CREEPINGNET'S WORLD
NANTAN FMAK9200/FMAP9200 PAGE

1994 Duracom 5110D (9200D) (right), 1993 Liberty 9200M (center), 1993 DFI MediaBook 325SX (9200M, Right)
The NanTan 9200 series were a line of 486 based "notebook" MultiMedia PC's developed and probably released in 1991 (most cases have VTG/1991 on the bottom). They weigh around 8LBS fully populated, were powered by 2 1800maH 9volt NiMH Batteries, had a largely tool-less design, and support for most modern processor chips of the day. Also, unlike most other NanTan models, they had a regular barrel jack so finding power supplies for them is rather easily done. These models were marketed as...
  • Broadax Systems BSI NP9249D
  • DFI MediaBook
  • Duracom TravelPro 5110
  • Liberty (France)
  • Milkyway Myriadbook 4/66
  • Micro Express NP9266
  • Micro Express NP92DX4
  • NanTan Notebook 9200
  • ProBook 9200
  • ProStar 9200

Basic Specifications
CAT Description
Case NanTan Notebook 9200 Chassis w/ Non Detachable Screen, 9.4" or 10.3" Screen Bezel. Case is about 8.5" x 10.4" x 2" in dimension, dark gray, with 2 latches on each side to hold the top closed, 2 batteries under the bottom front, and a standard barrel jack for power. Along the right side is the Floppy Drive and jacks for headphones, line-in, and microphone, as well as a fan for the system. On the left side are 2x PCMCIA ports behind a flip-down door, and the HDD which resides in a tool-less removable caddy.
Power 2x NiMH 1800mAH Batteries 9VDC, 19V Power Supply w/ Standard Barrel Jack 19vdc 2A seems adequate for the job.
CPU(s) Socket 1/2/3 Support, either on 25MHz or 33MHz System Bus. CPU likely provided by shop who is selling the computer, who may or may not have branding added to it since I've seen a few generic, unbranded 9200s.
RAM Proprietary Expansion Modules Specific to this Model, 4MB on Board, 8MB is real common, have seen these go as high as 12 or 24MB
FDD 1.44MB 3.5" Slimline Floppy
HDD Various HDD ranging from 80MB to 540MB in capacity. Most common seem to the 325MB, 250MB, and 540MB. 2.5" IDE
GFX Cirrus Logic CL-GD5424 1MB SVGA, 640x480 9.4" STN Monochrome, 640x480 DSTN 10.3" Color, 640x480 Active Matrix 9.4" color LCD Panels.
SND ESS488 AudioDrive SoundCard with OPL/2
EXPANSION Docking Station Port, 2x PCMCICA Type II 16-bit Expansion Slots

Assembly and Technical Details
NanTan sold these as what they used to call "BareBooks" - basically like a "Whitebox Notebook PC" of sorts (an old term referring to how these chinese parts and assemblies came from the factories in China, to the local shops, in plain white boxes). Basically, the company would have NanTan print up a bunch of 9200s with their logo on them (or not and the re-brander would use badges at their own place).

The barebones of the system comes either as a Monochrome 9.4" STN model, a Color 10.3" DTSN model, or, apparently also an Active Matrix version was available as well - in either 9.4" (Active Matrix and Monochrome), or 10.5" (DTSN). Only known panel currently is the Monochrome Panel which is a Casio MD810TT00-C1, Made in Japan, and it uses a rather standard pinout. The larger panels seem to be either Sanyo or NEC.

It seems all three models use the same graphics internal connection from the motherboard consisting of 3 cables very similar to what I'm used to seeing on NEC Active Matrix Versa models (except a few more pins it seems). These then travel into the laptop's screen assembly and likely could be connected directly to an Active Matrix LCD, or be connected to some kind of Adapter board that converts/mixes-down the signals to DSTN or STN Monochrome or Color signals.

On the Monochrome version I have these three connectors go to a ballast board that likely also reduces down the signals to just 15 wires for the fairly standard STN monochrome panel, as well as provides the ballast transformer for the CFL backlight - of which there is only one. Seeing how this is, and knowing the NEC NL6448AC30-xx panels have three connectors themselves and the ballast board is directly on the LCD itself, and the three connectors here are providing some similar signals to the panel, as well as power to the ballast - it just might be possible to convert an NEC NL6448AC30 LCD display to be used in one of these, the screw mounts look similar too - but the plastic is not prone to cracking.

For the DTSN and Active Matrix versions - if you have one of these and are handy, please throw me a line as to what the make/model of LCD Panel you have in your laptop is. One of my goals for my site is to provide some electronics-engineering information for people like myself who like to modify these things and/or "Hot-Rod" them as I say. If possible I'd love a pinout if anyone has information on what the pinout may be or how to obtain them from NTC/Clevo or by testing signals.

