Monday, July 1, 2013

How To Set Up A Mobile Printer To Work With Your iPad

THIS POST IS OUTDATED. PLEASE SEE MY NEW VIDEO HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zVfCpT4X84

PLEASE SEE THE UPDATED BLOG POST HERE: http://makethisstuffwork.blogspot.com/2014/09/hp-has-answered-our-mobile-printing.html

Do you ever need to print out a product sheet for a customer from your iPad? Maybe you have fillable PDF forms that you use with "PDF Expert" on your iPad and you need to leave a copy on site? Unfortunately at this time there are no commercially available Mobile iPad Printers. Follow the steps in my YouTube video to find out how to set up either an HP 100 or HP 150 Mobile Printer to work with your iPad! You will also find a parts list, updated information and troubleshooting tips right here on this blog.

Please note that using this solution requires about $120-$130 in additional purchases on top of the cost of your printer. It also requires at least a 3rd generation iPad with the mobile hotspot feature and cellular service. It is 100% mobile (no power inverters, no bulky desktop printers in your car), but it will require some work for you to get it set up. Once it is set up and configured for the iPad it will be paired with it seems to work flawlessly. I am in the midst of rolling this out for my mobile workforce.

This video may seem daunting, but all of the steps are there and the video is put together in such a way that anyone should be able to set up one of these printers by following the steps. If you are putting multiple of these together for a mobile workforce, take it from me, you get quicker with each one. Eventually you'll be able to set one up from start to finish in half an hour.

If you want to see the configured printer in action, go to the YouTube video and watch starting at the 17:40 mark.

Leave any comments or suggestions in the "Comments" section. I will update the "Trouble Shooting Tips" and "Parts List" pages over time. I want this to be an interactive discussion, and hopefully as I get feedback I can streamline this even more.

I would like to give a special thank you to HP, Lantronix and TP-Link. Without their products I would not have been able to get this solution working.

YouTube Instructional Video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcEvhqUzpxE
iPad Compatible Mobile Printer Parts List - http://www.scribd.com/doc/151081580/Mobile-iPad-Printer-Parts-List

Here are six printers I set up on 7-12-13. There are five HP 100 Mobile printers and one HP 150 Mobile printer. I will post updates about how they work in field testing with my iPad users. This will be a good stress test since my field users work in some pretty rough locations.

79 comments:

  1. Very cool. I was just researching this for a friend who has the same need - print from her iPad to the same HP printer. Your video was helpful in confirming that the USB host port can power those devices although I will be taking a different approach which you may want to consider as it's cheaper and smaller. Use a raspberry pi (plus wifi dongle) to do essentially the same thing except instead of using the iPad for the ad-hoc network, the raspberry pi acts as the hotspot and print server combined. Just wanted to let you know in case you want to try this approach - you should be able to do it for under $90.

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  2. Thanks! I've been hearing a lot about the raspberry pi lately. I need to get one to check it out. The one thing I would point out is that you will lose the ability to browse the web and print web pages if you don't use the personal hotspot for your printer connection. It's not a huge problem, but my mobile users wanted to be able to browse the web and send/receive emails while connected to their printer. It was important for them because some of the reports they print for our customers are looked up through a web portal. If you don't need browsing while printing, or if you have a non-3G iPad it sounds like the raspberry pi will be a great alternative.

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  3. Makes sense. My friend is using the printer in environments with no internet so I don't think it's a factor. She will just connect to the pi wifi network, print, and disconnect. But I haven't even asked her if she has the 3G version and if she does, then I'll consider doing it your way as well, thanks.

    I'll try remember to give you an update when I get the parts in next week.

    charles

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  4. I am really thankful to you for the information you have provided. You are helping others to grow their knowledge by sharing such a valuable information you have. This post is amazing & I'm glad for it.
    Imprimante

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  5. I'm glad you like it! I know my company has been looking for a way to do mobile printing for quite a while. I hope other people are able to make use of this solution.

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  6. We ahve made use of this as well, we really appreciate you taking the time to figure this out. Would this same setup be possible with a Brother Pocketjet 6, didn't know if you tried it yet?

