how to fix a ribbon error with diagtool diagnostic tool tsc auto id printers

How to Fix a Ribbon Error with DiagTool

Of all of TSC’s tools, applications, and utility programs, DiagTool stands out as one of the easiest to use and one of the most important to ensure the smooth and seamless running of all TSC printers.

Our tech support team uses this Windows-based utility program to quickly and remotely troubleshoot and resolve any issues people may be experiencing.

But DiagTool isn’t just limited to our tech support team; many of our value-added reseller partners also utilize DiagTool, especially for some of their bigger end user customers and larger printer installations.

If this sounds like you, or if you’re simply interested in learning more about DiagTool and its many uses, today’s blog post is for you.

In this article, we’re going to answer a common inquiry our team has heard before: How do you fix a ribbon error with DiagTool?

Ribbon Encoding Errors & Ribbon Sensors

The first thing to keep in mind is that every TSC printer comes with two different sensors:

  • Ribbon encoder sensor
  • Ribbon sensor

If you turn one sensor off, then the other sensor will “trip” if your printer runs out of a ribbon. That’s essentially why you need these sensors during normal printer operations.

The general rule of thumb is to leave both sensors on unless there’s a specific reason to turn them off.

Downloading & Using DiagTool

If one of the ribbon sensors is indicating an error (some have red flashing lights, and some have LED screens that show the error in question), this is when you’ll want to turn to DiagTool.

If you want, you can definitely contact TSC’s tech support team directly so we can take control of your printers with your permission using or Afterwards, we’ll download DiagTool to quickly identify and resolve the issue.

But if you have a good level of familiarity with DiagTool already, you can download it for free simply by going to our support and downloads page, choosing your printer model, scrolling down to “Utilities,” and choosing one of the available diagnostic tools – a.k.a. DiagTool.

.TSC DiagTool Download Image

(Note: Some printers give you more than one version of DiagTool to download. If you have any questions about which version is best to use in your situation, contact us directly.)

Once you download DiagTool, you will want to first make sure you have the Printer Configuration tab open.

TSC DiagTool Diagnostic Tool Printer Configuration image

Then click on “Get Status.”

TSC DiagTool Diagnostic Tool Get Status Image

This will access all of your printer’s data.

Underneath “Printer Status,” DiagTool should indicate the potential ribbon issue – or issues – that is occurring:

  • Ribbon End Err.
  • Ribbon Encoder Err.

How to Fix a Ribbon Error with DiagTool: What to Do if You Aren’t Using a Ribbon

We recommend that you set the ribbon setting to “OFF” if you aren’t using a ribbon.  (The ribbon sensor and ribbon encoder err. settings do not matter if the ribbon is set to “OFF.”)

To do so, change the status to “OFF” and then click the “Set” button so this information is sent back to the printer and applied immediately.

TSC DiagTool Diagnostic Tool Set

What to Do if You Are Using a Ribbon

If you are using a ribbon and DiagTool is indicating that there’s a ribbon encoding error, a recommended next step is to try turning off this sensor.

Next, print a label or whatever application your printer is set up to print and then look at the print quality.

If the print quality isn’t affected at all, you can just ignore the ribbon error in this case; keep the ribbon encoder sensor turned off; and continue to print as there are no real issues affecting your print quality.

What to Do if Your Print Quality is Poor and the Ribbon Encoder Sensor is Turned Off

If your printer doesn’t print well or with the desired quality you’re looking for, then it’s definitely time to evaluate the potential problem(s) that are occurring.

Some common problems that cause the ribbon sensor errors include:

  • You’ve run out of ribbon
  • Broken ribbons
  • Ribbons that are slipping
  • Ribbons that are not moving at the right speed
What to Do When You Have a Ribbon Sensor or Ribbon Encoder Error Because You’re Out of Ribbon

If you’re experiencing a ribbon sensor or ribbon encoder error because you’re out of ribbon, this is one of the easiest problems to fix.

Follow the steps below:

1) Remove the ribbon, close the ribbon mechanism, and then turn off/on the printer power. The printer will be switched to thermal direct mode automatically.

2) If the printer sensor is still blinking, please check the following:

  • Is a paper core installed on the ribbon rewind spindle?
  • Is the ribbon installed correctly along the ribbon path?
  • Is the ribbon too transparent?
  • Is the rib of the ribbon spindle broken?
  • Is the ribbon gear broken or worn?

3) Turn off the printer power. Rewind the ribbon spindle by hand. See if the spindle rewinds smoothly by hand.

If the ribbon spindle doesn’t rewind smoothly, replace the ribbon mechanism.

4) Next, investigate the following items to see if they’re broken:

  • The DC motor
  • The ribbon end sensor
  • The DC motor encoder sensor

5) To see if the DC motor encoder sensor is broken, measure the current of pin2 of JP37. When the sensor detects the gap of the encoder, it is 5V DC; otherwise, it should be 0V DC.

Check if there is any black lubricant oil filled between gaps, which may cause errors.

Next, check the DC motor driver IC (U29) on the main board. If it can function all right, please replace the main board.

What to Do When You Have Another Error

If your ribbons are slipping, you may want to change the temperature on the printhead or may even need to use a different ribbon.

(Curious to know if you’ve chosen the right ribbon for your thermal transfer printer, the label stocks you’re printing on, and the specific applications the printer is being used for? Check our quick guide on how to choose the right ribbon for your thermal transfer printer.)

But for these issues or others besides errors being caused by the printer being out of ribbon, we recommend that you reach out to TSC’s tech support team if you haven’t already.

There are a number of different reasons that these errors may be occurring and, conversely, a number of different ways to fix them.

To get in touch with our technical support team, simply log in to our technical support page. You can also fill out an online inquiry or, if you’d prefer, contact your area office directly by phone or via email.

Do you have any other questions about DiagTool, fixing ribbon errors, or anything related to our printers? Leave a comment below, and we’ll be in touch!


4 responses to “How to Fix a Ribbon Error with DiagTool”

  1. Roni says:

    TSC TTP-345 printer having issues with blank ribbon. I have checked all of the calibration system but failed. Printing only blank pages.

  2. Barry Witt says:

    This is fine for software or sensor problems, but what about mechanical problems? I have a Raptor printer that suddenly (right after loading a new ribbon) stopped advancing the ribbon. The lead roller (the one that rolls up the used ribbon) no longer turns automatically. We have to turn it by hand to get it to roll up the used ribbon when printing labels. The ribbon feeds OK from the new roll. What would cause the lead roller to stop working? Thanks.

    • TSC Admin says:

      In the DiagTool, be sure the mode is set to thermal transfer so that the ribbon takeup moor is activated. If it is set for thermal transfer already, there maybe an isse with the ribbon takeup motor and the printer will need to come in for service.

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