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Elonex PC-486 mystery box...

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First post, by Vipersan

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Ok ...this one has me banging my head against the wall..
A very compact and imo pretty desktop ...but useless as is.
It arrived totally non functional but for an amber stby led lighting up when power was applied..
Pressing the latchable front Power button resulted in nothing.
It uses a very small compact power supply with AT style connections but no mains power switch...so in this regard...unobtainium.
So ..set to work repairing it..
One full re-cap later and replacement of a 220 k ohm 2 watt carbon resistor which read 7.2 megohm...I had a working power supply and the latchable power button when pressed gave me the green light.
The PC started and Identified the 486 DX2 cpu correctly....one single beep followed by a couple of seconds of screeching...but nothing more.
The cursor flashes like it's waiting for something ...
Press DEL to enter bios..
..so I connected a PS2 keyboard in the socket identified as Keyboard by the sticker...and powered up again.
All 3 LEDs on the keyboard briefly illuminiated...but still the screeching and of course no progress with the POST.
Odd-ish that this unit has both Keyboard and Mouse PS2 sockets as the bios is circa 1994 (Phoenix)
..but I suspect the screeching is indicating lack of keyboard..and as I said pressing DEL does not get a response.
Next thing I looked at is the RTC..which is a plug in Dallas chip ...which after so many years is likely flat batteried...so carved a couple of grooves in the side and attached an external coin cell.
(the internal battery was barely holding a charge at 0.3 volts.
I did not cut the old battery free as I have read that the CMOS can be erased easily on this Dallas varient...
(DS12887A).
This proprietory motherboard uses the S82425EX and S82426EX chipset by intel...
..and has no slots on the mainboard..but 2 x ISA and 2 x PCI on a riser which also has what looks like an IDE interface on board.
In truth I have never seen one of these before...but wondered if any member has ?
...and any hints as to how to proceed ?
Could it possibly be a proprietory keyboard connected via what is a PS2 port ...and if this is the case...maybe it would hang at POST and wait forever ..having got no response ?
I've searched the net and found nothing about this desktop/motherboard.
Was it ever used as a standalone Computer...or maybe just a terminal for a mainframe ?
I have searched for any reference to it on youtube but drawn a blank every time.
It is made by Elonex and I can only find a paper sticker on the mobo which says FW48.
The mobo is also labelled ELONEX....as is the case...ELONEX PC-486.
Any help would be greatly appreciated...as I've hit a brick wall with this.
rgds
VS

Last edited by Vipersan on 2022-09-26, 15:44. Edited 4 times in total.

Reply 2 of 42, by rasz_pl

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Vipersan wrote on 2022-09-26, 15:22:

(the internal battery was barely holding a charge at 0.3 volts.
I did not cut the old battery free as I have read that the CMOS can be erased easily on this Dallas varient...

with 0.3V cmos was already gone

Reply 3 of 42, by Vipersan

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rasz_pl wrote on 2022-09-26, 15:48:
Vipersan wrote on 2022-09-26, 15:22:

(the internal battery was barely holding a charge at 0.3 volts.
I did not cut the old battery free as I have read that the CMOS can be erased easily on this Dallas varient...

with 0.3V cmos was already gone

That doesn't sound too promising buddy...
..and possibly a no win situation...
any practical suggestions...appreciated.
maybe someone out there knows of a drop in replacement for this with cmos intactus ?
anyhoo..here are the pix

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Reply 4 of 42, by rasz_pl

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Vipersan wrote on 2022-09-26, 16:05:
rasz_pl wrote on 2022-09-26, 15:48:
Vipersan wrote on 2022-09-26, 15:22:

(the internal battery was barely holding a charge at 0.3 volts.
I did not cut the old battery free as I have read that the CMOS can be erased easily on this Dallas varient...

with 0.3V cmos was already gone

That doesn't sound too promising buddy...

?
CMOS contents is gone, will be rewritten with default values during first successful boot

Reply 5 of 42, by Vipersan

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rasz_pl wrote on 2022-09-26, 17:35:
Vipersan wrote on 2022-09-26, 16:05:
rasz_pl wrote on 2022-09-26, 15:48:

with 0.3V cmos was already gone

That doesn't sound too promising buddy...

?
CMOS contents is gone, will be rewritten with default values during first successful boot

That's good to know...but of course...no successful boot possible as yet....and I don't know why...
doh!

Reply 6 of 42, by rasz_pl

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regardless, this:
>(the internal battery was barely holding a charge at 0.3 volts.
>I did not cut the old battery free as I have read that the CMOS can be erased easily on this Dallas varient...

doesnt make sense. "CMOS can be erased easily" any time voltage drops below certain value (probably around 2V). Erasing CMOS is not harmfull, you just lose previous BIOS settings. Erased/empty CMOD is not the source of your problems.
Judging by the screenshot and "couple of seconds of screeching" the problem lies somewhere in ram? Start by removing all SIMMs and reinserting just one.

Reply 7 of 42, by spiroyster

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I used to have an Elonex (286), nothing special about them. They are just (well made) PC's. Keyboard was AT and wasn't proprietary. My Elonex didn't have a mouse.

Screeching? Like mechanical or constant beeping? If the former try different HDD, if that latter try different ram?

If the keyboard isn't detected, usual state of play for that era was to display the oxymoronic statement...

