Ink About your Steno Machine

Here are some tips for economical and efficient use of your steno machine ribbon cartridge.

So what does a court reporting student do when only the tops of your letters print on the paper of one's Stenograph machine? It's probably one of two things. If it's just a letter here and there, the individual key contact switch may need to be adjusted. I never seem to have my owners manual on me when this needs to be done, so follow the directions at this link to for a refresher course on which way to turn the allen wrench.

If all the letters print partially or are just printing really lightly, you probably need to re-ink your ribbon. "Re-ink your ribbon?" That's right. I said it. You don't need to keep buying $24 ink cartridges every time you start not being able to read the letters on your steno paper. All you need is a bottle of steno machine ink like the one pictured below which can be found at numerous online court reporting supply stores for around $10 or under.

If you look at where the red arrow is pointing in the picture below, there's a little sponge next to the wheel where you can put a few drops of ink at a time and then wait for it to absorb. Put the tip of a pen or similar tool in the hole indicated by the green arrow and spin the wheel around several times to work the ink into the ribbon. You may need to repeat the process to get your letters to show up again, but just err on the side of caution. And voila, a money-saving solution that all steno students can benefit from as long as your machine uses a Stenograph ink cartridge. This article is also quoted over at GDW's site, too, for and other money and time saving tips.

14 comments:

gdwarner said...

Hi, Jenni.

Can I steal this for Cheap and Sleazy? I'll use your words and pictures, but will ask a few questions of my local steno repair ninja that does something similar ... except instead of a pen, he uses a mechanical screwdriver to whip the ribbon cartridge's wheel around! :o)

Let me know; shoot me a message over on Depoman.

--gdw

Jenni said...

That's neat about the mechanical screwdriver idea! Sent you a PM. :)

WandasPianoArts said...

Hi ~ I notice on the Stentura 8000 it says the ribbon is 'self-inking.' I'm a really new student and I bought this machine second-hand. Does the 'self-inking' phrase mean I should not ink the cartridge?

Court Reporter Bound said...

Hi, Wanda. Welcome to the world of steno!

If it has the cartridge as pictured above, it might just be referring to the fact that the ribbon advances in a loop around the cartridge and inks itself by moving over the inked "sponge" inside that the red arrow is pointing to.

If your letters are getting faint, then it needs to be re-inked. If you don't own the machine yet, i.e. if you're reading that off an auction or site listing, it couldn't hurt to ask the seller for a picture of the cartridge, or point them to this page and see if that's the cartridge it has. Pretty sure it is, though. Hope that helps!

Anonymous said...

Help! im about to decide on a steno machine as a student.
does anyone recommend a paperless????

Court Reporter Bound said...

Hey, Anon! I'm in the same boat you are, trying to decide what steno machine to buy. Whether or not you go paperless may depend on what work you want to do once you graduate. It also might not matter.

People can be successful no matter what type of machine you buy. Just consider getting a professional model right away so that you don't have to deal with the pesky 50-page limit that student machines have. I highly recommend checking out the hardware thread on depoman.com to help you make your decision.

Anonymous said...

I am a student about 5 months in...i would suggest getting an old one with paper at first...i know at my school towards the end we have to transcribe reports from our own paper notes....also to make sure this profession is for you i wouldnt buy a crazy expensive machine yet

Lindsay Pepe said...

Do you have to use steno ink? I'm wondering if the stamp refill ink at Walmart (around $3, no waiting for delivery, and no shipping cost either) would work just as well?

Speaking Louder than Words said...

It just might but no guarantees, as I've never tried it. If you give it a shot, please report back!:)

Speaking Louder than Words said...

Great point! I thought having a paper machine and reading the notes helped me tremendously.

alkaline.me said...

How do you change a ribbon? I have a steno-electric

p2tog said...

I am wondering the same thing!

p2tog said...

Ok, I took off the flat head screws closest to the paper, being careful not to lose any of those tiny parts into the machine. The trapezoid shaped bar across the top comes off, I pulled out the old ribbon, and kind of wrestled the new one in. You may want to wear gloves if you don't want ink all over your fingers! Then reinstall the trapezoid shaped bar, little metal nubs, and screws the way you found them. Mine's working well except my final TSDZ aren't showing up well, but I don't think that's because of changing the ribbon. I recently bought this machine on eBay and it looks like it's been sitting in someone's attic for quite a while...

JUNG said...

@p2tog, thank you very much for answering that question for @alkaline.me! Feel free to send a message if you have pics and/or would be interested in sharing them here in a separate post. :)

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