Forum Rules and Etiquette

Our mission ...

This forum is part of our mission to promote the preservation of vintage computers through education and outreach. (In real life we also run events and have a museum.) We encourage you to join us, participate, share your knowledge, and enjoy.

This forum has been around in this format for over 15 years. These rules and guidelines help us maintain a healthy and active community, and we moderate the forum to keep things on track. Please familiarize yourself with these rules and guidelines.

Rule 1: Remain civil and respectful

There are several hundred people who actively participate here. People come from all different backgrounds and will have different ways of seeing things. You will not agree with everything you read here. Back-and-forth discussions are fine but do not cross the line into rude or disrespectful behavior.

Conduct yourself as you would at any other place where people come together in person to discuss their hobby. If you wouldn't say something to somebody in person, then you probably should not be writing it here.

This should be obvious but, just in case: profanity, threats, slurs against any group (sexual, racial, gender, etc.) will not be tolerated.

Rule 2: Stay close to the original topic being discussed
  • If you are starting a new thread choose a reasonable sub-forum to start your thread. (If you choose incorrectly don't worry, we can fix that.)
  • If you are responding to a thread, stay on topic - the original poster was trying to achieve something. You can always start a new thread instead of potentially "hijacking" an existing thread.

Rule 3: Contribute something meaningful

To put things in engineering terms, we value a high signal to noise ratio. Coming here should not be a waste of time.
  • This is not a chat room. If you are taking less than 30 seconds to make a post then you are probably doing something wrong. A post should be on topic, clear, and contribute something meaningful to the discussion. If people read your posts and feel that their time as been wasted, they will stop reading your posts. Worse yet, they will stop visiting and we'll lose their experience and contributions.
  • Do not bump threads.
  • Do not "necro-post" unless you are following up to a specific person on a specific thread. And even then, that person may have moved on. Just start a new thread for your related topic.
  • Use the Private Message system for posts that are targeted at a specific person.

Rule 4: "PM Sent!" messages (or, how to use the Private Message system)

This forum has a private message feature that we want people to use for messages that are not of general interest to other members.

In short, if you are going to reply to a thread and that reply is targeted to a specific individual and not of interest to anybody else (either now or in the future) then send a private message instead.

Here are some obvious examples of when you should not reply to a thread and use the PM system instead:
  • "PM Sent!": Do not tell the rest of us that you sent a PM ... the forum software will tell the other person that they have a PM waiting.
  • "How much is shipping to ....": This is a very specific and directed question that is not of interest to anybody else.

Why do we have this policy? Sending a "PM Sent!" type message basically wastes everybody else's time by making them having to scroll past a post in a thread that looks to be updated, when the update is not meaningful. And the person you are sending the PM to will be notified by the forum software that they have a message waiting for them. Look up at the top near the right edge where it says 'Notifications' ... if you have a PM waiting, it will tell you there.

Rule 5: Copyright and other legal issues

We are here to discuss vintage computing, so discussing software, books, and other intellectual property that is on-topic is fine. We don't want people using these forums to discuss or enable copyright violations or other things that are against the law; whether you agree with the law or not is irrelevant. Do not use our resources for something that is legally or morally questionable.

Our discussions here generally fall under "fair use." Telling people how to pirate a software title is an example of something that is not allowable here.

Reporting problematic posts

If you see spam, a wildly off-topic post, or something abusive or illegal please report the thread by clicking on the "Report Post" icon. (It looks like an exclamation point in a triangle and it is available under every post.) This send a notification to all of the moderators, so somebody will see it and deal with it.

If you are unsure you may consider sending a private message to a moderator instead.

New user moderation

New users are directly moderated so that we can weed spammers out early. This means that for your first 10 posts you will have some delay before they are seen. We understand this can be disruptive to the flow of conversation and we try to keep up with our new user moderation duties to avoid undue inconvenience. Please do not make duplicate posts, extra posts to bump your post count, or ask the moderators to expedite this process; 10 moderated posts will go by quickly.

New users also have a smaller personal message inbox limit and are rate limited when sending PMs to other users.

