Eddie's El-Cheapo CIS (Continuous Inking System) Part-3

Intellidge ink chip hack

Epson 2100p version.

Version 2

Part-2 (stylus 1160)

Project light black

October 2002, The concept.

Hack out some room, stick in a modified 5 ml syringe, bring out a ink tube and a bent needle for priming. The nozzle has silicone tube over it (same as the bit attaching the ink tube) to couple with the print-head's ink spikes. The ink tube nozzle is the nozzle from cut from another syringe. In the past I've used glass tubing but I ran out of it.

What isn't shown here is the wiring which bring the inkchip signals out to a connector at the top.

15'th of November Taking the plunge.

In the paste few weeks I have been testing my homebrew light black ink. A CIS is pretty useless if you can't get ink. I now have ink which seems to work. Here you can see the light black CIS cartridge. At the bottom the ink tube goes off to the left. Slightly up in the image is the plug to block the priming port. Near the top of the image is a connector which is wired to the 5 inkchip signals I need to reset a number of the chips (hopefully 4). The black cart will have another connector which mates up which this one so I can use a single plug for both. A half a dozen cleaning cycles and I had a good nozzle test using my new ink.

The home made light black seems to work. I'm still adjusting the mixture to give the right density and I am getting a bit of clogging. When I stop playing with it that may improve.

Here is the complete system. The chip defeating micro (front) gets its power from a flexible wire bundled with the ink lines. The power come from the printer's parallel port. It can fool the printer into thinking all cartridges are full. There wasn't enough clearance to use a proper socket. A right angled connector may have been better. There was also a clearance problem with the vacuum ports on the black cartridges. They had to be low profile to clear the case. Hacking out a few bits of plastic would have made it easier, so would putting the electronics inside the printer. Apart from removing the (useless) lid covering the cartridges the printer is unmodified. Some flat tube sets may been nice. It takes some tweaking to stop the tubes catching on things.
Don't be fooled by the black tube running into the yellow cartridge, it does have yellow ink inside it.

My circuit monitors the ink levels being read out of the chips and when it detects a chip is low it arms itself and spoofs the printer NEXT time it is turned on. It fools the printer into reading all 7 chips as full. The printer writes the new levels into the chips – usually at shutdown. A circuit diagram is here.

The first test prints.
I printed a test pattern using the G4 profile I created for the 1160 (RIP and I don't mean Raster Image Processor). For a first pass it was excellent, I will have to spent a few hours tuning the profile but it is looking good already. It will take a while to get the light black mixture right. The 10% mix was too light 25% too dark.
Looking at the nozzle tests I can see the difference in color between the G4 and ultrachrome. The UC magenta is warmer and yellow denser, not a huge difference thought. Perhaps surprisingly - the G4 black is noticeably denser. Personally I think ultrachrome was hyped up, it is a little better color wise at the expense of life expectancy. I wouldn't say no to brighter colors but not at $2000 a kilo. G4 works just fine for me.

There might be easier ways to modify the cartridges. Having ripped open 10 or so I now know it is possible to remove the cover without breaking the membrane- as shown here. If a reliable way could be found to block the air vents (right side in this photo) – it would only mean inserting a tube or two at the top. Because the carts have several valves already built in, they could be primed before being fitted, therefore avoiding the need for the vacuum port. It may not be necessary the open the cartridge at all but I'd like to see what I'm doing. The round bit in the middle is a sort of pressure regulator/non return valve. The printer has to suck against this to get ink. It will be sucking harder than in my system unless the bottles are raised a bit. This is fine is unless the plumbing leaks. I would much rather have the ink drain back into the bottle that into the printer. This could be a total non-issue but I haven't done any tests. The other point about this valve thing is it means you can't refill the cart via the outlet. It would be trivial to make a hole at the top and squirt ink in. There is no foam block just a chamber. Just use a syringe and blunt needle – sucking back to gauge the level.

25'th Nov, Version 2 is working.
I had to try it. Two carts are converted to the “easy” CIS and they are working well so far.

Version 2 is here

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