Reinstalling the optical encoder strip on a HP Officejet 8600 printer
This issue has come up from time to time in our shop so we are posting this article and maybe it will help other readers. HP as well as other manufacturers use optical encoder strips in inkjet printers to tell the print head carrier how for it has moved and also when it return to “home” position. If you get a bad printer jam that blocks the carrier this encoder strip can get disconnected and then the printer can not print anything. We are about to show you how to repair the strip if it is damaged and reinstall it so the printer can function again. This guide uses the OfficeJet Pro 8600 as an example but the steps are the same for any printer that uses these encoder strips.The first thing to do is check the strip for damage. Check both ends and make sure the plastic is not torn. The ends should have an opening about 1/4 inch from the end as seen here. Click the images to enlarge.
If your encoder strip is torn you can usually repair it with packing tape. Wrap the tape around the end several times and the use a small knife to cut the tape where the original hole was as seen below. Then cut the tape off the strip around the side and end.
Now its time to reinstall the strip. The encoder strip attaches to retainer brackets and both sides of the printer and is threaded through the printhead carrier in the middle. You will need the carrier to be in the middle of the printer. To get it there you will need to power up the printer and open the cover like you were going to change the print heads. Power up the printer and the print heads should start to move to the side. When they get about the center of the printer you will need to pull the power plug so they stop moving. Connect one end of the encoder strip as seen here.
Now thread the encoder strip through the carrier as seen here. The outside opening is about 1/2 inch but the slot the encoder goes in is only about 1/16in so be patient.
Then connect the other end of the encoder strip, the left hard side is spring metal to tension the strip and keep it tight.
Now if you reapply the power to the printer the carrier should move freely and move back to the right side. Close the printer cover and try a test print to see if it work. If you still get a carrier jam then the strip did not get inserted correctly through the carrier. Just disconnect it and try again.
HP charges from $40 to $125 for a replacement encoder strip not including the installation charge. We get a unit in every month or so with this issue so it happens often.
Post a comment if you have any questions.