A Tale Of Two Zebra Label Printers

Zebra Label Printers For Parts

Remember the days of going to the post office for everything?  Seems like everyone is shipping from home these days and saving money.  And for that you need a label printer.  I recently bought two Zebra Label Printers on eBay advertised as “For Parts”.

Zebra Label Printers

Zebra Printers

Pictured above is a Zebra GK420D and an LP 2844-Z.  Both are old.  Made in 2012, and 2009, respectively.  While there are inexpensive label makers out there for sale, nothing beats getting a label printer for $20.  And these old tanks can use generic labels.  Most manufacturers these days require expensive, and proprietary labels.

But buying these things is a crap shoot.  I spent $40 for both printers. Conversely,  this could have been a $40 disaster but as it turns out both printers actually still work.  Kind of.

Bench Testing Zebra Label Printers

Both were in reasonable condition, and what is best is that both powered up.  Neither came with a power supply but I do already own an LP 2844-Z and was able to use that power brick.  For the GK420D I was able to use a bench power supply to feed it 24 volts which is what it requires.

After powering them up I printed test labels by holding the button on top until one green flash was observed.

Profit!  Both printed and printed reasonably dark.  So they work.  Kinda.

LP 2844-Z Testing

I excitedly hooked the LP 2844-Z up to a Windows 11 computer AND IT WOULD NOT CONNECT.  Drat.   So I then held the button until it flashed, 1, 1-2, 1-2-3, and then 1-2-3-4 times.  This resets the printer.  Son of a gun………it WORKED.   The only caveat I have here is that the RJ-45 ethernet jack flashes 9 times per second which the Zebra documents say that there is no network detected.

You are supposed to be able to pass direct communication commands to the printer to set the network parameters via a program called Zebra Setup Utility (ZSU).  For whatever reason I can do everything BUT set up the network.  I suspect there is a hardware failure with the network controller chip or the RJ-45 jack itself.  A visual inspection (after disassembly) doesn’t reveal any magic smoke let out.  The soldering of the RJ45 connector to the board looks solid.  No real clue why the ethernet isn’t working.

Conclusion:  LP 2844-Z works perfectly when configured via USB.  Ethernet does not detect a network, though.


The opposite thing happened to me here. I was NOT able to connect to the zebra label printer via USB but I was able to connect and print via network.

Initially the networking didn’t work either.  I had to reset the network by holding down the control button through a series of 4 flashes like before.  Then immediately followed by pressing it down again and holding through 1 flash.  When I printed out the network parameters the default address was now with a subnet of

As soon as I plugged it into my network switch it pulled a local IP address and worked perfectly.

I can only hope that having the proper power supply solves the USB issue.  When I hook it to a Windows computer it says the device has malfunctioned and won’t work.  Nothing at all happens when connected to a Mac.

If a new power brick, which I have on order, doesn’t work then I can only conclude that the USB bus is borked.  There are a lot of variants of these printers. Most of these devices have a serial and a parallel port on them but mine only has a USB and ethernet connector on mine. There is no way to attempt to re-flash the firmware since I can’t connect via USB.

Conclusion:  GK420D works perfectly on ethernet but cannot connect to USB.

What’s it all mean?

It means I got two printers that WORK for $20 each.  Go price an inexpensive label printer and let me know how close to $20 you can get.   There is no way I’d buy a known tested label maker for $80 or more when I can get a brand new FreeX label printer for $100.  I actually own a FreeX also, and it is awesome.

You can get no name label printers for even less.  Around the $80 range.   No reason to spend $80 on a 20 year old printer or even a 10 year old printer.  Spend the $80 on a new one with a 1 year warranty.

So maybe they both don’t work 100% BUT THEY WORK.  I don’t care how they are hooked up in my household as long as I can access them and print to them.  I do prefer network printers though usually.

Wrap Up

If you can find a label printer on eBay for $20 it might just work fine.  You never know.   The person I bought them from even accepts returns.   Can’t go wrong there.   I’ll keep trying to get them fully functional but, hey, they work.  Even though I have another label printer now I’ll have one upstairs and downstairs and maybe in the garage…….or the shed.  Can’t beat it for $20.


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