Old Dusty

This may still work in 2019, but perhaps not on some newer models

I wanted to print a document the other day, so I switched on my dusty and trusty inkjet printer, only to find a nice red blinking error on the display greeting me. The message was something along the lines of “Printing is impossible, replace yellow ink cartridge”.

I tried printing in black & white (greyscale actually), by specifiying this in the print options (click to see how), but a friendly popup message just stated something along these lines: “Cannot retain printing quality, please replace ink cartridge yellow”.

So I couldn’t print in black and white because my yellow ink was empty?! I couldn’t believe it. Or rather, I could, seeing how printer manufacturers are almost giving away printers for free, they have to make money somehow – why not in sleazy ways like this?

Checking the black cartridge, which is double the size of the colored ones, it was still half full (or half empty, whichever you prefer). Only the yellow one was completely empty. So, what is a man to do?

A little googling later, the eureka moment came along soon enough: Black Electrical tape!

You Need This

As it turns out, Brother printers check the ink levels by shining a sensor light at a special “window” in the cartridges, similar by design in all their printers.

Lazar: Mr. Bond, bullets do not kill. It is the finger that pulls the trigger. James Bond: Exactly. I am now aiming precisely at your groin. So speak, or forever hold your peace.

So I gave it a shot: I simply pressed the cartridge against the palm of my hand almost like a gun, using a finger to hold it in such a way that the window protruded (as seen above), then simply taped it over using a piece of black electrical tape (as seen below). The light from the sensor is now reflected back, and the printer thinks the cartridge is full! (Note: I first tried using scotch tape, which failed miserably, though I speculate it might work if you color it black using strong black ink.)

“Eureka!” he said (Click to view larger version)

Now shut up and do your job!

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Warning: Remember to always specify that you want to print in “greyscale” in the printer settings menu before printing with empty cartridges loaded, or it could damage the printing heads (according to Brother).

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Thank you! – Tommy

Don’t have the exact “ingredients” outlined in this article? Don’t despair! Check the comments section below to see what alternative materials and solutions people found – e.g. using markers and other types of tape!