Getting old perpherials working with my iMac

It seems that as time goes on various standards just become obsolete. For example, some of the new LCD monitors with the DVI inputs use a slightly different cable connector than the LCD monitors from just a few years back (I discovered this when I bought a 2nd monitor for my old PC). Also, video card slots in PC motherboards seem to change every year, so upgrading a PC for a DIYer usually means upgrading more components than you may want.

In my case, I have a very old HP Laserjet 4000N printer that has been my workhorse printer for over 10 years. For the longest time I used it with my various PCs making a connection to it via a parallel printer port (remember those?). A few years ago I upgrade my PC’s motherboard and it didn’t a parallel port, which made sense since most printers now use USB connections. As such, I was stuck until I found a Parallel Port-to-USB conversion cable that allowed me to extend the life of my HP Laserjet printer (yeah!). It did require a special PC driver, but after finding the right one on the web I was back in business.

Flash forward to today, I now have a nice shiny new iMac sitting on my desk with just a few USB ports on the back. Of course, the kludge I use with the Parallel Port-to-USB cable won’t work with my iMac. So what now? I hate to dump this laser printer since it still works (and I have an extra $100 toner cartridge for it in my closet). Fortunately, this is a network printer and has an ethernet port on the back of it. If I can connect the printer to my home network I can just print to it using its fixed IP address. Also, since it is a postscript printer I can print to it from my iMac… sweet!

The only problem, is that my home office is upstairs and the wireless router is downstairs in my wife’s office. I would need to keep the laser printer downstairs near the wireless router since I would need to physically connect it to the router using a network cable. Ugh!

Fortunately, I came upon a solution using a wireless network adapter that is used primarily for gaming machines (Xbox, Nintendo Wii, etc). The device I chose was a TrendNet Wireless N Gaming Adapter which has a CAT5 ethernet port for connecting to a network-ready device.

Basically you configure this device to connect to your wireless router and you can then connect whatever you want into it (via the ethernet port). I tested it using my laptop PC and it worked great, allowing me to surf the Internet in a web browser.

Getting this device connected to my D-Link wireless router was painless using the new WPS method (where you click on a button on the router and then click on button on the wireless adapter device). All the WiFi security WPA2 security stuff was completely taken care of.

I then configured my HP Laserjet to “Network Mode”, connected it to the wireless adapter and viola I was in business! On the Mac side, I just added a new line printer and entered the IP address of my HP laserjet printer and I was able to print out test pages. To make sure the IP address doesn’t change, I configured the D-Link router to assign a static IP address.

So, with a little luck and some ingenuity I was able to get my workhorse laser printer working again with my new iMac. Who knows how long it will last, but for now I’m able to continue using an ancient peripheral with my futuristic iMac computer.

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