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ThinkPad 390X Upgrade and general information Topic

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saperkus
Posts: 45
Joined: Mon Oct 16, 2017 1:48 pm

ThinkPad 390X Upgrade and general information Topic

#1 Post by saperkus » Thu Jul 05, 2018 3:30 pm

TL: DR: A restoration guide for 390X plus some of my struggles to get things done.

I’ve spent a last few weeks trying to restore IBM ThinkPad 390X. If somebody don’t know this model, it was released around the same time as 600X and also supports Pentium II and Pentium III CPUs. Well, there’s one difference thought. 390/390E/390X are much less popular than 600 series. Because of this I decided to write what I’ve learned about this machine so far. First of all, below I’ve listed my 390X’s “base” specs before performing any upgrade:
  • CPU: Intel Pentium II 400MHz.
  • RAM: 192MB (64MB + 128MB)
  • HDD: Hitachi 6.4GB
  • LCD: 14.1” 1024x768.
  • Keyboard: German ISO layout.
  • Batteries: Both dead.
  • AC Adapter: IBM 54W (FRU: 02K6555).
Overall, it was in a really good shape visually. First power on showed two errors:
  • DateTime error.
  • Key is stuck error.
First error was easy to fix - new CR1220 battery did the trick. Second required some tinkering with “~” key. In any case, nothing too fancy. Once I was done with them, there was something else to take care of. I’ve noticed, that there was something odd with white color – it was shifting from white to blue. Also, brightness slider was kind of not working. I have downloaded an HMM and started to read how to disassembly this device. During disassembly it become evident, that LCD/cables/inverter or CPU/motherboard were damaged. Also, messing with these cables didn’t do any good, as white color became green. After connecting external monitor, it become clear, that motherboard and CPU are fine and something in LCD panel assembly was no longer working as should. At this point I would probably dispose of this device if I hadn't checked eBay for parts. Someone had to sell whole LCD panel assembly with working screen for acceptable price. I gave it a shot and after installation it works just fine.

As I was able to restore it to working condition, I’ve decided to upgrade 390X. Below I’ve prepared a list of possible upgrades.
  • Replace TrackPoint cap.
  • Upgrade RAM to 2x 256MB (maximum supported).
  • Get a working main battery.
  • Upgrade BIOS.
  • Get an official Windows 98 recovery disk.
  • Get 2nd disk drive adapter and use it for 6.4GB disk.
  • Get Ethernet CardBus card.
  • Upgrade HDD.
  • CPU upgrade to Intel Pentium III 500MHz.
  • Get QWERTY US keyboard.
Finding a TrackPoint cap was easiest thing to do. Then I started to research what other parts, which I need to get. HMM and old PSREFs were helpful there. Below information, which I’ve found:
  • 256MB module’s FRU number is 33L3070. Apparently, it supposed to be a PC100 low density module. Also, I’ve learned, that high density modules won’t work, PC133 probably also. So, I’ve looked on eBay and ordered two “official” modules. It took like a month for them to arrive. In any case, I’ve received two 33L3070, which were in fact low density PC133 modules (Micron MT16LSDF3264HG-133E4, 256MB, SYNCH, 133MHz, CL3). Once I’ve installed them, I was welcomed by statement, that OS won’t boot. I've checked BIOS readme to find, that there's a problem with 256MB modules support, which was fixed in newer BIOS version. Sadly, BIOS upgrade wasn’t possible without a working battery. Well, until I found out how to bypass it. But more about that later.
  • Regarding battery, lesson learned: get that thing while you still can. Because I’ve took my time, it got discontinued and it’ll be no longer produced (sic!). I’ve searched many places, even managed to get one just to return it day later, as it was damaged (probably EC give up a ghost). Finally, I’ve decided to write WTB post on Marketplace. But in the end, I didn’t need this battery… More of it below.
  • As getting battery was close to impossible, I tried to upgrade BIOS without it and without any success. Also, none of guides on the Internet were working on 390X. The usual flash2 /U was reporting instant response about successful upgrade, but as you can guess nothing has happened. After a few weeks, I’ve been reading posts about upgrading BIOS without a battery in other ThinkPads and something caught my attention. Someone was using HEX editor to disable battery check in one of applications. This give me an idea to check files, which were on the diskette. I took a look on CONFIG.SYS, which referenced to cmd.com, which referenced to F42.EXE and btflash.f04. At this point, I was looking for error, which BIOS update application has displayed, when it detected not working battery. F42.EXE didn’t had anything interesting, but btflash.f04 was some sort of script. On line 209 there was an error information, which I’ve been looking for:

