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

Lou2000

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Aug 1, 2023
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Do you happen to know with this if you always have to have all 4 SIPS in? Id like to test them bit I remember once before I couldn't seen to get it to boot with just 2.
 

Lou2000

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Aug 1, 2023
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Does anyone know what BF and BL are? My guess is Battery Low and Battery Full, am I correct?

The LED that's on I've worked out Green is Battery and AC is red.
 

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creepingnet

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Does anyone know what BF and BL are? My guess is Battery Low and Battery Full, am I correct?

The LED that's on I've worked out Green is Battery and AC is red.
BF = Battery Full, BL=Battery Low

And you're correct on AC is red, Battery is Green. IIRC the laptop only charges when the power is off. That was sort of a shortcoming of these NanTan laptop computers regarding charging.

Sheesh, I'm still hunting for my battery in storage. Will probably mess with that next weekend or the weekend after that because I'm still on-call this weekend, but I might not have time. I've got to replace the coil springs in my truck first.
 

njroadfan

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I see Sager on the list of brands these units were sold under. When did they switch to Clevo? Didn't realize they used another OEM back in the day.
 

creepingnet

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I see Sager on the list of brands these units were sold under. When did they switch to Clevo? Didn't realize they used another OEM back in the day.

Clevo changed around 2000 or so. I know it could not have been later than 2003, because that's when I bought my first NanTan and already a lot of websites had them listed as Clevo.

NanTan Computer was the primary company that started in 1983. Around 1993, they decided to use "Kapok" as their branding, but the units they sold still said - at least for a time - NanTan Computer on the bottom.

Sager was one of the most common brands their stuff was sold as. Another common one was BSi (Broadax Systems inc), which I own one of and surmise a lot of the FMA3500 units were sold as. It seems NanTan sold some generic direct, and others sold them under various OEM names. They were supposed to be like a "whitebox laptop" of sorts, because you could literally order a NanTan/Kapok laptop without any branding, and provide your own hard drive, CPU, and in the case of the FMA3500, memory. All the 486 era machines I've owned had desktop CPUs that could be swapped by the user (if they know how to navigate the case).
 

njroadfan

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Definitely by 2003. I remember the name coming up when the infamous "Liebermann Computers" website appeared with photoshopped models listed with fantasy specs.
 

creepingnet

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Okay, so I decided to post up pictures of the battery for my FMA3500C - it's a little different from the earlier 3300 and 3500s I think. A little more ventilation, so here they are. I also included the battery P/N in the photo because it seems you MIGHT still be able to buy these online somewhere....that said, I'm toying with upgrading and tossing a BMC between a LiIon pack and the BMC for the NiCAD. I got 30 minutes out of this battery when I first got it surprisingly (actually, I may try and jump it out of it's shorted state and bring it back).
 

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Lou2000

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Okay, so I decided to post up pictures of the battery for my FMA3500C - it's a little different from the earlier 3300 and 3500s I think. A little more ventilation, so here they are. I also included the battery P/N in the photo because it seems you MIGHT still be able to buy these online somewhere....that said, I'm toying with upgrading and tossing a BMC between a LiIon pack and the BMC for the NiCAD. I got 30 minutes out of this battery when I first got it surprisingly (actually, I may try and jump it out of it's shorted state and bring it back).
I have my battery working well just be replacing the C Cells.
 

Lou2000

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For over a month I have had fun with my NanTan working perfectly.

The last week it's giving Parity errors on POST and when it doesn't it freezes up within a few mins. There was some corrosion on the SIP pins. I've cleaned then up but only a slight improvement. There's corrosion inside the holes the SIPs slot into.

If I use switch cleaner , will it evaporate? How else could I clean inside the SIP holes on the motherboard?

Ta
 

Lou2000

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Aug 1, 2023
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Another question, does anyone know, (not hearsay or theoretical) do these laptops only run with 4 SIPs?
 

Lou2000

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Just a quick update.

Sprayed the 4x 30pin SIP holes with switch cleaner, it evaporated off. Reinserted the SIPs and all is running great again.
 

creepingnet

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Another question, does anyone know, (not hearsay or theoretical) do these laptops only run with 4 SIPs?
Yes.

30 pin SIPs and 30 pin SIMMS (which are electronically identical, it's just the connection type that differs) utilize an 8-bit Data Bus Width. most 386DX and all 486 systems (SX, DX and their clock double/triple variants) use a 32-bit memory address bus, so the SIP/SIMMs (8-bit 30 pin ones) have to be inserted 4x at a time for the system to POST and work properly. This applies for all systems of the 386/486 variety.

TLDR - the memory has to fill out\ the bus width of the memory bus in the computer. 30 pin SIMMS/SIPs are 8-bit, so it takes 4 of them to fill out all the data lines for the 32-bit address bus on 386DX/486 era computers.

Just for a little extra - The theoretical maximum capacity of a 30 pin SIMM/SIP was 16MB, meaning if the chipset and BIOS Code supported it you could get up to 64MB on 30-pin SIP/SIMM RAM, but the majority people could afford were 1MB or 2MB capcity, so 16MB in 30 pin is like a Unicorn or Bigfoot (not the monster truck). My FMA3500C has 4 2MB SIPs in it for 8192K (8MB), the FMA3500 I had around 2003-2005 had 4MB (4x 1MB SIP). There was a guy on here awhile back who also had an FMA3500 and was planning to put 32MB in his system (4x 8MB), wonder what happened with that one.
 

flaviosr

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Aug 27, 2016
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Hello. Some questions about the FMA2100 (the older?):
° can it startup WITHOUT the two batteries (I know that some laptops needs the battery mounted even if without charge);
° is this laptop with the barrel battery inside?
° the PSU has a "normal" 9V connector: do you know the polarity?
Before trying to make any damage I would like to have some "basics".
Thank you
 
Joined
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Novi Sad, Serbia
Most likely it has the barrel battery. I got a FMA3300 yesterday, without the AC adapter unfortunately, and I caught the battery just in time for it not to eat the board away.

Edit, here's some shots. It's actually a good thing I didn't find an adapter with it, as otherwise this definitely would have popped and destroyed the board for good.
 

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Joined
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Now that I'm here, I have to ask: does anyone have the pinout for the FMA3300? I'll update this post with a picture of the connector once I get it off the digicam, but basically it's a 3 prong thing.

Edit: here it is. (I apologize for the quality of the picture, I was too lazy inconvenienced to pick the thing up from the floor :) ) and yes I will remove that batt tomorrow
 

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Alright, now does anyone know how to remove the floppy/IDE connector from the motherboard? It looks like one of those ZIF connectors, except that it very much doesn't function like one. Still, seems like the ribbon cable should be removable, I just don't want to apply much force as to not break it.
 

3lectr1c

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Well. Just lucked myself into a free FMA8100. How impossible do you think finding a PSU is going to be?
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