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A not so clockwork orange

PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2013 1:59 am
by saldali
Hi guys, see if you can help me out with this one.
I've recently been given a working T3200SX portable PC. Now here's how the story goes...

Day 0:
The previous owner - my brother inlaw - switched the beast on in front of me, and it gave a CMOS checksum error (on account of the dead cmos battery). After F1 and "save" the machine booted into some pre-Windows graphic environment, called from autexec.bat, and we could see that the orange screen and keyboard, were a-ok!

The not-windows-thing required a mouse for operation, so my brother in law pulled out a serial mouse, but of course it wouldn't "play" just by being "plugged" - a power off was in order, to let the driver in config.sys see the mouse at power on.

The machine rebooted. This time we had a working mouse, but now the orange plasma screen was blurry and hard to make out.

"Not to worry" I said "maybe the mouse driver made the T3200SX jump to a lower resolution mode". So I happily bagged the machine and brought it home.

Day 1:
At home I rem'd the mouse driver out of config.sys. But much to my dismay the graphic screen was still "blurry" - text mode is ok though.

Day 2 and a whole week later, I've been cruising the net for some insight on what's going on. I dug up a pdf manual for the T3200 (not SX) and read about the XCHAD.EXE TSR proggie. Managed to grab hold of it, only to find out that it was meant for EGA only (the SX being VGA). Then found the VCHAD.EXE, which worked in VGA, and it showed me that:

- all my 16 shades of orange are the same! I only have Dark & Bright.

Ok. I somewhere read that the shades were carried in four lines in the plasma connector, so maybe this had to be pushed in further down in the board.

So I found a nice pictorial guide to open de T3200SX, which I followed to the point of having the keyboard out, but not being able to pull the top part aside.

And why? the flashlight showed me that the plasma cable (a strand of colorful wires?) is being held down by some black thick round cable that runs over it. I got affraid and stoped trying to pull the plasma aside, as seen in the picture guide...

It made me double sad, as I was fixing on also replacing the dead battery. I can't access it.

But I was hoping anyone could help on the bright&dark instead of 16 tones issue.

Thank you in advance!

Re: A not so clockwork orange

PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:32 am
by SpidersWeb
My memory is a bit fuzzy because I've spent more time with my T5200/100 in pieces than my T3200SX - maybe I'll go find some guides to see if I can refresh it.

I remember with one of them, the screen was a nuisance. If it is the T3200SX, then you can usually just move it around and eventually it'll just rotate out of the way. It can take a few goes to get the right angle, but it should give in without much force.

I replaced my CMOS battery with a 3xAA holder - works great.

Bright and Dark - make sure you have not selected 'Monochrome' in setup is the only thing I can think of, besides a bad cable.

Edit: oh and if you're unable to repair it let me know, I'd pay quite a bit for a parts machine. I'm hoping yours is a simple fix though - they're very reliable and tolerant machines. ISA slots you may have noticed in the back are ideal for a network and sound cards too ;) Just powered up mine for a quick game.

Re: A not so clockwork orange

PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 1:21 am
by saldali
Thank you Spidersweb!
So, if I got you right, I need to rotate - not pull up- the screen assembly. That's also what I'd gathered from the disassembly procedure I found here
But, the top assembly forms a sort of frame for the power switch and power inlet in the back, meaning I must lift it at least enough to stay clear of those. At that point I feel a resistence coming from some black cable pinning down the screen cable. Looking through the small amount of opening I can see how the black cable is trying to keep the screen cable from following the screen. (I'm sorry for my english not being able to describe such a visual operation).

Anyway, I thing I'll have a go at the turn-rather-than-pull approach. I fear maybe some time someone has opened the machine before and failed to properly arrange the cabling when closing up. Maybe when you had some free time you could see in your own machines, from where and to where the thick black cable is going - maybe I should disconnectet it first?...

Best regards

PS: Ok, opened it up again; still couldn't turn the top aside, *but* maybe because of my wiggling around with the wires, the shades of grey now work! - Also, managed to pull out the CMOS battery which was fixed with Velcro tape do the floppy support. Couldn't think of a place to tuck a 2-battery holder - harder without being able to open the top more... Still, I feel 3/4 victorious!

Re: A not so clockwork orange

PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 11:45 am
by SpidersWeb
Excellent! I'm glad the greys returned.

You can fit an AA holder in there. I'm fairly sure I ended up with mine squished in between the HDD and FDD cables. You wont be able to see that part very well with the screen still installed. My suggestion at this point you try to find a replacement battery that'll fit just where the old one was ( would be my first stop), and put it back together - if the greyscale keeps working you'll have fixed the machine :)

If you still want to remove the screen, it should lift up a little bit and then rotate. As that article says, he suspects he moved a cable tie, so it may take a bit of wiggling. This is all I did. If you can't lift it off the base slightly then chances are you've missed a screw or clip somewhere - if that's the case let me know and I can point out all the screw positions (exterior).

I want to pull my T3200SX apart so I can put up photos to help, but I'm actually too nervous :S The machine is running perfectly but in the past has given me trouble - so I really do not want to disturb it right now lol T5200/100 is in pieces - the signal for "Direction" on the floppy cable isn't coming through *sigh* but that isn't much help here as the layout is different and the screen clips off (was an advertised feature).

Re: A not so clockwork orange

PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 2:35 am
by saldali

Spidersweb, donĀ“t pull your T3200 apart!!

I found the perfect home for the 2xAA battery holder: my T3200SX has a compartment underneath for a modem (I think) and that was empty. And guess what, the inner wall has a square whole which leads directly in front of the CMOS battery connection and it's wide enough for the connector to pass through. The size of the compartment is exactly right for 2AA's. It's amazingly simple! I won't even have to remove the keyboard to replace the alkaline batts when they go flat, just take out three screws from the modem expansion compartment, the way Toshiba intended for a user serviceable task.

I wanted to post some photos but it seems the forum wont let me upload, just link.
Anyway, I think this has been a valid contribution to the forum, how many more till I earn my "wings"? :)

Orange Plasma update:
It's somewhat erratic: at powerup (now without the cmos error :wink:) the screen goes bright; then it starts to dim rapidly until minimum (only 2 tones), which is exactly the same as having the brightness dial all the way down, and the dial has no effect. Then, at some point it starts to slowly recover until normal brightness and the dial is working again. It's very puzzling and now i'm not so sure about the bad contact theory, although my tinkering and pulling and turning has done something to it alright.


Re: A not so clockwork orange

PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 8:15 am
by SpidersWeb
That's a brilliant place for the batteries, I wish I'd thought of that!
I opened a Attache BV-386 on Saturday and found the previous owner had soldered together three AA batteries, put them in a plastic bag, and wedged them between the floppy drive the keyboard. Not the cleanest solution (on the bright side, the bag had kept in most of the leaked acid).

If it's a bad connection, you're likely to notice changes when it's bumped.

For photos I just use photobucket or similar - paste the link in the post - select the link text and click the Img button.