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Discussion Starter #1
Has anyone toyed with the idea of using the standard VCSI "Brick" to interface a to a pc running RDS 3.11?
just a thought as my testbook 1 has finally failed due to a poorly internal PSU
Thoughts?
Brian :(
P.S. im not a rangie owner, merely a Freelander man :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Here is the offending article

and the other side

Now the problem is this is a switched mode psu, and with it not working, it's impossible to say what the outputs are!
having said that, I would be prepared to fit an alternative if someone has the pinouts for the original, put yourself in my position, if you had a testbook, would you want to risk damaging the motherboard irrevocably? . I would love to speak to someone who has had some experience in this type of repair/mod, as it's quite sad having amassed the all the neccesary leads and software ove the years, to find it all, to put it bluntly useless!, I was just interested to know if anyone had made the leap of utilising the VCSI with another type of pc other than TestBook, if nothing other than it running a little faster!
Cheers
Brian. :)
 

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As I understand it, "Testbook" is just a 'PC running Testbook' software. Just look at the back of the laptop; find the model number; go to the manufacturers website; phone the parts people and ask for the Internal PSU board. You obviously already know how to remove/refit.

I've done this to several old Compaqs over the years - I can't imagine others are much different. It's a lot quicker/cheaper/less effort, than setting up a new machine from scratch.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hi Paul, if only it was that easy!, Testbook 1 was a bespoke tablet pc manufactured by HP for Rover group, and not just a generic off the shelf item. the PSU itself was manufactured by ASTEC electronics, & even they say this was a "one off" made specifically for that model only, I've tried contacting HP via their website, and have drawn a blank!. I suppose it had to be a long shot, as testbook 1 is approaching at least 15 years old!. This was my reasons for reaching out on this forum in the hope someone could supply me with the necessary info to move forward, especially as Colin of BBS, who says he has had tons of experience in the repair of the early testbooks.
I look forward to any assistance that may be forthcoming.
Warmest regards
Brian.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'm in the North East of England, saw the testbooks on ebay, but to be perfectly honest I would prefer to repair my own, if possible, but anyone who has used TestBook 1, will know they are fairly slow!, I was just wondering if a more modern generic laptop could be interfaced to the VCSI brick, ending the reliance on a 15 year old 486dx based tablet pc.
hope this helps
Brian. :D
 

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See your point about it being slow,but actually is irrelevant - nothing about a Freelander one is clever enough to need more speed.Being able to actually do it is more to the point. If you get stuck and decide to repair it I have a contact who may be able to help with parts.
 

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Hiya Brian
Happy to help as best i can.

The Testbook Motherboard has a special IO chip on it so you cant just connect a VCSI brick to a PC.

the power supply just outputs common PC power supplies to the main board on a fairly standard pin header, IIRC they are even marked up.
You could try getting a PC power supply and using its outputs wiring them to your connector.
A bit of a lash up but if it works, :thumb:

regards

colin
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hi Colin, here's some pics of the TB1 internals, first with the psu in place....

and the second with it removed....

Now to what concerned me, a standard 486 AT psu, has two 6 pin molex connectors on it, whereas Testbook has an 8 pin molex and a 20 pin ribbon header between the motherboard and the PSU. From memory, I recall many moons ago, there was a web page, by a german chap, who was using "Shore power" on a testbook, however IIRC, this was a testbook 2 unit. now here's the crunch, the 8 pin molex on TB1, is this the output from the psu to the motherboard, with the input voltages being supplied via the ribbon cable ( and various components on the main motherboard), OR, are the inputs via the Molex, and the outputs from the ribbon, supplying the processor, ram etc ?. The pins themselves aren't marked up as such, so really a stab in the dark as to where to connect :(
Deeper delving, via the HP Museum, of all places, Say that TestBook, was designed as a 386 machine running DOS, as a point of sale type machine, with customisable input/outputs, which would be supplied to the end user, with turnkey operation, but were to be supplied in minimum mutiples of 50!
Amazing what trivia you can turn up on the Web :D
Cheers
Brian.
 

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Hiya Brian
Yea i had totally forgot about that pesky additional IDC type connection. and i really do not know what it is for, but you know, i would still guess that it is input as opposed to that which is clearly output oriented.
when you try to power it up, what do you get on those pins?

The TB2 and beyond used a bog standard MOBO with all IO being put on an add in card which would have been great.
If you would like to send me that PSU board, i would of course be more than willing to give it the once over and compare its output to a working one.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
BBS SPY said:
Hiya Brian
Yea i had totally forgot about that pesky additional IDC type connection. and i really do not know what it is for, but you know, i would still guess that it is input as opposed to that which is clearly output oriented.
when you try to power it up, what do you get on those pins?

The TB2 and beyond used a bog standard MOBO with all IO being put on an add in card which would have been great.
If you would like to send me that PSU board, i would of course be more than willing to give it the once over and compare its output to a working one.
Evening Colin, I don't have the thing to hand at the moment, however that's interesting what you say about T2 I/O being on a add in card, I'm looking forward to learning a bit more, but here's something to make you smile. :) :) :)

What's cooking in the kitchen?

Add one 21" svga open frame monitor chassis, with a pinch of something special....

Cook at gas mark 3!

Nearly forgot this bit...

Now what's that little box of tricks held on with yellow cable ties?

Stand well back. the wife's due home at any minute :naughty: :naughty: :naughty:

Remember the most important ingredient, the right software, et voila, one not so portable testbook solution :lol:
Brian :wink:
 

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Discussion Starter #17
paul.adshead said:
A touch screen CRT, cool.

Just keep away from the 'hot' end (- that's at 30KV)!!
Hi Paul, it's not the EHT , nor the X-rays that worry me, it's the wife reaction to the dessecration of her kitchen, :evil: :evil: and getting a hernia lugging it about ! :lol: :lol:
Brian. 8)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Right, the PSU is now sorted :D , turns out that a common anode fast recovery rectifier diode in a TO220 package, was at fault, but now on power up, I have lines on the display, long beep, followed by 5 short beeps, corrupted bios perhaps?
Now the bios is on a 1 meg eprom, & I have access to an eprom programmer, AND a friendly chap who has graciously allowed me to copy his prom, but just to save me a long journey, does anyone have any other ideas? I just don't want to have a 800 mile round trip if I'm missing something silly :oops: :oops:
Suggestions on a postcard please :lol:
Cheers
Brian.
 

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Could be the Video Bios, have you tried reverting to OEM Video? :think:
other than that, as you have a bios image already, not much i can offer i am afraid. :crybaby2:
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Hi Colin, I don't exactly have the Bios image just yet!, just the offer of copying the eprom from another machine, not so handily located 400 miles from home :( , If you have an image of AMIBIOS 486DX ISA BIOS to hand I would really appreciate it if you could email it to me! :wink: , having said all this, the "Beep" code is meaningless to me, and not having a meaningful display,i.e. no text, is none to reassuring, to say the least :(
As to the display, I do have an ancient isa graphics card to hand :dance:
Any ideas on what the beep code might mean?
Cheers
Brian :mrgreen:
 
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