HP Omnibook 800CT

Netbooks, subnotebooks and other tiny computers. Don't need to be vintage, but vintage ones are also welcome.
wintermute
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HP Omnibook 800CT

Postby wintermute » Fri Nov 11, 2016 10:33 pm

I am expecting to get this cool machine tomorrow. It will be the 166mhz one (the fastest in the 800 family) with 48mb RAM (16+32), 6GB HDD, floppy, power adapter, and other extras (extra batteries, carrying case... not sure yet)

In the preparation for its arrival I obtained (or am in the process of obtaining):

- Win 95 and Win 98 installation disks (Win XP too but I doubt it can be installed)
- 800ct sytem boot diskette
- SCSI CD ROM drive with the appropriate SCSI cable and power supply solution (jumper for the Omnibook power) -- yes, this subnotebook has SCSI!
- 64MB RAM expansion specific to that machine to upgrade the ram to the maximal 80MB (16+64)
- several CF cards of various sizes with PCMCA flash adapters
- 2MB SRAM PCMCIA card
- 2 SDD drives: one is a 2GB one proven to work in 800ct and another is a more modern 32GB PATA SSD drive which might work (I plan to go SSD to make battery last longer and I do plan to rebuild the battery)
- 18650 cells for the battery rebuilding (I intend to use the computer exclusively on battery, charge only when I must, and disconnect asap once charged.)
- a PCMCA wifi network card for which I was told that it is compatible with 800ct (hope to be able to access internet from this beauty)

So many things to do once it arrives, if you have any experiences/ideas about this machine, let me know. For now I am mostly intrigued about battery rebuilding and wifi. Just picking the cells is a huge topic and rebuilding as well it seems. The previous owner also said it was not able to put this machine on wifi ever but the last time he tried was long ago so I wonder if it is even possible.

Among the other things, I hope to use this machine to bootstrap my Sharp PC-3100 with CF drivers. Will post about that in another ongoing thread on this forum: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=276

Kyodai
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Re: HP Omnibook 800CT

Postby Kyodai » Sat Nov 12, 2016 9:36 am

Windows XP needs at least 64MB RAm to be installed - without excessive tweaking it will be a very slow experience though :)

The OB800 is a really nice machine - pretty compact, high quality body and got everything it should have.

SSD and PCMCIA network cards should work without any problems.

wintermute
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Favorite Palmtop: Sharp_PC-3000

Re: HP Omnibook 800CT

Postby wintermute » Sun Nov 13, 2016 4:10 pm

The OB arrived late yesterday and I was out. What I did the last night:

- connected the external floppy -- all fine
- connected the external SCSI CD ROM -- all fine
- replaced the 32MB module with 64MB one -- all fine (have 80MB RAM now!)
- installed PCMCIA CF drivers -- the 32MB CF card with PCMCIA adapter works fine
- installed PCMCIA and SRAM drivers -- 2MB Poquet SRAM card works (but the files cannot be read by my Sharp PC-3000, see the other thread)
- tried to install drivers for Cisco Aironet 350 WIFI PCMCIA card and this I was not able to do. Maybe the card is faulty. Will play more with it.

Things to do:

- rebuild the machine from scratch on a new SSD drive using the original restore floppy and cd (it will be a Win 95 machine -- the previous owner hacked in officially unsupported Win 98 and maybe the problems with SRAM and WIFI are because of that). Will try with a modern 32MB PATA SSD 1st and then if that doesn't work I have a 2GB SSD which I was told was pulled out from another OB800 and it should work for sure.
- I got 3 batteries with this machine, will rebuild one with brand new 18650 cells. Haven't tested any of these, the one in the machine seems to hold (i worked a bit on it from green last night and it took 10% and the whole night of standby took another 30% -- those are the only data points I have so far)

wintermute
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Favorite Palmtop: Sharp_PC-3000

Re: HP Omnibook 800CT

Postby wintermute » Mon Nov 14, 2016 1:01 am

I put the 32gb pata ssd and it works. Took some juggling with the screws but they all nicely fit eventually. Reinstalled Win95 from scratch and it flies and is silent.

Now, OB restore made two 2GB partitions (c and d) on my 32gb ssd (and put the windows on the first). I manually deleted the 2nd one and was able to make another one but 6gb large only. It seems it doesn't recognize drives larger than 8gb...

Only two things left: wifi and battery rebuild (opened one battery, has 4 cells inside and it should not be hard, ordered the cells).

Then my OB was killed in a sram accident and I am reinstalling it again now. (More about that on the other thread.)

