Repairing a Kodak 500 Photo Printer

My wife likes her little K500 photo printer, but one day it started printing only half of a photo.  After an unsatisfactory session with the "help desk" in which they told her half of a heater was burned out, and for $80, they would "try" to fix it, I went looking on the internet to see if anybody else had run against this problem.  They had, and a guy at had a good verbal description of what he'd done to fix it.  I muddled around for quite a while, and by trial-and-error got the job done.  I thought it might be useful to others to have some photos of the process so they wouldn't have to do the trial and error thing I'd gone through.

I strongly recommend that you read completely through this Instructable before trying it, and especially study the photos.  Some details are clearer in later steps because the machine is more completely disassembled in them.

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Step 1: The Problem

Although the people at the Kodak help line told my wife the problem was due to "half of a heater" burning out, this did not make sense to me, and I thought it might be something else.  It did turn out to be something else.  Photos with this printer are made by film transfer to the photo paper, which requires firm contact between the dye films and the photo paper.  This is achieved by a rod with two small levers/cams on the end that at the right time, is rotated so the cams push the dye film down onto the paper.  The plastic cams/levers are small and thin, and the combination of time and probably exposure to heat makes them brittle and they split.  The split in the cam/lever makes it so the lever cannot exert the force necessary to press the one side of the film down onto the paper, causing the "half-a-picture" fault seen here.

Step 2: Getting to the Problem

Begin by using a small size phillips screwdriver to remove the 5 screws shown circled in the photo.  You'll also eventually need a high-quality jewelers' phillips head screwdriver, a small flat-blade screwdriver, and small, thin, needle-nose pliers.  All the screws in this machine are similar, but different, so save yourself some grief and carefully label them or place them in small cups or trays so you can identify where they go.

Step 3: CAREFUL ! Just Crack Open the Top

The front of the case has tabs that can be carefully pried open once the screws are removed, but you cannot then just pull the top off.  It will open about 1" at the rear of the case.

Referring to the photo, the circled items point out the two ribbon wires/connectors and one plug that must be released before you can go further.  The photo shows the top open much more than is possible before the cables are unplugged.

Carefully use the small flat-blade screwdriver (a jeweler's screwdriver is fine) and slide the black locking piece slightly away from the white socket.  This will release the ribbon wire and allow you to gently pull the ribbon wire from the socket.  You can carefully use the small needle-nose pliers to pull the white plug from the white socket.  Work from back to front--that is, pull the ribbon wire nearest to you in the photo first, then the white plug, and finally the ribbon wire in the back, this will allow the top to open a bit more with each one you pull.

There is also a green ground wire identified by the arrow in the center left of the picture.  This will have to be unfastened, but you don't have to do it yet.  One end of it is secured by a small phillips screw that can easily be accessed once the top is mostly loose. 

Once you have the top off, lay it carefully aside, protecting it from damage.

Step 4: Release the Mechanism From the Bottom Case Half

Once the top has been removed, you now need to pull the mechanism from the lower case half. 

Gently pull at the top, right above where the dye film cartridge is inserted and "wiggle" the mechanism back and forth and upwards.  Some of the electrical connections at the other end of the mechanism may also need to have the case slightly pulled away so they clear, also.

Step 5: Unplug the Fan

The fan is held in its own black plastic piece at the back of the printer, and will come out when the mechanism comes out, but needs to be unplugged from the bottom PCB, as indicated by the circle in the photo.  A gentle pull with needle-nose pliers will do the job. 

Step 6: Loosen the Upper PCB

Using your small phillips screwdriver, remove the two circled screws and loosen the screw indicated by the yellow box.  No need to remove this screw, just get it good and loose so you can pivot the PCB board to the rear.  

Also in the photo are arrows indicating the black plastic locking pieces for the ribbon-wire sockets.  The one in the right front of the photo is mounted horizontally, and to unlock it the tabs on the end need to be pushed away from you (oriented in the photo).  When you reassemble the device, you'll be working from the other side, so remember to push the black locking piece away from you, into the socket, to lock the ribbon wire once it is properly inserted.

