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Graphtec plotter - "Can't Open Port" error

Discussion in 'Graphtec' started by Reaction GFX, Aug 26, 2020.

  1. Reaction GFX

    Reaction GFX Member

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    Jan 22, 2014
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    So I have an older FC7000mkII-130 plotter. I realize it's a boat anchor if it dies because parts are no longer available, but it's worked like a champ for the 12+ years I've had it. I'm outputting out of Illustrator CC2020, using the Cutting Master 4 plug-in. This has been working fine for quite some time with no issues at all. Out of the blue this morning, I get the "Cannot Open Port" error (or course, when I'm on a time crunch and need to fix something on a customer's vehicle!!). I cannot seem to get this thing working again.

    Some background...I was using the CM4 plug-in with Illustrator CC2019 for a long time with zero issues. Being an older plotter, the only way I could get it to work was to actually install it in CM4 as an FC8000 plotter, which again, has worked fine. A while back they finally released CM4 for CC2020, so I went ahead and starting using that with no issues. Now we all know how often CC updates, and it seems there's been quite a few updates for CM4 over the past few months as well. Not sure if that's got something to do with my issue.

    I've now uninstalled and reinstalled CM4 (most recent version, 3.5), the driver (not even sure this is necessary), AND Illustrator CC2020 with no luck. I've moved the plotter closer to my PC and tried a different, shorter USB cable, but still no dice. Shouldn't the plotter show up in my printers and devices list? It was in there earlier today right when this problem started but it said "offline," and as part of my troubleshooting I deleted it and now I'm unable to add it back. When I plug/unplug the USB cable I'm not getting any sort of chime or anything saying that Windows has recognized a USB device. Did my plotter finally buy the farm? Ugh...I sure hope not. Can't afford a new one right now. It was working just fine as recently as Monday afternoon (now Wednesday afternoon as I type this), and it has been working trouble-free for probably the last two years. I'm stumped. Anyone have any ideas??
     
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  2. tbullo

    tbullo Superunknown

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    We had a problem like yours with our old fc7000 mkII-160. Could not get usb connection anymore( Just went out one day). Called Graphtec and they said use the RSC232 connection . We have been using that every since. Just had to get the Keyspan adaptor.
     
  3. Reaction GFX

    Reaction GFX Member

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    Jan 22, 2014
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    Thanks for the input. I know this has happened before, but it's been so long I can't remember what fixed it. I actually already have a Keyspan adapter that I can try. I'm going to wrestle with this some more and if no luck, I'll give the serial connection a shot.
     
  4. Jburns

    Jburns Active Member

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    I think you just need to re-assign the port?

    Open device manager - and see what port the plotter is on. - it may have changed with an update, or something.
    you can also watch device manager, and see which devices disappears when you disconnect the plotter. Once foind, make sure the port has the graphtec driver that it should.
     
  5. Reaction GFX

    Reaction GFX Member

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    That's the thing...when I plug/unplug the USB cable form my PC (tried multiple different cables and multiple different USB ports), it's not making the usual chime noise it does when you plug/unplug any other USB device. Watching Device Manager when I plug it in, nothing changes. Nothing new shows up. PC is not recognizing that anything is plugged in, as far as I can tell. I think my only hope is that the Keyspan USB to serial adapter works. If that doesn't work, I guess I'm screwed and need to start looking for a new plotter ASAP. I've got jobs that need to be completed! I knew this thing was living on borrowed time...but timing on this couldn't be worse.
     
  6. Jburns

    Jburns Active Member

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    ok sounds like bad USB cable or port then... yes the keyspan to USB cable should work fine.
     
