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Weird HP LaserJet Problem


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#1 EducatedGuess

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 03:05 PM

I have quite a strange problem, and the printer is so old that HP no longer supports them.

I have owned a legendary HP Laserjet 5N for almost 15 years and NEVER had a problem with it. It has been the workhorse of our family, along with our Maytag washer.

Recently I began getting strange messages when hooking it up to my laptop. For several weeks, it would say, "USB Device Not Recognized." If I did a system restore, the laptop would suddenly recognize the printer and everything was hunky-dory.

In the last week, this won't fix it. Now I get a message that says, "Locate & Install Software Driver (Recommended)." When I go through the procedure I finally get an error message saying, "Windows couldn't find software driver for your device."

I went to Fry's and bought a brand-new cable. Same error message. I also hooked the printer to two other good laptops with the new cable: same error message.

This must be coming from the printer somehow, since I ran a controlled experiment and all three laptops are giving the same error.

Anyone have any ideas on this situation? I am not opposed to taking it in for service, but thought I'd try here first. Thank You!

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#2 Eyesee

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 04:55 PM

You are right about those printers being workhorses (and Maytag washers too)!

Have you tried power cycling the printer yet?
Power it off and unplug it. Let it sit for about 15 minutes and then power it on.

Is the printer networked or stand alone?
In the beginning there was the command line.

#3 EducatedGuess

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 06:13 PM

The printer is stand-alone and in my home office. No network. It connects directly to the computer.

I will try your suggestion and write you back within an hour. If that doesnít work, I will unplug it for 12 hours or so and try again. Donít think itís that simple, but that would be great. Iíve powered it down many times during this crisis, but never unplug it from the AC source.

Funny, I heard rumors that HP regretted building these things, cuz they realized afterwards that they never break and that it was stealing future sales from them. So they were offering heavy rebates to buy them back from people. Sure enough, I get them on the phone today, and they offered me a great deal trade-in on a brand-new printer. No f---ing way! Iíve had this things 15 years and only serviced it twice!

Anyway, thank you very much for taking the time to respond. I will let you know right away whether it worked it not.

Thanks Again, Scott M.

#4 EducatedGuess

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 06:44 PM

Didn't help. Same issue. I unplugged it for 30 minutes, then powered it up. Same error message. I've unplugged it and will let it sit for about 12 hours, then try it again tomorrow. Does this sound like some sort of output voltage issue?

Anyone else have an idea how to fix this? HELP!!!

#5 hamluis

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 08:33 PM

Just an observation that occurs to one definitely not an "expert" of any sort, on any level...a 15-year-ols printer is not what I would want to be relying on for functionality. It's already had several useful lives.

As for "never breaking"...everything manmade deteriorates with the passage of time.

The fact that you state the same problems are exhibited when connected to different systems...would point me toward looking for a replacement.

Louis

Edited by hamluis, 11 January 2011 - 03:01 PM.


#6 EducatedGuess

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 07:45 AM

Hi, Louis. I appreciate the thought and am not fanatical about this. However, the printer was completely functional before this happened, and has been so for well over ten years. The printer is not broken in any way, shape or form. This is an interface issue, not a functionality issue. If the engine and trannie go out on an old car, you buy a new car. But this printer runs as good as new; it merely cannot be seen by the computer. I'll keep searching, but thank you.

#7 hamluis

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 03:32 PM

If functionality is not the problem...then that would lead me to think that the drivers are the problem.

Unplugging, new cabling, etc...is not going to overcome a drivers problem. The appropriate drivers fit for the O/S in use...must be installed. Uninstalling the drivers...then reinstalling them...would have been my first step to see what is amiss.

Louis

Edited by hamluis, 08 January 2011 - 03:33 PM.


#8 EducatedGuess

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 07:50 AM

Louis, I appreciate you taking the time on this one, but this is not a driver issue. It is coming from the printer, not the laptop. I know this because I hooked this printer to THREE (3) different laptops and get the same error message. I would say the odds of corrupted drivers in three consecutive laptops is very small. It is the printer.

A friend suggested that the printer port is probably blown. Makes sense. It turns out there are a lot of these printers out there used on Ebay and elsewhere for less than $100. In fact, I found one near my home on Craigslist, and will be looking at it tomorrow. I will probably buy it to have as a second "parts" machine as this one continues to age.

Thanks again for your time and input; I truly appreciate it.

Best,
Scott

#9 Eyesee

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 02:32 PM

Doesnt this printer have an LPT port on it as well as USB?
If I recall, it does.

I wonder what would happen if you connected it with a standard printer cable if you have a system that supports it.

I would also uninstall all the HP software and try the generic laser printer drivers. Try the HP Laserjet Series II drivers that are built into Windows. They are generic enough to run almost any laser printer.
In the beginning there was the command line.

#10 EducatedGuess

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 04:57 PM

Eyesee, yes, it has both a parallel port and a serial port, as well as a 10BaseT connector. I have been running it successfully through the parallel port with a convention printer cable for more than 10 years, then all the sudden it won't recognize the printer. I bought a new cable, same thing. Tried it on two other laptops, same thing.

Yesterday I bought a second working LaserJet 5N off CraigsList for $50, as a backup. Same problem. It also comes with a JetDirect box. Same problem. Very weird. I know I'll figure it out. I'll try you suggestion on the earlier drivers.

I wonder if perhaps MS put out an update with corrupted drivers for HP LaserJets. That's the only thing I can think that would explain why three different laptops running on two different OS's (XP & Vista) would suddenly not recognize a printer they've been talking to successfully for the better part of a decade. Bizarre. I'll try your suggestion. Any other ideas? Thank You!

Best,
Scott

#11 Eyesee

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 06:39 PM

So now you have two printers tried on three different systems that all do the same thing.
Very odd indeed. But they are the same model.

Just a shot in the dark but have you checked the systems for viruses and spyware?
Also, does it work in safe mode?
In the beginning there was the command line.

#12 EducatedGuess

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 07:50 PM

Yes, odd, indeed. Yes, they are the same exact printer, HP LJ 5N. The one I owned was made in Japan in 1994, the one I bought was made in the U.S. in 1989. But they are identical, as far as I can tell.

And, yes, I've run virus and spyware cleaning, I doubt it's that. Puzzling, yes. I'm gonna search around the Internet and see if I can find a free-standing driver for this printer, not built into the OS, download it manually, and try that. I will keep you posted.

Thanks Again,
Scott

#13 Eyesee

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Posted 11 January 2011 - 01:10 PM

Good idea
Let us know how this turns out

A lot of people have looked at your post but nobody else has chimed in.

Possibly Gremlins?
In the beginning there was the command line.

#14 EducatedGuess

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Posted 11 January 2011 - 01:32 PM

Eyesee, yes -- plus any other car built by American Motors.

I'm also gonna go to Fry's today, but a better quality cable, and buy a serial cable as well and try that. Luckily, I have nothing else to do with my life. Weren't computers supposed to be labor saving devices?

Thanks Again,
Scott




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