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Epson Photo R200

Ink Cartridge Refill

How-To

 

Here at Sixerdoodle Music we do a lot of printing on our Epson Photo R200, Demo CD’s, Flyers, CD Art-work proofs, etc. and we finally got tired of paying the exorbitant prices for genuine Epson cartridges.  Initially I tried the third-party Epson ‘compatible’ cartridges.  Somewhat cheaper, but the quality was hit or miss.  Probably 50% of the ‘compatible’ cartridges would skip, streak, need to be cleaned constantly or otherwise fail to print properly.   So while they were cheaper, they basically just a waste of good money. The Sixerdoodle

 

Then I hit upon doing your own cartridge refills.  This looked pretty simple, just squirt some ink in a plastic container and away you go, saving a bunch of money compared to the genuine Epson cartridges.  Well, as usual, things aren’t as simple as they seem, however in this case, once know the ‘tricks’, then it really is pretty simple and yes you do save a bunch of money.  Below are the ‘tricks’ I learned for refilling Epson Photo R200 cartridges.  YMMV and your printer may be different, no warranty is stated nor implied with these descriptions, but hopefully you can gain some benefit from my experiences.

Most of what you need, you can get here at ColorBat!

 


Equipment

 

The first trick is making sure you’ve got the right equipment.  For a first-time refill, here’s what I used:

 

  1. Clear plastic ink cartridge w/ rubber plugs
  2. Ink (duh!)
  3. 22 Gauge 3ml needle
  4. Spring clamp (clothes pin, etc)
  5. Paper towels! You will make a mess.
  6. Sturdy paper plate to contain spills
  7. Chip resetter
  8. Old Epson cartridge of matching ink color
  9. Small soldering iron

 

Clear plastic ink cartridge w/ plugs:  You want clear cartridges so you can monitor how much ink is in the cartridge when you’re filling as well as during use.  Don’t try refilling with opaque cartridges!  You can get clear cartridges for the R200 ‘without chip’ here.  You could get chipped cartridges that automatically reset or reset on power-off, but I want to control when/if the chip is reset so I reuse an existing cartridge chip, not an auto-reset chip.

 

Ink: Pretty straightforward, just make sure keep the Magenta and Photo Magenta apart!  I confused them once, that’s bad.  You can get ink here, use the Spider Spit, the Black = T0481, Cyan = T0482, Photo Cyan = T0485, Magenta = T0483, Photo Magenta = T0486, Yellow = T0484.

 

22 Gauge needle: You have to have a small sharp-tipped needle to do this.  Larger needles occupy too much of the filler hole in the cartridge and you’ll have ink bubbling out the hole rather than going into the cartridge.  Messy, messy.  The small needle ensures that as the ink goes in, air can come out of the cartridge without some of the ink with it.  Also make sure the needle is long enough to reach near the bottom of the cartridge.  You want the ink to fill from the bottom up, not just drip into the cartridge from the top.  Finally, you need a sharp-tipped needle, as you’ll want to be able to insert the needle into the foam on the foam side again in order to fill from the bottom up.  Find the needles here.

 

Spring clamp: Refilling takes 3 hands.  The spring clamp will fill in for the third hand.  A clothes pin can work, but it’s kind of narrow and the cartridge will fall over when you’re filling it splashing ink all over your table.  Note how wide the handles are in the picture.  This helps stabilize the cartridge while you’re filling it.  Find spring clamps similar to these here.

 

Paper towels, paper plate: I’ll repeat again, you will make a mess.  You will get ink on your hands and on your clothes. 

 

Chip Resetter: As noted above, you could use one of the auto-reset after market chips.  Those are good for gravity feed ink systems (bottomless ink systems).  But… If you’re just refilling cartridges you don’t want them ever to run out of ink, ever!  If you get in the habit of resetting the chip only when you refill and you always refill completely, then you can trust the chip to stop printing before it runs out.  With auto-reset chips, I guarantee you’ve eventually accidentally run a cartridge out, and then you’ll have to worry about getting a print head primed again.  Don’t do it.  Fill – reset, fill – reset.  By the way, forget the SSC utility for this printer.  It’s a good utility, but it won’t reset the chips on the Epson Photo R200.  You might use SSC to monitor the head-shots.  You could use the ‘freeze’ function to stop the counters from decrementing, but then you get into the auto-reset, how much ink do I really have left, oops it just ran dry, problem again.  You can get a good chip resetter here.  Just be aware that it must flash green at the end of the cycle.  Yeah, the docs say a flashing red at the end of the cycle might be ok.  It’s not.  If you don’t get the green light, the chips not reset yet.  If it only flashes red and then stops, you probably don’t have the pins lined up right.  Eyeball it really close, as the alignment on the out of the box chip resetter is not great.  I ended up building another jig to hold the cartridge aligned properly (see later pictures).  Find a resetter similar to what I’ve got here.

 

Old Epson Cartridge: You need to extract the chip from here.  It can be an empty cartridge; you’ll be resetting it later so being empty doesn’t matter.  Do note that the chip is different for each color so don’t mix’em up!

