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Windows 7 Setup asks for a CD/DVD Drive Device Driver

I have gotten a little sad recently. My Windows 10 machine now takes 10 good minutes to get to a usable desktop. Sure, Plex is trying to wrangle 4TB of media and ... well ... there's 3 other years of crap on the main partition ... but it's now beyond a joke.

To get anywhere near back to normal, I'll need to re-install the licensed version of Windows 7 and follow the standard sneaky upgrade path.

I therefore grabbed the installation disk and booted from it. Not too far in and I was already at a road-block. Excuse the image quality... my ultra-wide screen doesn't like the installers basic 4:3 resolution!

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A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing? Ok.. sure... maybe you don't like the RAID setup in this Dell Precision T3500. I proceeded to kill 20 minutes rebooting to a usable desktop and trying to guess what drivers to download and install... I grabbed a myriad and burned them all to a CD. Rebooting, I swapped this in and tried to load the INFs.

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Wait... Windows Setup can see the hard drives it's supposedly missing? Wait... it can also see the DVD drive?... wait... what's going on here? What's it actually complaining about? Ohhhhhhhhh... it hates the installation media? Why didn't you just say that the first time?

I then re-burnt the DVD at a slower speed (as per instructions) and got a little further...

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Finally... I found a real DVD (DL RW Disc)... burnt it... all worked. Moral of the story? Use proper DVDs. Maybe DVD+R as the DVD-Rs that I burnt above were totally unreliable!

13Dec/170

Microtek MDC-1 Parallel Port Camera

This thing just looks cool! Advertised as 'really simple to use' since it only needs your parallel port, it's a true-colour 640x480 webcam for the Windows Millenium era. Well, I say Win ME, but I could be wrong... the drivers I found are for ME though, so it definitely hung around.

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It has a lengthy cable with a little bit of 'interesting' at the end. Sure, you have the parallel port.. which we're expecting.. but then you have an 'adapter' that has male PS/2 on one end and a female AT keyboard connector on the rear. Wait... so... If my PC has an AT Keyboard port, I'm screwed because this has male PS/2... BUT I can plug my keyboard in to the back of it? Vice-versa, if I only have PS/2 ports, I then need an AT Keyboard? The only real answer to this is that it came with two converters... Of which I happened to find in my box'o'junk!

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So, in my AT case, I converted the AT to PS/2, plugged in the webcam and then plugged in ANOTHER AT to PS/2 to connect my keyboard! Hooked together...

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We have power!

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Software

Thanks to webarchive, the original page for the camera is here. Unfortunately, the snapshot they've taken doesn't include drivers. Regardless of the list of files here, they all seem to be for their scanners. Fortunately, Driverguide has a Windows Millenium Driver for the MDC-1.

Downloading and installing was simple enough on Windows 98 SE. The software needed a reboot and then I had a program folder with Camera Test in it... sure! Why not?

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Nice... it just worked perfectly. Terrible in low-light, but that's to be expected!

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For those running open source software, you may be in luck. Is this a Linux Driver? Is this the same one? Maybe this?

Looks like they made sequels: Microtek Eyestar 2? And a USB version also.

Filed under: Retro No Comments
11Dec/170

Revolution 3D – Ticket To Ride – AGP Graphics Card

I didn't even know this company existed. I've recently acquired a box'o'crap and there was a really strange-looking AGP graphics card in it.

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Turns out it's a Number Nine Visual Technology Ticket To Ride Revolution 3D AGP Graphics Card with 8mb of WRAM? There's more information on it here at the VGA Museum. Vogon's Driver Library has the drivers for it for Windows 9x! (Note that they're always in 7-zip format, so get the Windows 9x version of that here.) Here's Wikipedia's data on Number Nine Visual Technologies.

They actually used Beatles lyrics/song-titles for the names of their chipsets/cards. How very random. The card used the IBM RAMDAC and had WRAM ... of which I'm still trying to understand.

Wait... woah... the wayback machine not only has the original Number Nine Technologies website saved, but you can even download the original HawkEye drivers for this card!

