Occasionally I get a call from someone who just can't get the darned cover off the Designjet 650 or 600. John Hamill was one of those folks and after he found the HIDDEN SCREW for the Designjet 650C he decided that he could help others by making a video. Some machines I encounter already have these screws removed, but this one didn't and John was stumped. Thanks for sharing JOHN!!!
Here's a great page for finding and downloading the service manuals for HP Designjets. It is maintained by www.PartsNow.com.
HP has an amazingly simple little app that you can download and use with 500. 800, Z series and T series plotters. It is the HP Instant Printing Utility 3
It allows you to drag your file to the open application and click PRINT and it just simply prints....easy peasy.
It works with these operating systems:
Microsoft Windows 7 (32-bit)
Microsoft Windows Vista (32-bit)
Microsoft Windows Vista (64-bit)
Microsoft Windows 7 (64-bit)
Microsoft Windows 8 (32-bit)
Microsoft Windows 8 (64-bit)
Microsoft Windows Server 2012
Microsoft Windows 8.1 (32-bit)
Microsoft Windows 8.1 (64-bit)
Microsoft Windows 10 (32-bit)
Microsoft Windows 10 (64-bit)
My most asked question these days is how to use the older plotters with Windows 8 and 10. You CAN do it. I've helped lots of folks to do it. Just last week we put an old Designjet 650 on a Windows 10 computer!
Here's an article on how to do it.
Hello from England - and thanks for the blog
My question relates to oiling the rails when installing a new belt.
I took my 1998 2500CP plotter apart, took out the old belt, which was worn but not completely broken (No small job).
I put a new belt in and the carriage juddered as it went down the rails - it would not run smoothly - but only when under tension from the new belt.
I tried a few things, but in the end had to put the old belt back on - which works fine - so it probably wasn't an installation issue.
The (friendly) vendor is worried that I may have used the wrong lubricating oil.
Can you help with a simple guide to the best oils and grease to buy?
If you watch plotter servicing videos about changing belts etc , done by apparently specialist plotter guys, the impression given is that many light oils (including sewing machine oil), are OK. Some say do not use WD40 - except on the belt, according to one!
- and you too seem to suggest any light oil would be fine.
On the other hand - a HP official lubricating and cleaning video shows a product DB2-68 from the service kit.
Googling that I found an ebay seller wanting $275 for a bottle - mamma mia, can't be right - and why is the picture Photoshopped?
My 1998 2500CP has printer plodded on for many years with no fresh lubrication and the old belt now works OK again.
- so you would not think it was that fussy about lubrication
Incidentally, I probably should put some more of that pink silicone grease on the plastic gears too.
That product seems cloaked in mystery too and I suspect that one of the many third-party silicon greases would be fine.
A small and simple list of suitable compatible types of silicone grease and oil would be good!
Many thanks, Dominic
For more than six years I have exclusively used mineral oil (also known here as Baby Oil) for lubricating the rails. I have never had a problem with anyone over oiling and never had a problem with the rails drying. Sometimes when the carriage has dirt under the bushings I have taken a syringe and needle and directly squirted mineral oil 1-3 cc's under the bushing and then moved the carriage back and forth and then done it again. This will often cause old dust and dirt to show up on the rail as I move the carriage. If it does, I keep repeating until I don't see more dirt coming out from under the bushings.
They are right when they say don't use WD40...it turns to snot on the rails and makes an awful mess. You CAN use triflow or sewing machine oil. HP will sell you rail oil for $40 USD per ounce. But if you are going to throw away that money, send it to me and I'll sell you baby oil for that amount!
When I first get and old machine, I strip it down and clean up the inside of old dust and ink and then I remove the old belt and use a dental pick to take out black residue on the motor gear and on the tensioner wheel (if it is the style with three grooves around.) If you don't do this the gear teeth on the motor can't smoothly move the belt.
Next I empty the spittoon, if there is one and replace it adding a "Mr Clean Magic Eraser Sponge" as it will absorb lots of ink and keep it from overflowing if someone moves the machine in the wrong direction while relocating it in the future.
Now I put the new belt on and put 5-7 drops of oil on the rail and vigorously move the carriage all the way to the right and all the way to the left. I also put a few extra drops in front of the cutter on the rail and manually slide the cutter all the way across and back. After all this I wipe off the rail with a paper towel and look to see if there's lots of black residue, if there is I start over again with putting more oil on the rail and moving the carriage and cutter. I keep repeating until the rail is clean and nothing shows on the paper towel and then I add oil drops again and call it complete!
