Results 1 to 19 of 19

Thread: No more printed smartcards.

  1. #1
    Master Inventor daverob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Brighton, UK
    Posts
    1,276
    Thanks
    1,872
    Thanks Received
    6,740

    Unhappy No more printed smartcards.

    I have had to temporarily stop selling printed smartcards for use with the card reader emulator dongles as my printer has finally given up the ghost.

    The printer was originally spotted on eBay for a bargain price (around $50) when I was developing the dongles, and thinking that it would be nice to try and replicate the Japanese pre-paid cards using the dongle and an optional smartcard reader. If it wasn't for finding this printer listed on eBay, I probably wouldn't have developed the smartcard reader for the dongles.

    It has been a bit of an effort keeping it going, it was obsolete and out of support when I bought it, and the spare parts needed to get it back to operational condition were tricky to find 8 years ago. It also only has working drivers for Windows 98 and requires a hardware parallel printer port (not a USB converter), so is pretty much impossible to use with current PC hardware, which Win98 won't install on and doesn't usually have the right ports.

    A few days ago, the last of my stash of 15 year old laptops died leaving me without a computer to drive the printer. So I decided it was time to try to get it working under linux. I downloaded an experimental driver for a similar model printer that had been developed back in 2002, and went about modifying the source code to make it compatible with my printer.

    It took a bit of experimentation, and a dozen or so cards that bore little resemblance to the image that was supposed to be printed on them, but I managed to get it to work this morning. I then went to print out some cards for a customer who has been patiently waiting, and the print-head gave up half way through the first card. Now every card printed has a white stripe through it where the print head no longer works.

    The cost of a replacement print head (~$400) can't be justified against the few dozen cards that I print each year, so I'm going to have to wait to see if I can find another bargain printer (and hope that it has a good print head and is repairable!), and while I wait for one to turn up I'm not going to be able to print any cards.

  2. The following 20 users say "Thanks" to daverob


  3. #2
    I was thrown out of Top Gear Drunkenclam's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Guildford, Surrey
    Posts
    23,934
    Thanks
    11,369
    Thanks Received
    15,425

    Default Re: No more printed smartcards.

    Ian #UKPachinko

  4. The following user says "Thanks" to Drunkenclam


  5. #3
    Kungishi CarlW's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Sugar Grove, Illinois
    Posts
    1,487
    Thanks
    2,212
    Thanks Received
    3,269

    Default Re: No more printed smartcards.

    I kind of understand what a smart card is. But what was the printer (model) and why was the printer special? e.g. Why can't any inkjet be used?

  6. #4
    Master Inventor daverob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Brighton, UK
    Posts
    1,276
    Thanks
    1,872
    Thanks Received
    6,740

    Default Re: No more printed smartcards.

    Quote Originally Posted by CarlW View Post
    I kind of understand what a smart card is. But what was the printer (model) and why was the printer special? e.g. Why can't any inkjet be used?
    The printer was special as it was an ID card printer that prints directly onto the PVC plastic cards by using a dye sublimation process to form the image, and then covering it in a transparent resin overlay. This results in a very good quality image as the wax dyes are melted into the surface of the plastic card and the colours mix together in the space of a single pixel (rather than the dithering effect needed by inkjet printers). It also has the advantage of being very durable. Typically a new one will cost you around $1000 for a basic model rising to several thousand for one with all the options.

    The printer I was using was a Javelin J300C, which is a UK specific model that is basically the same internals as the Eltron/Zebra P300C but with a different style case and a small LCD status display. My one was manufactured in 1998 and they were discontinued in 1999, with support ending in 2004 (which is probably why I got it so cheap in 2007!).

    Normal inkjet printers can't be used as the ink would just rub off the plastic cards. I believe that you can now get plastic ID badge type cards with a special coating on them that is inkjet printable (the same as the printable CDR/DVDR discs), but I haven't seen this type of card available with a smartcard chip embedded in it. If you had to use an inkjet printer, then I'd expect that it would be better to print on a separate sheet of film and then laminate it to the card.

  7. The following 11 users say "Thanks" to daverob


  8. #5
    Master Inventor daverob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Brighton, UK
    Posts
    1,276
    Thanks
    1,872
    Thanks Received
    6,740

    Default Re: No more printed smartcards.

    Just got a couple of non-working card printers to try and resurrect.

