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Author Topic: Another 4900 horror story  (Read 15611 times)
HSakols
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« Reply #160 on: February 18, 2014, 08:04:38 AM »
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Now if I had called Epson support they would have told me 1. just keep flushing ink or 2. sorry it is broken - throw it in the garbage and buy a new one.  My printer now runs like it did when it was brand new.  The bottom line is that Epson could be more helpful in coming up with solutions to help users who have clogs, but that is not part of the business plan.  I would definitely check out using a cleaning fluid for difficult clogs. 
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #161 on: February 18, 2014, 08:41:22 AM »
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Now if I had called Epson support they would have told me 1. just keep flushing ink or 2. sorry it is broken - throw it in the garbage and buy a new one.  My printer now runs like it did when it was brand new.  The bottom line is that Epson could be more helpful in coming up with solutions to help users who have clogs, but that is not part of the business plan.  I would definitely check out using a cleaning fluid for difficult clogs. 

I would like to agree with you, but it really isn't clear to me what more Epson can recommend that they haven't already done. It could just be the case that given the design of these printers they sincerely believe it is risky to put any more intervention into the hands of the broad clientele. Remember, not everyone out there is you, and everything they recommend is a potential liability of some kind. There is an issue for people not using these printers more or less continuously, which I think needs to be addressed upstream at the design and marketing stages.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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HSakols
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« Reply #162 on: February 18, 2014, 09:33:16 AM »
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I can see your point regarding liabilities of Epson to make suggestions that might not work for everyone. 
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Roger_Breton
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« Reply #163 on: February 18, 2014, 10:48:09 AM »
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Update 7

Today, I got hold of a Chip Resetter for the 4900 cartridges. I was very skeptical that it would work, because it only has 7 pins and there are 9 gold contacts on the cartridges. And because I was told that these only work *if* there are more than 15% ink left in the cartridge. Still, I followed the procedure and it worked. Well, it worked for 5 out of 6 cartridges? After resetting the chips, I injected cleaning fluid in each one and I was able to launch a "Powerful cleaning". But soon after the printer started the cleaning, an error message appeared on the console reading "Ink Cartridge Error". And no matter what I did, thereafter, the printer refused to get to the main menu. I tried resetting the chip many times to no avail. The only thing I can see that could possibly explain this is the fact that, this was the first cartridge I started refilling with cleaning solution, and I remember, when I first started, using the gargantuan 50 ml syringe the store gave me, the fluid was clearly not getting in the ink pouch at all, it was spilling inside the cartridge itself while making a small mess of my desk. That's when I switched the 10ml Walgren-type synringe and it worked fine from there, as far as refilling the cartridges is concerned.

So now, my only choice it to go back to the store to buy a "compatible" cartridge, which sells for 60% of Epson's cartridges prices. (I don't want to give Mr. Epson more money at this stage).

The good news is that, throughout the "Powerful cleaning", before I got the error message, I observed ink actually flowing through the little transparent tubing that connected between the flushing station and the maintenance tank. Which tells me, it's not over yet ;-)

Roger
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Roger_Breton
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« Reply #164 on: February 18, 2014, 12:29:55 PM »
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Update 8

Well, I put in my new el-cheapo Green cartridge in, which allowed me to resume testing.

First thing I did was to launch the Epson Adjustment program from my PC and tried a couple nozzle checks.
I got Yellow, Vivid Light Magenta and the Light Light Black.
Encouraged, I launched a CL2 Cleaning. I watched as ink was flowing into the flushing tube but it it was clear that, on some cycles, nothing was coming out.
I then ran a new nozzle check, just for the hell of it.

Well? The Photo Black is almost back! I have the Light Black, which is looking pretty good. Nothing in the Cyan, Vivid Magenta, Orange and Green.
The Light Cyan is back. So, all in all, I think I should pursue this.

I think I am obviously struggling with air, somewhere. I am told that air is the number 1 public ennemy of inkjet printing.

We'll see.
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Pete Berry
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« Reply #165 on: February 18, 2014, 01:15:02 PM »
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...I wish I could go to Canon or HP to "teach Epson a lesson". But, they don't care, they're a business and they have no sympathy for users like me who dare to venture out in the group of folks who turn a lot of prints with these machines professionnally, day in, day out. But I looked at HP and Canon, and have not found anything palatable in the 17" format. Epson has a monopoly on that market segment. Canon makes a 17" iPF5100 (is that the right model number?) but from what I can read, from people's experience, it appears even riskier than another 4900...

As a 7+ year Canon iPF user (5000-5100) I admit that it is a perverse part of my nature to follow the travails of the Epson X900 series on both this and DPRev's printer forum.

