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Just got my first Thinkpad, need advice.

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Cerber4444
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Just got my first Thinkpad, need advice.

#1 Post by Cerber4444 » Wed May 19, 2021 1:41 pm

Yesterday I got my IBM Thinkpad A30. It has a few issues, but overall its in good condition.

First of all- I would like to install new windows, to have completely fresh and clean system. What's your thoughts about XP, is it optimal, or too much? And what version is better to install?
Also its speakers membrane is destroyed by time, I'm thinking about replacing them with some spare speakers from another laptop, until I'll find an original replacement. And its accumulator 100% dead, is it okay to open it and replace dead battery cells with a regular Chinese ones? Considering where I live, its impossible to find a new-old stock replacement. And its power supply is making buzzing noise, is that bad?
Would be very grateful for any help.

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Re: Just got my first Thinkpad, need advice.

#2 Post by karl80038 » Wed May 19, 2021 2:56 pm

Many of the A30 models came preinstalled with Windows XP. In fact, the A30 was among the first ThinkPad models to be available with Windows XP. I've heard however that later service packs, especially Service Pack 3, made XP more bloated and thus slower on older, less powerful hardware. But these days, Service Pack 2 or even Service Pack 1 should suffice, as Windows XP hasn't seen support for 7 years (but you probably know that) and is bound to become 20 years old this October and even most programs have already dropped XP support. The few that still support XP might be compiled for SSE2+ CPUs and as such won't run on the Pentium 3 CPU your A30 has. I'd personally be running Windows 2000 or Windows 98 Second Edition on a Pentium 3-class machine, but XP RTM /SP1 (if you're nostalgic for that kind of stuff) should run decently as well. What are you going to be using this machine for? IMO nowadays it's best used for retrogaming or for legacy software or for communicating with older hardware (like industrial machines)
As for the battery, I'd be wary of the cells of Chinese origin. They're often not made very well and in worst case scenario, can be a potential fire hazard. I'd strongly advise you to buy cells from a reputable manufacturer. It's not worth risking your life or your computer. I know nothing of rebuilding batteries, so someone more competent should talk on that topic.

Cerber4444
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Re: Just got my first Thinkpad, need advice.

#3 Post by Cerber4444 » Wed May 19, 2021 11:21 pm

I see. Yes, my main goal with this laptop is retro gaming. And I'm 3D freelancer, would like to see how 3Ds max from 90s looked like on old hardware. So XP would be great to me. Also my goal is to colleсt and preserve old tech.
By the way, do you know the year of manufacturing of this model? I couldn't find this info on google.
Thanks for help.

kfzhu1229
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Re: Just got my first Thinkpad, need advice.

#4 Post by kfzhu1229 » Wed May 19, 2021 11:22 pm

One highlight on the A30 are its fantastic set of speakers, so if you replace them with something else you lose out big time on this highlight.
As for the battery, if you have no prior experience, rebuilding the battery pack is extremely dangerous! While at it, only the battery packs that aren't 100% dead can be rebuilt (short of you going all out and modify the EEPROM on the battery pack)... If yours give you the flashing orange light of death, you might as well just give up on that. If you want though you can open it up and empty the cells inside so at least the laptop can be lighter without a hole in the battery compartment.
The A3x series battery packs are surprisingly easy to open though
One more thing you need to know is regarding the high tendency for these things to develop graphics card failure. I personally bought a number of copper shims and stuff them with thermal paste to fill in the gap between the bare GPU chip and the back of the heatsink, and that seems to do the trick for me. Others on this forum suggest never shutting the machine down to prevent thermal cycling (i.e. the chip gets cool then heats up then gets cooled down from the laptop turned off)
I find the power supply that came with all these 16V pre T4x/R5x models having the buzzing noise that disappears when you turn the laptop on. As someone with extremely sensitive ears, that can be pretty annoying to me, and my solution would be to buy a charger that came out of a T4x/R5x, or is one of the last revisions manufactured under Lenovo that has a 3 prong mickey mouse AC cable connector instead of the 2 prong cloverleaf one.
Cerber4444 wrote:
Wed May 19, 2021 11:21 pm
By the way, do you know the year of manufacturing of this model? I couldn't find this info on google.
This generation of laptop features the Pentium III-M Tualatin chip, and those laptops are all from late 2001 or very early 2002.
Dell Lat CP MMX-233 64mb 40gb W2k
600 PII-266 416mb 40gb WXP
T23 PIII 1.13ghz 1gb W7
Precision M4300 X9000 8gb 160gb WUXGA Ultrasharp fp W10
T530i 15.6" i7 16gb fp W10
UXGA:
A30p PIII 1.2 1gb W7 (IDTech)
T43p 2.26 2gb fp W10 (Sharp)
Lat C840 P4-2.5 2gb 60gb W7 (Ultrasharp)

