EEVblog #287 – Handifax 1000 Teardown

Teardown Tuesday
A rather obscure consumer device from 1995, a pocket organiser / fax machine. The Handifax 1000. Also known as the Smith Corona Handifax 1000
It’s bodge time!

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  1. Hi Dave, can you give it a try with the battery compartment closed?

    I remember that some devices had some sort of memory backup activated by the opening of the battery cover!

    I don’t think it will power on with the battery cover removed, not even with the external power adapter plugged!

  2. Well, you must credit to them that they were ahead of their time. No PAL available in SMD form? No problem, spread the legs of a normal DIL package….

    As for the RJ-11 connector, just respect to the designer!!

  3. I still have in my posession an HP 95LX. That was one solidly built little PDA. All text, no graphics at all and runs DOS 3.3

  4. Dave, it’s not a proper teardown unless you dig off the black blob and see what’s under it. Put a heat gun on it and soften that mess and give us the smell-o-vision report. 🙂

    Thumbs up, Jack

  5. I loved that; I was a power user of a Casio SF-9600 and I still have it. It was a great tool!

  6. Top entertainment, good stuff.

    I was hooting with laughter at the splayed out DIP chip soldered SMD style, that’s a genius bodge. Funny how they got the traces spaced out just right for that to work… hmmmm.

    With that huge number of separate wire mods (even when counting the extra “bodge board” as 1 mod) in my mind they had overstepped the “respin threshold”. If they wanted to sell more than 40 of those units it would probably have been better just to respin the entire PCB wouldn’t it?

    And the mouldy denatured rubber case – eww.

    Funny stuff Dave, loved it.

    • You would think it passed the threshold. But maybe they already had 50,000 units in stock or something and a deadline to get them out the door?
      I can just picture the instruction coming down from the top brass to the poor engineer – “make these eff’n units work, and get them shipped on Monday!”

  7. Wow, that thing is cool. Guess what I just added to my eBay watch list! I can’t help it I’m a sucker for rare or weird things. 🙂

  8. Nice teardown. I love these old obscure devices.
    I believe that type of sticky rubber was a disease of the materials of the time. Stuart Ashen reviewed an Amstrad device from around the same period that was even worse. I myself had an IBM laptop from the early 90s and it too had the sticky rubber covering.
    Ashens review here;

  9. I wonder how thEy ever got this piece of crap approved for POTS connection.

  10. I think the bodge part was part of the Australian Telecom requirements – it’s a royal PITA to make something that connects to the phone line – all sorts of weird requirements and hoops you jump through. (The acoustic coupler was one of them – back before the early 80s when the only thing in the US that could connect to the phone jack was a AT&T supplied phone you rented).

    Other countries were just as screwy with phone line regulations. I guess the board was made for US, then specially made for Australian customers by using the second board to comply with the regulations. I’m guessing that’s why there’s the rectifier and optocouplers – presumably the law stated there had to be isolation between user controlled electronic equipment and the phone line, lest you try to blow up valuable telecom equipment on the other end.

    Battery switch is important – you use it to detect if the door is open and go into an emergency retention state to keep your data safe as main power may go out.

  11. Gawd! I hate that rubber-like stuff they put on some products since the mid 90s: it degrades with time and becomes sticky.

  12. [..YouTube..] The sheer state of decay on the casing (and you can actually see it), was enough to make me feel apprehensive about what Dave might find. That soldering ….UGLY!

  13. This is a phone, kids before we had mobile phones you’ve had to go to a phone booth, you remember those? …You know, that Superman changed in? LOL!

  14. [..YouTube..] I would have really liked to see this “vintage gadget” in action…

  15. [..YouTube..] Oh my god, that thing was just full of nasty hacks. Makes you wonder what the designers were thinking back then. Must have cost them a fortune to do all those hacks when manufacturing this thing.

  16. [..YouTube..] Did the Micro Switch keep it from turning on? Maybe thats why it did not turn on.

  17. [..YouTube..] I like the DIP hack….

  18. [..YouTube..] I guess some MBA faggot decided that they should bodge the PCB 😉

  19. Ah, the 90s… Such foolish optimism 😛

    I’m always interested to see how consumer goods age. What of the current stock will we look at in 20 years and say “Damn, that was a good bit of kit”?

  20. [..YouTube..] 🙁 i wanted to see it on …….

  21. [..YouTube..] Lol, sticky electronics. Great teardown vid

  22. [..YouTube..] I went to give my 6yo son some of my old 1970s/80s Star Wars figures and like this thing, the plasticizer had leeched out and made them all sticky. It was yucky, and not all that healthy to handle. Don’t eat a cheese sandwich after handling 🙂

  23. [..YouTube..] Found the YTM401. That’s the actual fax/voice chip.

  24. [..YouTube..] Dave, I’ve seen worse. I used to have a speaker. The board was broken in the middle, which was repaired with Hotglue. The contacts were restored with aluminum foil …

  25. [..YouTube..] There are two theories why it did not start up. The first is that you had not put the hatch on the compartment and that mico switch had shut everything off.The second theory (most likely one) is that, as this is such a bogous build and a fabrication disaster, it might have gone bad by age early because of bad connections.

  26. [..YouTube..] thumbs up if you want the instructional vhs put online.

  27. [..YouTube..] Despite its poor sales and bad design, I kinda like it for some reason.

  28. You’ve made my day, Dave! Keep these suckers comin’ 😀

  29. [..YouTube..] “They’ve bodged the bodged PCB”, that would make a great T-Shirt.

  30. [..YouTube..] Because of the overexcitament of Dave at the beginning my girlfriend tought that I was watching porn 😀

  31. [..YouTube..] It was made in China, what do you expect lol

  32. [..YouTube..] I love the “Extra Board” in that thing. And I love how the soldering on it looks so average as well.

  33. [..YouTube..] made in china with love and lead

  34. Hi,

    Here is a link to a video on how faxes were invented / how they work – a UK TV series from around 1990’s – The one about Faxes is series 3 episode 1


  35. [..YouTube..] I am wondering if the device required the CR232 battery to start up ?

  36. [..YouTube..] Vintage pieces like this fill me a sense of wonder and excitement. Thanks for digging it up.

  37. The played PAL is perhaps not a bodge, this housing style exists :

  38. [..YouTube..] Ashens reviewed an Amstrad touch screen “PDA” some time ago and its cover had a similar issue with the rubber rotting and turning into a horrible sticky residue, he used Acetone to remove it, so if you want to remove that residue you could try using some Acetone, but you’d want to be careful not to damage the plastic casing.

  39. [..YouTube..] Classic, looks like a Chinese monkey soldered it.

  40. [..YouTube..] How can a product be dead if it was never used before? Is it because of the crappy design like the wires and that sticked on board?

  41. [..YouTube..] ya know wats wores takeing apart a 1950s toy with BATRERS FROM 1952 IT WAS HORABLE CROSHON EVERY WERE EWWWW

  42. Having seen this kinda stuff more than I care for,I think they just picked a cheap little organizer from an OEM and added a fax module to it .Im sure capricorn or whoever makes it supplies the organizer design to anyone who asks.Adding a little bit of software mod for the fax functionality and the voltage translators was all they had to do to get this out the door(maybe a thicker case)…
    fits with the startup funding theory ..

    The yellow function keys overrides are below(!!) the key you press….sure thats what broke the back

  43. You should be a part of a contest for one of the best websites on the internet. I most certainly will highly recommend this site!

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