  7. netsol

    netsol Active Member

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    reaction gfx
    jburns is on the right track
    you shoud see a whole slew of usb ports listed now, ech time you plug in to a new usb it creates a new usb port (usb001, usb002, etc)
    i assume you are on windows 10
    go to device manager (start button, right click>file explorer>pc>right click>properties>hardware tab>device manager
    expand the "tree"
    under usb, right click and delete any composite device, unknown device, higher up in the tree, anything with a yellow flag

    restart the computer, with cable unplugged from plotter
    use a flash drive, plug in and identify a functioning usb port (any one the flash drive works in is fine)
    plug usb cable into that good port, then plug the other end into plotter. it may or may not make a sound, there may already be a good port

    now you need to go into setup for cutting master, and choose each usb port in the dropdown, and see if the "can't open port" error goes away

    you can also use a program called "usb oblivion" that wipes your usb device history, but you start all over, not even having usb kbd and mouse. everybusb device needs to reinstall. kind of a last resort


    if we have to go further, there a process, ideally you can plug the plotter into another pc (laptop?) to see if it sees the plotter port. if it doesn't the usb port on plotter could be bad (not a good thing). we can setup that usb serial adapter
     
  8. netsol

    netsol Active Member

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    reactiongfx
    if you are going to try the keyspan adapter, you need to run the program or load the driver FIRST or it will become a composite device (no functional elements)
     
  9. Reaction GFX

    Reaction GFX Member

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    I REALLY appreciate the help, but so far, no luck. My PC (running Windows 10) is fairly new, about 1.5 years old. I know all the USB ports on the PC are good. I followed your instructions above as best I could, but no luck. There is nothing with a yellow flag in device manger, and the only "USB composite devices" were my keyboard and mouse. With every USB device unplugged except keyboard, mouse and plotter, the only obvious USB ports available in Cutting Master are Graphtec USB and USB002, both of which result in "Cannot Open Port" error. There is also "Silhouette USB" and "FTDIUSBPort_0", Silhouette USB also results in "Cannot Open Port," but when I try FTDIUSBPort_0 it looks like the job is sending, but it never shows up in the Cutting Master queue. No error, however. (See attached images)

    I tried the Keyspan adapter and couldn't get that to work either. When I first plugged it in (without installing any driver) it was detected and showed up under USB devices in Device Manager, and then it also gave me another port, COM5. Well, Cutting Master doesn't give me a COM5 option, so I went back into device manager to see if I could change the port number. COM1, COM3, and COM4 showed as "in use", but COM2 appeared available so I changed it to that. Went into Cutting Master and changed port to COM2, now when sending a job it appears to start sending but then just hangs. Is it maybe something with the "flow control" setting? I see I can change it in device manager, as well as port settings in Cutting Master. Do I need to do something on the plotter itself to tell it I'm using the serial port instead? I did then go ahead and download/install the driver for the Keyspan, but maybe I did it too late? I'm really at a loss here...why does this have to be such a PITA?? IT WAS WORKING FINE TWO DAYS AGO! Urgh.

    If you have any other advice at all, I would sure appreciate it. Otherwise, looks like I'm calling Graphtec tomorrow. I don't recall my last tech support conversation with them being very productive, but it was years ago. I do recall a bit of a language barrier. Man, I really hope my plotter isn't shot. With COVID, I'm struggling enough as it is. I really can't afford a new plotter right now. I suppose I could finance one, but I really can't afford another monthly payment, either.
     

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  10. netsol

    netsol Active Member

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    (1) are you using a serial cable, coming off the adapter? or is the adapter directly connected to the plotter? if there is a serial canle, it could be the wrong type (could be "null modem" cable)

    (2) you may be correct, you have to specify plotter HAS to "listen" on serial connector. i am more familiar with roland. CHECK CONTROL PANEL on your plotter

    (3) you have to match serial port settings
    go to device manager. in file explorer, right click pc or computer, choose properties, choose hardware tab, then device manager.

    in ports choose port 5. right click, choose properties, then advanced.
    settings have to match plotter settings specified in your user manual

    typically
    9600 (speed)
    8 (data bits)
    1 (stop bit)
    none (parity bit)
    hardware, xon/ xoff, or none (flow control)

    these have to match exactly. you may have to scroll through settings in your plotter control panel. if you make. a change in pc control panel, you may have to restart pc before changes take effect.

