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Poster Printer - HP DesignJet 455ca

Quick Start

The poster printer is owned by the Lewis Group. It costs ~$25 in supplies to print each poster. You need to contact the Lewis group member in charge of the Poster Printer if you want to use it. You will also need to contribute to the cost in supplies for the printer. The supplies are shown on an order form here.

You can print from the Asylum AFM computer in 019 BI. To print from this computer, you need to start Windows XP Mode and print from within Powerpoint or Acrobat running under XP.

  1. Click the "Print Posters in Windows XP Mode" shortcut on the desktop (top left of middle screen ).
  2. Wait for the emulator to start (~ 1 minute).
  3. Wait for Windows XP to start (~1 minute).
  4. Put your file in the folder Posters on the desktop of either the Win 7 or XP compter
  5. Read Page size and margins below.
  6. If you need to load more paper read Loading Media

Required Time (1 to 2 hrs)

It will probably take you about 15 minutes to get everything set up to print. Add in some extra time if you need to unclog or replace ink cartridges or change the paper roll. Once the printer starts printing, a 48"x36" poster takes about 45 minutes on Normal quality (which is typically sufficient) and about 90 minutes on Best quality (which prevents banding if your poster has large areas of solid color).


019 Beckman Institute


The paper and ink to buy are here.


The poster printer driver, PowerPoint, and Acrobat are all installed on the

Page Size and Margins

There are two ways to make sure parts of your poster do not get cut off and that everything looks right.
  1. The first way is to read this page and make sure your poster follows the page size and margin guidelines:
    • One of the page dimensions should be 36" since that's the width of the paper roll. The other dimension can be anything, but 48" is common.
    • The printer will not print anything that is within 0.20 inches of the ends of the paper roll (typically the top and bottom margins).
    • The printer will not print anything that is within 0.67 inches of the leading or trailing edge of the poster (typically the left and right margins).
    • See the example below!
  2. The second way is to completely ignore the instructions on this page
    • choose whatever page size you like in PowerPoint
    • poster content as close to the edge of the page as you want.
    • Then just have the printer driver scale your PowerPoint page size to the real page size (like 48" x 36")
    • "Scale to Fit Paper" in PowerPoint's printer options.
    • This often results in there being larger white borders than there would be if you had judiciously followed the first method, but at least content won't get cut off around the edges.

Example for a 4' x 3' poster


Tips and tricks

The Ready Light

In general, do not do anything unless the Ready light is solid on (not blinking or off). If you press buttons or send jobs to the printer when the Ready light is not solid on, the printer might get confused.

Resetting the Print Server

Occasionally the print server needs to be reset. If you observe that documents will not print despite everything being set up correctly on your computer, simply unplug the power from the print server (the dark box stuck to the back of the printer), wait a few seconds, hold down the Test button, plug it back in, wait at least 5 seconds, let go of the Test button, wait a few more seconds, and try reprinting your document.

Printing a Test Page

To test the ink cartridges and make sure none of them are empty or clogged, simultaneously press and release the Form Feed and Media Source buttons. If you don't want to wait for the whole thing to print, for the ink to dry, and for the printer to cut the page, you can press the Cancel button. If you press the Cancel button, the printer will abort the test and cut off the page. Printing the test page is likely to cause the "distorted output" issue mentioned next, so when you're done, turn the printer off and back on. With the glossy paper, it is typical for the ink to pool up a bit on the test print. This makes it hard to tell for sure whether the ink cartridges are working right.

Distorted Output

Occasionally when you print a poster (especially if you just printed a test page), the printed output will be distorted in a way similar to if the paper wasn't advancing enough after each printed line. Solid colors will also likely appear too light and exhibit banding where each printed line overlaps with the next. To remedy this, cancel the print job at your computer, hit the Cancel button on the printer, wait until the Ready light stops blinking, and then turn the printer off and back on. It should work great the second time.

Black Rectangle of Doom

If the printing is ever interrupted (because you ran out of ink or paper or for some other reason), make sure to cancel the print job on the computer. If you do not cancel the print job, the printer will eventually resume printing where it left off (like halfway through your poster), but instead of printing the last half of your poster, it'll just print a huge black rectangle, which uses up all the black ink and makes the paper really soggy. So if anything goes wrong and printing has to be aborted, make sure to cancel the print job on the computer.