These machines are so sensitive to any friction on the rail that this cannot get too much oil or too much attention!
The white plastic gears don't really need anything...I've never seen any wear on these. However, I always scrape the pink grease off the edges and put it back on the gear surface as a good will gesture to the machine! But you can use any third party silicone grease. I've also used silicone plumbers grease.
I see these old machines like classic cars and give them so much attention when I'm rehabilitating and refurbishing them. They are like beautiful old ships and almost as big! I call them "she" just like they were boats...and when they don't work they are just big boat anchors!!!
The only other thing that I can think of that might cause juddering/shuddering would be if you put the bushings for the carriage on backwards. I've only seen that once before and it didn't move as smoothly as it should.
Have you ever wondered what MERGE as a plotter setting is for? I found this today and thought I'd share it. It is from the 1055cm manual, but it applies to all plotters.
I'm always researching questions for Designjet users everywhere...last week I set up a Designjet 500 (42") in an office and had a moment of looking less than brilliant when the user asked me to help him set up his CAD for this plotter. In all honesty I told him that I don't have any experience with CAD as I'm not a designer...and then I gracefully (I'm a princess after all!) exited his office. Now to make up for that I am posting a link to Tips and Tools for Using a Designjet with CAD.
The fine folks at hpplotter.co.uk have a great video on YouTube that shows how to install and configure a HP Jet Direct card which allows you to add your plotter to the network. Watch it.
I had an interesting customer this week. He had purchased a 755cm HP Designjet from me a couple years ago. He's only called me twice needing help with the machine. He called two days ago saying that the LCD lights on his front panel no longer worked after he moved the plotter from a commercial space to his home. It was fine before the move but died when they first plugged it in at the new spot. "We only moved it three miles and we kept it vertical and it didn't get dropped."
I said he should bring it by my workshop and I'd pop another front panel into the machine. He did. I did. It worked great. We were both quite pleased. I reminded him that plotters should always be plugged into a true surge protector and then they should be left on...as they really don't suck much power and turning them on and off is actually harder on the old electronics than just leaving them on.
An hour later he called to say he'd gotten it home, plugged it in and there was even a little spark as he plugged it directly into the wall outlet...he'd buy a surge protector tomorrow...
You might have seen this one coming. He burned up the replaced front panel. Obviously he has some electrical problem with that outlet. A surge protector would have saved him time and money -- a lot of each. He assured me that he'd always left his plotter on since he bought it from me, but the surge protector message had been missed.
Lucky for him, I have one more panel I can sell to him.
Hey dear and trusty readers...I'm here in lovely Minnesota with customers standing three deep waiting for me to refurbish a plotter and get it to them. Why should you care? Because I need to find more Designjet 500 plotters. If you live in the Twin Cities metro area and have an old Designjet 500, maybe one with a bad belt or some kind of error that you can't solve, sell it to me. Call The Plotter Princess at 651-247-3022 and we'll talk about your plotter and the price I can pay.
And yes, I can also fix your broken plotter if that's what you need...
I receive calls and emails from around the world. I do whatever I can to help everyone who contacts me, but when they mention MAC I'm like a kid being told to eat their vegetables...I know I should open up to it but instead I stick my fingers in my ears and sing "LA-LA-LA-LA!"
I really don't speak "MAC" and thus, it is best if I not try to help you with these things! However, I did find that HP is willing to share some info about using their products with MAC. Here's a link to an article that may help you.
As my avid readers know, I always share the gems I find while researching a question for a customer. Today's question was "Can I print blueprints to scale on a 24" wide HP Designjet 500?" -- Since I know nothing of designing and drawing blueprints I can't give my opinions, but I can link to another website where there is a tutorial on how to do this:
Blueprints To Scale from 24" HP Designjet 500
HP is constantly re-designing their website which makes it hard for someone like me to keep up with where things are. If I'm having trouble, you may also be having the same difficulty. Here's a link to the one page that will give you almost all info you need about your plotter:
HP Designjets drop detectors are sensors that look at the drops coming out of each cartridge and pass or fail that cartridge. In the photo at the left my finger is pointing to the drop detector of a 750c. There's only one problem with most of these old drop detectors...they get covered in gooey ink and no longer work. You have 3 choices when you start getting errors related to drop detectors:
1. Set PEN CHECKING (via your menu, usually under Device/Plotter Set Up) to OFF. You don't need it, you know if your cartridges are working better than the 1997 drop detector does!
