Well, ToughBook has thrown down the gauntlet, so I MUST take it up. Y'all know I won't let a little thing like the fact that I don't actually HAVE a CF-29 keep me from posting volumes on the subject. I'm not nearly as good at this sort of thing as others *coughMODLYcough* so this will not be as organised as the CF-28 FAQ, but... it's a start, & you all can add to it as needed.
I've got it, but what the HECK is it?
CF-29s (Like those before) are referred to by generations known as MARKs. The first letter designator after the CF-29 model number reflects that mark; thus:
At present, we have not yet located FULL service manuals for ALL the CF-29 models; there is enough difference between the first Marks and the latest Marks to almost consider them different models in some regards. Toughbook WAS hosting a short version for us; however, sometimes things change due to circumstances beyond our control.
Modly is now hosting the main module of the CF-29 Service Manual at modly.net along with the CF29E Schematic Module, thanks to Pappy42 and Ohlip:
Of course, many of us shop for our parts on eBay; we are looking for the best deal we can get on the best laptop out there. But for those hard to find or must have OEM parts, Heartland is Panasonic's authorized reseller in the US. It helps if you can find the part # first; but here is their contact info:
The CF-29 model family covers a pretty long period; from the old days of CDPD (Analog Cellular Data) right through to today's EV-DO & 3G wireless broadband on the newest models. Of course, any laptop with a PCMCIA slot can use an appropriate Broadband Access Card; but the attraction of the Toughbook is in having it "built-in" and protected from the elements. The CF-29 carries it's Wireless MODEM in a small slide-in module much like a Hard drive caddy; this module is used also for the GPS engine. Toughbook has a good basic teardown in his Unofficial CF-29 thread ; this is a GREAT place to start for much of our accumulated knowledge so far.
Please refer to the 'Important Tips" file on your desktop for further info... But this will get you started. From time to time (About every 3 months or so) your battery needs to be re-calibrated. This will allow a more accurate "Time Remaining" when you roll your mouse over the battery icon. It is even more important to do this if you run your CF-29 with the AC Adapter all the time; your battery needs to be exercised! So... Where to find the Recalibration Tool???? ON the CF-28 it was in the BIOS; you clicked on F2 during boot-up and found it there. It is the same with the CF-29 MK1 but on all later MK versions you need to go to Start/All Programs/Panasonic/Battery Recalibration. This can process take overnight to complete if you have a good battery... 4-7 hours is normal. If you are using the media bay battery too it can go longer still.
One of our members points out that you can get to the Battery Recalibration Utility by pressing F9 at bootup, thus bypassing the need to boot to Windows or BIOS:
I had an issue (Toughbook - Moderator) with my touchscreen. All of a sudden when I tried to use my touchscreen.... The pointer wanted to retreat to the lower left corner of the screen. I could use the touchpad fine... But whenever I touched the screen or even moved the laptop... The pointer would retreat!
OHLIP (Teo) suggested that I flatten a toothpick so that it would easily fit between the LCD frame and the touchscreen and run it along the bottom to see if there was any crud stuck in between. THERE WAS! It fixed my touchscreen.
Just to let you know the symptoms.... Touchpad worked fine.... Anytime I touched the touchscreen... The pointer would retreat.... HOWEVER.... When I would touch the touchscreen with my finger or stylus.... It would appear on the screen briefly.. The harder I pushed the closer it would come to the point I was touching.... But it would only make it halfway there. The crud stuck between the frame and the touchscreen was fighting it!
"When using firefox/internet explorer and are watching youtube videos,
you might get a black screen when you maximize the video window..
