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Thread: Latest score: Compaq Portable 486c

  1. #1

    Default Latest score: Compaq Portable 486c - Repaired.

    Just thought I'd share my latest score: The seemingly rare Compaq 486C.

    My brother donated this PC, he rescued it from the trash at his work for me. Thanks bro!

    It did now work when I received it. I turned it on and nothing happened. I did however notice a capacitor failure smell. I guessed it would be the power supply at this point. Sure enough after disassembly of the power supply, 4 leaky caps were found. None of them were bulging, but all of them were the same brand and value. Replaced them with new caps.

    Now when turned on it appeared to be booting but the LCD was just white with some horizontal lines. I thought: Great a portable that can't be portable because the LCD is fried. I figured at this point I would be junking it but I had to at least make an attempt to find the issue. So, I carefully removed the LCD panel and disassembled it. To my amazement every single surface mount electrolytic capacitor (10 or so) on the boards in the LCD had leaked and 2 through hole caps on one of the mini boards that was attached to one of the boards. I replaced all of them. Easy to remove them by just twisting them off - Check Youtube. I only slightly pulled 1 pad and was able to epoxy it down. Epoxy stands up to the heat when soldered and the fix worked great.

    Re-assembled, turned on and it worked! The screen was clear and crisp like it was new!

    I just wanted to post my experience regarding the LCD panel so people know that it is easily fixable since I couldn't find anything online about it. This maybe why there are so few of these left in the wild and If this experience helps anyone it's all good.

    In the end I upgraded the memory from 8mb to 24mb and the processor from 33mhz to 100mhz with an overdrive processor I had. I also added an internal sound card and The sound comes through the internal speaker because there was an existing input for just such a thing. Plus a 2GB hard drive was installed, upgrading from 200MB. This thing works great and was a fun restore.

    P1010734.jpg
    P1010733.jpg
    Last edited by norm8332; July 15th, 2018 at 07:54 AM. Reason: adding

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Great story, I love hearing about this sort of thing, and fantastic that the only issue were the caps. Every time something doesn't work for me from now on I'll check the caps first thing.

    Got to say, its a bit of an ugly thing in my opinion, but I'm jealous, as I would love to find or have unique items such as this given to me.

  3. #3
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    You lucky dog! I remember tearing one apart back in 1998 because I wanted to use its lcd screen for a project I was working on. (how I wish I kept that machine)
    Want to trade for a portable III with a perfect working Gas plasma display??? Just kidding, you hold on to that thing, they are hard to come by. Nice score.

    Do those curley keyboard wires suffer from the same ROT as the portable III cables?

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by cb2000 View Post
    Great story, I love hearing about this sort of thing, and fantastic that the only issue were the caps. Every time something doesn't work for me from now on I'll check the caps first thing.

    Got to say, its a bit of an ugly thing in my opinion, but I'm jealous, as I would love to find or have unique items such as this given to me.
    Yeah, It's the caps bad most of the time in just about anything I have found. I have a stock of them now for just such an occasion.
    Last edited by norm8332; July 16th, 2018 at 11:11 AM.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by VERAULT View Post
    You lucky dog! I remember tearing one apart back in 1998 because I wanted to use its lcd screen for a project I was working on. (how I wish I kept that machine)
    Want to trade for a portable III with a perfect working Gas plasma display??? Just kidding, you hold on to that thing, they are hard to come by. Nice score.

    Do those curley keyboard wires suffer from the same ROT as the portable III cables?

    Thanks, yeah the keyboard cable is very soft, you could dig your fingernail into it. I'm just being extra careful with it. I loaded it with a bunch of games from the era, (early 90's) and windows 95 for a NIC I added mainly to transfer files. And a boot menu etc. because I prefer IBM DOS 7.0 over 95 DOS because it is very memory efficient.

    It's a fun little dos box to add to my collection.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
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    Cool looking machine there, man. Also, it's amazing that LCDs back in the 1990's used capacitors. Beautiful display. Is it TFT or the other LCD type?

  7. #7
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    Hey Norm, that's just plain nice. Good luck with it.

  8. #8

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    It looks like a tft. It has very sharp saturated color, good contrast and a decent viewing angle for the time ('91) that DSTN lacks. This was a apparently an over $7,000 machine when new.

    I didn't expect the LCD panel would contain capacitors either, but it is like an inch thick in it's bare form so I disassembled it. It actually uses two 1/2 inch diameter florescent tubes for the back light!

    It actually has a Wikipedia entry...well not exactly.. This machine was a 486-33 (66?), Color TFT LCD, 8MB ram before upgrades and dated 1991. This is a 486C, C for color i guess.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compaq_Portable_486
    Last edited by norm8332; July 16th, 2018 at 12:50 PM.

  9. #9

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    Very nice! Definitely need to find me one of these someday. I’m a huge Compaq fan (as If that’s not obvious by my username).

    You have confirmed my suspicion about leaky caps being the cause of the very common “white LCD” problem on these.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Orange View Post
    Hey Norm, that's just plain nice. Good luck with it.

    Thanks, I'm definitely having some fun with it. I missed some of these old dos games on real hardware

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