Incorrect colours being printed on an HP LaserJet 3600

Question: When is a FACTORY RESET not a factory reset?

Answer: When you’re dealing with an HP printer.

One of my wretched HP Color LaserJet 3600 printers was annoying me today after it started printing specific pale shades of colours completely incorrectly. In printouts of photos, this showed up as blotches of an odd colour where it shouldn’t be, usually magenta in the middle of some pale green or blue.

If there’s one thing that will get a teacher calling you faster than a printer cartridge running out, it’s when their photos don’t print out right. I ruled out any driver or software problem, as the colour sample prints that you get from the printer menu itself were also showing up problems. Here’s the swatches from overview page:

Click to enlarge

If you’re paying attention, you’ve probably already spotted the odd shades in the top-right of each group. Here’s what page 15 looks like. All of these are supposed to be a shade of blue:

I tried the usual tricks of power-cycling, performing a factory reset from the printer menu, and even pulling the formatter board and reseating it, as per some guidance from the HP forums. Nothing helped, but I soon discovered it was the factory reset option that had been my downfall.

You see, on an HP printer, FACTORY RESET doesn’t mean ‘reset everything to how it was at the factory’. All it does it reset the configuration options to their defaults. True, they were at their defaults when the printer left the factory, but there are a lot of other internal variables that won’t be reset to how they were at the factory if you rely on this procedure. For that, you need the mystical COLD RESET.

To perform a  cold reset:

  1. Power off the printer.
  2. Hold down the green GO button, and power the printer on. Keep holding until all three control panel LEDs are lit up and stay lit.
  3. Press the down arrow until you get to COLD RESET, then press the green GO button.

The printer will then reset everything, including the JetDirect card, and spend a few minutes (longer than usual) performing a calibration. My problem went away after that.

Thanks, HP! As usual, your dedication to obscure, hard-to-locate functionality does you proud.

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About The Angry Technician

The Angry Technician is an experienced IT professional in the UK education sector. Normally found in various states of annoyance on his blog. All views are those of his imaginary pet dog, Howard.

3 responses to “Incorrect colours being printed on an HP LaserJet 3600”

  1. ScottishTech says :

    Aside from our shiny new HPs being supplied with toners/carts which saw you getting about half a page before telling you to reorder, we also had this beauty..

    2 particular models recently purchased when connected to the network via a 2003/2008 server share (we tried both servers in case it was drivers).

    Power up printer
    User A sends a print job – nothing happens
    User B sends a print job – they get User A’s job with no sign of their own job

    User B then has the option of either waiting on User C sending something or else re-sending their own job (at which point, User C will get User B’s job with no sign of their own – but User B doesn’t care because they’ve got their printout from the second time they sent it).

    The cause – a firmware update was needed.

    How in the HELL can something like this slip through even the most rudimentary of quality control?! A blind, rabid chimpanzee would have spotted this – perhaps HP should consider hiring a few?

  2. Black Dog says :

    HP 3600? Dammit, must be one of the worst colour lasers ever. From tipping toner everywhere as a matter of course, to bad networking to drums that don’t last more than a cartridge change….

    And, as AngryTechnician said, teachers will be right on your case if prints aren’t right. The server can blow up, the network can stop, backups can fail- but don’t let the printer stop working.

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