Next down is removing the keyboard for access to the RAM, CPU, DIP Switches, and Jumpers. First you'll need to slide a cover located under the left side of the screen forward, then tilt it out. Next, there are 2 latches on each side of the keyboard, use your fingernail to push those in and lift the keyboard up gently by the middle, and it should lift off and out.

Actual Disassembly of the System Unit

The first part to remove on these is actually the screen. To remove the bezel, use the 2 latches on the sides to open the top, then there are 2 rubber plugs and 2 covers to remove from the screen bezel. The rubber plugs are at the bottom, the covers are at the top. Then take out the 4 silver screws beneath and carefully snap the edges of the screen bezel loose and the screen bezel can be carefully worked around the latches to remove.

Once the screen bezel is removed you have full access to the inside of the screen assembly. There are three cables coming from the raised middle part - disconnect these from the screen connectivity/ballast board. Then nthere are 4 small black screws to remove, two per hinge. Then the screen can be carefully removed as an assembly. I have not tried swapping screen technologies yet, though it seems doable, including possibly using a NEC NL6448AC30 panel from a Versa as the three cables seem to carry the same signals used by a TFT.

The cover above the keyboard slides off, then the keyboard is removed by pressing in 2 latches at each side of the top of the keyboard. The keyboard is plugged in by two FFCs (Flat Cables), just carefully unlatch the connectors and pull the cables, being careful not to riip them or break the connectors (as they are a real b**** to replace).

Now with the screen removed, you can pull the two batteries on the bottom by pushing in the button and rolling them out. If they are corroded in, you might be able to pry with a small screw driver carefully while pressing the buttons. Then the HDD caddy needs removed, which just needs sliding a lever over and pulling on the caddy to remove it. Don't forget to remove the trackball, there are two small arrows indicating the (counter-clockwise) turn to lossen the retainer ring and remove the ball. This will make handling the plastic easier.

After that are about eight screws holding thte bottom on, one on each corner, then 3 or 4 in various other parts of the bottom of the case. The case comes apart in two halfs - the palm wrest which contains the trackball, speaker, logic board, and the hinges, and the bottom half which holds the rest of the laptop.

But before we can fully separate these, the speaker cable, 4 screen cables, and the trackball cable need disconnected.

The hinges are removed via removing 2 screws from a LED control board on the bottom of the palm wrest/keyboard bezel, then removing both screws from the latches (which also act as a support piece. One VERY useful thing you can do with these, as they a re held together with bolts, is hold the screen mount with a pair of pliars, and a second par of pliars can be used to turn the bolt counter clockwise to release tension on the aging hinges. Loosening the screen will help you to save from breaking the aging plastic quite a bit. I suggest these kinds of tweaks on ANY laptop computer that's vintage, as I'm trying to preserve these in working order.

CPUS - Now it's time to talk the CPU you want to use. My Prostar 9200M had the intel 486DX2-66 that's now in my DFI MediaBook. The DFI had an intel 486 SX-25 originally, and the Duracom 5110D had a Cyrix 486 DX2/66 in it, which I put in an IBM PS/2 Valuepoint after I put a Intel 486 DX4-100 in there. This should show you the variety of CPU used in these machines. It seems these may be hard-wired for 25MHz or 33MHz System Bus as I have been unable to change the system bus via Jumper Settings on these machines. However, the part I do find interesting is there is one jumper that kicked my DX2-66 up to 80MHz for some reason - which it was fairly stable running at with passive cooling surprisingly.

The best way to remove the CPU is to use a very thin flat-head Jewler's screwdriver and some kind of magnification device so you can see where the CPU attaches to the socket. Despite the socket supporting 3.3v CPUs they chose to use a Socket 1 type LIF socket where you have to pry the CPU out. Carefully pry it out, working from the sides as much as you possibly could get access, and then grab it with a chip puller (gently) or with something equally as capable that clears the hole the CPU fits into and lift it out.

I think this also would be a good time to talk about the actual performance of the 9200, which is above average for a notebook of thtis class. Even the SX-25 in my DFI did a really good job for most of-the-era DOS games, and the DX2-66 at 50MHz is comparable to some DX2-66 systems, and comes very close ein benchmark to my NEC Versa V/50 (which has a DX2 SL at 50Mhz). NESticle also seems to run at full frame rate, though some of that could be caused by the ghosting of the STN monochrome screen. One with a DX4-100 like my Duracom had can be a REAL beast.

RAM - This system uses a proprietary RAM expansion module on a 3 connector module under the keyboard just below the CPU to upgrade from the 4MB of Fast Page RAM on the motherboard. The 4MB Expansion module has 8 chips on it - 512KB each - for a total of 4MB on the card, making for a total of 8192K RAM. One other thing I noticed was they had all the "Glue components" in place already so it may be possible to solder additional chips to the memory module to expand it's capacity, as these modules are very hard to come by on their own and are unique to the 9200.

