FAQ's for HAPPY HCS-1201 Voyager Embroidery Machine
In this section, you'll find answers to questions on operation and troubleshooting for HAPPY's 12-needle Voyager 1-head embroidery machine.  Click on a link below to jump to a section.
back to FAQ main page needles thread cut problems
fitting designs in a hoop cap sewing troubleshooting
sewing techniques    
  List of Questions  UPDATED April 20,2010 - Windows 7 update
 
Click on the topic or directly on the question to navigate to the answer. 
Topic:  Learning the Basics
Q: Is there any place I can go to learn the basics of operating and maintaining my HAPPY 1-head machine?
Topic:  Sending designs to your machine
Q: I just bought a new computer.  Am I going to have any problems setting it up to communicate with my HAPPY machine? 
Q:

I just got a PC with Windows 7 (or Windows Vista) and now I can't get it to talk to my HAPPY machine. What do I do?

Q: I just tried to send a design over the USB cable but I got a "Machine is Busy" message.  What do I do? 
Topic:  Needles
Q: How often should I change needles? 
Q: How do I change a needle? 
Q: What types of needles should I be using with my HAPPY embroidery machine?  
Topic:  Problems Cutting Thread
Q: When my machine changes colors it comes unthreaded.  What can I do ?
Q: When the machine cuts thread I get an error 193 (Catcher error).  What do I do?
Topic:

Fitting Designs in a Hoop

Q: When I try to sew, I get an error 160 (x-limit)or 161(y-limit) before it sews.  I know my design is small enough to fit.  What to do?
Topic:

Cap Sewing

Q:

Is there a place I can go to learn more about cap sewing in general for my embroidery machine?

Q:

I cannot get my HCS 1201 Voyager machine to come out of the hat mode. What do I do?

Q: My cap frame won't snap snugly onto the cap driver.  Is there anything I can adjust to fix this?
Q:

My design isn't sewing straight on caps, but the design sews fine on test backing.  Parts of the design aren't lining up.  

Topic:

Sewing Techniques

Q:

How do I embroider on applique? 

Topic:

Troubleshooting

Sewing problems 

Q: My machine is stuck sewing at 300 stitches per minute.  How do I get it to sew faster? 
Q:

My machine isn't sewing any stitches - it tries to sew but the stitches aren't forming or holding to the fabric. 

Q: My machine is (sometimes) having trouble with the first few stitches after a thread cut or a color change, or when it starts out.  
Q:

My machine isn't sewing any stitches - it tries to sew but breaks thread immediately and then stops. 

Q:

My machine isn't sewing any stitches - it tries to sew but breaks a needle and stops.  

Q:

My machine isn't completing some stitches sometimes when it sews.  

Q:

I got a "bird's nest!" (bunch of thread wadded tightly above or below the needle plate).  What do I do ?  

Q:

I keep getting birds' nests. 

Thread breaks

Q:

I am new to operating embroidery machines and my machine seems to be breaking thread a lot.  What can I do? 

Q:

How do I turn on Stitch Sweeper?

Sewing Quality Problems

Q:

My design isn't sewing straight.  Parts of the design aren't lining up.  

Q:

Lettering/text quality is poor.  The text doesn't look straight, and the satin stitches aren't very smooth. 

Error codes

Q:

When I press start, I get an error message with a number on it.  What does it mean?

  Topic: LEARNING THE BASICS  back to top
Q: Is there any place I can go to learn the basics of operating and maintaining my HAPPY 1-head machine?
A: Go to the EDUCATION page to view/print our training guides.  The guides are organized into 5 chapters: Chapter 1 for basic introduction; Chapter 2 for control panel operation and sewing; Chapter 3 for Sewing checklist; Chapter 4 for maintenance, and Chapter 5 for cap sewing.  You can do this by clicking on the Education button at the top of this page.
  Topic: SENDING DESIGNS TO YOUR MACHINE  back to top
Q: I just bought a new computer.  Am I going to have any problems setting it up to communicate with my HAPPY machine? 
A: With the newest firmware updates, HAPPY HCS, HCD, and HCR machines can all transfer designs by direct USB connection with the following current Windows operating systems: Windows 98 (Second Edition), Windows 2000, Windows XP 32-bit and 64-bit, and Windows Vista 32-bit and 64-bit.   
Q:

I just got a PC with Windows 7 (or Windows Vista) and now I can't get it to talk to my HAPPY machine. What do I do?

