Trying to find drivers for a Zenith Data Systems laptop

Discussion about old PC hardware.

Trying to find drivers for a Zenith Data Systems laptop

Postby SammyFox » 2018-1-15 @ 07:22

Hi there! I have a Z-Noteflex laptop with a 50mhz 486dx2 cpu and an active matrix 640x480 screen, model ntb005.

Basically my problem is that I can't find drivers for the damn thing anywhere. I tried the internet archive but zenith's support site isn't really archived to the point of usability (as in nothing works) and the only thing google gave me was less than reputable websites peddling their suspicious driver updater programs (which isn't useful at all for ms-dos and windows 3.11 anyway)

And as usual driverguide is anything but useful.

So what else can I do? Isn't there a site for old drivers?
SammyFox
Newbie
 
Posts: 33
Joined: 2013-10-19 @ 00:44

Re: Trying to find drivers for a Zenith Data Systems laptop

Postby dionb » 2018-1-15 @ 10:12

Which drivers are you looking for?

You're probably best off looking for the chips in the laptop for audio, video and anything else you need and then looking at the status for the individual chips.
User avatar
dionb
Oldbie
 
Posts: 647
Joined: 2017-12-23 @ 15:35
Location: Amsterdam

Re: Trying to find drivers for a Zenith Data Systems laptop

Postby SammyFox » 2018-1-16 @ 02:16

dionb wrote:Which drivers are you looking for?

You're probably best off looking for the chips in the laptop for audio, video and anything else you need and then looking at the status for the individual chips.


Well, the dos sound drivers and the windows 3.x drivers for sound, video and whatever else.

I'm really wary of going into the thing's innards.
SammyFox
Newbie
 
Posts: 33
Joined: 2013-10-19 @ 00:44

Re: Trying to find drivers for a Zenith Data Systems laptop

Postby cyclone3d » 2018-1-16 @ 03:17

You might be able to find documentation and maybe some other stuff here. Very horrible folder names and I don't have the time to search through everything.

You will want to use something like Filezilla ftp client to look through here and/or download everything and then look through it.

ftp://ftp.packardbell.com/pub/itemnr_old/

I'm guessing that packard bell bought out Zenith Data Systems at some point. Yep... in 1996 they merged with Packard Bell and NEC.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zenith_Data_Systems
User avatar
cyclone3d
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1706
Joined: 2015-4-08 @ 06:06
Location: Huntsville, AL USA

Re: Trying to find drivers for a Zenith Data Systems laptop

Postby dionb » 2018-1-16 @ 10:05

SammyFox wrote:Well, the dos sound drivers and the windows 3.x drivers for sound, video and whatever else.

I'm really wary of going into the thing's innards.

Unless the documentation is excellent, you probably can't be sure of what you have without physically checking it. And my experience with Packard Bell / ZDS documentation (I worked for PB around 2000-2001) is such that I wouldn't describe it as "excellent", to put it mildly. Be prepared for completely different compontents between even minor revision changes. I'll have a look in my old documents to see if I can find anything, but I doubt it, ZDS wasn't sold through the same UK/IE channels I was supporting, and pretty much all ZDS-branded stuff was EOL before I started work there, so I never dug deep back then the way I did for PB's own stuff.

If you really don't want to open up the device, the next best thing is to see if you can get a minimal Linux system to boot on it. Linux has some pretty effective hardware detection so might give you some info - but if the chips in question are non-PnP (and with 486-era stuff that's quite probable) they won't be found either.
cyclone3d wrote:You might be able to find documentation and maybe some other stuff here. Very horrible folder names and I don't have the time to search through everything.

You will want to use something like Filezilla ftp client to look through here and/or download everything and then look through it.

ftp://ftp.packardbell.com/pub/itemnr_old/

That brings back memories :cool:

The way to navigate this is to find the system part number, which may (hopefully) be found on a sticker on the laptop, something like "ZDS0010100", then navigate to the directory ZDSDOCS0010100 and click on the htm file. WIth a bit of luck you'll get the product maintenance release bulletin listing the components and maybe chipsets. The info might even be correct ;) - unfortunately the ZDS stuff in that directory seems quite a bit newer than your system, only that ZDS0010100 is 486-era and doesn't seem to match your description.
User avatar
dionb
Oldbie
 
Posts: 647
Joined: 2017-12-23 @ 15:35
Location: Amsterdam

Re: Trying to find drivers for a Zenith Data Systems laptop

Postby SammyFox » 2018-1-17 @ 05:24

cyclone3d wrote:You might be able to find documentation and maybe some other stuff here. Very horrible folder names and I don't have the time to search through everything.

