Preamble

The arrival of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard meant the end of support for AppleTalk (see my previous article on some other aspects of Upgrading to Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard”), and so the ability to print from computers running Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard directly to printers that used AppleTalk. In my case, for many years I have been using my HP LaserJet 4MP (it’s now into its 17th year!!!!) connected to an AsanteTalk box so that the printer could be seen on our home network by any/all computers on the network.

But after I installed Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard on my MacBook, that computer could no longer print to the LaserJet. The workaround was to set up another computer (my FileMaker Server eMac) running Mac OS X 10.4.11 (or one running Mac OS X 10.5.x would have worked too) to share the LaserJet 4MP using Printer Sharing.

But eventually as I upgraded our other computers to Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard this wasn’t going to continue working. So after some digging around online I learned that using an HP JetDirect Print Server should allow me to keep the trusty LaserJet 4MP, and get to use the 3 spare $100+ toner cartridges I have on hand for it.

HP JetDirect 300x Print Server

I purchased an HP JetDirect 300x Print Server on Ebay – not for the $250 that the HP page says they cost, but for $5 plus $8 postage to me. For that I got the print server, and a short parallel printer cable. I didn’t get a power supply with it, so fortunately in the collection of about 100 various power bricks I’ve accumulated over the years I had one that had the right connector on it (see below).

HP JetDirect 300x Front View

Front of JetDirect 300x shows the two indicator lights "Status" and "Activity" and the "Test" button between the 2 lights.

HP JetDirect 300x Rear View

The rear view shows DIP switches, RJ-45 10/100 EtherNet connection, Parallel port and power socket.

Setup

Setup was very easy.

  1. Connect the parallel cable to the JetDirect and to the printer.
  2. Connect the network ethernet cable to the JetDirect
  3. Connect the power supply to the JetDirect

Once it is connected and powered on, you can then press the Test button on the top. This generates a 2 page printout titled “Hewlett-Packard JetDirect 200X (PCL Configuration Page)” in 5 languages

HP JetDirect 300x Configuration Printout

HP JetDirect 300x Configuration Printout

The above is the English language column from both pages. The items of interest are highlighted:

  1. The configuration is by DHCP
  2. The assigned IP address is 192.168.123.211
  3. The subnet mask s 255.255.255.0
  4. The Default Gateway (router) is 192.168.123.254

So now this is setup, we can go to “Print & Fax” in System Preferences to Add a new printer. NOTE: There might be some merit in changing the configuration so that the JetDirect has a fixed IP number – see below for notes on this.

Add Printer - Step 1

First window for the Add Printer steps

Click the + button to open the Add Printer window

Add Printer - Step 1

Add Printer - Step 2

In this window do the following steps:

  1. Click the IP button at the top of the window – we’re adding an IP Printer;
  2. In the Protocol menu choose “HP JetDirect – Socket”;
  3. In the Address box, enter the IP address we have learned from the Configuration page above
  4. In the Name box enter a name for the printer – this is the name the printer will show as in Print Dialogs
  5. In the Location box enter a location for the printer – where it physically is if you want to
  6. From the Print Using menu choose “Select Printer Software…” This opens the next window you see
  7. This window contains a list of all the printer drivers known to Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. Type a few characters from your printer’s model to narrow the list down – I typed 4MP and got only 1 match.
  8. Click that printer to select it
  9. Click OK
Add Printer - Step 3

Add Printer - Step 3

Click the Add button to add this printer to the list of Printers in the Print & Fax System Preference

Add Printer - Step 4

Add Printer - Step 4

The printer now shows up in the list of printers configured on this computer.

Some Notes:

• The power supply connector on the HP JetDirect 300x is not like the ones commonly used for computer peripherals currently. Technically it is a “EIAJ-04″ as described on WikiPedia and has a yellow tip with a 1mm diameter pin inside it. The more common yellow tipped connectors are hollow in the centre. So if at all possible, when buying an HP JetDirect 300x on Ebay, make sure it comes with the appropriate power supply.

• As noted above, there may be some merit in changing the settings of the HP JetDirect 300x to use a fixed IP number. Once the HP JetDirect 300x is connected to your network and powered on you can telnet into it to view and change the settings.

• The HP JetDirect 300x also functions as the AsanteTalk box did, so computers already set up to print via AppleTalk don’t need to be reconfigured to use the HP JetDirect 300x for printing

• Since the set up under Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard to use this is via IP Printing the MacBook can now print directly either by AirPort or when connected by EtherNet cable without having to turn AppleTalk off on one interface  and turn it on on the other.

[MacPro:~] roger% telnet 192.168.123.211
Trying 192.168.123.211…
Connected to 192.168.123.211.
Escape character is ‘^]’.

HP JetDirect

Please type "?" for HELP, or "/" for current settings
> /

===JetDirect Telnet Configuration===
Firmware Rev.   : H.08.05
MAC Address     : 00:10:83:5b:9b:6d
Config By       : DHCP

IP Address      : 192.168.123.211
Subnet Mask     : 255.255.255.0
Default Gateway : 192.168.123.254
Syslog Server   : Not Specified
Idle Timeout    : 90 Seconds
Set Cmnty Name  : Not Specified
Host Name       : NPI5B9B6D

DHCP Config     : Enabled
Passwd          : Disabled
IPX/SPX         : Enabled
DLC/LLC         : Enabled
Ethertalk       : Enabled
Banner page     : Enabled
>

Then the Help

> ?

To Change/Configure Parameters Enter:
Parameter-name: value

Parameter-name  Type of value
ip:             IP-address in dotted notation
subnet-mask:    address in dotted notation (enter 0 for default)
default-gw:     address in dotted notation (enter 0 for default)
syslog-svr:     address in dotted notation (enter 0 for default)
idle-timeout:   seconds in integers
set-cmnty-name: alpha-numeric string (32 chars max)
host-name:      alpha-numeric string (upper case only, 32 chars max)
dhcp-config:    0 to disable, 1 to enable
allow:           [mask] (0 to clear, list to display, 10 max)
ipx/spx:        0 to disable, 1 to enable
dlc/llc:        0 to disable, 1 to enable
ethertalk:      0 to disable, 1 to enable
banner:         0 to disable, 1 to enable

Type passwd to change the password.

Type "?" for HELP, "/" for current settings or "quit" to save-and-exit.
Or type "exit" to exit without saving configuration parameter entries

So as seen in the Help, it is possible to change the configuration to disable DHCP and then assign a fixed IP number to the HP JetDirect 300x if you want to be sure it always has the same IP number.

References

Details on the power supply and connector from here

  51 Responses to “Printing to an AppleTalk Printer with Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard””

  1. Lisa – I’m not sure on this – I’m an expert on what I’ve set up for myself, but other things, not so much – I guess my initial thought is it should work OK, but my initial question is why not just connect the printer to your local network with the EtherNet port – have you tried that and found it doesn’t work?

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