Plotmate and Intermate


Picture of the Linear Graphics Plotmate plotter

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.

Manuals and Software

Plotmate Description

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 Plotmate Pens

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

With an 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 drivers).

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 – see Paul 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!

Questions or Comments?

If you have an questions or comments about the Plotmate, or anything on this page, then please feel free to contact me.