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Thread: Lanier Model 103 "No Problem" word processor

  1. #1
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    Default Lanier Model 103 "No Problem" word processor

    Uncovered this in the back of the warehouse here at work, long since written off.



    It's a 1978 Lanier (AES Montreal rebranded) Model 103 "No Problem" word processor.

    Pulled the fiberglass top covers off and had a bit of a look after a brief stint with the vacuum cleaner.





    It's an 8080 based machine. Unfortunately there are no discs with it, and I've been informed that it's CP/M based on hard-sectored discs (16 sector apparently), so I'm on the hunt for software.

    A rapid "action" shot showed that there was at least some life upon powering up with a Variac. Got HT and something resembling a raster:



    Pulled the video logic card out.



    The ceramic capacitors appear to have been dipped in something green at the factory at the very top, and something had gotten in (I'm thinking an insect) and had eaten the top off every single one:



    Replaced them with modern equivalents, and did the tantalums on the board at the same time.



    Cleaned up a few contacts and that got the raster a bit better but it was still very dim when pushed to overdrive:



    Took a looksee, and there are three parts to the VDU, the tube, the power supply and the output boards, mounted here.



    With a few photos taken and a bit of work undoing wires, the module comes out.



    Everything looked in fairly good condition, but ordered replacements nevertheless as a few of the electrolytics tested bad.





    All rebuilt with new electrolytic and film caps:



    Net result, superbly bright, stable raster.




    --Phil
    Last edited by PhilipA; February 13th, 2015 at 07:56 AM.

  2. #2
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    Still no life from the rest of the system so I pulled the power supply out. Again, modular:



    Took a look, and a few of the 2N2222A's have tin whiskers:



    Despite that it seemed to be working ok, with a load on the -12v rail:



    The 5V rail was acting squirrelly though, and wouldn't stabilize. I couldn't adjust it properly also, so reading up pointed at the crowbar thyristor:



    Removing it from the circuit didn't make much difference, so ordered a new main filter capacitor and a replacement crowbar thyristor. Also changed out the 2N2222A in the circuit and substituted the voltage regulator chip.



    Same problems.

    Spent an evening instead figuring out the circuit:



    Started again working on it and began testing and replacing resistors.





    Saw that the sawtooth that's generated from the 555 circuit was being fed to the "DRIVE" pin of the main chopper transistor, but once the voltage came up it was being bucked to a flatline:




    At the same time I started troubleshooting again and was greeted by a bright flash and a puff of smoke. Concerned, I began to dig about.. then this fell out:



    Leg off a diode I replaced, shorted out on the power switch connector. That ended a late night working on things, tired.

    Did a bit more work on it and substituted the main chopper transistor out for another on the board.



    Lo and behold, a stable 5.00 volts.



    Currently waiting on a couple of spares to arrive, shall build that up, get it set and then see if the thing will even try to boot.


    --Phil

  3. #3
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    Nice computer. Great documentation.
    Good luck finding the software for it. I'm sure someone, somewhere, has it.

  4. #4
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    I hope so. If not, just getting it to run CP/M would be kinda fun, but I do also have a Qume daisy-wheel printer for it, so as a word processor it would still be good (well, as good as can be expected).

    Shame the disks have vanished, we did have a look in the storage vault and asked a few people who might have remembered it but time has washed away any trace of them.


    --Phil

  5. #5
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    Hi All;
    PhilipA, Congratulations on what You have done so Far..
    This is the First that I have seen on this posting..
    It would be nice to see it Running CPM again..

    THANK YOU Marty

  6. #6

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    Great progress!

    The Lanier Model 103 *may* be designed to read a system disk before it would do anything. There is no classic Eprom/Rom on the board but it does use tiny pairs of Intel 4 bit proms for something; boot loader likely because it doesn't have enough storage to operate out of rom only.

    "AES Data" in Canada designed and sold them in some market. Lanier sold them in other markets. Perhaps someone in Canada would know more about AES and these designs.
    Last edited by JDallas; February 15th, 2015 at 07:03 AM.

  7. #7
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    Not quite, the power supply is still missing the -12 and +12 supply because I robbed Peter to pay Paul; I'm waiting on a chopper transistor to arrive.

    Once I have all the voltages operational I can power it up and see if I get any signs of digital life.

    --Phil

  8. #8
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    I believe that these were also marketed with the AES "Superplus" brand and at least one other branding in Europe. The floppy controller is the usual AES M2FM, if memory serves, using a USRT to perform serializing, so the data bits are organized "wrong way round" from traditional FDC ordering. I've got a very rare 8" floppy from its predecessor--it took me forever to work the coding out.

    You might want to ask Bill Degman (on this forum) about the one he played with a few years ago. These were not rare at all--they were quite popular.

  9. #9
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    I'd have thought they'd keep to a known quantity- looks like the engineering was thought out well.. I'm guessing the software follows suit. These probably use a similar, if not the same storage layout at a guess.

    I think the popularity (more than one person has said this) might be the saving grace- it might be possible to find the correct software.

    --Phil

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    I believe that these were also marketed with the AES "Superplus" brand and at least one other branding in Europe. The floppy controller is the usual AES M2FM, if memory serves, using a USRT to perform serializing, so the data bits are organized "wrong way round" from traditional FDC ordering. I've got a very rare 8" floppy from its predecessor--it took me forever to work the coding out.

    You might want to ask Bill Degman (on this forum) about the one he played with a few years ago. These were not rare at all--they were quite popular.

  10. #10
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    After getting nowhere with LittleDiode in the UK, I found a listing for some PIC645 choppers on eBay, which will do the job. Bought two, headed this way from Indiana and should be here Monday.

    That should get all the rails up to correct voltages and from there I'll be able to see if this thing attempts to boot.

    --Phil

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