Step 7: Untension the Spring and Loosen the Tape

At the left side, outside the roller mechanism, is a small spring that fits in a small hole in the metal top of the mechanism.  In the photo (sorry about focus), I'm using a small-blade screwdriver to pull the spring out of its hole (the hole in the circle).  You can just let the spring gently loose, it is not tightly wound, and will not fly across the room or anything.

The arrow next to the circle indicates one of the two screws that have to be removed in the next step.

To finish this step, gently pull the tape that holds the wires (yellow and black arrow) from the metal case.  Leave the tape attached to the wires, we'll use it to re-secure the wires when we're reassembling the machine.

Step 8: Remove Screws Then Metal Mechanism Cover

We're almost there! 

Next step is to remove the two small phillips head screws that hold the metal mechanism cover on.  Two of the screws that hold it are the ones under the PCB that we removed in an earlier step.  Now it's time to remove the screw noted in the last step, which is next to the spring hole, and the screw shown in the circle in this photo.

It's important to have a good quality, sharp phillips-head jeweler's screwdriver for this step, because these screws are really tight, and you'll strip the heads, or even break your screwdriver, if you try to use a cheap jewelers' screwdriver.

By the way, in the yellow box in the center of the photo is the screwhole for the green wire screw terminal mentioned earlier.  It's much easier to see here.

Step 9: The Culprit Revealed !

Once again, I must apologize for my focus problems, but in this photo, with the cover off, you can clearly see the split cam/lever that is causing our problem.  When the shaft rotates, the cam just slips inside it, rather than rotate with the shaft.

Step 10: Another View of the Problem

I included this photo to help orient you as to the location of the problem area.  It is on the end of the machine into which you insert the "ink" cartridges, with the front, or side from which the pictures come, facing toward you.

Step 11: End View of the Problem Area

Here's a final view before we start fixing it.  Note the green plastic piece which you might recognize as the tab you push to release the "ink" (dye film) cartridges when you change them.

Now let's get it fixed!

Step 12: Roughen the Shaft Next to the Cam/Lever

This printer is a precision and delicate machine.  You don't want any foreign crud in there.  So I used some 3 inch square Post-It notes to protect the area under the surgery area.  First step is to roughen the metal shaft immediately next to the split cam/lever with some emery paper.  Exact grit isn't all that important anything between about 220 and 400 ought to be OK.

When you've got visible roughening on the shaft, also roughen the surfaces of the plastic cam/lever.

Carefully blow, or vacuum out any grit, or other crud that falls on the paper.

Step 13: Close Up the Split

My mentor on said he used thread to wind around and close the gap, but another guy on the blog said he used wire.  Wire sounded better to me because you can twist it and it will keep its tension--with thread you have to carefully maintain tension as you wind and secure it.

I used a single loop of copper wire, about #20 or so, and using the needle-nose pliers, carefully twisted it until the gap was almost completely closed.  I didn't want to twist the wire off so I didn't over-tighten it.  When done, I trimmed it as closely as I dared and pushed it over to protrude as little as possible from the surface of the cam/'ever.

Step 14: Clean Everything Up

Using rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol and a cotton swab, clean everything--shaft--cam/lever, and copper wire with a good swabbing.   Allow to dry thoroughly.

In this photo, I had not yet installed the wire, but I did swab again after I did.  Gotta be clean or the dope won't stick!

Step 15: Some Additional Protection

The next step is potentially very messy, with glop that will completely ruin your printer if it gets into the wrong places.  So I added a bit more protective Post-It-note, taping it in place to hold it.

Make sure that anywhere the dope can drip, run, or otherwise go where it isn't supposed to,  is protected.

Step 16: Mix Up a Small Batch of JB Weld

Carefully mix a batch of fresh JB Weld.  (Probably other brands of epoxy will probably work, but JB worked for me).  I used two large-size paper (Gem) clips--one to mix, and one partially straightened, to apply it.

