A couple weeks ago a co-worker asked me to help out with his son’s science project. It was a simple job, print out the headings for his tri-fold display. They want some stuff that was longer than they could print on their home ink-jet. He brought me the PowerPoint presentations and asked if I could print out the headings in a nice dark blue, no problem, I thought. We have a nice big ol’ Hewlett-Packard DesignJet800 plotter that can print on 36″ wide paper and I guess maybe the whole 150′ length if you didn’t run out of ink.
When I printed out the first page, much to my surprise, it was a lovely shade of purple. I started testing other shades of blue and they all came out different shades of purple. The really dark blue-green came out with almost no purple, but it looked black or gray not blue at all. When I asked if purple was OK, he said yes with little enthusiasm, but what could we do? I ended up printing out everything for the science project because there was no way that they would be able to match my purple shade at home on their printer.
Yesterday I had to make up a sign for here at work and not thinking I choose a nice blue for some of the lettering. Of course I cussed loudly (to myself) when the blue printed as purple. After completing the sign project I made it a goal to find a fix. The internet knows all, so off I went in search of a solution. My first stop was at the HP support forums. I searched for “blue prints purple” in the DesignJet800 forum and was rewarded with seven hits. The first one says, “Latest firmware has new color maps to help with this.” Bingo.
I check my plotter and it says I have firmware A.02.09 installed and A.02.12 is available, so I download all 24Meg of it and put it on my desktop. The file is an executable, so I double click and it installs some maintenance software on my C: drive. After it installs, it automatically starts the program and promptly tells me it can’t find the printer?! I do a quick double check and the printer is listed as one of my printers.
I go back online to the page I downloaded the firmware upgrade from and scroll further down the page to where the troubleshooting section is. There is my problem, you can not do this over a network, you have to be directly connected to the printer or run the program from the server. I hunt down our local IT guy and ask if he would run this update from the server. Yes, but not today, ask tomorrow.
Fast forward to this morning. I copy the maintenance program file to a networked drive and follow him to the computer room. He logs on and has to map a drive to the directory I used, and then he double clicks on the application. The hourglass appears for a half a minute or so and then disappears. We wait. And wait. And wait. The natural reaction is to try again and sure enough, history repeats itself, nothing. We go to the task manager and there are 2 processes running and neither of them are using any CPU time. I tell him to go ahead and kill the processes and I’ll move to Plan B, direct connect.
I go see one of the assembly engineers to borrow a laptop. First I check and see if it has a USB port so I can load all 24Meg of the maintenance program to it. He hands me a power supply too, as the battery, like every laptop battery in the plant, is dead. I disconnect the printer cable from the net port and plug it into the back of the laptop and turn it on. The Windows98 start screen displays and I hope to myself it is at least 98SE. I get lucky, as it turns out the OS is 2nd Edition, so I can use the USB thumbdrive.
But first I need the drivers, so I go back over to my desktop to surf the net. My thumbdrive is made by a company called Wolverine, so my first couple of searches brings back a lot of hits for Marvel Comic’s X-Men and the University of Michigan football team. I finally find it, www.wolverinedata.com and down load the drivers. Seeing as I can’t use the thumbdrive yet, I have to transfer the drivers to, egad, a floppy disc. Rifling through my desk, I find a disk in the bottom of drawer #4. After loading the USB drivers on the laptop, I to plug in the thumbdrive and can’t. Nice design work Dell, the USB port is too close to the parallel port to accommodate both devices at the same time.
I unplug the printer and copy the maintenance program to the laptop. Double click and it loads right up. The program starts and it can’t find a printer, again. This time there is a good reason, its not plugged in. Unplug the USB drive and plug in the printer, still no joy. Of course you knucklehead, the DesignJet800 is not installed as a printer on the laptop, this is the first time they’ve seen each other. Back to my desktop PC and back to the internet to download the driver for the printer. It is of course 1.9Meg so Have to use the thumbdrive again.
Unplug the printer, plug in the USB drive, copy the drivers to the desktop, unplug the USB drive, hook up the printer and install the printer drivers. Whew. Run the maintenance program and it finds the printer. Yippee! It reports that an upgrade is available and I should not turn off the printer until it is finished. I click OK and watch as a process bar creeps along the screen installing file 1 of 3. It finished the first and starts the second when a BSOD pops up on the laptop! F%*k! I hope I haven’t screwed up the printer’s memory. I shut down the laptop and when the screen on the printer says, Turn off printer”, I do just that.
I start the printer again and boot up the laptop. The printer seems to start up normal, so that is a relief. I start the maintenance program again and when I click OK a progress bar creeps across the screen installing file 1 of 2. So at least it knows it finished the first file OK. After both files are loaded the laptop program says, “Success.” The printer shows an hourglass and then it transitions to a pictogram indicating I should unplug it, I do just that.
I unhook the laptop and turn the printer back on. The printer boots normally and I check the firmware screen and it says I have A.02.12 installed. Hook it back into the net port and return to my desktop PC to retry yesterday’s sign where the blue printed purple. After all that song and dance the blue still prints out as purple! Sh#t!
I go back to the HP forums to check out the other 6 hits from yesterday’s query. Response number 3 looks promising, it is from a moderator: “When loading the paper, be sure to scroll down all the way to the bottom of the paper list and select the enhanced color profiles. These selections, along with the current firmware, should get you up and printing blue in no time.” I trot over to the printer and select enhanced color profiles. The paper list I just scrolled through is repeated, but with an EC on the end of the paper name. I select the appropriate one and try printing the sign, one more time. Finally, I got blue.