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View Full Version : Just pulled the trigger on a Compaq Portable



EddieDX4
July 27th, 2010, 10:51 AM
I've had a secret obsession with the Compaq Portable I's for quite sometime. Something about the green on black screen, and the overall looks of the machine that always made me think perverted thoughts (along the lines of Mike's DD-WRT Linksys bridge contraption)...

Well, there was one posted about a day ago on eBay that looked in fairly decent shape. I emailed the seller and he confirmed it had a full 640k installed, so i decided to pull the trigger on it.

I might have paid a little more than most would consider rational, but in this World of vintage passion the price I paid was well worth it to me.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=320567161664&_trksid=p2761.l1259

That's her... Love her already. Can't wait to get her and give my wife another reason to make me sleep on the couch.

Vint
July 27th, 2010, 04:21 PM
May I just say in your defense, that is a fine looking machine :)

EddieDX4
July 27th, 2010, 04:28 PM
May I just say in your defense, that is a fine looking machine :)

Well thank you! Definitely makes me feel much better about the decision to hear compliments from others. :)

I had hesitated to own one due to lack of space, and in fact there was one available for free locally through Craig's List a few months back (which I posted on here) and I skipped it for that reason. But, I gave in as this remains one of my all time favorites.

EddieDX4
July 27th, 2010, 06:49 PM
Question about the built-in video on the Portables... As I understand the video switches to a 350 scan lines mode when in text mode so the font used looks like that of the IBM MDA displays, and in graphics mode is supports CGA modes.

Does this card/built in CRT combination support Hercules modes, or is the 350 scan lines mode limited to text only?

akator
July 27th, 2010, 07:02 PM
May I just say in your defense, that is a fine looking machine :)

I second that. I haven't seen a Compaq Portable that nice for a long time.

tezza
July 27th, 2010, 07:11 PM
Yes, very nice.

Hmm...A 16-bit luggable is something that's missing from my collection. I should start actively seeking one.

I do like the vintage compaqs. Something about the design...it just seems to have style!

Tez

EddieDX4
July 27th, 2010, 07:54 PM
Yes, very nice.

Hmm...A 16-bit luggable is something that's missing from my collection. I should start actively seeking one.

I do like the vintage compaqs. Something about the design...it just seems to have style!

Tez

80's Compaqs (Portables and Deskpros) had a blend of ruggedness and professional styling that's been difficult to dupliacte, since.

channelmaniac
July 27th, 2010, 08:02 PM
Yes, very nice.

Hmm...A 16-bit luggable is something that's missing from my collection. I should start actively seeking one.

I do like the vintage compaqs. Something about the design...it just seems to have style!

Tez

Gee Tez... I have an IBM Portable PC here... the big suitcase luggable, but shipping to Kiwiland will be HORRIBLY expensive. :(

EddieDX4
July 27th, 2010, 08:07 PM
Gee Tez... I have an IBM Portable PC here... the big suitcase luggable, but shipping to Kiwiland will be HORRIBLY expensive. :(

Shouldn't be that bad to Seattle.... ;)

vwestlife
July 27th, 2010, 10:08 PM
Question about the built-in video on the Portables... As I understand the video switches to a 350 scan lines mode when in text mode so the font used looks like that of the IBM MDA displays, and in graphics mode is supports CGA modes.

Does this card/built in CRT combination support Hercules modes, or is the 350 scan lines mode limited to text only?

I believe later versions of the Compaq display board supported 640x350 EGA monochrome graphics on the built-in monitor. Compaq did not provide support for Hercules graphics, but I'm sure if you really wanted to, you could install a Hercules-compatible display board in place of the Compaq board and then adapt its connection to the internal monitor.

EddieDX4
July 27th, 2010, 10:37 PM
I believe later versions of the Compaq display board supported 640x350 EGA monochrome graphics on the built-in monitor. Compaq did not provide support for Hercules graphics, but I'm sure if you really wanted to, you could install a Hercules-compatible display board in place of the Compaq board and then adapt its connection to the internal monitor.

