You really don’t want to do this — this is a cautionary tale…
I was having printer problems recently and made a small blunder. I decided I needed to reinstall a printer driver because one of my computers was not successfully printing to a very old printer.
The very old printer was an HP Laserjat 1200. The product was released in 2001 and discontinued in 2003. It has served long and well. However, it was designed to be connected to a computer by USB or a parallel port (yes, that old).
Over the years, I ran it using the parallel port. Finally, when parallel ports were going out of style, I remembered that I could connect with a USB cable. I found that printing with the USB cable was much, much faster, too.
After I started my home network, I shared the printer for a long time. Finally, I decided that I really didn’t want to leave that computer running (sleeping would block sharing), so I wanted to direct-connect it to the home network.
My first print server allowed me to connect the small printserver device (about the size of a deck of playing cards) to the network and connect it to the printer via a USB cable. I suffered along with that model for a while. It worked, but had to be set up again and again. If I recall correctly, every time the power went out, I had to reconfigure the print server.
The breaking point was when my wife got an iPad. She wanted to be able to print from the iPad, and not have to go to her computer, duplicate what she was doing on the iPad, and print that.
When I started looking, I found out about a nifty device called a Lantronix xPrintServer. It basically did the same things the previous print server did, but also had some other capabilities, including making the printers visible and usable by iPhones and iPads, as well as PC and Mac computers.
The xPrintServer acted as a print server for all printers it found on the network, not just the one connected to it by USB. What does that mean? The xPrintServer automatically searched the network for printers that it recognized.
On the computer, you ran Apple’s Bonjour Printer Wizard software (it’s free!), which found the xPrintServer and the printers it found. Then, you used the Bonjour Printer Wizard to install the printer into Windows.
Computers, iPads, and iPhones could print to printers via the xPrintServer and to printers that Windows itself could find — my HP Laserjet 1200 was available via the xPrintServer and my HP Laserjet CP1518ni was set up both ways!
For both printers, the xPrintServer was required in order to print from the iPhones and iPads. Otherwise, the printers could not be found. Now, many printers support Apple AirPrint, but not back then.
Lantronix later renamed the xPrintServer to be the xPrintServer Home, as they came out with a network version for offices, which could handle more printers and more computers.
Both those versions have been discontinued. Now, Lantronics offers the xPrintServer Cloud Print Edition (which handles printers, computers, and Android devices) and the xPrintServer Office Edition (which handles printers, computers, Android and iOS devices).
So, what happened? I fried my old Lantronix xPrintServer Home.
I had recently upgraded my Motorola SB6120 cable modem to a new Arris SB6193 cable modem. I thought I was pretty happy with the Motorola, but it was about 5 years old. While poking around on the Cox.com web site, I found that my previously top-of-the-line cable modem was now so old that it couldn’t meet all of the capabilities of “Premier” cable Internet service I bought. When I upgraded cable modems, my measured maximum download speed went up 41%, to 170M bits/second.
My mistake was that I did not remove the power adapter for the old cable modem. I disconnected the cable, connected the power for the new cable modem, connected that to the new cable modem, and left the old power cable connected and laying beside the cable modem…which was next to the xPrintserver…
Back to the problem: When trying to solve printing problems on one computer, I caused more problems by printing a test page using the wrong printer driver. That caused the printer to print a character, eject a page, character, eject a page, repeat…
I tried to remove the stack of paper in the paper feed tray. Wrong. Right idea, but executed incorrectly. I bumped the stack of paper, so the LJ1200 decided to try to feed 8 sheets at the same time. That didn’t work.
I turned the printer off, pulled out the paper try, pulled out the paper tray, and put it all back together. It wouldn’t initialize.
I decided that I needed to disconnect the Lantronix xPrintServer (for some reason), so I did. Worse, I didn’t realize that the newly-unplugged cable slipped behind the shelf-unit on which it sat. Unplugging really wasn’t what I needed to do — I really just needed to notice that 1 page of paper was still stuck partly through the printer, and remove it.
When I realized the real problem, I opened the back of the printer, removed the misfed paper, and plugged it back in. Now, it initialized.
So, I plugged the xPrintServer back in.
That was the mistake. Remember the old cable modem power cable. The output of that power supply was 12 volts. That’s what I plugged into the xPrintServer.
The xPrintServer lit up. But, I couldn’t find it from the computer, either via the Bonjour Printer Wizard or from the xPrintServer’s built-in administration web server.
Why? The xPrintServer’s power supply was a 5 volt power supply. When I plugged the 12 volt supply into the xPrintServer, I fried the electronics. It also got warmer, and warmer, and then hotter and hotter. I’m glad I went back and checked the xPrintServer at that point, or I could have had a fire.
So, don’t do that!
- Pay attention when you plug in power adapters. Make sure you’re plugging in the correct power adapter.
- When you discontinue using a device, remove its power adapter from the power mains. Play it safe.
- Consider putting a label on the power adapter and another at the "plug-into-the-device" end of the cable.
Back to the xPrintServer. I checked out the two new models. The “Cloud” did Android, but not iOS. The “Office” did much more and was more expensive than I wanted.
I checked eBay and found some used xPrintServer Home models, like the one I had been using. I bought one via a buy-it-now, and received it 3 days later.
Now, both printers are available for iPhone and iPad printing again.
I finally decided to retire the monochrome HPLJ1200 after 16 years. The printer was starting to have problems. However, I still need the xPrintserver to use with the HP CP1518ni color Laserjet printer, since it is much older than the Apple Airprint feature that is on many current printers. My computers can find the CP1518ni using the network or the xPrintserver, but the iPhones and iPads need the xPrintserver.
My new monochrome printer (I like having both color and monochrome printers) is the HP Laserjet M402dn, which does Ethernet and Apple Airprint wireless (but normal 802.11 wireless). I considered the HP LaserJet M402dw (similar, but also 802.11n wireless) but didn’t need the built-in wireless function since I was connecting via Ethernet.
I also considered the cheaper HP LaserJet M402n. Two things pushed me to the HP LaserJet M402dn instead: the M402dn also does duplex printing (front & back) automatically and the M402dn included a full-size toner cartridge and not just an “introductory” cartridge (about half the amount of toner).