    Just won a Javelin J420C that was listed on eBay with 'Mechanical Error' showing on the display, so only attracted a few bids and sold for around $50. Again it's an old machine that's out of support, but is a slightly newer version of the one I have (with the addition of a duplexer). Will have to wait until it turns up to see what's wrong with it, but 'Mechanical Error' on the display at power on is usually a sensor problem, and may just need cleaning.

    Second one is a much newer Zebra P330i. This was a current model until about a year ago, and is still in full support for another 4 years, so there shouldn't be any problems getting parts for it. I've had this one for a couple of days now, and the (somewhat obvious) fault is that the print-head carrier has been physically broken off from it's mountings. It's only a small plastic part that needs replacing (which has just been delivered), but it's a significant amount of disassembly to get to it. I've found some service manuals and technician training materials for this model on a Russian FTP site, so just looking through them now to read up on the disassembly and the reassembly/realignment procedures before I dive in.

    There's a fair chance that the print-head on the P330i has been damaged when the printer was broken, but if I'm confident that the rest of the printer is in good condition, it is likely to be a much better investment than spending similar amounts on my other (ancient and obsolete) printers.

  9. The following 10 users say "Thanks" to daverob


  10. #6
    I was thrown out of Top Gear Drunkenclam's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Guildford, Surrey
    Posts
    23,934
    Thanks
    11,369
    Thanks Received
    15,425

    Default Re: No more printed smartcards.

    Good luck playing
    Ian #UKPachinko

  11. The following user says "Thanks" to Drunkenclam


  12. #7
    Corporate Destroyer Lddrizzt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    NW Pennsylvania
    Posts
    5,656
    Thanks
    1,084
    Thanks Received
    3,160

    Default Re: No more printed smartcards.

    Quote Originally Posted by daverob View Post
    Just got a couple of non-working card printers to try and resurrect.

    I've found some service manuals and technician training materials for this model on a Russian FTP site, so just looking through them now to read up on the disassembly and the reassembly/realignment procedures before I dive in.
    Wait! You read Russian? Cool!

    This is my personal opinion, or of the voices in my head, and are not meant to reflect the opinion of this board.

  13. #8
    Master Inventor daverob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Brighton, UK
    Posts
    1,276
    Thanks
    1,872
    Thanks Received
    6,740

    Default Re: No more printed smartcards.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lddrizzt View Post
    Wait! You read Russian? Cool!
    Not quite, it just came up in a google search. It was a few pages down the list of results, but has a whole load of manuals and technical notes for various industrial printers some in Russian, some in English. There's another ftp site in a .us domain that is similar but is English/Spanish, and between the two I think I've managed to find everything I need.

    I got the eBay Javelin J420C printer delivered half an hour ago. Switched it on and it just started feeding the ribbon before coming up with 'Mechanical Error'. Lifted the cover and noticed the ribbon was a crinkled mess on the take-up reel and the feed side reel was not fully pushed home. Clicked the ribbon back in place and power cycled the printer. The ribbon then advanced to the yellow ink panel and stopped (which is what it should do!) and the printer came up 'Ready'.

    I noticed that the card cleaning cartridge was missing, and cards can't feed into the printer without it. So I borrowed the one from the P330i, chucked a blank card in the feeder and went through the menus on the LCD display to print a test card. Results are fairly promising, the card printed OK and there's no obvious signs of a printhead failure, but the print is a bit patchy in places. I suspect that it's just that the crinkled mess of ribbon needs to be cut off the take-up reel so that it feeds more smoothly, but it could also need a service and re-alignment of the print engine.

    Also got the Zebra P330i in bits on the workbench half way through the disassembly to replace the broken printhead ball-joint cap. So hopefully I'll have some good news about that one when it's all back in one piece. It'll be easier to get the Zebra printer up and running with my PC as it's a USB printer that has fairly current drivers. For the aforementioned Javelin printer, I'll either need to make a few more modifications to my Linux driver to support it, or set-up a dual boot Windows-XP PC as it's an older parallel port printer.

  14. The following 13 users say "Thanks" to daverob


  15. #9
    Master Inventor daverob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Brighton, UK
    Posts
    1,276
    Thanks
    1,872
    Thanks Received
    6,740

    Default Re: No more printed smartcards.

    Got the Zebra P330i back in one piece, but it's having problems with it's ribbon feed. It's wrinkling the ribbon before it gets to the printhead, and then losing track of it's position. The printer was previously used by a building contractor company, and the internal parts that don't get touched by the cleaning cards are coated with very fine dust. I'm hoping that a good cleaning of all the sensors and then re-calibrating it will sort it out, so I'm reading up on that now.

