Getting a network printer to work when its IP is manually set to a specific IP outside your LAN range.

This is an example of a fairly complex solution for something which could have been solved easily, if I had the right tools for the situation.

This is my first real use case of a VLAN.

During the COVID-19 lock-down, I took my office laser printer home. Its an HP Laserjet P1505n printer. Its a network enabled printer.

When I plugged in the LAN cable, I realised that printer’s IP is manually set to 192.168.248.xx (Printer IP can be checked by pressing go -or green – button for 3 seconds. It prints a self test report which gives you the IP address also). At home, I use different network range 192.168. 1.x.

I tried the following simple things but could not get it to work:

  1. Tried resetting the printer by pressing go and cancel buttons together hoping that it will reset network setting to take ip via dhcp. Didn’t work.
  2. Read up ways to use HP software to reset the network ip. But the software was for windows and currently I do not have a windows machine, only a Mac.
  3. Tried using an appropriate USB cable. It allowed me to print by connecting the printer  directly to Mac. I cold have stopped here because I was able to print by connecting via this cable but I wanted to make the printer work over the network. Sadly, even with the USB cable, I could not figure out a way to access the network settings of the printer. btw, finding the appropriate USB cable was also a task. I had to dig some really old cable boxes.

Finally, this is what helped me solve the problem.

I setup a VLAN with same network range 192.169.248.xx and connected the printer to this VLAN. And its working.

Few months ago I installed Ubiquiti EdgeRouterX at home. I knew that this router is VLAN  (Virtual LAN) capable. I have since been thinking of a good use case of VLANs. To solve this problem, I setup a Virtual LAN with the network range 192.168.248.xx in addition to my regular LAN (192.168.1.xx).

This was fairly involved but there are so many videos available on YouTube that it made it easy and fun (much more important).

Special thanks to:

  1. Chris Sherwood of Cross Talk Solutions video link
  2. Kevin Houser (author – The Unauthorized Guide to Ubiquiti Routing and Switching) video guidebook
  3. Willie Howe video link
  4. Ben Pin video link
  5. Ubiquiti for making such wonderful networking products. Its fun to use their networking products

Risks

When I was making changes to the switch configuration, I realised that there was a possibility that I could be permanently locked out of the router, if I made any mistake. And if that happened, I will have to setup the entire router/ network again. And this will be painful, time consuming and would have increased my work. In fact, after I made the changes, the router took around 2 minutes to put the new settings into effect and for that time I was unable to access the router; it was scary. I could have taken some precautions, as suggested by Ben Pin in his video above, to prevent this anxiety but I didn’t.




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