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Re: Just got my first Thinkpad, need advice.

#5 Post by Cerber4444 » Thu May 20, 2021 1:19 am

I see, well, speakers are dead, so it needs a replacement in order to function at all.

Cerber4444
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Re: Just got my first Thinkpad, need advice.

#6 Post by Cerber4444 » Thu May 20, 2021 1:19 am

Also, guys, I've never installed windows XP from a CD. Can anybody be so kind to give me a guide or something. I'm just afraid to mess it.

Cerber4444
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Re: Just got my first Thinkpad, need advice.

#7 Post by Cerber4444 » Thu May 20, 2021 3:37 pm

Well, I've already solved XP installation issue.

tinue
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Re: Just got my first Thinkpad, need advice.

#8 Post by tinue » Sun May 23, 2021 4:58 am

About the battery: Why do you need a working battery? Depending on the answer, you have options.
I needed a battery for an A21p because I had to update the BIOS. In a way, I just needed to "trick" the A21p into believing that a fully charged battery is installed. So what I did is this:
  • Opened up the 9 cell battery and checked the wiring. Essentially there are one "plus", and three "minus" connections present (minus for 1, 2 and 3 cells). So the battery is a 3 parallel / 3 serial type.
  • Took three tested old laptop cells and zapped them together (using a mini spot welder that I got from China)
  • Soldered the four connections from the logic board of the battery onto the nickel strips of my 3 cell battery pack.
  • Taped / glued the plastic of the battery together
I now have a wee 3 cell battery instead of a full powered 9 cell battery, but this is enough for the Thinkpad to believe that a fully charged battery is installed. The battery was completely dead, i.e. the Thinkpad blinked yellow when the charger was connected. Now the charging indicator looks normal.

Some words of caution: If you foul up the polarity somewhere, or produce a short, things can get bad. Make sure to work in a ventilated area, and keep material ready to put out a fire if necessary. Ideally you work outside and have a steel bucket filled with sand ready. Also wear gloves and protect your eyes.

If it works, be aware that the Thinkpad believes that 3 parallel cells are in place, and will select the charging current accordingly. In my case it charged with less than one amp, which is ok for modern cells. Still, I don't plan on using the "battery" more than absolutely necessary.

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Re: Just got my first Thinkpad, need advice.

#9 Post by Cerber4444 » Sun May 23, 2021 8:33 am

tinue wrote:
Sun May 23, 2021 4:58 am
About the battery: Why do you need a working battery? Depending on the answer, you have options.
I needed a battery for an A21p because I had to update the BIOS. In a way, I just needed to "trick" the A21p into believing that a fully charged battery is installed. So what I did is this:
  • Opened up the 9 cell battery and checked the wiring. Essentially there are one "plus", and three "minus" connections present (minus for 1, 2 and 3 cells). So the battery is a 3 parallel / 3 serial type.
  • Took three tested old laptop cells and zapped them together (using a mini spot welder that I got from China)
  • Soldered the four connections from the logic board of the battery onto the nickel strips of my 3 cell battery pack.
  • Taped / glued the plastic of the battery together
I now have a wee 3 cell battery instead of a full powered 9 cell battery, but this is enough for the Thinkpad to believe that a fully charged battery is installed. The battery was completely dead, i.e. the Thinkpad blinked yellow when the charger was connected. Now the charging indicator looks normal.

Some words of caution: If you foul up the polarity somewhere, or produce a short, things can get bad. Make sure to work in a ventilated area, and keep material ready to put out a fire if necessary. Ideally you work outside and have a steel bucket filled with sand ready. Also wear gloves and protect your eyes.

