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

3lectr1c

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Just pulled the RTC battery! Caught just in the nick of time. No lasting damage I think.
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Here’s a full shot of the motherboard. It seems to have a weird combo DIP/PGA socket for a coprocessor which is pretty neat! I don’t see anything here or inside the system that indicates that it wouldn’t start if I got it powered. If anyone has the PSU pinout, or a PSU I could buy, please let me know!
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3lectr1c

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Alright, GREAT news. I found a new listing for an FMA8100 with the power supply on eBay. I messaged the seller and got clear photos back of the supply, and by sheer luck there was one on eBay for $20! That supply should be in my hands in not too long. Lucky!

For anyone in the future: PSU model number is KTX-8912A.
The eBay seller’s photos showed one actually branded by Nan Tan (remarkably). The one I ordered is badged as “Dataworld”. I assume that this was likely an off the shelf supply that shipped with multiple products, that or some company called dataworld sold FMA8100s. Either way, the model number and specs match, so I think it *should* work, fingers crossed.

I’ll report back once I’ve got the supply in and the darn thing back together. This thing is awful to work inside.
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JamieDoesStuff

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Ohhh, she's a beaut! Can't even think of how heavy it must be. Unfortunately, yours has about a dozen more pins for the AC adapter than mine does. So still waiting for that pinout, but I have found a 20V barrel power supply & connector I could use for it. Darned Nan Tans.

Oh BTW, how do you remove the CMOS batteries? Do you unsolder then first and then use the pliers or?
 

3lectr1c

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The metal's usually so corroded you can just carefully break them off, that's what I did with mine anyway. I can't imagine it would be all too healthy to heat up NiCad leakage.
 

JamieDoesStuff

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Or maybe it didn't: there was a cylindrical metal that might've been used in conjunction with solder? Gotta get the think up&running first to find out...
 

JamieDoesStuff

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Well, I'm quite certain I figured out the pinout: looking from the laptop side, upper left connector seems to be positive, the lower right negative. No idea what the upper right pin does. (sense, maybe? although it feels very flimsy, so it might not even connect to anything). I already have a 20V AC adapter and barrel jack from another (very dead) laptop, so hopefully replacing the weird connector with it won't be too much of a challenge. In other "news", check this out:


Go to page 110 for more early 90's laptop goodness! (just be careful: it's really addictive!)
 

3lectr1c

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I didn't think PC Mag was available at all on archive.org! That's great to see - I need some higher quality direct pdf downloads, which google books doesn't allow.
 

JamieDoesStuff

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Most PCMag uploads on archive appear to be ripped (?) from Books. It's in the source in the description, with an original link to the upload there. Dunno how they did it, but I sure do like it!
 

DeltaDon

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I have quite a few NOS 4-pin AC adapters that are for the AlphaTop Green 753 laptops. They have an output ratings of 19VDC and 34 watts. Don't know if they work with any of the FMA laptops.

I also have a few Pentium II Kapok laptops plus newer Clevo laptops starting with the 8500 series. I'm still sorting through my stored laptop parts left from my closed business, but I do have some NOS parts for laptops produced in the 2000's to maybe the 2010 point. But nothing for the older FMA era laptops.
 

creepingnet

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Most PCMag uploads on archive appear to be ripped (?) from Books. It's in the source in the description, with an original link to the upload there. Dunno how they did it, but I sure do like it!
PC Mag has been probably one of the most valuable sources, and is really the only reason I get on google books TBH. Glad to see someone's putting it on Archive.org through as I've been trying to de-google-fy my life for awhile now.

A LOT of the ripped NanTan and NEC Versa pictures on my website that are not mine were actually taken from Google Books using the Linux Mint screenshot utility, lol - sometimes with some color correction to make them look better than the book rip.

I also found NanTan's (well KAPOK actually) old website at Archive.org on the wayback machine and they had some of the last FMAmodels on there (9200, 9400) as well as some of the newer stuff. Goes all the way back to 1996. That's where I got all the BIOS ROM Downloads and whatnot from.
 

3lectr1c

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I found a video of what I believe is a UNIQ/PHD Laptop 286/12 running.

They identify it explicitly as a Nan Tan in the video, and I was wrong earlier when I speculated it was just an FMA8100 in a dark case, it's clearly not. It's got a gas plasma screen, and only a single dial for brightness, and is a 286 (which I did already know at least before).

It identifies as a "3120 Laptop Computer" in the BIOS.

