The Panasonic CF-25 Information Thread

Discussion in 'Panasonic' started by kishy, May 24, 2010.

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  1. kishy

    kishy Notebook Enthusiast

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    The Panasonic CF-25 Information Thread

    Purpose:

    This thread is intended to be the complete source for information on the CF-25 ruggedized laptop computer. The CF-25, in my opinion, is grossly under-documented online and as a result we, the CF-25 owners of the internet, must band together to ensure this does not continue.

    The thread is built with information gathered from official Panasonic manuals, enthusiast-provided information, and enthusiast testing. All information here is believed to be correct.

    Table of Contents:

    Regarding Contributions and Corrections:

    This is an active work in progress and is receiving updates or maintenance on a daily basis. However, in order to be truly complete, other CF-25 owners must step up with their information!

    Ideally, I'd like to see one reply per topic as a way of segmenting and organizing the information. Of course, it's not always that easy when one person knows half of something and another person knows the other half. "Beneficial-to-all" modifications should also be posted here provided they are well-documented.

    When making replies which document some feature of the computer, please make use of the post title box when making the reply. Make the title relevant as this will help people making searches find relevant information quickly.

    >> If a post regarding a particular topic already exists and you have a correction or addition, please contribute it via private message so I can edit it into the appropriate post rather than having multiple replies on a particular topic. If the topic hasn't been addressed yet, feel free to make a new reply.

    Regarding Official Panasonic Manuals, Original Drivers and BIOS Updates, etc:

    The manuals, drivers, BIOS updates, etc. for these machines can be found on the Panasonic site via this link. Searching for "CF-25" reveals content for all 3 Marks.

    For manuals specifically, note that there are some models which are not documented by any manual but the same basic information applies to most models of a particular Mark.

    Regarding BIOS-related things:

    I am currently pursuing the possibility of having either a new BIOS made or current BIOS modified, at least for the Mark 3, to be considerably more flexible than what Panasonic provided. There is no guarantee anyone will be able to do it or that any attempts will be successful. If you believe this is the type of thing you can help with, please PM me.

    Supervisor passwords: they cannot and will not be cleared by removing the battery. We are not allowed to publicly discuss methods for clearing such passwords on this website. However, this has been documented (yes, for the CF-25) elsewhere on the internet. It is your responsibility to find it without our assistance.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2015
  2. kishy

    kishy Notebook Enthusiast

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    Original Specifications by Model Number

    There are 3 'marks' of CF-25.

    Regarding the last character of the model numbers, M = USA/Canada, E = UK, G = Germany. The machines have the same specifications but different keyboards and included power cords.

    Common to all:
    • HDD type: EIDE/ATA
    • RAM type: 144 pin 60/70ns 3.3V EDO SODIMM
      Please note that some newer memory types can fit in the slot, but will not work. You must use EDO memory!
    • Audio: 16 bit 44.1KHz w/mono speaker and headphone jack; for specific hardware details see each Mark.
    • Keyboard: sealed matrix water resistent rubber dome 87 keys (USA) or 89 keys (UK). German keyboard is not currently known. Note: it's been reported that despite the same layout, the keyboards between different marks may not be electrically compatible (or at least the little interface PCB that the keyboard and trackpad connect into)
    • Pointing device: capacitive track pad approx 2x1.5"
    • PCMCIA: 3 slots for Type I or II (bottom two are Type III aka Cardbus, bottommost is also ZV) all of which support 3.3V 400mA/5V 400mA/12V 120mA (current ratings are for all 3 slots combined)
    • I/O: DE9 serial, DE15 VGA video, DB25 parallel, PS/2 mouse/keyboard (both combined on one port - either device type can be used on port, and common splitters do work), IrDA infrared
    • AC Adapter: input AC 100-240V 50/60Hz auto sensing, output DC 15V 2.6A
    • MP bay FDD: 1.44MB DSHD/720KB DSDD (high density/low density support). Note: no model seems to have included CD-ROM as standard equipment.
    • Original OS: Windows 95
    • Screen type: Active Matrix TFT LCD (except one model, indicated below) with native resolution of 800x600

    Mk 1

    Chipset: ???
    Graphics: Chips & Technologies (model ???)
    Audio: ???

