Atlascopy Notes

My name is Barry Shultz and I am the owner of This site is an extension of my newsletter, Atlascopy News, which covers inkjet refilling and tips on how to save money with your inkjet printer.

Please don't Spam my Blog. Google won't give you any Page Rank from this Blog and I'll remove the Spam anyway so please don't waste my time and yours.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Free Program Lets You Print When You're Not There

Many problems with inkjet printers can be avoided if the printer were used
at regular intervals. Clogged nozzles and skipped lines are common for
the infrequent user. Now you can avoid all that with this free program
that lets you decide when your printer will make a print, even if you're
not there.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Refilling From Another Perspective

Although I want to take everybody by the hand and show you the best way to refill your inkjet cartridge that is not possible, however, I can show you some of the ways that you can avoid heartache and utter disaster and along the way I will tell you that maybe refilling inkjet cartridges may not be for you.

Here is the gutsy and true information about refilling. Suppose you want to refill but you don't have the time. You also know that refilling your inkjet cartridges is also the cheapest way to go. Now I will also tell you that you may not want to go the cheapest way. Then buy generic or remanufactured cartridges. Why would you want to spend time consuming hours refilling when you could save tons of money by just buying generic cartridges? I can't think of a reason, however, those of you that want to save the greatest amount of money will refill your cartridges.

If you want to refill but you don't have the time there are a few alternatives that you might want to investigate. First is the services that you can send in your cartridge and have somebody else refill it for you. Here is what you should do. Look for a local service that does refilling. They are springing up everywhere. Look in the malls and yellow pages of your local directory.

If you have decided to refill your cartridges yourself, good for you. You have taken the first step into a potentially challenging area. Although it varies because of the type of cartridge you are refilling any person should be able to refill an inkjet cartridge. Getting it to work may be another story.

Some cartridges can be refilled in a heartbeat and work with no problem. Other cartridges can be a nightmare if you don't have patience. HP cartridges are usually the most difficult and Canon are the easiest. If you are a "do it yourselfer" you should try refilling your own cartridges. If you tend to be a manic person with low tolerance to learning new things you probably should not try it.

All in all you will save the most money if you refill your own cartridges. Don't think you will be an expert overnight. You might have to go through some cartridges until you have it right. You will save lots of money by refilling your own inkjet cartridges but there is generally a learning curve that you must be prepared to endure.

Some people will pick it up right away while others will flounder. It's all in your genetic makeup. Seriously, if you are pre-disposed to things going wrong than you should stick to generics.

Actually, anybody can do this but some people have more patience than others. Patience goes a long way when refilling inkjet cartridges. It is impossible to refill a cartridge successfully if you jam the ink in. Ink must be injected very slowly so you don't get air bubbles inside the cartridge.

The gravity refilling method is the best way as I have explained in numerous newsletters.

So How much is it worth to you?

1) Saving money using generic or remanufactured cartridges. Lots of dollars.

2) Saving money using ink refill kits. Lots and lots of dollars.

3) Saving your sanity, by having a spare cartridge on hand when a reportis due the next day and all the stores are closed. Priceless!

Those of you that want to experience the full nature of refilling should look at my archive of newsletters here:

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Canon Selphy DS700

Canon Selphy DS700 is a portable printer that can hook up to an ordinary TV to view your photos from a variety of cards. The cartridge is a BCI-16 and none of our vendors carry it yet. I can't get a straight answer from my bulk ink vendors about the ink either. I suspect that the ink will be the same or close to the BCI-6 cartridges which is our CA8600 series of inks.

People are already asking for supplies for this printer so I'll keep my ear to the ground. I'll make an announcement in the newsletter when we acquire a supplier for these supplies.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Printer Friendly Hell

Each week when I sit down to write my newsletter I use Google to look for interesting information to share with my readers. I use terms like inkjet, ink, printers, printing, printing tips, refilling get the idea.

I usually get my best tips and stories from the term "printer". However, it's also the most agrivating term because of the fact that so many web sites have "printer friendly" versions of pages on their web sites. Even with a filter such a "-friendly" I still receive an amazing number of these web pages in my search. These are completely off topic and I have to weed though dozens of them for any relevent information.

Hey, it's Sunday morning and I'm bored and this is my Blog so I can talk about anything I want. So there!!! :-)

Friday, February 18, 2005

Canon Red and Green Ink

Canons new iP9900 and PIXMA iP8500 have two new colors, red and green. The BCI-6 cartridges didn't change except for the addition of these colors. We got the gallons in and the green ink is really pretty, like a Christmas green. The red is really ugly though, like a Holoween orange.

When we spoke to the chemist he said the red is exactly the same as the OEM color so I guess the guys at Canon are going color blind.

I altered our other Canon refill kit the CA86C5BK to include the new colors. The only difference in the kit IS the new colors so I didn't have to do anything else. To differentiate between the kits I changed the name to CA86C7BK.