If it works, be aware that the Thinkpad believes that 3 parallel cells are in place, and will select the charging current accordingly. In my case it charged with less than one amp, which is ok for modern cells. Still, I don't plan on using the "battery" more than absolutely necessary.
So you want to say that its 100% not recommended to install new battery cells for regular use?

kfzhu1229
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Re: Just got my first Thinkpad, need advice.

#10 Post by kfzhu1229 » Sun May 23, 2021 5:30 pm

Cerber4444 wrote:
Sun May 23, 2021 8:33 am
So you want to say that its 100% not recommended to install new battery cells for regular use?
The problem with the 3 cell in a 9 cell package is related with current draw. Charging is one thing, discharging the current draw can be a bigger problem. With heavier current draw now allocated to just one cell as opposed to 3, the voltage drop will be more severe, the laptop can shut off randomly and also the battery cells can degrade faster. So no you don't wanna use that for regular use.
Also this whole welding thing in my opinion is beyond the capability for many forum members here. Using them and rebuild battery packs without any prior experience can be quite dangerous. It took me years before I am comfortable with disassembling battery packs and I have a fire extinguisher by my side always
Dell Lat CP MMX-233 64mb 40gb W2k
600 PII-266 416mb 40gb WXP
T23 PIII 1.13ghz 1gb W7
Precision M4300 X9000 8gb 160gb WUXGA Ultrasharp fp W10
T530i 15.6" i7 16gb fp W10
UXGA:
A30p PIII 1.2 1gb W7 (IDTech)
T43p 2.26 2gb fp W10 (Sharp)
Lat C840 P4-2.5 2gb 60gb W7 (Ultrasharp)

tinue
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Re: Just got my first Thinkpad, need advice.

#11 Post by tinue » Mon May 24, 2021 6:14 am

Fully agree with what was said. The charge board inside of the battery assumes that it deals with a specific set of 9 cells, and so the charge current is chosen wrongly. The discharge current is determined by the power need of the laptop. In my case, the A21p thinks after about 5-10 Minutes that the cells are empty. They are not, but the voltage drop due to the relatively high current per cell tricks the controller into thinking that they are.

So, as I said: I only use the repair that I made when the power adapter is plugged in, and if I need the laptop to think that a fully charged battery is present. There is no other use that I can think of for this battery.

Could you make a "new" 9-cell battery? If you are confident in your welding abilities, and if you can find the proper material (zinc sheets that need to be cut; the usual zinc stripes will not work), then maybe.
There is still the issue that the charge controller was coded with a specific brand of cell in mind. The charge current might therefore still be wrong.

I personally did not trust my abilities, and did not attempt to build such a 9 cell replacement.

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Re: Just got my first Thinkpad, need advice.

#12 Post by Cerber4444 » Mon May 24, 2021 12:37 pm

tinue wrote:
Mon May 24, 2021 6:14 am
Fully agree with what was said. The charge board inside of the battery assumes that it deals with a specific set of 9 cells, and so the charge current is chosen wrongly. The discharge current is determined by the power need of the laptop. In my case, the A21p thinks after about 5-10 Minutes that the cells are empty. They are not, but the voltage drop due to the relatively high current per cell tricks the controller into thinking that they are.

So, as I said: I only use the repair that I made when the power adapter is plugged in, and if I need the laptop to think that a fully charged battery is present. There is no other use that I can think of for this battery.

Could you make a "new" 9-cell battery? If you are confident in your welding abilities, and if you can find the proper material (zinc sheets that need to be cut; the usual zinc stripes will not work), then maybe.
There is still the issue that the charge controller was coded with a specific brand of cell in mind. The charge current might therefore still be wrong.

I personally did not trust my abilities, and did not attempt to build such a 9 cell replacement.
Understood. What about bios battery? Is it okay to replace it with a new one from china? And can I jus cut off old battery cells but leave a battery circuit board inside?

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Re: Just got my first Thinkpad, need advice.

#13 Post by tinue » Mon May 24, 2021 1:07 pm

BIOS battery should not be a problem. I would check if the replacement battery has the same polarity before connecting it (compare the connector / cables with the dead one).

Having a battery circuit board without a battery won't accomplish anything. You might just as well not attach the battery at all.If you want to attach an empty battery shell so that it looks nice, then I would remove the circuit board as well, along with the cells.