    It is possible your program wants a LEGACY port & won't recognize a port higher than com 4. in that case, we need to go into bios of your pc & disable com 1 and 2. after a restart, in device manager, right click and delete com 5 and as many of com 1-4 as windows will let you. restart pc. some ports should not cone back. if there is an available legcy port, com 1-4 when you plug usb serial. adapter back in, it will get tht lower number. go back to properties for the new lower port number, match com port settings, choose that new port number in your cutting software and try sending again

    these are NOT PLUG & PLAY

    i will try to watch for a reply during the day, if you need more info

    setting serial port is not for the faint of heart

    we may have to use hyperterminal conole to test communication with your plotter

    we can go through this, but i have to remember the commands and sequence
     
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  11. Reaction GFX

    Reaction GFX Member

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    Jan 22, 2014
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    I really appreciate your detailed replies, but I'm just not having any luck at all. The Keyspan adapter I had has a DB9 connector, and the plotter has a DB25 connector. I actually had a DB9 to DB25 cable in a drawer, so I tried that. No luck. On a whim I googled the cable and it's actually a modem cable. (Not sure if that means it's null or not.) So, I call my local computer supply place and they had a DB9 to DB25 adapter (not cable), so I went and grabbed one for $5, so now no cable in the mix at all, other than the USB printer cable going from PC to Keyspan. Still no luck. I Googled "connecting Graphtec plotter with Keyspan" and got some info from Sign Warehouse saying that it DOES need to be a null cable. ??? So now I'm confused. I actually have a crappy 24" Sign Warehouse plotter at home that I had connected with the Keyspan and was working fine a few years ago, it DOES have a serial cable that was working, but it's at home and I'm at my shop. May grab it and try tomorrow as that's my last hope. I like to think I'm pretty tech-savvy, but I really don't know what else to try. Still waiting to hear back from Graphtec tech support. I emailed them last night and they say "within 24 hours." Just called them and left a message too.

    I'm getting some pretty good quotes on a replacement...Summa S2T-140 Tangential for $5995 delivered, with install and training. That's a killer deal as far as I can tell. I can also get an FC9000-140 for $5795, delivered, no install or training. Not sure I want to go with Graphtec again, though. The only real plus would be very minimal learning curve. Also have a band new Mimaki CG-130SRIII for $2000 available, but I feel like that's old tech and I've never used anything Mimaki. Still waiting on a quote for a Roland CAMM-1 GR540. I'm going to wait to hear back from Graphtec tech support and if this machine can't be saved, I just need to decide which one I want and figure out how I'm going to come up with the cash. COVID isn't making this easy...
     
  12. Reaction GFX

    Reaction GFX Member

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    Graphtec tech support just called. Said USB port is likely shot on plotter and you need to use Graphtec-specific serial cable that has different pin layout from standard serial cable. Of course, they no longer sell them. He sent me a diagram of the pin layout but there's no way I'm soldering those hair-thin wires. I'm wondering if this Graphtec-specific cable is just a null cable? As I mentioned above, Sign Warehouse says you MUST use a null cable to connect keyspan to their plotters. I'm crossing my fingers that the serial cable I have at home is a null cable and works. Headed home now and will return with cable to test. If that doesn't do it, I guess I'm buying a new plotter...somehow!!
     
  13. JBurton

    JBurton Signtologist

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    You certainly don't have to solder the connections. In fact, you can run to a radio shack and pick up a terminal and strip 6" worth of cable jacket to get a clear view of all the wires. Get a multimeter and check continuity as you go. Buy a little box to mount the terminal in when your done.
    [​IMG]
     
  14. Reaction GFX

    Reaction GFX Member

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    Run to a Radio Shack?? I think I'd have to run pretty far because we haven't had any Radio Shacks around here for years. I miss them quite a bit, actually. We do have ONE Radio Shack Express inside a hobby shop within about 50 miles of my house, but I don't think they carry much as far as electronics part go.