    Code: Select all

        013 017 ##XY ." This process requires a highly charged battery to avoid an"
        013 018 ##XY ." accidental power off during an update.  After install a highly"
        013 019 ##XY ." charged battery, reboot the System Program Service Diskette." 
    Line 204 had a reference, which I was investigating next:

    Code: Select all

      #.err_bat
    Lines 104 and 113 had it:

    Code: Select all

        // ----------- Check Battery ------------------------------------
         ##BatteryExist?
         not if ##.err_bat ##halt endif
    
        // ----------- Check Battery gauge ------------------------------
         ##smiON ##batteryFlag ##smiOFF
         not if  // failed to read battery gauge, let it go.
            dup 09 == swap // ==09 bb
            dup 08 == swap // ==09 ==08 bb
                01 ==      // ==09 ==08 ==01
                or or not
            if ##.err_bat ##halt endif
    At first, I wanted to comment them, but then line 95 got my attention:

    Code: Select all

      #Check_AC&BAT // [--] Check AC and highly charged battery. Press <ScolLock> to bypass
    At this point I started guessing how <ScrollLock> will be in German (my 390X have a German keyboard layout). After finding it’s <Rollen>, I once again booted BIOS update from the diskette. I’ve pressed <1> and <Rollen> at the same time and upgrade process has started. After successful upgrade, I’ve removed back cover and upgraded RAM.
    Some photos showing all RAM modules with FRU numbers (64MB, 128MB and 256MB), upgrade process and finally final effect in Windows.
  • For sake of “completeness”, I always try to get official Recovery images. From PSREF, I’ve learned there were two sets: Windows 95 + Windows 98 and Windows NT, but sadly no FRU or PN numbers. There was nothing on the Marketplace, eBay and not much on the Internet either. Hopefully, Google provided a link to and ended listing on eBay. Someone has listed half of the Windows 95 + Windows 98 set without Software Selections and Lotus SmartSuite Millennium Edition. From photos I’ve learned, that whole set have FRU: 10K0454(ENG), Windows 95 disc have PN: 10K0455 and Windows 98 have PN: 10K0456. I’ve contacted with seller to found out, that nobody has bought them yet. After some talk, seller agreed to sell me these discs - I've received them after about two weeks. Apparently, there were two additional discs with applications bundled with 390X (according to PSREF), but I have no need for them. And recovery image of Windows 98 is in fact a Second Edition.
  • I would also like to have Windows NT Product Recovery and Software Selections discs. I know, that recovery had PN: 09N2173 and there was at least single copy available on eBay in 2017. I'll keep looking until another copy will show up.
  • Recently, I've managed to get a Lotus SmartSuite Millennium Edition (PN: 31L1361) CD-ROM, which was bundled with ThinkPad from 390X generation.
  • Hard Drive Adapter Combo Bay (FRU: 05K5525) looked like an easy to find, well until I started to look for it. After a few weeks, I’ve finally found, that one of companies from US have them available for $14.95, but $200 - $300 UPS/FedEx shipping costs slapped my hopes. Hopefully, a friend of mine had a business trip to US, so I could ship this part to a hotel. But… This still felt too easy, so I’ve researched this topic even more. I’ve found a post from Japanese forums, where people discussed this adapter. It seems, that this adapter requires an HDD Kitting Parts (FRU: 08K5833). It consists from two parts: bracket and PATA adapter. Luckily, seller included manual, HDD Kitting Parts and two screws, which are required to secure it in adapter. The was a single nuisance though. A metal bracket from HDD Kitting Parts was for 12.7mm disk, so it required some patience to install 9.5mm disk there. But as it screwed to adapter (or more presicelly to disk itself, as there are holes in bracket, which give an access to HDD's screw holes), this isn't a big issue.
  • At first, I wanted to get an official IBM 10/100 EtherJet CardBus module (FRU: 08L3160), but it requires an additional cable adapter (FRU: 08L3161), which is just too pricey for my likening. In the end, I got for a free a TP-LINK TG-5269 Gigabit Ethernet PC Card, which works fine with 390X. I have no plan to look for a WLAN module.
  • I've managed to get an official IBM 10/100 EtherJet CardBus module (FRU: 08L3160) with cable adapter (FRU: 08L3161) for a reasonable price. It is working fine with both Windows 95 and Windows 98SE. There was an issue with getting the drivers though. Hopefully someone has uploaded an ISO of IBM 10/100 EtherJet CardBus Adapter Drivers and Installation (P/N: 31L4328) CD-ROM to archive.org.
  • Regarding HDD, I got a new 40GB HDD for primary OS (Windows 98 SE). Windows 95 was installed on old disk. Both of them were restored from recovery disks.
  • Installing two OSes from recovery on different disks is one thing, but dual booting them is an another. After some search, I’ve found a GAG – Graphical Boot Manager, which supports booting from two different disks and just works as it should.
  • Recently, I've found a US English keyboard FRU: 02K6310 (in great condition), which is fully compatible with 390X (no information about it in HMM). Other compatible keyboard with US English layout is FRU: 02K4705.
  • There were two revisions of 390X. First had either Celeron 400MHz or Pentium II 400MHz CPU and second either Pentium II 450MHz (14.1” panel) or Pentium II 500MHz (15.0” panel). There’s a special tool required to remove the CPU. As I don’t plan to replace it, I have no need to look for it.
Some other thoughts and observations:
  • During first disassembly I have noticed that screen assembly’s screw holes are fragile. So do not disassembly it, if you really don’t have to.
  • After many years thermal pad has glued to upper heatsink. It required some force to remove this heatsink. As thermal pad was in great shape, I’ve decided to not replace it.
  • Without battery and diskette/CD-ROM combo, laptop is noticeable lighter.
  • After removing 3.5” diskette drive and CD-ROM, laptop boots a bit longer. I guess it’s normal, as there’s no way to disable diskette check in BIOS.
Last edited by saperkus on Tue Jul 09, 2019 3:48 am, edited 5 times in total.
IBM 345C(PCDOS7.0+W3.11) | 390X(W95/W98SE) | T23(W2K)
R51(WXP) | Lenovo R61(WXP/Vista)