This prompted me to go and find the PC Mag article on this laptop that was where the one photo was from. That issue is from March 13 of 1990. The FMA3140 was registered with FCC on March 19th (and that's the earliest laptop registration from NTC), meaning that this thing is a total mystery. There is no FMA3120 ID in the FCC registry for NTC, and there's no way it was reviewed before passing FCC, that usually happens months after. The 3140 has also already been ID'd by creepingnet as a different laptop.
So, what on earth is this thing?

PC Mag: https://books.google.com/books?id=AlnQ5OJS6XgC&pg=PT264&dq=uniq+phd&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjcmvDt1IODAxUNj4kEHUw8AK4Q6AF6BAgFEAI#v=onepage&q=uniq phd&f=false
 

JamieDoesStuff

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Well, good news: the AC connector for the FMA3300 is indeed standard! I first got this idea by looking at Electric's site ( of course :) ), and he has a WinBook with a rather similar connector, a Kycon KPPX-4P, which is the 4-pin variant. Now, mine is the 3-pin one: the KPPX-3P, and both are still in production and can be found at both Mouser and Digikey. I've just ordered a connector (they're a bit overpriced/overengeineered: there's a whole spring loaded mechanism, supposedly to prevent accidental removal of the plug? not quite sure how it works, but will figure it out once I assemble it - yes, you have to assemble it.) and hopefully it'll get here before New Year's, so I don't have to wait for 10 more days.
 

3lectr1c

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Glad it could help! Someone on the 68kmla forums ID’d that first connector for the WinBook in fact :)
I think we also ID’d the 3 pin in question on that same thread but I didn’t have info on that one up on my site. I’ll go look back again - I don’t remember it being from the same supplier but I’ll bet there’s a bunch of companies making them.
 

JamieDoesStuff

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And.... blistering success!

IMG_0927.JPG

I have to say, it was a bit of a struggle to get here, partly because the soldering required is a bit above my level, and mostly because assembling the connector was pure living hell and I hated every. single. part of it. Components just not fitting right, me promptly then using pliers, making everything worse, being in immense mental pain and wanting to throw the whole assembly out of the window. But in the end I managed, and it doesn't even look half bad!IMG_0932.JPG

Now I've got to fix the hinges. This is tricky, since the part that's broken is metal, and I really don't know what could possibly make a strong enough bond with it and the plastic housing long term. Some form of epoxy, perhaps? I'd love to hear your suggestions.

Oh and to @creepingnet specifically: how did you separate the floppy and IDE flex cables from the plastic connector on the motherboard?
 

JamieDoesStuff

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Unfortunately not available in my country. There's really only some Bison stuff, but I figure it's better to give it a shot than not. Welding is completely out of question, too, with how small of a part it is.
 

creepingnet

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I’d give JB Weld a go on the hinges. Glad it works!
I'd give Baking Soda & Superglue a go. I've had luck with that on my NEC Versas. The Exothermic reaction melts the plastic together. I've got a NEC Versa P/75 whose entire bottom half is held together with that stuff. My M/75 is not far behind.

@JamieDoesStuff - I don't think I even took that connector off the motherboard, I just cropped it out of the photos. I remember trying to remove it myself and giving up beforehand. THe one mod I did do involving the hard disk was I crimped on a regular 4-pin Molex as I plan to stuff a larger capacity HDD into the computer once I get the entire hard disk backed up (which is difficult because my FMA3500C has Stacker installed on it so no EZ USB transter).

for those that wonder about the Dell CMOS Battery I'm using - it's still holding a charge and looking good almost a year in, so seems it works well. Also, I have to wonder if there's a small trickle of a charge these things can take because I had a weird experience recently with a Five And below USB Keyboard at the jobsite - It runs on Alkline AAA Batteries and somehow, It got charged by the USB port (!!) enough. It was dead as a doornail when I brought it in. It was enough to setup a tracking board, so maybe the little coin cell can take a minor charge. Just a theory.
 

JamieDoesStuff

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The issue is that I need to bond metal with plastic, and I'm not sure that superglue would even be able to withhold itself with the stress it's being put through. It seems as if someone tried to pry the display open more than it was designed, and the 4-5mm wide and thick metal that was holding it to the screen housing gave in.

For transferring files to and fro old machines, I swear by the Zip drive. I found one for 5 euros at the flea market, and ordered disks for 1.5 euros each, and I now have 5 disks. Very cheap, the only downside is that you have to keep track of the health of the drive from time to time (Trouble in Paradise, Gibson Research Corp., freeware), but I figure if it hasn't failed yet, then it probably won't for a long time. Also you need a working floppy drive for loading the DOS drivers, obviously.
 
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