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Flashing battery symbol in old (286 based)system

by Trevor 42 / March 18, 2005 6:24 AM PST

Hello all.

This question concerns some rather old hardware.

The specs are as follows:

CPU intel (80)286 with an 80287 co processor
BIOS Unknown
Hard disk drive 40Mb (Manufactured by Conner)
3.5 inch Floppy disk drive (Panasonic)
1Mb R.A.M (manufactured by Seimens, 30 pin type)
(O/S Unknown but handbook says it was supplied with
MS-DOS version 3, I have not yet succeeded in "Booting" to an O/S)The owner is very vague about the O/S (he has mild Alzheimers disease).
Base unit manufacturer Triumph-Adler (Germany)
Model HERMES H220
Manufactured/supplied 1989/1990
System used as standalone word processor (not connected to any network or the internet)

OK Now the problem.

I was asked to look at this PC by an elderly man who is not the best historian. He says it was working fine as a word processor until about three years ago. Then a flashing battery symbol appeared during Boot-UP and the PC doesn,t proceed any further.
My immediate thoughts were it was the BIOS/CMOS battery. I brought it home and took the cover off - Problem! Although I could identify the CPU & R.A.M
I could not identify the BIOS (no chip with a sticker saying "Do not Remove" etc.) nor anything resembling a battery (I was primarily looking for one of the old type that used to be soldered directly to the motherboard).Definitely nothing like a CR2032 push fit battery.

It boots to POST (1 BEEP) and then hangs in what is entitled "Built In Set-UP" menu with a battery symbol flashing.

This looks like a BIOS Configuration as it has the facility to set the date & time etc. (it is displying the 10th of March in one area, no day or year displayed, just ??/??/??.

In the abscence of manufacturers support (they now make photocopiers) all I could think of was to plug in, switch on and boot to this menu in the hope that the PSU would charge some embedded battery. I have had it "on charge" for 8 hours now and the battery symbol is still flashing.

Am I missing something?

How long should I reasonably expect to charge the battery for (if that is what I am doing)

Any advice anyone could give would be gratefully received - I appreciate that 15 years is good service for any PC, but this old gentleman like writing his letters etc. using it. He has another PC, an Advent with an AMD Athlon CPU running Windows ME - but that is another story!!!!

Many thanks for your help, I hope that I've supplied enough system information - let me know if not.

Trevor Jones

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Very hard, on older stuff
by Willy / March 18, 2005 7:03 AM PST

Some older system did have a "capacitive battery" to hold the CMOS info. Older systems also used a myraid of typical batteries like 4-AA, 2-AA or 3-AAA, or special block type, etc. in some holder, Tadrain battery was a big name then. Since, you had the system on for awhile and didn't save the info, then no capacitive type, then a real battery is either missing or still not found. Some systems did have a RTC or emmbedded battery under the RTC or such which looked like a IC chip. Look for a old systle alarm clock or cube/boxy IC. The RTC was buried within the IC and can't be charged, only replace with its removal and swap out. Look towards the back side of mtrbd. for 2-3 pins that may mention battery connection or "electric spark symbol" or along those lines. If you could get a detailed info to locate what was the battery, then you go from there, but no had no luck. It gets that way with older systems. Check the bios display, usually a very long number to see if any info can be graned fromn that, check then with http://www.wimsbios.com for possible help.

good luck <:)> -----Willy

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Thanks Willy
by Trevor 42 / March 18, 2005 7:27 AM PST

Thanks Willy, that's really helpful.

I will have another look at the motherboard in the morning and post a progress report.

Many thanks,

Trevor

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Is there a chip that says "Dallas"?
by Steven Haninger / March 18, 2005 8:52 AM PST

If so, this is a the battery and clock. Some were replaceable but were hard to find and a bit pricy. If you see a Dallas chip, I'm sorry to suggest the time has come.:(

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Thanks
by Trevor 42 / March 18, 2005 9:02 AM PST

Hi Steven,

Thanks for the information - very much appreciated.

I will have another close look at the motherboard in the morning (it's 01.00 here now and I'm going to close down for the night shortly). However I will do a post tomorrow am (uk time) to provide an update on my findings and progress.

once again my thanks.

Trevor

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Maybe hope if it's a Dallas
by Steven Haninger / March 18, 2005 9:43 AM PST
In reply to: Thanks
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Thanks for the link
by Trevor 42 / March 19, 2005 8:07 AM PST

Thanks for that link Steven.

It is fitted with a Dallas DS1287 and this may be able to be replaced with a DS12887 according to the website.

Incredibly I have found one of these on an old motherboard and managed to remove it (it pulled off). However the one on Hermes motherboard is soldered on directly.

I will attempt to desolder one and resolder the other onto the Hermes motherboard although I do not believe my soldering to be precise enough for the task (the soldered points are incredibly small.

However as it has a similar vintage I do not think this is an ideal solution in the long term.

I think it may be time for this old gent to upgrade to something a bit more contemporary for his back-up PC.

Languishing in my PC "Shack" I have a fairly sturdy "western Systems" desktop running windows 95 with a Pentium 1 that would probably fit the bill for him and I am going to suggest this to him (best of all it has a removable battery!!!).

Anyway thank you very much for your help (& Willy too).This has been a learning experience -which is what I believe computing should be about.

Best wishes

Trevor

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