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A customer in the architectural audio industry wanted to expand into custom-printed audio and video cabling. Their customers would submit orders for (say) 1000 feet of a certain kind of speaker wire, and we would print the customer's name plus a distance marker every foot:
| 1' - Genesis Audio & Video | 2' - Genesis Audio & Video ... | 999' - Genesis Audio & Video | 1000' - Genesis Audio & Video
When an installer for Genesis Audio & Video was onsite to install a sound system, he would note the foot marker at the start of the project, note it at the end, and the difference would be how much cable was used on the job. This saved having to measure each cable used individually and was a much more reliable measure for job costing.
I was responsible for creating the software and controller hardware that allowed a machine operator to enter the phrase and length on a PC, and my system would take care of driving the whole process. The name "Impresor" is derived from a Spanish word for "Printer".
We used a Domino Amjet production-line inkjet printer that had a wire-carriage mechanism, inkjet spray head, and an encoder wheel that let us know how much and how fast the cable was flying past the printhead. The hardware system I created that linked the PC to the printer looked like this:
The labeled items are described as:
The Windows PC ran custom software written in Borland's Delphi, and it had two serial connections. One went directly to the Codebox (the Domino inkjet printer), and it gave configuration commands to set the print message and the like. This was a simple protocol with commands and responses. The other serial port went to the Impresor control box to drive the "print go" signal.
Once the motor controller starts moving the wire, the wire encoder counts out pulses indicating movement. Since the encoder wheel was a known size, we could compute how many pulses yielded one foot of wire. These encoder pulses went into the Impresor control box, and once it counted the proper number of pulses, it sent a "Print Go" signal to the Domino Codebox. This triggered the inkjet printing the next message, and once we finished the job we'd simply not send the print messages any longer.
The control software was several hundred lines of BASIC, and though the details cannot be of any practical interest, they do convey a style of development. The source code is in printmaster.txt. A representative Pascal module is codebox.txt.
The system has long been out of production and we don't have any screen shots of the Windows portion of the system.