Compudyne 3SXL/25 | Forum

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Maklarr4000
Maklarr4000 Sep 8
So I picked up something new.






This is a Compudyne 3S-XL/25 from 1992-ish. It's still got notes and tags attached to it indicating it was used by Clean Air Engineering until at least 1999, which is a long time for a DOS-based laptop to keep going. It's dirty and in kinda rough shape, but that's to be expected for something going on 30 years old that has been tossed around a lot.



I picked this one up for three reasons. The big one is that it fills a gap in the WCC collection for the "early 90's laptop" for my presentation on the evolution of mobile computers (which I might get to present yet this year, fingers crossed). It has all the features I was looking for in that regard as a good bridge between the Compaq "proto-laptop" and the much more familiar Gateway Solo I've shown off previously.



The second reason was that it's a Compudyne, a brand I'm familiar with and is actually built pretty well for a cheap PC clone maker from the late 80's/early 90's. I know for sure that once I get power into it, it'll boot and run without a problem, and that it'll take whatever abuse might get thrown it's way going forward. It's also got a neat beige/green color scheme that I kinda dig, so that's a bonus.



The third reason was the price- as a "for parts" machine, this thing didn't cost hardly anything. Which makes sense I suppose- I think I'm one of the very few people who still have plans for computers this old.

The Forum post is edited by Maklarr4000 Sep 8
Maklarr4000
Maklarr4000 Sep 8
Here's a photo of the I/O ports on the back too.




From left to right, it has a port to connect to a dock under that cover (which I can't seem to get open, I suspect there's a trick to it), a 4-pin DIN power socket, PS/2 Mouse port, Parallel port, Serial Port, and VGA out- though what I've read and seen indicates it outputs in monochrome and is VGA in terms of monitor standard only. The other ports had a cover, but it has long since been broken off.

Jasper
Jasper Sep 10
Cool shit
Maklarr4000
Maklarr4000 Sep 10

Quote from Jasper Cool shit

I managed to score a matching power supply for it on eBay, and that should be here early next week. Here's hoping this goes well!

Maklarr4000
Maklarr4000 Sep 13
The power supply has arrived, and as far as I can tell it's all good. Plugged it in, and as predicted, the old Compudyne laptop works! Or, rather it works in the sense that it powers up and posts- it has some problems to address before it can really be used.


The big problem to solve is that the back light for the screen is broken or dead. It's very dark, think like a calculator display, or an original Gameboy, but with the contrast turned all the way down. I found that my video camera could see it better, so I wound up using that to "see" the screen for most of this. For other things, I used my maglite to pump some light into the panel (pictured), and this gave it just enough contrast to read the text on screen. The picture here is much easier to read than it is in person!


From there, I found that the thing has a dead hard drive (no surprise- it does spin, but probably quit working a decade or more ago), the battery pack is totally shot, and the floppy disk drive needs to be cleaned. However, even with all of that, I'm excited to see that it is, basically, working. Were the screen light situation resolved, a little cleanup would be the only thing keeping this thing from running the original Sim City right now. 

For now, I need to do some more research. Compudyne hasn't made computers in 25 years, and I doubt there are too many spare parts kicking around. I expect I'll need to build something for the backlight, but we'll see how bad that might be yet. Everything else will be easy to do from there. The machine does run without the battery pack inserted, so I've removed the Ni-Cad cells from the holder so they can be recycled. The cells were easily half or more of the machine's weight- it actually feels kinda strange without them.


While this wasn't much more than "plug it in and go" I was pleased that everything on this machine has come together more or less according to plan. Hard to ask for more than that!

Maklarr4000
Maklarr4000 Sep 13
I'll get a pin out on the power supply when I've got a little more time to monkey with it. I expect there are a few people out there who might benefit from knowing what pins go to what- as I sure can't find anything on this thing. Compudyne doesn't have much documentation it seems.
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