Posts filed under ‘Hardware’
Recently, I received an Artisan 835 Printer for Christmas. The printing was perfect, but I was unable to scan or get the printer ink level to work. The problem turned out to be all firewall related. When I turn off the firewall, everything works just fine. Using process monitor, I was able to locate the programs to add as an exception to the firewall.
When you attempt to check your ink level, the ink level is blank. When launch the Epson status monitor, you get “searching…” and then the following error:
Check all connections and make sure all devices are on. If the power was turned off during printing, cancel the print job. If the error does not clear, see your printer documentation.
The connection is being blocked by the firewall. Open windows firewall in the control panel and click on the exception tab. Click on add program and enter the following program:
C:\Program Files\Common Files\EPSON\EBAPI\eEBSvc.exe
After the progrom has been added. The ink level should now appear and the Epson status monitor should now work.
When you select Epson Scan application, it errors out with the following error:
Cannot Communicate with the scanner.
Make sure the scanner is on, correctly setup and connected with no errors indicated.
For detail information, see Solving Problems in the User’s Guide
Open the windows firewall from the control panel. Click on exception tab and add the following program as an exception.
Now Epson Scan should work when you launch it.
I recently purchased a 2TB SATA2 drive to use for backup on my old computer. The computer is old but have a SATA 1.5 Gb connector on the motherboard. The drive uses a SATA2 (3.0 Gb) interface. SATA2 uses the same connector as SATA and I thought they were backwards compatible with eachother. Apparently, this was not the case. The drive was powering up and spinning, but is not able to autodetect the slower interface.
I went to the drive manufacturer’s web site and looked up the manual. In the manual, it indicated that you can set the jumper to the slower interface. I added the jumper and the drive worked right away. Since it is not a fast drive, I am doubtful that SATA2 would have made much of a difference in the performance any way. So if your SATA drive do not work with an older machine and the power and connection appears to be correct, you may want to see if you can lock the drive at the lower transfer rate to get it to work.
Recently, the HP Solution Center suddently stop working. When I launch HP SolutionCenter, nothing happens. In the error log, I see the errors:
Product: SolutionCenter -- Error 1904. Module C:\WINDOWS\system32\Macromed\Flash\Flash9b.ocx failed to register. HRESULT - 2147220473. Contact your support personnel.
What seems to have happened is the following:
- Adobe Flash is updated to version 10. This cause Flash9b.ocx to be deleted from C:\Windows\Flash
- HP Solution Center is apparently dependent on Flash9b.ocx, so it stopped working.
Here’s how I got rid of the error.
- Uninstall HP solution center because HP do not allow you to reinstall the HP Solution Center. Instead, we have to uninstall so we can install the HP Solution Center again.
- Reinstall HP Solution.
If you examine C:\Windows\System32\Macromed\flash, Flash9b.ocx is back even though we have Flash10.ocx. If you examine the event log, there is the same registration error again (you can’t register Flash9b.ocx because there is a later version), but HP solutions apparently works.
I have fond memory of HP printer products. I remember back in my undergrad years, I hooked up an HP Inkjet 500 that I shared with my 7 other housemates. That thing was a tank. Everyone was printing their paper on it and we probably was using way above its rated cycle, but it worked for years after we abused it. At work, we often encountered HP Laserjet, which were just as tough.
I don’t know about how good the HP hardware is these days, but the software could use some dieting. Isn’t 190 Mb a bit big for a driver? Did the programmers get paid by lines of code? What’s in that thing? A lot of bloatware apparently. Here’s my tips on what to install:
- Download the Full Feature driver and not the Basic driver. If you install the basic driver, you’ll only have the ability to print. The scan and fax will not work. The driver is available at this location.
- Launch Driver.
- Click on Install.
- Press Next.
- Uncheck the Yahoo Toolbar and check the Advance Install. We don’t need the toolbar. Click Next.
- When prompted whether to automatically check for updates, click No and click next.
- On install options, select Custom Install. Click Next.
- On the Custom Installation screen, check only the following:HP Solution Center
HP Imaging Functions
OCR Software by I.R.I.S.
Even if you don’t use the OCR software, you will want to install the OCR software. Without the OCR software, you will not be able to scan to PDF. If you already have Photoshop or something, why bother. HP update would be nice, but takes up memory and resource as a background task. HP do not seem to update their drivers often. Why not just manually check every once in a while. The Web Printing is interesting, but we could do without it. The other stuff is just bloatware.