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Re: Just got my first Thinkpad, need advice.

#14 Post by ajkula66 » Mon May 24, 2021 1:38 pm

tinue wrote:
Mon May 24, 2021 1:07 pm
BIOS battery should not be a problem. I would check if the replacement battery has the same polarity before connecting it (compare the connector / cables with the dead one).
FWIW most ThinkPads use the same BIOS battery, and these are plentiful on feebay etc. No need to cut anything, plug and play, takes about 7 seconds on these machines... :)
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Re: Just got my first Thinkpad, need advice.

#15 Post by tinue » Mon May 24, 2021 2:05 pm

ajkula66 wrote:
Mon May 24, 2021 1:38 pm
... and these are plentiful on feebay etc. No need to cut anything, plug and play, takes about 7 seconds on these machines... :)
It wasn't quite that easy for me... In Switzerland they are super expensive. The cheapest ones are around 10 USD, and I have seen stores that sell them for 40 USD per piece. I started to just rip off the zinc strips off from the dead ones with some pliers, and then spot weld them onto a simple CR2032. It also depends on the Thinkpad model on how easy a replacement is.
On a T42 one has to remove both keyboard and bezel to gain access. On the A21p I had to fiddle with the Ethernet board, and actually managed to rip off the connector cable doing this.

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Re: Just got my first Thinkpad, need advice.

#16 Post by ajkula66 » Mon May 24, 2021 2:24 pm

tinue wrote:
Mon May 24, 2021 2:05 pm
ajkula66 wrote:
Mon May 24, 2021 1:38 pm
... and these are plentiful on feebay etc. No need to cut anything, plug and play, takes about 7 seconds on these machines... :)
In Switzerland they are super expensive.
With all due respect, is there anything that is NOT expensive in Switzerland ? I haven't visited the country in decades, but spent a few hours at the Zurich airport a couple of years ago, and was absolutely floored by prices, even by airport standards... :D
It also depends on the Thinkpad model on how easy a replacement is.
On a T42 one has to remove both keyboard and bezel to gain access. On the A21p I had to fiddle with the Ethernet board, and actually managed to rip off the connector cable doing this.
The OP has an A30. I still stand by my comment that one can replace the CMOS battery in about 7 seconds, given its location. So yes, it will vary depending on the model, but in the case of A3x series it is as simple as it gets.
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

Cheers,

George (your grouchy retired FlexView farmer)

One FlexView to rule them all:A31p

RIP: T43pSF

Abused daily: T520, X200s


PMs requesting personal tech support will be ignored.

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Re: Just got my first Thinkpad, need advice.

#17 Post by kfzhu1229 » Mon May 24, 2021 3:30 pm

tinue wrote:
Mon May 24, 2021 2:05 pm
It wasn't quite that easy for me... In Switzerland they are super expensive. The cheapest ones are around 10 USD, and I have seen stores that sell them for 40 USD per piece. I started to just rip off the zinc strips off from the dead ones with some pliers, and then spot weld them onto a simple CR2032. It also depends on the Thinkpad model on how easy a replacement is.
On a T42 one has to remove both keyboard and bezel to gain access. On the A21p I had to fiddle with the Ethernet board, and actually managed to rip off the connector cable doing this.
While the prices for those aren't prohibitively expensive in Canada, I have been doing this too because of the sheer amount of laptops I go through with dead CMOS batteries, and buying a quality brand Energizer pack of 2032 batteries still saves about $1 per battery compared to eBay offerings, it adds up when you replace so many of these.
I don't have a spot weld, but what I do instead is I also rip off the zinc strip by rolling it with pliers, and then use conductive pen to make great contact, foil tape to secure the strips in place, then heat shrink the entire thing and it works great if you don't need to take it in and out often.
Unfortunately I have less success with this approach on T2x and T4x machines, simply because the battery holder on them hold the battery really tightly and I can have trouble getting my custom made ones to fit.
Think you should know soldering on these is a big no no. It's extremely easy for you to get those to blow up instead
Dell Lat CP MMX-233 64mb 40gb W2k
600 PII-266 416mb 40gb WXP
T23 PIII 1.13ghz 1gb W7
Precision M4300 X9000 8gb 160gb WUXGA Ultrasharp fp W10
T530i 15.6" i7 16gb fp W10
UXGA:
A30p PIII 1.2 1gb W7 (IDTech)
T43p 2.26 2gb fp W10 (Sharp)
Lat C840 P4-2.5 2gb 60gb W7 (Ultrasharp)

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Re: Just got my first Thinkpad, need advice.

