Thermal POS printer printing nothing but strange code

Hello Experts,
I have a PRNTEK w532U thermal printer that we use for our kiosks.  This printer is a Taiwan rebranded Epson mt500.  We have a ton of these setup and working as they should, but recently a few have decided to start printing in what looks to be ascii or some other code, instead of what I want it to print.  I have verified the port settings and compared all settings that I can think of, and cannot find the problem.  This printer uses a usb to serial adapter cable that has its own port settings that I have also verified as the same as on a working machine.  We are sending printing from Firefox from our web application.  I can even take a working machine, change the port speed settings and make it print in error like the others, but I change the port settings back and the problem is resolved.  I can take a working printer, make it print in error, and fix it, but I cannot take an erroring printer that I didnt break, and fix it.  Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks
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MailAmericaAsked:
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MailAmericaAuthor Commented:
Picture of "code" error
IMG00151.jpg
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Paul MacDonaldDirector, Information SystemsCommented:
There's almost certainly something in the data being sent to the printers that they are interpreting as commands.  Check the information you're sending for any extended or non-printing characters.  
As for the unrepairable printers, you may need to do some sort of hard reset in order to get them working again.
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MailAmericaAuthor Commented:
I would say that you are correct but the working printers are getting the same print commands as the non working printers.  On the working printers a test page sent by windows prints as it should, on the non working printers it prints out code.
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delmcCommented:
Check the dip switches on the printer to make sure they are set correctly, this is more than likely the cause of the printing issues. Had a similar problem with an Epson printer a few months back, checked over the operating manual and the switches were set incorrectly, once changed to the correct settings everything worked OK.
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Paul MacDonaldDirector, Information SystemsCommented:
Again, this can sometimes be done via command.  I'm not conversant with this particular model, but the faulty printers may have interpreted some data as a command to switch modes (say, reading data in 7 bits rather than 8 bits).  It seems likely there's a way to do a hard reset on them but again, I don't know how for this particular printer.
The only other explanation is you received a batch of printers that all failed in roughly the same manner at roughly the same time.  What are the odds of that?
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MailAmericaAuthor Commented:
I will give that a try.  Unfortunatly I am having issues getting the documentation from the manufacturer.
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MailAmericaAuthor Commented:
Strange happening today, got driver package from the manufacturer, reinstalled on my machine and it is working now.  There were no changes to the port settings, the driver is the same exact version etc. but now it is working.  Not a clue why.   Now on the troubled machines that started me down this troubleshooting road (the ones that need fixed for customers), I did the exact same install procedure, and it is still not working.  AHHHHHHHH  I hate printers.  This has to be a drivers/comm issue, but ill be damned if I can find it.
Any other ideas would be great.
Thanks
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webbster20Commented:
Heh, I was going to recommend drivers as well.

That has happened to me before on retail, home printers.

Have you attempted to completely remove the drivers then reinstall?
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MailAmericaAuthor Commented:
Ohh yeah, I completely removed all printer drivers.  Ive tried it all...  still pounding away at this.
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MailAmericaAuthor Commented:
The manufacturer is getting me new drivers that are not port specific as the current one is.  I hope this clears things up.
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MailAmericaAuthor Commented:
Ok another printer is misbehaving.  it worked fine yesterday.  It will print half of the page that it is sent, fine.  Then it switches to printing more strange code.  This is the same type of printer.  This happens from all applications.  Even test pages print Ok for the first half of the page then goes to garbage.  HELP!!  This is gonna drive me nuts.
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webbster20Commented:
This sounds like a faulty printer line to me. As unfortunate and blow-off-ish as that sounds, it sounds like sub-par quality is to blame here.

Or a horrible driver that goes haywire.

Hehe, April Fools!!.. But not so funny.
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webbster20Commented:
Also, is the original printer in question working right?
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MailAmericaAuthor Commented:
Well kinda, but the problem ones at the customer site are not.  Just swapped out the printer that was printing half pages, with the one that I knew worked, changed no settings, and it is printing fine.  I am gonna call this a POS printer problem.  POS does not mean Point-OF-Sale in this case for sure.  I have swapped cables with other Known good ones, to no avail.  I think this is Printer Hardware issues.  Should have stuck with the Epson models.
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webbster20Commented:
Lol, yeah.

Those stupid point of sale printers. Grr. Paper is so small!
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MailAmericaAuthor Commented:
Damned sub-par manufacturing.
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