VOGONS


Reply 560 of 619, by lolo799

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vorob wrote on 2021-07-05, 10:08:

Guys, I'm thinking about how to bring files to T4700CT. Floppy dude is dead and taking HDD in and out is a mess. I bought a PCMCIA CF card reader on Ali (https://aliexpress.ru/item/1005002328839062.html) price was a joke so I wasn't thinking. But now wonder if such a thing will work in DOS on such an ancient machine? Do I need special drivers or such thing will work with something generic one?

It might work with the original cardsoft drivers depending on which ones are in your config.sys or you can try the ata enablers from https://tssc.de/

PCMCIA Sound, Storage & Graphics

Reply 561 of 619, by vorob

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Bondi wrote on 2021-06-21, 10:42:

I know at least two. Siemens Scenic Mobile 710 had ESS ES690F. Another one is Compaq Armada 7710MT also with same wavetable synthesizer chip onboard.
There were also laptops that natively supported MPU-401 port in DOS through game port.

Does Siemens Nixdorf Scenic Mobile 700 feature the same sound card? Found one for 65$

Reply 562 of 619, by vorob

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Okay, let me ask another way.

What's the difference between Siemens Nixdorf Scenic Mobile 700 and 710? Can't say it's easy to find info on these laptops on the internet. Only basic stuff about cpu and ram, but to exact info on sound in 700.

Reply 564 of 619, by vorob

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Okay, I see. 710 is packed with ES1878 and 700 goes for ESS1968. No idea if this somehow explain availability or absence of wavetable chip, but I'll look for 710 model...

Checked the Compaq laptop, it has S3 video which i've seen on my Toshiba 2805. Horrible thing in terms of scaling. Siemens work on Chips & Technologies chip and i saw some stuff to stretch mode13 games. Guess i'll have better luck there.

Reply 566 of 619, by BitWrangler

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Soundcards work like cats, play the games with them they like and the noises are pleasant, play the games they don't like and the noises are unpleasant.

2017: Basement full of ancient PC stuff, starting to go through it. 2021: Still starting, heh, many setbacks. So what's this BitWrangler guy's deal ??? >>> Taming the pile, specs to target?

Reply 567 of 619, by Joakim

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BitWrangler wrote on 2021-07-08, 14:04:

Soundcards work like cats, play the games with them they like and the noises are pleasant, play the games they don't like and the noises are unpleasant.

Hahaha. I prefer sound cards, they don't shit everywhere and wake you up early just to stand there in the doorway complaining about the bad weather.

Reply 568 of 619, by Peterious

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vorob wrote on 2021-07-05, 10:08:

Guys, I'm thinking about how to bring files to T4700CT. Floppy dude is dead and taking HDD in and out is a mess. I bought a PCMCIA CF card reader on Ali (https://aliexpress.ru/item/1005002328839062.html) price was a joke so I wasn't thinking. But now wonder if such a thing will work in DOS on such an ancient machine? Do I need special drivers or such thing will work with something generic one?

Let me know if you happen to get this working. I also own a T4700CT that I got at auction for $20 a few months ago and have been thinking about the best way to transfer data. The laptop came with two PCMCIA cards. One a Network adapter and the other a 56K modem, but neither have their respective dongles so FTP is out. It does have a serial port so I suppose I could buy one of those Serial to USB cable things and try that, but I'd prefer to just load up an SD card and transfer data that way. I've also considered getting a Zip drive or an external CD ROM drive but prices on those have gotten pretty high.

I didn't get the ballpoint mouse, but had a PS/2 mouse already so just use that instead.

Overall I quite like this machine. Just wish I could get some software on it so I could actually do something with it!