2. Remove and try to clean the drop detector...be warned there is a small circuit board hidden in the drop detector's black plastic casing so you can't just flush it with running water. But you can open the casing with a small flat knife via the plastic seam. Once open you can pull the circuit board out and wipe down the sensors and rinse the black plastic casing to get all the old ink out. (See below for photos relating to this procedure.)
3. Replace the drop detector by buying a new or used one online...
NOTE: Both cleaning and replacing the drop detector require that you re-calibrate the drop detector...look it up in your service manual. If you can't find it, contact me and I'll help.
Jim from Michigan has shared this with us...He's figured out how to make his HP Designjet 600 print faster and with less memory consumption:
2. Flattening PDF’s for Printing -- Foxit Phantom PDF Business 6.1 will give you a free 30 day trial. Their software is very similar to the ADOBE ACROBAT Pro and the best thing is it automatically flattens PDF’s before printing thus reducing the size of the file! It also has a PDF optimizer and a Reduce Size button. All for $129.00 I was having memory issues before and now that it’s flattening the PDF’s I haven't run into any more issues.
Note from the Plotter Princess: I've also found that PDF Architect is a nice $39.00 piece of PDF manipulation software. It does flattening and allows you to convert files to less memory intensive formats.
Thanks to Jim for sharing with everyone!
I've been vacationing in Florida for a few weeks and it is quickly coming to an end. Soon I'll be returning to the cold and blustery snowy local of Minnesota and get back to plotting about HP Designjet plotters! Even while I've been lounging by the pool I've been able to take calls from owners of recalcitrant plotter and help them to get their machines back to decent function...that's always fun because in the process I learn from the users and they get a new resource and friend in me! I don't charge for questions and what ever assistance I can offer, but I do take donations if you feel you want to help support this service. See my donations link on the website and give a couple dollars if you think you've been helped.
Last week was a very hot and muggy week here in Minnesota...I had two plotters in my showroom plugged into an outlet without a surge protector...I know, I know...I tell everyone to use one all the time!! Well there was a power surge and POOF!
Both machines lost their LED displays at the same time. It was my fault...lucky that I had spare parts and was able to replace and that was all that was harmed! I will never ever go without a surge protector again!!
(Readers - Brad from Perth is a fellow classic plotter enthusiast and has written a second guest blog for us...Thanks Brad!)
I have a couple more tips you might not have stumbled across.
My favourite is removal of the carriage with it remaining in the centre of the printer.
On each side of the carriage, the two slider bushes are retained by a screw and flat washer. If you remove these, you can pop your finger under the carriage and slide the bushes out (sometimes they take quite a bit of force, but you can't damage anything with finger force).
Once those are out you can work the front of the carriage up and away from the front slider rod. Then it is a matter of gently sliding it forward and off the bush on the rear. Now, the spring that tensions that rear bush has a hair trigger, and will fly quite some distance if you don't get your hand on it before sliding the carriage off.
The bushes are indexed and so can't be assembled incorrectly. I like to give the fine lubricant slots in the bush faces a real good clean, as they seem to gum up badly depending on which lubricant people use.
Assembly is reverse of removal. This way you don't have to remove the slider end caps or disturb the trailing cables (I ruined my first set as the glue holding the cable ends together had disintegrated and so they fell to bits as soon as I pulled them from the contacts).
I've also found that as the trailing cables age, they can de-laminate around where they curl into the contacts on the carriage, and also the bend that forms where they loop out in the printer. They seem very touchy to any form of movement they are not routinely subjected to (like, oh.. say slipping with a screwdriver and belting them with the palm of your fist).
Speaking of lubricant, I'm one of those sticklers for the right stuff. So I have a bottle of 6040-0855 HP synthetic lubricant that I use. It wasn't expensive, and I figure they went to the trouble of making a specific lube, so I might as well use it. At the rate I go through it I figure the bottle will last me 100 years. I also have a syringe of the right white grease for the X-axis gears, but the part number has long gone from that. It's the same stuff I use in the gears of all my laserjets, and is another HP specific goo. Again, it'll outlast me I'm sure. It turns out the synthetic lube (which is water clear when you buy it) slowly yellows with exposure to UV, so keep it in the dark (like ink). My first refill was with ink that had been sitting on my shelf for a year, and I was amazed by how much it faded in the bottle with exposure to UV. I had to drain and refill the carts with new stuff or else all my prints looked like they'd been pegged to the clothes line outside for a year.