A:

To connect your PC to a HAPPY machine, you're probably trying to use the HAPPYLINK utility to set up and/or send designs.  There's a detailed writeup on how to make your Happy machine talk to your Windows 7 (or Vista 64) PC.  It's found on the HAPPYLINK Support Page. Look for the PDF file there.    

Q: I just tried to send a design over the USB cable but I got a "Machine is Busy" message.  What do I do? 
1.  Be sure that your embroidery machine is turned on and at the main/drive screen when you attempt to send a design through HAPPYLINK.  If not, "Machine is Busy" error will be displayed.
2.  Check your USB connection - make sure the cable is connected directly from the embroidery machine to the PC, and not through a hub or extension.   Also ensure that the cable isn't unusually long - 16 feet max, but 9 feet or shorter for best connection.  Failing this, try a different USB port on your PC.
  Topic: NEEDLES  back to top
Q: How often should I change needles? 
A: Change needles regularly especially if you're operating your machine regularly.  You can economize a little, if you are the sole operator of your machine, and you know which needles you've been using the most.  It can be more complicated if the machine is shared by several operators.  Some large embroidery factories that run high volume change all needles weekly; while they might be throwing out a lot of good needles, the time saved by eliminating a source of potential thread breaks and other problems is worth the added cost of going through more needles.
Q: How do I change a needle? 
A: Use a flat-head screwdriver.  Loosen the set screw just slightly enough so that you can remove the needle by tugging it out by hand, but not so loose that the needle falls out on its own.  That way, when the replacement needle is inserted, it is held in place by the set screw while you adjust it into position.  Insert the needle fully into the holder assembly, and orient the eye so that it faces front, and the cut-out "scarf" faces towards the rear of the machine - view this needle diagram for reference. When in position, re-tighten the set screw.
Q: What types of needles does my HAPPY machine use? 
A: What your machine comes with: Your HAPPY machine uses embroidery sewing needles of type DB-K5, designed specifically for commercial & industrial embroidery machines.  The eye is enlarged slightly in comparison to standard apparel sewing needles to accommodate the characteristics of embroidery thread, which has more fluff and slightly less tensile strength.  The DB-K5 needles installed on your HAPPY machine (and included in the replacement kit in the included toolkit) are sized 75/11.  (The "75" is the European size designation, which = 0.75mm shaft width, and the "11" is the American size designation for the same size).  This size is matched to the standard 40-weight thread used in embroidery. The tip type is called a ball point which is a good all-around needle and is ideal for knit fabrics.
Q: Are there any other types of needles that I should be using? 
There are many, many types of optional needle types that your HAPPY machine can use, each with different characteristics suited for different jobs.  Here are some popular alternative DB-K5 type needles that are used:
  - 75/11 wedge tipped: good for sewing on light leather and vinyl
  - 80/12 sharp tipped: slightly larger shank .80mm and larger eye. For projects requiring stronger, more break-resistant needles     
  - 65/9 sharp tipped: for use with finer 60-weight thread for unusually fine embroidery detail
For more information, contact Texmac's parts & accessories department or your embroidery machine dealer.
 