Reply 569 of 619, by vorob

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I had some PCMCIA drivers on hdd from original owner and they work, i see PCMCIA as disk D and PCMCIA 2 as disk E, but for some reason it don't see my 64mb card formatted in fat... Will check this thing in future. https://tssc.de/

Reply 570 of 619, by BitWrangler

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PCMCIA Flash and ATA cards were a fustercluck all round back in the day, I ended up with a few, I found one that read/wrote in my Newton, one that read/wrote in my Amiga, one that read/wrote in my 386SL Zenith notebook, and one that read/wrote in my desktop with a PCMCIA interface card.... none of these were the same PCMCIA card.. it wasn't even a format thing, because I could use CrossDOS on the Amiga, the two PCs should have had compatible formats, the adapters weren't even seeing the other cards to complain they weren't formatted in a way they liked... meanwhile, I could stick a Xircom modem or 3com NIC in any of them and they'd at least recognise there was a modem or NIC inserted even if they didn't have drivers to use it fully. (all of them could use the modem in generic mode) What you do have to do even to get one out of 6 working is find the specific revision of the memory card or ATA flash spec it's supposed to be compatible with and find a driver that works with that as well as your PCMCIA controller chipset.

2017: Basement full of ancient PC stuff, starting to go through it. 2021: Still starting, heh, many setbacks. So what's this BitWrangler guy's deal ??? >>> Taming the pile, specs to target?

Reply 571 of 619, by bjwil1991

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I acquired a Toshiba Satellite Pro T2150CDT and a couple of items are in dire need for attention: the HDD clicks once every 10 seconds, but it boots up and the CMOS battery needs to be replaced or charged more.

Has an ES688 + OPL3, 520MB HDD, double-speed CD-ROM drive, Active Matrix (no dead pixels), and the original floppy drive.

Another item I'm looking for is the recovery diskette(s) and replacing the CMOS battery will be a bi-atch to replace (requires the full disassembly). On the positive side, it's a Lithium-Vanadium 3V coin cell.

Discord: https://discord.gg/U5dJw7x
Systems from the Compaq Portable 1 to FX-8350
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Reply 572 of 619, by creepingnet

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Okay, I think after 3 years I can post a good assessment on the early NEC Versa latpops.....though this is on my website, this is a custom shorthand VOGONS version......I'm thinking of eventually nabbing 2 M/75's or an M/100 as I've determined those to be the best of the lot in performance, construction, battery life, and reliability.

Ultralite Versa (20, 25, 33MHz)

Released in 1993, discontinued in 1994. These were the first version, and a continuation on the "UltraLite" line. They differ from the other models in that the i486 DX SL CPU runs at the bus clock, not double or quadruple. This might make them better for older DOS Games that run too fast on something DX2 or faster (Though most games were well throttled by this point for faster hardware). The two most common versions of these are the 25Mhz Versa 25C and the 33MHz NCR badged version called the NCR Safari 3180. They came in color (C models) and Pen (P and CP models).

PROS
- probably the best battery life of the lot
- Active Matrix Screens seem pretty standard on these
- 2x PCMCIA Slots, so if you can find sound or WiFi, it's availible
- Handles ATA-133 drives pretty well with a DDO (I Suggest OnTrack, especially if using a Dock and want to boot from CD)

NEGOTIABLE
- 20MB Memory Ceiling
- 528MB HDD Maximum Size w/o DDO
- No Trackball
- Monochrome more common on this version
- Has a bigger power supply (though the smaller later Versa E and later PSU will work).
- Fair parts availability and interchangeability (memory, screens, keyboards, batteries)

CONS
- Plastic cracks the worst of the five lines
- Tends to have issues with leaky caps taking out other parts of the motherboard (2 at the front for the power section in particular)
- Seems these also get power supply issues fairly often (will not boot)
- CMOS Battery requires desoldering and dissassembly

Versa E (40, 50, 75MHz) & Versa V (40, 50, 75Mhz)

Released in late 93' or early 94', these were a DX2 upgrade to the originals. They dropped the "UltraLite" name from the model. The E-series has a detachable screen and labels that just say "Versa" on them, the V has a non-detachable screen and labels that say "Versa V/40" "Versa V/50" or "Versa V/75" on them. The 40EC and V/50C are the two most common versions of these laptops. These tend to run more like a 486 DX2-66 desktop (non SL) and bat well above their weight class performance wise.