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So, crap 3D game performance and 'very good' 2D performance/image quality. The card has a 'VGA Enable' on it, so I assume, like early 3dfx cards, you could have this as a secondary and only use it when the application required it. Which is interesting; if the 3D is crap.. then you'd have a second monitor for crap-ness. Instead they supposedly actually were good enough for their 2D!?

Here's a demo of the 3D performance... browse right to the end to see Unreal. Here's a review of it on Tom's Hardware, pitted against a few other cards of its time. All under Windows 95! Shock, it didn't score good at all for 3D... but for 2D it wiped the field.

VC Collection (Russian) has a review of the card. I was happy to see it not coming last! Then I realised that it was being compared against an S3 Virge DX!

Installation

Software was instead pulled from vogons and running setup produced the following...

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Wait, what? Setup won't actually install the drivers? It'll just install the control panel? Time to fight through Device Manager...

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And, of course, it wouldn't be Windows 98SE without a reboot...

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The desktop then rendered beautifully over VGA at 1600x1200.

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Games!

Screamer ran very nicely... but this isn't a true 3D game. It has it's own engine and just renders as standard 2D.

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Quake 2 was a different story. It ran 'OK' at 320x240. 'Sluggish' at 640x480 and 'Useless' at 800x600.

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But that was to be expected as this is not a powerful 3D card!

Filed under: Retro No Comments
30Nov/170

Wavetables – PRO32AW

Whilst in Thailand I picked up an ISA card with a daughterboard. It was part of a collection of crap from a market where the SIMMs and card were rusting and .. well ... I took a punt!

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Turns out the card was an ESS1868, but the daughterboard was an Avance PRO32AW! Talk about lipstick-on-a-pig! I suppose someone wanted the cheapest SB16 experience with a 'better' MIDI quality? It seems this is a clone of a AdMOS Adwave 32, down to just a simple text modification on the PCB. There's a site (Japanese) here that mentions this fact.

The Wavetable module plugs on the header on the sound card and (usually) then disables midi-out on the joystick port.

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After a lot of tinkering, I worked out the following. To get a wavetable to work, you need to adjust the IDSP/ADSP jumpers.. where ADSP seems to be the additional DSP card. If you don't have jumpers (The ESS1868 didn't ... and my Vibra 16S/C also didn't), then you'll probably find a new Gameport Joystick detected when Windows loads... unfortunately, this will conflict with your original joystick port.

To correctly install a wavetable under windows, your best option is to entirely delete the soundcard from windows first! Remove everything from device manager (especially the Gameport Joystick!) and then shut the machine down. In this state, the card will be found a-new when windows loads and you shouldn't get resource conflicts. It seems that jumperless sound-cards disable the joystick output when a wavetable is added and then re-route the midi messages to the wavetable. The main confusing part was that the new 'Gameport Joystick' used the exact same addresses and resources as the conflicting port!

After getting it all to work, I managed to pass the audio through my laptop and record the output of each piece of hardware. Here's the source file from Mr Trachtman's Archive.

Here's the basic ESFM Synth:

Here's the Vibra 16 FM Synth:

And then the PRO32AW wavetable:

And then my beautiful Roland Sound Canvas SC-55.

And finally, a friend's Yamaha PSR (Thanks Nathan!)


...Muhahaha...

I found the wavetable sound to be much better than the internal FM synth on the ESS1868. I actually don't mind the wavetable when compared to the SC-55, but was definitely hoping that the SC-55 would come out on top.

I wonder how I replace the soundfonts!?

Filed under: Retro No Comments
29Nov/170

Osaka Higashi Line

I've been a fan of the Yodogawa Bridge in NE Osaka for a long time. I stumbled across it during a bicycle ride back in 2007, but have been back to it every time I visit Japan. It used to be a single-tracked bridge, with a pedestrian path on one side, connecting Suita to Kudara (Hirano) for freight movements.

View from residential block on south side.

Half way along Yodogawa Bridge Another railfan on Yodogawa Bridge DD51 heading north on Yodogawa Bridge

More upgrades north of Yodogawa Path along south-east side of Yodogawa Bridge Looking south from the south-side Recycling And another railran on Yodogawa Bridge

DD51 pulling freight over Yodogawa Bridge

I took the above photos back in 2010. Here's an album with more angles. Note that it is also used for dead-heading passenger trains down to the Tennoji area.

