Welcome to My HO Model Railroad Blog

March 7, 2015 Decal update

I thought I would be a good idea to update my May 2011 Post on printing decals on my Alps MD1000 Printer.  With Microsoft dumping the XP operating system I had to buy a new computer January 2014.  The new HP Pro 4300 computer came with Windows 7 Pro.  Sadly there isn't a Alps MD1000 printer driver available rendering my Alps useless.  My 14 year old Sony PCV-RX550 running XP Pro SP3 still works great so the fix for Windows 7 was a Belkin KVM switch.

I networked the old Sony and the new HP together and I'm back in business.  The Belkin KVM lets me switch between the two computers without multiple keyboards, monitors and mouse. 

The Alps MD1000 prints great decals through the networked computers.  My May 2011 Post on my Alps printer is copied below.

-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

For those  of you that would like to make your own decals it is possible to print them from your computer.  I had always wanted to make my own decals with my road name but it wasn't possible on a conventional printer.  Conventional printers will not print white.  As most of my decals need to be white for my steam locomotives I had to buy MicroScale decals and use the cut & paste technique.  The answer is to acquire an older model Alps Printer, the Alps MD series printers will print white.  

I purchased an Alps MD1000 printer off E-Bay several months back and it is terrific for printing decals.

The Alps MDs are thermal type printers and use similar technologically as laser printers.  The Alps uses small ribbon cartridges very much like an old IBM Selectric Typewriter.   They work similar to an old HP Pen Plotter.  

The front door folds down and there are four slots for holding ribbon cartridges.  The cartridges have a unique code identification on one end very much like a bar code that the carriage reads as it passes by.

The carriage "picks" the proper color ribbon, prints that color, then it puts it back in the same slot where it got it and goes onto the next color.  It's an amazing piece of machinery.

The Alps Driver lets you select a individual color such as, black, white, gold, silver or print in standard color with the correct combination of ribbons.  The standard color configuration will not print white.  White must be printed individually.  The repeat capability of the printer is amazing, it will print white over a standard color print with great resolution if your program will produce colors in layers.  You need to select white only on the Alps Driver over a full color print.

I have a good friend that has an Alps MD1000 and he is the one that put me onto the Alps for printing decals.  He also give me a "heads up" on the printer sounds when it starts to print.  I'm so glad he did, when an Alps printer goes into action it's scary.  It makes more noise than a thrashing machine!  Several motors making mechanical starting and stopping noises, paper going back and fourth, lots of clicking & clanking of the carriage picking up the ink ribbon cartridges, it will scare you to pieces.  Had I not known that it was super noisy in advance I would have pulled the plug to save it from exploding. 

The Alps MD1000 printing quality is extremely good and it makes fabulous decals.

I must warn you that the thermal print head is very easily damaged and a bad heating element in the head will leave a no ink stripe across the printed page one pixel wide on every pass of the head.  Alps printer parts are no longer available!  Alps discontinued support for their thermal printers in 2005.  

The first Alps printer that I bought off E-Bay had a bad print head and I had to send it back.

 Ask the seller the condition of the printer before you bid on it!  You will also need a printer driver for your operating system as well as a parallel port on your computer.  If the printer doesn't come with a parallel cable you will need one of those also. 

Alps Ink Cartridges are available at Micro Parts & Supplies, Inc.

For more info on Alps Printers you can go to Yahoo Groups Alps

No comments: