Tag Archives: Designjet

HP Designjet color calibration issues

The problem

This is hopefully a highly technical discussion about the HP Designjet (specifically the Z2100 – though this may include others like the Z3100 and Z3200).

I am the owner of PRGPrinting – a fine-art photography printing business. We are located in Westland Michigan. We offer photo printing services for all photographers – beginner and professional.

If you have owned and operated any of the Hewlett Packard Designjet Photo printers (collectively “Designjet” for this article), you will eventually run into the following issue: “Calibration cancelled due to a scanning issue”. This issue primarily occurs during the creation of a new paper profile for the printer. If you Google for that phrase, you will come across several articles describing the problem. Unfortunately, no real solution is revealed.

People have tried changing settings, erasing settings, changing various parts, cleaning parts and so on to fix this problem – with no real solution at hand.


In my case, I have several papers that just simply will not properly calibrate within the printer. Papers like Epson Enhanced Matte and Breathing Color Signa Smooth produce this error. The symptom is always the same – the printer goes through the entire calibration process:

  • print the scanning pattern
  • let the ink dry
  • scan in the entire pattern
  • eject/cut the paper
  • report on the screen that the calibration is cancelled due to a scanning problem

and the creation of the paper profile fails.

The bigger problem is there is no indicator, no log or error display other than the vague “scanning problem” message. The maddening part of all this: some papers calibrate just fine on the same printer!

Things I have tried to get past this:

  • cleaning the printheads from the control panel
  • manually removing the heads and cleaning both the ink egress point
  • manually cleaning the printhead electrical contacts
  • cleaning the “eye” part of the color spectrophotometer (the ESP device)
  • examining and cleaning the line sensor
  • removing built-up ink on the encoder strip
  • replacing printheads
  • executing the head alignment procedure
  • invoking the paper advance calibration
  • running the gamut of service calibrations within the power-on service menu.

Diving Deeper

After getting very frustrated with this problem, I decided to have a deeper go at it and see if I could get into the “firmware” of the machine. The formatter board on these printers is essentially a 80386 based computer. What’s more, the firmware is nothing more than an old version of Linux customized by HP for the printer. Internally, the Linux is referred to as “Troya Linux” and the version in my printer is “2.0.8”. The Linux Kernel on this install is 2.6.10 – a fairly old version of Linux but usable none the less.

I was able to log into the Linux instance on the printer by ssh’ing to the management address and logging in as ‘root’ with no password.

Screenshot of the Linux instance on my Designjet printer
Logging into the Linux that runs my Designjet Z2100

While there are some interesting little tidbits that can be found once logged in, the important thing is to find log files – any relevant log files – to help me figure out exactly what is failing (obviously – so it can be fixed).

Where I am at now

That is where I am at right now – trying to figure out exactly which log file to examine that indicates the paper calibration status. There are log files scattered about the entire filesystem on here: /tmp, /var/log, /vobs (which is apparently where most of the printer specific software resides), and so on. Apparently, there are several log files at least on mine that date back to when the printer was apparently commissioned (2008 – I haven’t owned this printer THAT long).

I expect that this will be a living document to chronicle my journey in figuring out this problem with my Designjet. Hopefully others will find useful things in here as well.