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RibbonMinder Operation

RibbonMinder is a software feature that uses a bar coded label on special high-capacity ribbon spools and a photo-reflective
sensor mounted beneath the right-hand ribbon spool. A bar coded label is affixed to each ribbon spool on opposite sides, so
that the underside of the right-hand spool, when installed in the printer, always contains the following encoded information:
• Identifies the ribbon as IBM
• The thickness and length of the ribbon fabric to select the correct motor stepper tables
• The expected yield, which is used by RibbonMinder software to set the ink depletion rate
• An identification sequence that is not duplicated on any other ribbon
To verify the authenticity of the ribbon, the bar coded label is scanned by the sensor as the spool rotates; the input data are
then decoded by the printer and interpreted by RibbonMinder software.
Reading the information from the bar code, the system automatically sets up the RibbonMinder parameters which dictate the
ribbon life, based on pre-determined depletion rates to a set dot density. The desired ribbon end point and alert actions can be
adjusted to accomodate individual requirements.
NOTE: The labels attached to each ribbon spool do not use the same identification sequence number. This permits the ribbon
to be flipped over and re-used one time, while the system recognizes and tracks it as a new ribbon installation. In this
manual, “new ribbon” means a brand new ribbon or one that has been flipped once.

RibbonMinder Operation
Ribbon ink consumption continuously displays on the printer operator panel LCD, decrementing as ink is consumed. At the
default settings, when ribbon life reaches 2% the message changes to “301 RIBBON INK LOW / INSTALL NEW IBM RIBBON.”
The operator panel status lamp flashes, but the printer continues to accept new print jobs until ribbon life reaches 0%, at which
time the printer stops printing and enters the fault state.
The default settings for RibbonMinder are enabled at the factory, and the system functions without intervention as long as
genuine IBM ribbons are used and the RibbonMinder options have been set. The user can change settings, as discussed later
in this section.

Operator Panel Menus

RibbonMinder menus are located on the “PRINTER CONTROL” menu. (The User’s Manual explains how to navigate the menu
system and has complete menu maps.) From the PRINTER CONTROL / Ribbon End Point menu, pressing the ENTER key
brings up the first selection in the Ribbon End Point submenu. (See the figure below.) Pressing the RETURN key returns you to
the previous menu. Pressing the SCROLL↓ or SCROLL↑ key from any of the lower level menus toggles the display between

RibbonMinder Operation

the selections at that level. Pressing the ENTER key selects an item and the system inserts an asterisk ( * ) to indicate that this
is now the default option.


PRINTER CONTROL Ribbon End Point Ribbon Action

Interface Selection
Display Language
Print Direction Ribbon Action Ribbon Action
Hex Print Mode Stop At RBN End* Ignore RBN End
Power On State
Paper Jam Detection
Forms Speed
Set Platen at BOF
Ribbon End Point Ribbon End Point Ribbon End Point
Shuttle Timeout
Darker +1, +2, +3, Normal* Lighter -1, -2, -3, -4,
Energy Saver Timer +4, +5, +6 -5, -6, -7, -8, -9, -10
OCR Font Density
PTR Setup Option
File System
Power Stacker 1
Auto Elevator 1
Printer Management Port
Top Exit Tear Distance
Ribbon End Point 1
If power stacker is
Ribbon Action installed

Ribbon End Point

Factory default is Normal. This value corresponds to the character life expectancy of the detected, authorized ribbon installed in
the printer. RibbonMinder tracks ribbon life to the recommended end point before declaring 301 RIBBON INK LOW or 146
RIBBON INK OUT. This is a global setting: it is in effect for all printer configurations and cannot be set for individual printer
To change this setting, press the SCROLL↓ or SCROLL↑ key to select “Darker +1” through “Darker +6” (SCROLL↓) or “Lighter
-1” through “Lighter -10” (SCROLL↑), where each increment or decrement corresponds to a predetermined set value (density).
Pressing SCROLL↓ or RIGHT changes the value by one increment per key press. The second line of the display changes to
show the action taken. Press ENTER to select the desired level. The changed setting will remain in effect until it is adjusted

RibbonMinder Operation

again. If a different type of ribbon is installed, the density setting will remain as selected, but the end of life value for the new
ribbon type will be used.
By changing this setting, you specify a point lower or higher at which the “301 RIBBON INK LOW” or “146 RIBBON INK OUT”
message will display. The user can thus set ribbon life to match the required print density for a specific application. The graph
below shows the relationship between print density and the Ribbon End Point settings.



+3 +2 +1 -1 -2 -3 -4 -5 Setting

For reference, the nominal starting density of a new black text ribbon is approximately 1.2, with a yield to 0.5 density of
approximately 16 million HS characters. Incrementing the Darker setting will raise the density end point, while decreasing the
yield. Each Darker increment will decrease the yield by a percentage from the expected 16 million. For example, Darker +1
would change the expected yield to 12.67 million characters. Darker +3 would decrease the yield to 6 million characters.
Conversely, decrementing the Lighter setting decreases the density, which increases the yield. Each Lighter decrement
increases the yield by an additional percentage. For example, Lighter -2 would change the expected yield to 30 million
characters. Lighter -5 would result in an approximate yield of 52 million characters.
Changes to this setting can be made at any time during a ribbon’s life, and the new end point will be calculated accordingly.
However, once a depleted ribbon is removed and another ribbon installed, the depleted ribbon is added to the used ribbon long,
and may not be re-introduced into the printer.