That's going to be my first experiment, I think... Heck, if I get lucky and mine happens to support EGA resolutions, I'll be more than happy. That would open up the doors for more apps.

tezza
July 28th, 2010, 03:42 AM
Gee Tez... I have an IBM Portable PC here... the big suitcase luggable, but shipping to Kiwiland will be HORRIBLY expensive. :(

Yea, I know. The tyranny of distance (and USPS pricing). :(

channelmaniac
July 31st, 2010, 03:55 AM
Yea, I know. The tyranny of distance (and USPS pricing). :(

If you ever get to the states, you'll just have to come through Dallas and carry it back with you. ;)

EddieDX4
July 31st, 2010, 07:34 AM
If you ever get to the states, you'll just have to come through Dallas and carry it back with you. ;)

I'll be in DFW around Thanksgiving to visit my parents... Does that give me the advantage over Tez...? ;)

james1095
August 2nd, 2010, 12:13 PM
Man I had a beautiful example of one of those in the late 90s. Great condition, fully loaded with 640K and an internal 10MB Rodime hard drive. I even had the brown padded Compaq tote bag and the original manual for the computer. I gave it away at some point, hopefully it didn't end up in a landfill. Seems like every time I get rid of something I eventually regret it :(

EddieDX4
August 2nd, 2010, 01:02 PM
Man I had a beautiful example of one of those in the late 90s. Great condition, fully loaded with 640K and an internal 10MB Rodime hard drive. I even had the brown padded Compaq tote bag and the original manual for the computer. I gave it away at some point, hopefully it didn't end up in a landfill. Seems like every time I get rid of something I eventually regret it :(

Oh man... I would have gladly paid a premium for such example as what you describe! Especially since shipping would have been free...local pickup!

ppo
August 2nd, 2010, 01:49 PM
I think it's a great price considering the state of the machine.

In Portugal a machine like that would only sell for 200 or more.

People here are like that, either they sell it for a price that is too high or they'll just throw it away because it wouldn't be worth the work.

james1095
August 2nd, 2010, 08:45 PM
Oh man... I would have gladly paid a premium for such example as what you describe! Especially since shipping would have been free...local pickup!

Well if I still had it I would keep it! What can you do though, if I never got rid of anything I wouldn't be able to walk in my house. I gave away an XT Model 286 too, even had the manual for that. Like they say, hindsight is 20:20. I never dreamed old PC stuff would ever be worth anything.

EddieDX4
August 2nd, 2010, 08:47 PM
Well if I still had it I would keep it! What can you do though, if I never got rid of anything I wouldn't be able to walk in my house. I gave away an XT Model 286 too, even had the manual for that. Like they say, hindsight is 20:20. I never dreamed old PC stuff would ever be worth anything.

Even if I talked to you with the Godfather voice and made you an offer you could not refuse...? ;)

james1095
August 3rd, 2010, 02:42 PM
Find a way to get in touch with me 12 years ago and it's all yours :)

EddieDX4
August 3rd, 2010, 03:35 PM
Find a way to get in touch with me 12 years ago and it's all yours :)

I'm marking the date in my "Places in Time" Calendar, in case we ever get time machines (not holding my breath, though...seeing how it's 2010 and flying cars never became mainstream).

EddieDX4
August 3rd, 2010, 11:06 PM
Received the machine today and....sigh.

I keep losing hope on eBay with every passing day.

The keyboard has many non-functional keys, some work if pressed on a few times (how hard you press does not make a difference). I disassembled it and came to the conclusion that Compaq used the crappiest foam material to hold the thin round foil piece that makes contact with the PCB when you press a key. This material appears to self destruct, and the problem affects every key but the ones that are misbehaving essentially have most of this material flattened or, literally speaking, liquified... I even get a 1E 301 error about every 5th boot, which I believe is a keyboard error.

Also, the keys are MUCH MORE yellowed than they looked in the pictures. I swear those pictures either had the white balance adjusted or were cleaned up after the fact.

I'm very disappointed because the listing described the machine and keyboard as working "great".

At first I thought it was a bad trace on the PCB, but I tested for resistance at various points and got the results I expected, so the PCB is fine.

I emailed the seller but I'm not holding my breath. I'm ready to write this one off as yet another loss and move on.

EddieDX4
August 4th, 2010, 12:43 AM
The seller took the time to respond and expressed understanding, and even offered to send me keys from a parted out keyboard he has. The thing is, I've studied the design and think it should be fairly simple to find a replacement soft foam/sponge material to replace the existing one, so I'm just going to fix it myself.

