I did a video a while ago on my YouTube channel about a message one of my customers had asked me. The question was regarding the spongeless refillable cartridge kit he had ordered from my website, BCHTecnologies.com. The only error he encountered was that one yellow bar was missing. Today we’ll go over everything I did in the video to troubleshoot his issues.
The Customer’s Message
In his message, the customer mentioned that he had put 10 mL of ink into the black cartridge and 2 mL of each colored ink into their respective chambers. It worked for him when he first put the cartridges back into the printer and ran a few cleaning cycles. Then, as previously mentioned, he noticed that one of the yellow bars was missing.
The first thing he mentioned in the message was that none of the other inks had issues; the black, magenta, and cyan were all printing fine. The next important detail is how much ink he said he put in each cartridge. The spongeless refillable black ink cartridge can hold about 20 mL of ink -- twice as much as he had used. Each chamber of the colored cartridge can hold 5-7 mL of ink -- more than double what he had used.
The less-than-full ink levels could cause the issue, but another common problem could have been causing it. A colored ink cartridge has three separate nozzles (one for each color). If the yellow nozzle was blocked or clogged somehow, that would explain why it was having problems when none of the other inks were.
The Customer’s Attempted Repair
Further on in the message, I saw that the customer said he had put one of the refillable cartridges back in the printer in place of the default one, which seemed to cause it to display a “low ink” warning message. He tried to get rid of this warning by holding down the printer’s stop button for around ten seconds.
Nothing happened upon his first attempt, so he tried several more times. Still, it yielded no results. This process wasn’t doing anything for him because the low-ink warning doesn’t matter. You can ignore it and keep printing when that message pops up.
The process the customer was using is effective when you’ve printed enough pages for the printer to think the ink levels are entirely depleted. In this scenario, holding down the stop button as he did will reset the printer’s ink counter.
After this didn’t work, and he refilled the cartridges, the customer assumed they were clogged and blew a quarter of a milliliter of air into them to unclog them. When this solution also failed, he was at a complete loss and decided to contact me for help.
Two steps would have worked better had the customer taken them. Firstly, adding more ink would have helped. Secondly, if the nozzle is clogged, the refill kit comes with a priming syringe intended to unclog the nozzle.
The first step to troubleshooting this situation is to try and replicate certain aspects of what the customer did. I needed to make a refillable cartridge, but I would fill mine all the way. Then I would prime it to ensure it’s working correctly, print some more pages, and go over how to reset the printer’s built-in ink counter.
Wireless vs. USB
The customer also mentioned that he was using his printer via a wireless connection, which can be weak and sometimes will stop the printer from printing. I’ve always found that a USB connection works better. I recommend trying that before going through the hassle of troubleshooting it, but for demonstration, I used a wireless connection in the video.
Low vs. Depleted Ink Indicators
If you’re following along with the video, you’ll see that the LED on the printer next to the color cartridge was glowing a steady yellow-orange color. This would indicate that the ink levels in the colored cartridge were low. However, the LED next to the black ink cartridge flashed that yellow-orange color, indicating that the ink levels were depleted.
To start with, I set up a wireless connection, so I’ll go over how to do that now. I used my iPhone for this process, but you can do it from almost any mobile device. Just go to your app store and search for “Canon PRINT.” Once the app is installed, open it up, tap the “register printer” option at the bottom, and tap “perform a wireless LAN setup.” You’ll want to select the connection type manually. Choose to connect to the wireless router.
Go to your printer and hold down the Network button until the green LED next to your printer’s power button starts to flash. Press the color button once and then the Network button again immediately afterward. The blue LED next to the network button should now be flashing.
In your phone’s settings, go to the wi-fi tab. You should see a long network name starting with the word “canon.” Connect to that network. There shouldn’t be a password or anything you’ll need to worry about. If the connection is successful, go back to the printer app. You should get a pop-up asking if you want your printer to connect to the wireless router. Click yes, then enter your router’s password.
Once that’s all done, go to your computer and do the setup process over there. Eventually, you’ll get a message that it wants to do an alignment at some point during the setup. We don’t want it to do that when we aren’t using their cartridge. When it asks to do a test print, just hit next. We don’t need to test it. Now that the wireless setup is finished, we can get into the actual physical demonstration.
Making the Refillable Cartridges
Before we can troubleshoot anything, we need some refillable cartridges. We will use a BCH brand AS-RFC-CB2 spongeless cartridge refill kit. It comes with one refillable black lid, one refillable colored lid, and one priming syringe. We’ll also need a few things that don’t come in this kit: one utility knife, paper towels, a pair of rubber gloves, ink, sandpaper, and super glue.
Preparing the Cartridge
Lay down a layer of paper towels to protect the surface you’re working on from spilled ink. The surface you work on should be flat and level. Put your rubber gloves on, too. Ink is messy and doesn’t take long to stain.
Looking at the cartridge, you’ll notice a seam between the lid and the rest of the cartridge. To take the cover off the cartridge, wedge the utility knife into that seam and wiggle it around until the top pops off. Be careful not to cut yourself.
Once the top has been removed, you can see the tiny sponges in the default cartridges. Since the version of the refillable cartridge we’re using is spongeless, you can take them out.
Place a piece of sandpaper down on your flat surface and use it to file down the top of the cartridges to ensure they’re level. Try not to let plastic debris get inside the cartridges because it may cause their printheads to clog later. I also recommend using this time to wash out any dried ink.
Placing the Lid
We can make these refillable cartridges spongeless because we will create an airtight seal between the lid and the cartridge. However, doing so means that we have to place the lid just right. I recommend fiddling with it a bit and doing some practice placements until you’re sure you’ll be able to set it just right once the glue is down. I should also mention that the small side of the lid should be facing the front of the cartridge where the electronic component is.