Step 17: Cover the "Wounded Area" With JB Weld

As mentioned, I used a straightened paper clip to dab on JB weld all over the repair area, including packing it into the remaining split, on and over the copper wire, all over the plastic cam/lever, and onto the roughened part of the shaft next to the cam/lever.

One place you do NOT want any JB Weld is on the shaft where it goes through the frame--locking the shaft so it will not turn.

You may find, as I did, that the JB Weld wanted to sag and "bloop" downward, while I wanted it to stay evenly distributed around the shaft.  To achieve this, turn the unit upside down at about 10-minute intervals, until the epoxy hardens enough to stop sagging.  I also set the unit up on its end with this area down, to let the epoxy run toward the cam/lever, being VERY CAREFUL to observe that it was not running to the end of the shaft where it meets the frame.

Allow your fix to dry overnight, at least.  Nothing to gain by rushing it.

Step 18: One Reassembly Trick

As I reassembled the unit, I found this black plastic piece loose.  I hadn't paid much attention to it as I disassembled the printer, and had a heck of a time figuring out where it goes.

It goes at the top of the front of the case, as shown. (Sorry for clutter in background of photo).  The key to figuring it out is to find the little black tab right in the middle of the piece.  This tab is the lock for the front door of the unit, that "clicks" it into place and holds the front door closed.  Orient this little tab down, and to the front of the printer, test the door to make sure it clicks shut, and you've got it installed right.

Step 19: Success !

I'm pleased to say the printer worked perfectly on first try after disassembly and has produced about 50 perfect photos so far.  I'm not sure how permanent the fix is, or if another part will break, but so far, we're about $80 ahead of the curve--(actually a lot more than that, because we were going to buy a new printer before putting $80 into repairs for one that wasn't all that old.)  Hope Kodak's next generation of photo printers is a bit more robust!

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    24 Discussions

    This is an awesome fix! I personally chose to use a zip tie and super glue combo on the plastic part and then replaced it on the metal after it was completely dry (if you try this option be careful where the "knot" of the zip tie ends up--test before gluing--because the position of the knot will block the path of the cartridge if not positioned correctly). I have successfully fixed three printers with this method!

    QUESTION: Does anyone know what the mint green stuff is? When I open some of the printers it is all over the mechanisms, some are cleaner than others. At first I thought it was ink residue/buildup but now I am unsure? Should I be cleaning it off with rubbing alcohol? Or leaving it be? Any thoughts?

    Thanks again for the wonderful instructions!!

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    It's grease. Mechanical parts don't like to keep moving very well without some kind of lubrication.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for revealing the source of the problem. Without that I couldn't repair my printer. I used a bit different approach for a solution. I drilled a little hole through the plastic part and through the metal bar and screwed a little screw in there. Works perfect. Thanks again.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    The advantage of the wrap and epoxy is added strength to the plastic part.


    3 years ago

    Genius! I did it with superglue and ended up with an extra screw (from attaching the ground wire wrong, I think), but it worked like a charm. Fixed the paper feed at the same time! THANK YOU!!!


    4 years ago

    The instructions were tremendous. Even though I was trying to do the same repair to my Kodak Printer Dock Plus. Everything went well. One assembly problem I am having though is the fan. Wait seems too a wide for its quarters. It's bulging the case out it I put it in Could there be something in the case that I didn't position right?


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Check out my repair video on YouTube.


    6 years ago on Step 19

    You Rock man ,hope it works for me

    SteveKodak 500 photo Printer


    6 years ago on Step 12

    Great instructable! Love the internet when it comes to stuff like this :) Had this problem with a printer I bought for my parents and this saved me loads of time. A recommendation for other people doing this is to completely remove the shaft as this makes it easier to roughen the surface + applying glue. Its done by rotating the plastic part on the shaft end opposite the broken lever. After rotating this one side of the shaft can be lifted straight up and then its just a matter of pulling it out of the metal housing on the side where the broken part is.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    HELP!!!! Your instructions were AWESOME - I got the little white thing repaired. But, upon reassembly, the rollers that suck up the paper just don't work anymore, they don't initialize when you plug it in, they don't make a peep or move a millimeter.
    I triple checked all my connections, from everything I disconnected, but it just doesn't roll. I am wondering if anyone has any ideas, or if I should just chuck the thing. Maybe that's what I should have done in the first place, now that I have put 2 days into this stupid thing!