    • CF-25CG82AAM | CPU: Pentium 100MHz | Screen: 10.4" | VRAM: 1MB | RAM: 8MB expandable to 40MB | HDD: 840MB | Battery: NiMH 9.6V 3200mAh
    • CF-25EGC2AAM | CPU: Pentium 133MHz | Screen: 10.4" | VRAM: 1MB | RAM: 8MB expandable to 40MB | HDD: 1.35GB | Battery: NiMH 9.6V 3200mAh

    Mk 2

    Chipset: Intel 430MX
    Graphics: Chips & Technologies T65550-ES1
    Audio: ESS AudioDrive ES1788F

    • CF-25DGC4DAM | CPU: Pentium 120MHz | Screen: 10.4" | VRAM: 2MB | RAM: 16MB expandable to 48MB | HDD: 1.35GB | Battery: NiMH 9.6V 3600mAh
    • CF-25EGC4DAM | CPU: Pentium 133MHz | Screen: 10.4" | VRAM: 2MB | RAM: 16MB expandable to 48MB | HDD: 1.44GB | Battery: NiMH 9.6V 3600mAh
    • CF-25FJF4DAM | CPU: Pentium 150MHz | Screen: 12.1" | VRAM: 2MB | RAM: 16MB expandable to 48MB | HDD: 2GB | Battery: NiMH 9.6V 3600mAh
    • CF-25FVF4DAM | CPU: Pentium 150MHz | Screen: 12.1" (Active Matrix STN) | VRAM: 2MB | RAM: 16MB expandable to 48MB | HDD: 2.1GB | Battery: Li-Ion 10.8V 2300mAh
    • CF-25FXF4DAM | CPU: Pentium 150MHz | Screen: 12.1" | VRAM: 2MB | RAM: 16MB expandable to 48MB | HDD: 2.1GB | Battery: Li-Ion 10.8V 2300mAh

    Mk 3

    Chipset: ???
    Graphics: NeoMagic MagicGraph 128ZV
    Audio: Yamaha YMF715E-S (SoundBlaster PRO Compatible)

    • CF-25LFC4EAM | CPU: Pentium MMX 166MHz | Screen: 10.4" | VRAM: 1.1MB | RAM: 16MB expandable to 96MB | HDD: 1.44GB | Battery: Li-Ion 10.8V 2300mAh
    • CF-25LGF8EAM | CPU: Pentium MMX 166MHz | Screen: 10.4" | VRAM: 1.1MB | RAM: 32MB expandable to 96MB | HDD: 2.1GB | Battery: Li-Ion 10.8V 2300mAh
    • CF-25LJF8EAM | CPU: Pentium MMX 166MHz | Screen: 12.1" | VRAM: 1.1MB | RAM: 32MB expandable to 96MB | HDD: 2.1GB | Battery: Li-Ion 10.8V 2300mAh. Note: known to be equipped with antenna pass-through for radio modems.

    Lacking Information

    Specs have been "decoded" using the information in Reply #7. Some info is still lacking however.

    • CF-25EGC4CAM - Pentium 133, 10.4", 1.35 or 1.44GB HDD (which?), 16MB, Mk2
    • CF-25FJF4CAM - Pentium 150, 12.1", 2 or 2.1GB HDD (which?), 16MB, Mk2
    • CF-25FXF4CAM - Pentium 150, 12.1", 2 or 2.1GB HDD (which?), 16MB, Mk2
    • CF-25LGM8EAM - Pentium MMX 166, 10.4", unknown HDD, 32MB, Mk3
    • CF-25LJM8EAM - Pentium MMX 166, 12.1", unknown HDD, 32MB, Mk3

    See also later in this thread Decoding CF-25 Model Numbers.