If you want to order that kit here is the link:

If you don't want to buy the kit we have the red and green inks separately here:

Monday, February 14, 2005

Remanufactured Inkjet Cartridges

Ever wanted to know how the big boys make remanufactured inkjet cartridges? Read on and I'll give you a quick outline of what you actually get when you buy a remanufactured inkjet cartridge.

The first thing to realize is that refillers, or Remanufacturers only remanufacture inkjet cartridges that contain a print head. Those include Hewlett Packard and Lexmark. All the others are variations of the aforementioned cartridges. This is because the generic or compatible cartridges for the others, Canon, Epson etc., are very cheap and they could not make a profit by remanufacturing them.

Step 1. The Empties Search.

In order to remanufacture an inkjet cartridge you must first have the empty one to refill. When a new printer using a new cartridge is introduced it may take several months if not years for the empty cartridges to become available in the quantity that warrants the refiller to make the investment to tool up for remanufacture. As of this date a very popular HP cartridge that was on the market for over a year is still very scarce as remanufactured. A very popular Lexmark cartridge, the 12A1970 cartridge is almost impossible to locate because Lexmark is buying them back, but these are articles unto themselves.

The inkjet cartridge remanufacturer carefully inspects the cartridges for
blemishes and for evidence that is has been previously refilled. They must be "virgin" cartridges (never refilled) or they won't get refilled. (By most scrupulous remanufactures)

Next the cartridges are electrically tested using sophisticated electronic
equipment that tests the print heads and related electronics. This will be a 100% pass/fail test. No in betweens here. Anything under 100% gets tossed.

Step 2. Cleaning.

Each cartridge is cleaned ultrasonically inside and out. All remaining ink is thoroughly flushed from the cartridge and they are bathed in a cleaning solvent.

Step 3. Refilling.

Here is where to pros are separated from the hobbyist. To properly refill a cartridge there must be a measurable balance between ink flow, vacuum and pressure. Very expensive refilling machines are needed to accomplish this task properly. The machine will have the capacity to refill many cartridges at the same time. The cartridges get snapped in place and when all the gizmos are set properly they all get filled at the same time.

Step 4. Resealing.

After the cartridges are filled with ink, certain ones must be resealed. Clever techniques are used here so you can't tell that is was refilled. I can show you but then I'd have to..... well you get the picture.

Step 5. Testing.

This stage requires several tests and refillers will not always take them in
the same order so I'll just tell you the ones I know about. Print tests are done by either using a regular inkjet printer designed to use that cartridge. A test pattern of some sort will gauge the quality of the printout. Other refillers use a fancy machine that prints out a test strip that checks to make sure all the nozzles are firing properly.

Some remanufactures use equipment that test for altitude pressure. If the pressure in a cartridge gets too high during shipment the cartridge will leak.

Step 6. Packaging.

The cartridges are physically inspected once more. The print heads are
professionally taped using a machine that applies tape to the heads with the exact pressure necessary. This is not guess work. Print head sealing tape applied the wrong way may damage the cartridge.

The cartridges are then sealed in bags, some remanufactures vacuum seal the bags, others do not. Actually I have not seen any difference in performance using either method.

Lastly they are put in pretty boxes and stored in an upright position with the print heads pointing down. This is important because if the cartridges are laid on their sides it's possible that they can loose their prime. This is why so many inkjet cartridges with print heads don't work when they are shipped through the mail.

Note. I am not a professional refiller. I am writing this article based on information that I collected from many different areas. If there are any professional refillers reading this I would love to hear your comments.

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Printer Supplies are a Target for Fraud

Ever since my early days in Copier service and Printer repair there has been many instances of fraudulent telemarketers who peddle their inferior supplies at high costs. Their tactics are usually the same. They call your home or office and tell you that a customer in your area has refused a shipment and can you take it off their hands for a fraction of the original price? It's actually much higher but many people don't do proper homework and agree to the shipment. Another tactic is they get you to buy a small quantity or free sample and when it comes it is not free and is a huge order that you didn't ask for. Here's a couple of true stories.

"A California phoner offered Jean a "free test cartridge." All she had to do was supply a list of printers and her name. Over the next 2 months, more than $1800 of overpriced toners arrived. When Jean tried to return them they were refused. After weeks of harassing calls her company was put in for collection.”

“Bob, who never ordered more than two cartridges at a time mysteriously ordered 12 toners over the phone. The cartridges were so inferior that his manager didn't want to wait for Bob to return from vacation and tried to return them himself. First he was told they could not be returned. Then he was told that there would be 40% restocking fee. When he persisted Bob's boss was offered "Another 19 inch color TV" if he would keep the cartridges - after the bill was paid.”

Just be careful when someone calls you on the phone and tries to sell you supplies for your printer or copier.

(Portions of this article were from

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Must Be The Ink

All too often I get emails from people who after refilling their cartridges say that the printer printed fine but the next day it stopped working. They yell and holler that it must be my ink, it's clogging their print head.