PROS
- Active matrix seems to come standard on the majority, Monochrome or DTSN is a rarity
- Feels like a much faster system, the 40MHz E-series hits more like a DX2-66 would
- Most lax of the lot regarding HDD
- Will run 95 more than comfortably for basic use
- Better parts availability than the other models (batteries, keyboards, screens, memory, HDD, etc.)
- Good CMOS Battery placement (Versa V only - longer battery door hosts 2340 coin cell)

NEGOTIABLE
- 20MB Memory Ceiling
- 528MB Hard Disk Maximum size w/o DDO
- Bios Simplified (Versa V only)
- The 1995 Model Versa V seems to exclude an extra screw in the case, but seems to have better plastic than the E (Cracks less)

CONS
- Non-user removable screen (Versa V series only)
- Motherboard issues seem common on these, especially the Versa E, luckily they are $20.00 from a place in CA
- No Soundcard
- Plastic cracks on hinge, hinge cover, under battery compartment(s), and the PCMCIA door tends to break off
- CMOS Battery requires disassembly to access
- Third most fragile on the list

Versa M (75/100 MHz 486)

The Versa "M" series (Multimedia) were released in 1994 and are the best units I've found from personal use, on this list. I've owned two, and while one crumbled (12/94) the other one has been a tank (5/94). The model designations for the Versa M are C (color 640p), CP (Color with pen, 640p), TC (True Color, 640p), and HC (High Resolution Color, 800p). It seems the majority of these were C and TC models, with a few HC models eeking out here and there.

PROS
- Seem to be the strongest on the list plastic and structurally. Even with cracked plastic they seem to hold together much better than the other models.
- Improvements to the VersaTrak tends to promote stability of the device
- 486 DX4-100 CPU performs extremely well even on some Windows 95 applications intended for lower-end Pentium based machines
- Can use the same batteries as the old Versa V/E/UltraLIte, or the new Smart Batteries which get longer life & longevity due to a management controller
- Not sure why keyboards vary so much by the M-series seems to have the least trouble with sticky keys or an odd "Feel" to the keyboard
- Windows Sound System Audio tends to provide CD Quality Audio in most programs as it's hard wired to that
- Seems the least finicky with BIOS settings and HDD
- Higher 40MB Memory Ceiling
- More Socketed components (easier to fix if something like the extra 4MB on-board RAM or Display controller dies)

NEGOTIABLE
- Audio is Windows Sound System Compatible Crystal CS-4231-KQ with no OPL (at least not on the M/75 models, still not sure about the M/100)
- 640x480 units come with a NEC NL6448AC30-10 panel that has small flickering issues sometimes due to aging in the power control board
- Screens not interchangeable on TC models due to a LCD controller board that's different - but can be swapped with a regular M/75 control board for the 800/640/touch screens
- 640x480 non TC models can be upgraded to 800x600 if they have the right connecting board and user is proficient with soldering

CONS
- No OPL on the M/75 (might be true for M/100 as well), so no SoundBlaster Music
- WSS compatible audio chipset only works with games with certain audio engines not found on most DOS Games
- CMOS Battery is hidden under the endoskeleton inside, is a strange barrel-type shape, and oddly they seem to not leak nor die/not take a charge

Versa P (75 MHz Pentium)

This was the last version in this first series (before the 2000/4000/6000 series were released). They are less as sturdy as the M-series, actually the 2nd worst on this list, but they have SoundBlaster Compatible Audio, but the Pentium 75 MHz CPU is "Bus Castrated" because it's still tethered to the same general chipset and underpinnings as a 486-based Versa M/75. Put head to head with an M/75, the speed increase is marginal at best. The battery life can also be slightly longer due to a few tiny improvements in APM, but it's still not enough to knock the M/75 off the top.

