Epson 4900 Day One – One Step Up, One Step Back
Today I finally got some time to begin working with my new, used Epson 4900 printer. I have a lot to learn about this rather complex piece of equipment and my initial goal was to get the printer printing as well as it did for the former owner. This meant that it would print properly out of five color positions, badly in three color positions and not at all in two positions.
I began by inserting the eleven cartridges that the printer uses. These are currently filled with piezoflush, a cleaning agent developed by Inkjet Mall, AKA Vermont PhotoInkjet. The cartridges are also from Inkjet Mall and I followed their instructions for resetting the level indication chip in each cartridge. Despite this, three of the cartridges would not register with the printer correctly. Reading further on the Inkjet Mall website, I discovered that the chips have a small battery. If the battery does not have a charge the cartridge chip will not register properly with the printer.
Using a voltmeter I was able to determine that there was some correlation between the failed cartridges and the battery levels. The correlation was not 100% however. I tried moving the batteries between some of the good cartridges and the bad ones. This did not fix the problem but one of the cartridges did start to register properly. I tried swapping the cartridge positons - there is a tab on each cartridge that can be swapped allowing any cartridge to go into any color position - but this actually made things worse with the failed position remaining failed and the position next to it coming up failed as well. I then tried swapping the two bad positions, changing only position tabs, and then both cartridges worked! There is no explanation for this unless the chips are unique for each color position, but there is no word on Inkjet Mall’s web site indicating that this is the case. It's a mystery.
At this point I printed a nozzle check page. The printer ran the test OK, but none of the positions printed. With the piezoflush in the cartridges I should have had a faint orange test image in any working color channel. I ran a full head cleaning, which takes about twenty minutes, and ran the nozzle check again. Again, nothing printed. I was planning to shut the machine down and reload all the cartridges, which forces an “ink charge”, when the alarm for a full waste tank came on. The warning for a nearly full waste tank had been on all along, but with the completely full condition alarming, the machine is effectively shut down until tank is replaced. I ordered a new tank from B&H Photo – it costs about $20.00 with shipping. I’ll have it in a few days. In the meantime, all progress is on hold.
One step up, one step back. As I’ve noted before, this project is going to be a long process and I’m just getting started.
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