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  7. I have not tried with a Brother Pocketjet 6. I checked the Lantronix site and it is not on the list of compatible printers. However, some printers not on that list have worked with Lantronix print servers when I tried them, so that might not disqualify it. However, I do not see a pictbridge port on the Brother Pocketjet 6 printer, so that could be an issue unless you have some other way to power the Nano Router and Lantronix print server.

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  8. I have another update on the Brother Pocketjet 6. Several people have reported to me that the brother Pocketjet 673 works with the iPad right out of the box. I have not had the chance to try one yet. It is a thermal printer so you will only get black and white pages from it, but that seems like an easy alternative.

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  9. I have an iPad3 without 3g (I connect to the internet via my Verizon 4g cell phone) is there any way to make it work with your design without built-in cellular?

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  10. If the Verizon phone is an iPhone, you can actually follow my instructions but set up the printer to communicate with the hotspot on the iPhone instead of the iPad. Then you can print from both your iPhone and your iPad when the iPad is connected to the hotspot!

    If the phone is not an iPhone you will have to tweak it some. You will leave the nano router in "Router" mode. You will still want to set a static IP on the Lantronix print server, but you can turn on DHCP in the nano to hand out an address to your iPad when you connect to it. The only down side is that when you go on the nano network to print, you will have no internet access. You will only be able to print things that reside locally on your iPad.

    I hope that makes sense. Let me know if I can clarify anything for you.

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  11. I watched your video and got all the necessary parts through your links (thank you for that btw) and got started. Everything was going along well until I got to the personal hot spot part and realized ATT did not give me the correct plan. They told me it would be an hour before it updated and I called it a night.

    Started where I left off the next day and was cruising along. I got to the part where the blue bar that says 1 device detected first comes up. It just flashed every once in a while saying it was connected but didn't stay solid blue. I got to the part after that where you go to xprintserver.local and my ipad said it could connect with server, I tried this over and over.

    At that point I gave it a rest. When I got on later I noticed my TP link router network was gone.

    I am desperate to get this working for my sales calls. Is there anything I can do? Can I try to start over at this point?

    Thanks, Al

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  12. You can start over by resetting both the TP-Link Router and the Lantronix Print Server. Both have a small pinhole somewhere on the device. Use a pin to hold in the reset button while you power on the devices. Continue holding for about 30 seconds, then release. Once they are both back to factory defaults you can start over.

    Is there a particular point where you noticed it wasn't working as it should? Maybe I can help troubleshoot if you get stuck again. The blue bar not staying up makes me think it might be a problem with the config on the TP-Link router. Also, make sure you keep the settings window open for a few seconds after it connects. The iPad has a quirk where it won't always connect a device to the hotspot unless then hotspot settings window is open.

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  13. I reset everything and started over. The first attempt I entered a wrong letter in the mac address. Got it working now. thanks again

    Al

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  14. Great! I hope you like the mobile printing.

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  15. Thank you for your great solution. It worked well two weeks ago with the HP150 however after being dormant for two weeks and attempting printing, having just downloaded IOS7, all is normal until after I press print on the recognized printer;initially a screen shows up on the ipad showing that it will print, the x print flashes, the green light on the xprint flashes, the ipad print screen disappears, there appears no communication to the printer.
    Any suggestions would be appreciated.Thank you.

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  16. I just ran into this yesterday too. It is due to the iOS 7 upgrade. Luckily, Lantronix has a firmware update to address this. First, go to the link below and check out the instructions for updating the Lantronix print server home edition. You will need either a Windows PC or a Mac with wireless to do this:

    http://ltxfaq.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1724

    You will need to download the firmware update utility they mention to your Mac or PC. Then, turn on your printer and your iPad hotspot. I recommend plugging in the printer so it does not auto power down during the update. Now, connect your Mac or PC wifi to the hotspot. Once that is done, fill in the fields on the update utility. They information you need is:

    IP: 172.20.10.14
    Access Code: Prod310
    Username: admin
    Password: PASS

    Note that everything above is case sensitive, and it is only accurate if you followed my instructions on the video exactly. If you changed your Lantronix password or used a different IP, you will need to know those bits of information.

    Now click the upgrade button on the utility on your Mac or PC. That is it! Within a few minutes you will have the new firmware and your printer will work with iOS 7.

    Let me know if you have any problems with the upgrade.