    The card on the right hand side of the image below is showing it's current state, the red/green/blue panels show the wrinkling of the ribbon, the big black smudge is because the ribbon hasn't advanced fully from the black panel when it's trying to print the clear overlay panel, the general unevenness of the print is probably due to the printhead not making full contact.

    The J420 has just had the ribbon replaced with a new one, and the test prints look much nicer than yesterday (left and centre in the image below). I think I've worked out what I need to change in the driver, so this one should be ready to use as soon as I can figure out how to connect it to my computer. The old printer had a D-25 connector on it, this one has a Centronics type connector, and I know I've got several examples of the correct cable, but can I find one anywhere?

    I think I'll probably order a USB converter cable and try to get it working with that. Then I should be able to run it from a Windows XP image in a virtual machine and use the official drivers rather than the ones I hacked together myself.

    testcards.jpg

  16. The following 15 users say "Thanks" to daverob


  17. #10
    Pachi Puro KimbaWLion's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    JUST outside Philadephia Pennsylvania
    Posts
    2,621
    Thanks
    4,896
    Thanks Received
    2,412

    Default Re: No more printed smartcards.

    As I said you ARE the man! I do regret NOT being able to meet up with you with I visited England last April!
    I may not be the best guy, BUT I am not the bad guy!- Coop from Megas XLR

  18. The following user says "Thanks" to KimbaWLion


  19. #11
    Kungishi Pachinko Botan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Bedford
    Posts
    1,798
    Thanks
    851
    Thanks Received
    645

    Default

    Noooo 😭😭😭😭


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  20. The following user says "Thanks" to Pachinko Botan


  21. #12
    Kungishi Pachinko Botan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Bedford
    Posts
    1,798
    Thanks
    851
    Thanks Received
    645

    Default

    Maybe I should of read the whole topic before I commented lol


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  22. #13
    Master Inventor daverob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Brighton, UK
    Posts
    1,276
    Thanks
    1,872
    Thanks Received
    6,740

    Default Re: No more printed smartcards.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pachinko Botan View Post
    Maybe I should of read the whole topic before I commented lol
    No, you were probably right first time, still haven't managed to get this working properly.

    I got the USB->Centronics converter, and it works fine under Linux, but I can't seem to get the Windows drivers to see it when I'm running XP in a Virtualbox VM.

    The printer is now working fine and print quality is good, but I'm still trying to get the printer driver working properly. I have it set up on a Raspberry Pi, and I can just remote log in to the Pi from any computer on the network and get it to print cards, but they're not coming out quite right.

    For some reason the printer isn't always printing the right image for the resin black and the clear overlay panels of the ribbon, and sometimes swaps them over. I've burned through a couple of dozen cards trying to figure out the problem, but I'm getting nowhere. For single sided cards this isn't that much of a problem, as I can just clear both buffers and it'll print the blacks using the Cyan/Magenta/Yellow panels on the ribbon and then print a full overlay. But for double sided cards I need to make sure it doesn't print over the smartcard contacts, and it seems to either print a black block over the contacts, or print a full transparent overlay over the whole card (including the contacts!), or print no overlay at all.

    I've burned through a couple of dozen cards trying to get this to work, but it doesn't seem to work the way it says it should in the printer's programmers reference manual. Maybe I'm going to have to give up and buy another old PC to install the official Windows drivers on it, but that was what I was trying to avoid having to do in the first place.

  23. The following 6 users say "Thanks" to daverob


  24. #14
    Kungishi Pachinko Botan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Bedford
    Posts
    1,798
    Thanks
    851
    Thanks Received
    645

    Default

    Thanks for the update rob hope you get it sorted


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  25. The following user says "Thanks" to Pachinko Botan


  26. #15
    Sandwich Shooter browne92's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Westlake, LA
    Posts
    476
    Thanks
    67
    Thanks Received
    701

    Default Re: No more printed smartcards.

    This thread caught my attention because I just installed a Fargo/HID DTC4250e card printer in HR. I have another one sitting new in the box on my office floor for the fire department. I'd ship it to you, but my employer would ask questions.

    I feel your pain. Sometimes getting older and newer stuff to work together can be a hastle. And it doesn't help when something is as specialized as a dye sublimation card printer.