Other suggestions
  • Use Google, books, or other definitive sources. There is a lot of information out there.
  • Don't make people guess at what you are trying to say; we are not mind readers. Be clear and concise.
  • Spelling and grammar are not rated, but they do make a post easier to read.
See more
See less

Zenith ZWL-183-93 revival

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Zenith ZWL-183-93 revival

    I finally got me a Zenith ZWL-183 laptop, the -93 variant to be exact, so it has a 20MB hard drive versus the 10MB the -92 has.

    Here was how it look when I first got it out of the box:


    Pretty dirty. You can also see my other new toy sitting under it that I will be making a thread about very soon.

    When I fired it up, I was greeted with this:


    Seems to be a VERY common issue with these. I figured the JVC 26-pic hard drive probably had stiction, which it did.

    Here is the drive liberated from the Zenith:


    Heavy as hell! I really can't believe how much this little drive weighs.

    So, I got it unstuck, but it wouldn't spin-up when you first powered the computer on, you had to do a ctrl+alt+delete and then it would spin up, weird! It would just spin right back down though, and I would get the drive error again. I spent several hours on it and couldn't figure it out, so right before I went to sleep I was reading a thread on here from someone that had one, saying that the hard drive worked fin until the battery died.

    Well, I wasn't going to be able to sleep knowing that, so I got up, connected an ATX PSU to the battery terminals, plugged in the Zenith power supply, and the damn thing booted right up! It was at a prompt that said "Enter Password Attempt 1" or something like that, so I felt pretty good about that and went on to bed.

    Today, I decided to make a small and entirely reversible modification to the little power board inside of the laptop. I discovered that removing the little choke coil from that board takes the DC barrel jack completely out of circuit, so I pulled that out, and then just ran wires from the jack straight to the positive and negative points for the battery, allowing me to plug my 12V 2.2A power supply into the side of the machine like normal! No more "low power" light and the hard drive now works as it should! I also wired it for the more traditional center-positive, rather than center-negative like this laptop originally was.

    Someday, I will build a proper battery for and probably reverse this, but for now it's working great.

    So, if you have one of these and think the HDD is toast, it may not be! It could simply be that the unit isn't getting enough power.

    I have found that when it sits for a while the drive does get stuck again sometimes, but I found a firm, flat-handed "smack" over the drive seems to always get it going again! Thankfully, the stiction this drive has seems to be pretty mild, for now at least.

    I also was having issues with the disk getting stuck in the floppy drive, so I pulled it out and found the offending part of the mechanism, oiled it, and it's working great now! Ejects disks very smoothly. First time I have had that issue on a PC. It's usually Macs that have that problem. Bit of a pain getting the two springs for the pop-up assembly on and off, but it's doable. They're really strong springs.

    Here it is all back together and working:


    Sure is a cool laptop. VERY big too! Love the way this JVC hard drive sounds also. I was able to get around the "password" thing by just removing a command from the autoexec.bat. Still has the original Zenith MS-DOS 3.21 on it! I have already backed that up, along with some other stuff. I will probably format the drive and start fresh with it.

    I also found something really funny on this hard drive I will share a little later.

    More to come!
    Last edited by compaqportableplus; December 23, 2020, 10:41 PM.
    Compaq - It simply works better

    Okay, so here's something hilarious I found on the hard drive. I saw that it had a C:\WINDOWS directory and got excited, as I have never found Windows already installed on a computer this old. So I went to the directory and typed "WIN" to be greeted with this:


    I definitely got a kick out of that. It's just a simple batch file. I did save it too so if anyone wants it let me know. I placed it in a directory called "WINDIE."

    Of course, I did put actual Windows on it too:


    This is version 1.01. I will be putting 2.03 on it also.

    Here's is the CheckIt system report as well as a hard drive benchmark:


    About the same performance as a typical MFM hard drive.

    I may install an NEC V20 in this laptop as well, as I did on my ZFL-181.
    Last edited by compaqportableplus; December 24, 2020, 02:34 PM.
    Compaq - It simply works better


      As someone who lives less than a mile from the old Zenith HQ/ factory (and a modest Zenith collector), this thread warms my heart. Very nice to see and I enjoyed the humorous "trap".


        Originally posted by Airxx View Post
        As someone who lives less than a mile from the old Zenith HQ/ factory (and a modest Zenith collector), this thread warms my heart. Very nice to see and I enjoyed the humorous "trap".
        Thanks! That’s really cool that you live close to the old Zenith headquarters.

        Glad you enjoyed funny batch file.
        Compaq - It simply works better