Sometimes I've had trouble with recognition of one of the cartridges, ultimately ending in the printer becoming a monochrome model. Upon dissasembly of the carriage, I put the flexible ribbon for the cart contacts under a powerful magnifying glass and spotted where one of the contacts for the offending cartridge had a break right where the copper track joined the gold contact lump. Rather than spring for a re-furbed carriage, there are a couple of e-bay stores in China that stock replacement ribbons for less than half the price of a replacement carriage.
I always give these a good going over anyway as I completely disassemble the carriage for cleaning, but it turns out they are not very difficult to replace.
I like your spot on the DJ500. I worked in an office for years that had an 800ps, and if I could fit it in, I'd get one. Unfortunately I need the 36" wide carriage, but the hole in my office is only just big enough for the 750, so a 42" 800 would be out of the question. Just way too wide.
I've not done a great deal of research on those units, but I certainly enjoy working on the 700's, and even at 300dpi, on coated paper with good ink they do a credible job for images, and a terrific job for CAD (which is their main use here).
Ink is another one. I've taken up re-filling my own carts, and saved a fortune. I pick up new (expired) carts on e-bay when I get the chance, as I find a good refill may only last 3 or 4 fills before the image quality falls off as the print head degrades, and they are only suitable for CAD.
I keep about 3 full sets of carts, a acceptable, good, & best set that I swap between when I want to make something really shine.
I find that the silicone wipers in the service station tend to scratch the print heads if they are allowed to get too dirty. When I refill a cart I have a good look at the head under strong magnification, and that determines which pile it gets assigned to.
One of these 750's lives at my Parents house for Dad to use, so I keep some sets of carts for them also.
I find that by re-filling them myself, I can keep the little green ink level indicator working, and by making sure that they are swapped out when it goes black, rather than when they fail a cartridge check, I don't tend to burn out nozzles, and the carts last more refills.
I have it down now that I can do a set of 4 in about 15 minutes, but if I'm doing a batch I can probably do 3 full sets in half an hour. I do my wifes Officejet 6500a also. It's supposed to use different inks, but it does very well with the same stuff I put in the designjets.
You guys are lucky in that the best ink and accessories all come from the States. Costs me a bomb in postage (relatively), but it's still miles and away cheaper than even expired carts.
If it's of interest, I can detail some of the do's and don'ts I've learned about refilling too.
Here's a great video that shows you how to load a roll of paper and then "align" the paper.
The alignment is to make sure the paper is square in the plotter...and the sensors will check when you are done aligning to make sure you did it right, if you didn't it will keep kicking the out the paper load. The only other thing that can affect this is the edge detection from the same sensor...if you get an edge detection error, the light that shines red or green on the black rubber roller is probably dirty and you can reach under and clean it with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol...do this while the machine is turned off.
I'm often asked what's the difference between one plotter and another...here's a great chart by HP showing you the differences between the 400 series and the 700 series of Designjets.
Working in my kitchen was getting too disruptive to the somewhat normal lifestyle I and the husband strive for in our retirement years. Using a plotter for our sideboard in the dining room just wasn't the ambiance we want at dinner! So this week we moved my plotter inventory to the three season porch and since it is spring in Minnesota I'm looking forward to getting back to work on these amazing HP Designjets! I've got both 24" and 36" machines with both color and monochrome abilities. Since it is spring in Minnesota the plotter season is in full bloom and I'm fielding calls from landscape contractors who need to print full plans of the work that they are bidding. The phone is also ringing frequently with calls from building contractors who are once again starting new homes in this area. After years of not seeing new homes being built, they are now popping up everywhere on the landscape as I drive throughout the Twin Cities. The recovery is happening here and my customers are the living proof of it!
I'm often asked what is the difference between the 24" wide machine and the 36" plotter...Well, usually it is about $100!
Which one should you buy? The one that will do the job you need without wasting ink or paper. If you don't need a 36" printout, then you can save money and just buy the 24". If you are printing geneaology charts, project schedules or maps...you can probably do quite nicely with a 24" plotter. When do you need the 36"? When you need to print blueprints printed to scale.
Tonight I'm working on a Designjet 650C that I picked up from a very nice man who'd let the machine sit for a long time without use and apparently without covering it. If you have a plotter that is going unused for a long time and your environment is dusty, pull the cartridges and put them in a plastic bag AND cover the plotter. These old babies are work horses, but really they deserve a little extra care!
