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Thread: I知 new here and I need a little bit of help..

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default I知 new here and I need a little bit of help..

    I致e inherited a massive beast of a computer and I知 kind of worried that I知 going to mess it up badly.
    It was my stepdads computer that I believe he had built in the early 1980s by a company called Crystal Data. I致e looked everywhere to find the company and I only come up with offsite storage solutions. I知 pretty sure that痴 it痴 a 286 series 1 by the service tag on the rear. Crystal Data was in Huntsville AL at the time he lived there but not much else. I did manage to take the case apart and see that it was fairly clean and might turn on. But as I said, I知 afraid of doing damage. This is way out of my wheelhouse because this is the first 1980s computer I致e tried to fix. I will include pictures and hope that someone out there can give me an idea. I have plenty of disks and a usb disc reader to add it to an external HD to save for the family. I知 going to make a photo album with detailed photos in my community page.
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  2. #2

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    It's not a Commodore (their PSUs go over-voltage as they age), so my opinion is, just fire it up and see what happens. It's liable to still work fine. My dad's 1984 Apple IIe still works fine, no recap or anything. They used far far better components back in the day when computers cost $10,000 and weren't just ubiquitous disposable appliances. If it's a 286, then I think the earliest it could be is 1986. (Edit: The PC/AT was introduced in 1984; I am fake news.)

    If something does go wrong, it will probably just be a cap blowing, but then you'll be able to obviously see that it needs replaced. :P

    Disclaimer: I'm just a guy living in a big shack with a bunch of old computers, not a professional or anything, so if you follow my advice and fry your machine, scare your pet, and/or cause the sky to fall, please do not hold me responsible. :3

    Edit: And looking closer at that tag, given that it says "July" on it, I'd bet a dollar that the "0789" is a date code, and you're looking at a 1989 machine, some kind of later-era fast 286. I'd most definitely check for a soldered-in clock battery and get that thang out of there.
    Last edited by bladamson; February 25th, 2020 at 04:48 PM.
    -- Lee
    If you get super-bored, try Muh Crappy YouTube Channel
    Looking to Buy/Trade For: Mac IIci hard drive bracket and one bottom rubber foot, Hercules-compatible card + monochrome monitor (preferably IBM 5151), Multisync VGA CRTs
    May Be Interested In Acquiring: 040 or 601 card for Mac IIci, Decent NuBus video card, Commodore PC(286+), PC-era Tandy stuff, Aesthetic Old Serial Terminals

  3. #3

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    Probably just a computer store that bought cases, motherboards, hard drives, etc from Taiwan and China and slapped their own label. It looks like they went to the effort to get FCC approval on some stuff, so maybe they were trying to sell to NASA or something so they had to follow all of the rules.

    https://fccid.io/FZM/amp

  4. #4
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    Currently Warren PA
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jafir View Post
    Probably just a computer store that bought cases, motherboards, hard drives, etc from Taiwan and China and slapped their own label. It looks like they went to the effort to get FCC approval on some stuff, so maybe they were trying to sell to NASA or something so they had to follow all of the rules.

    https://fccid.io/FZM/amp
    Funny you should say that, he did work for NASA from 1966 to 1986. He helped with the math on some of the propulsion systems. He also spent time at Redstone Arnsal as well. I知 just trying to salvage any information that痴 stuck on the twin HDs.

  5. #5
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    Funny you should say that. He worked for NASA from 1966 to 1986 doing mathematics for the propulsion systems. He also spent time at Redstone Arsenal as well. That’s why I’m concerned about the data on the twin HDs. I’m just trying to save all I can before it stops working completely. I know that he was using it in the early 2000s as storage for his exam papers for the classes he used to teach. I know, that sounds crazy but he did!

  6. #6

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    One thing of note, there is probably a little battery inside the case, fastened in with double-sided tape just to the left of the power supply, that connects to the motherboard via a 2-pin header. If it hasn't already leaked, you probably want to unplug that battery, remove it, and throw it away.

    If it's a newer motherboard, it may have one soldered to the motherboard right next to the keyboard connector. If so, most definitely dike it out of there. If you can leave the leads long enough, you can plug in a 3-AA holder instead.