- Prompt for EULA, click I agree (what else are you going to do, disagree and have no driver?)
- Click Next to use default location.
- Follow the instruction on screen and complete the installation.
- After installation, launch HP Solution Center.
- In HP Solution Center, click on settings.
- Click on Scan settings->Scan to… Setup.
- Wait for a long time for the front panel list to appear. Select each item you want to be able to select from the LCD panel. Each item you add will appear on the printer’s LCD panel when you select scan to computer on the printer. If you do not select any options, you will not be able to scan to your computer and you will get a message “No scan options”. In my case, I added all of the items.
- Once all of the items are added, press Update the Device.
At this point the driver should be installed and you have roughly the minimal software for the majority of features.
After installing the driver, make sure you install the Critical Update to Correct a PC to Printer Communication Issue if you are using the wireless connection. Without installing this driver, scan to computers often fail.
Recently, my mom’s troublesome Brothers MFC-3360C All-In-One printer finally died. The printer was just pure evil. Dust would collect around the tray and make it impossible to remove the paper tray. The ink cartridge would run dry every couple of months even though no one printed anything because it continuously self-clean. I was not unhappy to see it go.
I replaced it with a HP Photosmart C7280 All-In-One. The printer looked solid and I hope that it will last longer than the Brothers, but our relationship soured quickly when I attempted to install the drivers. The driver failed with the following error:
Fatal error during Installation Module C:\Windows\system32\hpbmiapi.dll failed to register. HRESULT -2147221164. Contact your support personnel. Please go to http://www.hp.com/support for troubleshooting information about "Fatal Error" and "MSI.dot4wrp".
Since the CD install didn’t work, I downloaded the latest drivers from HP and they didn’t work. I tried to unzip the drivers and locate the hpbmiapi.dll and manually register the dll, but I ran out of disk space. I tried google and notice that many HP owners of a different printer had similar issues, but was resolved by a patch from HP.
I called HP customer support in hopes that they will have a patch for the C7280, but they were less than helpful. I mentioned that various other people on the HP forum had the same issue, but they told me that no one has reported this issue. After trying a few things, they declared that the problem was Microsoft’s fault and that I should call up Microsoft since they will know what the problem is. They wouldn’t escalate the issue because it was a Microsoft problem. Right…
This post gave me a clue:
The hpbmiapi.dll registration failed because of a dependency. Apparently hpbmiapi.dll is dependent on atl.dll (Active Template Library) to be registered. When it wasn’t, the install blew up when it failed to register hpbmiapi.dll. What the error message should have mentioned was the dependency.
To fix the problem, do the following:
- Check if atl.dll exists in your system directory. It’s usually in C:\Windows\system32. If it exists, go to the next step. If it does not, you may be able to install it by downloading and installing the Visual C++ 6.0 runtime at:
- Once it’s there, you can register it by running the following command in a command window (you must be an admin of the system):
- Now install the driver again. This time the install should work.
I am hoping that this article will help someone save a few hours of frustration. Sadly, I have had good luck with HP in the past. It’s clear that they are no longer the company they used to be.
Recently, my Lexmark Z52 stop printing. Whenever I print, I would get the error “Carrier Stall”. The problem was not resolved when I reset the printer several times. I also tried reinstalling the cartridge, but that did not help.
I did some google search and discover the following knowledge base issue. From what I can determine, there is a clear plastic strip right behind the print carriage (where your ink cartridge sits) that the printer reads as it prints. If this cartridge is unreadable, you could get a “Carriage Stall” error or the carriage starts slamming itself against the side of the printer.
The knowledge base article suggest flicking it. This did not help and it would appear that the strip was in place properly. I got out some wet paper towel and carefully wiped it down and then make sure it was back in alignment. This did not immediately fixed the problem, but I figure there was probably some moisture on the strip. I waited overnight for the strip to dry and tried again. This time, the printer worked perfectly.
While I do not guarantee that this will fix your printer, why not give it a try. It cost nothing and it may save another printer from going into the landfill.
The Acer 3680-2633 comes with a Celeron M 520 CPU. The name Celeron have been synonymous with trash. On many forum there are articles asking if they can upgrade the processor.
Can you upgrade the processor?
Well, the question you should ask is if it can be upgraded at all. It is generally more difficult to upgrade a CPU on a laptop than a desktop. The CPU is hard to get to, and the cooling system may be design to cool a particular processor. Still, if your laptop comes in multiple configuration (your model supports Celeron M to Core 2 Duo), it may be possible to upgrade. Your upgrade path will depend on a couple of factors:
- Your CPU is a Zip socket, and there is another CPU that fit into this socket.
