Saturday, May 16, 2009

Defeating the HP autofail mechanism

When non-engineers talk about engineering, they mean design, and by design they mean styling. So it was that my HP PSC 2200 printer was, uh, engineered to fail.

Now I generally use a clock to tell time, a phone to call friends, and a camera to take pictures, but here I thought I could save space and cash at the same time by getting an "all-in-one" printer/scanner/copier, and have ever since regretted that choice. It's clumsy, it's noisy, the whole table shakes when it prints, and it goes through the machine equivalent of a Cossack dance whenever it runs out of paper. And then there's the software. So I was actually secretly delighted when it suddenly ejected half of the black ink cartridge retainer and juddered to a halt.

On opening the lid, I found this incredibly complex mechanism of molded plastic with hinges and springs, all designed to do nothing more than hold the ink cartridge in position, neatly sheared off with no hope of repair. Hooray, time for a new printer!

The HP autofail mechanism.

But as luck would have it, I was actually trying to print something when it broke; after all, I thought that's what it was for, and I was only on something like my 5th ink cartridge on this machine, so something had to be done. While sitting on my thinking seat, I noticed a couple of my wife's mini hair clips with a death grip on the edge of her makeup basket, and with that the solution pretty much presented itself.

The autofail mechanism defeated.

Despite the strong springs, I did have to put in a section of Q-tip shaft to widen the jaws enough for them to hold the cartridge securely enough in place for the printer to acknowledge its presence, but otherwise I was back in business.

I hate to throw something out as long as it's still performing some marginally useful function, so I'm actually hoping the next failure will be a catastrophic one.

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