Mike Chaney's Tech Corner

Technical Discussions => Articles => Topic started by: admin on May 13, 2015, 03:56:46 PM

Title: May 2015: Confessions of a Chronic Clogger
Post by: admin on May 13, 2015, 03:56:46 PM
No.  I can't dance.  :)

Qimage Ultimate

Here is a link to Qimage Ultimate (referred to below) for convenience: http://www.ddisoftware.com/qimage-u

The clogging I am referring to is related to my Epson R1900 running a continuous ink supply (CIS).  I love the CIS system on my printer and the fact that I can just fill bottles when they are low, but I have to admit that I've tried two different aftermarket ink systems on my R1900 and both cause the printer to develop ink clogs if something is not printed at least every other day.  Even OEM printers and inks tend to develop print head clogs if not used regularly.  The frequency at which you need to print to avoid the ink drying up and causing clogs varies with printer, model, ink, and even the operating environment and humidity but to some extent, almost all inkjet printers suffer from clogs if they sit idle for days/weeks.  In this article, I share how I solved the problem with the new scheduled unclogging feature in Qimage Ultimate.

The Problem

Inkjet printers rely on ink being expelled from hundreds of tiny nozzles on the print head that moves back and forth across the page.  It stands to reason that over some period of inactivity, ink can solidify and cause clogs that prevent some nozzles from firing properly.  Whether the clogs are caused by ink going from liquid to solid form or air bubbles in (CIS) lines, the end result is the same: banding in your prints that create throw-away prints and waste resources and time.  Regular printing will exercise the nozzles and keep the ink flowing.

The Solution

To prevent inkjet clogs due to printer activity, we only need to "exercise" the printer at regular intervals.  As with any type of exercise, it is good to target things properly so that the exercise can achieve the best results.  Qimage Ultimate offers a full or half page unclog pattern that does just this: it pulses each primary ink color, turning the nozzles on and off at different rates as the head passes across the page.  Simply printing this unclog pattern occasionally can prevent clogs from occurring in the first place, but the unclog pattern can also be used to clear minor clogs and get the printer running again without needing to use driver cleaning cycles that can use a lot of ink.

In Qimage Ultimate, we can click "File", "Print Unclog Pattern" and refer to the instructions on this dialog to print an unclog print that exercises nozzles of each color ink:


We start by clicking "Setup" and choosing the appropriate settings in our print driver as outlined on the dialog.  We then check the ink colors that our printer supports, and choose whether we want a full or half page pattern.  I typically use a half page pattern because I find that it is enough to keep ink flowing and you get the added benefit of turning the pages around to re-use the other half of the page if you like, thereby saving paper.  Even though we typically load the cheapest paper available such as copy paper or inexpensive roll paper since firing the nozzles does not require that we use premium paper, why use more than you have to?


We are not limited to printing this pattern only when we discover a problem, nor do we have to rely on our memory to print these patterns occasionally to keep ink flowing.  We can create a schedule that prints the pattern, for example, every day or every other day at 10:00pm.  We can click the "Schedule" button on the above dialog and refer to the scheduling options below:


Here we can specify which printer(s) to print the unclog pattern to, a date and time to print the first pattern, and options to repeat that pattern every X days.  Of course, X will be the number of days your printer can sit idle without developing clogs.  Every printer is different but you probably know your printer.  If it can sit a week with no problems, you could set the scheduler to every 7 days.  In my case, I print the half page pattern every day because my CIS system is very sensitive to clogging and if something is not printed each day, it will develop clogs.  When the half page pattern is printed each day, I never see a clog and it saves ink because I'm not having to clear clogs before printing important photos.

When you click OK on the above dialog to start the scheduler, you can verify that the pattern looks appropriate on the preview page before scheduling your unclog prints.  Once you've developed a schedule, the same schedule can be turned on/off at any time by clicking on the scheduling button (button with a clock icon) at the very top right of the Qimage Ultimate window as that clock button serves as an on/off toggle for the scheduler.

Keep the Scheduler Running

Obviously if you schedule unclog prints, you need to leave your computer on with Qimage still running in order for the prints to "fire" at your chosen dates/times.  For me personally, this is not an issue because I leave my computer on 24/7.  I find that leaving computers on is actually easier on the hardware than turning them off/on every night/morning.  With the new "Minimize to System Tray" option, you can start the scheduler and then use "File", "Minimize to System Tray" to get Qimage Ultimate out of the way where it will simply run in the background and fire your unclog prints per your schedule.  To open Qimage Ultimate, simply click the icon in the Windows system tray, use it to print your photos, and then minimize to the system tray when done.

