I had a go at getting the giant printer to work. I'm trying to print a giant map of hoxton so we can write where useful stuff is. Here's what I've learnt:
1. Someone told me that the BC-02 cartridge it has was the wrong one so I bought a BC-01, but actually the -02 worked fine.
2. It accepts HP-GL2, and I managed to get windows to print a test page, and an A4 map PDF but that took 40 minutes for the printer to process.
3. There's no way to print to HPGL or convert to HPGL on linux afaict.
4. If you can make an HPGL2 file you print it by catting it to /dev/tty-whatever.
That's as far as I got. I left an A1 print job going for 130 minutes and it resulted in the printer running out of memory, so I expect converting PDFs to HPGL is an ill-posed mapping. I'm going to add an HPGL output mode to my map software.
Inkscape will theoretically output HPGL, but it will occasionally throw
its toys out of the pram and output crap instead.
Hmm weird. It definitely works now...
Also I managed to find the hpgl/2 specs, and the language is quite simple. Apparently if the plotter is actually a printer then it converts the vector data into an internal specially indexed vector format, and it can't be streamed at all, so if you run out of memory it gives up. However raster data can be streamed if you send it in a certain way, but sending raster data looks more complicated than vector.