Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lexmark Using Inkjet Cartridge Chips AND Spyware?

I bought this printer in July and at first I thought that this was a great deal.

A month later I try to refill the cartridge and guess what I discover. This printer monitors the cartridge ink level and there is no way to bypass it. I cant seem to find anything on google.

1.I first try closing all lexmark programs running in the background using enditall2. DIDDNT FIX PROBLEM

2.Next I tried to uninstall the Lexmark software and reinstall.

3.When that did not work I tried to see if I could have just the printer drivers installed and not the lexmark software so what I did was unpacked all the files from the EXE archive and manually installed the drivers using the windows control panel but whatever I do the installation of the drivers it automatically invokes the printer software installation. DID NOT FIX PROBLEM

4. I then installed the printer on a new freshly formatted machine and amazingly it remembered the exact cartridge levels. DID NOT FIX PROBLEM

5. I tried a method someone else suggested here by removing the cartridges and unplugging the printer and letting it discharge for an hour. I repeated this 10 times in a row. I then left the printer unplugged for 2 weeks. At the end of the two weeks I reinstalled the cartridges and plugged in the printer along with installing the printer on a THIRD freshly formatted PC and it STILL remembers the cartridges! DID NOT FIX PROBLEM

6. I went out and bought a new cartridge and the ink counter finally reset and checked if it remembered the ink level on the old cartridge and it did.

After I did this test I realized I diddnt check to see if after I uninstalled the software if it left any files or registry entries on the pc and lo and behold it did.

In the program files folder it originally had a folder called "Lexmark 1300 series" and a folder called "lx_cats". After uninstalling I discovered that the lx_cats folder remains. In the folder there is an XML file, a DAT file which when opened in notepad reveals something very shocking, and an ini file apparently telling the lexmark software to send the dat file to a lexmark site. (I will post the contents of the file when I get a chance)

The DAT file contains the serial number of my printer, the serial number for the cartridges that have been installed, the amount of ink remaining, the amount of ink dropped from the cartridges, the install dates of the cartridges as well at other tidbits of info. I will post the contents of the file when I get a chance.

This makes me wonder that if the printer remembered the cartridge ink level on the second and third pcs, there must be some memory chip on the printer or the cartridge that remembers this info.

Later on I took the risk and opened the printer up and I discovered even more shocking things. First of all I did locate a memory chip but im not sure if its the firmware chip or this "cartridge memory chip". I have the model of the chip as well as a datasheet on it which will be posted when I get access to the other computer. There were some other chips but they were being covered with a metal shield which requires desoldering in order to remove. If this thread gets popular enough I will desolder it as well as take scans of the chips.

I also discovered that instead of using a waste ink pad the printer has a tiny plastic rotating petri dish to collect waste ink. Is this a normal thing in printers?? It was already half full after one cartridge!!!

If you google lx_cats you find info on the contents being spyware.
Man all this is really shocking.

And I thought all my printer nightmares were over when I finally chucked the Epson C84 and Epson CX4600 durabrite models :)