Guess what? It aint so. And here's why. All inks have a drying agent that's true. But because of this if you allow your cartridges to go uncapped over night you stand a good chance of printing a blank page in the morning. Most people are doing this very thing without even realizing it.

Do you turn your printer off when you're finished using it? More than likely the answer is NO. You see when you turn off your printer a magical thing happens. The capping station will "cap" off your print head creating an airtight seal.

"Ok, smart guy", you're saying. "I turn off my printer each night and it still happens". Then you've got another problem. First off, your printer may have a problem with the capping station. It's mechanical you know and things can go wrong.

Secondly there is a problem with amateur refilling because we just don't have the expensive equipment that the pros use. The problem is air. We need it to breath but inkjet cartridges hate it. When you inject the ink into a cartridge it's likely that some air will get in there too. The air is in the form of tiny bubbles. It takes a while for the little bubbles to work their way out. Usually over night the bubbles try to migrate up as the weight of the ink will try to migrate down. This can create a vacuum inside the cartridge as air is sucked in through the print head. The result is no ink flow thus no print. A head cleaning will usually rectify the problem. Besides you should be doing a head cleaning every day, aren't you? If you've been reading my newsletters you know this is important.

We have analyzed many bulk ink returns over the years and have yet to find one defective bottle. So there you have it. It's not the ink!

Visit to save a bundle on ink.

Installing Printer Drivers

A printer driver is a piece of software that allows the computer to talk to the printer. Without it the printer would be hopelessly lost since they do not speak the same language. Many times the printer manufacturer will find new and better ways to communicate with the printer and offer improved printer drivers for their customers to install. This could be because they might have a fault in the old driver or they added improvements to take advantage of enhanced technology emerging with newer computer systems. It's a good idea to keep a check on your printer driver version and upgrade if it is too far out of date.

Here is how to check your print driver version number.

Windows 95/98

1. Click the Windows Start button, choose Settings, and then choose Printers.

2. Right-click your default printer and choose Properties. (Your default printer will have a checkmark within a black circle above the printer icon.)

3. Click the General tab, click the "Print Test Page" button, and then click OK to print the test page.

Windows XP

1. Click the Windows Start button, choose Control Panel, and then choose Printers and Faxes.

2. Right-click your default printer and choose Properties. (Your default printer will have a checkmark within a black circle above the printer icon.)

3. Click the General tab, click the "Print Test Page" button, and then click OK to print the test page.

Look on the test page for Driver Version.

All of the major printer manufactures have web sites and they allow you to freely download their printer drivers. All you need to know is your printers manufacturer and model number. When you go to their web site look for words like "Downloads", "Drivers", "Software" or "Support" and drill down to your model.

Here is the web site URL's for the more popular brands. (I've done most of the drilling for you to the drivers). Some of these links are rather long so be sure to get the entire URL in your browser.

Hewlett Packard








Follow the installation instructions for your manufacturers driver. Each one is different and there isn't enough room here to explain all of them to you but here are a few pointers.

PLEASE read the install instructions first before attempting to install the driver.

Many of them can be long downloads if you're using a dial up connection, so give yourself some time if that is the case.

Some require you to remove your old driver first. It's important that you do this if you want a successful install of your new driver.

If possible, have your old driver disk handy in case something goes wrong with the install of the new driver.

Make sure you select the correct driver for your printer to take full advantage of its capabilities.

Do a test print before and after the install and compare the driver versions to make sure the install was successful.

Check your settings in your old driver and make note of them. If your text, color shading or personal preferences change after you upgrade you'll wish you had.

It may not be necessary to upgrade your printer driver just because the manufacturer has a newer one available. But if you're noticing strange things while using any newer software with your printer then consider upgrading your driver. Read the documentation for the newer driver. They may have added a few features to the driver that you'll want to take advantage of even if you're not having any problems.

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How To Kill Your Printer

Are you tired of trying to convince your spouse that you need another printer? Tired of using the old sluggish ink hog that you got 10 years ago as a hand-me-down from your cousin that only came to visit once just after you bought that new Beer Meister?

After you get through with your printer, with my expert guidance, your partner will probably agree that it's time for an upgrade. Just a few of my tips will be all that you need. In some cases only one of these slick tips will do the trick. You might get lucky. Let's get started.

If your printer is near a wall you're in luck. Sit on your chair directly in front of your printer and put both hands firmly on the front of the printer. Now while issuing a blood curdling Bruce Lee scream thrust your arms forward while imagining that you are going to push your printer directly through the wall and landing on your German marble tiled patio floor outside.

Ok, if that doesn't work try unplugging the printers connection to the computer. If you are using a parallel connection that's better because the cable is thicker than the new USB cables. Make sure the cable is still connected to the printer. Firmly hold the cable in both hands and face away from your printer. Now step slightly to one side and make like you are Joe DiMaggio at bat. Believe you are hitting that ball and follow through. If you're lucky your printer will go over the fence before the cable breaks. Be sure to let go of the cable when you follow through.