You will want to use something like Filezilla ftp client to look through here and/or download everything and then look through it.

ftp://ftp.packardbell.com/pub/itemnr_old/

I'm guessing that packard bell bought out Zenith Data Systems at some point. Yep... in 1996 they merged with Packard Bell and NEC.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zenith_Data_Systems

Woah, thanks! I'll definitely take a look through it.
SammyFox
Newbie
 
Posts: 33
Joined: 2013-10-19 @ 00:44

Re: Trying to find drivers for a Zenith Data Systems laptop

Postby idspispopd » 2018-1-18 @ 10:04

For audio http://www.vcfed.org/forum/showthread.p ... 0-floppies sounds useful. No actual download link, though, but the Windows Sound system reference sounds good.

http://www.noet.at/sss/zds/notebooks/43.htm
Some kind of CRYSTAL chip which should narrow it down. Maybe there is some detection utility?
I suppose the notebook predates PnP so that should reduce the list. You could still try a PnP utility to see if can detect anything if the BIOS doesn't support PnP.
Video chip is supposed to be WD90C24 on VLB with 1MB memory. Shouldn't be too difficult to get a driver for that.
idspispopd
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1210
Joined: 2012-2-15 @ 21:08
Location: Hamburg / Germany

Re: Trying to find drivers for a Zenith Data Systems laptop

Postby SammyFox » 2018-1-22 @ 09:48

Ok so I went through packard bell's ftp thing, downloaded everything and still found nothing useful.

What's a good floppy based linux distro that'll let me find out what's this thing's innards?
SammyFox
Newbie
 
Posts: 33
Joined: 2013-10-19 @ 00:44

Re: Trying to find drivers for a Zenith Data Systems laptop

Postby dionb » 2018-1-22 @ 16:13

Floppy-based Linux? Not very likely - a generic modern LInux kernel alone is over 4MB in size. You can strip it down significantly by chopping out unneeded driver support, but if you want to identify hardware, you need all those modules available, so that's not an option. And then you have the userland...

Far better idea: remove the hard drive from the system, connect to other system and install Linux on that. Then plop back in the laptop and see what happens. So long as you take a distro that works with i486 (a lot of distros have moved to compiling for i686 or even amd64, so won't boot on a 486-based system) it should be able to boot and detect hardware in the laptop. PnP hardware that is... non-PnP can't be detected, you just need to know it's there and which addresses/IRQs/DMAs it listens to.
User avatar
dionb
Oldbie
 
Posts: 647
Joined: 2017-12-23 @ 15:35
Location: Amsterdam

Re: Trying to find drivers for a Zenith Data Systems laptop

Postby SammyFox » 2018-1-22 @ 21:26

In the end I remembered "hey, this IS ms-dos" and went and found utilities that would tell me what's on my lappy. I couldn't find what sound card it uses but what those utilities told me actually surprised me;

The sticker on the underside mentioned a 50mhz 486dx2 cpu but it's in fact a 486dx4 75mhz! That's pretty sweet. I won't get to play quake with those specs but y'know, that's still better than a dx2!

Also the video chip is a Paradise svga, and quite honestly with all that together, it's actually closer to my first computer's specs (66mhz dx2 and 21mb of ram vs 75mhz and 16mb) which I'm fine with! I at least have a shot at upgrading the ram since it uses standardized 72-pin sodimm ram and if I recall I could upgrade it to 36mb of ram.

Now all I need is to find out what the damned sound chip is.
SammyFox
Newbie
 
Posts: 33
Joined: 2013-10-19 @ 00:44

Re: Trying to find drivers for a Zenith Data Systems laptop

Postby dionb » 2018-1-22 @ 22:46

If you were able to use tools to probe around that means you've probably done a PnP scan. If that didn't pick up the sound, it's most likely a non-PnP ISA-based chip. Given ZDS was part of Packard Bell in those days and Packard Bell tended to use Aztech sound chips, there's a good chance this has one too, maybe an AZT2316 or so. Which is good news - they are pretty faithful hardware Soundblaster clones. So one easy test would be to just assume there is something at A220 I5 D1 and try to use it as if it was an SB. Failing that, start with a general midi test, which only needs the address. Try 220 and then all the other likely candidates. Once you have the address you can try to guess IRQ and DMA.
User avatar
dionb
Oldbie
 
Posts: 647
Joined: 2017-12-23 @ 15:35
Location: Amsterdam

Re: Trying to find drivers for a Zenith Data Systems laptop

Postby SammyFox » 2018-1-22 @ 23:18

dionb wrote:If you were able to use tools to probe around that means you've probably done a PnP scan. If that didn't pick up the sound, it's most likely a non-PnP ISA-based chip. Given ZDS was part of Packard Bell in those days and Packard Bell tended to use Aztech sound chips, there's a good chance this has one too, maybe an AZT2316 or so. Which is good news - they are pretty faithful hardware Soundblaster clones. So one easy test would be to just assume there is something at A220 I5 D1 and try to use it as if it was an SB. Failing that, start with a general midi test, which only needs the address. Try 220 and then all the other likely candidates. Once you have the address you can try to guess IRQ and DMA.