On a different note of disappointment, I finally cracked my Portable open and realized the 8088 is soldered onto the motherboard!! :( That simply sucks. I had a V20 I wanted to replace it with.

I've always liked these machines, but I guess I never really paid attention to its limitations. It is, afterall, the very first (successful) PC clone. For what it's worth, the machine does look very clean inside and has 640k installed.

JohnElliott
August 4th, 2010, 04:48 AM
I've got an Apricot Xi where the foam-and-foil keyboard disintegrated in a similar manner. I was able to use Sellotape double-sided adhesive foam pads to replace the original foam.

Agent Orange
August 4th, 2010, 05:29 AM
EddieDX4:
About that 8088 that you want to replace with a V20. If you are able to get a lttle creative with a soldering iron and have some time on your hands, that can be done. One way, and the best way, I believe, would be to use a vaccuum desolding kit and pull the chip off of the the pcb. You could then solder in a chip socket available from almost any electronics parts store or RS. Another way, slightly more risky/involved, would be to use a small pair of dikes to carefully cut the 8088 out at the very top most part of the chip, trim down the leads on your new chip socket, and very carefully solder the chip socket to the old cpu leads of the pcb. It works, done it many times in the past, but you have to have patience on your side.

Good luck.

Lord Moz
August 4th, 2010, 07:19 AM
On a different note of disappointment, I finally cracked my Portable open and realized the 8088 is soldered onto the motherboard!! :( That simply sucks. I had a V20 I wanted to replace it with.

That's what soldering irons are for :twisted:

Some desoldering wick is very handy in such cases, and maybe a hot air gun if you have one. FWIW, the Portable II's 286 is socketed, but it's an LCC (I think, but I'm no expert on chip packages) so it doesn't help much as there aren't nearly as many replacement/upgrade options.

__
Trevor

Chuck(G)
August 4th, 2010, 07:24 AM
Any compelling reason to replace the 8088 with a V20? If it's for performance, forget it--you'll barely notice the change.

It's useful if you want to run non-protected mode 286 code, however.

southbird
August 4th, 2010, 07:40 AM
I'm marking the date in my "Places in Time" Calendar, in case we ever get time machines (not holding my breath, though...seeing how it's 2010 and flying cars never became mainstream).

My theory is that 2015 WOULD have had flying cars, but Doc and Marty screwed up that timeline see... so they're the only ones who got to see that

EddieDX4
August 4th, 2010, 10:10 AM
Any compelling reason to replace the 8088 with a V20? If it's for performance, forget it--you'll barely notice the change.

It's useful if you want to run non-protected mode 286 code, however.

I had the V20 and wanted to put it to good use.

But, in retrospect, it is an 8mhz part so having it operate at 4.77 isn't exactly a good case for "good use". I'll save it in case I ever build an XT Turbo.

EddieDX4
August 4th, 2010, 10:12 AM
That's what soldering irons are for :twisted:

Some desoldering wick is very handy in such cases, and maybe a hot air gun if you have one. FWIW, the Portable II's 286 is socketed, but it's an LCC (I think, but I'm no expert on chip packages) so it doesn't help much as there aren't nearly as many replacement/upgrade options.

__
Trevor

You underestimate how bad I am with a soldering iron... Like, really really bad. I simply lack the dexterity. I am, however, willing to give it a shot...

The seller happens to have a Portable motherboard listed on eBay... Maybe I should buy that one and try replacing the 8088 with a socket. If i mess it up, at least my machine is still operational.

EddieDX4
August 4th, 2010, 10:17 AM
EddieDX4:
Another way, slightly more risky/involved, would be to use a small pair of dikes to carefully cut the 8088 out at the very top most part of the chip, trim down the leads on your new chip socket, and very carefully solder the chip socket to the old cpu leads of the pcb. It works, done it many times in the past, but you have to have patience on your side.

Good luck.

I actually thought of doing that to another motherboard a while back... It seemed easier than trying to disolder the chip. Besides, this is a plasticky i8088...so fugly..I won't miss it.

The V20 I have is a ceramic one. So purdy.

