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31-channel perforator interface

Created by hww3. Last updated by hww3, 8 years ago. Version #3.


 The 31-channel perforator interface is a hardware device that enables a modern computer to control a Monotype 31 Channel Perforator, allowing paper ribbons to be punched using modern software tools. 
On the rear panel of the interface are 2 ports:
  • USB: a standard USB type B interface The USB port is electrically isolated from the interface and thus the perforator which prevents computer damage in the event of electrical surges from the connected equipment. 
  • Perforator:  A 38 pin “ELCO” receptacle connects the Perforator to the interface. The ELCO connector is polarized and is fastened with a screw. Exercise care when connecting to ensure that the connector is oriented properly. Make sure that the screw is firmly tightened but be careful not to over-tighten the connector.
The front panel of the interface contains 4 indicator LEDs and 2 buttons. The indicators are:
  • Power: this indicator lights when power is detected, either from the perforator or USB (computer).
  • Online: this indicator lights when the perforator control program is connected to the interface unit.
  • Activity: this indicator flashes when the interface is communicating with the perforator unit. This is usually accompanied by paper feed and or punch activity on the perforator unit.
  • Fault: this indicator lights to indicate a paper tight fault on the perforator. When illuminated, the punch unit and paper feed controls on the perforator are disabled.
The buttons are:
  • Test: this button, initiates a test pattern on the perforator unit. This test pattern can be used to verify communication, paper feed and punch control. Additionally, it can be used to ensure that all punches are firing properly. A test pattern can be initiated without a USB connection. To begin punching a test pattern, ensure that the interface is connected to the perforator unit and that the perforator is turned on. Press and hold the “Test” button for 2 seconds. To stop punching, release the “Test” button.
  • Reset: this button is used to reset the interface as well as to initiate a firmware update (see “Firmware Update” below). To reset the interface, use a straightened paperclip or similar object to depress and release the reset button.

Getting started

When power from either the USB or Perforator is detected, the power indicator will illuminate and the interface will boot up. This is indicated by the Fault indicator pulsing on and off for 5 seconds. Then, each of the 3 indicators will light in sequence. Finally, all 3 of the indicators will light and then go out. At this point, the interface is ready to use. 

Note: If the power light is on but the boot up sequence described above does not occur, it likely means that the connection to the perforator unit is not solid. Verify that the connector is completely tightened. Also verify that the pins on both ends of the ELCO connector cable are not excessively spread, which will prevent good contact from being made. Make sure that the perforator is removed from mains power before attempting to adjust any of the pins on the cable. To tighten a pin, insert a small jeweler’s screwdriver into the space above or below the pin that is spread too wide. Then, gently lift (or push down) on the pin so that the gap between the upper and lower “prong” of the pin is made smaller. Be careful when adjusting the pins so that the pins are not bent and the plastic part of the connector is not damaged.
  1. Begin with the power to the perforator turned OFF.
  2. Connect the interface to the perforator.
  3. Power on the perforator unit.
  4. Make sure that the power light on the interface is illuminated and that the power up sequence completes.
  5. Verify that the Fault indicator is working. To do this, check both the upper and lower feed arms by pressing them fully toward the rear of them machine. The fault lamp on the perforator should flash and the fault indicator on the interface should illuminate.
  6. Load a paper ribbon in to the perforator using the instructions contained in the 31 channel perforator engineer’s manual.
  7. With the perforator turned on and the interface booted, press and hold the “Test” button until the activity indicator on the interface begins to flash. At this point, the perforator should be punching a diagonal test pattern. To stop, release the “Test” button.
  8. Verify that all 31 channels are perforating. If they aren’t, the 2 most likely causes are a blown fuse on the channel or an incomplete connection on the ELCO connector. DO NOT perform any maintenance on the perforator unit with the mains power connected. See the 31 channel perforator engineer’s manual for more troubleshooting advice.

Punching a Ribbon

  1. Prepare an E-Ribbon using the ribbon generator program.
  2. Connect the interface to the perforator and computer.
  3. Turn the perforator on.
  4. Start the punch unit.
  5. Start the Punch program. The punch program should detect the interface.
  6. Click on the “Connect" button in the Punch program.
  7. Click on the “Load” button in the Punch program. 
  8. Select the ribbon file you prepared in step 1.
  9. The ribbon will be loaded into the Punch program.
  10. Verify that the ribbon information is correct.
  11. Click on the “Start” button.
  12. The perforator should begin the punch the ribbon. Each ribbon consists of 3 parts: the header, the ribbon and the footer. The header consists of an indicator arrow showing the correct direction of the ribbon direction, a punched text which describes the job name and mat case used and another indicator arrow. The ribbon will be punched after the header. The footer is (presently) an indicator arrow showing the correct direction of the ribbon.
  13. You may click the “Stop” button at any time to pause punching of the ribbon (such as when reaching the end of the paper ribbon). To resume, click the “Start” button.
  14. In the event of a fault or other problem with the interface or perforator, the Punch program will pause punching at the last successful code. When the fault has been cleared, punching may be resumed. Note that care should be exercised when pausing/resuming to make sure that no blank lines are inserted within the paper ribbon. If blank lines are inserted, the resulting ribbon _may_ generate incorrect results due to split codes (such as justification codes, etc).

Firmware Update

The perforator interface contains a microprocessor which runs a program (the “firmware”) which is embedded within the interface. The firmware can be updated by the user in order to apply bug fixes or feature enhancements to the interface.
  1. Download the firmware update file to the computer which will be connected to the interface.
  2. Connect the interface to the computer.
  3. Start the Punch program on the computer.
  4. Click on the “Update Firmware” button.
  5. Select the firmware update file you downloaded in step 1.
  6. The Punch program will verify that the firmware is valid and will then prompt you to put the interface in firmware update mode.
  7. Press and release the “Reset” button.
  8. The “Fault” indicator on the interface will begin to pulse and the Punch program will install the firmware update on the interface.
  9. The Punch program should display a success (or failure) notification.
  10. The interface will then reboot and should be available for use. The Punch program should display the new firmware version.
  11. If either the firmware update fails or the interface does not reboot successfully, disconnect the interface and try again.
  12. If the interface fails to update or reboot a second time, or the firmware version displayed is not correct, contact BW for assistance. 

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