No Interference

You may be wondering how the scheduler works with normal operations, say when you need to print photos.  While it is smart to set the schedule to a time when you won't typically be using Qimage Ultimate to print photos (say 2:00am), the scheduler is designed to fire the unclog prints with no user intervention, meaning that even if you are working on a print job and Qimage Ultimate starts an unclog print while you have other prints in the queue, the unclog print will temporarily take over (the unclog job usually takes only a few seconds to print) but when the unclog job is finished, your work is brought back to where you left it.  And if you are in the middle of an operation that shouldn't be interrupted and you have the scheduler running, when it is time to print the unclog job, Qimage Ultimate will wait until you have finished the current operation (say editing a page in the full page editor or adding a photo mat) and when you are done, the unclog job will print.  Again, once the unclog job is finished, the job you were working on is reloaded the way you left it.  The same is true if you have a job ready to print and you decide to print an unclog pattern immediately (not by a schedule) first: just use "File", "Print Unclog Pattern" and when you click "Print", the unclog job will print and the job you were working on is reloaded once the unclog job is completed.


Prefer to learn by watching the videos?  We've prepared two videos on the print unclogging features:

General info and use: https://youtu.be/UcmmyYroPOQ

Info on scheduling print unclog jobs: https://youtu.be/iR85nIPGW3E

We hope you enjoy the new features and find them as useful as we do!


Title: Re: May 2015: Confessions of a Chronic Clogger
Post by: Jeff on May 14, 2015, 07:24:06 AM
Thanks for that very detailed write up.

I am just back from Hols. so R1900 will be well and truly clogged.

It will be a couple of days or so before I get time to fiddle with printer, and see what I can make of your recommendations.

Thanks again, how did you time this piece to the exact day of our return to a clog up  :) :)


Title: Re: May 2015: Confessions of a Chronic Clogger
Post by: Primus on May 16, 2015, 09:03:20 PM
Hi Mike, first, thanks for such a wonderful program. Qimage is the only reason I am running a Windows shell on my Mac.

On my version (being run in a Windows 7 shell through VM Ware's fusion), I do not see the 'schedule' button on the print unclog module, just the 'print' and 'queue' buttons. Is there some other way to do it?

Title: Re: May 2015: Confessions of a Chronic Clogger
Post by: Terry-M on May 17, 2015, 07:03:15 AM
I do not see the 'schedule' button on the print unclog module
Have you updated to version qu15-124?

Title: Re: May 2015: Confessions of a Chronic Clogger
Post by: Primus on May 17, 2015, 12:44:21 PM
I do not see the 'schedule' button on the print unclog module
Have you updated to version qu15-124?

Ah, that may be the problem. Let me try that, I was running version 118.

Yep, that fixed it. Thanks.

Title: Re: May 2015: Confessions of a Chronic Clogger
Post by: Jeff on May 18, 2015, 09:32:02 AM
OK got Clogger scheduled works just as described.  I would expect nothing else :) :)

Just make sure 'print preview' is not set in printer driver.

I find it does not work if I have 'sleep or hibernate' in operation. Comp does not wake up.

I have hibernate set at 30 minutes, we worry about electric consumption this side of the pond :)

I will continue with testing switching on win 7 every morning and see how we go ( it took two chip resets and two head cleans to get R1900 up and running after 14 days off.

I guess a lot more ink than 14 unclog prints


Title: Re: May 2015: Confessions of a Chronic Clogger
Post by: nantucketbob on May 18, 2015, 12:40:34 PM
It came a little late for me.  My older Epson Pro 4000 print head is clogged and probably dead.  So my entire printer is dead.  Epson repair says print heads are no longer made, essentially unavailable, but if available are very expensive.  Then's there the installation cost.  It is fun, and often convenient beyond words, to print at home, but I doubt I will replace my professional printer.  If I am going to print, I want the best archival inks.  I think they are only available from Canon or Epson.  The print heads of large printers fail.  I don't see solutions for the highest quality (archival) inks.  Maybe I am wrong.

Title: Re: May 2015: Confessions of a Chronic Clogger
Post by: watsonm on September 11, 2015, 09:14:26 PM

I am in the Uk and use the Epson R2400 with  Lyson/Marrutt  archival inks on a continuos ink system.  If you can unblock the heads try


they have a page for the Epson Pro 4000