Avoiding Printer Problems
J Bloke Lambert. Assistant Editor
When you first bring your new printer home—before you connect it to anything—you should read through the manual. And if you have an add-on interface, read its manual, too. If you just pull everything out, try holes till the plugs fit (or bend), plug everything in and say, "I command thee: PRINT," it probably won't work. You may get a few things to work this way, but you're likely to run into problems.
Don't Force Connections
After looking through the manual, follow the recommendations for connecting the printer to the interface (if necessary) and computer. Don't force connections together. The connections should be snug, but if the parts don't fit, check the diagrams and text to make sure you are doing everything right.
You may need to install the print ribbon, and check the print head (or insert a daisy wheel, on letter-quality printers). Check the manual for instructions, and check on the printer for stickers with diagrams and instructions that may have been left out of the manual.
Before you turn the system on, check the printer manual to see the correct setting for the DIP (Dual In-line Package) switches.
These allow you to select the functions that the printer will default to—the normal settings. Some interfaces also have internal DIP switches which you need to set to get the best results. See the interface manual to find the correct switch positions for your system.
Sometimes just feeding the paper through the printer causes problems. Most of these are easily cured. When using continuous pin-feed paper, make sure the paper is not in a bind anywhere on its way to the printer. If your printer allows for both regular and pin-feed paper, be sure the platen is set for the correct mode. If the platen is holding the paper while the tractor mechanism is trying to pull the paper through, this can cause the paper to jam.
The first time you print something, don't be shocked if the printer puts everything on one line, or if you get double-spacing when you expected single. This is usually not a problem with the printer. Instead, it can mean that the DIP switches are still not set correctly, or that you are using the incorrect interface mode. Experiment with the interface modes; you can't hurt anything, and you may discover some features you didn't know about.