    The majority of this information has been compiled by working backwards from the Mk1, Mk2, and Mk3 manuals. Some information has been obtained by cross-referencing known info or units I have and information provided by other users. Long story short, nothing here should be incorrect (incomplete if anything).

    It is very possible that more models exist. PM me with the info on yours if you have an unlisted one!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2015
  3. kishy

    kishy Notebook Enthusiast

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    Expansion and Upgrade Options

    This post will outline the methods through which you can upgrade or add features to a CF-25.

    External Battery Charger

    Charges batteries outside of the CF-25 computer. P/N CF-VCB251

    Port Replicator/Docking Station

    There is at least one type of port replicator, P/N CF-VEB251W. They do not appear to be particularly common.

    MP Bay (multimedia pocket)

    Known accessories:

    • Floppy disk drive (P/N CF-VFD251? Guessing at this, they don't have a sticker...)
    • CD-ROM drive (P/N CF-VCD252, there may also be a -251?)
    • RIM radio modem (P/N CF-VEW251-AD). For use in models with antenna pass-through. Probably not usable anymore due to being rather obsolete.
    • Secondary battery (P/N CF-VZS252. Output 9.6V 4.2Ah)
    • Superdisk Drive Pack - LS-120 'floptical' disk drive (P/N CF-VFS251W)
    • Cable to connect MP bay accessories to the serial port (P/N CF-VCF351)

    (please contribute the missing info to me via PM so I can edit it in. TIA!)

    RAM

    The CF-25 (all models) accepts one module of 3.3V EDO memory in a 144-pin SODIMM package. All units have some permanently installed (soldered to motherboard) RAM and thus do not require a removable module to be installed in order to operate. Removable memory modules are added to the existing memory amount rather than disabling it (ex. if your model has 32MB built in and you install a 64MB module, you will have 96MB of RAM). The computers, depending on model, have varying maximum memory limitations (refer to original specifications post to determine what it is for your model).

    The maximum RAM capacity may actually be higher than specifications claim for some or all models. One confirmed combination is adding a 128MB stick to a Mk3 with 32MB built in, giving a total capacity of 160MB. Since EDO sticks greater than 128MB are rare - possibly don't even exist - this is probably the highest amount of RAM any CF-25 can accomodate without motherboard modifications.

    PCMCIA

    The CF-25 (all models) has three PCMCIA slots. All three slots support Type I or II cards. The bottom two slots are also able to support Type III/Cardbus cards. The bottom-most slot also supports ZV cards. Note: despite the specifications claiming that Cardbus is supported, no Cardbus cards appear to actually work. By definition Cardbus cards are always 32 bit and 32 bit cards don't want to cooperate, so...stick to 16 bit PCMCIA unless you're simply wanting to test for compatibility.

    3.3, 5, and 12V cards are supported. The cumulative max current consumption among all 3 slots cannot exceed 400mA for 3.3 or 5V or 120mA for 12V.

    A simple eBay search for "PCMCIA" will reveal the vast extent of typically cheap accessories which should work in these slots.

    People have said that the CF-25 is very picky regarding PCMCIA cards, especially type III/cardbus cards. A list of compatible cards will appear later in the thread and will be linked to both here and in the Table of Contents.

    USB

    The system's chipset appears to include a USB controller. However, the system itself does not have USB ports, and the system does not assign resources to this built in controller. There is probably a way to make it work but it would involve a lot of research and modification of both hardware and firmware.

    Although not confirmed entirely, it is believed that no USB PCMCIA card will work properly (or at all) because the system cannot assign appropriate resources to them. It is quite possible that this is because all USB cards will be 32 bit by the nature of what USB is, so even if USB devices could be made to work the faulty/not present support for 32 bit cards would be another problem.

    Because of this unfortunate reality, it doesn't seem very likely that USB expansion is possible for any CF-25.

