Looking for information regarding converting Epson 11880 to Piezography (Carts and Decoders, in particular)


#2

Hi, I tried after market carts (designed for the 11880) but that didn’t work. The printer would reject or accept carts at random. Re-using genuine Epson carts seems to be a realistic way to go, if you manage to re-fill them. The people at inkjetsolution.eu do it, but not with Piezography ink - as far as I know. I tried, but I gave up, but it is possible. Success! Marc


#1

Hi Everyone,

I have an Epson 11880 that I’m looking to convert to the Piezography Pro inkset. It appears as though cartridges for the x9xx series Epsons will fit, but I’m told that I need a “Chip Decoder” to make things work together. A quick google search brought up two suppliers with parts that look identical. It looks to me that the decoders will either interface with the chip readers inside the printer, or that perhaps they are connected to the board above the ink bay on either side. Am I correct in assuming that the decoders completely override Epson’s DRM in the cartridges, and also make a chip resetter unnecessary?

Has anyone done this, or come across any information about it online? I’ve combed through the Epson Field Service Manual for the printer, and can’t quite get a feel for where the decoders might go.

Also, any information, hiccups, or misc. “wish I had known…” pearls of wisdom regarding converting 11880s to non-OEM ink would be appreciated. It doesn’t seem like there are too many of us out there (but it is clear that it can be done!).

Thanks all!
cjh


64" epson Printer
#3

These chip decoders bypass the chips on the cartridges entirely. The cables going to the chip boards on either side of the printer instead plug into the chip decoder.

An example of a decoder we DO sell is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWD08AWWNes

best,
Walker


#4

I’m trying to convert one of our Epson 11880’s using this type of chip decoder board, after (like Marc) giving up on solutions based on different refillable cartridges that had chip-resetting solutions embedded directly on them. They were all very shoddily engineered and totally unreliable, as far as I could tell. I hope the decoder board approach will work. But with the first parts I’m trying, I’m having a devil of a time getting a clean connection between the new board and the existing Epson decoder board.

The new decoder board doesn’t replace the Epson board, nor is it cabled into it or otherwise hardwired to it. Rather, it fits in between the Epson decoder and the spring-loaded pins that contact the chips on the cartridges. It’s just an aligned pressure fit, and if anything is out of alignment or there isn’t sufficient pressure pushing the Epson decoder’s contacts against the contacts of the resettable decoder board, then things won’t work. So far I believe this is my issue; I have 6 out of 9 channels recognized and working but 3 of them insist there is a “cartridge error” which leads me to believe there’s a bad connection between the two decoder boards.

This mod does require soldering a wire from the new resettable decoder board to a pin on the Espon decoder board. This wire goes to a switch on the ink bay front door, so that opening & closing the door triggers the reset of all the ink levels reported by the new decoder board. That solder connection is a bit delicate, and depending on your skill with the soldering iron it might be easy to damage something. I’m okay with soldering but couldn’t quite get a clean connection on one of my boards in the tight space where the pin is located. So I engaged a good electronics tech to help me out and he was easily able to resolve my issue.

From what I can tell, the resettable decoder board (at least the one I got) does require powering up the printer initially with OEM ink cartridges loaded that have a good level of ink in them. After that initial load sequence, it appears that chip-less refillable carts could be installed. Reading between the lines of the installation instructions, I’m inferring the new decoder board needs legitimate OEM chips the first time to clone their internal data (presumably a serial # or some other identifying info).

Speaking of the install instructions, the resettable decoder boards I got came with a sheet that was a very poor B&W photocopy of what was originally a coloured document. The photographs illustrating the procedure had coloured arrows & circles that obviously were no longer in colour, and were barely legible. The language also is extremely choppy and ambiguous, appearing to be a very bad Chinese-to-English translation of instructions that were initially fairly sketchy. So basically it’s going to be very helpful if you already know your way comfortably around the innards of your 11880 and can use some inference to fill in the large gaps in the installation steps as provided.

Having said all that, if clean connections between the two decoder boards can be sorted, this approach should work. I’m tantalizingly close… :slight_smile:


#5

Hey Royce,

Great timing - as I’m just about to crack my 11880 open to install the two chip decoders I ordered from STS in Florida. I’m pretty sure I have the same dodgy instructions included with mine. Mine are full-color, but the crappy translation remains the same. The decoders from STS look identical to the ones listed on ali-baba and other sites.

I had similar questions regarding needing to clone data over from OEM carts after reading the instructions, but was hoping that this wouldn’t be the case since I have one cartridge reporting low ink levels. I hate the thought of buying a new cartridge just to clone the data from the chip, but maybe it’s just something I need to get over.

What cartridges are you using? My plan is to purchase 9900 carts from IJM which I’m told will work once the chip decoders are installed. I compared a cartridge from my 11880 to a cartridge from the 9900 where I teach and they seem identical with the exception of the placement of small plastic tabs that I assume are to prevent someone from putting, say, a magenta cartridge in the cyan slot. Inkjetmall has told me that their carts are interchangeable in terms of position, so I assume they have no such pins.