Here's one of my favorites. Remove all of your cartridges and punch a hole in them and quickly put them back in the printer. Now do fifty back to back print head cleanings while pouring motor oil into the paper feed tray. It helps to remove the paper so the oil can get inside faster. If you see smoke that's a bonus. It means you're doing it right.

This next trick involves the use of a ladder and a feather. A chair can be substituted if you don't have a ladder. Any feather will do. Stand on the ladder or chair and while the printer is on hold the feather in one hand and the printer in the other hand. The law of gravity states that both the feather and the printer should land on the ground at the same time providing that there is no friction from air currents or whatever. Now, lets test Newton's law of gravity. Release the feather and the printer at the same time. Did they both land at the same time? It might take a few times to get this one right. Practice this one a few times.

Here is one that you can do with your partner. Get a couple of screwdrivers. One person can remove every single screw in the printer and the other person can put it back together. This is fun at parties.

Last but not least the most effective way to kill your printer and make absolutely sure it's a goner is let your kids play with it!

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How Much Are You Saving?

There is a formula for figuring out exactly how much money you can save by using a refill kit. You already know how expensive OEM inkjet cartridges are and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that you can save money by using them. But how many people know EXACTLY how much money they are saving? If you really knew I'd be willing to bet that if you aren't refilling now, you are going to take another look after reading this.

I'm going to use our HP790C3B kit as an example. This kit is used for refilling the very popular HP 51645A black and HP C6578 color cartridges.

Here is the formula:

S = (RC x CCC) + (RB x CCB) - RK

S = Your actual savings over the life of the refill kit
RC = The number of color refills in the kit
CCC = Cost of a new color cartridge
RB = The number of black refills in the kit
CCB = Cost of a new black cartridge

Lets plug in some numbers. Today I checked the prices of the aforementioned OEM cartridges on Staples web site.

HP 51645A - $29.99
HP C6578AN - $54.99

Our HP790C3B kit refills:

Black - 3 times
Color - 5 times

The kit sells for $27.95.

Here is the formula with the numbers plugged in:

S = (5 x 54.99) + (3 x 29.99) - 27.95
S = (274.95) + (89.97) - 27.95
S = 364.92 - 27.95
S = 336.97

Quite an eye opener isn't it? By spending $27.95 you can save $336.97. I would get some ink on my hands to save $337.00!

If you think this is a shameless plug so I can sell more refill kits you're probably right, however, I believe wholeheartedly that if more people knew how much money they can save there would be a lot less of these cartridges ending up in the landfills.

Just please remember, start small. If you've never refilled before don't start by ordering a gallon of ink.

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The New Year Cash Cows

We are all fighting the good cause to find a cheaper alternative to the oppressively priced OEM supplies. Let's keep the fight strong, into the new year, and shout from the mountain tops, "We are winning!". It's a fact you can be proud of after you just refilled a $35 cartridge with $2 worth of ink!

The battle will be long and hard because each new year the manufacturers will try something else to thwart the efforts of refillers. The cash cows are already brainstorming new ways to beat any attempt to refill your own cartridges. It's just a matter time now until they unveil their "New Year Surprise".

Whatever it is somebody will figure out a way to defeat it. When Epson printers hit the market with the killer chips everybody panicked. But now anybody refilling Epson cartridges is equipped with their universal chip resetters and a Grinch smile on their faces.

HP has their C6578 cartridge from hell and a simple little PRIME tool has defeated the legendary vapor lock problem. Before the advent of this tool they were virtually impossible to successfully refill on a regular basis.

What will they think of next? What comes to my mind is from the old "Get Smart" sitcom, "This cartridge will self destruct in 30 seconds". "POOF"! Heheh, well if you didn't get that joke then just keep reading and enjoy being that young.

I'd better not offer them any more ideas, someone out there probably just said, "Hmmmmmm".

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The Windex Solution For Unclogging Epson Print Heads

Tools needed:

1 - 10cc Injector
1 - 4" - 5" of fish tank air line tubing (Wal*Mart fish department)
Windex (No Drip works best)

We are going to flush the print head out with the Windex cleaner. Some people from outside the US may not know about Windex. It is a popular window cleaner sold here in the US.

Cut four or five inches of fish tank air line tubing and attach it to the end of the injector, remove the needle first. Pull 3 - 5 cc of Windex into the injector. Hold the injector so that the tubing is pointing up and push the plunger a little until all the air is out of the tubing. You don't want to inject any air into the cartridge. Put this assembly aside for now.

Turn your printer on and hold down the paper feed button until the carriage moves to the cartridge change position. Unplug the printer. This is important, you don't want the carriage to move in the middle of the procedure.

Remove the cartridge that is giving you trouble. Look inside the carriage cavity for a small post that would normally be inserted into the ink port of the cartridge, in other words the post that supplies ink to the print head. You may need a flashlight to see it.

