Restoring a MSX2 Panasonic FS-A1F
This page was last modified 03:37, 30 July 2017 by Keith56. Based on work by PAC and Jorito.

Contents

Restoring a MSX2 Panasonic FS-A1F

I just bought a Panasonic FS-A1F that needs some restoring. In 2013, these computers are more than 25 years old, and even with extreme care, they have internal components that degrade over time and lose their properties. Some of their parts like the keyboard and floppy disk may not work.

FS-A1F-overview02.jpg

In the following image you can see the computer model of this discussion. You can see how the keyboard has gotten dusty over time and the color of its keys has faded away. Functionally, a few keys are not working or need a stronger push to get them to work. Internally it has got some rust and some of its connectors are rusty as well.

FS-A1F keyboard.jpg

Cleaning process

Please see the picture below that shows the inners of this computer.

FS-A1F inside.jpg
  1. Removing keyboard
  2. Removing screws
  3. Use electronic parts cleaner (CRC 2-26)
  4. Clean main board
  5. Clean metallic chassis
  6. Clean floppy drive

Step 1: Cleaning plastic parts and removing keyboard

Separate all plastic parts from circuitry, metallic parts, etc. Remove the keyboard with care, making sure the connections from the motherboard are removed with caution, as these are made out of plastic and if broken, repair is very complex.

FS-A1F keyboard inside.jpg

The keyboard has a few clips behind it. Place the keyboard upside down on a flat surface. At this point, the clips can be loosened with your fingers until the metallic part is freed. Now you can remove the metallic chassis, the membrane that holds the contact sensors, the foam gasket and the LEDs, leaving only the keyboard with its plastic chassis.

The keyboard can be cleaned together with all the remaining plastic parts. See step 5. It’s very rare for the membrane with contact sensors to fail. If you think it’s not working properly, lightly separate the two layers of the membrane making sure you don’t fully separate them, as it will be difficult to put them back together. Using a dipstick and isopropyl alcohol, wipe the center of each key then dry using another dipstick. This needs to be done on both sides. If you think the contacts have been damaged, or one of the tracks is broken, there is a fix for this: using a soft graphite pencil, draw over all damaged contacts and broken tracks. A broken track can be fixed by drawing over it. When finished, make sure to remove extra graphite from tracks and contacts by blowing air or similar procedure.

The foam gasket is normally the cause of all keyboard problems. After 25 years, this foam has been weakened and has lost its strength for pressing the membrane as intended. Obviously there are no replacements available for this. There is a miraculous fix for getting the foam to its original condition. This can be accomplished by spraying paint on both sides of the foam.

A good way to do this is by placing the foam on top of some newspaper, then spraying a thin coat of paint uniformly. Be warned that if too much paint is applied, it will harden and will make the foam unusable. After around 1 hour when the paint has dried, turn over and apply another thin coat on the other side. Again, it’s better to aim for a lighter coat than applying too much paint. If the coat is too thin and you need more paint, you can apply a second coat. The goal is to get the foam to its original consistency and be able to see the original foamy texture after paint has been applied. You can see the final look of this work on the picture above.

Step 2: Removing all screws

Remove all screws from the computer body. This includes internal and external screws. Separate all the computer parts: The computer cover and computer body, keyboard support (only the plastic part), battery cover and cartridge slot cover.

Steps 3 and 4: Cleaning board and contacts

Dust from the main board can be cleaned with compressed air either from canned air or from an air compressor. If none of these are available, as an alternative you can use a soft cleaning cloth. If using a cloth, wipe dust away being careful with the contacts.

In order to clean and lubricate electrical contacts you can use a product like CRC 2-26 or any other electrical parts cleaner. This needs to be applied with caution, as it will become an oily liquid. You must apply a thin coat on all contacts of the cartridge slots, joystick connectors, DIN connectors, etc. You can apply electrical parts cleaner to the reset button too. This will re-establish the reset signal to a uniform level.

Don’t apply electrical parts cleaner to the keyboard membrane or its contacts. This product will dissolve the graphite from the membrane and will make it unusable. This product will also damage rubber so make sure the belt inside the floppy drive doesn’t get in direct contact with this product (also make sure you don’t touch the belt with electrical cleaner on your fingertips).

Lastly, you can remove the plates from the printer and joystick connectors to apply some black paint on them. You can optionally paint all the plates but you need to be careful not to paint the grounded connections. If you are not sure about this, you can skip this step.

Step 5: Cleaning the chassis and body

Using a cloth dampened with isopropyl alcohol, wipe all the metallic chassis in order to remove existing dust and rust. There is an isolating plastic between the floppy drive and the chassis plate, which needs to be removed and cleaned. Don’t forget to place it back, as this plastic will avoid contact (and therefore shorts) between the floppy drive and the chassis.

In order to wash all of the plastic components including the computer cover and body there are multiple options (don’t forget to remove the power light and LEDs from the keyboard):

The best option is to use your dishwasher. Place all the plastic components inside your dishwasher and add dishwasher soap (you can optionally add degreaser). Select the low temperature setting on your dishwasher and the cleaning program. Once finished, you can let it sun dry.

As an alternative, you can hand wash all the plastic components, but the result will not be as good, as soap won’t reach all the hidden areas of the keyboard.

The computer cover has a metallic strap with a clear plastic on it and water will get in between the two. If you are sun drying, it’s a matter of time for water to evaporate. You can optionally use a hairdryer but be careful not to blow hot air at the same spot for too long or the plastic will get burned.

Make sure the keyboard and the body are fully dried before calling it done.

Step 6: Cleaning the floppy drive

With respect to the floppy drive, you need to check its belt and heads. Checking and replacing the belt is pretty simple. The belt is located at the bottom of the floppy drive. If you turn the shaft and you can see both shafts turning, then the belt is not broken. If you notice the belt is too tight or has tears in it, then it’s time to change it. Changing the belt is simple. You can remove the belt from the floppy drive by using a screwdriver then placing a new one back in. You can unscrew the main board so that the belt becomes more accessible, however if your drive has an Optical head unit in the way, you must not unscrew it - it is calibrated, and doing so will render the drive unusable, instead you must unsolder it, and install the new belt with it in place.

A1FFloppy.jpg
A1FFloppyPinsToUnsolder.jpg

In order to clean the heads you need to remove the metal cover. That requires removing the four side screws and pressing on the notches under the drive. The heads are located under the square box that is marked on the top of the drive.

FS-A1F disk drive.jpg

You can use a dipstick dampened with isopropyl alcohol to clean the heads. Note that the heads are fragile; so don’t press the dipstick too hard against the heads. Once finished cleaning, you can use another dipstick to dry the heads. Now you can put the metal cover back in place. Make sure the notches are properly installed. The above picture shows a wrongly installed cover, as the notches are not properly inserted in the plastic chassis.

The last step is to put all back together and test the computer. It should work correctly. After this procedure, the visual aspect changes considerably. If we follow all these steps properly, the computer should look like brand new with the exception of previous scratches or paint that has faded away.

FS-A1F-overview01.jpg

External links


Aquijacks. 2013. (Translated by Jeff Bennett)