    Out of curiosity, are you using a card printer that encodes the card, or a separate encoder?

    I'd offer to help, but it sounds like you've forgotten more about this subject than I will ever know. Best of luck to you.
    pachinkoparts.com - Home Page
    Definition: Racecar-a device that turns money into noise.

  27. The following user says "Thanks" to browne92


  28. #16
    Master Inventor daverob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Brighton, UK
    Posts
    1,276
    Thanks
    1,872
    Thanks Received
    6,740

    Default Re: No more printed smartcards.

    As much as I'd love a new in box card printer, I wouldn't want to get you into trouble.

    I'd also love to be able to sell enough cards to justify spending the cash on a new printer myself, but when I went through the numbers I worked out that I'd have to triple the cost of the printing on the cards and even after that, based on the typical support lifetime of the printer, I probably wouldn't break even until the day after the brand new printer goes obsolete.

    I'll get it working eventually, just need to find the time to make the big changes to the print driver. (I tried all the 'easy' methods, and now I've got to try the more complicated ones).

    None of the card printers I have include an encoder, most of the older models are quite limited in what they support and will only work with the more common ISO7816 smartcards, the ones I use are the less common I2C/asynchronous cards. I asked one of the vendors over here that refurbishes and sells the older models and they haven't come across any printers fitted with readers/encoders for contact type smartcards. There are plenty with encoders for magnetic stripe cards and non-contact smartcards, but I think contact smartcards are a very specialized sub-group of an already pretty specialized printer market!

  29. The following 5 users say "Thanks" to daverob


  30. #17
    I was thrown out of Top Gear Drunkenclam's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Guildford, Surrey
    Posts
    23,934
    Thanks
    11,369
    Thanks Received
    15,425

    Default Re: No more printed smartcards.

    Is it possible to do a one side laminate, or I guess that's not possible due to the way they work. Plus the increase in card thickness.
    Ian #UKPachinko

  31. #18
    Master Inventor daverob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Brighton, UK
    Posts
    1,276
    Thanks
    1,872
    Thanks Received
    6,740

    Default Re: No more printed smartcards.

    Quote Originally Posted by Drunkenclam View Post
    Is it possible to do a one side laminate, or I guess that's not possible due to the way they work. Plus the increase in card thickness.
    It's always possible to print onto a sticker and attach it to the card, the card readers should be able to cope with a little extra thickness. I think a paper sticker wouldn't look (or feel) right to me, but if you get some inkjet printable self-adhesive film it would probably give acceptable results.

    Personally I wouldn't want to do it this way when printers that print directly on the cards give better results for less effort (when you've got them working ), but there's nothing stopping people buying blank cards and trying it themselves.

  32. The following user says "Thanks" to daverob


  33. #19
    Master Inventor daverob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Brighton, UK
    Posts
    1,276
    Thanks
    1,872
    Thanks Received
    6,740

    Default Printed smartcards available again

    Well the 'temporary' halt to printing smartcards was a fair bit longer than I was expecting. But I now have a good printer that appears to be working well (for the moment!).

    I have also got a stock of new cards that give better printing results with full coverage images.

    So I have decided to walk the path of optimism, and put them back on sale on my website. At least for as long as this printer keeps working!


    There's also a Rev.3 version of the Card Reader Emulator dongle now on sale (as I ran out of circuit boards for the Rev.2 units). It doesn't do anything different to the old Rev.2 version*, in fact it's so similar I haven't bothered to update the photo from the Rev.2 version. But it's "ALL NEW" so buy, buy, buy!


    * The only practical difference is that the Rev.3 version has the micro-controller chip serial port pins routed out to the expansion connector. This allows me to send debug messages to a PC running a terminal emulator program when I'm writing or modifying the internal firmware. Some time in the (distant!) future, I might add some user functions on the serial port, if anyone is interested in controlling a dongle from a PC/Arduino/Raspberry Pi* (*other single board computers are available!).

  34. The following 8 users say "Thanks" to daverob


Similar Threads

  1. Printed up a little pron with my plotter today!
    By compirate in forum These are the days of our lives...
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 03-20-2014, 08:27 PM
  2. 3D Printed Mini Pachinko/DIY Pachinko
    By ehisforadam in forum Pachinko Modifications
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 07-25-2013, 06:44 PM
  3. Taco Slot from belly plastic screen printed
    By bubalettow in forum Members Trade area
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 06-15-2013, 10:08 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •