HP Printers 49.XXXX Service Errors


In the past several years 49.xxxx service errors have become one of the most common errors associated with all models of the HP line of printers. In this article, I’ll discuss the meaning of the error, what causes it, and gives some tips on trying to fix it. Yes, I said try. Given the nature of the errors each one is unique and what might work on one will not work on another. So patience and a little bit of luck might be needed. Read on…

First, the 49 error is an internal communication problem. The firmware has had a critical error and the formatter processor has aborted its operation. XXXX refers to the address of the fault. This doesn’t mean much to end users but HP likes to record these so if they start seeing a high level of errors with the same fault address they can focus on making changes with the firmware or other parts to prevent the error from recurring.

HP’s service manual says the 49 error can be caused by a bad print command, corrupt data, invalid operations, firmware, formatter, or possibly by accessories like an EIO card or memory. Some reports even say extra trays, duplexers, envelope feeders, etc., under certain circumstances, can cause this error.

With the amount of 49 errors and the ranges of fixing them I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s caused by a bad command or corrupt data. That’s HP’s way of saying ‘it’s someone else’s fault.’ The truth is there are lots of other manufacturers out there that aren’t having this problem.

Many of these 49 errors are happening with newer software, file types like PDFs, special fonts, formats, or pages pulled off the internet. So, the reality is, HP’s driver/firmware software doesn’t seem to be keeping up with the rapidly evolving software industry. I will say that recently I was checking out some firmware fixes for a few printers and was surprised to see several 49 errors being addressed in the firmware updates. So HP is aware of these issues and attempting to correct the problems.

Isolating the problem
Many times, users power off, and when they power back on the printer starts working.  Shortly thereafter, or within the next few days, the 49 error reappears and a service call is needed.

I suggest the following steps to isolate the 49 error problem:

(1) Power off the device and disconnect any communication cables; Network, USB, or Parallel cable. 

(2) Wait 30 seconds and turn the device back on. If the error is still present then we know we have a device error – move to step #3. If the error goes away, see Communication between the computer and network (below).

(3) Unplug the printer and remove any accessories like EIO cards, memory, extra trays, duplexer (if removable), and envelope feeder. If the error goes away when you power back on, start reinstalling the parts one at a time, powering off before installing each part until you find the part causing the error. Once you’ve isolated the problem part, before replacing that part, check for any firmware updates and then reinstall the part. Some firmware updates fix this type of issue.

If the 49 error is still present after removing everything possible, try a cold reset or NVRAM initialization (see service manual for details). A cold reset resets minor stored memory settings like control panel settings or internal and external jet direct settings, so, if possible, know these settings before proceeding or remove the jet direct card. NVRAM is more evasive and clears out more of the internal memory like error logs and certain counters.

If the 49 error persists, it’s time to replace the firmware DIMM, if there is one, or to replace the formatter board. On extremely rare occasions the DC controller or power supply can be at fault. Check the service manual for specific 49 errors related to these parts. 

Communication between the computer and network
More than 95 percent of the recent 49 error faults are communication/software related. If the printer is connected to one PC we simply see what file was sent to the printer last (usually still in your computers print queue). Note the file and delete the job from the queue.

The printer’s service manual says to download the latest and greatest firmware or driver. I, personally, have fixed lots of the 49 errors just by changing the driver. Most HP printers have three drivers; PCL 5, PCL 6, and Postscript so first, simply try another driver. I usually go with PCL 5 or PCL 6. Most of the errors I see are when using the Postscript driver. HP likes to show the fixes beside the driver and firmware so check them out. As I mentioned earlier, I was surprised at the amount of 49 errors being addressed on the few I looked at.

Once the driver or firmware is changed, reprint the problem print job. If you’re still getting an error, try downloading a generic universal print driver, which you can find in the same section as the firmware and driver downloads on HP‘s website.

Converting the document
If, after trying all drivers and updating the firmware, you are still getting the 49 error, convert your document to another software application. For example, convert a Word document to a PDF or vice versa. The logic behind this is that you probably have a command in the document that the printer doesn’t know how to handle. When you convert the document to new software the data is reformatted.

Still getting the 49 error?
Most errors should be fixed by following the above steps. Still, I know of cases where all of these steps were tried and the printer still gives the error. As I stated earlier, the causes of the 49 error are vast and each one is unique. As a last resort, find the offending print job and try printing it to a different printer. I did see on firmware released this year HP has added an auto recovery feature. Read more here: Auto Recovery Feature for 49.xxx Errors

For printers on the network, trying to isolate the issue can be frustrating and time consuming. If you have a server print queue, check the queue for the offending print job. If print jobs aren’t stored in a server print queue, you will have to go around individually to each workstation to find who is sending the offending job. Once found then follow the steps in the previous section.

Ask Questions
I’ve found that most 49 errors occur when someone has recently installed new or old software, downloaded something off the internet, created a new file, or tried altering a document by changing fonts, color scheme, adding a picture, or formatting. Ask questions! Look for something that has recently changed, even the smallest detail can be the most important.