- Your chipset supports the CPU.
- Your BIOS can recognize the new CPU.
In the case of the Acer 3680, the CPU is socketed. I ran a program call PC Wizard to get the chipset. It indicate that the Acer 3680-2633 chipset is an Intel 943GML. A quick search through the Intel website indicate that it supports only Celeron M.
Can we upgrade to another Celeron M? According to Wikipedia, there is a Celeron M 530 that is faster than the 520. A quick check through google indicates that the CPU is selling for about $125 currently. However, the CPU is only 0.08 Ghz faster than the 520, so I am doubtful that you will gain much performance from the upgrade. The other processors that 943 GML support are the Celeron ULV, which are even slower than 520 and don’t even share the same socket.
Is Celeron M really a dog?
The first Celeron was release with virtually no secondary cache. As a result, its performance was so poor that the name become associated with cheap and slow. The Celeron M are essentially single core of the mobile Intel chips with half the cache. Currently, there are 3 series of Celeron M.
|Celeron M Series||Based On||Difference|
|3xx||Pentium M (Dothan Core)||1/2 Cache, no Speedstep|
|4xx||Core Duo (Yonah Core)||1/2 Cache, no Speedstep|
|5xx||Core 2 Duo (Merom Core)||1/2 Cache, no Speedstep, no virtualization|
Performance-wise, the Celeron M is actually fairly close to its non-Celeron brother. Recently, another poster wrote an article benchmarking a Celeron M vs. its Pentium M brother.
However, the Celeron M’s biggest flaw as a mobile cpu is a lack of speedstep. This may explain the Acer laptop’s terrible 2 hour battery life.
Increasing performance using Dual Channel
One interesting difference between the 520 series and the old Pentium M is the effect of dual channel. On the Pentium M architecture, having dual channel has virtually no effect on performance as shown in the following article. However, when I ran SuperPI under single channel and dual channel, I definitely got improve results.
|Memory Configuration||SuperPI Benchmark 2M|
|1 DIMM, 512 Mb||2:19|
|2 DIMM, 2 Gb||1:39|
As you can see, there is a 29% improvement. Granted, the test isn’t very through or scientific, but it appears upgrading your laptop to two matching pair of RAM will improve performance and RAM is cheap at the moment.
My Acer 3680 only last about 2 hours on a charge. Should I buy another internal battery or buy an external battery?
First, let’s examine the laptop’s battery and AC adapter:
- Battery: 4000 mAh, 11.1 V, 44.4 Wh Li-ion.
- AC Adapter: 19 V, 3.42 A, 65 W
The best way to measure a battery’s capabilities is Watt hour. The formula for Watt Hour is:
Watt Hour (wh) = Voltage x Amp-Hour
For the Acer battery, the Watt hour would be 4 A x 11.1 V = 44.4 Wh. So if you buy an external battery taht’s 44.4 Wh, you’ll get the same battery life as your internal? That depends on your internal voltage vs external voltage. If you look at the Acer battery specification, it list a voltage of 11.1 V, but if you look at the AC adapter, it list 19V. To get the same battery life on an external battery, you would need a battery with 4 A x 19 V = 76 Wh. Essentially, you need a much bigger battery because of the higher voltage.
Let’s compare the battery life with what is typically available on the market:
|Capacity (Wh)||Percentage from Baseline||Est. Battery Life (Hours)|
|76 Wh (baseline)||100%||2:00|
Internally, the Acer has two battery options:
- 4000 mAh, 11.1 V, 44.4 Wh Li-ion.
- 7200 mAH, 11.1 V, 79.9 Wh Li-ion
So the battery life would be:
|Capacity (Wh)||Percentage from Baseline||Est. Battery Life (Hours)|
Amazon currently sale an 80 Wh external battery at around $205, which will give me another 2:06 of runtime. I could get the 44.4 Wh internal battery for $160 for the same amount of battery life. In the end, the internal battery almost always seem to be a better deal.
All Acer 3680 have a bluetooth button on the front, but only some models of Acer 3680 actually have the internal bluetooth module. This has led people to spend hours trying to get bluetooth to work, only to discover that they don’t have bluetooth. This does mean that all or most model of Acer 3680 probably have a connector for the internal bluetooth module and an internal antenna. All we need to do is to find a compatible module to connect to the connector.