DIP SWITCHES- Next to the CPU there is a line of DIP Switches - 1-8 - it appears the majority of these have to do with Sound Card configuration. The 1st switch is for the "Startup Chime" - yes, this laptop has a STARTUP SOUND like a Macintosh, really cool, though it has a chaotic, out-of-tune, bootleg-console-game quality to it, which just adds to it's charm to me.

Default DFI Switches (1-8)

Setting Default
Startup Chime On/Off ON
OFF
OFF
ON
OFF
ON
OFF
OFF

JUMPER SETTINGS - There's a 16-pin block of Jumpers underneath the Memory Module. These are used to clear the CMOS, set some factory options (not sure what), and of course, set the bus speed of the machine. I believe the last block of six pins has to do with this per the diagrams I made below. These machines were available in both 25MHz and 33MHz system bus speeds with a wide array of CPU chips used. So if you find one of these and want to change it per the chip you are using, see below. It also means overclocking these might be possible as well.

CMOS BATTERY - The CMOS Battery is located beneath the RAM and is a CR2302 permanantly soldered onto the motherboard. You may be able to remove this and replace it with a proper battery holder, but oddly the one in my DFI MediaBook still holds a charge despite being almost 30 years old. I think the one in my Duracom mor ProStar was socketed so some of these may have had a socketed CMOS Battery instead.

LCD Panels used on these are....

  • Casio MD820TT00C1 - This is a 9.4" STN Monochrome LCD Panel with a single backlight. It's used on the "9200M" and uses it's own adapter board that reduces the signals down to 15 wires.
  • Hitachi LMG9300XUCC - This is a 10.4" STN Color LCD Panel with a single backlight along the top. It's used on the 9200D models with color. It's noticeably different due to the larger sized screen (thinner borders).

Processor Chips
These machines have what is techincally a "socket 1" setup inside though it seems compatible with Clock Double and Clock Triple CPUs as well. It appears these came with Genuine Intel chips most of the time, usually 486 SX-25Mhz, 486 DX-33Mhz, and 486 SX-33MHz. The DX2-66 in my DFI came from my old Prostar 9200M that I had back in 2003. My Duracom 5110D used an intel DX4-100 chip that came out of my IBM PC-330 100DX4 (and was used in desktops afterward). So this means these are options you can have, I still have not yet figured out the clockspeed jumpers yet.

Memory
These machines came with 4MB of RAM, 8MB Expandable, expandable up to 24MB, though more could be possible given the modules are mostly bigger memory modules minus chips.


SWITCH.EXE Command Line Hotkeys
Just like other NanTan Models like the FMA3500, the FMA_9200 series also has a "SWITCH.EXE" File that enables command line switches to make adjustments to the system in real time. See table below for these. You will need the "Switch.exe" utility downloadable in the downloads section for this model to use this.
Key Combo Description
CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+A Contrast Enhancement - This makes a minor change to the contrast of the screen to make it easier to read/see. The change seems to be marginal at best and non-existent at worst.
CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+B Bold On/Off - This turns on "Bold Text", which basically just changes out the system ROM Font to something way thicker to make it easier to read on old/slow STN LCD Panels with poor contrast.
CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+C Centering Choices - This function is to allow you to center the screen when not in Expanded mode (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) with top, middle, or bottom justification.
CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+D Display to Panel/CRT/SimulSCAN - This is how you switch from the internal LCD Panel, to a CRT (blanks out LCD), or puts the laptop into SimulSCAN (TM) mode, which was a mode by Cirrus/Award that allows for display on the internal LCD AND an external VGA monitor. A sometimes useful, and unintended side-effect is this can affect contrast/brightness a little bit which can cause the panel to look better in SimulSCAN mode in some cases.
CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E Expand mode on/off - This is a function that expands the image to fill the entire LCD panel. Sometimes non 1x1 aspect ratio graphics modes like 320x200 or 640x200 can leave "letterboxing" - even on a 640x480 LCD panel. This eliminates this problem by expanding the image out to fill out the entire screen. This is actually quite useful as a retro-gaming laptop.
CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+L Inhibit Font Load - I'm not quite sure what this does yet. I think it is tied to being able to use alternative fonts in DOS, maybe to either force usage of non ROM fonts, or to force the ROM fonts to work when you are running with the custom fonts installed? I recall a utility for this possibly with NanTan devices.
CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+O Full Height cursOr - I believe this affects the cursor height in DOS, likely as a side effect caused by oen of the other utilities in this package affecting text mode to make it fill out the screen.
CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+P Panel power usage (Low/Normal) - Oddly, none of the NanTan Laptops have a proper Advanced Power Management setup on them or so it seems. instead, much of the "power saving" is done this way by some kind of "tacked on" features such as this. What I believe this does is reduces the voltages going to the inverter for the backlight.
CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+R Reverse video On/Off - Reverse video was a popular feature on early laptop computers with monochrome screens, because sometimes it was more straining to the eyes to view white letters on a blue or black background, than it was to view black letters white background simuilar to reading off a piece of paper. That's what this feature does in Text mode. It has no effect on graphics modes though