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  17. Thank you for your prompt response. I don't believe I can connect my PC to the hotspot as it is not wireless and has a wired connection to my office network. Would you have any other suggestion. Thank you.

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  18. I was able to upgrade the firmware wirelessly on the iPad right from the lantronix. Under admin>Firmware there is an upgrade button. This works if you're iPad is a wireless hotspot.

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  19. Are you sure 6" is long enough? I can't get the Lantronix in there with the USB cord attached...

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  20. Unfortunately it did not work for me. I connected with the Ipad Hot spot, then used Admin Firmware, then Check for Firmware Update, but even when the Firmware acknowledged download, unpackaging and restart the Lantronix restarted with the previous version of the Firmware.

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  21. I had the same issue as Dcbgma. I would try and do the firmware update from inside the Lantronix admin console, but it would come back with the same version after the reboot. If it works for you that is definitely an easier way to go. Maybe it depends what firmware version you are on before the update? Mine was quite old.

    For you, Dcbgma, here is a way for you to get the firmware updated. It's not pretty, but it should work.. You will still need to put the update utility on your PC or Mac. Next, you will have to take your Lantronix and use a pin to reset it to factory defaults. There is a pinhole on the underside of the box. Just put a pin in there and hold the button down while powering on the Lantronix. Continue holding the button down for about 30 seconds, then release.

    Now that it is reset to factory defaults, plug it into the same network as your work PC. In a browser go to "xprintserver.local" on your work PC. Log into the admin console and write down the IP address. Then use the update utility and fill in the IP Address and other information:

    IP Address
    Access Code: Prod310
    Username: admin
    Password: PASS

    Run the update and you should be all set. Unfortunately, you will have to reconfigure the Lantronix again using the steps in the setup video.

    Like I said, not pretty, but it should work.

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  22. jpjordan, I don't think 6" will be enough. I think you need at least 1.5 feet on both the USB extension cable and the standard USB cable that comes back out of the project box. Usually the standard USB cables come in 6 foot lengths, which is overkill, but you can make it fit in the box.

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    1. LOL, I meant the project box, The usb connecter attached to the Lantronix needs just over 6" of clearance. I ended up going with a 7x5x3 from radio shack. A little bit bigger, and still not too heavy for the cover.

      By the way, thank you for this, this works beautifully! My client is going to be very happy with it.

      Delete
  23. Oh, yeah the project box can be tight. It depends how rigid the connector on your USB cord is. I'm glad you like the solution! I'm happy it's working for everyone.

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  24. Thanks for sharing this. I've been looking into different solutions for years, haven't find any good one for so far. I didn't think about tapping from the printers battery, this might be a great solution.

    Since iOS 7, there is a way to make this work without the Personal Hotspot feature, so it works on iPad 2 too, and you don't need to open the Personal Hotspot page to connect. You still need a 3G iPad though.

    In iOS 7, if you have a Wi-Fi network set without a router set, the iPad will use the Wi-Fi connection to reach the printer and use the 3G connection to connect to the internet. Doing this, you can't use any other Wi-Fi connection at the same time.

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  25. No good. I'ld like to order a set. I can't find this Barrel connector anywhere. Yes, I can find it, but nowhere it's shipping in a reasonable time to Europe. I could find one website, which is shipping that with priority for $60. I think that's way too expensive. Does anyone have a clue?

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  26. Thanks, I'll try setting it up in ad-hoc for iOS 7. I may have to do a new video!

    As far as the barrel connector, it can be very difficult to find. How about the Bixpower connector on amazon? Can you get that shipped any cheaper?

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006MWXZM0/ref=oh_details_o06_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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  27. I ordered it online trough eBay, I contacted the seller on your list, he wanted to ship international. There are some Chinese sellers too. They're cheap but have an incredible long shipping time. I expect my last part to arrive next week so I can try it right away.

    Getting the required products in Europa much harder then getting it in the USA. If everything works out fine next week, I will share a list where you can order the stuff if you live in Europe. It will be more expensive though.

    I will try the iOS 7 thing too. I think and I hope it will work, since I've to deal with several iPad 2's.