I've read the Canon iPF wiki religiously since it's inception shortly before my acquiring my 5000, and there has never been anything remotely similar to the problems of the X900 printheads - owners returning early failed printers as many a four times, with "reconditioned" replacements failing from the get-go. I remember a single iPF5000 being returned for mechanical failure way back, but none since. The powered roll-feed units were frequently defective in the early 5000's, but were easily fixable - no problem with the 5100. I've don't think factory reconditioned iPF's are even offered by Canon, as I've never seen one mentioned.

Sure, there are printhead failures that seem more likely with very light usage, but the thermal bubble-jet heads are made with a huge redundancy of nozzles and auto-remapping of failed ones - which I think is electro-thermal burnout/shorting rather than "simple" ink clogging, as power cleanings rarely (never in my experience) make a difference. The two printheads, though relatively expensive at around $400 each, are easily user replaceable and consume about 100 ml ink each in the purging/recharging replacement process. I've had four failures over the years - the first two under warranty, with new ones (the upgraded PF-03's - overnighted after a single conversation with the Canon tech - who said that if a single forced cleaning didn't change the nozzle check, more are just a waste of ink.

Fours years after that, and a couple thousand sq ft later, I replaced the 5000 with a 5100 when the heads failed - and now 2.5 years of trouble-free printing, total freedom from nozzle checks and cleaning cycles aside from the routine self-maintenance with the printer left on. And this is the usual with the several iPF users I know. Where you can get into real trouble with the iPF's is when you override head error messages, continue printing, and risk blowing controller boards by drawing too much current through the failed heads.

So Roger, I would be most interested in the source of your (mis?)information about the only real, fully pro-featured alternative to the problematic 4900, with roll feed, vacuum hold down transport, and lossless 12-ink auto black switching.

Pete
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Roger_Breton
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« Reply #166 on: February 18, 2014, 03:11:32 PM »
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Amazon User Reviews. Looks like they're not worth all that much?

Roger
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Pete Berry
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« Reply #167 on: February 18, 2014, 07:17:50 PM »
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Amazon User Reviews. Looks like they're not worth all that much?

Roger

I'm assuming you didn't read the Amazon Epson 4900 reviews, then: 35 reviews total - 19 were 1-star; six 2-star. Average 1.5 stars. 

Canon 5100 had 5 reviews, average 3 stars, with two 5's. One of the 1-stars was for a guy who was trying to print with a head error on one of his 2+ year old units:

 "This is a fantastic printer. We have used 2 of them for over 2 years. Until firmware ver 1.38 came out. Now it will not allow printing to continue if the head has the slightest clog. It will not even print out the sheet showing if the head is clogged. It just stops and says print head must be replaced ($500 to $600 ea) Tech support just says that the print heads are expendable."  The new firmware prevents precisely what I mentioned above - frying the controller board trying to print with a defective printhead.

And the 4900 is worth $500 more than the Canon? I imagine there are a host of 4900 users who would kill for a $600 user-replaceable head.

Pete
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Roger_Breton
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« Reply #168 on: February 18, 2014, 09:43:22 PM »
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The 4900 reviews weren't glorious either, I'll admit.

Let me tell you a bit of my background.
As many, I got into large format printing using an Epson 3000 many years ago.
Then, I "graduated" to a 4000. Loved the printer. Until, one day, Magenta clogged solid.
Then, I did my homework but reluctantly gave more of my hard-earned money to Mr. Epson, in a 4900.
But my heart was not with Epson.

When I looked around for information on the Canon recently, I was turned down by the prospect of more head changing.
At $500 each, it was a lot of money. Granted, a lot less than the $1800 that Epson wants, today, to sell me a 4900 head.
Another thing that turned me off on the iPF5100 was the price, which was more than the 4900, factoring the $500 going rebate then, in 2011. Then, I was turned down by the size of the cartridges, 130ml, which, if I remember correctly, seem more expensive than Epson's.

All your points are well taken, believe me.

I took information from Amazon, yes. I also looked around on the net. Sadly, distribution for the Canon is not as widespread as for Epson. If I go to my local pro-photo reseller, few of them have Canons these days. Prepress resellers don't know anything about Canon. I have nothing against Canon myself. In fact, I tend to like Canons. I still have an i360 here, and, boy, it is still going strong as years of fatithful service. Before owning large format Epson, I had the small size Epson printers and those were the same story as my 4900. I was probably the victim of my casual usage.

All in all, if I had to buy a replacement printer for my 4900 printer today, which I'm trying to avoid at all costs, I would have to go back to Epson again. I read the other horror stories that some users have reported on Amazon and elsewhere. I remember the joy of replacing my 4000 during its first year of operation. I can empathize for those that claim they actually had to go through not one, but two or three or four printers, all in the same week. It is a royal pain.

