What if you could print from and iPad to an ImageWriter II? Okay, maybe you don’t want to, but it was an exercise that ultimately proved to be fairly simple.
First, you’ll need a USB to serial adapter and the appropriate cables. I was lucky to have a Keyspan “USA-28X” 2-port adapter with 8-pin DIN jacks, just like the ImageWriter has. I suppose any serial port (9 or 25 pin) would work as long as you had an appropriate cable with 8-pin DIN on the other side. (You may also need to “null modem” the connection this way– not sure).
Next, you’ll need some drivers. Lucky for me, there’s updated drivers for 10.6 available at http://www.linuxfoundation.org/collaborate/workgroups/openprinting/macosx/imagewriter. Download and install the drivers for the ImageWriter II as well as GhostScript (this acts as the RIP to go from PDF to raster images for the printer).
Then you need to configure the printer. By default, the drivers install a print driver for every serial device on you computer. I chose to delete them all and add only one to prevent the clutter. I deleted the extra printers in the Printers Preference Pane. To add the ImageWriter II printer, browse to http://localhost:631/admin which will let you access CUPS on your machine. Go through the add printer procedure, choosing the right serial port, 9600 baud, 8,n1 and hardware flow control (match this to the DIP switches of your printer). Don’t forget to turn on printer sharing and to “share” this new printer!
Finally, you need to download and run AirPrint Activator 2.0 to enable AirPrint on your shared printers.
If all worked, you should see a new printer listed on your iPad (or iPhone/iPod Touch) and relive the sound of the 80’s all over again.