Zebra ZQ510, ZQ520 Mobile Printer Initial Setup

Article ID: 84154040

Issue / Question

ZQ500 Series Printer Setup Overview. 

Applicable To

 ZQ510, ZQ520

Resolution / Answer

NOTE Zebra Support Community Site has been updated to replace obsolete industry terms with modern terminology. This article uses the term Central instead of Master, and Peripheral instead of Slave

You can use the Zebra ZQ500 series printer in a wide variety of applications using many different media types (direct thermal only) to suit your printing needs. This flexibility is due to the printer’s ability to be configured and adjusted for all the variability an application may introduce. Understanding the printer configurations will enhance your ability to optimize your printer to meet your printing needs and understand the printer's limitations.
For more information, refer to User Guide: ZQ500 Printer Specifications.

The printer comes from the factory set to tear-off mode with black mark media and adjusted for full-width paper label stock. Many printing applications will function with these factory settings and require no additional adjustments beyond the communications setup and minor darkness adjustment.  However, depending on the media being used and application requirements, some setup may be necessary to perform optimal performance.


IMPORTANT! All printer settings can be impacted by commands from a mismatched or misconfigured driver or software application. A printer functioning correctly after setup but fails or indicates an error after label requests are received, most likely affected by the host side misconfiguration of the driver or printer software settings. Typically, the host device that generates the printer commands for printing has a setup configuration that sends these as commands to the printer. Ensure all settings match the printer settings to avoid intermittent issues.

Media Related Settings and Calibration 

  1. Understanding your media
The Zebra Printer supports using many types and shapes of label/tags and knowing your media detail is essential for proper configuration. Here are the details you should know for printer media setup and configuration.

Media Related Configurations 

NOTE As mentioned above, it is important to ensure that all driver and applications settings match what you are setting the printer up to ensure that the printer does not encounter errors due to improper settings. 

  • Media Type – Continuous, Gap/Notch, and Black Mark. Default is Black Mark (Bar).
  • Print Method – ZQ500 Series Mobile Printers are Direct Thermal only. They do not support Thermal Transfer printing or the use of ribbon, so they do not require a Print Method selection or configuration.
  • Print Mode – The ZQ500 Series Mobile Printers only support Tear-off mode, set by default. This mode is related to the label presentation after printing and is limited to the installed options. Refer to Print Mode Details for more information.
  • Media Loading  – Properly load the media for the Print Mode you intend to use. For more information, refer to User Guide: Loading the Media in the ZQ500 Series Printers.
  1. Understanding the Media Sensors
The printer comes with two fixed sensors for label tracking based on the Media Type used (Black Mark or Gap/Notch). The media must meet some requirements to be within specifications for the sensors to detect and calibrate properly. Any sensing marking on the media (for example, Black Mark, Gap, or Notch) should be located in the break between each label/tag. Refer to User Guide: ZQ500 Series Specs for printer specifications (media specs are also listed).
Transmissive/Reflective Sensor – The Transmissive Sensor is used for sensing labels Gaps, Holes, and Notches, while the Reflective Sensor is used for Mark Media. The Sensors are located in the center of the media path, as shown here. Refer to the User Guide: ZQ500 Series Sensors, showing a photo of the Gap Sensor location and bar or mark sensor.
  1. Calibrate the printer for the media.  
    IMPORTANT! This is the most crucial and beneficial step in adequately configuring the printer.
If you are receiving media out errors or the printer is not properly feeding your media,  this requires a file to be sent to the printer, and the file needed depends on the media you are using. By default, the printer is set to use the Black Mark (reflective) sensor and Label media (media that does have a separation or non-continuous). Refer to Calibrating Zebra ZQ500/QLn Series Mobile Printers for more information.

