New Classic Finds and etc. (Long)

From: Christian Fandt <>
Date: Fri Jan 23 13:50:58 2004

As some of you know, it's been quite awhile since I have posted much here.
I was off list from early 2002 until June 2003 because of the large amount
of traffic -some decidedly off-topic and a horribly stressful job. Had no
time to keep up with this and several other old radio-related lists. Now
that I'm out of work since June and presently working on a management
degree, I've got some time to at least "lurk". I like the cctech/cctalk
separation and subscribe only to the tech list.

Anyway, I have added items to the Mound of Stuff around this house during
the past August. There are several threads of discussion herein on at least
three of those items . . .

The significant goodies are a Panasonic CF-150B Business Partner and a Grid
Systems GRiDLite Plus model 1040, both monochrome LCD laptops.

The CF-150B has an 8 MHz V20 CPU, internal 720K 3.5" FDD, 640K RAM, AC wall
wart, backlit LCD display (blue characters on green background), ROMed
MS-DOS 3.30 (boots up as C:), optional 2400 bps modem (woohoo!) and
optional EMS RAM Card expansion memory (1 meg). There is a separate power
supply and a couple of spare NiCd battery packs (probably useless now), a
couple of software disks (GWBASIC and MS-DOS 3.30 Utilities) and manuals
for the modem, EMS RAM and system unit itself. The floppy does not read
disks so there's troubleshooting which needs to be done sometime.
Otherwise, it powers up and the built-in DOS & utilities work okay.

The GRiDLite Plus, on the other hand, is not so well understood. There is
no manual. A Google search found limited info here: , scroll down the page to
"Gridlite Plus". Otherwise, just a bunch of battery suppliers.

It has an 80C86 CPU, socket for an 8087 math coprocessor (empty), backlit
LCD display (blue characters on green background much like the CF-150B,
above), unknown amount of RAM, no modem in its compartment, and an internal
20 meg HDD. Cool. Upon powering up the screen shows "Phoenix ROM BIOS Ver.
2.03, 1/18/88" and a blinking cursor appears underneath while the HDD spins
up. But the HDD shuts down shortly after it seems to do its initialization.
Then after a minute or so passes a message "Hard Disk Diagnostic Failure"
and "Disk Boot Failure" comes up. It keeps trying as another "Disk Boot
Failure" message appears every minute or so. That's it. Dang. Anybody know
anything about this particular machine? The HDD is JVC model JD3824G00-2
and is not quite the typical 3.5", 1" high IDE drive. Betcha they can't be
found too often :(

Thankfully, the external AC power supply and external 3.5" floppy drive
came with the unit. However, the floppy doesn't show signs of life during
the bootup process. Additionally, no keyboard input hits the screen
although the default 15 character buffer fills and begins beeping at the
16th keystroke. Therefore, I cannot run SpinRite to checkout the HDD system
or do much else.

The OS's that are said in that website to be used in the GRiDLite are
PenPoint, Penwindows, PenRight. What are all these??

Underneath a removable part of the case at the top rear of the machine
there is a connector for the modem and there are eight ROM sockets, all
empty. What are those for? A ROM-based OS or applications?

The internal NiCd battery had wires soldered between its flat terminals and
the respective spring leaf contacts in the system unit. Also, some clown
broke the battery compartment latch during the sale before I had bought it
thus causing the battery to not set tightly in its compartment. However the
PSU is marked as used for Gridcase 1200, 1307, 1500 and the 3403 Drive.
Maybe the 60 watt power output is too low to handle the HDD in the
GRiDLite?? The PSU model number I have is 34170 if that helps.

More troubleshooting to do. That is all I know about this machine except
for the German site shown above.

Anybody have more info on these laptops? I'm especially curious about the
GRiDLite Plus.

Another neat item I got is a really pristine HP LaserJet III for $15. Had
only 600 sheets reported on the page counter shown on its test page.
Absolutely perfectly clean everywhere inside. No stray toner powder nor
paper dust. Has a 3rd party 4 meg memory card (total RAM: 5120K). In fact
it was in its original box with manuals, all loosely covered with its
packing plastic bag. Built February '92. It didn't work, just threw Error
52's which were not described in the manual. But online searching found a
really good website, IMO, on printer repair and parts. FYI it is: A few of you may already know of this place.
I followed the instructions to "tweak" a couple of connectors
at: -which nailed the problem
exactly. Those connectors Canon had used (the laser engine maker for this
machine) were very poorly engineered, IMHO.