PROS
- SoundBlaster Compatible Audio Chipset (ESS688), requires no TSRs or Drivers to work with most DOS games
- Pentium 75 CPU IS slightly faster, but only just slightly, only just barely noticeable
- Slightly better APM
- Some might come with a 10.4" Screen instead of a 9.4" (later units got this upgrade)
- seems the screen plastics are much better on these models

NEGOTIABLE
- Pentium CPU is bus castrated by antiquated 80486 based chipset behind it, but might help pass those "requires Pentium" pre-launch checks with some software
- The vast majority of these tend to come in the 800x600 "HC" variant, so if you don't like letterboxing this might be a problem, seems worse on the 10.4" models

CONS
- Case integrity is the second worst, being as these tend to crack across the front, the doors tend to all crack off, and bad integrity causes problems with CMOS , track ball, and sound card working
- harder to get parts for because you can't switch in certain parts from other Versa models due to all the special changes made to accommodate a Pentium CPU (relocation for thermals & Circuitry)
- Bus castrated, so performance is more on par with a i486 DX4-120 than a Pentium 75 CPU. Might have been better to make a M/133 and put a Am5x86 133 in there.

OVERALL

Overall, the M is the winner IMHO. The only thing to really make it better is a PCMCIA Sound card, which I"m tempted to start working on one of my own, and a member of this forum has one in the works as well.

Ranking
1.) Versa M - best structural integrity, good audio (when compatible), and seems to be electronically the most reliable of the lot
2.) Versa V - better plastics than the other three, extremely reliable electronically, does have the flickering 640p screen of the Versa "M" though
3.) Versa E - plastic integrity is the third worst, motherboard issues, particularly involving power, make this on ea bit trickier to reccommend with nothing to offset the trouble spots
4.) Versa P - while it's the best for gaming overall the structural integrity due to reduced support points to accomodate a bus castrated Pentium puts it 2nd to Last
5.) Ultralite - No trackball, weird CMOS stuff, Cracking plastics worst than any, plus non-module-setup motherboard make this the worst model

SUGGESTED SETUP TIPS FOR M-SERIES FOR BEST EXPERIENCE

On my M/75, I'm setup like this. I have 2 HDD, one with Win95/WFW311/DOS7.01 (80GB), and one with FreeDOS 2.1 (80GB). Both drives are loaded with ISO files for all of my CD-ROM games ripped and put on there. In DOS you can do this using omi, which is a part of the SHSUCDX package (if you have a CD-ROM for the parallel port or docking station).

Memory is topped out to 40MB (32MB Card installed). For WiFi I have a Cisco Aironet LMC-352 installed in the top PCMCIA Slot which I tether to my cell phone (which is limited to one client per settings) for internet access anywhere. One Smart Battery can get me as much as 2 hours of battery life if I maintain it properly, run it down at least once a month, do occasional reconditioning, and drain it enough to get rid of any crystalline shorts - this is achieved by the lower-power ATA-133HDD, keeping power management high when on battery, and turnning the brightness to the lowest setting with HI-Lite (NEC feature that turns text in DOS stark white) off. If I put in an LED backlight kit in the LCD, I'm sure I could get battery life even higher. You could get even more time swapping the floppy drive with a second battery.

The Docking Station is currently setup with a high speed 48x CD-RW burner. It also has spots for a second floppy, which I'm planning to put a 5.25" floppy low-profile drive in at some point, and possibly an extra HDD with a backup of drivers for the whole Versa series on it to make rebuilding systems easier. You could even throw a Gameblaster or TNDY card in there for even more audio support, or in lieu of a SB Comaptible PCMCIA card, put a Soundblaster card in there of some kind so at least you have that capability when docked.

On the subject of 800x600 vs 640x480, I've found the later models (P/75, M/xxx) better for DOS gaming in general in that the scaling in DOS games is proper as the older models get letterboxed even on the 640p LCD panels (bars on top and bottom). Also, the 800x600 allows for use of some of the weirder modes in emulators like MAME or NESticle where none of the screen is cut-off when undocked. You will have letterboxing though.

UNIVBE has excellent support on these laptops and truly speeds up the C&T 65545 chipset incredibly. Things like GTA and GTA London run smoothly, and things like Quake, Whiplash, and Virtual Karts run comfortably enough to be fun at the lowest graphics settings in DOS. It also seems to help in WIndows a bit when it comes to games like Postal, Doom, or DIablo, though it can be glitchy depending on version of SciTech Display Doctor/UniVBE you are using.