JBUK
Sophomore Member
Posts: 230
Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2004 5:29 am
Location: Oxford UK

Re: ThinkPad 390X Upgrade and general information Topic

#2 Post by JBUK » Tue Jul 10, 2018 4:44 pm

Wow you have certainly spent some time on your 390X which was one of my favorite Tpads. I think I still have got a 850mhz cpu that I used to use in mine somewhere. It has a switchable speedstep mod that made it run only at 700mhz to try and keep it a bit cooler.
It is surplus to my requirements now if you are interested.
Where to begin......
390e FOR SALE
1 x T20
1 X T23 + 3 breaking for parts
1 X T23 with Samsung 840 SSD and XP Great combination !: SOLD
2 X T60
5 X T61
1 X T601 15"
1 X T520
2 X T530

saperkus
Posts: 45
Joined: Mon Oct 16, 2017 1:48 pm

Re: ThinkPad 390X Upgrade and general information Topic

#3 Post by saperkus » Fri Jul 13, 2018 4:29 pm

JBUK wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 4:44 pm
Wow you have certainly spent some time on your 390X which was one of my favorite Tpads. I think I still have got a 850mhz cpu that I used to use in mine somewhere. It has a switchable speedstep mod that made it run only at 700mhz to try and keep it a bit cooler.
It is surplus to my requirements now if you are interested.
I have no plans in replacing the CPU, but thanks for letting me know.
IBM 345C(PCDOS7.0+W3.11) | 390X(W95/W98SE) | T23(W2K)
R51(WXP) | Lenovo R61(WXP/Vista)

