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Compaq Protable 1 won't boot

deadhooker

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Joined
Nov 23, 2012
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4
I just pulled a Compaq Portable 1 out of my dad's closet where it has been sitting for almost 25 years. It's in great condition with a pack of 5 inch floppies for various programs. I turned it on and can hear the computer turn on internally (fan), but nothing comes up on the screen. I tried putting floppies in the drive and still nothing happens. Can anybody help me in diagnosing the problem? Thank you.
 

Old Computers

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Aug 30, 2012
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510
Location
USA
There is a brightness control knob right next to the monitor. Make sure that it is turned up. There might be an error code displayed on the monitor.
 

deadhooker

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Nov 23, 2012
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4
I twisted it back and forth a few times and nothing changed on the screen. Does the computer boot up without a disk? I tried turning it on with and without disks but had the same results.
 

Old Computers

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Aug 30, 2012
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510
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USA
Do you have a hard disk, or is it just floppy drives? It won't boot without a disk or hard disk.
 

Ole Juul

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Aug 15, 2008
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Coalmont, BC, Canada
Like Old Computers says, it won't boot without a hard disk or bootable floppy. However, you should see something on the screen. Still, the problem may not be very serious. We'll get you sorted out here. Welcome to the forums. :)
 

deadhooker

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Nov 23, 2012
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4
Thank you for the welcome. There are 2 5 inch disk drives and the little light on each drive doesn't come on when I put a disk in and it doesn't make any sort of "reading noise." I have no idea if there is a hard drive, I guess I'll have to open it up and see. There is no beep, just the internal fan.
 

DOS lives on!!

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Mar 14, 2011
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There is not a hard drive in the computer unless one of the floppy drives is replaced with a hard drive. Just the internal fan sound indicates there is not one present. You'd hear the drive if there was one in there.
 

deadhooker

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Nov 23, 2012
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Ah so it will have to have the boot disk in to start up. When I put the disk in, is it label side facing the screen?
 

Old Computers

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Aug 30, 2012
Messages
510
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I believe so. Have the label face the drive close lever.

There is an internal control for brightness on the computer. You can open the top of the computer and you will see some labels that indicate which control adjusts what.
 

crundar

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May 18, 2013
Messages
7
Location
Houston
I have nearly the same issue as the original poster:

Compaq Portable I, with two 5.25 slots.

When I plug it in and boot, I hear the fan make noise, but see nothing on the screen and the LED between the expansion bays does nothing. Neither of the floppy drive lights are on, but that's not surprising as I don't have a bootable floppy (yet).

Still, I would expect to see something on the screen. What would be the next step to isolating the problem?

Thank you all,
 

crundar

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May 18, 2013
Messages
7
Location
Houston
I've got a multimeter, but not exactly sure how to be testing it.

I've gone ahead and opened the access hatch, and removed the board slots access plate and high voltage access plates, and can see the connections on the other side of the A/C power cable. The power cable plugs into a grey box, which I think is the power switch filter assembly, off of which come a number (4) wires. One is ground, and the others, all insulated, go to various points on what I think is the power supply assembly.

I'm assuming that involves unplugging the black female connectors, blue and pink, from the power supply assembly board? And Its supposed to be +12?
 

NikkoWolf

New Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2014
Messages
5
Sounds like a case of a bad card ,

Open the case , Does the LED light up when it is on , Does the CRT neck have an Orange glow (filament)
If not , pull out each expansion card and try to power on , Then put each card back in testing to see which card is the culprit . Then If it is in fact a card (floppy driver card ?) check the tantalum capacitors on them (the orange blobs) and check for Shorts (no resistance) with a multimeter.

If its shorted , then pull it out and replace it with a polarized capacitor .

Just got mine to work that had similar issues
 

PhilipA

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Joined
Aug 4, 2013
Messages
470
Location
Larose, LA, USA
Yup, the tantalum caps across the various +12V rails on mine either went off like firecrackers or just cracked, got hot and failed short. The power supply would go into protect at that point. The case fan on mine is powered off the 120VAC input, so is only an indication that the mains input fuse hasn't blown.

The red light on the board shows the presence of all the correct voltages (-12, +12, +5, -5). I'd say pull the back off and reach inside and disconnect the big gray power connector off the motherboard and power it up. See if the screen neck begins to glow orange. If it does the short is on the motherboard. If not, unhook the floppy drives and try again. If that causes it to come up, try reconnecting the motherboard. If that fails, pull all the expansion cards out and try again. I had a failed cap on the video card also that caused the thing not to power up.


Pop! by renault9gta, on Flickr

These are buried down on the back left of the board, difficult to see under the fan assembly. As you can see, they failed.

--Phil
 
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