————————————————————————————-
Kevin Gumpp is a certified printer technician and freelance writer for Market Point. If you have a question for Kevin regarding this topic or have any other printer repair related questions or topics you would like more information on, please send an email to maryp@marketpoint.com.

HP P2015 Paper Jam / Toner Empty Error Message


This article discusses the formatter issues with the HP P2015 printer.

First, let’s talk about the symptoms of this particular formatter problem.  A “paper jam” or “paper jam and toner empty” error light remains steady when you’re going to print, or turning your printer on in the morning. After checking for and clearing any paper jams (or if your unfortunate and get both the jam and toner empty message, replacing your cartridge) you get the same error. Now what?

Side note: Other errors can result because of this problem; these are just two of the most common.

Verify the problem

  1. Remove the left side cover by releasing the four tabs located near the cover’s four corners. Starting in the rear works best.   

    HP printer P2015, remove left side cover

    HP printer P2015, remove left side cover

  2. Locate the engine test button on the engine control board just below and behind the right side of the formatter.

    HP P2015 printer engine test button

    HP P2015 printer engine test button

  3. Press the engine test button. This test bypasses the formatter and verifies the actual engine is working fine. A page of horizontal black lines should print out.  Note: make sure the covers are all closed, toner installed, and paper is in the cassette tray before performing this action otherwise it will not work.
  4. If the page prints out and the display still reads an error state the formatter will have to be replaced or fixed.

If you’re getting other error codes, or if the page doesn’t print out, refer to this link:  Hp P2015 Error Codes

The test page printed….now what? 

First, it may be helpful to know that some reports say as many as 20% of the HP P2015 printers made have this issue. Most technicians and engineers have come to the conclusion that the material used to solder the chips on the formatter fails. They believe the chips produce too much thermal stress on the solder causing it to break. Not necessarily the chip’s fault, just that the solder material should be stronger. So what you’re left with is a formatter with all working parts but with an internal connection problem.

What are my options?

You have a few. You could send the printer in for repair or you could purchase one that’s already been fixed. Another option would be to buy a new OEM HP formatter. Right now HP is on its second or third generation of boards. The verdict is still out as to whether they have actually figured out a correct way to prevent this from happening again.

The internet is flooded with unhappy customers who have had the formatter replaced under warranty or purchased a new one from HP and experienced similar issues several months to a year later. Most then opt to go with a board that has been repaired (reconditioned or refurbished) because of the lower cost and because the typical warranty exceeds that of HP’s. Market Point has teamed up with a company that specializes in board repair. They make repairs to the boards and add a heat-sink to the processor to help dissipate the excessive heat that causes many of the failures, to make sure the end user is getting a high quality product that will be reliable.

What about the homemade remedies found online?

There are home remedies described online for the boards that involve heating them in an oven. If you’re thinking of using this approach, keep in mind that the oven temperature has to be just right or the heating will be ineffective and may cause other components to fail or melt. And, if the board is not kept perfectly flat it may warp. Additionally, this heating process does not solve any problem that may have been caused by a failed flash memory IC or NVRAM IC, which should also be tested and replaced.

If you do attempt the homemade fix, remember that a re-flowed board is not necessarily a sure or a lasting fix. I’ve heard of some boards reverting back to their original fault state days to months later. In my opinion, your best option is to get a reconditioned board done by a professional board repair provider like Market Point.

A Workhorse Printer

Well that’s it. Hopefully you have been enlightened about your troublesome P2015. I will add that, while this printer model is known to have a board issue, the overall printer is a workhorse. I recently serviced one that had over 175,000 prints and never had a problem. So don’t be too quick to dismiss your HP P2015 printer. With a properly working formatter board, these printers are well worth having around.

————————————————————————
Kevin Gumpp is a certified printer technician and freelance writer for Market Point. If you have a question for Kevin regarding this topic or have any other printer repair related questions or topics you would like more information on, please send an email to maryp@marketpoint.com.

Laser Printer Firmware Updates


More and more, service technicians are getting questions about firmware from customers. What is firmware? What is the difference between print drivers and firmware? Why is it so important that I update my printer’s firmware? Why haven’t I heard of firmware before now?  Sound familiar?

Printer manufactures have made firmware available and if users call in for support, they will ask if they’ve updated the firmware. On some recent models the software installed with the printer periodically updates the firmware. So why haven’t the manufacturers done a better job explaining the importance for firmware to the end-user? In this article I’ll shed some light on the subject.

What is Firmware?
Firmware, in my opinion, is best described as your printer’s internal operating system. Without it the equipment can’t do anything but turn on. [Side note: engine tests are run by firmware stored on the DC controller — for all you tech’s thinking I’m a liar.] Everything from your $20 TV remote to your 50k sports car has firmware. Fifteen years ago a printer went through an intense testing period and the majority, if not all bugs were worked out before it was presented to the end-user. Going back to the operating system example, a very basic command system like DOS was used. Pretty much if you had an error it could usually be traced back to the user.

