27 October 2010

This Fated Moment

My printer "ran out of ink."

"Ran out of ink?"

Yes. The cartridge isn't actually empty; the printer, a Brother HL-2040 (a laser printer my dad purchased a few years ago for $50), is programmed so that when the toner level is below some threshold, will refuse to print any more documents. This means that I'll have to rely on the hall printer or some other Athena cluster printer, whose queue is usually jammed with 20-page articles people need to print for their humanities classes. Well, that's unfortunate.

[Interjection] The clever MIT student would say, ``Well, couldn't you just haul back any printer from the dumpster? They all work...'' To which I would respond: ``Hacking my current printer would be much cooler!''[/Interjection]

Actually not quite. A few years ago, when I was researching this particular printer in my leisure, I came across a highly insightful Amazon review (which I then stored in my Google Notebook):

135 of 136 people found the following review helpful:
Masking Tape Gives TN-350 Toner a Second Life,August 25, 2008
By C. MACPHAIL "cmacphail3" (Solana Beach, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)       
I get 800 to 1100 extra copies from each cartridge.

After the "Toner Life End" message appears, it refuses to print even one more copy. Offensive...until you show it who's in charge.

Remove the cartridge and find 2 clear plastic port holes, one on each side. The printer shines a light through these to decide when to shut you off. But it's too sudden and too early.

Cover one or both windows with a small piece of masking tape. I get about 3400 copies per cartridge instead of 2400.

I really like Brother printers now that I have taught them some manners.

So I tried it...

Here is the hole on one side (close up).

Here is the hole relative to the cartridge unit.

Here is the hole covered by masking electrical tape.

...and hey, my printer now willingly spits out my biology homework!

The printer is nice and happy! (Green Ready light is on instead of the irksome orange Toner light).

For the keen eye: The processor sitting on my printer is a LGA775 Pentium 4.

Next hack: DIY ADC (female) to DVI (male) adapter! Stay tuned!

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