Recently, I was even considering getting a Xerox 7800, which prints 13x19, just to get away from the pains and agony of head clogging. Wouldn't have been as wide as a 4900 or a 3880 or an iPF5100. Wouldn't have produced prints with the same depth but it would have saved me from the insult of giving more of my hard-earned money back to Mr. Epson. I mean, talk about adding insult to the injury.

This being said, I'd really like to go Canon on my next inkjet printer...
« Last Edit: February 19, 2014, 06:42:55 AM by Roger_Breton » Logged
Mark D Segal
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« Reply #169 on: February 18, 2014, 10:00:52 PM »
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This business of comparing the relative economics of Epson versus Canon printers is fraught with all kinds of methodological issues. The design and technologies are so different. For Epson, the printhead is essentially the printer. When the head dies you buy a new printer. For Canon the printhead is a consumable and you are expected to replace them. So on average at 500 or so a pop, how many Canon printheads get replaced versus one Epson? No one I know has a reliable public data base on this.

Then there is the cost of the machine itself: What do you pay for the machine excluding the value of the ink it comes packed with on arrival? I haven't seen this compared model for model.

Then there is ink consumption per sq. ft. of printing. I have a reasonable handle on that variable for some of the Epsons with the papers I've used, and i have published data on that metric on this website, but Epson has made it successively more difficult over the years to accurately pin this variable and I have not sighted data from Canon users that would make a reliable comparison possible.

Then there is the value of time and frustration factor. This includes the quality of service and support both in and out of warranty, as well as the time the users need to expend on operating and maintaining their printers both for normal use and in case of trouble. To understand this, one needs to go well beyond the complaints department of web forums and understand the broad user experience for comparable models from both companies. Again, where's the data? One also needs to look at the retailing arrangements for the several companies and determine relative ease of accessibility.

As for print quality, Epson claims it has the most accurate dot placement technology and the smoothest tonal gradation capability in the industry, but then again they all claim to be the best and a number of models from several companies have become so good one is hard-put to be certain that one brand is superior to the other in all respects.

Bottom-line for me: hard to generalize in a comparative way about these machines so great care is needed parsing and filtering what one reads on the internet.

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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
Pete Berry
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« Reply #170 on: February 18, 2014, 10:55:21 PM »
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Roger, I had forgotten Canon's poor Canadian representation of their iPF's and much higher prices than in the states. It seems to me that a 3880 would be the ideal choice if long panos are not your thing - it goes to 38", I believe. And neither the clogging history of the 4900 or inevitable head failures of the iPF's. My history of head failures (excepting the two early warranty-covered failures in the 5000) has been four years before the replacements failed, when I opted for a new 5100, and going on three trouble-free years with it. I do like the total freedom from nozzle checks, have gone as long as six weeks without printing sans problems, and feel I've gotten my money's worth and more.

Mark, here's a link from the Canon LFP Wiki comparing the 5100 with the 3800 and 4800 several years ago, with some specifics regarding print longevity and ink usage as well as links to a LL discussion:

http://canonipf.wikispaces.com/iPF+vs+Epson+3800+%26+4800

Pete

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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #171 on: February 18, 2014, 11:00:32 PM »
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Somewhat useful, but dated, irrelevant for the Epson x900 series and doesn't really address the kinds of factors that would be of most concern to me.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
Roger_Breton
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« Reply #172 on: February 21, 2014, 04:20:58 PM »
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Update 9

Didn't have a chance to work on the printer this week.
Finally found the courage to fire the beast about an hour ago.

I enclose a picture worth 1000 words.

I tried my luck first with a a powerful cleaning followed by a nozzle check.
But I was still missing C, VM, O and G. Go figure?

So, one more time, I took a chance to take the head apart. Not planning on injecting Windex or Nail Polish Remover this time, I've had my lesson.
But, much to my dismay, the state of the lines that bring ink from the cartridges on C, VM, O and G were visibly "empty", with sparse drops of inks throughout.
Please take a look at the attached photo. It'll show you what I mean.

So, using my faithful 10ml Walgreen syringe, I attempted to suck up the air out of the 4 ink lines, one by one.
But I am afraid I have not succeed much, so far.... Hope I won't have to dismantle the darn lines from the Ink Assembly Unit, because that's going to be messy.

But now I know what the culprit in my system is, air. As the Epson technician told me, if there is air in the system nothing works.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #173 on: February 21, 2014, 04:23:32 PM »
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Update 9

But now I know what the culprit in my system is, air. As the Epson technician told me, if there is air in the system nothing works.