 

Soldering Iron: used to attached the old chip to the new cartridge.  Use a small soldering iron as you don’t want to melt a hole in the cartridge!  You might try an old knife after heating it a bit in a candle or something.  Might work, but I’ve not tried it.

 

 


Getting Down to Business

 

 

Step 1 – Get set.

-         Put your needle together

-         Arrange paper plate, paper towels

-         Both rubber plugs out of cartridge

-         Snap clamp on cartridge

-         Stand cartridge up

-         Open ink (double check the color!)

-         Draw 3ml of ink into needle.

-         Draw ink into the needle slowly.  If you go to fast you’ll pull bubbles into the ink which will be difficult to remove.

Step 2 – Begin to Fill the Sponge side

-         Insert needle through fill hole

-         Almost all the way in

-         Leave a slight gap between body of needle and cartridge

-         Inject ink

-         Note how ink is filling from the middle of the cartridge.

-         Fill slowly to give ink time to settle down in the sponge.

-         Note how the clamp continues to hold the cartridge upright

Step 3 – Completely fill the Sponge Side

-         inject one needle full into the sponge side

-         refill needle

-         inject again and repeat until ink is at the top of the sponge. NOT the top of the cartridge. Should take about 7ml-8ml of ink

-         Remember go slowly, no bubbles.

-         If you go too fast, the ink won’t settle through the sponge to the bottom and/or it will bubble out the fill hole making a big mess.

Step 4 – Begin to fill the metal tube side

-         You did see the metal tube, right?

-         This goes faster, but still be careful.  Too fast or ink will bubble up in the fill hole making a mess.

Step 5 – Finish filling the metal tube side

-         refill needle

-         inject more ink, repeat until ink is about ¼” away from the top of the cartridge. Should be about 7.5ml-8.5ml of ink. Just a bit more than you put in the sponge side.

Step 6 – Observe the metal tube and passage

-         Now a trick.  We want to make sure the metal tube and the clear passage between the tube and sponge compartments have ink in them

-         In this picture you see there’s no ink in the clear channel.

-         The cartridge relies on pulling a vacuum to draw ink from the one compartment to the other.  Leaving air in the clear passage make this more difficult. 

-         We need to ‘prime the pump’ a bit.

Step 7 – Filling the metal tube and passage

-         Notice that if you gently squeeze the sides of the sponge side and place your finger over the fill hole, ink will be drawn into the passage.

-         However if  you release your finger, the ink will probably drain back into the tube side.

Step 8 – Inserting the rubber plug #1

-         Repeat step 7, but rather than using your finger, put in a rubber plug in the sponge side fill hole

-         This time you’re less likely to see the ink drain back into the tube side.

Step 9 – Insert rubber plug #2

-         Insert rubber plug #2 into the tube side fill hole

-         You should still have the clear passage completely filled with ink.

-         If the passage drained remove the sponge side plug

-         Gently squeeze the tube side (with the tube side plug still in).  This will force ink across the channel.

-         While maintaining the squeeze (the Spring Clamp works well) insert the sponge side plug and remove the tube side plug. 

-         Release the squeeze.  Does the ink stay?  If not replace the tube side plug and repeat as necessary.

-         Ink should stay in the passage with the tube side plug out as you must have the tube side plug out when you are printing.

Step 10 – Remove old Epson Chip

-         use your fingernail to push back the melted plastic pegs hold the chip in

-         Don’t use a knife as you may damage the chip

-         There’s one peg at the top (toward the left of the picture) and one peg toward the bottom of the cartridge (to the right of the picture)

Step 11 – The chip is loose

- once the pegs are loose gently remove the chip from the old cartridge.

Step 12 – Chip the new cartridge

-         insert the chip on the new cartridge

-         make sure to line up the pegs

-         the large pads go toward the bottom of the cartridge.

-         Use the soldering iron to slightly melt the tops of the pegs to hold the chip in place.

-         Melted pegs should look like this

-         Almost flush with the chip

Step 13 – Reset the Chip

-         Press the chip against the chip resetter

-         Make sure the pins on the resetter line up with the large pads on the chip

-         Here you see the jig I made to help align.

-         Press and wait for the green light

-         No green, just flashing red?  Probably not lined up right.  Maybe one pin off?

-         No red light?  Probably way not lined up!

 

Step 14 – print!

-         put the cartridge in the printer as you normally would

-         remove the tube side plug!  If you miss this step, it’ll print for awhile until you pull a vacuum on the tube side which stops the ink from flowing!!

 

Done!! 

 

Next time, just repeat the fill steps and reset the chip!

 

Refills anyone? 

 

Now you might ask when to refill the ink. If you catch the cartridge before it gets below the 1/2 way point, then you'll only need to refill the metal tube side. If you go below the 1/2 mark on the cartridge, then you'll be drawing ink from the sponge side. That's ok, but it means when you refill, you'll need to refill both the sponge side and the tube side. So generally I try to refill at the 1/2 point.