"Keyboard not found, press F1 to continue"

Or something like that so I doubt keyboard

Reply 8 of 42, by Vipersan

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Having found this printed in the motherboard silk screen ...I am now wondering even more about the system architecture..
1994 Oakleigh systems inc PCI ARM.1B made in UK
FW48
Obviously a business machine in a previous life...
The wording ARM makes we wonder if this is custom/specific...and uses a diffent protocol to communicate with the keyboard etc.
RISC based ?

..but is fitted with a 486 DX2 cpu..
some sort of hybrid ?
I'm totally at a loss here..
There is also a chip wearing a paper label ..."GLUE ARM" ..presumably a GAL or similar ?

Almost identical to this ...
https://th.bing.com/th/id/R.995580ff33a ... ImgRaw&r=0

which does indeed have branded monitor...keyboard ..and mouse..

Reply 9 of 42, by Horun

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That is the Intel Aries 420 chipset. The machine type is PCI486/I or PC-400 PCI series: http://web.archive.org/web/19970516223550/htt … nfiguration.htm
Should be an Award BIOS based on two other docs, the "upgrade2" doc and the Y2k doc.... and it is not Y2K compliant, see picture. L3 means NO and no BIOS upgrades past v27
The VMOD little board is the Cirrus Logic Video ram, it accepts two of them (for either 1MB or 2MB total).
Unfortunately nearly all Elonex old doc's were on FTP that were never archived AFAIK.....

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Hate posting a reply and then have to edit it because it made no sense 😁 First computer was an IBM 3270 workstation with CGA monitor.

Reply 10 of 42, by Vipersan

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Many thanks for the additional info Horun...
As to scarcity of documented info...totally agree...
I have done a fair bit of searching and found zip...basically.
I guess Elonex..which was once a UK contender just faded away..without leaving much of a footprint.
It would be nice to get this little bit of history back to a functional state..but it aint looking too promising.
Again ..thanks
I haven't given up yet ..but my enthusiasm is fading.

Checking the link you provided...it does confirm standard PS2 keyboard and mouse compatibility...so I guess it could be failed chipset or corrupted bios issue..
I'll pull the motherboard again...and scrutinise for damaged traces..

pity I can't get a motherboard manual...as it could be something as simple as a jumper to enable the keyboard ...or keylock to disable.
Sadly the jumpers few in number dont identify well..
There is a keylock on the side of the case...but isn't connected to anything.

Reply 11 of 42, by rasz_pl

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I was going to ask about that weird daughterboard on the left of ELONEX print in the VMOD#1 P8 P9 sockets. Can you take it off (remembering correct orientation so you can put it back in exact same spot) and take a picture? never mind, Horun demystified it.

Elonex Oakleigh returns few pictures with Socket 2/5 boards using same form factor as yours
https://sierra-indigo.com/elonex-oakleigh-sys … em-board-fw611/
https://sierra-indigo.com/elonex-oakleigh-sys … 4-system-board/
https://sierra-indigo.com/elonex-oakleigh-sys … 4-system-board/
https://sierra-indigo.com/elonex-240931-418-s … 70031-1-2a-239/

Elonex: the end of an era https://www.theregister.com/2006/07/18/elonex_history/

Reply 12 of 42, by Vipersan

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I've pulled the main board and riser ...and figured a couple of photos were in order...if for no other reason than a record of this rare-ish desktop.
rgds
VS

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Reply 13 of 42, by Vipersan

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...and the Bin dump of the Bios.
Full label
Award software inc 1994
ISA/PCI 486 Aries

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Reply 14 of 42, by Babasha

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There interesting JP1 jumper “manufacture… and security” check it, maybe it for keyboardless boot/oerations
Or maybe there keylock jumper on motherboard?

Need help? Begin with photo and model of your hardware 😉

Reply 16 of 42, by Vipersan

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Not really made any progress on this Elonex as yet..
I still think there is a problem with Keyboard communication.
What I have worked out so far is that the VIA PLCC package VT82C42V is the keyboard and mouse controller...and that PS2 keyboard pin 1 (DATA) is directly connected to PIN2 of the VT82C42 (Test 0)
and the PS2 keyboard pin5 (clock) is connected directly to pin30 (P10)
Both of which check out fine with a meter in contiuity mode.
I also know this PLCC chip can operate in PS2 or in AT mode...though I'm not sure just how this is achieved..
bios control ?
I think the chip can also lock out mouse and keyboard though I have yet to find a specific pin to do this...if I could I could trace it to a jumper perhaps ?
..again this could be controlled electronicaly perhaps by bios on the many ports on the chip.
All this assumes the VT82C42 is actually ok...and only if I knew for certain it was damaged would I attempt replacement as it isn't socketed.
Corrupt Bios is still an option IMO as the bios may possibly set up the mode of operation of the VT82C42 at boot....PS2 or AT.
The mystery continues sadly.
rgds

Reply 18 of 42, by Vipersan

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rasz_pl wrote on 2022-10-06, 09:12:

Can you record the "screeching"?

I will do that very soon...
...It's not really screeching ...but sounds like it with high pitched beeps in rapid succession..from the small piezo speaker on the motherboard..and lasts a few seconds..
At which point the POST process stops as shown by my POST card in the ISA slot..
I'll capture this as well.

rgds

Last edited by Vipersan on 2022-10-06, 14:04. Edited 1 time in total.