The solution is simple: set hardware acceleration = OFF in the Adobe flash player. Now all videos can be played full-screen. Otherwise you might have a black screen" (Thanks to MasterBlaster2039 for this tip)
Built-in WiFi is handled on older marks with a Mini-PCI card; on newer models, there is a Mini-PCI Express slot capable of supporting MIMO technology, although there is no provision for the MIMO 3rd antenna. If you have one of the older CDPD/Analog Cellular MODEMs and no WiFi, you may wish to look into modding the cellular antenna to use for WiFi as I've outlined here:
Since this FAQ was created, the TravelStar IDE drives listed above have been discontinued. We are now recommending the Samsung SpinPoint Series 5400 RPM single-platter HM160HC drive, although the Western Digital Scorpio Series 5400 RPM drives also have a following due to their near-silent operation. Both have much larger cache and improved access times which produce performance nearly as impressive as the above-mentioned TravelStar drives, and their greater efficiency yields noticeable battery life improvement and reduced heat generation. updated 07-13-2012 It seams the Samsung SpinPoint HM160HC Drive is causing problems on the CF-29 so we are not recommending this drive at this present time untill we can figure out what is going on. Please read here CF-29 and 160GB Hard Drive
Toughbook has posted a photo tutorial on swapping the CF-29 Hard drive here:
Many models of ToughBook come equipped with a HDD Heater for use in very cold climates. The HDD heater is temperature controlled; the intent is to warm the bearings in the hard drive because the lubricant in said bearings thickens with the cold. Once the hard drive is warmed up to a minimal operating temp, the heater shuts off and the HDD spins up.
Unless you're planning to use the laptop in subfreezing weather after leaving it turned off and exposed to the cold for hours so it gets down to ambient temperature the heater will never come on. Even then it only operates for a minute or two, drawing no more current than the laptop does while running; so in effect, whenever it operates the only thing you lose is a few minutes of operating time until it boots up.
Most people, even when they use their laptop out in the cold, will do so straight from a warm environment like their house or car, in which case you really have nothing to worry about as the operation of the laptop will keep its hard drive warm enough.
The CF-29 uses two different kinds of RAM; DDR & DDR-2. These types of RAM are completely different & NOT cross-compatible. Some info can be found HERE:
Azrial came up with a REAL winner by finding out that certain Crucial Brand RAM will net you OVER 2GB of RAM in a CF-29. So far this will only work on the DDR2 series (MK4 & MK5) and only on the models that have 256MB on-board ram (It will not work on 512MB on-board models) but others are free to experiment and report back. Here is the thread from Azrial.... HUGE props for this find!
Again, others here will know better which Marks had which & what each Mark's max capacity is; PLEASE update this thread with details.
The CF-29 uses the same DVD/CDROM modular system as the CF-27 & CF-28; it slips into a MultiMedia bay which can also accept the 1.44MB floppy module or an additional extended run battery. Toughbook has an excellent tutorial on upgrading that CDROM Module to the latest DVD/RW technology HERE:
One of the most popular threads on this forum is dedicated to adding built-in GPS to the CF-28. These models are more than powerful enough to run modern GPS software; however they often did not come with this very expensive option or if they did have it, it didn't work very well. The CF-29 thankfully has a much better GPS implementation; if you are willing to spend the money (approx $400 for the kit - Part # CF-WGP292) and an afternoon, you too can have factory GPS in your CF-29. Toughbook has a rundown on his installation here:
Our Adding Aftermarket Internal GPS to the CF-29 thread has developed nicely and is now full of very interesting discussion on GPS and the CF-29; you shouldn't miss any of it! Our thanks go to Ohlip for his pioneering work in this area!
We now have two choices to implement aftermarket GPS engine to Panasonic CF-29 using the EM408 GPS engine. There is one with SLED and another one without. Quick links to the JUICY STUFF here:
Those of you who prefer to use a stylus with your Toughbook are probably somewhat displeased to find no convenient storage built-in; Our very own Forum Moderator Toughbook addresses this issue by upgrading to the CF-30 handle with a stylus pocket:
There has been some discourse on the relative benefits of Toughbook Hacking and alcohol consumption; I have taken Modly's advice regarding cheap beer being much more likely spilled to it's logical conclusion: I only drink hard alcohol to stimulate my modding muse. A little Tito's Handmade Vodka not only lubricates the mind; it's also d@mn good on a rag for cleaning a dirty SODIMM or grungy palmrest, and when it's gone I have an excuse to get into the Saurian Brandy...