Quickcams & Parallel Ports

John W. Osborne (josborne@magna.com.au)
Wed, 3 Apr 1996 19:00:08 +-1000

Fellow CUSEEME'ers and Quickcam users....

Just my $0.02 on your hardware connections.

QuickCam for Windows wants to plug into a paralel port on your PC.

However, if you already have a printer connected, what do you do?

You basically have 3 choices:
1) disconnect the printer and plug in the Quickcam when you want to use
the camera...reverse the process when you want to print somethng.
2) Purchase a switch box (sometimes sold as an A-B or A-B-C switch)
and punch the button/turn the dial to the device you want to use.
3) Purchase and extra parallel port.

Option (1) has the advantage of costing nothing. It is a pain in the butt though
unless your idea of fun is powering down your system, recabling, then powering
back up. You -are- powering down before connecting/disconnecting cables, aren't you?

Option (2) is better in that no recabling is required. However, be -very- careful about
the type of switchbox you purchase. Cheap ones may not disengage all the pins
from device A (say, your printer) before -engaging- some of the pins to device B
(say, your Quickcam). This can cause a multitude of problems including damage
to your printer, Quickcam, PC, or all of the above.

Both options (1) and (2) suffer from the same deficiency...not being able to use
both devices at the same time. This may not be as unlikely as you might think,
especially if you run a LAN at home, as I do. Nothing like someone else trying to
deliver a nicely formatted Word document to your camera across the LAN!

Option (3) costs little. There are a variety of inexpensive "combo" cards available
that will give you an additional parallel port in addition to 1 or 2 extra serial ports.
Price of the cards will vary but should be in the $30->$50 USD range.

No recabling, no switchboxes, both devices available, no drama.

A word of advice though. When you do put the extra parallel port in, connect
the Quickcam to the first parallel port usually known as LPT1: and put the
printer into LPT2:.

I say this because QuickCam "hunts" for the camera on -all- parallel ports and
when you fireup CUSEEME or any of the utilities that come with Quickcam,
it may send unwanted escape/reset signals to your printer while trying to find
the camera on LPT2:. So, put it on LPT1: and it will find it straightaway and
not disturb your printer.

Hope this is some value to someone.