So I think that puts out there what I think of these. I know nobody asked, but I figure - might as well put this info out before I start working on researching the 2000/4000/6000 series, and the earlier models too (Ultralite SL).

~The Creeping Network~
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Reply 573 of 619, by ragefury32

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bjwil1991 wrote on 2021-07-27, 00:56:

I acquired a Toshiba Satellite Pro T2150CDT and a couple of items are in dire need for attention: the HDD clicks once every 10 seconds, but it boots up and the CMOS battery needs to be replaced or charged more.

Has an ES688 + OPL3, 520MB HDD, double-speed CD-ROM drive, Active Matrix (no dead pixels), and the original floppy drive.

Another item I'm looking for is the recovery diskette(s) and replacing the CMOS battery will be a bi-atch to replace (requires the full disassembly). On the positive side, it's a Lithium-Vanadium 3V coin cell.

Yeah, that HDD is probably ripe for a replacement with an IDE-to-SD adapter (or something CF based). From what I remember when I had a T2150CDT, the HDD sits below the sound card and should be fairly easy to swap out. As for the CMOS battery, yeah, the connector sits on the underside of the motherboard so you would have to take it apart to get to it. Just be mindful working with the potentially brittle plastics standoffs and whatnot.

Reply 574 of 619, by bjwil1991

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The CMOS battery is fine on there (needed a full recharge) now and the floppy drive was a disaster (didn't read anything and I broke a ribbon cable or two when I attempted to fix it).

The one from my 410CDT works without issues and the CD-ROM works on the T2150CDT.

Discord: https://discord.gg/U5dJw7x
Systems from the Compaq Portable 1 to FX-8350
Twitch: https://twitch.tv/retropcuser

Reply 575 of 619, by vorob

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Bondi wrote on 2021-06-21, 10:42:

I know at least two. Siemens Scenic Mobile 710 had ESS ES690F. Another one is Compaq Armada 7710MT also with same wavetable synthesizer chip onboard.
There were also laptops that natively supported MPU-401 port in DOS through game port.

Got it! Now i own Siemens Nixdorf Scenic Mobile 710. Bought it as untested, but it's working. Some cracks all over the case, but nothing missing. Sadly i've got 32mb version packed with FDD instead of CD.

For some reason, my 60gb hdd didn't work, laptop just stays on POST. I've tried autodetection in BIOS, but no luck. Wonder what should i do now?

Tried an older HDD (200mb from toshiba T4700) and it worked. With it i've tested DOOM, both sound and general midi were available.

Reply 576 of 619, by keenmaster486

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vorob wrote on 2021-08-02, 13:47:

For some reason, my 60gb hdd didn't work, laptop just stays on POST. I've tried autodetection in BIOS, but no luck. Wonder what should i do now?

The large size of that hard drive is probably the reason it didn't work.

Maybe try a 4 GB compact flash card or something.

I flermmed the plootash just like you asked.
World's foremost 486 enjoyer.

Reply 578 of 619, by cyclone3d

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vorob wrote on 2021-08-03, 00:04:

Ye, compact flash saved the day. Need to enable usb under dos and I’ll be fully packed 😀

For some reason laptop won’t start when battery is installed.

Most likely the battery is bad though I have also seen instances where the charging circuit on the motherboard is bad. Either can cause this problem.

Yamaha YMF modified setupds and drivers
Yamaha XG resource repository - updated November 27, 2018
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AW744L II - YMF744 - AOpen Cobra Sound Card - Install SB-Link Header

Reply 579 of 619, by vorob

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I was inside my Siemens Nixdorf Scenic Mobile 710 today 😀 Despite good visual quality on eBay photos, it is full of cracks. And if you check other samples on eBay, they look similar. Maybe it's a design flaw. Used some super glue to correct some bad stuff. Also, I need to do smth about hinges, they are too tough.

But I'm happy that the hardware works as it should. The screen is also in good shape. Waiting for 2GB compact flash to pack my laptop with old games 😀

Can you recommend a good and easy to use USB dos driver?