Q: Why do the HAPPY machine needles not have a flat spot on the shank to make them easier to orient in the right direction?  My home embroidery machine uses these types of needles and it makes changing needles a lot easier.
A: Commercial embroidery machine needles are subject to more physical stress than home sewing machine needles.  Commercial embroidery machines like the HAPPY typically run at higher peak speeds, for much longer periods of time, and are often used to sew on a wide variety of heavy, tough-to-sew items, sweat shirts, industrial work wear, golf bags and more. Needles with a ground flat side, while convenient for installation, are not as strong (resistant to breaking and bending) as a fully-round needle of the same size. 
  Topic: PROBLEMS CUTTING THREAD  back to top
Q: Every time my changes colors I have to rethread the needle.  It seems like after the thread is cut, the tail isn't long enough or isn't held in place by the thread holder
A: Follow these steps:
1. Check upper tension - unusually tight upper tension is the most frequent cause. Then, check bobbin tension.
2. Check the condition of the velcro strip in the thread holder assembly. This strip wears out over time and heavy use.
3. Temporary work-around, go to "OPTION", select Machine options, find the setting for "Length of Thread Cut" and change it to "long."
  Topic: FITTING DESIGNS IN A HOOP  back to top
Q: When I try to sew a design, I get an error 160 (x-limit)or 161(y-limit) before it sews.  I thought for sure my design would fit inside the hoop.  How do I fix this?
A: Follow these steps:
1. Use the Frame screen.
2. Check the condition of the velcro strip in the thread holder assembly. This strip wears out over time and heavy use.
3. Temporary work-around, go to "OPTION", select Machine options, find the setting for "Length of Thread Cut" and change it to "long."
  Topic: CAP SEWING  back to top
Q: Is there any illustrated guide on the basics of running caps on my embroidery machine?
A: We've created an illustrated guide with photos for your machine - it's linked on the Education page along with other common learning basics.  However, here's a direct link to the PDF file so you can check it out directly here: LINK to cap sewing with Voyager
Q: I cannot get my HCS 1201 to come out of the hat mode. The hat symbol is still showing when I turn the machine on, even after I remove the cap driver and have the normal tubular arm re-installed.  What do I do?
A: Find the switch that is normally tripped when the cap driver is installed.  Sometimes this gets stuck:
1. Look for a light grey "finger" of metal on the back of the cap driver, about an inch long, that extends rear-wards when installed.
2. Then, find the switch on the machine that the metal "finger" would press with the driver installed -  it's a 1-inch, black metal plunger.
3. Press the plunger in and out -
you'll see that, when pressed, that it pushes a flat blade of metal up against the the x-carriage.
4. Make sure the plunger can extend forward, and blade of metal (the micro-switch) can extend downwards with the cap driver removed.
Q: My cap frame won't snap snugly onto the cap driver.  Is there anything I can adjust to fix this?
A: Go to this page: Voyager HelpClick on the link to jump to the section on cap sewing help - there's an illustrated guide there on how to adjust the pegs for the clamping system on the cap driver.
  Topic: SEWING TECHNIQUES  back to top
Q: How do I sew applique with my machine?
A: Here's the general process:
1. The machine starts sewing the design with a marking stitch on the fabric let you align the shape onto the shirt, then stop and wait for you to do the next step.
2. Place the pre-cut shape over the mark stitch, then iron/tack it in place temporarily (some applique shapes come with heat-sensitive adhesive backing - take a medium to warm iron to the shape (I usually stick a piece of cutaway backing on top of the material to protect from the direct heat) until the adhesive activates.
3. Press START to continue sewing - the machine will pick up immediately with a tack-down stitch and/or a finishing satin stitches and any additional decorative embroidery as well. 

Here's how to make it work:
1. In digitizing: digitize to match the size and shape of the applique shape, first digitizing a running stitch for the step(1) above. Make sure it's in a different color than the rest of the stitching.
2. Digitize the tack-down stitch- this can be a very light density satin stitch at density setting of 15 or 10 in stitch & sew.
3. Digitize the finishing satin stitch if you choose to add this on top of the tackdown stitch. This is optional, giving an additional finished edge - but it also adds stitch count and sew time.
4. Transfer the file to the embroidery machine.
5. In the needle/color setup screen, press the SET key or the FUNC key after setting the color for the mark stitch - you'll see an asterisk appear next to that color block. This is the instruction to the machine to pause the sewout after sewing this color (you can actually set the mark stitch to the same color as the rest, but the color change you digitized in to the design is what lets you have it as a separate block in the Needle screen to issue this pause command). 
6. As for the applique shape itself, you can buy them pre-cut from companies like stahls.com or dalcoathletic.com, and you can even order them with the digitized file to match. Or you can cut your own shapes (get twill at a fabric store) or any other creative shape with creative patterns. After cutting the shape out, stick it on a scanner, bring it in to Stitch & Sew at the EXACT size that it is in real life to digitize the file according to steps 1-3 in this list. 

There are other ways to do applique not discussed here, but these are 2 common methods.  Another method is to sew the material onto the garment with an outline stitch, stop the machine after the tack-down stitch - just digitize the file as above.  But when sewing, hoop the material together with the garment.  After the tack-down stitch sews the material and garment together, the machine will stop.  You can then cut the shape around the tack down stitches, then press START to continue and allow it to finished.

  Topic: TROUBLESHOOTING  back to top
Subtopic: Sewing problems
Q: My machine is stuck sewing at 300 stitches per minute.  How do I get it to sew faster? 
A: You can adjust maximum sewing speed using the (+) and (-) controls on the control panel.  Try pressing/holding these buttons down while the machine is sewing.
A: If the speed controls aren't working, re-set the sewing speed control on your machine:  
1. In the main menu, navigate to the 2nd page of icons and choose "Other".
2. Select "System" from the menu that appears and press SET.  The firmware will re-set itself.
3. Return to the "Other" menu, choose "Speed" and press SET.  After a warning message, the machine will slowly start turning (without dropping the needle), accelerating to full speed, then stop.  When finished, try 
Q:

My machine isn't sewing any stitches - it tries to sew but the stitches aren't forming or holding to the fabric. 

