Ron Ardito, Epson technician and frequent guest of the show, handles a few rapid-fire listener questions this week before diving into more in-depth topics such as the Automatic Head Cleaning Failed error and a discussion comparing the Epson Stylus Pro 7890 to the 7900.
- Tracking ink usage digitally without wasting paper?
- Not getting black after power cleans but all other colors are fine
- Epson 7890 vs. 7900 for a low volume printmaker
- Thinking about how long Epson will support a printer when considering which one to buy
- Failed automatic head cleaning messages and what they mean for the longevity of your machine
- Much more!
Listen in to learn about Automatic Head Cleaning Failed error
- For more on Ron Ardito, check out his website.
- Listeners featured in this episode include Stephen from Stephen Lee Photography, David, Rick, and John.
- We’ve packaged the links to all of Ron’s appearances on the show into a single PDF! Get it by texting “ARDITO” to 33444.
- Love the show? Have some feedback for us? Leave us a review on iTunes.
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Announcer 1: You are listening to the AskBC podcast – your printmaking questions, answered by the experts!
Justin: Hey guys, this is your host Justin, welcome to episode 24 of the AskBC podcast! Ron Ardito from Arditos.com joins us today to talk about Epson printers. We’re gonna address, specifically, calculating ink usage on the 7900, Epson 7890 vs. 7900, and the Epson Automatic Head Cleaning Failed Error.
If you’ve heard our previous podcasts with Ron, you know he’s a long time Epson technician, and the resident Epson expert around here. So let’s jump right into these listener questions.
Announcer 2: Steven from Steve Lee Photography asks, “ I have an Epson 7900, and I want to get the print log over the network interface into my computer so that I can record ink usage without printing the report on paper. The information was available with an Epson app when I purchased my printer, but that service was discontinued. Do you know of any solutions?”
Ron: No, at this point no.
Justin: There still isn’t anything.
Ron: You still have to go with the paper.
Justin: Okay, that’s an easy answer there.
Announcer 2: David asks, “I have an Epson 4900, and after power cleaning all channels, the blacks still will not print properly. What do I need to do?”
Ron: You need to put a new print head in it.
Justin: New printhead.
Ron: Absolutely. No alternative. if you’re getting solid nozzle checks on all the other colors, for example, if you have every one is perfect except for, say, the photo black, and you have the top and the bottom of it but you’re missing the center, it’s the printhead.
The pump is functioning, because you’re getting the other colors.
Justin: I wonder if he’s missing all blacks. Would that be pretty strange?
Ron: That would be pretty strange, and not very probable.
Justin: Highly unlikely.
Ron: Highly unlikely, yeah. Because they’re not in the same sections of the printhead.
Justin: Gotcha. Could that be an electronic problem?
Ron: I would still say no, I would definitely think – it’s an electronic problem within the printhead itself, yeah, but what’s happening is – with those printheads is they’re not clogging, they’re failing internally. That’s what’s happening.
Announcer 2: Rick asks, “I’m a low-volume user and need to decide between buying an Epson 7890 and an Epson 7900. Are there any advantages to the older model? I’m thinking the printhead may be more reliable for lower-volume users. What are your thoughts?”
Ron: I think it’s the same printhead. It is the same printhead used in both machines. If he’s going to spend the money on a 7890, and he wants the addition ink color and a little wider color spectrum with the 7900, he’s going to get the orange and green inks, of course that will cost him more money in the long run because he’s got two additional ink cartridges, but that would be my choice.
Again, I don’t know what his application is and I don’t know what he’s printing.
Justin: Would it be wise to maybe go down – I mean, there’s no advantage to going down to like a 4900, right? Same printhead.
Ron: No, no – the 4900 uses a different printhead.
Justin: Okay, do you think that’d be better for lower-volume stuff?
Ron: You want to go with a 7890 or the 7900.
Justin: What about an older, like an 800? Because this guy, maybe he can just get into a 7800 pretty cheap or something? Different printhead, yeah?
Ron: Yeah, definitely, and it’s a more reliable printhead. If he can find himself like a 7880 or a 9880, because i would stay away from the 78s and 98s at this point, because I know for a fact that they’re very soon going to stop supporting those two machines.
