Mend-it Monday: Ink or Bin


Our (T)rusty HP Printer

About 15 years ago, Chez Snail traded in its old HP printer for a new HP printer. The old printer no longer fed paper through, but after two years of “encouraging” it (sanding the rollers, tightening things up etc.) this wasn’t surprising. I would love to have had it repaired, or repaired it myself, but at that time, I couldn’t. So, reluctantly, we traded it in (there was a deal at Staples at the time) and bought our HP C6180.

And, as you want with your printer, it basically just worked for the next 15 years, very boring, very reliable. We fed it with scrap paper, nice new paper and photopaper. We kept it watered with genuine HP ink, because we’re nice like that.

Now it appears HP have made our printer obsolete. I mean, they haven’t supported it as such for about a decade, but now they seemed to have stopped making the ink cartridges for it. This isn’t a trial since there are a plethora of “compatible” cartridges out in the world, but being forced into the situation is quite galling.

We bought the 100% compatible cartridges and put one in. This is where it all becomes messy, but not in an ink-all-over-your-arm way. The printer decided it was having none of it and came up with a failure error, a long nasty-looking error number (in hexadecimal to scare you more – fortunately, I can still think in hex when the need arises, so I wasn’t put off) and then refused to print.

Well, the simple solution was to put the old cartridge back in and muddle through: old cartridge replaced, printer turned-off-and-on again et voilà! Same error message. What had been a printer 30 seconds before was now, apparently, a rather large doorstop, and not even a nice coloured one at that.

Now, I am a chilled person at heart and maybe, just maybe, I would have given up at that point, made up some new swear words, and ordered a new printer online – they are insanely cheap these days. But, these are these days – days where we have eaten our way through the planet’s resources whilst systematically removing the right or the skill to repair and thus stopping the need to use up more precious materials.

Online I went, and after several encounters with clickbait sites (claiming to know how to fix your problem but at a price including your bank details), I found a solution (although this sequence of actions was the solution to a slightly different problem, in fact). A really easy solution:

  1. Switch the printer on
  2. Hold down left arrow and help buttons
  3. Press OK
  4. Use the right arrow to move through to the Hardware Failure status menu
  5. Click OK
  6. Click OK (this clears the hardware failure error)
  7. Click Cancel until you have exited all these hidden menus
  8. Restart the printer

Now we have a printer that still works and we should be able to get cartridges at least for a bit longer. Nice of HP to mention that this is a fix to it not liking non-HP cartridges, right? Nowhere does HP seem to refer to this menu, nowhere that I can find, including the original documentation that came with the printer. It’s almost like they don’t want you to sort it out, isn’t it?

A Mend-it Monday that required no physical tools, just bloody-mindedness and the internet. As there were no pictures, here’s one of Daisy being cute:



Categories: computers, repair, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: | 21 Comments

ScrapHappy July 2020: Threading the Needle


So, what’s this pile of old scrap for?

It’s a rare thing when the two sides of the same coin can be bridged but this is one of those times – I give you the Hard ScrapHappy needle threader for Soft Scraphappyness.

The wire has to be thin enough to pass through the eye of a needle (oh, the irony if camel hair worked) but thick enough to hold its shape. The handle just has to be, you know, handleable.

The two bits needed come from an old hard disk drive – the handle in this case is a memory chip and the wire is from the sense coil of the read/write head. In English, these are a funny rectangular bit with tiny legs and a bit of wire from something that looks like it belongs in a juke box. There are plenty other leggy quadrilaterals and bits of wire that can be used from a single hard drive to make needle threaders and, while I don’t think you could run a business making threaders from hard drives and thus help save the planet, well, every little helps as at least one supermarket with a sense of irony likes to state.



I soldered the wire onto the top few legs that were still attached to the chip, and cut the other legs off flush with the body so that there weren’t any pointy bits. The wire can be made more pointy to taste by just squeezing the end with pliers.

I made some earlier using connecting wire (from an old reel of wire I bought as part of my electronics hobby), sugru and old buttons.


One I made out of (slightly) more conventional materials


Ready to thread…

Eh, voila! Hard and soft scraphappiness in perfect harmony!


This is a wonderful idea from the equally wonderful Kate and Gun. Lots of other people now join in, so check their sites too for more ScrapHappyness!

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline,
Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin and Vera


Categories: computers, recycling, ScrapHappy, Sewing | Tags: , , | 17 Comments

Science and Art (with a couple of Beasties too) Part the First…



Beasties ensuring I don’t get up to too much mischief

As one or two of you* may be aware, I have been working away from home during the week for the last 18 months, back in my old home-from-home Reading. I have friends down here so, whilst it is hard being away from the Snail and the pups, my homesickness is softened by good company (and maybe a shandy or two** from time-to-time).

