Well, a few months ago i was offered three Scitex 342 for pickup in cologne. The owner got ill and had no further use for them. Therefore i had to talk to his neighbour, who was so kind to make the deal for the old man.
I saved a Creo Scitex Eversmart Supreme before, so i already went through several problems that can happen when you buy such an old device. Usually the 342 would have scared me away. Especially because i nearly found no infos about it. I did know they had a quite good reputation and resolution. But i didn't even find infos about their weight or dimensions. But i thought, they wouldn't be larger than a Eversmart Supreme and they wouldn't be heavier...well...i was wrong.
The seller didn't send me any photos. He knew that was old scanners and he said there are some computers too and some printed documentation. Could be working, could be not...But he was just the neighbour and that was all he knew. He just wanted to get rid of them.
After some hours in the driving seat, we arrived in Cologne. The scanners were in the basement. They all seemed to be in quite good condition. There was a box with Scitex books and manuals and two Apple G4 MDD. The first thing i did was searching for a calibration slide. You need it to get the scanners going. otherwise the scanner program will refuse to work... Meh...no calibration slide! That is no good. I had the same problem with the Eversmart Supreme before. I got it from CPS UK, but it was a hundred Euro plus tax and customs. And i thought it would be a smart idea to search for that slide for the 342 in advance before i buy it. Well, i soon noticed these calibration slides are rare like unicorns.
So i stood in that basement and i knew i probably won't get these scanners going. But i wanted them so bad. So i decided to have a deeper look at them first. If something else is missing or obviously unrepairable i would let them go.
Two of the scanners made a good impression. The third was missing the lamps and struts. I found floppy disks that said they had calibration files on them...hummm...Didn't know at that point what that means but it sounded tempting. Because from the supreme i knew when you got calibration data, you can trick the software into thinking everything is fine (i will later tell you how). Yep, that was the missing piece for making my decision. So i bought them.
And then...ladies and gentlemen. I noticed for the first time how heavy a Smart 342 is. The Supreme weighed 80kgs. That was heavy. The Smart...i still don't know. But easily 100kg. Maybe even 120kg. We really had serious problems carrying that things out of the basement with two strong men in their best age. I tell you what. If you buy one, be prepared. The Scitex manual suggests you should carry it with four persons.
Did i mention they are even larger than the Supreme? They are. Not by a lot, but exactly by that amount you don't have space for in your car. So as you can see on the picture above, i have a VW T5.2 and i had to put one of them under my matress because of lack of space.
BTW these scanners have transportation lock screws underneath. I searched for locks but i didn't find them. I was a bit too excited and i didn't even have the idea to look into the manual that was in one of the boxes. But we carried it carefully and i drove carefully home (and i was lucky) so nothing bad happened.
As we now have this platform you will find all the documentation you need in the orphaned cloud.
So here comes a short recap on what to watch for when buying a Scitex Smart 340/342:
- Make sure it comes with the calibration slide
- Watch for scratches on the glass plates
- Make sure it still has all lamps and lenses
- Lock the transport screws
- Bring some thin foam or cardboard and put it between the glass plates
- Bring strong people and at least a station wagon
- If mains exist, status lamp sequence is red -> blinking green -> solid green. Even when not connected to a computer
When we arrived home, i did not have that good of a feeling about my purchase. I noticed the G4 MDDs did not have a SCSI card installed. That made pretty much clear that the computers and scanners have nothing to do with each other and i wouldn't have the software to operate the scanners. The calibration slide was missing...oh man...
So i decided to take the better looking one apart and service it before i connect it to mains.
And that was the point when the 342 got me. It's so damn well made. In comparison, the Eversmart Supreme is a plasticky toy box. The plastics on the Smart are not even plastics. The seem to be made out of glass fibre and resin. The Supreme's plastics will break just by looking at them. Not so the Smart. I guess you could sit down on it and it wouldn't break.
This is the PSUs and parts of the transport mechanism. Huuge stepper motors, a lot of steel and copper. No plastics anywhere. The steel box with the PSUs weighs at least 4kgs. Built for eternety.
The bottom light sources are sitting in a steel sled. Really easy to service them. The lamps are still available in 2022 and are way cheaper than the Eversmart lamps.
This is a drawer where all the PCBs sit. Easy to clean. Watch out for leaking caps here. On the top you can see the front of the lamp sled. Look at that. So well made. All steel.
These are the four lenses sitting in their heavy cast aluminum mounting plate. Each one covers a different angle. These are all M39 lenses. So you could play around with other angles/resolutions. But it will be hard to find something better. As far as i can tell these lenses are apochromatic. The lens on the left is a mediocre enlarger lens. It's just for preview scans. And for that it is sufficient.
These are the gas dampened struts. They often are out of order because they lost their gas filling. There are ways to repair them yourself, but it's dangerous. You can still get them in Germany from the company Barnsbach easylift . They told me that these struts were specially made for Scitex. They can still be manufactured. Price is €97/piece. If that's too expensive for you, you can just use a wooden stick or so to hold the lid open.