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  28. I have an update on the iOS 7 firmware issue with Lantronix. They now have an iPad app which makes it even easier to update your Lantronix box if you are having issues! The instructions on how to update your Lantronix firmware using the iPad app can be found here:

    http://ltxfaq.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1779/session/L2F2LzEvdGltZS8xMzgxMjU3Mzg4L3NpZC9rSjNJaGlDbA%3D%3D

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  29. I noticed! I managed to make it work on the iPad 2 without using the Personal Hotspot function too. It uses Wi-Fi to connect to the printer, 3G to connect with internet. It connects without manual interaction, the requirement is iOS 7.
    You can mail me at rsteenbeek@gentle-innovations.nl if you've got any questions.

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    1. Very cool! I had heard that iOS 7 was doing some more intelligent routing. It must be choosing to go out over 3G when no internet connection is detected on the wifi. That's great! That will make this solution usable by people with iPad 2's, as well as iPhones without hotspots.

      Delete
  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  31. 12 years experience in photocopier industry & networking, Copy Ltd have been repairing and maintaining printers, photocopiers and fax machines for our many of satisfied customers. We currently have engineers operating from multiple locations around the London area.
    Photocopier Services in London | Photocopier Maintenance London | Best Photocopier Repair London | Photocopier Refurbishing in London | Best Color Photocopier Machine | Black & White Photocopier London | Ricoh London UK | Cheap Photocopier Machine London | Bizhub Dealers in London | Best Laser Printer in London | Office Depot Copier Repair | Refurbished Photocopier London | konica Minolta London UK |

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  32. Hi my company is going to Ipad4 Os7 for mobile sales. I already own a Pixma Ip100 that I would like to utilize. I watched your video and saw that the Pixma won't power the USB connections. I am wondering if could power it with a portable charger used for phones? I have seen these with 2 USB ports. This might take the place of USB hub?

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  33. Yes, a portable charger should work. However, I did my pixma testing very early on, and in retrospect I think I might have tried it before I realized you needed to block out a pin on the usb hub to keep the power flowing. It's actually possible the pixma might power it. I have to build 3 more in the next couple weeks. I will try the pixma again when I do that and post my results here.

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  34. Thanks, I will look for your post.

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    1. I tried it today and it does appear that you can power the router and print server from the Pixma. As long as Lantronix supports the Pixma printer it should work for you without needing the external battery to power the equipment.

      Delete
  35. Wireless technology is really good. Printing from mobile through wireless or bluetooth will be very good. Technology will make you work done from any place without any barriers. Om Maruti Services

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  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  37. I have a tmobile iphone 5c with a mobile hotspot and an iPad mini. Will your setup work the same way except using the iPhone 5c as my hotspot instead of the iPad with 3g/4g.

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    1. Yes, it should work the same using the iPhone as the hotspot. And you will be able to print from both your phone and your iPad when not is using the hotspot for internet access.

      Delete
  38. What has been your experience with using these printers in the field? I'm an electrical contractor and will be putting the printer in a truck. Where I live it can be below zero in the winter and over a hundred degrees in the summer. I'm concerned about the cartridges with the below zero and 100 degree summers along with the rest of the printer. Thanks

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    1. Sorry Stephen, I missed this until today. I have multiple field users using them. They've had them since summer with no issues. So far it seems to be okay having the printer in the car with them all day. As long as you have the heat/AC on when you are driving it doesn't seem to overheat or get too cold when they make stops. Just make sure you take it inside with you each day when you finish work. I wouldn't store them in the car overnight.

      Delete
  39. I would like to use an Ipad without 3G capability. Could you briefly describe how the raspberry pi can be configured and powered to act as the hotspot and print server?

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    Replies
    1. I don't have any experience with the raspberry pi yet. Maybe someday!

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  40. I can't get the tp link to recognize my hotspot on my iPhone ??

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    Replies
    1. What is your hotspot named? Does it have any spaces or punctuation in the name?

      Delete
  41. i made it very easy iPhone name
    jonas all in lower
    pasword jonasdorosz

    when i reboot the router thru the tp link page then go to hotspot it kicks me off the wifi and won't find the new device

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  42. The only thing I can think of is if you have a wrong letter or number in the mac address. Sorry, without seeing it I have a hard time narrowing down what it might be.

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  43. Once we get the printer and iPad completely set up like you have explained, is it still possible to connect the Mobile printer to our laptop computer via bluetooth?