Keep me updated with your progress - it sounds like you are almost there! The decoders look like an inelegant solution to the problem, but I don’t mind some tinkering or tweaking if it gets this beast of a printer converted to a piezography inkset .


#7

The IJM cartridges should work fine. I’ve tested some, they appear to fit better than any of the 11880-specific refill carts I ordered from various Chinese suppliers, all of which had brutally bad fit. The IJM carts don’t have the plastic key tabs, so yes… they aren’t locked out of the 11880 slots.

The cartridge error you’re get is the same thing I’m getting. In my case, the erroring cartridge positions are the ones on the far left and far right of each bay – so yellow in the case of the righthand bay. The left cartridge slot in the righthand bay is not active, so if there’s a connection error there it doesn’t actually cause any issue.

The issue about the ink bay door not opening is a soldering problem. You’ve got the right pin (pin 1 of the white socket) but you’re crosswired and short circuiting with something else as well. Clean up that solder connection and you should be okay on that issue.

I talked to the STS guys, I believe their decoder is the same one I’m using. But it was rather difficult ordering from them for delivery to Canada. Ironic that I can order from China far easier than the USA in this case. :slight_smile: There is at least one other distinctly different design of these chip encoders out there. If I can’t get this design working I will try the other one.

I think the clusters of chip contacts on this decoder are a bit whacked, I’m relatively sure that’s the source of my remaining cartridge error issues. They’re contacts are irregularly concave on the bottom of the flex board; some are deeper & some are shallower. The spring-loaded pins may not be making good contacts in some cases. But given that only the outermost (left & right) cartridges are throwing errors for me now, in both ink bays, I’m thinking it’s more likely some kind of issue with the flex board coming slightly out of alignment on the outer edges. In which case it could be either the contacts from the spring-loaded pins to the flex board, or from the flex board to the Epson board.

I’ll post updates as I find out more. Might be awhile for my next round of tests though, since our shop will be quite busy over the next few weeks and this is only one of my side projects. :slight_smile:


#6

Hey again Royce,

Have you run into any issues with getting an error about the ink bay door being unable to open? I installed the right-side decoder, and 3/4 channels read 100%, with a cartridge error being reported with yellow. I assume this is an alignment issue with those pins, but the printer seems most upset about the ink door.

I soldered the lead from the chip decoder to the number 1 pin near the white socket on the epson ink board. As far as I can tell from the horrible photos in the instructions, this seems correct. Does that sound correct? Since that white socket connects to the door switch I’m assuming my problem resides somewhere there.


#9

Well, fingers crossed, but it looks like I have the chip decoder correctly aligned on the right-hand side. All four cartridges are now reading 100%. I used two small squares of double-sided adhesive and aligned the flex board as flush to the front-facing side of the gray pcb holder as I could. The printer powered up, pressurized the carts, returned the head to the capping station, reported all cartridges as ok, and was ready to print. The door error isn’t occurring anymore? The alignment of the flex board seems like a real crapshoot, but butting it up along the side with the contacts seems to have helped. Now onto the other side.


#8

Royce,

Thanks for the information - I’m going to take another crack at it this week.

My experience is mirroring yours so far in terms of flex board alignment. I pulled everything again last night to re-attempt aligning things and now the Yellow cart is registering but Cyan (the #1 cart on the far left) isn’t registering with the printer.

When you have a chance, would you mind sending a link to the alternate decoder design you’ve found? Everything I’ve come across so far has looked very similar. I did however find a shop that will install the decoders onto the Epson ink board for you - I’m about to write them now as a contingency plan.

Thanks again!
cjh


#10

That’s good news! I still don’t have mine working yet, but every time I move things around there’s a sign of something different. So I agree that it seems to be trial & error to find a spot where the contacts will properly align.

Here’s one example of the other style of decoder board I’ve found. You can see from the photo that the circuitry is different.

I may yet order one of these just to try it out as well. Ultimately if I can get this working, I will convert at least three 11880’s over to Piezography…


#11

I finally had some time to dig into the left side of the printer and solder the second decoder onto the ink board last night (much easier to get to than the right hand side). I’m happy to report that the left side ink decoder installed without any issues! Aligning the contacts along the front-facing edge of the ink card holder seems to be the ticket.

Also, the VLM cartridge I had that was reporting low ink is not giving me any trouble, and is currently reporting as full. The decoders seem to alternate between 98%full and 100% full per cycle of the ink door. I’m not sure if there is something Epson builds into these printers to smell a rat if a cartridge is constantly reporting 100%? Anyway, I vaguely remember reading something in the barely-legible instructions about 98% and 100%, and I guess that’s what they were referring to.

Next step is ordering a set of x9xx cartridges and a whole mess of piezoflush from IJM to flush out the OEM inks and hopefully clear a clog in the matte black channel that’s been plaguing me. I’m not out of the woods yet, but the chip decoders were the thing I was most apprehensive about given the lack of documentation available online. For others looking to go down this road, I can confirm that the decoders from STS in Florida work as described.

Onward!


