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Connecting Parallel devices

We had a customer who was trying to connect several of his parallel devices to a new computer. Unfortunately it was unclear to him what the options were, so this is part of the response we sent, hopefully it will help others avoid the confusion.

Here are the options that we have for connecting parallel Devices.

Our USB to parallel adapter has a USB type A male to a 36 pin Centronics male connection. It has a 6 foot cable and is designed to connect directly to the printer, replacing the parallel printer cable. The price is $14.95 USD and is part number SW-1302.

We have a Centronics to DB 25 adapter that attaches directly to the Centronics end of the SW-1302 and will give you a 25 pin female connection to connect to a printer cable. The price is $6.95 USD and the part number is SW-2806.

Unfortunately USB to Parallel adapters (even those in USB docking stations etc.) only support printing. In the device manager it will actually show up as “USB Printing Support‿ essentially turning a Parallel printer into a USB printer. In order to connect other Parallel devices, like your scanner or zip drive, you will need a true parallel port. These can be added to a computer by getting a PCI card (for a desktop) or a PCMCIA card (for a laptop)

Our PCI Parallel card will give you a parallel port on the back of your desktop computer tower. It will provide full support of all parallel functions. The cost is $19.95 USD and is part number SW-1473.
If you have an available PCI slot, installation is simple. Turn off and unplug the computer. Remove the cover of your computer tower, remove the bracket that lines up with the PCI slot, press the card into the slot, and set the mounting screw. Replace the computer cover and reboot your computer.

For a laptop we have 2 Parallel PCMCIA cards. They simply slide into the PCMCIA slot (usually on the side) of a laptop. Unfortunately they are significantly more expensive than a USB to Parallel or a PCI card, but they are the only option to connect parallel devices (other than printers) to a Laptop computer.

Our 3.3V Parallel PCMCIA has a 44 pin connection on the card, and comes with a short splitter cable that will give you two 25 pin female Parallel connections. It was designed based on the PCI specification and unfortunately tends to have a high incompatibility rate (around 20%) It is Part Number SW-1472 and costs $89.95 USD.

The Quatech Parallel PCMCIA card also has a detachable cable that will give you one 25 pin Female connection. (when the cable is detached, the PCMCIA card sits flush with the end of the PCMCIA slot, to avoid the possibility of part of the card getting bent or broken, It uses a higher quality chipset than the 3.3V card, and has a much higher compatibility rate. (we only know of one incompatible Dell Laptop, the Inspiron 6000) It is part number SPP-100 and costs $99.95 USD.

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