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VIA-based thin client rescue

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First post, by xjas

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So today I rescued this cute little thin client from the recycle pile of doom. It's a TermTek TK-3350 (note: not 3550), for which all documentation seems to have been expunged from the internet.

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Unfortunately when powered on it shows this screen and just seems to sit there. Granted there is no HDD or anything installed so I don't know what else it's supposed to do. Some POST info or whatever would be nice. No idea how to get into the BIOS either.

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Here's the motherboard:

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It has two banks of DIP switches at the back but I'm not sure what for. The empty socket is for a disk-on-chip module (aka solid state drive) but it also has a normal IDE connector.

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There is also an 80-pin header (on the right) which appears to be for an extremely-useful PCI or ISA riser. Unfortunately I don't know the pinout or where you would find the riser card.

Any of you guys have experience with these things? Any ideas how to get it going? Would sure be a neat little box if I got it up & running!

Last edited by xjas on 2019-10-07, 21:14. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 2 of 43, by xjas

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Not necessarily. You can add local storage to one of these and most(??) of them can boot from it. Unfortunately with the manual for this one AWOL I don't know much about how to set it up. Maybe I'll just stuff a formatted CF card in and see what happens.

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Reply 3 of 43, by ODwilly

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It might just be the angle of the picture, but the power supply caps look bulged to me.

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Reply 4 of 43, by h-a-l-9000

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Maybe removing the battery would shock it enough to offer entering setup.
You could also hook it up to a network and check with wireshark if it attempts network boot.

1+1=10

Reply 5 of 43, by zyga64

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I've found only specification. http://web.archive.org/web/20050208122540/htt … pec/TK-3350.pdf

At least we know that there were three versions: Linux, XP and Windows CE based. http://web.archive.org/web/20040409024741/htt … t_tk3350xp.html

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Reply 6 of 43, by Kadath

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I've got the same obscure model, can't find anything of interest on Internet about this model- mine, has got a small IDE to CF adapter mounted on motherboard and removable, with OS loaded on a small sized compact flash. OS is Windows CE, but I would like to try to install Linux in larger CF or USB. It can be interesting to use this small machine for light server-duties, although I'm using multiple Raspberry for that, nowadays.

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Reply 7 of 43, by Jo22

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Cool! If it is configured for network boot, you could try to insert an EPROM which contains XT-IDE/AT version (if that socket isn't for DOCs).
That way, you're perhaps at least able to boot DOS and run some diagnostic stuff. 😀

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Reply 8 of 43, by yawetaG

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xjas wrote:
There is also this 80-pin connector which appears to be the header for an extremely-useful PCI or ISA slot. Unfortunately I don' […]
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There is also this 80-pin connector which appears to be the header for an extremely-useful PCI or ISA slot. Unfortunately I don't know the pinout or where you would find the riser card.
thin5.png

Any of you guys have experience with these things? Any ideas how to get it going? Would sure be a neat little box if I got it up & running!

The area with the rectangular white lines looks like it could take a PCMCIA header.

I've got a HP thin client, but that one just displays a regular BIOS screen on boot. The idea to remove the coin battery probably is a good one, and since it doesn't do much right now you've got nothing to lose to try it. Let it sit for at least ten minutes without power. You might also want to measure the battery voltage - if it's dead, that might be why it doesn't boot.

Reply 9 of 43, by Kadath

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Jo22 wrote:

Cool! If it is configured for network boot, you could try to insert an EPROM which contains XT-IDE/AT version (if that socket isn't for DOCs).
That way, you're perhaps at least able to boot DOS and run some diagnostic stuff. 😀

It would be so great, being able to do all this - I'm sure there's a way to see MS-DOS running by CF, on this tiny x86 PC - I have to do just more tries. Maybe it could become a little DOS box, if not a little Linux server box.

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Last is gunfire.

Reply 10 of 43, by yawetaG

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Linux will work fine, but MS-DOS may not. Many of these systems use highly integrated chipsets that are not particularly DOS-compatible - unless you like having no sound, no network, no peripherals, and no video output beyond the most standard stuff.

Reply 11 of 43, by Maeslin

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One thing that might be worth trying would be to pull the 'BOOTLD' chip right at the edge of the IDE connector, just besides the DOC socket. With some luck it might give you access to the BIOS.

The unpopulated 17x4 area is indeed for a PCMCIA/CARDBUS header. With a bit of browsing on digikey and a good pair of calipers to measure the positioning of the 4 mounting holes you could probably find a matching socket you could solder in.