I've been trying to find info via google book but the only thing computer magazines mention when talking about the z-noteflex is "16-bit stereo sound". But once I get home tonight I'll try a game or something to see if I can find what it's using.
SammyFox
Newbie
 
Posts: 33
Joined: 2013-10-19 @ 00:44

Re: Trying to find drivers for a Zenith Data Systems laptop

Postby xjas » 2018-1-23 @ 01:01

Are you sure it even has a sound chip? A lot of 486 laptops just didn't.
selected (probably) unfinished build threads { In a Lunchbox / Has It All / Hot Damn! / IT IS THE NINETIES / 20 Years of Junk }
User avatar
xjas
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1346
Joined: 2015-9-07 @ 02:29

Re: Trying to find drivers for a Zenith Data Systems laptop

Postby SammyFox » 2018-1-23 @ 03:30

xjas wrote:Are you sure it even has a sound chip? A lot of 486 laptops just didn't.


It's got a speaker, a built-in microphone as well as a headphones jack and a mic jack on the side.

You can see all four in that ancient photo Image
SammyFox
Newbie
 
Posts: 33
Joined: 2013-10-19 @ 00:44

Re: Trying to find drivers for a Zenith Data Systems laptop

Postby bellarmine » 2018-1-25 @ 08:55

Hi there, boy does this bring back memories! About 10 years ago a friend gave me a one of these, a Zenith Z-NoteFlex just like yours with 486 DX2-50, DTSN screen (yours is TFT nice!), 4MB RAM and a (get ready) 50MB Connor hard drive (wooo!). I still have it, works great, and I did a bunch of upgrades to it. You can put as much as a 2.1GB hard drive right into it without any software overlay, pretty good LBA BIOS. I bought a couple RAM modules to put 24MB RAM into the thing, and currently run Win 98SE with great sound and video. Let me know if you'd like a few tips on anything in particular, and I'll dig it up and see what I can recall....;^)
When working on a job, you have 3 criteria: Fast, Good, and Cheap (i.e., Quick, High Quality, and Low Cost). Only 2 out of 3 are practical.
User avatar
bellarmine
Newbie
 
Posts: 25
Joined: 2016-2-23 @ 06:52
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: Trying to find drivers for a Zenith Data Systems laptop

Postby SammyFox » 2018-1-25 @ 11:13

bellarmine wrote:Hi there, boy does this bring back memories! About 10 years ago a friend gave me a one of these, a Zenith Z-NoteFlex just like yours with 486 DX2-50, DTSN screen (yours is TFT nice!), 4MB RAM and a (get ready) 50MB Connor hard drive (wooo!). I still have it, works great, and I did a bunch of upgrades to it. You can put as much as a 2.1GB hard drive right into it without any software overlay, pretty good LBA BIOS. I bought a couple RAM modules to put 24MB RAM into the thing, and currently run Win 98SE with great sound and video. Let me know if you'd like a few tips on anything in particular, and I'll dig it up and see what I can recall....;^)

Thanks for the offer! In the end I simply took it apart with all the confidence of a substitute surgeon on his first heart bypass surgery but I didn't break anything this time!

I found the following:

The video is a Paradise SVGA wd90c24a-zz chip, and the sound chip is a crystal cs4231a-ko which is a windows sound system chip and may or may not support fm synthesis even though it has fm hardware based on the yamaha opl3
SammyFox
Newbie
 
Posts: 33
Joined: 2013-10-19 @ 00:44

Re: Trying to find drivers for a Zenith Data Systems laptop

Postby bellarmine » 2018-1-27 @ 05:56

That's great Sammy, I think you've told me something I was wondering about back then - the sound-chip number! I haven't opened mine up yet, so thanks for that!

Try checking this out:
http://forums.windrivers.com/showthread ... 231-Driver
http://www.datasheetarchive.com/files/c ... /audio.htm

First one says the CS4232 drivers may work with the CS4231 chip. 2nd link is a list for ALL Crystal's drivers (from Cirrus Logic). Win 311 / 95 etc.

