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General Printer Troubleshooting

April 9, 2010

General Printer Troubleshooting

  • Make sure the printer has power and is on-line. If you are using a manual printer sharing device, make sure the switch is set to activate the correct printer.
  • Turn it off and on again to reinitialize any internal settings that may have gone astray.
  • Ensure that the tape that seals the cartridge ink port is removed prior to installing the cartridge.
  • Use the printer’s own self-test, according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. If it fails, you have verified that the problem is within the printer. If the print head is not moving at all, the transport motor may have failed.
  • If the printer that you are using is not set as the default printer in Windows or the printer driver is not installed, the printer may print garbled characters. You may also receive errors when you attempt to print from applications.
  • If the printer passes the self-test, try a test print using the Print Screen capability within DOS. If the Print Screen fails, you know the problem is in the relationship between the printer and the computer. Inspect the cable and the cable connections. Replacing the cable with a known good cable is worth trying since cables are so frequently the source of printer problems. Cables can fail with broken wires, loose or broken pins, or incorrect pin-outs.
  • If the printer is connected to the computer through an add-in device, remove the add-in device and connect the parallel cable to the printer and then directly to the port on the back of the computer.  Some examples of add-in devices are: switchboxes, parallel port scanners, external disk drives, external tape drives, security lock keys, or external CD-ROM drives. Some add-in devices may interfere with proper communications with the printer.
  • Try printing again. If the printer prints successfully, the cable may not have been connected properly, or the add-in device may have been interrupting communication with the printer.
    If the combined length of the cables connecting the add-in device and the printer exceeds 10 feet, communication can also be disrupted. In addition, the software that controls some add-in devices may take control of the printer port interfering with any other device attempting to use the same port. In some cases, the software for the add-in device should be disabled or uninstalled. Remove any add-in devices and uninstall the software for those devices, then try printing again.
  • The message “out of paper” is sometimes erroneously reported when there is plenty of paper, and can indicate a physical problem with the printer.
  • If the printer port is not properly identified in CMOS, the printer may not function properly and you may receive errors when trying to print. Check your User’s Guide on how to enter CMOS. Once in the Setup utility, locate the LPT1 settings. The address setting for the LPT1 port should be 3BCh or 378h depending on what kind of video card you have. The IRQ setting for the port should be 7 and LPT1 should be enabled in order for the printer to print correctly.
  • If the Print Screen succeeds, the problem may be with your application or its configuration. For example, your application may be set up to direct output to a file instead of the printer, or you might be directing the output to the wrong communications port.
  • Try connecting a different printer to this computer or try connecting the printer to a different computer and print a test page. If this printer works when connected to another computer, there may be a problem with the port on your PC. If this printer does not work when connected to another computer, there may be a physical problem with the printer.

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