The two sets of 4 jumpers, considering they're right next to an ADM213 (basically a ttl-to-rs232 line driver, like the MAX232) and a header marked 'TOUCH', might be to shift the lines of one of the COM ports from the actual DB9 connector to a header used for a serial touchscreen. It's likely the exact same motherboard is used in another terminal model with the screen built-in.

Pulling the battery might not be necessary; there's a 'CLR CMOS' jumper right between the battery and BIOS chip.

Considering info from the TK-3550 manual, try hitting F12 as early as possible in the boot sequence?

Reply 12 of 43, by Carlos S. M.

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Does it help?

http://web.archive.org/web/20040903032917/htt … .NET_Manual.pdf

I could find a manual for the TK-3350, at least the manual link says 3350

Also that riser card connector is actually a PCI slot acording to the manual

The download page is not acessible sadly, needs registration

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Reply 13 of 43, by yawetaG

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By the look of it, the thin-client can only work with a functional operating system and accompanying software on the hard disk or disk-on-chip module, making it effectively useless if you don't have that part.

Reply 14 of 43, by h-a-l-9000

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The sticker "bootld" on the BIOS chip is a bit suspicious... If a BIOS for this board is available somewhere try to flash it, otherwise maybe try your luck with one from a similar mainboard (chipset). The other BIOS chip next to the RTL8139 is a LAN boot ROM.

1+1=10

Reply 15 of 43, by Kadath

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Mine is booting without problems, maybe I can help, somehow - As said before, my model boot directly from CF attached to IDE by adapter, and OS is Windows CE. I've tried to swap CF with another one formatted and with pure MS-DOS installed on it, but it seems not to like it... it doesn't boot. Maybe a problem related to the other CF (1GB vs 128MB found aboard), must try with another one.

First comes smiles,
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Last is gunfire.

Reply 16 of 43, by yawetaG

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Kadath wrote:

Mine is booting without problems, maybe I can help, somehow - As said before, my model boot directly from CF attached to IDE by adapter, and OS is Windows CE. I've tried to swap CF with another one formatted and with pure MS-DOS installed on it, but it seems not to like it... it doesn't boot. Maybe a problem related to the other CF (1GB vs 128MB found aboard), must try with another one.

Could you confirm that all of the settings are managed through a setup wizard that is part of the Windows CE install, as that manual that was linked to seems to suggest?

Reply 18 of 43, by xjas

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Thanks for bringing this thread back up! So I plugged mine back in and discovered that pressing F12 at the "System is initalizing and testing" screen gets you immediately into a perfectly ordinary BIOS where you can auto-detect IDE HDDs and tell it to boot from them, or various other things including floppies, LS120/Zip drives, USB devices, etc. I have honestly NO idea why I didn't manage to figure this out the last time I was playing with it, but hey, can't complain.

I stuck in a Damn Small Linux USB stick and it booted right up:

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What can I say, it's a really nice little machine! Everything seems to work fine.

Reported system specs are a 533MHz Via Samuel 2 (C3) with MMX+3DNOW, 128MB SDRAM, onboard Trident Cyberblade i1 w/8MB apparently on the AGP bus.

Also found these interesting options in the BIOS. Haven't tried how well they work yet. DSL says it's a VIA VT82C686 AC97 audio chipset. Some DOS testing is certainly going to be in order.

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Reply 19 of 43, by xjas

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Carlos S. M. wrote:
Does it help? […]
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Does it help?

http://web.archive.org/web/20040903032917/htt … .NET_Manual.pdf

I could find a manual for the TK-3350, at least the manual link says 3350

Also that riser card connector is actually a PCI slot acording to the manual

The download page is not acessible sadly, needs registration

Nice job digging up that manual! I would *love* to get my hands on that PCI riser. Sadly not as cool as an ISA slot would have been, but useful as hell nonetheless. It looks like if you have both headers fitted you can use a PCI & PCMCIA card at the same time which would be amazing for such a small machine.

BTW I'm posting on it right now. Firefox is pretty pokey and I get endless certificate errors because I forgot to change the date from 1999. But Dillo works. 😎 It doesn't quite render the page correctly everything's here.

twitch.tv/oldskooljay - playing the obscure, forgotten & weird - most Tuesdays & Thursdays @ 6:30 PM PDT. Bonus streams elsewhen!