Completely new to Arduino, is this a realistic project?

I've got an old 48" pen plotter ( so old windows XP doesnt even recognize or support it) everything still works though as far as the motors, sliders, and even the pen change carousel

is it realistic to use an arduino to control the plotter and have it print simple lines? (apparel patterns) i wouldnt need the pen carousel or anything like that, i would be happy to have it just be able to print again, but im not sure if i would be better off just buying a new plotter

so is it possible to have an arduino control the paper feed and side to side motion of the head? is it also possible to send standard plotter files and print, or would i need to convert it again into something the arduino can understand

I apologize in advance if this is a really stupid question, but i've never used any of these mini processors before and i do not know what their capabilities or limitations are.

thanks in advance

Is the communications serial or parallel?


The only stupid question is one that is not asked :wink: OK, that might not be 100% true but applies in this case. Do you have a make and model?

Plotters often use a language; do a search for HP-GL (there might be others).

According to the way I understand your question; you just need to figure out what protocol to speak to the printer. Perhaps a good first step is to know what type of plug it uses for control, and how many terminals it has. I wouldn't think it is hard for a modern microcontroller to communicate with a really old printer unless the manufacturer did it so intentionally.

If you need it for some sort of work, considder geting an old PC with software and OS that supports it.

as was mentioned, most plotters did not have a print driver as much as an interpeter.
the HP-GL is supported by every old CAD program and probably most current ones.

swapping out the logic board with an Arduino if a monumental task.
if you replace all the motors and drivers with devices that will work with the Arduino, you would be replacing at least the control sustem if not the control and drive.

I am going out on a limb here and going to assume you have no experiance in CNC. if you do swap out the bits and get it to work with an arduino, you will also need to learn to write code to drive the unit, well, to code in the things you want to print.

the overwhelming path of least resistance is to get a driver and run from either enulation on the PC or from an old PC

I did something similar years ago , i think it was with a BBC micro.
Just a case of sending the correct HPGL commands to the serial port.
I would imagine an arduino could handle it.