My contract in the real world concluded at the end of 2019 leaving me with 6 months rental on a flat. I decided to take this opportunity to use it as a base to finish novel number 3 and start on novel number 4 and possibly even number 5. Possibly.

The thing is, I can walk to Reading railway station and be no more than about 10 minutes or so from a train to London, so it seems rude not to avail oneself of that every now and again (back in Wales, I live 20 miles from the nearest station that only has trains that go north).

To London, then, with a nifty backpack filled with a reusable mug, JonBeastie and JanBeastie (see here for more beastie details). Our first port of call was the Science Museum, home at the moment to an exhibition of objects relating to Britain’s code-breaking expertise over the last century.


Not my old typewriter, honest, but an SG41, a very rare German cipher machine that was, unlike the more famous Enigma device, unbreakable by the geniuses at Bletchley Park.  


A 5 UCO: a British cipher machine so secret, they were all destroyed after WW2. Somewhere, an old civil servant is being shown this picture and told “You had one job to do…”

There are, of course, millions of items in the museum but I did notice these two on my way out. This is a theorbo, somewhat reminiscent of a guitar I have:


and this item, that made me feel so old, I felt I should have been in the case with it holding a sign saying “Example of typical owner”:


Ancient technology, apparently

I saved up and bought my one in 1980 and it still works today, using the same Casio battery that came with it. It has a liquid crystal display with sufficient digits to show how old I am and, when I get home to Wales, I am going to check that it is still on my desk.

I needed something new and artistic to stop me going and taking up residence in the case with the prototype of the Clock of the Long Now, so I and beasties headed to…



* I reckon two.

** I reckon more than two.


Categories: Artwork, computers, Travel, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

ScrapHappy June 2019: Love Triangle


You can keep your Bermuda, your isosceles and your musical varieties – my warning triangle is the best. Unfortunately, like a lovelorn triangular heart, it broke. I think it lurked around in the boot of the car and was squished by either some luggage, a dog or a person. What it needed was some scrap – chiefly, three bits of old computer.


I just happened to have this old PC lying around…

The metal braces were once the covers to be found on the back of desktop-flavoured PCs, to stop small fingers and the wet noses of dogs intruding whilst allowing for extra gizmos to be added. Removable, handy pieces of metal once the PC has reached the end of its life – in this case, due to a combination of software obsolescence and reluctance of the power supply to start up first thing in the day (that I can relate to!).


Some strong glue, tins of coconut milk for a bit of pressure on the braces while the glue was drying et voila! One triangle as opposed to six straight lines. Add an old knitting needle in the case to stop the whole thing bending quite so readily when sat on, and the job was done!


Hopefully, I’ll never need to use it!


These ScrapHappy posts are curated by Kate, who provides links to other (mostly sewing) ScrapHappy bloggers at Tall Tales from Chiconia on the fifteenth of every month. I have sneaked a non-fabric-based ScrapHappy in when no one was looking!

Lots of other happy scrappers contribute too, so check them out: KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, JanKaren,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Johanna,
Joanne, Jon (me), HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie and Bekki


Categories: computers, recycling, repair, ScrapHappy | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

What’s in a Cute Mouse?



Let’s clear this up right away – I mean a computer mouse. You didn’t think I would be opening up an actual Mus Musculus did you? Me, who passes out at the thought of blood… uh oh *falls off chair*

One large glass of wine later…

One day last week, the cute mouse for my laptop computer became non-responsive and the light went out of its not-an-eye-at-all. Now, I really do like this particular mouse: it doesn’t weigh a lot, it fits the palm of my hand perfectly and it doesn’t eat its way into my box of breakfast cereal before eating the actual cereal. The night before Christmas, it joins all other mice in not stirring but then it doesn’t indulge in this activity any other night of the year either.

I did a fast diagnosis and decided that it was probably the thin, flimsy USB cable that had probably snapped somewhere inconvenient. In fact, the wires seemed to make intermittent connections right where they disappeared into the body of the mouse.

Time to take it apart!

RIMG9101 - Laymans

What most people see when they take their mouse apart…

I still experience a buzz from disassembling something for the first time. It doesn’t last that long as usually something breaks in the process and a world of sweary pain opens up, but it is there, nonetheless.

RIMG9101 - Nerds

What people like me see when they take their mouse apart…

The difficult bit was removing the cable from the circuit board without melting anything important. Once that was achieved, the difficult bit was reattaching the wire having removed the bit that was broken. As suspected, the wire had indeed snapped at the grommet and, as also suspected, the grommet was an integral part of the wire. The fix here was an old-fashioned knot on the inside of the case to act as a strain relief.


Notice how the wires had been glued onto the board, making repair that much more irritating… also notice how the letters indicating the colours of each wire don’t actually match up with the colour of the wires. Genius.



In recovery – the patient is doing well

All back together and working well. Hopefully it will be another 3 and half years before I have to do surgery on it again!


Categories: computers, repair, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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