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FAQ - Printers

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Last updated: 7/23/02
Also, see How to Troubleshoot Printer Problems
Q. What is wrong when a laser printer prints grey pages?
A. The photoreceptor or drum may be defective. Increasing the
print density setting may fix it temporarily. The
photoreceptor may be part of the toner cartridge.
Q. What is wrong when a laser printer prints all black pages?
A. The drum is not being charged. The charger corona wire is
probably broken or not making good electrical contact. The
charger corona wire may be part of the toner cartridge. Try
uninstalling and reinstalling the toner cartridge. If that
doesn t work, try another toner cartridge.
Q. What is wrong when a laser printer prints dark pages and
double images?
A. The print intensity may be set too high.
Q. What is wrong when a laser printer prints all white pages?
A. The transfer corona wire may be broken.
Q. What is wrong when a laser printer prints pages that are
dirty or smudged?
A. The fuser assembly is probably not working. The fuser
melts the toner onto the page. Be careful; they can get very
hot. The toner cartridge may be leaking. A paper jam can
cause this.
9/24/02 "bigbrother" submitted the following bit of
wisdom via our forums...
Problem: Brother 1250 Printer puts text on the page ok,
but the background of the whole page is gray.
Solution: Try replacing the toner. Unlike many other
laser printers, the 'unused' toner on some Brother
Printers gets recycled back into the toner cartridge.
Many conventional laser printers put the used-toner into
a waster toner hopper located on the drum. This is why
many Brother printers have a drum life in excess of
20,000 pages, and many conventional Lasers have a drum
life of only 6,000 pages.
Once the toner has been through the printer a couple of
times without being used, it looses it's electrostatic
properties. When these properties are lost, you'll
start to get a gray background on all printed output.
Although there may be toner left in the cartridge, the
toner is 'spent' and the cartridge needs replacing.
Conventional Lasers exhibiting gray backgrounds, the
first port of call would be a replacement drum - be
aware that the Brother printer is quite different!!!
Note, the replace toner signal may not illuminate (at
least my didn't).
My 3,000 page toner cartridge lasted 3,800 pages, so no
complaints here
The last 300 pages were rather grey though!!!
9/25/02 "Twinhead" from our forums submitted this about
Brother lasers...
I had have also such problems.
This time it was with 4 Brother HL 1270N printers on my
the pages are printed grey on the entire surface and
black letters are not totally black anymore.
The grey is also not equaly shared across the surface.
I have taken out the drum unit and the toner cartridge,
blown the printer clean with compressed air, replaced
the drum unit and a new toner cartridge and cleaned the
corona wire.
It solved the problem.
It seems that the system has difficulties to spread the
toner equally when the cartridge is near empty.
If you take out one cartridge, you can determine if it
is (near) empty.
Take it out and lay it flat on a solid surface.
Let it there for about two minutes and pick it up with
as less of movement as you can.
move it between you and a lightsource or a window. (Keep
it horizontally!)
Then look at one of its short sides straight with its
axis to the other short side. (As if you attempting to
watch through it like a tube)
If you can see light through a little round window, it
is (almost) empty.
Replace it if so.
Q. What is the "specified" maximum length of a parallel
printer cable for a PC?
A. There are two kinds widely used parallel port printer
cables for PCs. The old "standard" IBM Printer cable and the
newer IEEE 1284 bi-directional cable commonly sold today. The
old IBM printer cable was a rather loose standard having its
roots with cables originally designed for Centronics printers.
It was uni-directional from the PC to the printer and had a
25-pin male DB25 connector at one end and a 36-conductor male
Centronics connector at the other end. The "standard-issue"
cable was six feet. The maximum cable length was commonly
stated as 15 feet. I have operated printers with old 20-foot
IBM PC cables and some, not many, PC/printer combinations will
work with a quality 25-foot cable. There are devices which
can extend this length significantly.
Commonly available IEEE 1284 cables have a 1284 Type A, 25-pin
male DB25 connector at one end and either the older 1284 Type
B, 36-conducor male Centronics connector or the newer 1284
Type C, 36-conductor Mini-Centronics connector at the other
end and are available in 6, 10, 15, 20, and 30 ft lenghts.
The specification also calls for various cable configurations
with different connector genders. The maximum specified
length of a IEEE 1284 cable cable is 10 Meters (approx. 30
feet) for data transfers at rates up to 2 Mhz (of course, this
maximum requires that the ports at both ends of the cable meet
the IEEE 1284 spec as well as the cable). IEEE 1284 cables
should work with older IBM printer ports (SPP = Standard
Printer Port) and uni-directional printers.
Q. Where can one find help with a LaserJet IIIP that is
producing an ERROR 52?
A. Early models of the LaserJet IIP/IIIP, Apple Personal
Laserwriter, QMS PS410, and other printers with the Canon LX
laser engine have a defect in the scanner assembly that
causes the scanner speed control IC to overheat and burn out.
This is sometimes indicated by the smell of a printed circuit
board burning. This error can begin as an intermittent error
which can be corrected by pressing Alt-continue (on HP
printers), but eventually it cannot be worked-around this way.