223 Series crossing Yodogawa Bridge

Anyway, back on topic! Recently JR West has ripped up the pedestrian path and installed a second track to facilitate the Osaka Higashi Line. This is all well under-way, as I saw when I was there in 2016. This will see a passenger service from Umeda/Shin-Osaka Station through to Kyuhoji in East Osaka.

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Further south, a lot of the duplication is already complete. The stations are also nearing completion. The main area that still needs work is the junction at the Shin-Osaka end. From what I understand, the junction used to exist, but was disused and ripped up. Land was then (illegally?) used by regular humans and had to be re-acquired.

The freight line from Suita intersects the Tokaido Main Line at the wrong angle, so a wye is currently being built just north-east of Higashi-Yodogawa Station. This will allow trains to proceed from Shin-Osaka straight onto the new line and across the Yodogawa towards Kyuhoji. This has required one new bridge and, as previously mentioned, the adjustment of other bridges. Thanks to the glory of Google Maps, we can follow the construction... albeit with a little bit of a delay. It turns out they've half-built the new north bridge and it looks quite amazing in the 3D view!

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Here's the link to the view on Google Maps. The curved bridge construction infrastructure is amazing. I can't quite work out if they've custom-built the curved crane, or if it's flexible enough to fit the curve and be used elsewhere afterwards. Either way you can see the next pillar already in the river.

I'll update this post as I find out more information on this new line.

Filed under: JPN No Comments
28Nov/170

Thailand – November 2017

Such a crazy country. I always love visiting this place, having a few more items on the todo list this time around. Most of those were railway-related, but there was also a craving to find vintage computers, where possible. I really did take tooooo maaaannyyyyy photooooosss.....

Maha Chai Railway

The Maha Chai (or Maeklong) Railway runs south-west from the center of Bangkok to its name-sake, a fishing village and seafood market. A second part of the line then continues (after a ferry ride) through to Samut Songkhram. At the end of the first segment, the seafood market actually takes over the railway line when there are no trains. You'll find the timetable here for the line and I do have to admit that, for a single-car DMU on rotten tracks, it's actually quite convenient! ... just not high-speed :)

This was the first target on the first morning in Thailand. Due to a very early arrival from Australia, check-in was impossible and so coffee was skulled prior to public transport navigation. I'd originally attempted to get a taxi to take us to the eastern-most terminus, but they all suggested we take the BTS/MRT. Supposedly it'd be quicker. From the hotel opposite Hua Lamphong, the MRT was taken to Si Lom where a transfer was made to the BTS. We then traversed all the way to Talat Phlu (BTS) before walking north to Talat Phlu on the actual Maha Chai Railway.

The goal was to just check out the area and the local markets. Of course, it was way too early for those also, but fortunately the train was running! There's two level crossings to the west of the station and both are manually activated when a train approaches.

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The DMUs are quite stunning. Built of an assortment of carriages, they trundle along some a precarious-looking railway.

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We then wandered back to WangWian Chai BTS station... stumbling across a very mean looking local! (I'm guessing he was around the 2-metre mark.)

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He was happily lazing around in a canal... probably cleaning up all the vermin that also try to go for a swim.

Hua Lamphong Station

Thanks to Bangkok Center Hotel being across the way, it was easy to visit this grand establishment and check out the scene. There's constant rail traffic in and out of the station and also a serious amount of shunting in the yard to the north as they build the daily/nightly consists.

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And so on that note, before we go inside... I loitered and did a full lap, twice, of the area. Best sides are east and north. There's a nice road bridge at the very north to watch the entire yard.

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There was hardly a minute of silence from this spot. I tried both AM and PM and always saw something being built up, arrive or depart.

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You can also look over the other side of the bridge... if you can sneak between the traffic! It's always fun to watch how people happily inhabit the lines when there's no trains.

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When doing a lap of the station... you can see a lot of the staged consists from the eastern side.

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Above is the SRT Prestige... but it seems to have been stored in the station platform for a while... I wonder if it was for the King?

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A BKK-bound train then rolled in and I was successfully bombed by a passenger! This is only a small section of the photos taken; there's a crapload more photos in the album.