Print Quality
Print quality is a product of proper printer setup and the use of compatible media for the application. The three impacting factors to consider are:

  1. The Media Capabilities
The RW Series printers only support Direct Thermal media. If you are not getting any print on the label, please ensure you have direct thermal media and loaded correctly. View this Video: Nail Scratch for more information. Not all media is the same when it comes to being compatible with your application or needs. Printing speed, the durability of the image/media, and the environment are just a few factors to consider when determining the printer setup for the application.
  1. Print Speed
The printer is capable of printing at multiple print speeds. The speed selection works in tandem with your darkness setting. Typically the slower the print speeds used, the lower your darkness setting can be. The higher the print speed, the higher your darkness will need to be set. In general, slower print speeds yield better print quality. 
To set print speed using the CPCL SPEED command, refer to this article: CPCL Manual for Zebra Mobile Printers for more details.
To set the print speed using the ZPL command, refer to this article: Setting the Print Speed via ZPL for more details.
  1. Print Darkness
Print Darkness (also may be referred to as Density or Burn Temperature) is a user-adjustable setting. You can also use a setup utility or the printer driver if available to set the print darkness. Darkness set too low will yield poor-quality print, while setting it too high may cause blotchy print or bleeding of the ink within the print. Trying to compensate for poor media compatibility by using high darkness settings can impact the printer’s printhead life. Vary the darkness to produce the best print quality.
Setting Darkness Using CPCL (if CPCL is used for printing), refer to Mobil Printer Darkness Setting (CPCL) for more information.
Refer to the article: Adjust the Print Darkness Setting using ZPL Language to set the Darkness using the ZPL commands.


NOTE The print job itself can also contribute to the quality of print that you receive. If a third-party application is being used, such as a web application, .pdf file, or any other design application, the file may be converted to a graphic so that the printer can properly interpret and print the data. Graphics will typically print with lower quality than if you were to send direct CPCL/ZPL code, and this can cause barcode scanning issues or poorly printed text on the media.

Communications Setup

  1. USB
Install a Zebra compatible driver before connecting the printer. Refer to USB Communication for more USB Details.
  1. Serial
The serial communication port on the printer is RS-232C, all parameters must match on the printer and host. Communication Ports.
  1. Wireless Network Setup
Wireless network setup requires you to first establish communication to a Windows PC via USB (recommended). You then have to use either our Zebra Setup Utilities or ZebraNet Bridge Enterprise software to configure the printer for your network. 
  1. Bluetooth Setup
Zebra Bluetooth printers are 'peripheral devices and the 'central' device must initiate the connection. The printers by default should be set to discoverable and without a PIN. If you have issues pairing with the device or wish to set a PIN or friendly name for the device, you can use our Zebra Setup Utilities. Refer to the article: Configure Bluetooth Setup Using the Zebra Setup Utility for more information.

When connecting to a Windows PC, you must first add (or discover) the Bluetooth device and then install a driver for the printer so you can specify the appropriate COM port to allow for communication. 


NOTE   If printing from Android devices, you would need a custom application. Use the Zebralink Multiplatform SDK for assistance.

We do offer a demo app from the PlayStore, "Zebra Utilities", but it is not a full functioning application and is not intended for use in production.  

Printing App or Program
Zebra printers are command interpretation engines using printer commands to define the printed images. The printer must receive the commands in the supported printer language such as ZPL, EPL, or Line Print. The printer will not respond if the label format received does not contain the required programming commands for label printing. To print, programming commands can be entered into a file and communicated to the printer, received as an output through a driver from an application, or created using one of many Zebra Label Software packages on the market.

Utilities and Drivers

Application or Utility Comment
Zebra Setup Utilities: Downloading ZSU and Configuring Printer Settings                                            This is a free Windows-based utility that features a printer setup wizard for a simple printer or network setup.  
Setup or Modifying a Zebra Printer Configuration Using ZebraNet Bridge                             This is an enterprise application for network printer management but is free to use for configuring a network or locally connected printer
ZPL Programmers Guide                                The ZPL Programming Guide contains useful commands to control the printer's settings as well as the print that it produces.
Configure or Modify Basic ZebraDesigner Driver Settings Information                                                                   If you are using the ZDesigner Driver there is a Printing Preferences section that allows you to configure your printer.


Helpful Information:

+ Product Codes

  • ZQ500 Series Mobile Printers
  • ZQ510 Mobile Printer
  • ZQ520 Mobile Printer