So the important question: how did the air get into the lines?
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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BrianWJH
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« Reply #174 on: February 21, 2014, 04:53:08 PM »
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I tried my luck first with a a powerful cleaning followed by a nozzle check.
But I was still missing C, VM, O and G. Go figure?

Hi Roger, what is the state with the ink carts and ink levels? You previously said you were using flushing fluid and a refillable cart to flush with so have you flushed all the ink lines or only some?
How much ink does each cart have where the air gaps are appearing?

Brian.
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Roger_Breton
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« Reply #175 on: February 21, 2014, 09:37:44 PM »
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Brian and Mark,

Here's what happened, and, yes, I have refilled most cartridges with cleaning fluid.
The Green cartridge, though, is a brand new 200ml cartridge.

So, how did all that air got through in the first place? It is very possible that it was, partially, the result of the many "Ink Eject" commands issued from the Epson Adjustment Program. Eversince I knew that the head was not finished, following my discussions with the Epson technician, I reasoned that the next step was to get rid of the air that was possibly trapped in the lines and that, conceivably, were keeping the ink from flowing.
So I tried my luck many times with the Ink Eject command. But everytime, the printer started the routine and stopped, midway or at least, very partially through, returning with an error message that "something had happened" but could not know what, only that the "printer had not returned Ready".

So, my take is that, it is likely that the C, VM, O and G lines actually got emptied out of my many unsuccessful Ink Eject attempts. Otherwise, I don't know what could have cause the "pressure drop". I distinctly remember that, early on, when I experimented with taking the head apart, the lines were all full of ink.

Now, I still wish I could at least complete a "normal" Ink Eject cycle as that would give me some "known" starting point to load the lines with ink.
I don't believe there could be some hidden hardware problems. I think everything is still working fine *but* air got through and now, I have to find a way.

I plan to try issuing Ink Charges command tomorrow. and take it from there.

I was toying with the idea of putting in new, 200ml C, CM and O cartridges, reasoning that, perhaps, the business of the Cleaning Fluid wasn't helping all that much, knowing that the "problem" is not with the head anymore. But since I already have a new, 200ml Green cartridge *and* the fact that I could not suck air out of its line tonight, through my manual technique, suggests that something else maybe going on, and i should try to figure why the Green line is not charging *before* putting in new C, VM and O cartridges.

"It's complicated".
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BrianWJH
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« Reply #176 on: February 21, 2014, 10:39:44 PM »
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I could not suck air out of its line tonight, through my manual technique, suggests that something else maybe going on, and i should try to figure why the Green line is not charging *before* putting in new C, VM and O cartridges.

Roger, it sounds like you are inserting the syringe into the damper outlet and creating a vacuum by withdrawing the syringe plunger if so then I think you find that that all Ink tank valves are in the closed position, on the earlier models 4880, 4800 there was an ink lever for each ink bay and you could manually open and close the ink valves by moving the lever up or down.

Unfortunately it appears that Epson has done away with this manual arrangement and (I'm guessing) replaced this with an electromechanical solenoid.

The bad news is that to 'suck' fluid be it cleaning fluid or ink from the cartridges to the ink damper outlet you will have to manually move the solenoid to the open position and once the syringe is filled then close the solenoid so ink (or air) is not pulled back into the ink carts, empty the syringe and repeat until fluid moves into the ink lines and finally up into to the damper, repeat for all ink colours.

Brian.
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Roger_Breton
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« Reply #177 on: February 21, 2014, 10:51:27 PM »
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Brian.

That sounds very logical. It would explain why, when I pulled on the syringe, to suck ink from the line, no ink was actually "coming" through?
I thought that, perhaps, I was not creating a strong enough vacuum with my lowly 10ml syringe. But your explanation of a valve that serves to block ink out of the cartridge is most sensible. I'll see what I can find in the Service Manual? Otherwise, I was beginning to consider injecting ink manually into the lines.

Thank's a lot for the insight ;-)
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BrianWJH
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« Reply #178 on: February 22, 2014, 05:57:58 AM »
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Otherwise, I was beginning to consider injecting ink manually into the lines.

Roger, once you can successfully draw fluid to the damper from the ink carts then you use the same process to prime the ink lines and dampers with new ink.

Brian.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #179 on: February 22, 2014, 07:40:07 AM »
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Could it be a less labour-intensive option to make sure you have enough ink in the cartridges to do a complete renewed "first-intallation" routine - like the day you bought the printer, whereby the printer's firmware looks after all the steps needed for a proper initial charging? I believe this process actually wastes much less ink than it seems, because while it does use the maintenance tank, all the ink it primes into the lines has to be counted as usable ink for prints. The key challenge here would be to get the firmware into a state whereby it thinks it's doing a fresh install. Perhaps your service manual explains that.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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