    Even better, though, I just ordered one of these on Amazon. Looks like I'm making a custom serial cable on Sunday and if that doesn't do it, I'm buying a new plotter on Monday! (Even if the cable does work, I'm buying a new plotter within the next month regardless. Really don't want to deal with this thing crapping out on me again.)
    61cvw2LvyHL._AC_SL1100_.jpg
     
  15. netsol

    netsol Active Member

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    rs232 is industry standard
    a null modem cable is just a different type of cable, for connecting a modrm
    the pin layout is different

    just buy a db9 - db25 cable with the standard configuration

    we rewire those cables when necessary, but this what they call reinventing the wheel

    i have appointmrnts all daay, but i will verify that mimaki didn't do anything strange or nonstandard (a fairly common practice back in the 1980's but not really since then

    if your cable is non standard i will make you one. we have DOZENS of those cables & i have been putting off organizng them in the new warehouse. this will be a good excuse to
    sit for an hour and hang them on pegboard hooks

    did mimaki send you a pin out?
     
  16. netsol

    netsol Active Member

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    serial devices don't show in device manager
    they are not an active device, jburns

    if OP wants, we can spend an hour or so on the phone and troubleshoot in hyperterminal.
    (even i HATE doing that.)

    if he goes to amazon and serches for db9 f to db25 m he will see a list of cables with the correct configuration. none of tem prime, unfortunately, the dys of serial connections are on the wane

    i think he should consider 3 possibilities.

    his keyspan adapter is bad. (happens all the time)

    he is loading the wrong driver rendering it useless (happens all the time)

    his keyspan adapter is not compatable with windows 10 (happens all the time, even when manufacturer says they have been tested)

    he can buy a startech adapter on amazon, they seem to work every time. order a db9 f to db25 m adapter NOT A NULL MODEM (where the communication pins are reversed internally) get prime shipping and have his new setup monday.

    i understand time is of the essense when your equipment is down and work is not going out iwould be willing to spend an hour on the phone over the weekend troubleshooting this. but i have seen so mamy of these cases where the existing adapter is bad, we re better off starting fresh

    if you look at my posts, i do this all the time, i am a much better tech thn i am a designer.
    just did the same thing with another member this week,

    we have to consider that SOMETHING FAILED, or the original setup would still be working.
    the hour of troubleshooting might be the best thing. IT'S POSSIBLE we have a system board failure that effects both usb input and serial, an ugly possibility, but it has to be considered

    at a minimum, we can make a text file & from a command prompt copy to his com port that the plotter is hooked up to. if it copies successfully then the port and adaper and cable are CAPABLE of communicating with the plotter & the plotter is capable of "catching" the file

    at that point, we just need to deal with matching serial port settings (9600, 8, 1, none, hardware, or whatever)
     
  17. Reaction GFX

    Reaction GFX Member

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    Graphtec, not Mimaki. ;)

    They Keyspan adapter I have was working fine on my Windows 10 computer at home, connecting to a crappy 24" Sign Warehouse plotter. Worked like a charm, so I can only assume the Keyspan adapter is fine. At the minimum, we're 99% certain the USB port on the plotter is dead. When I plug the USB cable into any computer there is no chime, no recognition that anything has been plugged in. Could the serial port also be bad or the entire board be bad? For sure. Those are both definite possibilities. As I mentioned previously, board was already replaced 4-5 years ago, and it was replaced with a known-good used one at at that time, so no telling how old the board is.

    I have a Belkin cable that is DB9 to DB25. A quick Google search says it is a modem cable, but zero mention anywhere whether it is null or standard (are ALL modem cables null? I don't know...). Tried it, it didn't work. I have what I believe is a standard DB9 to DB9 cable (the one I was using with Keyspan adapter at home to connect to Sign Warehouse plotter). Tried it, didn't work. The tech I spoke to yesterday (same guy I spoke to last time I called them which was at least 4 years ago, so he's been there a while) insisted that the proper Graphtec cable is not a null cable, nor is it a standard cable and in fact it does has a proprietary pin layout. I can only assume this was done to ensure you have to buy the cable from them.

