How to test a Parallel Port

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Hardware needed:

Multimeter (that can read 5v)
Cat5 cable (I recommend a 5' length to test)

Software needed:

THIS Parallel Port Monitor
BasicParallel.dll plugin for Vixen2.1.1.0.
Vixen v2.1.1.0
Parallel port pinout diagram

Step one:
Download the parallel port monitor program (PPM). Unzip and extract the .exe file. Open the port monitor program and familiarize yourself with it. The most important feature of this program at this point is the ability to manually turn on the first 7 pins (pinout 2 - 8) by clicking on the first port and manually changing the 0's and 1's. 1 means its on, 0 means its off.

Now, take your Cat5 cable, and strip the wires at both ends. at this point, it does not matter what pattern you use, only that you know what wire is in what port. You can use the following chart if you like

Orange Pin 24
Orange/White Pin 2
Blue Pin 3
Blue/White Pin 4
Green Pin 5
Green/White Pin 6
Brown Pin 7
Brown/White Pin 8

Now, using the PPM, change the value of the parallel port to 11111111.

With this done, it is time to get out the multimeter. Check each of the wires on pins 2-8 for voltage. Ground to the orange wire, hot to the numbered wires. you should get approx 4.5v on each wire. If this works, then your PP is working properly. If not, make certain of your pinouts. You may have them upside down, in which case you need to redo them all and test again. (sorry I dont have the experience and knowledge to determine problems with non-functioning parallel ports, if you cannot get your port to read with the wires and the PPM, I cant help you.) you could use the LED method I have read about, but this way is a lot cheaper and easier.

Now we have figured out that our PP is working, its time for Vixen.

Download the Vixen program. Open the folder, and find the folder named Output. Open the Output folder and look for a file named BasicParallel.dll. If that file is not in your folder, then download it (link above) and place it in the Output folder.

Now open up vixen and set up a profile (there are already posts about this part, so I am going to assume you can follow along).

Create a name (test?) and say ok. Now on the bottom of the setup page is a button named Output plugins. Find the Basic Parallel plugin and add it. now click on the BP on the right side. Set the channels and click on the plugin setup and verify you have the proper port selected. Then click ok, then done, then add your channels and finish creating the profile.

now create a new Vixen standard sequence. no need to add a song, but you can if you like. I created a 30 second blank sequence.

Now, you can create a pattern that will turn on each pin in turn for about 5 seconds each. (I only have 6 channels) Once you have finished that, resize your window so that you can have the PPM visible outside of Vixen. Then run your sequence. You should see each light in the PPM turn on in time with the sequence in Vixen.

If your PP is working, and you set up vixen properly, then you should be set and ready to go at this point. All you need to do now is verify your pinout and run the wires to your setup.

Good luck and Happy DIYC

(I created this because I could not find anything like it in the forums. The information gathered here came from multiple threads and hours of research and trial and error. If I had this post before I started, I would have saved at least 10 hours of heartache)

Thanks to Gebbinn for this How To.