Interfacing Parallel Port and Programming (Include Turbo Pascal 7 for DOS Download)

A tutorial on Parallel port interfacing and programming for beginners. This tutorial covers both hardware and software aspects about programming the parallel port. It also includes a sample schematic and test program in Pascal. You can make your first parallel port application running straight away.

Introduction

Parallel port is a simple and inexpensive tool for building computer controlled devices and projects. The simplicity and ease of programming makes parallel port popular in electronics hobbyist world. The parallel port is often used in Computer controlled robots, Atmel/PIC programmers, home automation, …etc… Here a simple tutorial on parallel port interfacing and programming with some examples.

The primary use of parallel port is to connect printers to computer and is specifically designed for this purpose. Thus it is often called as printer Port or Centronics port (this name came from a popular printer manufacturing company ‘Centronics’ who devised some standards for parallel port). You can see the parallel port connector in the rear panel of your PC. It is a 25 pin female (DB25) connector (to which printer is connected). On almost all the PCs only one parallel port is present, but you can add more by buying and inserting ISA/PCI parallel port cards.

I don’t have parallel port on My machine! What should I do ?

Unfortunately, as of today parallel port is a completely deprecated interfacing standard. It is impossible finding a new laptop with parallel port these days. Even almost all branded PCs already shead Parallel Ports from their back panels. Other alternative available in market such as PCI parallel port expansion cards and USB to Parallel Port converters aren’t good for anything other than connecting your old printer because of their architectural difference.

As of now the only possible alternative is to use serial ports along with serial to parallel converters (Unfortunately serial ports aren’t available on laptops these days) or use USB which is the most popular interface standard in the market as of today. But inherent complexity of implementing USB protocol and hardware requirements keep the hobbyists away for experimenting with USB.

But there are great alternatives in market which uses USB but as easy as using parallel port. One such device is Numato Lab’s 8 Channel USB GPIO Module. Though this is a USB based module, the user doesn’t have to worry about the intricacies and complexities of USB protocol.

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Parallel port modes
The IEEE 1284 Standard which has been published in 1994 defines five modes of data transfer for parallel port. They are,

1) Compatibility Mode
2) Nibble Mode
3) Byte Mode
4) EPP
5) ECP

The programs, circuits and other information found in this tutorial are compatible to almost all types of parallel ports and can be used without any problems (Not tested, just because of confidence ! ).

Hardware
The pin outs of DB25 connector is shown in the picture below

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The lines in DB25 connector are divided in to three groups, they are

1) Data lines (data bus)
2) Control lines
3) Status lines

As the name refers , data is transferred over data lines , Control lines are used to control the peripheral and of course , the peripheral returns status signals back computer through Status lines. These lines are connected to Data, Control And Status registers internally . The details of parallel port signal lines are given below

Pin No (DB25) Signal name Direction Register – bit Inverted
1 nStrobe Out Control-0 Yes
2 Data0 In/Out Data-0 No
3 Data1 In/Out Data-1 No
4 Data2 In/Out Data-2 No
5 Data3 In/Out Data-3 No
6 Data4 In/Out Data-4 No
7 Data5 In/Out Data-5 No
8 Data6 In/Out Data-6 No
9 Data7 In/Out Data-7 No
10 nAck In Status-6 No
11 Busy In Status-7 Yes
12 Paper-Out In Status-5 No
13 Select In Status-4 No
14 Linefeed Out Control-1 Yes
15 nError In Status-3 No
16 nInitialize Out Control-2 No
17 nSelect-Printer Out Control-3 Yes
18-25 Ground

Parallel port registers
As you know, the Data, Control and status lines are connected to there corresponding registers inside the computer. So by manipulating these registers in program , one can easily read or write to parallel port with programming languages like ‘C’ and BASIC.

The registers found in standard parallel port are ,

1) Data register
2) Status register
3) Control register

As there names specifies, Data register is connected to Data lines, Control register is connected to control lines and Status register is connected to Status lines. (Here the word connection does not mean that there is some physical connection between data/control/status lines. The registers are virtually connected to the corresponding lines.). So what ever you write to these registers , will appear in corresponding lines as voltages, Of course, you can measure it with a multimeter. And What ever you give to Parallel port as voltages can be read from these registers(with some restrictions). For example , if we write ‘1’ to Data register , the line Data0 will be driven to +5v. Just like this ,we can programmatically turn on and off any of the data lines and Control lines.

Where these registers are ?
In an IBM PC, these registers are IO mapped and will have unique address. We have to find these addresses to work with parallel port. For a typical PC , the base address of LPT1 is 0x378 and of LPT2 is 0x278. The data register resides at this base address , status register at base address + 1 and the control register is at base address + 2. So once we have the base address , we can calculate the address of each registers in this manner. The table below shows the register addresses of LPT1 and LPT2.

 

Register LPT1 LPT2
data registar(baseaddress + 0) 0x378 0x278
status register (baseaddress + 1) 0x379 0x279
control register (baseaddress + 2) 0x37a 0x27a

 

Programming Concepts
Almost all programming languages allow programmers to access parallel port using some library functions. For example , Borland C is providing “Inportb” and “Outportb” functions to read or write IO mapped peripherals. For pascal, we use ‘port[$baseaddress]:=$hexa;’ function. And the examples provided here in this tutorial is written in Pascal. Visual Basic does not have any functions or support to access parallel port directly, but it is possible to add such capabilities to your VB application by writing a dll in VC++ and calling its exported functions from VB. VC++ provides two functions to access IO mapped peripherals, ‘_inp’ for reading and ‘_outp’ for writing. These functions are declared in “conio.h”.

For Example

Running Led with Parallel Programming

Materials :

– 32 Led

– Parallel male port

– Solder

– Tin

Circuit :

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Arrange and connect your 32 LED like picture above.

Program Pascal :

First, you should make your program in Turbo pascal for DOS. It’s because ‘delay’ function only can be read in uses crt;

PROGRAM LED_LPT;
USES CRT;

BEGIN
PORT[$37A]:=$0A;
PORT[$378]:=$00;
DELAY(200);
PORT[$37A]:=$08;
DELAY(200);
PORT[$37A]:=$0C;
DELAY(200);
PORT[$37A]:=$04;
DELAY(500);
PORT[$378]:=$80;
DELAY(200);
PORT[$378]:=$C0;
DELAY(200);
PORT[$378]:=$E0;
DELAY(200);
PORT[$378]:=$F0;
DELAY(200);
PORT[$378]:=$F8;
DELAY(200);
PORT[$378]:=$FC;
DELAY(200);
PORT[$378]:=$FE;
DELAY(200);
PORT[$378]:=$FF;
DELAY(500);
PORT[$378]:=$7E;
DELAY(100);
PORT[$378]:=$3C;
DELAY(100);
PORT[$378]:=$18;
DELAY(100);
PORT[$378]:=$00;
DELAY(500);
REPEAT
PORT[$37A]:=$03;
PORT[$378]:=$7F;
DELAY(100);

For the complete program, you can download >> here <<

Additional :

This application is so helpfull, you should download it too :

Paralel Monitor

Turbo Pascal 7 (For DOS)

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