    I appreciate the offer to make me a cable, but I did already order the solderless DB25 and DB9 connectors, which are due to arrive on Sunday. I did get a pin layout diagram from Graphtec, so my last effort will be to construct the cable according to the pin layout I was given. If that doesn't work, I've pretty much exhausted all options with this plotter, as far as I'm concerned. I really don't want to spend any more money or time (which is also money) on an outdated machine that could just break down on me again at any moment and then I'm right back in the same boat. This thing needs to be replaced eventually, and if now isn't the right time, I don't know when is. I think I've pretty much decided I really just can't pass up the deal on the Summa.

    I'll be making my final decision on the Summa on Monday. If I can get the Graphtec to work with the cable I build, that will allow me to get a few jobs done before the Summa arrives next week sometime. I can then either keep the Graphtec as a backup or try to sell it, either to someone who wants to use it until it really dies or use it for part/backup.

    I really appreciate your help thus far and your offer of phone support. You didn't have to do any of that. This is why this community is great.
     
  18. JBurton

    JBurton Signtologist

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    Dang it, I meant to make a joke about radioshack! I think Home Depot carries them, but that do-dad looks like exactly what you're after.
    I'd recommend a graphtec to replace it with, but I suppose that's because I've never had a Summa. Both seem to make workhorses for the sign industry. I'd stay away from stuff like the sign warehouse plotters, but it would seem you already know that.
    Fun fact, my FC8600-160 runs off of cutting master 2. I found CM3 to be limited, haven't even tried CM4. CM2 will let the plotter perform all of it's functions including contour cuts and multiple layered cuts. Hard to say if it will work with the newest Illustrator, but it works on Corel X6 perfectly.
     
  19. netsol

    netsol Active Member

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    reaction

    open notepad
    type test
    file>save>find an easy location like c:\drivers
    save it with name tedt

    open a command prompt
    start>run>cmd

    sorry,
    I meant Graphtec
    the only Graphtec we have is a gerber tempo 600 which is a 24" Graphtec with gerber name on it

    all modem cables are different from printer cables
    I believe pins 2 & 3 are reversed
    when you connect with a null modem cable, data is not arriving on the pin the plotter is listening on

    I would bet money that the serial interface is good. they are not really static sensitive

    I will be checking signs101, if I can help, let me know, we work all weekend

    always happy to help where I can, since I have gotten so much useful info from signs101 people
     
  20. Reaction GFX

    Reaction GFX Member

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    Graphtecs are certainly popular, but they also seem to have their share of issues. Mine has NEVER had perfect print to cut registration, so I always need to shift my plot files a bit to compensate before sending them. That's always been kind of annoying, never been able to fix it. Also have issues on and off with sharp points cuts not completing. Another annoyance I've never been able to fix 100%. I've never loved any of the Cutting Master software versions. So I'm certainly not married to Graphtec. It's been a workhorse for 12+ years, but I think it's finally time to put it out to pasture. The MSRP on the Summa is like $8700 or something, and delivery/install/training is usually another $500, so to get all that for $5995 is a deal I can't pass up. (I'm assuming they aren't selling a lot of them with COVID and all, so they're willing to let stock go for cheap, so maybe this is actually the perfect time to replace/upgrade.) My understanding is that Summa plotters are built like tanks and their service and support is top-notch. The tangential blade can cut some really, really small text, which is something my Graphtec has always struggled with. I'm ready to give another manufacturer a try. The only real reason to stick with the Graphtec that I can see would be the relatively small learning curve since I'm already familiar with their machines and software. And FYI, CM4 is the only plug-in that works with the newest version of Illustrator. And that hasn't been the case for very long. A few months back I had to keep an older version of Illustrator CC on my computer because CM4 wasn't compatible with the newest version yet. It made for some clunky workflow, that's for sure. I can say with near certainty that there is no way CM2 or even CM3 will work with any version of Illustrator newer than CS6, which was officially retired back in 2013.

    Oh, and the Sign Warehouse plotter is something my dad bought years ago. He's an old-school sign painter (now retired) and basically bought the thing so I could cut vinyl for him (before I had my own shop). He's kind of a cheapskate...I NEVER would have bought that hunk of junk. I mean, it works, but it's VERY quirky and I would never trust it as my main workhorse. My plotter is the most used machine in my shop.
     
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