They won’t stop supporting the 9880 and the 7880 and the 4880, because they came out a couple years after the 78 series, you know?
Justin: So there’s a few years on that still.
Justin: Okay, that’s a good solution.
Announcer 2: John asks, “I print on a large format Epson Stylus Pro printer. If I run a nozzle check and there is some slight clogging, I go ahead and run a normal clean. Often, at the end of this normal clean, I receive an error message that says, “Automatic head cleaning failed – retry?” Strangely, after receiving this error, I can reprint the nozzle check and everything looks okay – there are no broken lines or missing spaces in the color channels. What should I do? Is it okay to just keep printing, since everything looks okay on the nozzle check?”
Ron: Usually what’s happening is, some machines are more sensitive to others based on the firmware that’s in the machine. The early ones were very sensitive – if there’s any kind of discrepancy on the output, on the nozzle output, on the nozzle check, the machine would fail the nozzle test.
So what’s happening is, when the machines running a normal cleaning cycle – not a power clean – a normal cleaning cycle, and if he has the machine on “auto-clean,” he should turn it off, number one – you do not want that on.
But what I would suggest to people who have this issue is leave the machine on all the time, because when it goes into power save mode and then you bring it back up by hitting any button on the display, it’s not gonna run a cleaning cycle. If you turn the machine off, and it’s been off for a couple days, based on – there’s a clock on the main board which determines when the machine was used last – so if the clock determines that the machine should run a cleaning cycle, it’s gonna run it and it’s gonna fail, obviously.
So he can have a perfect nozzle check and the machine can still fail the cleaning cycle.
Ron: Yeah, and the only fix there is, you know, when I [unintelligible] on a machine like this, I first explain what I just told you, and at that point I say, “Listen, leave it on – turn off auto-clean, and live with it.” You know, because your nozzle check is good and it’s not affecting the output.
Justin: So that’s what really matters, is seeing a clean nozzle check – even though you get that message.
Ron: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. But what happens is if you keep getting that message, eventually there’s in the machine they call it an AID board. Have you ever heard that technology?
Justin: Yeah I have, what does that stand for?
Ron: Automatic Ink Detect. So what the machine is doing is keeping track of how many times that it’s failed a nozzle check, then eventually it’ll go into an RET100 error, which is unrecoverable – you can’t use the machine when it goes into that error, and then it’s time to get a serviceman in there. That’s why you don’t want to fail too many nozzle checks.
Justin: Jeez, okay, interesting. Funnily enough, I’ve actually seen this code myself – or this error, rather – on a brand new printer.
Ron: An RET100?
Justin: No, the automatic head clean failed. Like, booted up a brand new printer, you know, got the ink in there and then like the first cleaning…
Ron: Not unusual, not unusual, because sometimes it’ll take an initial fill, will not always clear a head, you know, get all the ink into the system.
Sometimes you’ll do an initial fill, and from my own experience setting up machines at this level, you’ll have to run another power cleaning. Like when I put a new head in a machine, there are times that I’ll run two power cleanings, sometimes three power cleanings, to get all the nozzles back.
On a 4900, it’s a heartbreaker, because it takes 10 minutes to run a power clean. And you’ll end up sometimes running five of them to get the head back.
Ron: I know.
Justin: There’s no – is there any down side to running that many power cleans back-to-back? Doesn’t it heat up the printhead or something?
Ron: Not really, no the ink is always cooling the printhead. Every printhead has a thermometer in it that is monitored by the main board and it keeps track of the heat. If you get an error where the head overheats, they call it a head camp error, one of two things – the main board is dead, which it rarely is, or the head itself has failed.
Ron: Because when the head is [unintelligible], you have a flushing box on the 9800, it’s on the left hand side, you have one on the right hand side on the 9900, on the 79 it’s on the right hand side. You’ll see the machine sometimes pause at the capping station. What it’s doing is it’s spraying ink out of the system to cool the head.
Justin: Okay, right, interesting. I didn’t know that’s why it did that.
Ron: Do you know anything about printers?
Justin: Not much!
That’s why you’re on the phone.
Ron: [laughs] That’s exactly why I’m on the phone. I’m only kidding with you, you know that.
Justin: Well guys, that’s all the questions we have for today’s episode, that wraps up episode 24 of the AskBC podcast!
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