    Hard Drive

    CF-25 computers accept standard 2.5" laptop hard drives (IDE/ATA). The height of the drive is not as important as it is in other laptops because the drive mounts inside a soft gel-like lining which, if necessary, could be cut back in size.

    It would appear that Mk3 CF-25 computers have a hard drive size limitation of approximately 8GB (as determined by attempting to install larger drives and finding the size limited to around 8GB).

    Bypassing this limit could be possible with a BIOS modification, however this isn't something everyone is capable of doing. A workaround is the use of drive overlay software.

    The CMOS setup interface of the CF-25 is very limited in the options it provides. All IDE device configuration appears to be automatically detected, and should the auto detection fail, there are no settings to tinker with to try to correct the situation.

    Random fact: the CF-25 motherboards are marked in such a way which suggests they were assembled by IBM, and the CMOS setup appears to be a de-branded version of that found in similar age IBM computers.

    Other...

    The serial, parallel and infrared ports are standards compliant. They should not require any special tweaking to operate with any peripherals intended for those connection methods.

    The PS/2 port is the typical sort found on a laptop of this age. The use of a simple passive splitter (can be found on eBay for a few dollars shipped) enables the use of both an external PS/2 keyboard and mouse on this port. It is also possible to connect a keyboard or mouse directly to the port without a splitter but only one device can be used this way.

    I would like to expand on this category if possible. If you have anything to contribute to it please get in touch.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2015
  4. kishy

    kishy Notebook Enthusiast

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    CMOS Battery Replacement - Mod/Hack

    This is only recommended for people who are skilled with soldering and the safe use of the involved tools. By performing this sort of modification, you understand that any warranties existing on your machine (perhaps third party like SquareTrade?) will probably be voided, and that if you do not do it correctly - for any reason, including lack of clear instruction - it is entirely your responsibility.

    The CF-25 (all marks) has a 3V coin-cell CMOS battery buried deep within the computer attached directly to the motherboard.

    If logic is anything to go by, every single one of these batteries should currently be dead, meaning that no CF-25 with its original CMOS battery is able to store the date and time or CMOS settings. Rare exceptions may exist...but we'll pretend they don't for effect.

    My suggested solution is as follows:

    What you need:

    • Soldering iron, solder, etc. (anything you consider necessary to desolder and solder things)
    • Button cell battery holder (can be bought in bulk on eBay for rather cheap prices, or harvested from dead desktop motherboards)
    • Wire. At least a good 6" of thin, flexible wire. Two conductors will be needed. A good source for this is old computer case LEDs, keyboard locks, system speakers, etc. Red/black insulation makes life a lot easier...
    • Fundamental soldering skills
    • Patience and a steady hand

    Procedure:

    1. Open computer, remove motherboard from case
    2. Locate CMOS battery (unknown for Mk1, top of mobo for Mk2, bottom for Mk3)
    3. Detach battery from metal prongs. Not as easy as it looks. Alternatively, desolder prongs from mobo or simply snip.
    4. Solder sufficient length wires to the two prongs or solder points, depending on what you did above. Keep track of +/- here.
    5. Route wires over to hard drive bay, where the battery holder will eventually reside between the hard drive and the palm rest (unless you are not using the normal battery bay, in which case that is a better option). The clearance between the hard drive and palm rest is pretty much EXACTLY that of a button cell battery holder.
    6. Attach to the wires (again paying attention to +/-) to a button cell battery holder. You should bend the pins downwards to reduce the height of the battery holder, and put hot glue over the soldered joints to prevent shorting on metal surfaces.
    7. Piece computer back together being mindful of pinches for the wires. You may choose to hack out a small chunk of the metal casing somewhere to provide an easy route for the wires.
    8. Install common CR2032 battery, fire up machine, default the CMOS settings, ensure all passwords reflect being cleared, save settings.
    9. Reboot, set settings as you want them and save again.
    10. Boot OS of choice, set date and time.
    11. Power off machine, remove main battery if you have one, disconnect AC adapter. Let it sit for a few minutes. Power up the machine and verify that your settings have remained the same and clock is still accurate.
    12. You're good to go!