Also, this link may have some of the additional nifty sound apps that usually come with sound cards (audio rack etc):
http://www.nodevice.com/driver/CS4231A-KL/get26675.html

In W98SE it comes up as "Windows Sound System Compatible", and does indeed support 16-bit stereo (by headphones or ext speakers....:^). I could never get MIDI to work, I assumed it had WAVE audio only. For MIDI I use a software wavetable app called WinGroove, VERY VERY CPU efficient, I get very nice polyphony on a 486, runs on w31 or w95. Let me know how the above drivers work out for you and if it actually has the Yamaha OPL3 capability.

Cheers! Bellarmine
When working on a job, you have 3 criteria: Fast, Good, and Cheap (i.e., Quick, High Quality, and Low Cost). Only 2 out of 3 are practical.
User avatar
bellarmine
Newbie
 
Posts: 25
Joined: 2016-2-23 @ 06:52
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: Trying to find drivers for a Zenith Data Systems laptop

Postby SammyFox » 2018-1-28 @ 10:29

bellarmine wrote:That's great Sammy, I think you've told me something I was wondering about back then - the sound-chip number! I haven't opened mine up yet, so thanks for that!

Try checking this out:
http://forums.windrivers.com/showthread ... 231-Driver
http://www.datasheetarchive.com/files/c ... /audio.htm

First one says the CS4232 drivers may work with the CS4231 chip. 2nd link is a list for ALL Crystal's drivers (from Cirrus Logic). Win 311 / 95 etc.

Also, this link may have some of the additional nifty sound apps that usually come with sound cards (audio rack etc):
http://www.nodevice.com/driver/CS4231A-KL/get26675.html

In W98SE it comes up as "Windows Sound System Compatible", and does indeed support 16-bit stereo (by headphones or ext speakers....:^). I could never get MIDI to work, I assumed it had WAVE audio only. For MIDI I use a software wavetable app called WinGroove, VERY VERY CPU efficient, I get very nice polyphony on a 486, runs on w31 or w95. Let me know how the above drivers work out for you and if it actually has the Yamaha OPL3 capability.

Cheers! Bellarmine

Eh, I tried all those and then some.

It's getting really frustrating, I can't believe how hard it is to find the sound card drivers for this thing! I tried CS4232 drivers, opti 929 drivers and opti 924 drivers and none work, and the only CS4231 drivers I can find are only for OS/2 which is insane!
SammyFox
Newbie
 
Posts: 33
Joined: 2013-10-19 @ 00:44

Re: Trying to find drivers for a Zenith Data Systems laptop

Postby cyclone3d » 2018-1-29 @ 00:30

Are you sure that there are no other sound chips there? It looks to me like the CS4231a is just a codec chip.

The CS4231a is a newer/upgraded chip compared to the CS4231 and CS4238

Looking through google images, I see it paired with:
Opti 924, 925, 929, 930
MAD16
Mozart
Aztech AZT2316R, AZT1605

Edit: Have you tried installing the plain Windows Sound System drivers?

Also, see this thread.. looks like it can be paired with basically whatever:
https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=39535


EDIT 2: Here is information about and the files for the CS4231 DOS/Windows drivers

These are the installation instructions for The DOS/Windows drivers:
http://greyghost.mooo.com/pccbbs/commercial_desktop/qd2t00a.txt
DOS 6.2, 7.0
Microsoft Windows 3.1, 3.11


You can browse the folder by taking away the .txt file
http://greyghost.mooo.com/pccbbs/commercial_desktop/
The OS/2 driver package (cryst211.zip) mentions the Windows driver file names.

Windows drivers seem to be disk images which I haven't tried extracting... Crystal1.exe and Crystal2.exe which I have attached to this post.
crystal1.exe
(760.68 KiB) Downloaded 2 times

crystal2.exe
(722.98 KiB) Downloaded 1 time

These are for the CS4231, but maybe they will work for the CS4231a.

EDIT 3: And here is a set of DOS/Win3.1/Win95/98 drivers for the CS4231a

http://www.soundcard-drivers.com/drivers/66/66506.htm
cs4231a.zip
(1.88 MiB) Not downloaded yet
User avatar
cyclone3d
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1706
Joined: 2015-4-08 @ 06:06
Location: Huntsville, AL USA

Re: Trying to find drivers for a Zenith Data Systems laptop

Postby SammyFox » 2018-1-30 @ 10:40

I've managed to get sound working in windows, but not ms-dos, and opl3 doesn't work but at this point that's to be expected.

I guess that's not my dream 486 gaming lappy (that keyboard sucks too) :c
SammyFox
Newbie
 
Posts: 33
Joined: 2013-10-19 @ 00:44

Next

Return to General Old Hardware

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: .legaCy, CarlHopkinsUK, Deksor, LHN91, linkdex [Bot], Morsey, oeuvre, Tiido and 13 guests