You can use any superglue you want. I usually recommend transparent gorilla glue, but in my demonstration, I used generic superglue from my local 99-cent shop, which did the trick. When applying the glue, make sure you get an even layer with no air bubbles. Gaps in the layer of superglue may cause the seal not to be airtight. I accidentally got an air bubble in my demonstration, but it was near the edge, so I just put some more superglue on, and it was fine.
Hold the lid manually so it sets a bit, and then use a rubber band to secure it for the rest of the time it takes to dry. Try to avoid touching the printhead at all during this process. The process for the color lid will be almost exactly the same as it was for the black lid. The placement may be tricky to get right, and you must put super glue on each cartridge wall -- not just the outer one. This process is messy, so you may want to cover the electronic ribbon to avoid damaging it.
Addressing the First Issue
Now that we had the refillable ink cartridges, it was time to fix the first problem the customer said he had: the cartridges weren’t working. He said that he added 10 mL of ink into the black cartridge. Since the spongeless cartridge can hold much more ink than the one with a sponge (for which 10 mL would have been plenty), there’s a chance that the lower ink levels contributed to the problem. I filled my black ink cartridge about ¾ of the way with ink.
After I refilled the ink, I used a high-power steamer to clean off the printhead a bit. The nice thing about these new refillable lids is that they’re transparent, so you can see how much more ink you can put in the cartridge rather than guessing. I reinserted the cartridges into the printer. If you’re following along with the video demonstration, you’ll see that the LED for the colored cartridge and the hazard LED had both started to blink. This meant that the printer could not establish a reliable connection to the cartridge.
I took the colored cartridge out again and realized I had made a simple mistake; I had forgotten to take the tape off that I’d used to cover the electronic ribbon. Make sure that the electronic component on your cartridge always remains dry. Letting it come in contact with liquid can potentially cause irreparable damage.
I put the cartridge into the printer again, and the LED stopped flashing for the color cartridge, instead displaying a steady yellow while the hazard LED had turned off altogether. Now the LED for the black cartridge had started to blink, though, indicating that the ink was depleted entirely (or so the printer thought). This is good.
When the printer thinks the cartridge is depleted, we can reset the printer’s ink reader. I went to my computer to troubleshoot everything. Find the “devices and printers” window on your PC. From there, right-click on your printer and go to printer properties. I started by telling the printer to do a deep clean for the nozzles of the colored cartridge. If you do this, you should get a pop-up saying, “Start print head deep cleaning?” Click OK.
If you look at the estimated ink levels it showed me in the video, there was a yellow exclamation mark above the color cartridge, indicating a low ink warning, but there was nothing above the black cartridge because it was already depleted. This leads us to the customer’s second question.
Addressing the Second Issue
The customer’s second question was about resetting the printer’s ink chip. You can’t reset low ink like you can with depleted ink levels, so you have to keep printing until it thinks the ink is empty. If one of the cartridges has a steady yellow light, you can ignore it until the LED starts blinking.
Next, I printed a check pattern test. The black ink came out perfect, the magenta needed a little work, the yellow was decent, and the cyan didn’t appear. Therefore, we needed to unclog the cyan, magenta, and yellow printheads. It’s always a good idea to put a piece of paper towel down before doing what I did next, and it never hurts to have a few extras on hand, either.
We needed to get the colors back to working condition by using the priming syringe that comes in the refill kit. I filled the syringe with about 1 mL of air for each chamber and blew it into the second hole on top of the cartridge (NOT the one we used for refilling it).
It wasn’t long before I could see the air bubbles coming out. During the refill process, it’s really easy to get air bubbles inside the printhead, preventing ink from coming out. In my demonstration, you can see a little bit of each color coming out of the cartridge printhead. The air blown into the cartridge can sometimes have a delayed effect that causes some ink to drip out. That’s why I make a point of putting the paper towel down first.
I accidentally blew too much air into the yellow chamber, so I had to let some excess out. Blowing in more air than is needed can create too much pressure, leading to new problems. Then I again put the cartridge back into the printer and ran another deep clean. The next check pattern test I printed was a bit messier than the first, but at least all the colors were there. The cyan still looked like it was having a bit of a problem. There may have been a pressure build-up, so I took the plug out to let the excess air escape and reinserted it before reinserting the cartridge into the printer.
The third test page I printed was a lot better than the other two, but it still needed improvement, so I blew a tiny bit of air into the cyan chamber, which was still the one causing the issues. The fourth and final check pattern test page came out perfectly.
Addressing the Third Issue
The third issue the customer mentioned was likely caused by the fact that he didn’t go through the entire priming and unclogging process. This meant that they didn’t work perfectly. Instead of troubleshooting those cartridges, he took them out and put back the original Canon ones. He printed a few pages with those and then replaced them with the refillable cartridges again.
I still don’t know why he felt the need to do this, but since I was trying to recreate his process as closely as possible, I did it too. He then said that after putting the refillable cartridges back into his printer, neither was working. The color cartridge still displayed the low ink warning for me, and the black ink cartridge said that the ink was depleted.
When I tried to print a test page, I got a pop-up message saying that the cartridge either needed to be reinstalled or replaced if the printed page turned out less than satisfactory or had some parts missing. If you get this message, go ahead and click okay.
I then received an error code 1686, indicating that the printer still thinks the black ink cartridge is depleted and doesn’t want to let me print with it. It asked me if I wanted to continue with the print anyway. I did.
It prompted me to cancel the print, but it also told me that to reset the printer’s ink counter, I could go and hold down the stop button for five seconds. Leave that window open while you do this. Closing it can cause further complications.