Ladysolly wanted to be able to print from her iPad, a reasonable enough request. I have a couple of inkjet HP Deskjet 3050A printers, but they're very heavy on ink usage, and need a new cartridge every week or so. So, I thought, laser printer. Airprint compatible, because Airprint is the way that iPads and iPhones print.
I went to Ebay, and found a Dell B1260dn, brand new, £80. I ordered it, and it arrived the next day, pretty fast! And then the nightmare started.
I thought, in my dreams, that I'd just switch it on, it would find the nearest wifi point in the house, use DHCP to get itself an IP address, and after a half a minute, I'd be able to print from an iPad. No way.
I'm not going to tell you all the things I tried, I probably won't remember most of them. But what it came down to, was that I was expecting the printer to use wifi to connect (like the HP inkjets do), and it doesn't have wifi.
To be fair, it didn't say that it had wifi, it said that it could do Airprint. But to me, Airprint implies wifi, and I was wrong about that.
I have to explain a bit about my network here. It's quite complicated. The main network uses IP addresses that start with 10; anyone can use those, they aren't visible from the internet. To make them visible where I want them to be, I use my firewall to do NAT (Network Address Translation) to translate the 10. addresses, to addresses that are routed to my router.
But also ... as well as my main router, I have three DSL routers, which give me cheap, but not entirely reliable, bandwidth. They are also on the 10. network. And I have a wifi router, so that wifi devices can connect. But the wifi also uses NAT, using addresses that start with 192.168 (also invisible from the internet), and it translates those to 10. addresses, which are then routed via one of the DSL routers.
The iPads and iPhones use wifi, so they get their addresses from the DHCP on the wifi routers, and they start with 192.168. (which the wifi routers translate to 10.something, and then my main router translates to a real internet address) (but only for those things that I want to allow access to from the outside world). Security, you see - I don't want some kid in Russia using my computers.
So I connected the Dell printer to a Windows machine via USB, and ran the setup, which installed drivers on the Windows machine. But the IP address that the printer had was 169.254.86.108. I have no idea where it got that from. So I changed my Windows machine so that I could access it, and changed it from DHCP to a static address, 192.168.1.129. Then I changed the Windows machine to an address in the same subnet, and I was able to talk to the Dell printer from the Windows box.
But no Airprint.
I tried a lot of different things. But what it boiled down to, was I was assuming that the Dell had Wifi, when it didn't. Because it didn't, I had to connect it to the wifi router so that it could use the 192.168 address, which is the same subnet that the iPads and iPhones use.
The Dell manual was useless to me. Nowhere did it say "THERE'S NO WIFI". And I was gradually coming to the conclusion that, on this Dell printer, the Wifi wasn't working.
I needed ladysolly to clue me up; she found a page using Google that said "THERE'S NO WIFI". No wonder it wasn't working!
Once I took that on board, it was pretty obvious what I had to do, and I did it, and now it works. Upstairs. Because downstairs is a different wifi router, and the iPads can't see the printer. Ladysolly says that's OK, she's usually upstairs when she wants to print, plus she has the HP Deskjet 3050A downstairs.
Networking is such fun.