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Old 10-22-2007, 04:21 PM
Plan B Plan B is offline
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 2,054
Is it worth fixing my printer?

It won't acknowledge that there is paper in the tray. The signal is constantly "Empty." Someone at HP said it might be that the sensor is broken. It's a simple HP b/w laserjet. It looks like I can get a new one for about $100 or fix this one for $40.

I'm more concerned about the time than the cost. I've already wasted about an hour on hold today with HP. It would take about an hour to walk to the computer store, buy the new one and install it.

Did I just answer my question?

Or maybe soneone knows of a quick way to fix this thing. Thanks.

Last edited by Plan B; 10-22-2007 at 04:22 PM.
Old 10-22-2007, 04:42 PM
Will Repair Will Repair is offline
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Arcade
Posts: 2,280
A quicker and cheaper fix would be to short the switch but the printer wouldn't know when it was out of paper.
Old 10-22-2007, 04:44 PM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Home of the haggis
Posts: 27,998
Have you tried giving it a thorough clean? The sensor may simply be dirty.

Or, if the printer has had heavy use, the paper pickup roller may be worn, in which case you need to roughen it.

Maybe a silly point, but normal paper is coated differently on each side. Try turning the paper over. Or some different paper.
Old 10-22-2007, 04:45 PM
jasonh300 jasonh300 is offline
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: New Orleans, La.
Posts: 1,666
What model?
Old 10-22-2007, 04:59 PM
Will Repair Will Repair is offline
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Arcade
Posts: 2,280
Originally Posted by Quartz
...the paper pickup roller may be worn, in which case you need to roughen it.
Or if dry restore them.
Old 10-22-2007, 05:48 PM
gotpasswords gotpasswords is offline
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Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: San Francisco area
Posts: 16,136
The symptom is presented as "Printer reports no paper in tray," not "Printer will not pick up paper" or "Printer jams." e.g.: The printer says "Tray 2 Empty."

Without seeing it or even knowing what model it it, I agree with HP that the problem is a funky tray sensor.

I just peeked inside the HP printer behind me, and there's a fin that rotates down into a slot in the paper tray. I'll assume HP uses similar technologies across their various lines.

If there's paper in the tray, the fin can't drop into the slot. Above the fin is a "slotted optical sensor." Or at least I'll assume the OP's printer has an optical, rather than mechanical, sensor. When the fin is sitting on top of paper, it's up and blocking the slot. When it's down, the slot is open and the optical signal passes between the two posts.

Unfortunately, you can't just short the thing out as Will suggested - you need to know which end is the detector, and you'd need to know if it's a "contact closure" or if it puts out a logic high (or low).

It's a three-dollar part to buy one, but you'll need to buy a bunch of them as most online parts houses have minimum orders, and this isn't something you'll find at Radio Shack. (Did I mention there are a few dozen varieties of these things?) Oh, even worse, you need to get at the silly thing, so you'll need to learn how to take a printer apart and put it back together. I've changed these things in copiers, and being able to get at the thing without damaging anything else (or getting toner all over the room) is 95% of the job. The actual swap is desoldering five pads on the PC board, swapping the part, soldering and then it's time to re-assemble.

Frankly, for such an inexpensive printer, I'd replace it and not look back. (A toner cartridge for our office printer costs more...) Maybe the local high school or community college has an electronics class you could donate the broken printer to?

Last edited by gotpasswords; 10-22-2007 at 05:51 PM.
Old 10-22-2007, 06:35 PM
WhyNot WhyNot is offline
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Sweet Home Chicago
Posts: 33,496
Shee-it. I just got an Epson Printer/Scanner/Copier which is also a photo printer - that is, it will print right off my memory stick with no PC involvement - and uses better ink than my old HP (you can use a highlighter on it the second it comes out and it doesn't smear!) and better resolution, and separate ink cartriges so I don't have to replace cyan when magenta runs out....for $79 at

I only wish it had a FAX, but since it's a scanner I can just scan anything I want to FAX and send it via email or an online FAX service.

Get a new printer. When one thing goes, something else is not far behind, IME.
Old 10-22-2007, 10:03 PM
Plan B Plan B is offline
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 2,054
Thanks, I'm off to the computer store tomorrow.
Old 10-22-2007, 10:43 PM
jdc jdc is offline
Join Date: May 2001
Posts: 268
Printer purchase

Before you buy a new laser (if you are buying an HP), check out this site:

Finally some standard figures on page yield.

You may find out that the $349 Laserjet or the $650 Laserjet are cheaper than the $99 one.

For example, the 12A cartridge costs $69.00 and yields 2,000 pages, but the
51A cartridge costs $129 but yields 6500 pages.

Over time the cheaper printer will be more expensive, plus if you buy a better printer it will be faster, likely more durable, and hold more paper.


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