Attach the other end of the tubing (which is attached to the injector) to the post inside the carriage cavity. Be very careful not to break the post. If you do, GAME OVER. There is very little room to work but do the best you can. Try to get the tubing on the post firmly for an airtight connection. Slowly inject about 2cc of the Windex solution into the print head. Some of the Windex might leak out around the post, just try to get at least 2 cc injected into the print head. It may offer resistance, just be patient. Repeat this procedure for any other color that is not printing. Make sure to wash the tubing between each color.

Put in a brand new cartridge, not refilled. Don't ignore this step or chances are the procedure will fail. New generic cartridges are ok.

Move the carriage back to the right position and plug in the printer. Run three cleaning cycles with a nozzle check before and after. If there is still a problem try running another three cleaning cycles. Then try a test print. If it still has problems let the printer sit over night and repeat the procedure. If the second day procedure fails then it's time for the Epson repair shop, or buy a new one.

Sometimes this procedure will not work, we're not sure why. It may be because there are other problems with the printer, not just clogged nozzles.

We have a kit available for $10.00 that has everything you need to do this procedure. Look at the bottom of this page:

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Can I Use My Old Ink In My New Printer?

If I had a nickel for every time somebody asked me this question I wouldn't need to play the lottery anymore. :-)

Although I've addressed this question in numerous newsletters it seems like It's time to do it again.

The answer is...yes and no.

That's not an answer. Well consider this. How many printer models do you think there are out there right now? 1000? 2000? Who knows. But one thing I do know is nobody, including me, is going to spend the time testing the wrong inks in the wrong cartridges all day long to see if it works.

"OK wise guy", you say, "can I at least get a reasonable explanation of why I can't use my old ink in my new printer?"

Sure, that's an easier question to answer. You see, everybody already assumes that they can before they even ask the question, that's why they word it that way. It's because of the people who sell those "one kit fits all" refill kits.

All printer manufacturers do things a little different. Without getting technical, and I really don't feel like doing 10 hours of research to prove a point, there are basically three different technologies for inkjet printers. Epson uses piezoelectric, Canon uses Bubblejet and HP and Lexmark use thermal inkjet technology.

An ink designed for Canon, for instance, has a much lower convection rate than an ink made for HP or Lexmark. The reason is HP's cartridge print heads fire at about 1 million degrees. The ink must be made to withstand that kind of heat or your resulting output will be unpredictable.

Also there are basically two kinds of ink. Dye based and Pigmented. Pigmented ink particles are much larger than dye based particles so using a pigmented ink in a cartridge designed to use dye based ink will result in a clogged print head every time. Also, pigmented inks are waterfast on any surface. Notice I said waterfast and not waterproof. Pigmented inks can made waterproof if they are used with the proper media. The same goes with dye based inks.

Pay attention to this because it will apply to any ink on the market. Any dye based ink can be used in ANY inkjet printer. The color output may not be what you expected but it will work.

Not so with pigmented inks. Pigmented inks are used in most black inkjet cartridges today. Epson has a version of color pigmented inks they call DuraBrite inks. They are very expensive to make and there is quite a hefty premium on the bulk inks from any manufacturer that I have contacted.

DO NOT use pigmented inks in any cartridge that was designed to use dye based ink.

Generally speaking, HP and Lexmark inks are interchangeable because their process' are similar. Watch for color variations though.

The newer Canon cartridges, BCI-3e and BCI-6 colors are so close that I cannot tell them apart. Ironically the cartridges are physically identical except for the BCI-3e black which is slightly larger. The BCI-3e black takes pigmented while the BCI-6 takes dye based. Be careful here. Some of the new Canon printers take both BCI-3e and BCI-6 black cartridges. A lot of people are scratching their heads over this one. Now you know why. You get the best of both worlds.

To wrap it up I'll say that you can use most inks in most printers with the exceptions that I already mentioned. Color variations, if they occur, might be compensated for in the printer driver settings. Be prepared to fiddle with it. physical damage to the printer is unlikely in any case, unless the cartridge is leaking when you put it into your printer. But you wouldn't do that. Would you?

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Blowing Off Some Steam

(The Art of Sarcastic Answers to Dumb Questions)
by Barry Shultz

Here are my favorite emails that leave me shaking my head. My replies are what I would like to respond with but obviously don't. These are actual emails that I receive on a regular basis. Please don't be offended if you actually asked one of these questions. If you did you know that you got a polite answer back with actual useful information. These are for your amusement only. Please don't read into it any more than that.

Email: How much are your refill kits?

Answer: We only have 56 different kits. Which one are you referring to? But wait, I'm sure you actually looked at our web site so this is really a test for me right? To see if I actually know what I'm talking about? I've got a better idea. Why don't you go look on our web site and email me back with the price that you found there and I'll let you know if it's the correct price, ok?

Email: I just got a new printer, a HP POS-827364e and I can't find it listed on your web site. Do you carry anything for it?