Kyodai
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Re: HP Omnibook 800CT

Postby Kyodai » Mon Nov 14, 2016 11:13 am

Well the OB is prolly fun with the SSD. :)

Wifi generally works in Win 95/98 - if it is much fun depends a bit on the drivers that come with the card (In Win 95/98 WIndows does not have a built-in function to list discovered networks and such - so it's all about if the driver handles that halfway comfortable).

wintermute
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Re: HP Omnibook 800CT

Postby wintermute » Sun Nov 27, 2016 9:35 pm

I did not manage to make wifi work but honestly do not care much since the card is sticking out as an ugly dongle and browsing on Win 95 would probably be a very limited experience. I download whatever I want on my Mac and then transfer via CF cards (all cards I have work flawlessly except the SRAM one of course).

I did manage (with help from a friend) to rebuild the battery pack and it holds the charge now for a looong time. I played demanding games (Doom, etc) and fooled around with the machine for 2-3 hours last night only to withness the battery dropping from 30% to 15%. Obviously it is not calibrated so I will work on that (some say discharging it and charging it completely several times should calibrate it).

I have to say this is a wonderful machine for DOS and early Windows games. It is silent with SSD, blazingly fast, and the battery charge seems to hold for a long time (probably another nice side-effect of the SSD). Very very happy about it.

Played Nectaris this morning -- my favorite turn based strategy game of all time -- and had a blast.

The only wart is that I am left-handed so I had to dig out an old serial mouse to use for more serious Win 95 work and the games that require a mouse (the popup mouse is, obviously, made for right-handed people only :| )

wintermute
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Re: HP Omnibook 800CT

Postby wintermute » Mon Nov 28, 2016 6:19 am

So I charged it for 3-4 hours and could not make it go over 75% and the Omnibook's led was always yellow (green means >90%). Then I disconnected the power and played Nectaris for 90 minutes. The battery went from 75% down to 45%. If this means that 30% = 90 mins, then 100% = 300 mins (5 hours) which would be pretty good. I think Nectaris is a good benchmark, it's a turn-based strategy game, the mouse is used all the time and the music plays all the time (I used headphones though). All in all, very happy with the rebuilt battery and the overall situation. Will see how long does it actually take to drain the whole battery.

For the record, I used these batteries: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CAD6AUE/re ... oyb9HK8FC6

Couldn't help but post an image of my complete HP Omnibook 800CT config (the portable SCSI CD-ROM -- which can also work on 6 AA batteries -- on the left and the portable floppy on the right) together with my Sharp PC-3000 for comparison. Nerd p0rn :D

Image

Kyodai
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Re: HP Omnibook 800CT

Postby Kyodai » Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:35 pm

Yeah the OB800CT is definitely a good MS-DOS machine.

The battery indicator might sometimes go nuts. "usually" it helps to hold "F4" while turning it on which would reset the battery indicator.

But yeah with a rebuilt pack it would be best to fully charge it over night (Until the light is green) and then completely empty it until it is in a state so empty you can't turn it on again.


Some tools here - i think most stuff from the OB600 should also work...

http://omnibooks.info/archive/ob800/


If you like Nectaris then check out "Battle Isle" - pretty similar and also fun.

My favorite "Turn based strategy" game is "Jagged Alliance 2" - totally different approach, but also loads of fun.

wintermute
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Posts: 48
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2016 3:26 pm
Favorite Palmtop: Sharp_PC-3000

Re: HP Omnibook 800CT

Postby wintermute » Mon Nov 28, 2016 6:35 pm

Yeah, I discovered the F4 trick. Did not make much difference so far but I will do it once again when the battery is completely empty.

Of course, Battle Isle I also like a lot. Will most likely revisit it after Nectaris. Nectaris is so raw and minimal though, plays almost like chess :) and I really like that aspect of it. The most similar modern games to those are the Advance Wars games but I don't like their over the top anime approach. Just give me the core game :)

Jagged Alliance -- never heard of it, will check it out.

wintermute
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Posts: 48
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2016 3:26 pm
Favorite Palmtop: Sharp_PC-3000

Re: HP Omnibook 800CT

Postby wintermute » Tue Nov 29, 2016 6:27 am

Played Nectaris for another 45 mins and the battery went from 45% to 30% so it is consistent with the previous session (45 mins = 15%).

It's not clear to me whether 75% was the maximum (in which case the rebuilt battery will hold for 3h 45min) or if 100% was possible if I kept charging it longer (in which case it will hold for 5h). Will go through full discharge, ON + F4, full charge and see.


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