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GRiDCASE 1550sx: Is it safe to turn it on?

csfont

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Joined
Sep 18, 2022
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8
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Chicagoland
I've been going through some of my stuff in storage after having forgotten about it for many years, and found a GRiDCASE 1550sx with power supplies, batteries, and even a carry bag with GRiD logo. While I know it was working when I last tried it, that was a very long time ago. I don't even remember what kind of screen it had (apparently there were a few choices).

While it's been in clean/dry/controlled-temperature storage all those years, I am wondering, after reading through lots of posts about hardware that's needed repair, if I, a not-so-good-with-hardware guy, can tell whether it's safe to turn this on and see how far it gets. I sniffed one of the power supplies, and all I could figure is that the original owner was probably a smoker (not a great sign); it didn't smell like it had exploded or anything. I probably should have smelled the one in the bay.

Should I try it with the PSU outside of the case, with the DC cable connected? Should I not try it at all until someone more qualified has inspected it? Is trying it a good or a bad risk? Sorry for newb questions (feel free to redirect me).

I wonder if Linux would work on it. :)
 

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twolazy

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May 22, 2011
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1,480
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Chicago, IL
Pull the battery before you try to fire it up. See if the connection is corroded... Nicads/Nimh batteries left unchecked can really rot a board. If it looks good, I would then then try to power it up. If its corroded you are stuck pulling the machine apart to figure out how bad the damage is.
 

csfont

New Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2022
Messages
8
Location
Chicagoland
Pull the battery before you try to fire it up. See if the connection is corroded... Nicads/Nimh batteries left unchecked can really rot a board. If it looks good, I would then then try to power it up. If its corroded you are stuck pulling the machine apart to figure out how bad the damage is.
Thanks for this great advice! While I had stored it without a battery in, I had (less wisely) left a power supply in. I smelled it and it was a little less smoky than the first one I smelled. Hopefully it's not too weird to be smelling the equipment...

I pulled out the power supply, and looked inside. It looked OK, normal wear and tear for the contacts. I plugged the power supply in when it was still outside the computer (just being careful), and used the DC cable from the power supply to the computer.

After toggling power, I heard it POST and try to boot floppy, but the screen stayed blank. It sounded semi-normal, though. After a Ctrl-Alt-Delete, a more full boot was heard, and the screen came alive with Windows 3.1!

I've rebooted a few times since, and the screen hasn't had any more issues. Does it take a little while to warm up? Looks like it's got 4 MiB RAM and 100 MB disk, MS-DOS 5.00 and Windows 3.1.

It works!

I guess that's a bit of good luck for the day.
 

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csfont

New Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2022
Messages
8
Location
Chicagoland
You're apparently in Chicagoland, maybe you should adopt this one!

I decided I should check the floppy drive, and found an old Data Lifeguard Diagnostics floppy that was readable in a USB floppy drive on XP. Unfortunately, it did not read on the GRiDCASE. I thought it might be nice to archive some of the hard drive content, especially any GRiD-specific files, if I could figure that out. It is a working installation, and I have no other media for it. So that's something to look into in future. Is this a standard floppy drive, or something special? I have a cable with this that's got two connectors on one end and only one on the other, maybe that was for an external floppy (which I don't have).

I saw there are some manuals available in this thread so that might help me.

After packing some of the pieces away in some bags so they would be easier to take out again, and putting them in the GRiD carrying bag (has a small rip, but now I know padded bags might just have foam sewn in), I was about to put this back on the shelf with a current note, but then decided to bring the whole thing to a scale. Everything in there (which also included a Microcom Microporte external modem) weighed around 23.6 lb (over 10 kilos)! Carrying this thing around must have been a workout! Prolonged portable use may result in unexpected extension of arm.
 
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