#18 Post by RealBlackStuff » Tue May 25, 2021 12:52 am

I'm surprised you haven't looked on https://www.ricardo.ch
A CMOS battery there can be picked up for less than CHF 0.50 (US$ 0.50)!
e.g. this: https://www.ricardo.ch/de/a/piles-sonny ... 170375516/
Or look at https://www.ricardo.ch/de/s/cr2032
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Re: Just got my first Thinkpad, need advice.

#19 Post by tinue » Tue May 25, 2021 4:41 am

Thin is getting a bit off-topic, I hope people don't mind...
Ricardo is where I get all of my old Thinkpads from. Last year, I found a batch of 16 T42s for 1 Swiss franc. So yes, this is a great auction site. I can't find any cheap assembled BIOS batteries though. There are many CR2032 cells available, but the bare cells are not expensive elsewhere.

About welding: A spot welder for small stuff (CR2032 or 18650 cells) is available for about 40 USD. In this price range, they do not include the required LiPo cell (3S with high current delivery, I think). For around 100 USD welders with LiPo are available. They might be difficult to ship because of the battery, though. With one of these, I have no problems to make a BIOS battery for a T42.

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Re: Just got my first Thinkpad, need advice.

#20 Post by Cerber4444 » Thu May 27, 2021 1:11 pm

Thanks to everybody for your advices. By the way, I live in Uzbekistan. Finding Thinkpad (or ANY old collectible tech not from USSR) at all is super rare here. I was lucky to get one just for around 16$. Finding parts is absolutely impossible. And buying from other country is also impossible or too expensive to deliver. So I have only AliExpress option for replacement part, and even there some items have ridiculous shipment prices.

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Re: Just got my first Thinkpad, need advice.

#21 Post by kfzhu1229 » Thu May 27, 2021 9:26 pm

Cerber4444 wrote:
Thu May 27, 2021 1:11 pm
Finding parts is absolutely impossible. And buying from other country is also impossible or too expensive to deliver. So I have only AliExpress option for replacement part, and even there some items have ridiculous shipment prices.
If shipping from China is appropirate, maybe you can consider looking for parts from 51nb forum members. The google translate might not work as well though.
I for one also many times buy Dell and ThinkPad parts straight from Taobao and its second hand market, Xianyu. The advantage is far less people in China is actually into any old computers that isn't as old as the pre-Pentium machines so the price of a ThinkPad A31 on Xianyu (if available), is gonna be the price for selling for scrap. Plus they also sometimes tear down the laptop and sell parts to you separately if the laptop is broken.
Dell Lat CP MMX-233 64mb 40gb W2k
600 PII-266 416mb 40gb WXP
T23 PIII 1.13ghz 1gb W7
Precision M4300 X9000 8gb 160gb WUXGA Ultrasharp fp W10
T530i 15.6" i7 16gb fp W10
UXGA:
A30p PIII 1.2 1gb W7 (IDTech)
T43p 2.26 2gb fp W10 (Sharp)
Lat C840 P4-2.5 2gb 60gb W7 (Ultrasharp)

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Re: Just got my first Thinkpad, need advice.

#22 Post by Cerber4444 » Sun May 30, 2021 10:19 am

kfzhu1229 wrote:
Thu May 27, 2021 9:26 pm
If shipping from China is appropirate, maybe you can consider looking for parts from 51nb forum members. The google translate might not work as well though.
I for one also many times buy Dell and ThinkPad parts straight from Taobao and its second hand market, Xianyu. The advantage is far less people in China is actually into any old computers that isn't as old as the pre-Pentium machines so the price of a ThinkPad A31 on Xianyu (if available), is gonna be the price for selling for scrap. Plus they also sometimes tear down the laptop and sell parts to you separately if the laptop is broken.

Interesting. I might try it some day, Thanks.

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