Overnight to Chiang Mai

Why waste time going to airports (especially in Thailand traffic!) when you can sleep on the train? Well.. that was the plan... the air-con northbound service was really quiet, neat and tidy... but then southbound not-so-smooth. The tracks really didn't help!

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The polished stainless steel carriages were built in 2016 by China for Thailand. They really are quite modern and are still very clean on the inside!

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There's the usual amount of space to (nearly) stretch out. Unfortunately, they left the lights on ALL night? There didn't seem to be a 'dim' setting and the curtains didn't block much light at all.

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The return service was a little more 'Thai'. A much older consist, but still very clean for its age.

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Both trips were very enjoyable. No trolley-dollies... but there was always a restaurant car within reach.

Chiang Mai

It was nice to finally see the country-side. I'd done Krabi and Surat-Thani in past years, but so far had only seen Bangkok on this trip and was ready for some peace and quiet. Of course, Chiang Mai is hardly that... it's been slightly taken over by tourists and all the baggage that follows from that. Yet again, thanks to the overnight train, we arrived way too early and stashed luggage at the hotel. From there it was off exploring the town. Muay Thai fights, markets, shops... all very cool to see. Not much in the way of vintage components though. Although, Pantip plaza did have a 3dfx Voodoo 2 ... of which I had to fight for as the seller didn't expect it to work. It did.

Anyway, on the last day, before the train back to Bangkok, I walked a lap of the station area. Fortunately a passenger train was being built!

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We crossed the crossing and then did a lap of the yard. On the eastern side there is a siding for fuel tanks and a depot. You can then continue round and view the loco sheds. It's a really easy walk, despite the humidity. Actually, on that note, Chiang Mai was much more mild than Bangkok!

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The station itself has a small bit of infrastructure and some scary-looking hotels.

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There's even a cute little S-Scale diorama in the foyer!

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BTS/MRT/SRTET and other newer transport modes

Trying to get around town via road is frustrating. The best method is to pillion on the back of a motorbike 'taxi' which will weave you through traffic. Next best is a tuk-tuk, but these (as much as they try to dodge and weave) will still get jammed. Taxis are another option, but they cause most of the traffic jams. Somehow the buses still manage to get through the jams, but in peak out (which is 90% of the day) it's impossible to cross town quickly.

Due to all this, both above and below-ground railways have been built. The BTS lets you float above the traffic jams in air-conditioned comfort and the MRT allows you to sneak around sub-terraneously. Both are great... until you have a suitcase and it's peak-hour. Then you're in just as much of a jam... this time with human traffic!

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The BTS pretty much does a lap of the main BKK city area and will get you from mall to mall very easily.

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The MRT will then get you further north to, say, Chatuchak Market. Just be prepared to battle the busy periods! We arrived at 0530 on a Friday morning, jumped straight on the SRTET Airport Railway Link and tried to transfer at Makkasan to the Petchaburi MRT station to get to our hotel opposite Hua Lamphong. First attempt (it's an easy transfer) saw us held back from each approaching MRT consist as they were all jam-packed. This was at 7am, so everyone was heading in to town to work. A brief light-bulb moment turned bad when we tried to get a taxi above-ground... they all just told us to go back down and take the train; traffic into the city center would be worse.

Anyway, pushing and shoving ensued and we made it to the hotel.

Makkasan Mercure Hotel

A bit out of the city, but still close to transport. This is a great hotel with a great pool and a really nice view! Good prices also. It's just south-west of the Makkasan station of the Airport Rail Link. It's also just south-west of Asok Station on the main southbound line from Bangkok of the SRT. Therefore you get to see all types of trains.. including freight!

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From the pool deck, the view is also good!

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Makkasan Area

There's connections here for the SRT, MRT and SRTET. You'll find trains coming through on the SRT quite often... and if you're staying in the hotel above, then you'll probably be able to see them from the comfort of your own room! Either way, if you're downstairs on-foot, then there's always something to see.

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DMUs were interspersed with loco-hauled passenger and freight. Lighting wasn't always the best, but there were no restrictions on where you could take a photo from. Within reason, of course... don't go getting too close.