Answer: Lucky for you that I have every model ever made permanently embedded into my gray matter. Since the printer makers only introduce about 200 new models each week I spend 12 hours a day researching all of them. Did you know that there are over 12,000 different printer models made since day one? And I have memorized them all! Yep, I'm a walking encyclopedia of printer models. Whatever you do please DO NOT look in your printer to see what cartridges are conveniently sitting in there. It was stupid of us to list all of HP's 10 or so different cartridge numbers on our web site instead of 12,000 different model numbers. It is an oversight that we will correct as soon as we can figure out how to hire 10 full time research analysts to keep track of this.

Email: I placed an order on your web site and YOU sent it to my old address. Where did you get that address? Fix your system, there is something wrong with it.

Answer: I'm so sorry our web site tapped into your brain and accidentally filled out the order form with your old address. We have been trying to nail down that bug for some time now. We believe we have accidentally spawned a new type of artificial intelligence that can tap into our customers unconscious mind and pull old address' out of thin air. We are working diligently to get to the bottom of this as we have been repeatedly approached by men in black suits for the secret of our mysterious technology. Just bear with us for now. When we have the answer to this we will contact you telepathically.

Email: How do I get the ink out of the bottles? Do I use this drill thing to drill through the cap?

Answer: The ink bottles are just for show. We have an incredibly intricate and complicated system to keep the cap on the bottle. Do NOT remove the tape around the neck of the bottle or the cap might come off. If this happens, very slowly set the bottle down and leave the house. If you have a cell phone handy quickly call the nearest bomb squad. P.S. The drill tool is used to drill a small hole in your head. This will help the surgeons by prepping you for your lobotomy.

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Tips For Buying A Printer

So you're ready to buy a new printer but don't know where to start. I've put together some tips to take some of the pain out of it.

The easiest research in the beginning is right at your finger tips. There are some outstanding web sites on the internet with printer reviews. Look at some or all of these web sites:

CNET (My favorite)



Tom's Hardware Guide

Now once you've narrowed your list down somewhat it's time to go see
them in action. Stores like Best Buy, Staples, Office Max and other office
supply and computer stores have display models that you can use to see
the features up close and most importantly see the output and print quality.

Some printers are noisy, some are slow and others vibrate and clunk and those that are prone to paper jams.

Here are some questions that you should be asking the salesperson.

Do I need special photo inks to get the best quality for this printer? If yes, then it means that the printer does not come with the best quality inks. A great printer does not need top of the line inks to make a good print.

Can I see the best possible quality that this printer can make using regular plain paper? The laminated samples shown to you are printed using the best settings on the best photo quality paper. Laminating them makes them look even better. Lets see what it can do using regular paper. Ask to be shown how to change the driver settings to obtain the best settings. The procedure can be totally different, and difficult on some printers.

How many pages can you get from the cartridge? You will need this information to calculate your cost per page. Also ask what percentage of page fill it is based on. The norm is 5% but 8% - 10% is more realistic in the real world and it can be up to 30% - 70% for color printing.

What is the longevity of the inks?
All inks fade but you should be able to get several years out of a print if
it is stored properly and printed on the proper media. Some boast as high as 50 years. Lord knows how they can prove that.

Does the ink smear?
Inks should be fast drying. Have the salesperson print a page and then run your finger over it. A cheap ink will smear right after printing.

Are 3rd party cartridges and refill kits available for this printer? Since the
cartridges may cost more than the printer to replace this is an important

Here is something else to consider. Refurbished printers cost much less
and carry the full manufacturers warranty. Check the manufacturers web
site for refurbished printers. Most of them sell these. Also check out

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Take Your Printer On Vacation

A customer wrote to me and expressed concerns about leaving his inkjet
printer unattended for 3 months. While it may not be a problem he was
correctly concerned about what he might come back to. A clogged print
head. Which could result in a costly repair.

Under normal circumstances an inkjet printer will work fine if it has not been used for up to a week, however, any time beyond that MAY cause problems. I emphasize the word MAY because I have been told by some customers that they stored a printer in the closet for over a year and it printed perfectly the first time out. At the opposite end I have had customers say that if they don't use the printer at least every couple of days that their print heads dry up, resulting in a frustrating routine of deep head cleanings and cartridge replacements.

Here is what I suggested Roy to do:

Ideally it would be great if somebody could run a cleaning routine once a
week on it but probably not feasible in your case. If you remove the cartridges it would just make things worse because air would permeate the print heads and it's the heads you want to protect, not the cartridges. I would just leave the cartridges in and hope for the best.

Another alternative is to take the printer with you and use the buttons on the front panel to manually do a cleaning every so often.

We don't sell them anymore, but if you can locate some cleaning cartridges on the net, just install them and run a few head cleanings, leave the cleaning cartridges in the printer then turn it off and enjoy your trip. The cleaning fluid will keep your print heads moist and ready to print when you get back. Tape up your ink cartridges and store them in an upright position, i.e., the normal position they would be in if they were in your printer.

While Roy's 3 month leave is probably the exception rather than the norm it still raises the question of what to do in his situation. He decided to do nothing and hope for the best which was probably the best choice.