Repairing Clogged Cartridges

If a particular cartridge is not working, first try to "prime" the cartridge. Depress the gray selection lever in front of the problematic cartridge. Then forcefully press down on the larger gray plunger lever to the right of the four cartridges. Try pressing the plunger 2 or 3 times, then reprint the test page. If the cartridge is still clogged, you can try removing it and spraying the ink jets with water. Then use a Kimwipe to dry off the excess water on the sides of the cartridge (do not touch the ink jets themselves; it is OK if they have a little water on them). Then reprint the test page. If it still isn't working, discard the cartridge and replace it with a new one.

Watching Ink Dry

After the poster has printed completely, the printer will sit there and do nothing while it waits for the ink to dry. Eventually it'll decide that the ink is dry and cut off the page. Nothing is wrong; you just have to wait. It's boring. If you are daring, press the Form Feed button to make it go ahead and cut the page.

Loading New Paper

To load a new roll of paper, follow the media loading directions from the manual.

Printer Port and IP address

Printer Port:;
Actual IP address: (08/01/2015)

Determining the IP Address

If the printer is left unplugged for a long time or is moved to a different building or floor, its IP address will change, and you will need to figure out what the new IP is. Two ways to do this:

  1. Easy Way
    Put the HP 4000 laserjet printer from BI021 on a cart and locate it close to the Poster Printer. Remove the Parallel printer cable from the poster printer and plug it into the Laserjet. Make sure the laserjet printer is turned on and ready and press the Test button on the small, dark gray Jetdirect print server located on the back of the printer. The Test button is between the two LEDs on the top face of the Jetdirect server. The laserjet will blink its data light and then print two pages. This second page will contain the DHCP-assigned IP address of the printer (begins with 131.215.8). If it does not print or gets hung up, you should power cycle the Laserjet and if necessary power cycle the Jetdirect box on the back of the printer.
  2. Hard Way
    To do this, make sure the printer is turned on and ready and press the Test button on the small, dark gray Jetdirect print server located on the back of the printer. The Test button is between the two LEDs on the top face of the server. The printer will think for a while and then print the first page of a very long (about 5 ft.) configuration document (in multiple languages!). It will then think for a while longer, cut the page off, think some more, and then print the second page of configuration settings. This second page will contain the DHCP-assigned IP address of the printer (begins with 131.215.8). As soon as you see the IP address, you can hit the Cancel button on the printer to save ink and paper.

If the Ready light on the printer blinks for a while and then goes solid and nothing ever prints, try holding down the Test button on the print server. Keep holding it down until the two LEDs on the print server start cycling through a pattern where only LED 1 is on, only LED 2 is on, both LEDs are on, or no LEDs are on. Try releasing the Test button at different points in this cycle until the configuration page actually prints. After doing this, it may be the case that the printer will no longer print actual posters, and you then need to reset the print server. To reset the print server, unplug the small black power cable. Hold down the Test button, plug the power back in, continue holding the Test button for a few more seconds, and then release the Test button.


There are no drivers for Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Mac OS X.

Windows 2000, 2003, XP

Installation notes:
  • * Download the above file and extract it to a convenient location on your computer.
  • * Use the Add Printer link in the Printers and Faxes applet in Control Panel.
  • * You'll want to add a "Local Printer" and create a new "Standard TCP/IP Port".
  • * The current IP address is near the top of this page.
  • * When asked to choose the printer model, pick "Have Disk.." and browse to the extracted files.
  • * Then choose "HP DesignJet 455CA (E/AO)" for the printer model.
  • * If prompted to specify the print server, choose "HP JetDirect EX Plus".
  • * If prompted to specify a printer port, choose "Parallel 1".


Windows configuration settings

Printing preferences/defaults

Paper size

screenshot b1
For the matte paper, choose "Coated Paper (coated)", and for the glossy paper, choose "High-Gloss Photo (glossy)". Click the "More sizes... " button and specify your poster size.
screenshot b1a
The above settings will vary based on your poster size.

Layout view

screenshot b2


screenshot b3

If you're unhappy with the colors, pick "Manual color" and use the "Color control..." button to try other settings. The "Vivid color" option gives your poster some extra pizzazz! The "Match screen" option tends to give good results if you've imported vector graphics from other programs and expect the colors to match the colors used in other parts of your poster. For Quality, choose either "Normal" or "Best". Normal is typically sufficient for posters. If your poster has large regions of solid colors, Best will result in less color banding in those regions.


screenshot b4

The printer will likely run out of memory unless you choose the "In computer" option.