    2 replies

    Sorry for the delayed response. From your description, that there isn't even an effort for the thing to initialize, roll, or otherwise show signs of life, some connection or other electrical fault has occurred.

    Offhand, I'd say carefully double check your connections, I know some of those are very small, and its easy to assemble them just one pin (wire) off. With the ribbon connectors, make sure you haven't accidentally reversed the ribbon in the connector. Look at the photos in my instructable and compare, when you can see them, see if they look like yours.

    However, your last sentence may be the one making the most sense. Although a nifty little device that many people absolutely loved, Kodak has orphaned it, no longer selling the paper and color packets for it when current stocks are out.
    With Kodak itself now fighting for its life, I doubt they'd even consider re-instituting the supplies, even if many people wrote them to request. Might be time to start looking for a new photo printing system.

    And you thought your response was delayed!

    I have to thank you again for all your help, but unfortunately no amount of reseating the connections has made it work. It was worth a shot though. Appreciate your input!

    Don G.

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you very much for the detailed instructions! I had the same problem with my printer (after about only 35 prints!).

    As an alternative to using epoxy, I used a zip tie and tightened it as much as I could around the split nylon bush. Using a zip tie was clean, easy and fast. I wish I would have taken a picture, but I wasn't sure it hold. So far the printer is working fine and I don't see any reason for the zip tie to fail.

    Also, I skipped removing the second PCB as there seemed to be plenty of room to work on the printer, not having to worry about getting epoxy on the innards. The less I had to take apart, better I felt. ;-)

    Thanks again!!!

    1 reply
    marketchicagoDon G.

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    They don't make cable ties like they used to. Hopefully you had an old one lying around... the kind that have the steel tooth... that'll hold tight forever!

    Wow... I really geeked out on this one...

    I did'nt have any JB Weld, so I unstranded a thin picture hanging wire and did 3 independent wraps around the piece.

    I did file the thin outer end a little to give a flat surface for the wire to sit on.

    It is TIGHT!

    Awesome tute, you saved my printer.



    7 years ago on Introduction

    I wanted to thank you for this as it's my moms printer which she loves. She's no kid and sending a photo via email is a pain for her so she likes to print her pics and mail them. I also wanted to let you know and other readers that this repair also fixed another common problem with these printers. That is the automatic take up of the paper. I had been having to feed the paper in by hand which was really annoying because it would often end up in a paper jam. I was close to just tossing this thing when it started printing half prints but this fix was quite easy. You can actually tell if it's cracked by pulling out the ink cartridge and looking in there. As soon as I saw that I knew this would be the fix. Thanks again.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    HELP.. I have tryed to print these directions so I can use my work bench The print copys are so small I cant read them .. I down loaded them as told to the PDF I dont know what to do I am a member Please help Can I be sent the directions in a size I can read?


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I got it. My printer is repaired and works least for now! The top does come off as the ribbon wires are disconnected. Thanks for the pics.

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Whoops, should have looked through all the comments before I responded to your earlier inquiry. Glad to hear your repair worked. Not sure how long it's good for, but hopefully long enough to at least use up those expensive supplies!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I just got EXACTLY the same line from Kodak!! I was not pleased as I don't use the printer that much, but have 4 ink refills and loads of paper!! I am hoping this is the problem I am having since my pictures look the same as yours. I would like to ask, how do you carefully pry open the top after the 5 screws are removed? Those tabs are on there pretty tight. Thanks for posting this, the instructions look very clear.