Roy, I know you're reading. Let us know how your printer works when you get back.

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Resetting Cartridge Ink Levels

On some HP printers including the HP 700 Series and many 800 series printers 3 years or older you can reset the cartridge level system by the following method.

Remove both black and color cartridges from your printer. Turn the printer on and off 5 times. In between the on and off allow twenty seconds for the machine to power down completely. When turning the printer on allow it to go through normal start up so that it realizes there are no cartridges. Some HP printers retain the ID of the last 5 cartridges used (black and color).

When the printer cartridges are not present it removes the ID from the current list. After 5 times it has removed all of the IDs and therefore believes the cartridges are now new.

The newer HP cartridges still need the tape trick. That is, selectively putting square pieces of tape on specific places on the foil contacts. For some reason this does not work every time. If this happens you need to repeat the procedure from step one. Many people give up if the first try is unsuccessful. Keep at it because it will eventually reset. I don't know why some of them are buggers. Some cartridges seem to have a mind of their own.

Same goes for Lexmark. You need the tape trick here. Ironically the same problems here as with the HP cartridges. It may not work on the first try.

For newer Epson cartridges, the skinny ones like T0346 or T048 resetting seems to take some manual dexterity. The guides on the universal resetters are a bit sloppy and if you don't have it lined up just right the cartridge won't reset. New guides are being shipped with the resetters but I'm still getting calls that they can't get the cartridge lined up properly. It just takesa little patents to get it lined up.

For Canon cartridges.....ah what can I say? Gotta love those Canons!!!

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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

It's All In The Settings

Inkjet printers do a great job on text printing but many people do not know that you don't need a photo printer to make great photo printouts. Sure a photo printer is going to do a superior job and a little faster but you really don't need a photo printer for spectacular photo quality prints.

Most inkjet printers on the market today have a mode for printing on photo glossy paper. If you use good quality photo glossy paper, 7 - 10 mills in thickness, you can get a picture perfect print.

A good quality digital camera helps too. Most digital cameras sold today have the capability of making a decent print even on the lowest resolution. Of course if you want a better print you need to use a higher resolution on your camera.

I won't go into resolution settings here because everybody has their own idea of what their perfect resolution is and my inbox would be flooded. :-)

My point with this article is to get people to use the right printer setting if they want great photo prints. If you try using regular 20 lb bond paper using the printers general settings you will be very disappointed with the results.

Get some good quality glossy paper and try this test. Make a print on regular paper using general settings. Then make one with your printer set to glossy paper using high quality mode and compare. The first will look like a water colored newspaper picture. The second will look like you just got it back from Kodak!

(Hey Cliff, is it true Kodak is going all digital? Time to buy some Fuji stock!)

This is not news to a lot of you but a surprising number of people reading this will suddenly go "hhhmmmmm, that explains some things".

Time for a shameless plug. We just put some great quality Photo Glossy
Paper on our web site. Since Repeat-O-Type was sold they dropped their "Picture Perfect" line of papers so we had to find another supplier. I was blown away by what we found. I just tested these papers and the results were astonishing. Check them out here:

Ink Level Monitors Exposed

When you print a page on your inkjet printer, if you have your drivers properly installed, you will see a small screen pop up telling you how full your cartridges are. How does your printer know this?

Most printers count ink drops. Every line of print is produced by tiny droplets of ink and your very smart printer keeps track of every one of them. It's pretty impressive because it's nothing for todays inkjet printers to lay down 12,000,000 drops per second.

Canon also uses an optical method. The ink sensor monitors the ink levels through optical detection and dot counting and alerts users when the supply of any color ink is low.

Canon's ink level system is probably the most accurate although you can still trick the printer into printing more from an "empty" ink tank. Just tell the software that you have installed a new cartridge and you can get more pages out of it.

As I mentioned before in a previous newsletter you can reset the Epson cartridges after they run out and get a whole lot more pages out of them. Of course you need an Epson universal resetter to do that.

Things can happen to throw off this counter and you may get erroneous readings from your ink level indicator, so don't put a whole lot of trust in it. It's just a guide.

It goes both ways too. Sometimes your levels will be good but your ink cartridge runs out of ink. It could be that the cartridge was not filled properly at the factory but it most likely is caused by faulty ink level data.

The data can get corrupt by things like power loss from lightning storms, a virus, hard drive crashes, Spyware, corrupt printer drivers etc, etc.

So when you think you have a tough job just be glad you don't have to keep track of 12,000,000 drops of ink per second all day long!

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Cyan And Magenta? Why The Goofy Names?

Anybody who has purchased ink cartridges know that there is no blue or red ink. Cyan sure looks blue and Magenta definitely looks red to me so why don't they just call them blue and red instead of cyan and magenta?

I'll try to clear things up a little. Monitors verses printers use different ways to produce color. A monitor is a light source while printers are light reflecting. The only common ground between a monitor and a printer is what is referred to as dithering. The definition of dithering is as follows:

A process that simulates shades of gray or color variations by differing sizes and shapes of pixel groups instead of an ordered array of halftone dots. This reduces the contrast between dots of different colors or shades and yields a more flowing, natural impression.