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    1. Also, how much time can you get out of the battery pack since it is powering more than just the printer?

      Delete
    2. Yes, you can use blue tooth in addition to the wifi gear you set up. I have my printer set up to work with my Surface Pro in addition to my iPad.

      I have printed over 100 pages on a charge without draining the battery fully. I believe HP says you can get 300 pages on a charge, so even with the extra gear I'm estimating you get at least half that.

      Delete
  44. I just wanted to express my gratitude to you for sharing this information with us. I am employed as a registered sanitarian (health inspector) by the North Central District health department in Enfield Connecticut. They recently decided to try doing electronic inspections using an iPad and FileMaker Go in the field. After looking at all the various options I quickly realized what you already knew that there are no mobile printers out there that print out of the box directly from an iPad, then I found your YouTube video. I purchased all the necessary items and tried two printers which we had in the office already. Canon IP 90 which, which I figured would not have power power based on your experience with the Canon IP 100. Then an HP 470 which did have enough power but had another problem printing due to malfunction. I was running out of time as I had to present this to the board on Friday and it was thursday morning. I decided I needed to stop fooling around and went out and purchased the HP 100 series mobile printer on sale for $140 put it altogether and it worked like a champ just like you demonstrated. Took it to the board the following day and they were so impressed that they want me to build seven more. Sincerely, Steve, Holyoke Massachusetts

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  45. Can you use a Lantronix XPS1001NE-01 xPrintServer-Network Edition for Apple iOS instead of the XPS1002HM-01-S?

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    1. I'm glad it worked for you! I know, it is very frustrating that no one has come up with an out of the box mobile iPad printer that supports air print. There is definitely a market for it. To answer your question, I have only used the one model of Lantronix so I'm not sure if the other would work. Assuming it supports the printer, and has the same power ratings as the one I demonstrated I believe it should work. I just can guarantee it.

      Delete
    2. That should say "can't guarantee it".

      Delete
  46. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  47. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  48. I hope this is where I can ask a question. I have the same printer as your video last year. I have an iPad 4 which I use my iPhone 5 with hotspot to surf the net. How much of your steps in your video do I use since my iPad has no built in cellular?

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    1. The steps should be very similar. You will set up your iPhone instead of your iPad, to connect tot he printer. Then you will actually be able to print from your phone or your iPad, when both the printer and the iPad are using the phone hostspot.

      The opposite is also true. For anyone who sets up the printer to use the iPad hotspot, when they connect to their iPad hotspot with their iPhone they can also print from the phone. Whatever device has the hotspot is acting as a router, so any other iOS devices that connect to that hotspot can also use the printer.

      Delete
  49. I was studying the video and saw a cord coming from the iPad! I assume that cord was to keep the iPad powered. Is that correct? I did find most of my parts on Amozon. I hard to find cord, I did find one site that had only 10 left and you had to have a paypal account.

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    1. The cord was actually a VGA adapter that I used to capture my screen. That's how I was able to show all of the settings and the web pages I access in the iPad.

      Delete
  50. Here is a link to the eBay site for that USB to 5.5/2.5 cord. Hope this helps someone!
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=171022313611

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  51. Hi I have been working on this setup for 2 days 5 hours a day. I'm trying to set up my IPhone 5 because it has the hot spot. I'm a Pastor and I have many meetings where I need to print something on the go.
    I get up to the part where I'm suppose to see a blue bar, there is none. My nano router does not have a IP address on it. By now it very frustrating. I tried to reset the xprintserver server but, it still retains the old info.

    Is there any way I can get clearer step by step instructions. I'm glad others were able to get up an running

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  52. Here is what found out after 3days non stop. I have a iPhone 5 with hotspot. I have a iPad with wifi only. Here is what you do.
    1. Start your set as shown in that video he was using his iPad with cellular. Allot of us don't have that.
    2. In the video he show where to get the wifi address from his iPad. When setting up the iPhone.you will have to go to your iPad in setting, general and select about.
    3. Look for wifi address on your iPad.
    4. Copy that IP address to your cell phone.

