Pinball is made up of people trying to bring machines that, by all rights, have outlived their planned longevity, back to life. I’m doubting that people who built the first solid state machines would expect their machines to still be running after 40 years, and people still finding parts to keep them running, or coming up with creative ideas to use newer parts to replace the parts that can’t be found anymore.
Here is a story about a scanner that is a fine scanner, but the last operating system that supported it has reached its end of life. That being said, this post is dedicated to bringing that scanner back to life, and having it fully functional.
In 2003, HP made a scanner called the HP 4600 scanjet, that wasn’t particularly exciting except for the fact that it was a “see-through flatbed scanner” While this has no value in normal applications such as scanning a single sheet of paper, if you are a pinball geek (ummm, aficionado), it is gold. You can use the HP 4600 scanner to scan a whole playfield in pieces, and then put those images together using a photo editor. Since it is a see through scanner, it can easily be positioned so the images overlap, and the images aren’t angled. It would be very difficult to place a pinball playfield on a normal flatbed scanner and position each scan accurately.
Two weeks ago, I knew about the HP 4600 scanner and imagined I would get something similar when necessary. I had tried to piece multiple digital photos together to form a large high resolution image. Each digital image from a camera has spherical aberrations which are caused by the lens focusing the image onto the CCD or CMOS image chip. The only real way to take large images is through a flatbed scanner that doesn’t have spherical aberrations. For some reason, Joe feels he wants to buy me a scanner. Fantastic! One less thing I need to think about. The only problem is it is the HP 4600 scanjet where the last supported driver was written for Vista. (Vista? That was the last failed Microsoft operating system that I am proud to say that I have never installed, supported, or used. I completely avoided that cluster.) HP 4600 scanjets are cheap right now because they are so old. I think that Joe got it off ebay for about $40 plus shipping. (I told him I wanted it to be less than $60, but he never responded with how much he paid…actually he just sent me that it was $35 including shipping).
I started my research and it was pretty clear it wouldn’t work on Windows 8. I did more research, and found a Linux driver, but it simply replayed recorded USB commands. That means, the resolution couldn’t be changed, the output file format couldn’t be changed, etc. That was not an acceptable solution. I am running a 64 bit XP machine, but I could not get the scanner to work with it, and what happens when that 10 year old computer stops working? I needed to get the scanner working on Windows 8 (or 8.1).
Here are the detailed steps on getting this to happen. This will hopefully replace some of the bad information out on the internet about how to get these scanners to work. All the pieces of software are free/open source except for the XP license. If you need an XP license, go to any electronics recycling and grab an XP professional sticker off any of the dead PCs. Always remove the XP license sticker before recycling a PC (and smash the hard drive if you don’t remove it). You never know when you need it (the sticker, not the smashed hard drive of course).
- Download Virtual Box platform package and the Oracle VM Virtual Box Extension Pack. The current link is here. The current version at the time of this writing is 4.3.18. Note: You need to download both the normal virtual box installer, and the extension pack. The extension pack is necessary to talk directly to the USB port and the HP 4600 scanner.
- Acquire an XP installation disk and license. I used Windows XP Professional 32 bit installation. I know the 32 bit XP works. Anything else and you are on your own. If you have a license, and don’t have an install disk (i.e. removed an XP sticker from one of your PCs before you recycled it), you can try and find yourself a version of Tiny XP rev 11. It is a version of the XP install disk iso with a lot of the fluff removed from it. It is probably only legal to use Tiny XP if you have a valid license. Beware if you download the iso from an unknown source since it may contain malware, viruses, etc.
- Download the HP 4600 scanjet drivers/software. One is listed under Drivers as HP Photo and Imaging Software, and the second one is listed under Update as Windows color table driver update. Here is the current link.
Install Virtual Box/Create Machine
- Install VirtualBox. Double click on the Virtual Box installer to install it. Choose all the defaults.
- Run the Application. Run Oracle VM VirtualBox.
- Create a virtual machine. Choose Machine->New to create a new virtual machine.
- Fill out virtual machine parameters. Name: XPPro, Type: Microsoft Windows, Version: Windows XP (32 bit), press the Next button.
- Set up processor RAM. Set the RAM to 512 MB, press Next.
- Create virtual hard drive. Select Create a virtual hard drive now, press Create
- Select hard drive style. Select VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image), press Next
- More virtual hard drive dynamic to save real hard drive space. Select Dynamically allocated, press Next
- Choose hard drive size. The default size is 10.00 GB which is good, press Create. A new machine name XPPro, in the Powered Off state should show up in the VirtualBox Manager window.