But, as I mentioned in an earlier reply, after thinkinga bout it it would be a waste as it would be running at almost half its rated speed. I shall save it for another project. I could still socket the motherboard for that rare chance of me finding an AST HotShot/286 or such upgrade.

Chuck(G)
August 4th, 2010, 11:47 AM
I had the V20 and wanted to put it to good use.

But, in retrospect, it is an 8mhz part so having it operate at 4.77 isn't exactly a good case for "good use". I'll save it in case I ever build an XT Turbo.

Excellent call, IMOHO! :thumbsup:

EddieDX4
August 4th, 2010, 08:28 PM
Excellent call, IMOHO! :thumbsup:

Hey, be proud of yourself for knocking some sense into me...

So I went on the hunt for a replacement material to use for fixing my keyboard. Found what I believe to be a perfect match, in a weird place.

I went to Fry's Electronics and checked out their custom storage cases section and found this $15 case that had the exact same type of spongey foam, precut into cube cylinders that are almost the right size. Based on the dimensions I need, the number of these "cubes" that come in the case, and the fact that I will hopefully not have to do this again for another 30 years, there's enough for 570 years worth of repairs.......... B.S. math rules!

So, I'm going to spend some time between now and the end of this weekend repairing my keyboard and reporting back.

By the way, in case some of you live near Fry's, the specific case is a Platt branded case model number 207... It literally has a huge 207 printed on a white label that's pasted on the top of the case. Can't miss it.

I know $15 is kind of excessive, but seeing how this has turned into a project now I'm looking at it in terms of the "learning experience"... Or maybe I'm just trying to justify spending an arm and leg for...foam.

Either way, I hope some of you may find this useful.

ibmapc
August 4th, 2010, 09:10 PM
<snip>
I could still socket the motherboard for that rare chance of me finding an AST HotShot/286 or such upgrade.


Funny you should mention that. I won this( http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=200501200562&ssPageName=ADME:L:OU:US:1123 )on EPAY a couple days ago and am hoping to put it in my IBM 5155 when it arrives in the mail. How much do you know about the HotShot/286? Does it draw much power or run hot? I had problems with the Orchid Tiny Turbo 286 back in 1988. There tech support said that the portable's power supply wasn't up to the task, so back to Fry's it went.

EddieDX4
August 4th, 2010, 09:57 PM
Funny you should mention that. I won this( http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=200501200562&ssPageName=ADME:L:OU:US:1123 )on EPAY a couple days ago and am hoping to put it in my IBM 5155 when it arrives in the mail. How much do you know about the HotShot/286? Does it draw much power or run hot? I had problems with the Orchid Tiny Turbo 286 back in 1988. There tech support said that the portable's power supply wasn't up to the task, so back to Fry's it went.

So you're the one who outbid me... hehe

I'm not very knowledgeable on the AST offering, but I also had an Orchid Tiny Turbo 286 back in the day! And, it also never worked right.

This is getting too weird....

EddieDX4
August 5th, 2010, 02:54 PM
I have a fully functional keyboard now... Thanks to the $15 (eeeik) foam.

I also just bought a Sound Blaster 2.0 to give it some personality (and a game port). Well, okay, I just want it so that I can run 8088 Corruption...

ibmapc
August 5th, 2010, 10:39 PM
So you're the one who outbid me... hehe

I'm not very knowledgeable on the AST offering, but I also had an Orchid Tiny Turbo 286 back in the day! And, it also never worked right.

This is getting too weird....

That is wierd. I was wondering if someone here was bidding on that. It go kinda interesting there at the end. My max bid was $103.03 so that tells you how much I wanted this thing. Oh, by the way, the HotShot/286 got here today and is now plugged into my 5155. Yes, it does run pretty warm. Most of the heat seems to come from the 287 coprocessor. I'm currently running tests to see if I can crash it. So far it's running great. Only trouble I've had is that it seems to conflict with my XTIDE Bios. So I've temporarily removed the XTIDE Card. Hopefully, I can just adjust the settings on the XTIDE to get it working with the Hot Shot. Sorry I didn't meen to hijack this thread.
P.S. I'm glad to hear you've got your keyboard working. I'm currently trying to see if I can get the guy at the computer repair shop here to sell me his Compaq Portable. That way I could put it side by side with my 5155(IBM's answer to the Compaq Portable) and see which one I like better.