In other words dithering uses overlapping color dots to make colors and shades. Depending on how overlapped they are and how the dots are positioned results in a controlled color output of millions of different color shades and hues.

Now back to our discussion. Monitors and printers both use primary colors, however, a monitor uses primary additive colors Red, Green and Blue while printers use the primary subtractive colors Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. In both cases the primary colors are dithered to form the entire color spectrum. Dithering breaks a color pixel into an array of dots so that each dot is either made up of one of the basic primary colors or intentionally left blank to create white.

Cyan and magenta are actually old printing terms for blue and red but there had to be some way to differentiate them between the additive and subtractive spectrum. So I guess we're stuck with cyan and magenta for now.

So this guy goes to the store and says to the clerk, "I want to buy a red ink cartridge for my printer". The clerk politely responds, "Sorry we only sell magenta." "Bless you", the guy says, "do you need a hankie? Now about that red cartridge". The clerk, nonplussed, repeats, "Sorry we only sell magenta". "You should do something about that head cold", the guy says. By now the clerk is fuming. "Look, do you want to buy the magenta or what?" The guy says, "No thanks, but I think I'll get out of here before I catch your cold".

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Avoiding print head burnout

The print head, which is the engine of your printer and which may or may not be located inside the cartridge, houses hundreds of tiny, delicate nozzle assemblies. Each nozzle assembly consists of a tiny ink chamber, a resistor that controls the flow of ink, walls that guide the ink to the right position, and a nozzle plate with a hole, from which the ink will be sprayed onto the printer paper.

After each time a nozzle fires, a new supply of printer ink is automatically drawn into its chamber, to be ready for the next time. When the printer is told by the computer to print a page, the copper circuits on the end of the ink cartridge send a message to the nozzle's resistor, which then heats the nozzle's ink supply just enough to cause it to expand and to force a drop of ink through the nozzle onto the printer paper.

The ink which flows through each nozzle assembly functions as a lubricant and coolant for the nozzle: if there is no ink in the chamber when the resistor turns up the heat, the nozzle assembly will quickly warp and break apart -- the resistor can reach a temperature of hundreds of degrees very quickly! If the print head is allowed to begin this process of burnout (i.e. if the ink cartridge is not refilled or replaced promptly), the damage may range from poor print quality (streaks or lines across the page, bad coloration, light or dark patches on the page) to serious damage to the printer.

It is very important never to attempt to print with an empty ink cartridge. If in doubt, top off your cartridges frequently (the leftover ink from your inkjet refill kit can be stored until the next time you top off).

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My Printer Died - An Epitaph

My printer just died. My Epson C60 that I've had for almost 2 years was my buddy. I loved that printer. It was there for me through thick and thin. Sure it had it's quirks and idiosyncrasies like not printing when my office temperature dropped to 17 degrees because I forgot to turn the thermostat up one bitterly cold morning. I had to open the lid and point a ceramic space heater inside to thaw it out.

There were times that it drove me crazy. Sometimes when I asked it to print something for me it would sit there and clean itself for what seemed like an eternity. Whirr - click- pop - pop - whirr - click etc, etc, etc. I could pull my hair out sometimes. Why does it always do that when I'm in a hurry? My old Epson and me became pretty good friends though. It always treated me good with sharp, detailed prints. I never had to worry about going broke with ink cartridges because the generics I used in her were really cheap and since I bought them from myself I got the VIP discount. :-)

But that's the way it goes with inkjet printers. They are kinda like dogs. You know they have a short life span and you know that once you get one you'll fall in love with it. And when the time comes to have to part your ways it's a difficult and emotional experience. Yes, it's painful and I'm sure I'll get through it somehow but I can't stop thinking of all the fond memories that I have collected throughout the years. It's like loosing a part of me.

Ok, time to snap out of it and get a new printer. It was a daunting task to pick out a new printer. I noticed that there must be 30 new models come out this month. Holy cow, this is going to take some time. I think I like the Epson R300M because it has that monitor thingy. Rats, it's discontinued. Already??? I just saw an advertisement for it. Oh well, I guess I'll go with the R320, that has a nifty little color monitor too.

The first thing I better do is go to and see if they carry the cartridges, bulk ink and refilling stuff for my new printer. Oh, and I can't forget to email myself and ask if my old ink will work with this new printer. Darn, I don't see my new printer listed on the web site. Why don't they keep their site up to date?

Finally got an answer back from myself. Seems that they have all my stuff but I didn't think to look for cartridge numbers instead of printer models. I really think they should get on the ball and list all those new printers when they come out every day. What would it take, two, three hours a day? You can't tell me they are that busy!

I just noticed something at that I never noticed before. I found out that if I just order cartridges that the shipping is a lot cheaper, $3.85 instead of $5.50. Wonder what else I missed. I sure am glad I signed up for my newsletter!