Saturday 19 September 2020

Day 187 of self-isolation - Printer problems

Printer problems

My lovely HP Laserjet 6p stopped working.

I bought it on February 1998, which is only 22 years ago. It's built like a tank, weighs a ton, not like the fragile balsa-and-string that's on offer today. So why did it stop working?

So I got it down from the shelf, took out the paper tray, opened up the top and removed the toner cartridge (which I recently refilled with a cheap bottle of toner, £10). No paper jam. But when I put it all back, still no printing. I power cycled it - no luck.

The printer is quite elderly, as explained above, and it has a parallel printer port, which was how all printers worked in those days. But today, most computers don't have a parallel port, and my current HP xw6600 boxes don't. So I print via a "Jetdirect 170x" which has an ethernet input and a parallel output. I power cycled the Jetdirect, no joy. But the status light was blinking, and when I googled the manual, is said that one likely cause is "not able to attach to network". So I followed the ethernet cable to the ethernet switch, and immediately noticed that all the LEDs were out. So I checked the power by plugging it in to a known good power cable, and that didn't help. 

So I had found the fault - a dead ethernet switch. That is easy to fix - it's a 16-way switch, and I have a few spares of those. I swapped out the switch, and checked - the Jetdirect status light was giving an occasional flicker; looking good. So I tried to print a page on the Laserjet, and it worked. Hurrah.

My 22 year old laser printer is still working fine.


  1. I would have go back to the late 90's when you got this to recall the last time I heard someone mention "JetDirect". Next post will be your 5 1/4" floppy notch cutter disappeared so you can't notch the 5 1/4" floppies you got to make them double sided. Thanks for the memories.

  2. I used an ordinary hole punch to make the second notch. So yes, I still have it. I also have two 5 1/4 floppy drives (360 and 1.2 mb) and a 3 1/2 drive, with huge numbers of 3 1/2 floppies.

    The keyboard that I'm using right now is a vintage 1983 IBM AT model S, because that's the best keyboard ever made. I bought five of them a couple of decades ago while I still could.

    And an original IBM PC 5150 computer, vintage 1983; I haven't used that for a very long time. But I also have the PC keyboard, together with an adaptor that makes is possible to use it today.

  3. I remember feeding a few 3.5 inch floppies into our server whenever the new a/v definitions came in the post from a certain Aylesbury based antivirus company. Those were the days. We had a nice batch file which would then update all the desktops. We never had a virus that wasn't caught before it did any damage.