Ribbon Action
Factory default is Stop At RBN End. When the ribbon life reaches 0%, the message “146 RIBBON INK OUT / INSTALL NEW
IBM RIBBON” displays on the operator panel. The status lamp flashes, the alarm sounds (if enabled), printing stops, and the
printer enters the fault state. Printing cannot resume until this condition is cleared. To complete a print job in progress, you can
return the printer to READY state by pressing START. This allows the printer to continue printing for approximately two

RibbonMinder Operation

minutes, at which point the printer will go into the fault state again. You can again return the printer to the READY state by
pressing START. This routine can be repeated indefinitely, or until power to the printer is turned off. Once power is restored
and a depleted ribbon is detected, “305 OLD RIBBON DETECTED / INSTALL NEW IBM RIBBON” displays, because the
depleted ribbon was added to the Ribbon Log (page 235). A new ribbon must be installed to clear this condition.
When Ignore RBN End is selected, the ribbon life display remains on the operator panel, and the RibbonMinder continues to
monitor ink consumption to the appropriate value as set by the Ribbon End Point (even though not enabled). When this end
point is reached, the display will continuously show “RIBBON LIFE 0%” ink available and the system will continue to run with no
other warning indications. The printer can be taken to NOT READY or the power cycled and RibbonMinder will permit the use
of this ribbon. However, when the ribbon reaches the calculated absolute end of life, the printer stops printing, the status
indicator flashes, the alarm sounds (if enabled), and the display switches to the “302 EXCESS RBN WEAR / INSTALL NEW
IBM RIBBON” message. The ribbon serial number is added to the depleted ribbon log (page 235). This fault cannot be cleared
by pressing START. It can only be cleared by opening the platen or cycling power, at which time the ribbon will now be
detected as a depleted ribbon. A new, recognized (authorized) ribbon must be installed to clear this fault.

Ribbon Installation And Detection

Although the spooled ribbon can be installed on either the left or right ribbon hub, the software assumes that the full spool will
be installed on the right-hand hub.
The new ribbon detection routine runs after printer power is restored, as part of the boot cycle, or whenever the platen is
opened and closed. When done as part of the boot cycle, Shuttle Slow runs the ribbon motors to the left, the bar code is read
off the bottom of the right ribbon spool, and the ribbon is confirmed. When the bar code is decoded, RibbonMinder is reset
using the new data, and the ribbon consumption display is updated. The ribbon motors and shuttle stop and the printer is
brought to the selected power up configuration. This routine repeats any time the platen is closed and the printer is returned to
the READY state and no print data are in the buffer. If no print data are present, the ribbon motors and shuttle stop and the
printer remains READY. If the ribbon bar code cannot be decoded, is not authorized, or is not detected by the sensor, an error
message is reported. If a data stream is detected during or after the ribbon detection routine, the print cycle begins without
stopping the shuttle or ribbon motors. In this case the ribbon detection routine is done during the print cycle.
Previously used ribbons can be installed and used again to print, as long as they were not fully depleted and declared 146
A ribbon can also be flipped over to print on the unused half. This situation occurs if printed images are narrow enough that only
about half the ribbon is used at one time. When a ribbon is flipped it is treated as a new (different) ribbon, so if a ribbon is used
across its full width and still flipped, it will report as new even though it is clearly used. It is the customer’s responsibility to
determine if his or her application can support ribbon flipping.

The Ribbon Log

The Ribbon Log

The printer identifies each ribbon by maker, type, and a unique identification code. RibbonMinder recognizes the currently
installed ribbon and previously used (but not depleted) ribbons, and resumes tracking the life of the ribbon from the value it had
when it was removed from the printer.
The printer keeps a log of the depleted ribbons, identifying them if they are again installed on the printer. This information is not
printed in detail, but a summary by type of all ribbons ever installed on a particular printer is printed in the log for review. The log
also captures any attempts to run Unknown1 or Unknown2 ribbons. This information is recorded in the log as “Ribbon Not
Recognized.” The Ribbon Log is a permanent record; it cannot be cleared. The location and format of the Ribbon Log is shown

Installed Ribbon = IBM, Ribbon Name, 55%, Normal
Printer Demonstration * Ribbon History = IBM, Ribbon Name = 45
Print Error Log IBM, Ribbon Name2 = 33
IBM, Undefined = 2
Print Ribbon Log
Ripple Print Ribbon Not Recognized = 3
All E’s
All H’s
All E’s + FF
Adapter Test Page1
Ethernet Test Page1
Clear Error Log

Appears only if ethernet
NIC is installed