Printer and Photocopier Troubleshooting and Repair Collection : HP PaintJet problems                    
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HP PaintJet problems

"My HP PaintJet printer has a problem! When I turn the printer on, the print head moves as if it's cleaning the head but thats it! The "on" light stays on but the "SET TOF", "LF", and "FF" buttons don't work. I've tried a test page by holding down the "FF" button and turning on the printer but it won't print. It just goes through the head cleaning stage again and then stops. If I turn the printer off and manually move the print head to the other end of the carriage and then turn it back on again the print head will move back to it's home position."

(Responses from: Paul Grohe (grohe@galaxy.nsc.com))

I am assuming you have the original tractor-feed "PaintJet", and not the sheet-feed 300XL.

It sounds like you have a problem with the "paper out" detector.

Is the second lamp on, even when there is paper loaded?

Here's a clue: If the other light is ON after you do the self-test key sequence, then it thinks there is no paper loaded, so it does not print. The buttons are useless at this point, too. I have confirmed this with my PaintJet by removing the paper, and it does exactly what you describe. During normal "self test" printing, the paper out lamp is off.

It is very common with DeskJets and PaintJets to have their "paper out" detectors jam after rough handling.

Looking down into where the paper goes in, there is a little black lever sticking up (about 8cm to the right of the left end of the platen). This is the paper detect lever. The other end is a "flap" that goes between a photodetector.

Make sure this lever moves freely.

Open up the case (don't worry, it is very simple). Pull the big platen knob off. Then there are two rubber "wedges" stuck in two oval-ish latch holes on the bottom under the front "lip". Pull out the wedges and squeeze the latches. The cover then lifts right off (nothing is connected to it).

With the cover removed and viewing the printer from the front, look at the bottom left corner of the circuit board. You can see the "flap" end of the paper detect lever and photosensor, right above the "made in USA" sticker. Make sure it moves freely and that it is situated between the two detector "blocks" (I have seen these levers "wedge" themselves against the outside edge of the detector).

My guess is that you will either find paper jamming the lever, the lever itself mechanically jammed, or a piece of paper wedged in the sensor.

While you have the top off, notice that there is a long, plastic strip with fine lines on it running along the front. This is used for sensing the head position. Move the head over and make sure that strip is clean and that no ink has spilled anywhere on it. Also clean out any paper dust or spilled ink.

Don't be afraid to plug in the printer to test it with the cover off. The input voltage is only 20VAC, so you will not get shocked. Just be careful of the orientation of the power plug and watch out for the moving parts.

BTW1: The PaintJet printer is very stupid. It will 'print even with the cartridges removed or the platen motor unplugged, so there are no other sensors that could be causing a problem.

"The symptoms are that first the color cartridge got weak and stopped working and now the same has happened to the black cartridge. It's not out of ink or clogged and the contacts are all clean."

The 3630 (aka: "PaintJet") was one of, if not THE first, color ink jet printer. As such, it was plagued by the usual "first-of-it's-kind" problems. HP learned from their mistakes on this one!

We have a few of them around here, and your experience is not unusual. They tend to "dry up" more often than the newer printers. I seriously doubt it is an electrical failure.

Even though the cartridge appears "full", the ink gallies will clog if not used after a certain amount of time. After a week or two, you will need to clean and prime the cartridges.

This printer does not have the automatic "priming" that the DeskJets have. Instead, you have to remove the cartridges and manually prime them with the "plunger" located under the "flap" on the top-left. Then "wipe" them with the rubber "nose-wiper" located on the underside of the cartridge access door.

There is (supposed to be) a slide-out card located on the bottom of the printer with the "cleaning and priming" instructions (The little tab with the "i" on it).

The PaintJet also lacks a rubber-sealed "cover" for the cartridge head when it is in the "park" position. This greatly adds to the "dry-out" problem.

The head connector also creates some problems. The 3930 uses two rows of individual long, gold-plated "fingers" to make contact with the cartridge. These "contacts" can bend back, or become mis-aligned, due to improper cartridge insertion or wear.

Take a look at these "fingers", and just make sure they are even and straight. Don't bend them too much, as they are brittle. Also make sure there is no leftover ink on the contacts. Don't press

It should be easy to fix. However, you may go bankrupt replacing the cartridges.

There are ink "refill" kits available, however, the problem is usually with the clogging of the internal passageways and jets. So new ink won't help much.

My suggestions:

Check the contact "fingers".

Try "priming" and "cleaning" the cartridges.

Try replacing the cartridges with known good ones (or new).

If you will not be using the cartridges for a while, remove them and place them in a sealed container or baggie for storage (place them in the same position as they are in the printer).

"What other printers are compatible with the PaintJet if I cannot get mine working and I need to use existing software"?

The "PaintJet" is a 180 DPI, "PCL" language printer. Just like the "newer" DeskJets.

If your unit has a parallel or serial interface, you can use any one of the older DeskJet printers (500/600 "C" series, DJ plus) - any that use the "PCL" language) or almost any laser printer (HPII compatible - B&W only). However, the newer printers are 300DPI printers, so the printouts will be 30-40% smaller.

If it is a HPIB interface, look for a HPIB ThinkJet.

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