saperkus
Posts: 45
Joined: Mon Oct 16, 2017 1:48 pm

Re: ThinkPad 390X Upgrade and general information Topic

#4 Post by saperkus » Tue Oct 16, 2018 8:58 am

I've updated my main post. I've found that US English keyboard FRU: 02K6310 is fully compatible with 390X. There's no such an information in HMM.
IBM 345C(PCDOS7.0+W3.11) | 390X(W95/W98SE) | T23(W2K)
R51(WXP) | Lenovo R61(WXP/Vista)

saperkus
Posts: 45
Joined: Mon Oct 16, 2017 1:48 pm

Re: ThinkPad 390X Upgrade and general information Topic

#5 Post by saperkus » Tue Jul 09, 2019 3:50 am

Another update. I've added information about 10/100 EtherJet PCMCIA module and Lotus SmartSuite Millennium Edition disc, which I've recently acquired.
IBM 345C(PCDOS7.0+W3.11) | 390X(W95/W98SE) | T23(W2K)
R51(WXP) | Lenovo R61(WXP/Vista)

andromeda92
Freshman Member
Posts: 56
Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2021 5:51 pm
Location: Toulon, France

Re: ThinkPad 390X Upgrade and general information Topic

#6 Post by andromeda92 » Mon Jun 07, 2021 7:59 am

Hi,
I'm looking for information on the thinkpad 390 SX model and not X, someone has information or technical specifications, cpu, ram floppy, serial, parallel ...
Thank you.
Thinkpad T42
Thinkpad 600 2645-45U
Thinkpad 390X 2626HNG
Dell inspiron 8200
Toshiba satellite 4000CDS

andromeda92
Freshman Member
Posts: 56
Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2021 5:51 pm
Location: Toulon, France

Re: ThinkPad 390X Upgrade and general information Topic

#7 Post by andromeda92 » Tue Jun 08, 2021 5:26 am

it's an error the 390 SX not exist, only 390 X
Thinkpad T42
Thinkpad 600 2645-45U
Thinkpad 390X 2626HNG
Dell inspiron 8200
Toshiba satellite 4000CDS

Bogii390X
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Nov 28, 2021 5:28 pm
Location: Dalarna, SE

Re: ThinkPad 390X Upgrade and general information Topic

#8 Post by Bogii390X » Sun Nov 28, 2021 6:40 pm

Hi!
Sorry for hijacking the thread, but I thought I would post here instead of starting a new topic on the lovely ThinkPad 390X!

I am new to device and in the process of getting to run with Windows 98 SE.

It si going fairly well, apart from 2 very annoying problems:

1. Can not get USB to work.
2. The fan spins on full all the time, making the noise unbarable.

Regarding USB:
I have tried the "8MB USB Memory Key" driver at the following page without success:
https://thinkpads.com/support/Thinkpad- ... /390x.html

I also tried generic driver nusb33e.exe from phils coputer lab, also without success.
https://www.philscomputerlab.com/window ... river.html

Question: What exactly is "8MB USB Memory Key"?
Is not regular USB?

Regarding fan(Thermal Sensor):
It is noted that the 390X does have a thermal sensor in the manual.
https://thinkpads.com/support/hmm/hmm_pdf/09n8604.pdf

Also It is noted here that 390, 390E nad 390X use a "different method" and register to regulate fan speed:
https://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/How_to_control_fan_speed

So it would seem that the ThinkPad should indeed be able to control fan speed depening on the thermal sensor...

This Does Not Compute on youtube even mentions his 390E (similar model?) to be "completely silent" when the fan stops. (he is using compact flash storage.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6SflHHoCgg

However user jayton4 on this forum mentions that "I have been unsuccessful in finding anything to control the fan for my 390X" here:
viewtopic.php?t=101985


.....

Sorry for the long post, but I would really like to get this unit to run correctly as it would be very usefull for me.
However these 2 issues really kinda of makes it unusable for my purpose.

Best regards

Bogii390X
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Nov 28, 2021 5:28 pm
Location: Dalarna, SE

Re: ThinkPad 390X Upgrade and general information Topic

#9 Post by Bogii390X » Mon Nov 29, 2021 9:21 pm

Update:
Just to confirm my hardware is working properly I installed WIndows XP on the 390X.
Now USB is working and the fans are spinning at lower speeds, and I did not even install any drivers.

Nice and quiet!
Could somebody guide me to what drivers I need in win 98 to get the USB and FANS to function properly?

Best regards

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