    DO NO USE THE WIFI ADDRESS FROM YOU IPHONE

    5. Constantly check your iPhone to make sure IT LINKS is shown with a check mark
    6. Do the same on you iPad.
    7. If you have done something wrong
    8. Unplug the server and the TP Link
    9. Pry the sever open and there is little white button on the mother board opposite of the input.
    10. After they have rest.
    11. Plug your home internet first to the lantronix then the power cable.
    12. Plug your TP Links apply power.

    So you can start afresh.

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    1. Thank you for the update! Are things working for you at this point? If not I would recommend the following:
      1. Don't worry about your iPad at all during setup. Just set up your phone to use the printer following the same instructions I gave for iPad.
      2. Make sure your Lantronix print server is on the newest firmware. You can update it by following the instructions I laid out in an earlier post in this thread.
      3. Make sure your phone is on iOS 7.
      4. Once you get the phone working, it should be as simple as just joining your iPad to the hotspot on your phone. It will detect the printer and then you can print from your iPad. You will always need to use the phone as the hotspot to "bridge" between the iPad and the printer.

      I hope that helps.

      Delete
  53. For those of you who can't find that special cable. Here is a do it yourself solution.
    1. Find any USB cable
    2. Find a cable with a 5.5/2.5 barrel. It does not matter what's on the other end
    3. Cut the USB cable to the length you want
    4. Cut the cable with the barrel on it.
    5. Discard the other parts
    6. You a shouldering iron and solder
    7. Strip the USB cable exposing the four wires
    Red. Is your hot
    Black is your common ground
    White. and Green are your data
    8. Leave the white and green wires alone
    9. Strip the other two wires

    NEXT

    1. Strip the barrel cable wire
    2. There are two lines
    3. Strip both lines

    HOW TO MAKE ONE CABLE

    1. Take the RED cable of both the USB and barrel and solder them together
    2. Twist and solder the other two together

    Now you have your cable: what I did was take electrical tape an wrapped each connection then wrap both connection so it will look like one cable.

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  54. USB to 5.5mm 2.5mm DC Barrel Connector Jack Power Cable wholesale lots
    | Add to watch list
    Sellers name is usefulgadget that is where I purchased the seven I used to build the boxes I needed from eBay

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  55. I have an Ipad Air w/hotspot, all the pieces you have posted, and an HP100. I was able to get everything done except log back into the xprintserver.local to set the static IP address. I was showing a hotspot connection with one device. After reading, I am assuming that IOS 7 has something to do with this. I downloaded the APP and according to it, I'm running the latest firmware. I am at a complete loss. Thanks for any help out there...

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    1. You can try this...unfortunately it will require resetting your router and Lantronix device to factory defaults.

      Reset everything and go through the install again. When you get to the first spot where you configure the Lantronix, the part where you are having it detect the printer, do the static IP right after that. After you assign the static IP and reboot the Lantronix you won't be able to communicate with it again until AFTER you get the router completely configured.

      I hope that helps.

      Delete
    2. Thanks so much, this worked!!

      Delete
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  57. I was just able to get it work after 4 hrs. I am using an iphone 5s with hotspot and wifi ipad. I was using the iphones wifi mac address which was failing the login and unable to get feature gcp error right after putting the router in client mode. Finally I used the ipads wifi mac and I was able to print from both devices.

    Now I am trying to use the hp eprint app which allows me to change the print settings. I cant find the printer using the app. Any input?

    Great post, thanks again!

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    Replies
    1. Unfortunately the Lantronix print server is adding a layer of abstraction between the iPhone and the printer. You are no longer directly connecting to the printer, but you are connecting to the Lantronix, which then translates the print job and sends it to the printer. Something like EPrint which requires direct access to the printer won't work.

      This is the same reason why printers with a built in scanner can't actually connect their scanner back to the iPad.

      Delete
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  59. I could not use eprint either! I have a fried that has an android and his eprint works for him. I have IPhone 5. So I was out of luck!

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  60. Is it possible for
    cannon ip100
    hootoo HT-TM01 Travel Router 6000mAh Battery Charger
    xprintserver home edition

    i know you have to charge the hootoo every so often

    Has anyone tryed it?


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  61. Thanks everyone for visiting this blog. This particular post is outdated now. HP has released a device which makes mobile printing with the iPad much easier. Check out my new video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zVfCpT4X84

    This video shows how to configure the HP device for your mobile printer. Enjoy!

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