Ronex (Sanco) TPC-8300

Introduced in early 1983 (or late 1982) Sanco TPC-8300 was a pocket-size microcomputer or programmable calculator, which can be programmed in BASIC language. It has built-in LCD (2x 24 characters) and possibility to connect to docking station containing printer and additional interfaces. The computer is built around NEC uPD78C06 8-bit microprocessor and has 16kB of ROM containing BASIC and 2kB (?4KB) of CPU's built-in ROM. All components are in CMOS low-power technology allowing the computer to be powered from AA batteries. It was probably made by Sanyo or Alps.
Docking station contains tape and parallel interfaces and a special type of printer which uses revolving head with small ballpens. Head is moving horizontally, while paper can move vertically. Small solenoid presses ballpen to paper giving print-out. Such mechanism can change ballpen colors by shifting head to the left, where it is revolved. In its right side, user may remove small ballpens using special lever. Docking station is powered by power supply or built-in Ni-Cd battery.
This machine has been sold as Sanco TPC-8300 in France and probably in Germany (According to this page, Sanco was French Sanyo's distributor and one more company), and as Ronex in Sweden and Norway (see the advertisement). Ronex unit is the same as Sanco, it has only different brand. Another rebranding was in Switzerland, where it was sold as Migros M-Office HHC2000.

Manufacturer Ronex

Origin Japan
Year of unit 1983
Year of introduction 1982
End of production ?1988?
CPU NEC upD78C06
Speed 1MHz?
ROM 16kB + 2kB
Colors: Monochrome
Sound: Beeper
Display modes: Text on LCD: 24x2

Media: Tape recorder

Power supply:

1 - 9V DC unregulated, at 300mA.
2 - GND

Or 4 AA batteries.

To work with printer, it is important to power both CPU and dock. CPU may be powered from batteries, so power supply goes to dock.

I/O: Expansion port
Dock connector
Paralell port (in the dock)
Tape I/O (in the dock)
Possible upgrades: Possible
    Accessories in collection:

 - Original docking station, power suply unit, box

Software accessibility: Difficult

My unit is in a very good condition, fully working, it arrived with English and Swedish manuals, power supply and box. There is also a booklet, probably in Swedish language, with programs dated ca. 1983, but some of them look incomplete.

Here you can see review, it's in French and comes from some kind of magazine about small computers.

Contents: Starting Recording media Pinouts Links


If you want to run computer with dock, you need power both for computer and dock. Computer may be operating on batteries while in a dock.
Remember that dock contains Ni-Cd rechargeable battery (4.8V, 500mAh) which, after 30 years usually leaks. If you have such computer, remember to remove the battery.

To replace ball pens, turn the computer on and press "P" key on printer. The head will shift to the right when you may press lever to remove ball pen. Original, metal ones seem not to be refillable. To change next pen, press any "paper move" button and rotate the revolving part of carrier, then "P" key again.
To fit paper, load it on the back, pressing "paper advance" button. Everything is explained in manual.

The computer starts directly to BASIC. With default configuration, the first LCD's line contains your program and can be edited, while second contains keywords accessible form F-keys. Now you can type your programs and run them. Remember that while DEL deletes a character, typing another one will not insert, but overwrite. To insert character, press INS key. If you can't break an infinite loop you made in your program, use "Reset" button on the back of computer (clears everything). Here are the most important BASIC commands:

if x=0, no sound, x=1 - pressing keys generates short sound. y turns the bottom line (containing hints for Fx keys) on and off. 

Clears program and variables.

These commands will be useful when working with docking station:

CLOAD "program"
Loads program named program from cassette. You have to specify this name in full.
CLOAD? "program"
Verifies program named "program" on cassette vs program in memory. Useful when you dump software from computer.
CSAVE "program"
Saves program with name "program" on cassette. Remember that output level of tape output on this computer is really low.

LPRINT "test"
Prints "test" text on the printer.

Recording media

Currently (2016) there seems to be no method to retrieve data from recordings. It is possible to replay programs recorded as WAVs successfully. 22050Hz sample rate at 8-bit is enough to hold data.
Remember that after recording in computer, you usually will have to amplify the sound because output level of docking station is very small.
To verify, there are two programs in my fileland. I've typed them and tested, they load from sound card. If they don't, perform standard volume level checks.





Parallel port (according to manual) Connector: Centronics, 24-pin:

2 - DATA 1
3 - DATA 2
4 - DATA 3
5 - DATA 4
6 - DATA 5
7 - DATA 6
8 - DATA 7
9 - DATA 8
10 - ?nc?
11 - BUSY
13-23 - GND
24 - SENSE

SENSE pin is made to bypass built-in printer and use parallel one instead. When parallel port peripheral is connected, it is shorted to GND.




Links: - In old calculators museum, lots of photos. - This emulator can emulate it.