    PHOTOS COMING SOON.

    For safety reasons you should NEVER attempt to solder anything directly to a battery.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2015
  5. kishy

    kishy Notebook Enthusiast

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    Outer Photo Tour of the CF-25LJF8AEM

    Click thumbnail to view full size image on ImageShack.
    If the images disappear, please let me know by PM.

    [​IMG]
    Meet the CF-25!

    [​IMG]
    Top

    [​IMG]
    Left side, showing MP floppy drive

    [​IMG]
    Left side with no MP drive present. Take note of small coaxial connector inside bay to left of main connector (for RIM radio modem). This connector is wired directly to the antenna connection knob on the screen half, also visible.

    [​IMG]
    Front showing handle, latch, infrared lens, headphone jack and power/battery status LEDs

    [​IMG]
    Right side showing 3 PCMCIA slots (and edge of motherboard), PS/2 port, AC adapter jack and reset button

    [​IMG]
    Back showing parallel, serial and video connectors, as well as Kensington lock slot
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2015
  6. kishy

    kishy Notebook Enthusiast

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    Inner Photo Tour of the CF-25LJF8AEM

    Like what you saw in the Outer Photo Tour? Wanna rip it open like any other proper geek?

    I decided to disassemble one of the CF-25s I have and photograph it at the various steps in the disassembly. The photos go in order from assembled to disassembled. They are not a comprehensive disassembly guide but are intended to show how things fit together.

    Click thumbnail to view full size image on ImageShack.
    If the images disappear, please let me know by PM.

    [​IMG]
    Cover removed, hard drive padding removed, and handle unscrewed. Battery, RAM expansion slot, and hard drive visible.

    [​IMG]
    Battery, RAM, and hard drive removed. Note that this machine has had a new CMOS memory battery installed.

    [​IMG]
    A view into the MP bay with the top half slightly lifted. Although difficult to see, the keyboard and trackpad PCB can be seen plugged into the motherboard. Lifting the top half too much further causes it to unplug itself and come off with the top half. Orange/white wires are part of the CMOS battery mod.

    [​IMG]
    Top and bottom halves separated, side by side.

    [​IMG]
    Removal of hard drive ribbon and disconnection of LCD ribbon. These connectors are released by lightly pulling up on the small tabs on both sides of them. The ribbon will become loose when the tabs are pulled up. Do not be aggressive with these fragile connectors!

    [​IMG]
    This specific model of CF-25 features the antenna pass-through for RIM radio modems in the MP bay. This is the cable which runs from the MP bay socket to the antenna connector on the screen. It is permanently attached at both ends and so will keep the screen assembly tethered to the motherboard unless you open the screen assembly (recommendation: never, ever do that)

    [​IMG]
    This shot shows the antenna cable as well as speaker location and connection. Also visible on the right is the sensor for when the lid is closed and connection for it.

    [​IMG]
    This is the speaker through which all sounds are played.

    [​IMG]
    An overall disassembled bottom half shot. You can see the heat pipe design (which uses the metal case as a heatspreader) and also the bottom side of the motherboard including CPU socket (Mk 3 units have a standard Socket 7 CPU socket).

    Note that in order to remove the motherboard from the bottom half of the case, you must remove the two small screws beside the dock connector as well as remove the d-sub screw receivers from the back. 3/16" socket should fit them. It is easy to forget these two details and you will almost certainly crack your motherboard in numerous spots if you don't remove them!

    [​IMG]
    Close-up MP bay connector and antenna pass-through connector.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2015
  7. kishy

    kishy Notebook Enthusiast

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    A continuation of sorts from the Specifications by Model Number post. Broken out into a second post because of length.

    Decoding CF-25 Model Numbers

    According to the service manual for Mark 1 CF-25s (order no. CPD9609026CO), this is what the different positions in the model number represent:

    CF-25abcdAAe

    Where...
    a represents equipped CPU
    b represents LCD type
    c represents hard drive capacity
    d represents RAM capacity
    e represents region

    Though the service manual does not specify the mark or marks it applies to, we know it applies only to mark 1s because it only provides options for those variables that correspond to mark 1 CF-25s.

