The Senior Macintosh Center
My Mac Magazine #27, July ’97

You never know who’s reading your work, so when you get a letter like I
did from Chris, it really encourages you. Thanx, Chris. Your note made
my day!

With the fast pace of the computer industry always zooming ahead at
lightning speed, you feel like you’re sometimes left behind in a cloud of
dust (cough, cough). Then you realize that you’re not alone in this
cloud. There are millions of us here. No need to get paranoid; just wait
for the dust to settle and you’ll find that you’ve got friends that
you’ve never met. This is one of those warm, fuzzy Hallmark moments.
Where’s my Polaroid? :^D

I’ve written about LaserWriter IIs before but I thought that I would
share some thoughts about Personal LaserWriters, again any flavor. About 2 or 3 years ago, I had one come in for service. It wouldn’t generate a startup page and would flash the two orange lights on top. I could see it in the Chooser when I selected the LaserWriter driver but when I’d go to print a test page, it would just die. Well, I proceeded to change all kinds of parts and after a few hours of frustration and about at the point where I was ready to pull my hair out (mine, the customer’s and the service manager’s, too :^D), I tried one last part… It took awhile to
get to it… I never would have guessed that all of this fuss would be
caused by such a small part… I wasn’t sure that it would fix the
problem… but it did. Ah, should I share my secrets? Hmmm, I wonder.

The scanner unit is the little motor that has the reflecting mirror on
it that spins at 800 zillion RPM (just kidding). It reflects the laser
beam signal onto the toner cartridge drum and so the print job goes on.
The scanner unit has a processor chip on it that regulates the speed of
the motor. You know how that when your printer is about to print out a
document, you hear a low whir and it sounds like it speeds up? That’s
the scanner unit. Okay, stay with me. When it spins up it to the right
speed, it sends a signal to the DC Controller (the brain board) that it’s
now ready for the laser beam to start firing away at its reflecting
mirror. Yes, it really uses a very tiny laser beam. Well, if the chip
goes bad, then the DC Controller doesn’t know when the scanner is up to
speed. If the scanner isn’t up to speed, then it’s not going to print.
Simple, huh?

I have seen literally dozens of these little chips on the scanner unit
go bad. It”s pretty cool. It actually burns up the circuit board
underneath (there is NO fire hazard here!). I”ve even seen the chip
itself get “cooked” right off the circuit board. Impressive… in a geeky
sort of way! I know that it’s nerdy but I sorta get a kick out of
showing it to the guys that I work with. Very techno-weenie. Oy, it’s a

Now here’s something you do need to know. The Personal LaserWriter uses the exact same printer engine as the Hewlett Packard LaserJet IIp and
IIIp. Yes, they do use the same parts and, yes, you can interchange the
scanner unit because it’s the same thing. Apple’s part number is
661-0572 and Hewlett Packard’s part number is RG1-1771. The average
retail price will be anywhere from $100.00 to $150.00. Shop around, you
may get a better deal.

This is one of those repairs that you don’t want to do yourself. You
have to break down the whole printer to get to this little monster and
that can get crazy. You know me by now; bring the printer to your local
Apple Service guy. Trust me on this one!

I’m done for now. Oh yeah, listen, before I hang up, I have a question
for you. What do you want me to write about? I never thought that with
my world-famous reputation of possessing the gift of gab that I would
ever dare ask such a question but I get writer’s block all the time. Any
topic will do, I’ll just fill in the blanks. :^D Thanx for your support.

Catcha L8r, Eddie

Ed Tobey (

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