And while I was busy trying to recalibrate the bail that wasn't properly behaving, I found this site and was reminded how good they are. It appears that this site somehow got the info from HP that was set up for their HP Designjet technicians. This site has save my sorry butt many times throughout the years...so I'm giving them the official Katrinka Finkelstein Best Troubleshooting Site Award.
I'm often asked how I became, as my husband calls me, the "Princess of Plotters." It started innocently enough...I bought a plotter through an online auction. I was going to start a project that would require big graphics. I connected the plotter to my computer, loaded a driver, put in new HP ink cartridges, prepared the print and sent it to the plotter. I was amazed. This very cool print was coming out of this machine. A week before I didn't even know what a plotter was! Before the plot was complete, it made a bad noise and stopped printing. I lifted the lid and found a shredded carriage belt. Now what? I just couldn't let this machine beat me!
I called around and found the cost of a professional belt replacement was going to cost more than $500. I found a new belt online...I assumed that the repair was something I could manage myself. Some internet research told me that the whole machine would need to be taken apart, screw by screw, piece by piece. Only three days later, I had a new belt on my HP Designjet 650C! I didn't fail...the machine didn't beat me. Hooray! Now I could continue with my wide format graphics project.
I was bragging about how clever I was when a friend offered to buy my newly repaired plotter. I sold it and bought another. The next machine had a persistent "Check Paper Path" error message. More research and I found five potential resolutions. In a week I'd figured out how to fix it, performed my newly learned tricks and had a lovely Designjet 450C ready to plot! I restarted my wide format graphics project and finished it. The husband wanted his home office floorspace back, so I listed it on Craigslist. After this plotter was sold I kept getting calls from others who wanted to find a low cost plotter.
I bought another. And so the story goes...I now have had the pleasure of refurbishing virtually all models of Designjets. I've been asked which one is my favorite. Easy answer: the one I'm working on at the time! These are like my children, there's not one I love more than the other, as each does the job and makes an amazingly clean and reliable print after I've worked my magic. Each gets a total strip down and rebuild with the belt replaced, rollers and wheels cleaned, gears greased, carriage removed and totally cleaned -- especially the media sensor, and finally the plotter is set-up with new cartridges and paper. This process ensures that any plotter being sold is ready to perform for the buyer as soon as they load the driver that I also provide for them.
The moral of the story is: Don't buy a HP Designjet plotter from someone who tells you that it worked fine, the last time they used it but it has now been idle for a couple of years. If you do, you are likely to waste your hard earned dollars and have the belt break in the first few days of use. These wide format printers are about 12-15 years old and just like a car that old, the rubber is starting to crumble and needs to be replaced. Buy from someone who can assure you that the belt is good and don't hand over money until the seller can prove that it prints (plots).
I write about common problems with older HP Designjets. I'm always available 10am to 10pm CDT to answer your questions!
5188-6700, C3190-60095, C4705-60082, C1633-40082 C2990A, C2991A 5063-1257 C2951A, 5063-1256, C2913A, 17302A, 31391A C4713-60181, C4713-60182, C3180-60012, A6144-63008, C4699-60082, 51644CA, 51644CE, 51644CL, 51640A, 51644C, 51644M, 51644Y, 51640AA, 51640AE. 51640AL, 51644MA,51644ME, 51644ML,51644YA,51644YE 51644YL, C4713-40038, C4699-40003,C4699-40004, C4699-00015,C3190-60082, C4699-40005,C3192-60001, C4699-60078,C3174-40011, C3876A, C3886A,51642A, C4696-60006,C3190-40029, C4704-60095,C3190-40041, C3190-40052,J3258-61041, J2591-69001, J2594-69001, J3258B, J2591A, J4102B, J2590A, J4101B, J3264A, J3265G, C3190-40045, C3178-00030, C4705-00017, C4696-60007, C6074-60460, 6040-0858, C3146-67901, C4699-60074, C4699-69039, J3265-69001, J2382-69003, J4102-69022, J2592-69001, J2590-69001, C4699-60064, C3190-60145, C4699-00008, C4699-60020, C4699-60011, C4699-60015,C4699-60014, C4699-60017,C4699-60018, C4699-60012,C4699-60019, C4699-60016,C4699-60013, C4699-60081,5188-5676, 0957-2340,0950-2623, C4699-60003, C3190-60132, 5183-5268,5184-2833, C3190-60096, C4699-60042, C3174-60013,C3190-60140, C3190-60142,C4713-60123, C6072-60286,C3174-60005, C4699-60002,C3190-80010, C1633-80005,C3192A, C4713-60098