EddieDX4
August 6th, 2010, 12:12 AM
That is wierd. I was wondering if someone here was bidding on that. It go kinda interesting there at the end. My max bid was $103.03 so that tells you how much I wanted this thing. Oh, by the way, the HotShot/286 got here today and is now plugged into my 5155. Yes, it does run pretty warm. Most of the heat seems to come from the 287 coprocessor. I'm currently running tests to see if I can crash it. So far it's running great. Only trouble I've had is that it seems to conflict with my XTIDE Bios. So I've temporarily removed the XTIDE Card. Hopefully, I can just adjust the settings on the XTIDE to get it working with the Hot Shot. Sorry I didn't meen to hijack this thread.
P.S. I'm glad to hear you've got your keyboard working. I'm currently trying to see if I can get the guy at the computer repair shop here to sell me his Compaq Portable. That way I could put it side by side with my 5155(IBM's answer to the Compaq Portable) and see which one I like better.

That's strange about the XTIDE card and the HotShot conflicting. Maybe the XTIDE BIOS loads routines that exist in a 286 BIOS, which might explain the conflict. Could be a memory address or range conflict.

In regards to the 5155 vs Portable notion, I happen to like both, but I prefer green on black over amber screens. But, doesn't the 5155 use a standard PC motherboard? If so, that opens up the doors for some good upgrade options vs the Portable, which uses a custom form-factor motherboard.

The Sound Blaster 2.0 worked like a charm. I miss the days of non-PnP devices that required no drivers. Simple jumper settings, a DOS environment variable, and voila! Was playing Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego earlier with my wife. The music sounds very clear.

The people at the recycling/surplus place I frequent are always giving me freebies and, for purchasing the sound card, they handed me an MFM controller card (DTC5150X, http://stason.org/TULARC/pc/hard-disk-floppy-controllers/C-D/DATA-TECHNOLOGY-CORPORATION-DTC5150X-Two-MFM-ST506.html) with cables. Now I just have to hunt down a drive. They have a 10MB, but want $49.99 for it... There's a few in the 30 to 40 MB range that should work with that controller going for $25 on eBay. Or, I could just wait for the new batch of XTIDE cards to become available.

Other than the new found HotShot card conflict, how's the XTIDE working out for you? What sort of drive did you pair it up with?

ibmapc
August 6th, 2010, 04:13 PM
That's strange about the XTIDE card and the HotShot conflicting. Maybe the XTIDE BIOS loads routines that exist in a 286 BIOS, which might explain the conflict. Could be a memory address or range conflict.

I think it is due to the fact that I flashed it with the XT+ Bios which is for the V20 and the HotShot still has the 8088. So, I need to reflash with the standard Bios or put the V20 in place of the 8088.


In regards to the 5155 vs Portable notion, I happen to like both, but I prefer green on black over amber screens. But, doesn't the 5155 use a standard PC motherboard? If so, that opens up the doors for some good upgrade options vs the Portable, which uses a custom form-factor motherboard.

Yes, it uses the same MB as the XT 5160. I modded mine for 640K. It was originally limitted to 256K


The Sound Blaster 2.0 worked like a charm. I miss the days of non-PnP devices that required no drivers. Simple jumper settings, a DOS environment variable, and voila! Was playing Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego earlier with my wife. The music sounds very clear.

The people at the recycling/surplus place I frequent are always giving me freebies and, for purchasing the sound card, they handed me an MFM controller card (DTC5150X, http://stason.org/TULARC/pc/hard-disk-floppy-controllers/C-D/DATA-TECHNOLOGY-CORPORATION-DTC5150X-Two-MFM-ST506.html) with cables. Now I just have to hunt down a drive. They have a 10MB, but want $49.99 for it... There's a few in the 30 to 40 MB range that should work with that controller going for $25 on eBay. Or, I could just wait for the new batch of XTIDE cards to become available.

Other than the new found HotShot card conflict, how's the XTIDE working out for you? What sort of drive did you pair it up with?

The XTIDE is pretty cool. I have it paired with a Fujitsu 4gig HD and a Sandisk Ultra 2gig CF card. Still working out some bugs with prolonged writes to the CF card, but it seems to work flawlessly with the HD.