However, in today’s market our printers are much more complex and the demand on development is forcing us to create newer cutting edge equipment with less attention to perfection. There are different speeds, scanning, fuser modes, usage profiles, etc., much like the Windows O/S, where everything is more user-friendly and with many options, but prone to more problems. So, like Windows updates that appear every time you turn on your computer, you have printer firmware updates that also need to be installed to fix operating glitches so your equipment can run at peak performance and you can reduce service calls and expensive repair bills.

Drivers vs. Firmware
Now that we’ve established that firmware controls the function of the printer, let’s explore the difference between drivers and firmware. Drivers take the information from your computer and convert it to a language that your printer can understand. Firmware, along with the formatter, takes that information and sends it to the rest of the machine to perform the actions necessary to put the digital data on paper.

Why are firmware updates so important?
This is the confusing part. When you call your manufacturer for tech support you’ll be asked for the make and model number of your printer, its serial number, and now for your firmware version. If you’re not running the latest and greatest firmware version, you’ll need to update it before you can proceed. However, you’re thinking ‘my printer worked fine for years with the old version, why not now?’ Once again, firmware is like your computer software, it has glitches. One day you’re using Word with no problems and the next day you go to open it up and you get a missing file error or a corrupt data message. After uninstalling and reinstalling, you’re back in business. Same with firmware, it too has glitches. The main thing is to fix the glitches before they become an issue.

Firmware fixes a wide range of problems. It can fix printing issues with certain software, fax and scanning issues, error codes that will not clear, and its even been known to fix certain issues where parts of the printer overheat and get destroyed.  Those are just a few of the possible fixes.

Most firmware updates work only if the printer is at a ready state. If you wait until the printer is in an error state and then realize that a firmware fix will keep the issue from happening, you’re too late. You can no longer perform the update and you have to replace the board that has the firmware on it.

If your fax LIU overheats and needs to be replaced and you find out there was a firmware fix for that issue, unfortunately, you’re too late, again. That’s why it’s best to keep firmware up-to-date and understand what fixes are being addressed in the current version. Most manufactures provide this information with the firmware download or in a readme file with the download.

The downside of updating the firmware
If a printer fails during an update you can permanently corrupt the firmware, the printer will not go into a ready state and you can’t try again. So, if an update fails, then you’re most likely stuck replacing the board. Right now there are very few printers that can work around this issue. That’s why it’s so important to read and follow the instructions when performing this action.

Things to remember when updating firmware
Be patient; update when you know no one else is going to be printing; don’t ever unplug power while updating; and, most importantly, the computer almost always finishes before the printer so once the computer says it’s done go over to the printer and wait until it’s complete.

Just remember [for the paranoid individuals like me], for every firmware update you read about going bad – thousands are going right. So be cautious, but do it when it needs to be done. Otherwise you could be buying a new printer or looking at an expensive fix.

Why are users just now hearing about firmware?
Firmware has been around for quite some time; basically since the beginning of electronics. As I mentioned earlier, when laser printers first came out they were very basic and there wasn’t much input the printer needed. Firmware used to be integrated on the logic board and if it ever failed you were stuck replacing the board.

Printer manufactures did a lot of research and spent a lot of time to make sure this didn’t happen. About ten years ago manufactures started making firmware DIMM’s, which looked very similar to memory DIMM’s. They were installed in a slot on the main board. If the DIMM went out or needed to be updated you just swapped it out, bringing down the cost of repair.

As time wore on, more fixes were being made and firmware was being updated more often, leaving manufactures throwing old firmware away or not having it available because they couldn’t predict the demand.

Now, almost all manufacturers use a flash ROM chip located on one or more of the logic boards. This way the firmware can be updated whenever needed.  Like I said before, the modern printers are much more complex. Thus, the possibility of more problems.

Allowing the end-user to fix their own issues through firmware helps keep a printer working for a longer period of time. Printer manufactures hope this will extend the life of the printer and reduce the costs associated with maintaining it.

Links to firmware for four of today’s leading printer manufacturers
For most manufactures you can find firmware updates in the same locations you would the print drivers. Typically if firmware is available for download you will find it there. If you do not see a download listed by your machine then one is most likely not available yet or your machine doesn’t have a flash chip or DIMM in it.

The Lexmark firmware requires a special code. From what I briefly read it’s related to your printer’s model number, which can be confusing if you not familiar with their system.  Basically they don’t want you loading the wrong firmware and permanently damaging your printer. So, if you call Lexmark support they will guide you through getting the right firmware for your machine.

http://welcome.hp.com/country/us/en/support_task.html

http://support.lexmark.com/printerfirmware

http://www.brother-usa.com/downloads/

http://www.support.xerox.com

====================
About the Author:  Kevin Gumpp is a certified printer technician and freelance writer for Market Point. If you have a question for Kevin regarding this topic or have any other printer repair related questions or topics you would like more information on, please send an email to maryp@marketpoint.com.

For additional technical support information, to find printer parts &  supplies or to learn more about Market Point, go to www.marketpoint.com or call us, toll free at 877-365-1903.