A: Is the needle threaded?  Is the bobbin inserted and threaded?  When checking the bobbin case:
   - Is it inserted fully ?
   - Is there enough bobbin thread left on the spool to continue sewing?
   - is it properly threaded?  (see Education page Chapter 2 for your machine) 
A: Check hook timing and needle depth (see Education page Chapter 4 for your machine) 
Q: My machine is (sometimes) having trouble with the first few stitches after a thread cut or a color change, or when it starts out.  
A: Check to make sure that the thread is properly docked either in the thread holder assembly behind the needles or in the thread holder spring in front.  
A: Check the thread keeper - an inverted L-shaped finger of metal that normally hangs about an inch in front of the bobbin case across its top.  When the machine begins sewing or picks up after a color change or a trim, you'll notice that the keeper snaps momentarily against the face of the bobbin case.  In the closed position, the 2 small prongs of the keeper should just almost  face of the bobbin itself.  With the machine stopped, try pressing the keeper to the closed position to see if it's close enough.  If not, remove the lower cover of the sewing arm, loosen the set screws of the keeper solenoid and adjust it backwards enough and re-tighten until the keeper clearance is correct.
Q:

My machine isn't sewing any stitches - it tries to sew but indicates a thread break immediately and then stops. 

A: In this order, check these possible causes for this problem:

1. 

Is the bobbin out?
2. Is the needle oriented correctly (so that the eye is front-back and the scarf is facing the rear of the machine?) 
3. Is the thread turning the black rubber thread break sensor wheel as the machine sews?  If the wheel doesn't turn, the machine thinks the thread is broken.
4. If the thread is actually broken, check to make sure that the needle isn't touching the edges of the needle plate or presser foot as it comes down.
5. Check needle depth and hook timing.
Q:

My machine isn't sewing any stitches - it tries to sew but breaks a needle and stops.  

A: In this order, check these possible causes for this problem:

1. 

Check the height of the sewing surface - the under surface of the garment should be low enough to touch the surface of the needle plate.  Make sure the sewing arm is correctly installed and the hoop is correctly oriented so that this is the case.
2. Check to make sure the needle isn't contacting the rotary hook or any other part of the machine as it comes down.  One way to do this is to press and hold START to keep the machine at low speed as you watch the needle come down.  Have the bobbin case door open and ensure that the rotary hook is positioned correctly.  Alternately, lower the presser foot with the machine stopped, then press the needle down.   
Q:

My machine isn't completing some stitches sometimes when it sews.  

A: In this order, check these possible causes for this problem:

1. 

Check the height of the sewing surface - the under surface of the garment should be low enough to touch the surface of the needle plate.  Make sure the sewing arm is correctly installed and the hoop is correctly oriented so that this is the case.
2. Check the timing of the rotary hook - it might be slightly off.  Follow these steps:
 - Remove the needle plate and bobbin case.
 - Go to the back of the machine and advance the timing dial to 25 degrees using a 3mm hex wrench
 - Lower the presser foot.
 - Press the needle down until it locks into place
 - Re-check that the timing wheel is exactly at 25 degrees
 - Check the position and clearance of the rotary hook according to the 2 photos here:  Voyager hook timing  
Q:

I got a "bird's nest!" (bunch of thread wadded tightly above or below the needle plate).  What do I do ?  

A:

In this order, follow these steps:

1.

Free the garment by gently cutting away any thread connecting the under-surface of the garment and the top of the needle plate. 
2. Remove the hoop with the garment; if the garment isn't damaged, it may be left in the hoop to resume sewing after the problem is fixed. 
3. Open the bobbin case door and remove the bobbin case.
4.  Remove the needle plate, cutting away any further thread necessary to remove it
5. Cut away and clean out all visible thread in the rotary hook and needle plate area.  
6. Replace needle plate, check bobbin case and replace bobbin case. 
Q:

I keep getting birds' nests. 

A: Look for these possible causes:

1.

Bobbin case not inserted. 

2.