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The crossing up near the stations was fun to watch. People hardly cared when a train was there and the poor traffic cop really didn't have much of a chance of stopping those willing to take a risk.

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And again.. the view of traffic from down the road when a train was trying to cross...

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And freight... the best part...

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Chinatown Markets

In search of vintage/junk goods, one recommendation was Klung Thom Center in Chinatown. This building turned out to be a let-down, mainly consisting of phone covers and protectors. Around the area were shops dedicated to all sorts of power tools, fasteners, hinges, car audio, car suspension, etc... but nothing really computer and nothing old. It wasn't until we stumbled into two seemingly random street markets that we started finding the more interesting wares.

[find u-shape around carpark]

This u-shaped road, which was actually the entrance/exit of the carpark that it wrapped around, turned into a flea market in the early afternoon. People spread out their wares on tarpaulins and it was really easy to get a good deal. I found quite a few random ISA cards and 30-pin SIMMs. All in varying states of decay!

[find middle floor market]

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The next area was grottier. Nested in a chinatown block, each alley was hardly wide enough to walk down, let along spacious enough to spread out your mats and splay your bits and pieces. Regardless, there were all sorts of home appliances, projectors, jukeboxes, phones, ipads, tablets... but not so many computer-related items. It was still amazing to browse through it all.

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And then, of course... don't forget to ask before taking photos of store-fronts!

Filed under: INTL No Comments
20Nov/170

Power Mac 7220 – PC Compatibility Card

I'd recently picked up a PC Compatibility Card for my Power Mac 7220 and thought I'd see if it worked. It seems to be the P166 variant and, unfortunately, didn't come with the required monitor cabling.

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The card itself is huge. Being an entire PC on a card, you'll find graphics, RAM, sound and, of course, the main CPU all crammed on-board.

Basic Installation

It fits neatly into the 7220 case and has a metal tab at the far end that may well need to be adjusted to allow a secure fit.

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You'll see in the first two shots above that the metal tab was in the wrong spot and didn't slot into the case. I had to shift it to the other position to provide a proper fit. Otherwise the weight of the card actually allowed it to start bending down!

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There's also a CD Audio cable that needs to be fitted. Previously the 7220 simply had the audio from the CD drive plugged straight into the motherboard. Now, the audio runs from the CD drive to the PC card, then another CD Audio cable runs between the card and the motherboard. This effectively means that the PC Card is mixing its own audio output with anything from the CD drive and sending that to the Macintosh hardware.

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Note that you'll need to set your input device to the internal CD Drive to have the sound come through!

Software is simple enough, see my post here for all the relevant downloads. Install PC Setup 1.6 prior to 2.14. The disks from that post work fine as well!

Hacking a cable together

I expected that the 26-pin 3-row D-sub plug required for this would be apple-proprietary, but it turns out that it's available on eBay! I purchased one, along with two 14-pin already-cabled plugs to hack up.

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Nothing like buying in bulk in case of emergency! The wiring information can be found here, but I've provided it below for safe-keeping.

3-row 26-pin
Compatibility
plug
Macintosh
Video Out
(male)
Monitor Plug
(female)
Purpose Direction
Pin 1 Pin 15 Horizontal Sync In
Pin 2 Pin 11 C & VSync Ground In
Pin 3 Pin 9 Blue Signal In
Pin 4 Pin 13 Blue Ground In
Pin 5 Pin 4 Pin 4 Sense 0 In/Out
Pin 6 Pin 13 Blue Ground Out
Pin 7 Pin 9 Blue Signal Out
Pin 8 Pin 14 HSync Ground Out
Pin 9 Pin 15 HSync Out
Pin 10 Pin 3 CSync In
Pin 11 Pin 11 C & VSync Ground In
Pin 12 Pin 5 Green Signal In
Pin 13 Pin 6 Green Ground In
Pin 14 Pin 7 Pin 7 Sense1 In/Out
Pin 15 Pin 6 Green Ground Out
Pin 16 Pin 5 Green Signal Out
Pin 17 Pin 11 C & VSync Ground Out
Pin 18 Pin 3 CSync Out
Pin 19 Pin 12 VSync In
Pin 20 Pin 2 Red Signal In
Pin 21 Pin 1 Red Ground In
Pin 22 Pin 14 Cable Detect In
Pin 23 Pin 10 Pin 10 Sense2 In/Out
Pin 24 Pin 1 Red Ground Out
Pin 25 Pin 2 Red Signal Out
Pin 26 Pin 12 VSync Out

I cut the cable between the two 14-pin plugs and stripped the wires back. Intially, I started soldering these onto the main 3-row plug, but this became tedious and my soldering was unreliable. The requirement of joined pins also meant that I had to create intentional bridges and wasn't quite happy with this.