#12

I just received my 9900 Carts and gallon of Piezoflush and thought to test-fit the cartridges before filling. The 11880 will not accept the cartridge, and keeps popping the ink door open. Upon removal, I notice that the chips on the top of the cartridges are of very different designs. Would you advise swapping them @walkerblackwell, or is there something else I could be missing? See attached photograph.


#14

Hey Walker,

Thanks for the quick reply. The decoders for the 11880 are flex boards that sit between the ink boards and the chip reader on the underside of the printer. It seems like more of a pass-through design than a complete override of the Epson ink boards - if that makes sense. The decoders seem to override the ink levels reported by the 11880 carts altogether - even an empty Epson LLK cartridge that I have laying around reports 100% full with the decoder installed. I’m fairly confident the decoders are installed correctly

I’m wondering if the design of the decoder for this printer requires the pins of the cartridge to be in alignment with the board/decoder in order to complete the circuit. The flex board of the decoder has contacts on the topside to interface with the epson ink board, as well as on the bottom to interface with the pins that read the cartridge chips, so it seems that the carts themselves are still integrated into the system. Since the cartridge chips of the 11880 are different than those of the 9900, I’m thinking that the circuit is incomplete, and causing the printer to balk.

I have one or two empty carts kicking around the studio that I could sacrifice to test. If it works, I’m willing to swap all chips, but then I will run into the issue of needing to source chips for a second set of carts when the ink actually arrives. Do you foresee any issues with exchanging the chips? Obviously, careful measurements would need to be made in regard to the alignment. Does the pinout of the 11880 carts look similar to another Epson cart I might be able to source for a second set?

Thanks again for all of the help. This forum is a goldmine of information.


#13

If it is not accepting something that means it is still connected to the ink chip boards and not the decoder . . . (aka, it’s reading the wrong chips, not the decoder board chips but the 9900 ones).

-Walker


#16

Hey Walker,

That sounds promising - I noticed the two metal leads in the cartridge when I removed the Epson chip, but wasn’t sure where they led to. I was able to get the chip to fit, but the printer was reporting an error (obviously). I have been meaning to disassemble the Epson cart and see where those leads go, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. Thanks for saving me a step.

The decoder Royce linked to above seems to negate the need for chips altogether (more in line with the design of decoder for the P800, I think?). I had just resigned to the idea of rolling the dice on that decoder, but will try the solder trick first to see if that gets me anywhere. I’m coming up empty-handed looking (superficially) for a set of 11880 chips that look right, but will keep digging. It would be good to have a couple of sets on hand if a bit of solder gets the printer to accept them.

I’ll take a stab at soldering the chips later this week and update the thread with the results.

Thanks again for the help!
cjh


#15

Sorry for the late reply.

Here’s the deal, the Epson OEM chips do fit at the top and left and right but they do not have a back post on our carts so they get floppy. If you secure them, they will fit. That said, these epson chips have two contacts at the bottom that connect to a conductive material that completes a circuit when fluid is inside of the cartridge damper (If there is too much air in cartridge damper, the cartridge will throw an error. This is a rather simple ink fault protection for opaque-bag style cartridges like Epson’s.). You will most likely need to solder a wire from one contact to the other on each Epson chip. It might be easier to simply get some third party 11880 chips (these DO fit on our carts) and see if the decoder makes them more reliable.

-Walker


#17

Chips for the 11880 carts seem unavailable, unless I am looking to order in bulk. I think I’m going to roll the dice on a set of third-party carts on AliExpress and hope that the chip decoder already installed in the printer mitigates any compatibility issues that have been reported. Swapping chips from empty/used OEM carts seems unsustainable. The chips available on AliExpress look to be of a completely different design than OEM and I’m not confident that they will fit on the 9900 carts from IJM (plastic pins look different). These chips do, however, look similar to the chip design on the third-party carts from China, so it will be possible to have a couple of sets of backups (if the cartridges work).

I spoke to a tech at STS today and he made a call to a friend who had been running an 11880 with a chip decoder installed that completely mitigated the need for chips on cartridges. I can only assume that it is the design that Royce linked to above - if only I could find a supplier that will sell me a single set…


#18

Quick update: to everyone’s surprise, I’m sure, the Chinese cartridges do not work. I have found a vendor that will send a single unit of the alternate design of chip decoder, so I am hoping that it works as it should and will allow for the use of IJM’s Cartridges.


#19

Reviving this old thread. If anybody has any information about a chip decoder that works and allows use of Inkjetmall cartridges, or if anybody has cobbled together an 11880 setup using Piezo inks, please contact me, or add it to this thread. It would be great to have all of this information available in one place.


#20

Hi all! I’m a new owner of an Epson 11880. The Cyan channel is clogged and I’ve been looking into refillable carts to clean out the system.

I’ve purchased refillable cartridges and a chip resetter, in order to make the printer recognize the refillable carts, I first must pry originl chips off epson ink, then install them under the refillable cartridge chip, reset and then push it into the printer.

I managed to get 5 inks recognize, due to my own stupidity, I mixed up the other 4 and had to send them back for exchange.

I also read about the decoding board that some chinese sites sells, has anyone had a successful install? Do they work with refillable carts right away without stacking with original epson chips? Does anyone sell original epson ink chips?

Thank you for your time!

Sam