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The cable you need depends on the unit. I am not aware of a C171a model from Epson. I have seen it listed as a version of the RX500. In that case you need a USB cable with A/B male ends.
Otherwise, most printers (from about 1997 on) will use a USB cable. This has two male ends - a square end goes into the printer and a rectangular end that goes to the computer (called A/B). For older printers (there may be multiple ports or just one), you may see a parallel port (the cable has a wide rectangular plug on both sides with 36 pins) or serial port (the cable may have DB9 (9 pin), DB25 (25 pin) or both). Often it is called a RS-232 port. For a parallel port connection, you would need one that is designed for scanners and bi-directional communication (USB to parallel adapters are available to connect this to a new computer but you still need the bi-directional version). Similarly, USB to serial adapters are available.
Generally you can tell what cable you need by looking at the back of the unit where the ports are. (Although some all-in ones have the USB cables in other places - routed through the side of the unit but the plug is near where the ink cartridges go.) Then the size and pin counts for parallel or serial tell you what cable to get. There is usually a symbol indicating the cable type as well near each port. USB cables are usually indicated by a tree like symbol with curved branches.
On the back of the printer where the cable connects is actually a 36 pin connector, the end going to the computer is the 25pin end. What you will need to do is get a USB to parallel cable, they run $15-25, this will have the USB plug on one end and the 36pin centronix printer connection on the other end. This cable will allow your printer to be connected to the laptop. Office Depot and Staples should have the cable you need, if not you can do a google search for it and order one online.
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I believe this plotter has both the old centronics and a 25 pin serial connection. Your laptop MAY have a 7 pin serial connection which you can get a 7 pin to 25 pin serial cable. If your laptop does not have a serial port, you MIGHT find a USB to serial adapter cable.
Make sure you are not on Vista or Win 7 operating systems as they likely do NOT have compatible drivers for this plotter.
You can almost buy a new printer for the cost of the adapter you are talking about buying. They have all kinds of adapters: the kind that connects to the flat end of a USB or the square end. Parallel, male or female. Go to a computer store like best buy, they should be able to hook you up.
What connector/interface does your PC has
9-pin or 25-pin connector
If it has 9-pin connector: use the following: DB-9 RS-232 Serial Connection or DB-25 RS-232 Serial Connection
If it has 25-pin connector: use the following: DB-25 Serial Connection or
DB-25 RS-232 Serial Connection
If you are configuring the computer to use an RS-422A serial port, you need a special cable. Contact the computer or printer network manufacturer to see if an RS-422A cable is available. If no cable is available, contact your computer manufacturer for your computer pin assignments and have a cable constructed.
The default configuration for the serial port on the printer is for RS-232C serial communication. To set the printer to use RS-422A serial communication, change the control panel Serial Menu’s SERIAL setting to SERIAL=RS-422.
Attach one end of a parallel port cable to the parallel (printer) port on your computer and the other end of the cable to the computer port on the rear of the scanner. If you have a printer connected to your computer, you must disconnect the printer cable from the computer before connecting the scanner cable. If you have trouble attaching a cable connector to a port, be sure that you are connecting the correct end of the cable to the correct port. IF. . . you want to use a printer WITH your scanner, attach one end of the printer cable to the printer port on the rear of the scanner and attach the other end of the cable to the printer. Plug in power cord and then power up PC. Power on scanner. Install drivers. Restart PC to activate EZ Station buttons.
You are going to need a 25 way cable a "Printer" type cable, A Male to Male, BUT with ALL 25 pins wired thru pin To Pin. This plugs straight into the "Printer" port.
These machines often have a "Pass Through" port on them so ya can also connect to a Printer, however if ya printer is USB then it's NOT used.
I found drivers below.