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Instead, I found some spare 'tough' copper wiring and soldered 5cm leads onto the 3-row plug. From here, I then joined and soldered the correct wires and heat-shrinked it all together.

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Resolutions were a little weird. There's notes in the PC Compatibility Card FAQ here that mention how you should install correct drivers and use a proper multi-sync monitor. I initially used my hack-job wiring and attempted to switch to the proper MAC to VGA adapter...

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With the adapter in place, the resolution was mapped correctly. I then 'solidified' the cabling... hahahaha...

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Installing Windows

I'd previously done this via the 7" Card on my 7200. Unfortunately things weren't to go as easy this time. In that post, you can find the Tiny Boot Disk hard-drive file that has a nicely bootable Windows 98 SE drive. Windows isn't installed on that, but it'll at least get you a booted 50mb harddisk. From here (or so I thought) you can then build another D: drive and make that bootable.

The goal was simple: Mount another hard-file, format it and copy the contents over. FDISK was used, format d:/s worked and then the full copy was done. On a reboot (after switching the disks so that the new drive file was C:), I was presented with NO ROM BASIC. I've never seen this error before! I switched the disks back and realised that the partition wasn't set as active. Unfortunately, DOS 6.22 FDISK can only set active partitions on the primary drive!

I therefore had to borrow FDISK from FreeDos. The best part of the PC Compatibility on Apple is that you can mount the hard-files on the Macintosh desktop! Make sure your PC side is shut down and just double-click the hard-file. After extracting FDISK, I copied it over to the DOS drive. I then unmounted the drive (drag it to the trash, as scary as that may seem) and then booted the PC side back up.

I now had an FDISK folder. Switching to this and starting FDISK gave me an error on line 2 trying to read FDISK.INI. Turns out that the file has UNIX line-breaks and DOS 6.22 hates this. I could've converted these on the Macintosh side and re-copied... but instead I took a punt and deleted the INI file. It worked! I could now set the active partition on D:.

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And then... it booted... from here I copied the WIN98 folder off the CD to the HD as an installer folder and then brought Windows 98 SE to life! I still wanted to make sure CD Audio was correct, so I tested out Screamer which uses the CD for its soundtrack.

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It then froze... each time... the entire machine... couldn't even get to the main menu!

Filed under: Apple No Comments
27Oct/172

Shin-Osaka Webcam – More Randomness

I was randomly viewing the camera this morning and came across a DD51, with another in-tow, heading through Shin Osaka towards Osaka itself. Excuse the crappy quality of the video... screen-capturing live YouTube isn't fun and the sun was still rising in the land of the rising sun.

It occurred to me that there could be other webcams down near Umeda to get a better idea of where these movements end up, so I started searching. I had no luck finding anything in the middle of Osaka with a railway view, but did find something in North Kansai.

It turns out that there is a webcam facing the southern end of Toyooka Station, attached to the North Kansai IIT Media Center. The camera is even controllable? I can't imagine that this is meant to actually be publicly facing... but... it is.

So, what goes up that far north? Turns out the Konotori and Hamakaze services do! Here's the Hamakaze entering Shin Osaka Station...

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And then, 3 hours later at 12:18 (on the dot, timetable-wise), here it is arriving at Toyooka!

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It then returned to Osaka at 14:26...

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Now to find more webcams to stalk more trains...

23Oct/170

Aizu-Wakamatsu, Japan – July 2017

I'd been to this city before, but always by railpass and therefore the Tohoku Shinkansen. My friend (Hi Keiko!) is from Aizu and, whilst going to visit her family, insisted that we travel via the Aizu Tetsudou instead of taking the quick path. We weren't disappointed!

