July 31, 2022
Welcoming a new (old) printer (back) into my fleet: a LaserWriter II. It’s a workhorse of a printer from 1988 dressed in Snow White design language. #RetroComputing
(This is an experimental post to attempt to convert a Twitter thread into a WordPress post).
I had one just like it for years that I used almost daily but jettisoned it some time ago. This one comes to me thanks to @compu_85! You can see here where he was repairing a series of these a few weeks ago.
This one has a IIg board in it which sports a ‘030 processor, up to 32MB RAM, LocalTalk, EtherTalk, RS-232, and SCSI. Here’s the first test page that “Web of Fate” printed. Page counter got reset— oops. I’ve got a WiFi232 plugged in to make it “wireless.”
Output needs some help. There’s a repeating black horizont stripe about 3.75” apart (toner drum issue likely). Since opening it several times, it’s developed a curious blank vertical stripe down the page on everything it prints.
Aug 1, 2022
The LaserWriter II has developed an error around the fuser temperature. I think it’s same as the LaserJet Error 50. I got it working yesterday for about 8 hours by waiting over a day before I powered it on. No such luck today.
Aug 3, 2022
I started looking into the fuser and @orion3311 suggested checking the thermistor for a toner clog. It was a little dirty so I cleaned it with some acetone and IPA. Didn’t resolve the issue, still blinks red.
Next I pulled the AC power module. There’s a capacitor on the board that is known to leak but @compu_85 replaced it a few weeks ago. Maybe it’s bad already? There’s signs of a leaky cap but nothing bad.
I pulled two caps off the board (22uF 25v and 10uF 50v) and they both tested fairly close the advertised values. Unfortunately I don’t have a spare triac so I have one of those inbound.
Aug 4, 2022
New triac for the Laserwriter II has arrived. I’m getting very fast at tearing this thing apart for the AC power block!
Old triac came out cleanly with some flux and braid. New one in place. Power on and after a couple of minutes the two error LEDs come on again. >.< What’s next?
Aug 5, 2022
Troubleshooting through the HP Service Manual. The thermistor at room temp should be around 1.13 Mohms and I get 0.954 Mohms at 81 F. Seems close enough? Thermoprotector/bulb have continuity (I can see it light and it does get warm). It turns on once but doesn’t turn on again.
Ok this is strange but I just got it to power up and print two test pages. I powered in on briefly, watching the bulb inside. When it went out, I powered it off and quickly pulled the fuser.
I measured continuity of the bulb to see if the thermoprotector was engaging. It was closed. I reinstalled the already pre-warmed fuser and powered on again. The bulb lit again, briefly. This time it worked (green LED, no red LEDs)! What’s going on here?
Figured out the cause of the vertical white stripe: an errant screw stuck inside the laser aperture of the toner cartridge! It blocked the laser from charging that area for toner. LOL! No idea where it came from!
Aug 6, 2022
TIL Postscript has an interactive interpreter (aka “executive”) in the LaserWriter II over RS-232.
Used the Apple LaserWriter Utility to set the serial port to 57600 baud with hardware handshaking. Also printed a complete configuration page.
Aug 11, 2022
Printing to a LaserWriter II from Pages on an iPhone over AirPrint like it’s 1991 <-> 2022.
Aug 12, 2022
Here’s how I did it. The LaserWriter IIg is connected to Ethernet. Install MacIPRpi on a Raspberry PI which gives you netatalk and CUPS. https://macip.net
Install the pap backend helper for CUPS so it can talk to EtherTalk printers. Add the printer to CUPS and share it. I used a PPD from MacOS 9. Share the printer in CUPS and your Mac should locate it on the network automatically!
New fuser in the LaserWriter II seems to have solved the startup fuser temperature issues I was having. The old one worked but had to be “prewarmed”
Aug 13, 2022
Today I’m going to attempt to repair this NOS toner cartridge for LaserWriter II. Even though it’s new, the wiper blade inside had deteriorated and isn’t cleaning the imaging drum well anymore leaving pages dirty looking.
I found a video that was helpful in the disassembly of the HP 95A toner cartridge.
It’s at this moment I realized it probably would have been better to do this before I pulled the internal plastic strip and used the cartridge. Toner is going to get everywhere.
Got the old wiper blade out. There’s also crumbling foam seals underneath.
The old HP 95a wiper blade is cloudy in appearance, rough in texture, and begins to crack when flexed.
Here’s the old HP 95a wiper blade (top) with a new one (bottom). Note the old one is cloudy and the new one is clear (sitting on top of the metal carrier).
Added toner to the edge of the wiper and the drum as a lubricant and screwed in the new blade.
Honestly, I expected a bigger mess. Don’t worry, I wore a mask!
All I can say is WOW! I’m absolutely stunned that the new wiper blade has cleared up prints from the LaserWriter II!
Aug 14, 2022
One lingering item was things printed to CUPS from Pages on iOS didn’t use the correct fonts. Tracked it down to CUPS calling pdftops with the “noembtt” (don’t embed TT fonts) option. I made a bash script that used sed to remove the option.
LaserWriter II calibration pages using the LaserWriter Utility. Which one would you choose? (I chose 3.)