Wally Dug's Hard Cases2:  A4 Flat Bed Scanner

Fed up making several scans to get your favourite photo into your Amiga? Then build your own A4 flat bed scanner!

Only since the advent of the powerful home computers that are so predominant today has publishing really come to the masses. In the good old days when you wanted a simple poster designed and printed, you either had to employ somebody to do it for you, or, assuming you had access to a printing press, you did it yourself - a very messy job indeed!

As computer mainframe systems became more powerful, a new type of computer package was developed from the already countless word processors on the market - the page layout package.

However, these packages only really became viable to newspaper and magazine publishers, but in due course, their prices plummeted whilst their features multiplied and system requirements became less demanding.

Now, most owners of home computers have some form of page layout package, whether it be a humble word processor with graphic support or a full-blown fully-fledged desktop publishing system.

Unfortunately, being interested in desktop publishing (DTP) can be a very expensive hobby indeed with decent software costing about 150 per package (and that's just the discounted prices!) and decent hardware costing, well, you would be cheaper buying and insuring an XR3i!

Unfortunately, there isn't really any way that you can skimp on DTP equipment as it really is a case of you get what you pay for. Even to produce the parish paper or the flamboyant flyer it can be a costly business to equip yourself - on top of the computer, you need to buy more memory, a hard drive and a decent printer.

However, do not despair! By following the simple step-by-step guide below, you can make your own A4 flat-bed scanner for less than the cost of the controlling software of those fiddly wee hand held efforts. Although the scans are a grey-scale image, the software for the scanner saves the images to disk as IFF files which can be loaded into any IFF-compatible paint package such as Deluxe Paint and colour added to enhance the image.

A word of caution, though. The script for the software is written in the new ARexxII programming language and as such will not work with the version of ARexx supplied with Workbench 2.0.

The usual words of warning apply - by mucking about with cables, wires, computers and the such like, you might just end up frying yourself.



A4 photocopier (try borrowing the one from the office)
3 metre serial cable (Tandy ref. 3M SERIAL CABLE)
Sharp knife
Small screwdriver
Medium screwdriver
Can of Irn Bru



  1. Make sure your boss isn't looking (see Figure 1).
  2. Using the medium screwdriver, open up the photocopier and locate the "Custom Hardware Interface Panel (Serial)" area (it may just be labelled as "CHIPS") (see Figure 2).
  3. Cut one of the leads off the end of the serial cable, using the sharp knife and a lot of care.
  4. Check that the lead still connected to the cable fits into the serial socket at the back of your Amiga. If not, buy a new one (cable, not Amiga, although I can give you a nice price if you're looking for a new Amiga) and go back a Step.
  5. Using the small screwdriver, connect the loose wires at the end of the serial cable to the CHIPS as follows (see also Figure 3):

Red to Socket 1 (this may instead be coloured yellow)
Orange to Socket 2 (green)
Yellow to Socket 3 (magenta)
Green to Socket 4 (white)
Blue to Socket 7 (cyan)
Violet to Socket 20 (blue)

  1. Connect the other end of the cable to your Amiga.
  2. Drink the Irn Bru.
  3. Switch on the Amiga.
  4. Create the ARexxII script (see the Script) to control scanning (see Figure 4).
  5. By using Prefs/Serial, set the BAUD Rate to 19200, Input Buffer Size to 4096, Handshaking to "None", Parity to "None", 8 Bits per Character and 1 Stop Bit.
  6. Scan and enjoy (see Figure 5)!



/* A4 Flat-Bed Scanner Controlling Software

Note:  This script is written in the new
ARexxII programming language and as such
        will NOT work with ARexx

SCREEN 1,0,0,640,512,"Wally Dug's A4 Flat-Bed Scanner Controlling Software",,,
COLOUR 0,0,0,0
COLOUR 1,15,15,15
SAY TO SCREEN "Are you ready to start?"
BOX 1,1,"SCAN!"
BOX 2,1,"ABORT!"
PULL BOX choice
      JUMP Scan:
      JUMP END

   /* Press GO on the copier!!! */
   SAY TO FILE "DF0:Scan"s


/* This has been a Wally Dug Production
   Copyright Wally Dug Multimedia 1992



  • The controlling software does not allow you to edit the scans, but as they are saved automatically to disk in IFF format, simply use Deluxe Paint or any other IFF ILBM package to edit your images.
  • If the scanner doesn't work, check if it has a conducive decisive capacitor. If it has, it won't work (or is it if it hasn't it won't work? Never mind, you'll know soon enough if it happens to you).
  • If the photocopier and your Amiga both explode, you will be unable to use the photocopier as a scanner (or as a photocopier, or, indeed, as anything).


That's all for the now. Next month, I'll tell all you communications freaks how you can enter the fascinating world of comms by building your very own modem.

Now, do you want to go back to the Article Index or go to the next article?

Copyright Wally Dug Multimedia 1998