Hacking the Canon i9900

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    I have recently acquired a 12″ wide 8 color Canon i9900, with service manual, including the pinout of the printhead.

    The ink tanks use optics (a prism) to determine if the tank is empty or full – no count-down EEPROM! So a CIS system is on order…

    The carriage mechanics look like they can be adapted into a ‘crawler’ across the top of a powder bed printer, which is very different from most printers I’ve seen.

    The most interesting detail for me is that the printhead maintenance bay is mechanically isolated from the paper feed – all of my Dell and HP printers, and even the Canon BJC, use a ‘reverse paper feed’ mechanism to activate the printhead maintenance operations – wipers, sponges, etc. On the i9900, the bay is controlled by a separate motor and mechanics.

    What this means is that I can, in theory, remove the paper feed roller, and still have a functioning printhead maintenance bay!

    The 12″ wide carriage fits nicely over my print bed, so hopefully I can get this working after the CIS shows up from Hong Kong.

    In the meantime, I have an InkShield to play with (ordered one day before the i9900 showed up on my desk at work from a co-worker “contributing to the cause”!) – I’ll cover that in a separate post once I get my Z Axis set up.


    I just looked up the i9900, but that looks like a glorious printer. I can’t wait to see more details about what you are going to so with it. I am quite curious about the maintenance bay. If there ever comes a better 3DP printer, it is a component that needs to be duplicated. What is all on there.

    Good luck with the hacking and while it might be a bit of a pain to upload, please share photo’s if you can.


    Will do, I need to finish my inkshield prototype first (since I already have it all hooked up, just need to put in the hours to finish the Z axes and software).

    Probably sometime after the first of the year I’ll get onto the i9900 in earnest. The Linux drivers for it (gutenprint) are crap (sadly), and the “cijfilter” from Canon does not support their 8-color printer families.

    Since the printhead is 3.3v logic, I may be able to directly drive it, I hope.


    I’m getting a 3.3v arduino (Adafruit Triunket pro) to mess with this thing, as it seems that I should be able to write the data to it via the 3.3v SPI interface (with some extra lines for the heater enable):



    The inkshield is.. well.. touchy. I’ve blown out the jets on two HP cartridges so far by (1) having an ISR get stuck during a spray operation and (2) being an idiot and doing a firmware upgrade when the VIN was still enabled on the inkshield.

    I’m going to add a 5v Trinket Pro in front of the InkShield to act as a printhead controller – that should allow me to get my ink jetting timings ‘just right’ without having to worry about the rest of the CNC stuff (GCode, stepper control, etc etc).

    Know a good place to get HP C6602As in bulk?


    Seems like a good idea, though I do not know if a trinket pro would be fast enough. If you do run out of speed, a teensy 3.1 might also be an interesting (and about as cheap) solution. The problem with the inkshield you had is the reason why I added a relay to the board. If you press reset (not something uncommon), the printhead will rapidly and randomy fire for a few milliseconds, enough to fry half of the nozzles.

    For all future printers, a printhead controller will be the most stable thing to do. It is indeed too easy to destroy a printhead, and I can only imagine how bad it will be if you have 500 nozzles instead of 12.

    As for the 6602’s, I do not have a bulk address, I simply hand over the €12 a piece and buy them 6-8 at a time. I am almost completely through them, but for now I still have a few good ones. I wonder how many I will fry when I upgrade the Plan B controller to Due and start material experiments.

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