (by CCRMA?). You can even find prints (but not gerbers) for them online.
At some point I want to do a run and it would be useful to know whether there is any demand.

I know like...nobody with the DSP memory, but you wouldn't be referring to the reverse engineered SIMM layouts I drew years ago, would you? ;)
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