The Path

I've plotted the paths vaguely on the map below. Option 1 is in blue and it's the standard 'fast route' via the Shinkansen and Aizu Liner. This is all JR and is totally do-able for 'free' using the JR Pass. As I'd mentioned, we'd done this many times in the past and it was time to check out the old route through the mountains and on the private railways.

The whole trip was done in two stages. First was from Asakusa to Aizu-Tajima via the Tobu Railway on the Limited Express Revaty. Second was from Aizu-Tajima through to Aizuwakamatsu on the Aizu Railway.

Asakusa to Aizu-Tajima

The Revaty is an exciting train. I have no idea where they got the name from (I lie, Wiki says: a name derived from the English words "Variety" and "Liberty"), but it looks neat and is quite new!

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The platforms at Asakusa are curved and they get quite narrow towards the front of the train. We were also 'right on time' and had to do a bit of safe-speed-running to get to the car of the train of which we were assigned. The journey was comfortable and quick... with most passengers alighting along the way rather than at the very end. It actually turned out that the three of us, plus two (drunk) comrades, were the only passengers to go the whole way. The other two were quite entertaining, telling us about their trips to Australia and that they were just on the train as they were very interested in the new Revaty.

We passed through Tobu Nikko and saw the SL Taiju at a platform, accepting passengers on its trial runs. I'd not even thought that we'd intercept this train and wasn't ready to take photos... the timing was off anyway.

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There was a layover at Shin-Fujiwara to allow transfer to a local train and we were afforded time to take some photos.

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The scenery was already becoming picturesque... most of the time we were hanging out the left-hand-side windows as the sheer drop-offs down to the Kinugawa were stunning!

Aizu-Tajima Transfer

This was the end of the line for the Revaty. Here we transfered to a DMU of the Aizu Railway.

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The Aizu Tetsudou runs cute little 1-or-2-car DMU sets all the way up to Aizu-Wakamatsu. It also runs a joyful train known as the Torokko Train which has open windows and heaters, but we just missed that connection.

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The trip from there to Aizu felt very nostalgic and the hum of the diesel just adding more charm. The whole setup was one-man, so the driver had to receive payments at each station and confirm that everyone was utilising the service correctly.

SL Ban'etsu Monogatari

We arrived into Aizu-Wakamatsu on time, but this happened to be waaaaay too early for the SL. It was originally meant to be nice and tight, with the SL arriving a few minutes after we did... but, thanks to a country-way-of-life, the SL was running behind and arrived at a leisurely pace quite a while behind schedule.

I was only itching to take photos and therefore wasn't as disturbed as the passengers waiting on the Aizu Liner. This service will stall until the SL arrives to allow for a proper connection for transferring passengers. Again, no complaints here: The FruiTea Fukushima Joyful train was attached to the Liner, but didn't seem to be doing too much business.

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The interior was quite beautiful and the staff were immaculately dressed.

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After admiring this for a bit... the SL dawdled in...

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As stunning as ever... Always looking 100x better in the flesh. Black is a really difficult colour to photograph. Thanks to a family member picking us up from the station, we had wheels and traveled a little way north to get a shot of the steamer in action.

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A northbound DMU came through first.

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And then the SL itself... not going overly fast!

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From there, we went to a few recycle shops... and just happened to pass the station once more when I saw a random champagne-coloured EMU...

Train Suite Shikishima

This was a fluke... whilst waiting for the SL to turn up, the Shikishima rocked up to Aizu Station. We found out later that it seemed to have run into trouble just north at Kitakata, supposedly having pantograph issues? Either way, the passengers were de-trained and then re-joined the service after a quick fix in the Aizu yards...

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Don't quote me on this though... it could all be here-say. Either way I got to see the consist!

Kitakata to Atsushio - Nitchu Line

There's very little information on this, but there used to be a line from Kitakata further north to Atsushio. Supposedly this was built 1938 and the goal was to either transfer materials to build the Hinaka Dam or build a passenger line all the way through to Imaichi. There's a little bit more information here.