Acer does not sell the bluetooth module as a part. Since the connector is essentially a USB connector, I could have rewire a USB dongle if I can figure out the pin outs. However, I am not a hardware person and don’t really have the time to mess with solder and wires. I managed to acquired an aftermarket bluetooth module from a ebay vendor OldEgg Wireless. OldEgg mentioned that the part was not an original Acer part, but it was only about $34 with shipping. If it worked, the it was a much better option than USB dongle or PCMCIA cards. There are a few other vendors offering the part, but OldEgg at least was offering reasonable prices (one vendor wanted $150, why would I spend that much money for an accessory for a $400 laptop?)
The module arrived in a few days. The module is a tiny box size of a fingertip with a cable terminating in a 6-pin connector. There’s some double sided tape in the back of the box. I have no idea who the vendor is since the label on the box is in Chinese.
Installation is actually pretty easy for the Acer 3680. All you need to do is to remove the memory door panel, exposing a white 6 pin socket. All you need to do is plug the connector into the socket (it only goes in one way). You can remove the backing of the double-sided tape and stick it on some part of the motherboard. In my case, I just tucked into a crevice of the case.
To test it, I boot the laptop up and press the bluetooth button and the blue light lit up, indicating that it was working. After installing gnome-bluetooth under Ubuntu, I was able to scan and connect to my Motorola Razr from across the room. I assume that it probably works under XP and Vista, but I don’t have either OS on the machine to try it.
I assume that this trick will work on all models of Acer 3680, but you should open up your memory panel to make sure there is a 6-pin connector. I did notice that there seemed to be several models of Acer 3680, so there’s a small chance that this may not work with every model.
The acer 3680 has two memory slots that takes DDR2-533/PC4200 or DDR2-667/PC5300. Because the Celeron M has a FSB of 533 Mhz, you’re limited to 533 Mhz even if you use DDR2-667. The computer typically come with a single 512 Mb module and can accept up to a maximum of two 1 Gb module for a total of 2 Gb. Since DDR2-667 and DDR2-533 are pretty much the same price these days, I chose a pair of G. Skill 2 x 1 Gb DDR2-667 from Newegg.
To install the memory, power off the laptop and remove the battery. Turn the laptop over. The memory module is located under the middle panel, the one with the Windows Product Key sticker. To remove the panel, remove the two screw on the bottom of the case. There is plastic washer underneath the panel holding the screw in. You will have to unscrew the screw all the way and then carefully use your fingernail to pry off the screw (be careful not to lose it).
Once you remove the screw, you will find resistance as you try to pry over the panel. The panel is actually being held in by plastic fingers that stick out to the back of the panel and some to the side. Pry open the cover gently so you don’t break the fingers. In my opinion, it’s a really bad design, since plastic get brittle with age and the fingers may break if you keep opening the panel.
After you remove the panel, you’ll notice 2 white plastic washers. Carefully remove them so they don’t get lost.
The memory module is toward the back. Examine the memory module carefully, you’ll notice that the memory module is being held by two clips. The clip fits into a notch on the side of the memory. Gently pry the arms of the clip outward, causing the memory module to flip up to about an 45 degrees angle. Remove the memory. Insert the new memory at an 45 degree angle and swivel the memory gently until it clicks into the clips. Since there is a notch on the connector, you cannot insert the memory in the wrong direction. Do not force the memory or you will break something.
Once the memory module is in, don’t close the memory door right away. Test it to make sure it works first. If you don’t get a BIOS welcome screen, then the memory is not installed properly. If you get a blank screen, don’t panic. Turn off the machine, remove the battery, and re-seat the memory. I find that I may have to re-seat the memory a few times before the memory works. If it still doesn’t work, try different combination of the memory module. You may have a bad memory module. Trying different combination allow you to discover which one.
Once everything is working, turn the laptop over again. Carefully put in the white washers on the screw hole. Reattach the memory panel door starting with the fingers in the back. Be careful you do not knock off the white washers. Once the panel is click in place, put the two screws back in.
Post Installation Booting Problems
After installing the RAM, I notice that occassionally, was unable to start up after a shutdown. Typically, I would turn on the machine. The power light would be on, but nothing happens. The problem is usually fixed by removing the battery and AC, killing all power to the laptop. After the power is restore, the laptop boots normally, only to have a similar problem again after shutdown.
After some research on the net, the problem is cause by a BIOS timing issue. According to Acer, the problem affects laptop with dual RAM. To fix the problem, download the BIOS 1.3505 or above (mines was originally 1.3502).