    By running the Mark 2 and Mark 3 models through this pattern we will be able to figure out what the unknown letters represent.

    CPU Field

    Ex. CF-25LJF8EAM

    C - Pentium 100MHz
    D - Pentium 120MHz
    E - Pentium 133MHz
    F - Pentium 150MHz
    L - Pentium MMX 166MHz

    LCD Field

    Ex. CF-25LJF8EAM

    G - 10.4" TFT
    J - 12.1" TFT
    V - 12.1" STN
    X - 12.1" TFT

    Multiple 12.1s might be explained by different suppliers.

    Hard Drive Field

    Ex. CF-25LJF8EAM

    8 - 840MB
    C - 1.35GB, 1.44GB
    F - 2GB, 2.1GB
    M - ???

    RAM Field

    Ex. CF-25LJF8EAM

    2 - 8MB built in
    4 - 16MB built in
    8 - 32MB built in

    Unknown two-letter code

    Ex. CF-25LJF8EAM

    It looks like this might actually indicate the mark, but there isn't quite enough info to confirm this yet. If that is what it means, this is what they translate to:

    AA - Mk 1
    CA - Mk 2
    DA - Mk 2
    EA - Mk 3

    Region/Area Field

    Ex. CF-25LJF8EAM

    E - UK
    G - DE
    M - USA/CAN

    If you find a model or information which conflicts with or adds to this listing, please get in touch and contribute the info so I can make this as accurate as possible. Thanks!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2015
  8. mnementh

    mnementh Crusty Ol' TinkerDwagon

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    Kishy -

    Welcome to the forum! and...

    Whuf... that there is some serious dinosaur-herding you've done there. I am impressed! You've spent quite a bit of time cataloging a lot of information on these machines. I'm not sure how many users there are out there still flogging these; by now I would imagine very few have screens that are bright enough to see clearly indoors, much less outdoors in their proper habitat.

    Nonetheless, as a fellow dinosaur-herder, I am pleased to see you following this passion and helping to keep these little beasts alive.

    Rep to you!

    mnem<~~~Big fan of old-school~~~<<<
     
  9. Azrial

    Azrial Notebook Deity

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    Well if it is true that the Mk 3 units have a standard Socket 7 CPU sockets, which there was some dispute over here at one time, then that opens up the idea of a CPU Upgrade.

    The Pentium MMX was the first processor to use the then new split-rail voltage, with its core running at 2.8v. It might be possible to upgrade the CPU with an Intel Mobile Tillamook 266MHz or even a 300MHz model.

    There is also the possibility that one could do a "Super 7" upgrade with an AMD K6-2 or even an AMD K6-2+ or AMD K6-III.

    To do this would require that the motherboard be equipped with two switching voltage controllers (split-plane design), one for the CPU core voltage and one for the I/O voltage, which was characteristic of the Pentium MMX 166 design. It is necessary to get the core voltage down around 2.0 volts to support the AMD K-6 CPUs.

    The great thing about the AMD K6s is that they will interpret the multiplier "2" as 6. So IF one can get the board to step down to 2 the resultant 6X multiplier would give you 396 MHz (6x66MHz). More speed would be possible if one could over-clock the FSB of the board, but this runs the risk of having problems with other components in the system.

    This is not entirely speculation, I used to have a Socket 7 Asus P55T2P4, circa 1996, running stable at 600MHz loaded with the then new XP-Pro as a result of this ancient technology.
     
  10. Toughbook

    Toughbook Drop and Give Me 20!

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    Kishy..... I know you asked for a sticky and I said no... But you are headed fr stickydom here.... It will most likely be inserted as a link into one of the already existing stickies... But people (if they read) will be able to spot it and find your info.

    Well done! +Rep to you!
     
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