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NanTan Early 1990's laptops Guide (386/486/Pentium)

creepingnet

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Feb 25, 2005
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Sparks, NV
NanTan is a Taiwan based manufacturer of laptop computers and other digital devices. They are about the closest thing to a "White Box" laptop that ever existed as they sold these seemingly almost generic laptop computers under various models. This page is my attempt to document these devices as much as possible since there's almost no information about them on the internet, and I have owned 3-4 of these over the years myself. They still exist and currently go under the name of Clevo. I'll put a company profile once I have more information on them.

Just a note that I will be adding to this article as I find more information - so please excuse any blank spots. This is pretty huge to work on. The reason I chose to make one page for multiple systems is to help collectors/gamers/etc find out more about their particular unit, or for me to find out from owners of these machines what is inside them and add it. I will be adding more photos of each model as I find them online.

Nan Tan sold these laptops under many names. These include....

Altima
Duracom
Enroy
Eurocom
Highscreen
Liberty
Lion

Nan Tan
Prostar
Ranger
Sager
Ultinet
Vobis

A WORD ON POWER SUPPLIES

NanTan laptops are notorious for not having the power supplies provided with them. This is often a huge problem because the power supplies for most of the 1990-1993 models are 4-pin power supplies that seem to mystify most people. Thankfully our own retro-pc_user mentioned this.

PINOUT - Laptop uses a barrel DIN jack on the back, this is the pinout from the Laptop view.
12
34

Pins 1 & 2 (top two) deal with the charging circuit - I'm guessing a lower voltage trickle-charge setup designed to charge the battery.
Pins 3 & 4 (bottom two) deal with the regular power-circuitry - pin 3 is ground, pin 4 is the voltage input for powering the laptop.


NOTE: The writer here is seriously tempted to do a write up on the below when/if he ever decides to buy one of these again and test it out.

A Reddit Post on Providing power to these laptops by converting them to a regular Barrel Jack....this looks like a great idea for these so you can use a more general PSU. I would not doubt there could be a way to wire up the charging circuitry to work this way as well and update the battery technologies using a BMC and some new cells as a lot of these could have some freed up room in the battery cases themselves or the chassis in the case of earlier models.

https://www.reddit.com/r/techsupport...otebook_power/


NANTAN LAPTOP MODELS

The Model of NanTan built laptops from the late 80's/early 1990's are easily found by the sticker on the bottom which will contain a model# that says "FMA" at the beginning. Later models such as the 9200 may have a "K" or "P" after the "FMA". - Please note this is a work in progress and I'll be updating/editing as I find more information. Much of the information was pulled from my own machines, internet auctions, and the FCC directly.
PICTUREMODEL# + SPECSDETAILS
Click image for larger version  Name:	IDuwiBZ3IDmQPUGg6Be6A4nJ8zg2SypgQFm-b5at06nfr7TiXDcU19l-QYSG40djIBNJMEyrDnAo4RTfQr6B.jpg Views:	0 Size:	49.0 KB ID:	1212992FMA21001990 - 12MHz 80286 based laptop computer.
Click image for larger version  Name:	Vintage%20Nan%20Tan%20notebook%20computer%20FMA-2200_20171231121020.jpg Views:	0 Size:	198.4 KB ID:	1212993FMA22001991 - 16MHz 80386 SX Based Laptop computer.
FMA2500
FMA31401990 - 8/16 MHz Laptop Computer (8086 or 286?)
Click image for larger version  Name:	Retro-Laptop-FMA3300-386er-Notebook-80386DX-Lion-Electronics.jpg Views:	0 Size:	35.3 KB ID:	1212994FMA3300
FMA3300C (Color, DTSN)
1991 - 80386 DX-33 based Laptop Computer. Shares it's chassis design with the later (and more common) 3500 model.
Click image for larger version  Name:	generic-486dx-notebook-computer-1.21__79951.1490219465.jpg?c=2?imbypass=on.jpg Views:	0 Size:	92.3 KB ID:	1212995FMA3500
FMA3500SX (486SX)
FMA3500C (Color, DTSN)
The FMA3500 Model is pretty much identical to the 3300 models, however it came in more variants including a "Professional" model with a trackball where the 486 DX logo is on the right side above the keyboard, an SX model with a 486 SX-25 MHz, and the bog standard 486 DX-33 model. Just like the 3300, it uses a 12v NiCad battery pack that attaches to the back with thumbscrews, and no PCMCIA slots.

