Here are the User Manuals, and a few bits of other information,
on the Linear Graphics Plotmate plotters, and the associated Intermate
interface box. Manuals are in PDF format.
The Plotmate was
a small, A4, desktop, flat-bed, single-pen plotter, designed primarily
for use with the Acorn BBC computer. It was manufactured by a UK
company called Linear Graphics, who sadly went out of business in 1996.
The Plotmate itself contained no intelligence, and relied completely on
the BBC computer to control it. Linear Graphics also made a box called
the Intermate, which connected to the Plotmate and provided standard
RS-232 and Centronics parallel interfaces, so that the Plotmate could
easily be driven from computers other than the BBC. The Intermate
supported three different control languages as standard (Graphtec
Watanabe, Sweet-P and BBC VDU), and also had expansion ROM sockets to
install additional languages.
Unfortunately, HPGL was not one of the built-in languages, and although
the manuals mention an HPGL expansion ROM, it is not clear whether or
not this was ever actually developed.
There was also the Plotmate A4M, which was basically just the standard
Plotmate with a built-in Intermate, all in one unit, and the Plotmate
A3M, which was an A3-size version. (I am not sure whether an A3 version
of the basic Plotmate existed or not – I have never seen one).
Where to Get
Most of the
Plotmate range used a proprietary design of pen, and the “standard”
Hewlett-Packard pens could not be used. However, it would appear that
there did exist a multi-pen version of the Plotmate A3M, which did use
HP pens. The manual also mentions various adaptors, which allowed
Plotmate to use other types of pen.
Suitable pens for the Plotmate are still available from Crown Graphic. The part number is
1CY14P3-[colour-code], where [colour-code] is a single letter denoting
the ink colour. Just do a search on their on-line shop for “1CY14” and
it shows all the colours available.
How to Drive
the Plotmate from a PC
Intermate box (or a Plotmate M), the Plotmate can be driven from a PC’s
parallel (printer) port, although there are no Microsoft Windows
drivers available. However, the languages supported by the Intermate
are very simple, and full details are given in the manual, so you can
easily write your own programs to drive the Plotmate.
If you can get hold of a very early version of the Lotus 1-2-3
Spreadsheet package, this contains support for Sweet-P plotters, so
should be able to drive the Plotmate in Sweet-P mode.
I have also written an HPGL to Sweet-P translator, which I plan to tidy
up and make available here at some point. This allows plotting from
anything that supports HPGL output (e.g. the MS Windows HP plotter
If you haven’t got an Intermate, but you’re handy with a soldering
iron, the Plotmate can be driven directly from the PC’s parallel port –
Millar’s Plotmate pages for details.
How to Drive
the Plotmate from a BBC Computer
If you still
have a BBC computer, then you’re laughing!
Download the Plotmate Interface
Disk, then follow the instructions in the manual!
There is also a different
version of the Plotmate driver available, which includes a ROM
image. I am not sure what the source of this driver was.
If you can find a copy, I used to use an application called MICAD 2D,
which could drive the Plotmate. I also had MICAD 3D, but could never
get it to work!
If you have an
questions or comments about the Plotmate, or anything on this page,
then please feel free to contact me.