I thought I had it figured out. And then I didn’t. Isn’t that the story of life? Life and computer problems. I’ve had my Canon Pro9000 Mark II printer for six years and it’s run flawlessly that whole time. At least it has after the first two printers turned out to be lemons and Canon replaced them. That took place in the first month I bought the printer back in early 2010. I bought the printer, it stopped working a week later, Canon sent me a second printer, it stopped working in a week, and then Canon sent me a third printer which is the one I’ve been using ever since then. Both printers went because of a B200 error which, according to the internet, means an electrical error with the print heads. Turns out it was a known flaw in my model and why Canon was quick to replace it. I wasn’t very happy with any of that but at least Canon sent me an extra set of inks each time they replaced the printer. That made up for some of the inconvenience.

Just this past weekend as I was using my printer and it stopped working. It’s never done that before. The front of the printer has two lights on it. A green light and an orange light. When both lights are blinking that means the printer won’t run. I saw both lights blinking and said, “Oh, no.” Or maybe something less rated G. I checked the printer software (which displays messages relating to the printer) and it told me about the B200 error and to call my service person. Like I have one of those. Instead I turned to the internet for answers and found some articles about the B200 error and how to fix it. None of them were particularly helpful as they weren’t for my specific model plus most of the fixes involved turning off and unplugging the printer for five minutes to an hour and hoping it works after that. I was filled with hope as the hour one made the printer turn back on for a moment but then it quickly displayed that error again. Yowch.

One thing I noticed in all the internet articles was that the electrical error could be caused by running the printer without ink in the cartridges. It messes with the electrical charge that goes to the print head or some such. I’ve never done that and my printer won’t even run without ink in the cartridges so I didn’t think that was it but I knew a couple of the inks were running low and maybe that could have an effect.

I again turned off the printer for an hour and this time when I turned it on again I opened the cover which triggers the cartridge housing to move to the center so the ink could be changed. It actually worked this time and I saw that two side-by-side cartridges were blinking which meant they had to be changed. Usually I get a software message telling me when the ink has run out plus the printer won’t run. Don’t know why that didn’t happen. I changed the cartridges and hoped that two empty side-by-side cartridges was what was causing the trouble. Being that the printer has eight different inks I don’t know if two neighboring cartridges have ever run out at exactly the same time before. Maybe that could cause an electrical problem. What else did I have to go on?

After the ink was in I tried to make a print and got the error again. Not good. I thought it best to give it some time so I unplugged the machine for another hour and hoped for the best. Luckily for me, at least for the moment, I got the best. The printer turned on and printed again. I still wasn’t sure if everything was fine but I was happy it was fine for the moment. The next morning I cautiously turned the printer on again and it was still working. Nice. I thought everything was okay. I even waited another day before ordering a new Photo Magenta ink cartridge. I thought I was in the clear. I wasn’t. Sad trombone.

Today I turned on the printer, printed a couple of things, and then got that dreaded B200 error. My heart dropped. I turned it on and off again but the error persisted. I waited ten or fifteen minutes and then opened the cover before turning it on again. The printer powered up and I could check the ink but there was no blinking. The cartridges were all good. And then it errors out again. I wanted to smash the thing. Instead I unplugged it and left on my bike ride. When I came back I turned the printer on again and lo and behold it printed. And it’s even stayed on without the error all day so far. But what about tomorrow? A piece of equipment that is unreliable is no piece of equipment at all. It might not be there when you need it to be.

So now I sit here with a conundrum. I don’t want to spend $300 on a new printer. I really don’t. Money is tight these days but I use my printer as part of my art making process all the time. It really helps to have one. Plus I always buy an extra set on ink to have around in case I run out. When I cartridge runs out I pop the next one in and then order a new one. Eight cartridges at $12-$14 a pieces means I have a hundred dollars worth of ink sitting around. The problem is that any new printer I would buy doesn’t use those same ink cartridges. Two of them I bought recently enough to be able to return them but do I? Do I return them and buy a new printer? Or do I ride it out with this one a little longer to see what happens? I have no idea.

All things considered I’l probably end up having to buy a new printer soon. Six year is a long time in printer years and planned obsolescence gets the better of all of us. I don’t have to like it though.