I got the LJ III from a household sale of stuff from a bankrupt small
computer service shop along with the two laptops mentioned above plus three
*carloads* of NOS mid-90's PeeCee motherboards, I/O boards, s/w, etc.
mentioned below. I figure the guy simply could not figure out the Error 52
problem. He evidently did not contact HP about warranty repair for some
reason and just chucked the boxed unit into storage for the past ten years.
Worth noting, he decidedly proved to his family and the banks that he had
NO comprehension of how to spend/save money. Hence, his bankruptcy in 1999.
Thus my ability to vacuum up some neat almost retro stuff for cheap. You
wouldn't believe the amount of NOS Tandy stuff for which I wasn't able to
find funds: three brand new Tandy 100's plus carrying cases, two of the
little PC2's with printers and a PC1 with printer, all with bunches of s/w
& accessories went for only $200 for the lot. I scrounged up about $150 for
all the rest of the stuff described here.

Just need a toner cartridge for the LJ III as the photodrum has a seemingly
permanent toner stain on its surface and horizontal groove along its length
from where the toner scraper had set stationary for 10+ years. Leaves a
horiz. line and faint blotches on printed sheets. Will not cleanup by
itself. Okay for draft printing but not for stuff one would want to archive
such as DEC manual reprints, etc. (or my college homework :-). Anybody know
if touching the photodrum with cleaner of some sort and soft cloth will
destroy it?? The built-in scrapper will not clear the stuck-on toner. Still
that darned groove though . . .

Also, anybody have a JetDirect Ethernet card for the LaserJet III they
could part with? Cannot yet determine the exact part # at this time via
online searches. No mention in manual as this option may not have been
developed at time of publication (1990). They became available later.

Nevertheless, best deal I've made in quite awhile because when I resolve
the toner cart problem, I'll have a kind of printer I've always wanted.
Price was just fine for this unemployed fella :-)

Some of that heap of On topic and Off topic NOS PeeCee boards and misc
stuff include a Copy II PC board including manual and disk, a dozen or so
Pentium I and several P-II (slot 1) mainboards, about 15 or so 486
mainboards, several PCI video and network cards, 10BaseT hubs and NICs,
bunches of software manuals and disks (some just plain obsolete and almost
useless, others good for retrocomputing :-), a complete P-II 233 MHz
machine full of application software (working perfectly after clock battery
replaced!), a complete working Pentium I 233 MHz machine with licensed W95
and 64 Mb RAM, complete working 486 66MHz machine w/64 Mb Ram and hot
switchable, removable HDD module (only 80 Mb :-( capacity), bunches of
common ISA boards, a LOT of MFM drive cables, a LOT of floppy drive cables,
empty cases, etc. Did I mention a LOT of several types of cables?

Someday I will cull out most of the boards and stuff out of that heap (both
on topic and off topic) and make them available to new homes, but it will
be awhile. Schoolwork calls. Note: "Copy II PC" stuff is off limits! :-) :-)

OT DEPARTMENT (Close your eyes if you don't want to see it :-)

1.) Anybody have a Pentium III (three), 550 MHz, Slot 1 processor for
sale? Cooling fan too? I've got a Linux system I've hammered together from
that heap of parts I mention above for which I need this CPU. Only thing
lacking for now. Used a nice Soyo SY-6BB mainboard (early version) found in
that heap o' stuff (ca. 1998).

2.) Who is a reliable supplier of an AMD Athlon XP 2000+ CPU with mounted
fan and warranty for a fair price? Tons of 'em available online, but who
seems to be best as far as price/reputation/support, in that order? I do
not frequently purchase the latest stuff and have no good feel for who's
who. I prefer to live on the "Trailing Edge" of contemporary computing, so
this Athlon stuff is still a little out of my scope (until one or two
generations have passed ;). (Didn't Tim Shoppa name his company along those
lines- Trailing Edge?)

The Athlon CPU is for our son's new machine which Beverly and I have been
quietly gathering parts over the past several months. He'll be 11 in a few
weeks and due for a new machine to replace the Pentium 100 I whipped up for
him five years ago. At least he should have something fairly contemporary
other than just that infernal Sony PS-2. The machine I'm writing this upon
is also sorta new from about 10 months ago - Athlon XP 1500+, 512 Mb RAM,
GeForce 4 video, Jetway mainboard, windoze 98SE. Hope it lasts
(technologically) until 2005 or 6, but that of course depends upon what M$
determines we "need". On the other hand, I plan to be M$ free before that
provided office and productivity applications become pretty much seamless
between M$ and Linux.

But I still like using the older stuff . . .


Speaking of Tim Shoppa, where is he nowadays anyway? He was a major asset
to DEC enthusiasts everywhere and to the old ClassicCmp list in general.

Regards, Chris


Christian Fandt, Electronic/Electrical Historian
Jamestown, NY USA
         Member of Antique Wireless Association
Received on Fri Jan 23 2004 - 13:50:58 GMT

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