- Configure virtual machine. Highlight the XPPro machine, and choose Machine->Settings
- Disable booting from the virtual floppy drive. In the System group, Motherboard Tab, Boot Order, uncheck the floppy drive so it doesn’t try to boot from floppy. (The CD/DVD and Hard Disk should still be checked).
- Put XP installation disk/iso in virtual/real drive. In the Storage group, highlight the Empty CD/DVD in the Storage Tree box, and in Attributes press the disk icon to choose the disk which is installed in the CD/DVD drive. Either choose the physical drive that contains the XP installation disk, or the iso image of an installation disk. The icon in storage tree should now list something other than Empty. Press the OK button.
- Start the virtual XP machine and install XP. With XPPro machine highlighted, choose Machine->Start. Choose Unattended Install (2). Install Full XP (1). Enter to install, Enter to install NTFS on partition. Everything else should complete automatically. If normal installation, it will end up restarting a good number of times.
- Take out XP installation CD/iso, and install VirtualBox guest additions CD. In the new XP virtual machine, choose Devices->CD/DVD Devices->Remove disk from virtual drive to uninstall the XP installation disk. Choose Devices->Insert Guest Additions CD image…
- Install the guest additions. On the XP machine, press Start->All Programs->Accessories->Windows Explorer. Double click to run D:\VBoxWindowsAdditions-x86.exe. Use all of the defaults. Press Finish to reboot the virtual XP computer.
- Remove the guest additions from the virtual drive. In the XP virtual machine window, choose Devices->CD/DVD Devices->Remove disk from virtual drive.
- Shutdown the machine by choosing Start->Turn Off Computer, Turn Off.
- Install virtual box extensions (downloaded during the first steps). Double click on the file called Oracle_VM_VirtualBox_Extension_Pack-4.3.18-96516.vbox-extpack that was downloaded earlier.
- Restart the XPPro virtual PC by highlighting it in the VirtualBox Manager, and choosing Machine->Start.
- Create a share folder. In XP virtual machine window, choose Devices->Shared Folders Settings. Press the ‘+’ to add a shared folder, browse to the folder to share, and select the Make Permanent checkbox. Press the OK button to create the share. Press the OK button to close the window.
- Copy the two driver files that were downloaded from HP to the shared folder on the host machine (not the virtual XP machine). The driver files/application files were named col6904mu1.exe, and col5691.exe.
- Map shared network drive. On the XP machine, press Start->All Programs->Accessories->Windows Explorer. In explorer select Tools->Map Network Drive. Set the Folder to \\VBOXSVR\share. Insure the reconnect at logon is checked, and press the Finish button. The explorer window should now show the two driver/application files.
- Install the HP tools by double clicking on the col6904mu1.exe file. It will automatically unzip and run the installation. Choose all the defaults.
- Plug the scanner power in, and plug in the USB port to the host computer.
- Create a USB filter. In the VirtualBox Manager, select the XPPro machine and choose Machine->Settings, and choose the USB category. Press the ‘+’ on the right hand side, and select the hp scanjet. Double click the newly created USB filter, and clear out entries for Revision, Manufacturer, Product, and Serial No. Press OK to save the settings.
- Rerun USB detection. Unplug the USB of the scanjet and replug it in. The virtual XP box should now be controlling the scanner.
- Install newer HP scanjet drivers. Double click on the newer driver file col5691.exe which should also be located in that shared directory. If the virtual XP machine is the sole controller of the hp 4600 scanjet, the new version of the driver will be installed, and in the VirtualBox Manager Devices->USB Devices, hp scanjet should show a check mark indicating it is the sole owner.
Ready for First Scan
- Open the application and choose source, set destination folder. Double click on the HP Photo & Imaging program that is on the Virtual XP desktop. On the left side, choose Z:\, so the scan will be stored on the shared drive. Press the Scan button at the top left. Pick the hp scanjet 4600 series TWAIN 1.0 (32-32) as the source.
- Increase resolution to 600 DPI. In the hp scanning window that just opened up, expand the Resolution category and choose 600. (Yes, I know that the choice box looks like crap.)
- Start the scan. Press the Accept button and the scan should occur.
- The scan will output a tif format picture.
For information on using the scanner outputs/resolutions, and general great discussions on restoring backglasses and playfields check out Ed Cheung’s site on his Space Shuttle Playfield restoration. The page on restoring a mirrored Space Shuttle backglass is also fantastic (one of the first links on the page).
Pinball magic talks about how to install a mylar overlay and clear coat it.