HP's web sit suggests taking the printer to HP Authorized

Service Center for repair. An upgraded assembly with
step-by-step instructions can be purchased from All Laser
Service for about $70 U.S. The assembly is buried deep in the
center of the printer, and takes about three quarters of an
hour to change.
Q. I Keep getting a message saying 'There was an error
trying to write to...' when I try to print to my HP printer.
Any ideas?
A. The printer software is loosing communications from/with
the printer. Are you using the same cable as the one you used
on the laptop? You may have a marginal cable which will work
on one computer printer port and not on the other; not likely.
It should be an IEEE-1284 (bi-directional cable). Check for
pushed-in pins on the printer cable. Screw the PC end down and
latch the Centronics end at the printer. Remove any other
device you may have attached to the port; e.g., scanner. Click
Cancel, turn the printer off, unplug the printer cable, wait a

few seconds, reconnect the cable, make sure the printer is on

with no error lights, restart Windows, and try again. Remove
and reinstall the paper (paper out can cause a printer
communications error, at least it can in DOS). Try the various
printer modes in your computer's CMOS Setup. ECP+EPP usually
works with bi-directional printers, but others may fix the
problem. Try F8 just as Windows starts to boot, select the DOS
prompt from the resulting menu, find a non-zero length text
file (one that is 1-2K would be a good choice) (e.g.,
autoexec.bat or something ending in .txt), and print from DOS
C:\>type autoexec.bat>lpt1:
C:\>type filename.txt>LPT1:
If that works consistently, the problem is probably in
Be sure Windows is set-up correctly with the correct printer
driver and something else (another printer, FAX, etc.) is not
assigned LPT1: Be sure the 710 is set as the default Windows
printer. Try it on another desktop computer. If that works,
try another printer on the suspect computer. I have seen cases
where a baby AT motherboard was upgraded, but the printer
cable/header assembly from the old motherboard was used and
caused problems, but that is very rare. Also, the cable
connecting to the motherboard could be backwards or loose.
Q. Why do Spool32 errors occasionally occur when printing with
an HP LaserJet in Windows 95/98/Me?
A. This can be caused by interference with the spooler by
FAX or answering machine software. Try these steps:
In Start, Settings, Printers, click the printer driver with
the right mouse button, Details, Spool Settings, change
Spool Data Format settings from RAW to EMF or vice versa.
In the Spool Settings, select Print directly to printer.
In Port Settings, try unselecting everything that is
Run a virus scan.
Upgrade the LPT.VXD file. (Windows 95 only)
Use one of the built-in Microsoft drivers.
Download the latest version of the product driver from
Temporarily close the interfering program for printing
purposes. Press CTRL + ALT + DELETE to open the Close
Program window. Highlight any fax/answering machine program
listed and select End Task. Repeat this process for each
program listed that may interfere with the printing process.
Try again to print. If printing is successful, the
program(s) closed was interfering with the printing process.
Uninstall or deactivate it.
Remove temporary files in C:\TEMP and C:\WINDOWS\TEMP.
Windows 95 only... install the alternate Lpt.vxd file.
Rename C:\windows\system\lpt.vxd to lpt.old. Copy the
Lpt.vxd file from the Drivers\Printer\Lpt\lpt.vxd on the
Windows 95 CD to C:\Windows\System.

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