Unlike the 3300 though, later variants came with both DTSN and Active Matrix TFT LCD screens in 640x480p, and later versions also came in a dark gray color. Also the later units stopped using the 4-pin proprietary power supply and started using a regular barrel jack connection.

Just like the 3300 this model uses standard desktop components including 486 Socket 1 CPU, SIP memory, and 3.5" Floppy and IDE HDD.
FMA3530C1992 - 486 DX2-50 or 486 DX-25 based laptop computer, with later models coming with a 486 DX-33 and 486 DX-25 cpu (later budget model?).
Click image for larger version  Name:	s-l300.jpg Views:	0 Size:	12.5 KB ID:	1212996FMA36001994 - This laptop was based on the Intel Pentium 60/66 CPU.
FMA5500
FMA5500SX
FMA5500C
FMA5500CDX
1992 - 486 based notebook computer. The 5500 and 5500CDX came with 486 DX-33 cpu, the 5500 SX came with a 486 SX-25, and the 5500C came with a 486 DX2-50 CPU.
FMA61001991 - 8/16 MHz (286?) Laptop computer found in the FCC listings for NanTan.
FMA65001993 - 486 DX based laptop computer at 25 and 33MHz.
FMA65301992 - An i486 DX25 or DX33 based notebook computer featuring a 640x480 color LCD Screen (most likely DTSN).
FMA75001994 - i486 DX-33 & DX-25 based laptop computer.
Click image for larger version  Name:	42f7cdaa64e3cd24743637763c77b6af.jpg Views:	0 Size:	132.2 KB ID:	1212997FMA76001994 - Intel Pentium 60 CPU.
Click image for larger version  Name:	2WRiY4i7Oix7mPJx.jpg Views:	0 Size:	42.7 KB ID:	1212998FMA81001990 - 20MHz 386, extended expansion functions.
s-l225.jpgFMA82001993 - 486 DX-33 based Laptop computer. Appears to use a similar platform to the FMAx9200 series given placement of the CPU and RAM connections in the unit. It also appears this model had sound as an option.
6bSA5VUqMICkk8tYejEFB90YswQYE_-Q2ByWZtkA9KO6x8o6zPdTSFFQGQPeACupvPogfMbdd5l66gO4apaHDXvcQeJgzr...jpgFMA86D
FMA86T
1996 - The FMA86D was one of the earliest 800x600 capable offerings made by NanTan. It was of course, a Pentium based computer with the more traditional trackpad and a CD-ROM drive installed (hence the thicker structure). These were based on the Pentium 60 CPU though an FCC Identifier lists the CPU as being a Pentium 50 for the FMA86T (maybe a downclocked Pentium 60?).
s-l400.jpgFMAK9200
FMAP9200
1994 - The 9200 Series were a series of 486 based laptop computers with ESS688 Audio Drive audio, and either a Monochrome (FMAx9200M) or Color (FMAx9200D) DTSN LCD Screen. They also featured a 2 button track ball, 2 6-cell NiMH 9v Batteries located under each side of the palm wrest, a 1.44MB Floppy drive, and Proprietary memory upgrade socket located under the tool-less keyboard (2 latches on the upper corners). The AC Adapter used a standard barrel jack instead of the usual 4-pin connector used by most other NanTan built offerings on this page making them quite a nice retro-system with sound, color video, and an easy to replace PSU. These originally came with a 486 DX-33 CPU, but because of the socket 3 compatible CPU slot it's not uncommon to find these running a 486 DX2 or 486 DX4 level chip.
FMA94001994 - Intel 486 DX-25 or DX-33 CPU.
FMA94201994 - Intel 486 DX-25 or DX-33 CPU
FMA95001995 - Intel 486 DX at 25 or 33MHz.
 
Last edited:

i8088

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Jul 31, 2022
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Hello. Excuse me, do you know which voltages should be on the inner power supply of the laptop FMA3300? Because power supply in my laptop FMA3300 seems to be working incorrectly
 

ajacocks

VCF MA Committee Member
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Middletown, Maryland USA
Welcome to the forum @i8088 .