After the service the 342 was alive. All lights green. Ready to go. Unfortunately i still had no software to drive it.
This is the base plate. All glas plates are genuine anti Newton glass BTW... The scales show which areas you can scan at which percentage of enlargement. The highest is 1770% what should be equivalent to 5260dpi. And when Scitex says 5000dpi, they mean it like so. That's totally different to 5000dpi from an Epson or other modern scanner.
However, no software, no scans. I had to do something, so i asked people in the Creo group on Facebook. These people usually don't deal with the older Scitex scanners. It's more about the Eversmarts and Jazz scanners.
I was lucky. Someone gave me Ver.1.0 of the Smart software. So i grabbed one of my other G4 MDDs (the G4s that came with the scanners are not working) with an Atto SCSI card and connected the scanner, installed the software and bam! Not working! Freeze while booting. What the hell? Tried with Adaptec 2930CU - will boot but Smart software finds no scanner. Tried Adaptec 2940UW - same result. Adaptec 2906 - Yeah connection, scanner initializes, goes to homing position...and looses connection! Feeling heartbeat in my stomach. Uh oh... two 100kg boat anchors in my living room!
But! There is a computer under my bed i don't like. I don't like it because it has no USB, needs a roller mouse and has no DVI. The beige Powermac G3 Minitower. Meh...don't want that but i have to.
I had to learn the network card was broken in the G3 and had to acquire a new one to get the software on there (it wouldn't read burned CD-ROMs). Another three days until i got one that would work with OS9. Then finally... Connected, software installed, reboot - and there it is. It works. What the...?!
My living room is at this point a mess:
I had to learn that these scanners are picky about their connection. Scitex programmed it to work with the G3 internal SCSI adapter. The scanner just doesn't know about other adapters an will refuse working. But there is a single way around this. I will explain that later.
The Smart Software now wants the calibration slide. Without calibrating the scanner won't work. So the next problem. Six days have passed since i bought the scanners and all i have is a messy living room.
Then i remember the floppy disk with the calibration data. Luckily the G3 has a floppy drive. At this point i would be stuck with the G4 again... Anyways, I put it in the G3 - Disk not readable. Hell does that ever stop? Don't tell me my only chance is lost because of a demagnetized floppy disk now...
So i had a look at the folder with software i was given and i found a smART342.PREFS file in there. I copied it to the system/preferences/ folder of the G3. Then started up the Smart software - "Serial number does not match device"!
That darn thing has to work now. I looked at the back of the scanner. There it has the serial number.
I know Scitex a bit already from the Supreme. They would use the same format xxxxxxxx/x for all scanners. So i opened the .PREFS file in a hex editor and searched for such a combination of numbers. When i found it i replaced the numbers with the serial number of my own scanner. Et voilà! I got it scanning.
Unfortunately the first scans looked like shit. Overexposed, lines and stripes all over. No wonder, that is exactly what the calibration does. It equalizes all flaws. And what i'm looking at is the sensor response of my scanner mixed with the calibration data of another scanner.
Hummm...ok at least i now know that thing works. Now i have to make it work perfectly. But how without calibration slide?
So i had a look at that floppy disk again. Looked good on the outside. No signs of destruction. Does not mean much...but i decided that is worth enough to take the floppy drive in the G3 apart. Maybe the drive is the culprit.
Hah! I was right. After servicing the floppy drive I found the .PREFS file of the original manufaturers calibration on the disk and happily used it to replace my DIY file. Scans are looking much better now, but there was a problem with exposure, noise, saturation and light distribution. Sure...i mean they had fresh lamps right? Hummm...I'm stuck.
A week later or so, i saw a listing of someone who wanted to sell two Scitex scanners. A 342 and a 340. Both with calibration slides. Me lucky guy! I gave him an instant call. "Man! Gimme dat slide!" - "Sure! I'll borrow it to you. No cost!"
Isn't that awesome? That guy's name is Felix. He comes from Freiburg, Germany. He is simply a nice guy and since then we stayed in contact. He could help me even more. He told me that Formac SCSI cards would run with the Scitex and G4. I learned elsewhere you need a special firmware for the card. I managed to acquire it and put it in the download section for future people who are as insane as i am.
And i learned a second thing. Once you tricked the Smart software in thinking it is calibrated, you can use the calibration tool that comes with the software to get rid of the stripes and noise by telling it you just changed the lamps. It will do a calibration without slide. Just for equalizing white balance and light distribution. You can then scan just normal without problems. It's as good as with calibration slide. But i think when you take the lens or sensor assembly apart you would need the slide for calibrating for best sharpness. I never had to. My scans are sharp like hell. But just to let you know.
I'm still on the hunt for two calibration slides. But my Smart 342 both run fine now. And they do so well. Image and build quality is still awesome. The Eversmart is a bit better, but not by much. The Eversmart is a much more sensitive and way more expensive machine. Sure, it can scan 5080dpi over the whole A3 area, the Smart not. But the 342 is really built for eternity. Treat it well and it will serve you well for many many moons.