    Or just leave it without a battery. It will probably boot fine without one, just that the system clock won't keep time over cold boots.

    But yeah, post some high rez photos of the inside. Someone will say if they see anything off, but the clock battery is the main thing I can think to check for. If it's leaked all over the place and eaten away mobo traces, then you have a project on your hands. But it still ought not hurt to just try crossing fingers and firing it up regardless of the clock battery's condition.

    Edit: I bet you a dollar that the "0789" on that tag is a date code, July 1989. In which case I'd definitely check for a soldered-in battery on the motherboard and get that thang ouuuut of there. :3
    Last edited by bladamson; February 25th, 2020 at 04:50 PM.
    -- Lee
    If you get super-bored, try Muh Crappy YouTube Channel
    Looking to Buy/Trade For: Mac IIci hard drive bracket and one bottom rubber foot, Hercules-compatible card + monochrome monitor (preferably IBM 5151), Multisync VGA CRTs
    May Be Interested In Acquiring: 040 or 601 card for Mac IIci, Decent NuBus video card, Commodore PC(286+), PC-era Tandy stuff, Aesthetic Old Serial Terminals

  7. #7

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    One thing you could do, is disconnect the power supply, and verify it supplies the correct voltages. If you have an old hard drive, connect that while testing, so the supply sees some load.

  8. #8
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    Here is a generally accepted way to handle this sort of thing.

    Step 1 - Open up the computer and inspect the inside. Take pictures of every square inch of the thing while you do so. You are looking for any obvious signs of damage or age. Corrosion, swollen caps, signs that caps have leaked etc. Most of this would be pretty obvious. Also look for a battery, and inspect the area around it (if there is one) very carefully. Remove the battery ASAP, cut it out if you have too. You'd be looking for green deposits on pins or traces on the board. Look in any ISA cards in the area.

    Step 2: Assuming all looks good, then go ahead and unplug the power supply from everything. Then plug it into the wall and turn it on. Use a volt meter to measure the various voltages coming off the connectors. Make a note of them. It maybe a good idea to find a non-valuable hard drive or something like that to plug into it as some power supplies won't power on. If it is a standard AT power supply, then finding a pin out to compare voltages too would be easy enough. If not, then post pictures here, someone may have an idea what to expect on what pins.

    Step 3: Re-inspect the internal components just to make sure you did not miss anything.

    Step 4: Plug the PSU only back into the mother board. Remove any expansion cards except the display card (if it is a discrete adapter), and then power it up. Be ready to kill power from the wall if things go south.

    Step 5: If it posts and looks good (no bangs, smoke or sudden odd smells), then leave it on for 5 or 10 minutes, but stay ready to pull the power if need be.

    Step 6: If all goes well, then kill the power, and re-assemble it, use your original pictures to get it all together. Then power it up again and see what happens.

    From there, the instructions would become specific to the machine and you may need to post on here some more for help.

    Good luck!

    IBM 5160 - 360k, 1.44Mb Floppies, NEC V20, 8087-3, 45MB MFM Hard Drive, Vega 7 Graphics, IBM 5154 Monitor running MS-DOS 5.00
    IBM PCJr Model 48360 640kb RAM, NEC V20,, jrIDE Side Cart, 360kb Floppy drives running MS-DOS 5.00
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  9. #9
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    This looks like the kind of machines we generally call "no name" clones. (More pictures would clarify) They were very popular with the budget crowd in the late 80s and early 90s. They may literally have no name on them, or the name of some small short lived company. Usually some individual or small company would obtain a bunch of inexpensive Taiwanese parts, assemble the machines themselves, often to customer specs, and sell them for less than big name vendors, hoping to make a few bucks. Good condition ones seem to do well on eBay these days.

    But what was so great about these machines is they were fully customizable. One of these could contain minimal functionality or it could be loaded with hardware. Always have to look inside. If it is a standard-ish AT style case, then it should not be too conceptually different from a "modern" ATX case - except beige, strong steel, and no stupid blue/rainbow LEDs.

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