Bobbin tension too tight or upper tension extremely loose.  Adjust upper and lower tension correctly. 
3. Garment and/or hoop coming loose from the sewing arm (and remaining in the same spot) as the machine continues to sew.  fix: Be sure that the garment is firmly hooped.  Be sure that round holes on the ends of the hoop brackets snap firmly over the small metal "pins" on the sewing arm of the machine to hold it in place.
4. Digitizing: If the bird-nesting seems to occur in the same place in the design, watch carefully - sometimes a design may have errors in which too many stitches are stacked in the same place.  Fix this in editing software or request your digitizer to fix.

Subtopic: Thread breaks

Q:

I am new to operating embroidery machines and my machine seems to be breaking thread a lot.  What can I do? 

A: 1. Make sure your machine is properly set up according to the operator's manual and what you learned in training class.  Key aspects of setup that help eliminate thread breaks are:
  - Proper threading: ensure that all threads are properly routed at all points from thread cone to needle. 

  - Proper tension: ensure that both bobbin and upper (colored) thread tension are properly adjusted.
2. Eliminate thread breaks by eliminating the potential causes, one by one.  You can follow this guide as an example:

Eliminating thread breaks caused by bad designs:  Make sure the Stitch Sweeper is turned on and set to 4 (0.4mm) which deletes those tiny stitches that can cause either false or real thread breaks.  Watch the design carefully as it sews to see if the machine tends to break thread at the same given points in a design - a sure sign that the problem is in the digitized file and not the machine.  

Determining if thread breaks are caused by thread:  If you haven't done so already,  sure you're using relatively new, high-quality 40-weight embroidery thread, such as RAPOS polyester.  Run that thread through a given section instead of what you were running previously.  Or, simply switch that section to a different thread color. On sections that use black thread, be sure to use RAPOS black thread or equivalent brand that guarantees that the black isn't re-dyed (which weakens that thread).  Poorly-cared-for or old thread will break very easily when run at the higher speeds and tensions of production embroidery.  Thread does have a shelf life that is determined by how much it is physically handled/abused/left to exposure to the sun and dust.  I never touch the side of thread cones with my hands unless I absolutely have to.

Clean the rotary hook area.  Remove the needle plate and bobbin case and flush it out with compressed air and, if you have it - hookwash to dissolve built up oil, bits of thread and (heaven forbid) bits of broken needle that may be causing thread breaks

Check for burred metal surfaces that may be fraying the thread.  Metallic burs occur during needle breaks, hoop strikes and other events where the sewing surfaces are physically struck or gouged one another or by a foreign object (like bits of the broken-off tip of a needle).  You can "sand" down these burrs with crocus cord / abrasive cord  like you would use dental floss.  Here's how to troubleshoot:

If ALL of threads are breaking on all needles, check for and clean up burrs in areas that ALL thread comes in contact with, such as the presser foot, needle plate and rotary hook. Check carefully along the tip of the rotary hook especially.

If thread is breaking on only certain needles, check for and clean up possible burrs on areas unique to that needle - i.e. the needle and area of the thread holder assembly around that needle.  Change the needle.
Q:

How do I turn on Stitch Sweeper?

A: Follow these steps:
1. From the main/drive screen, press MENU and navigate to Setting.
2. Choose the machine icon (not the flower icon) and press SET.
3. Scroll through the list to find stitch sweeper and change the value to "ON" or "YES". 

Sewing Quality Problems

Q:

My design isn't sewing straight.  Parts of the design aren't lining up.  

A:

In this order, check these possible causes for this problem:

1.

Ensure that the hoop is properly secured on the machine, and that the garment is properly secured in the hoop.
2. Ensure that the correct type of stabilizer/backing is being used for the type of garment or fabric that is being sewn on.
3. Was the design digitized specifically for the type of fabric or garment that it is being sewn on?  Note that a design that may sew well on one type of fabric or garment may sew completely differently, even poorly, on a different type of garment or fabric.  
Q:

Lettering/text quality is poor.  The text doesn't look straight and/or the satin stitches aren't very smooth. 

A:

In this order, check these possible causes for this problem:

1.

Ensure that bobbin and upper thread tension is properly adjusted.  Follow the procedure in chapters 2 and 3 of the education page for your particular machine to verify that tension is properly adjusted.
2. Be sure that your design was properly digitized for the type of fabric that you are using.  If the  machine is correctly adjusted and tensioned, the majority of text quality problems can be solved through proper digitizing technique matched especially for the type of garment that is being sewn.  

Error codes

Q:

When I press start, I get an error message with a number on it.  What does it mean?

A:

Go to the troubleshooting page for error codes found here on the HCS support page: error code list for Voyager 

 

 

 

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