You might want to post pictures of the power connector, and all sides of the AC adapter. I see that a motherboard for one of these is currently on eBay. I don’t have any specific details on these, but they are often either 2 +12VDC pins and 2 grounds, or +5VDC and 12VDC, and 2 grounds, or higher voltage +VDC pin(s) regulated internally to +5 and +12VDC.

- Alex
 

i8088

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Thanks!
I made some photos of this inner power supply and added text. I'm searching for the voltages on the supply for the screen and on the connector to the motherboard
 

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i8088

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Jul 31, 2022
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Also I'm searching for inductance coils' parameters as they are looking suspicious in my power supply
 

ferrytale

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Aug 11, 2022
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Hello creepingnet,

do you have manuals to either the FMA3300 or FMA3500 Laptops? I need a pinout description of the "Expansion-Port" on the back of these Computers.
I own a Higscreen 386DX-33 which is a rebranded FMA3300. The old CMOS-Battery has destroyed a lot of traces on the board and the VGA-card is not getting recognized anymore.
Since i could find connections from almost all pins of the VGA-board-header to the expansion-connector it would describe their function, which could help finding the fault.

Thank you very much. :)

20220811_153415.jpg20220811_153615.jpg20220811_113950.jpg
 

thueringer

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Sep 29, 2022
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That's great. Perfect forum. Just enrolled here. Maybe it's possible to get this sorted out. I am also desparately searching for a schematic, but to no avail so far.

Maybe I am the one who bought that mainboard on Ebay recently :)

I also have one of these FMA3300 laptops (386DX40 by German brand Highscreen, purchased around 1994).

My battery also leaked and destroyed quite a few vias and traces. I did an extensive repair work which included unsoldering the resistance networks on the bottom side and wiring damaged vias directly, but at the end the laptop did not boot. With the second mainboard I did the same, but also without success yet.

@ferrytale: Maybe we can collaborate. Except the unlikely case that the three available mainboards have all the same defective connection, we could share information about connections. My idea would be to number all vias in the vicinity of the NiCd battery and to find all connections to and fro. Which is a terribly time-consuming job, of course, but winter is coming :) But doing this with two or even three mainboards should reveal the missing connections.

Question: How do you know that the VGA card is the culprit? Is there any diagnostics code that one can read out during boot?

BTW, my observation is that the LCD backlight does not start up, which means that it must be switched actively by the BIOS. It starts when I pull the PSU PCB off, and I found that one of the connectors turns the backlight off when I connect it to ground via 47R.

@i8088: As I believe my PSU is still OK, I have measured the voltages.

If you look from the upper side (where the LEDs look at you) and identify TP3, the pinout in the first row is (from left (TP3) to the right (4x green LEDs))

1: +5V
2: GND
3: GND
4: switches LED #2 on when pulled to ground
5: switches LED #4 on when pulled to ground
6: switches back light off when pulled to ground
7: 5V
8: -13.5V (rather weak, depends on current; maybe for RS232?)

In the row below it is:

1: switches LED #1 on when pulled to ground
2: 5V
3: GND
4: unknown, goes to TP3
5: switches LED #3 on when pulled to ground
6: unknown
7: +12V (maybe for RS232?)
8: GND
 

ferrytale

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@thueringer: thanks for your reply. I managed to repair my highscreen laptop so that it starts and boots, but sometimes i get error messages regarding extended memory at startup and the PS/2 mouse-port on the side is not working. Maybe there are still some cut traces.
I checked almost all connections from the graphics-header to the expansion connector and also to ICs on the mainboard, which i could find pinouts for. This way i found a few more etched traces under the expansion connector. If I find my notes again, i can post them here.
(OT: are you from germany/thüringen?)

Good Luck :)
 

thueringer

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Sep 29, 2022
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I checked almost all connections from the graphics-header to the expansion connector and also to ICs on the mainboard, which i could find pinouts for. This way i found a few more etched traces under the expansion connector.
How would you know which connections are supposed to exist in general? This is my main point of concern.
Is there a 1:1 feed-through between the expansion port and the VGA card header?
Did you dare to unsolder the expansion port as a whole, or did you just solder in wires for missing connections?

If I find my notes again, i can post them here.
I would be really grateful!

are you from germany/thüringen
Yes, I am :)
 
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