You can follow the alignment from Kitakata Station through the town. To the north-west of the town they've planted Cherry Blossoms along the path and have even stuffed and mounted a C11 SL with a little Diesel behind it.

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Driving to Atsushio was beautiful. The road nearly follows the old alignment and in most places you can see the embankment where the old line used to run. At the end, Atsushio Station has been beautifully preserved and even has more stuffed and mounted rolling stock.

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The station is beautifully preserved and there's quite a bit of memorabilia displayed in the offices. Make sure you walk all the way around and donate if you have spare change! You can even ring the station bell and make an announcement!

Aizu City

Turns out the police know how to catch up to the locals when required. We were at the station for official business (nothing untoward) and this was sighted in the car park.

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So pretty. I wonder if the owner: 1. is a police officer? 2. heads up the mountain much?

Aizu Tetsudou

Whilst there was spare time, I dawdled down to the nearby Aizu Tetsudou station from the house and checked out the local services.

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That afternoon it was a single-car DMU bringing students home from school. They were pretty shocked to find a gaijin taking photos of their mode of transport. I just smiled and waved; they did too.

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Minami Wakamatsu Station is a single-platform structure on a single-line area of the Aizu Tetsudou, just south of the main AizuWakamatsu Station.

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Ashinomakionsen Station

A few stations south is Ashinomakionsen Station. I'd seen via google maps prior to the trip that there was a siding here with a passenger car that seemed to be used as a classroom or cafe. We happened to be driving south to Ōuchi-juku, and so I asked to stop through.

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The carriage was ... well ... in a state of disrepair. The contents seemed to be aimed at school-kids, but it doesn't seem like it has been used in a while!

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Turns out that there's two station cats here as well, but they were locked up in their cages as it was wet outside... supposedly they're not allowed to get dirty! The rain also caused the railway to stop running on that day! I was so hoping for a running shot further down the line... but there were no trains in either direction thanks to a fear of land-slides.

Tonohetsuri Station

This station was another single platform on a single-line area, tucked away in the middle of the forest. It was on a beautiful sweeping curve and would've been great for a photo! ... if only the trains were running.

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And that was that for railway-oriented things in Aizu... I won't hesitate to go back again!

20Oct/170

Cheap Chinese Gotek Floppy Emulator

It was always going to be too good to be true. I was buying other shit on eBay and found that they also had Goteks. For around AUD$12 I couldn't resist.

For those that don't know, the Gotek is a famous device in the Amiga world for emulating the floppy drive. It's the same size as a normal drive and has the same mounting holes. On the front is (usually) a USB slot, LCD display, buttons and activity lights. The goal is to have numbered disk images on your USB key and swap through them like a jukebox.

As soon as I opened my parcel, I realised I'd bought somewhat of a reduced version. No display, no buttons...

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Ok, off-the-cuff this would mean the USB key would have to contain a single disk? Not the worst outcome (for the price I paid), but not what I was expecting. I installed the drive in the 386 I was building and it was detected correctly. It all plugged straight in and there was nothing to set. There is a row of jumpers, but I didn't have any supporting documentation and just left them.

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On boot, the green LED lit on BIOS post and I let DOS load from the HDD. I rummaged for a small USB key and found a 4gb lying around.

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All good so far... dir a:...

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Pretty deep error: Sector not found reading Drive A. This usually indicates that the disk isn't partitioned, let alone formatted. Not really unexpected. I tried FDISK, but it doesn't care for floppies. Format wouldn't handle it either.

I dragged the USB back to my laptop and found that it had a single 4gb partition with a TV series on it. Jumping in to Disk Management, I deleted the only partition on the disk. At this point I chose to leave the partition table empty as I couldn't create a 1.44mb partition under Windows 10; the smallest option was 8mb?

Slapping the USB key back in the 386 saw a much better result. Trying to list the directory gave a warmer error (General failure reading drive A) and so I tried formatting it...

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Yes sir, I would love to kill 1.44mb of data!

gotek

Taking it back to my laptop, I now found that it had a 1.44mb partition. So this can't be done from Disk Management but the firmware on the drive can partition it via its firmware. It was a standard FAT parition, so I copied HWINFO over. I wanted to check system information on the 386 and this application worked in DOS. Taking that back to the machine saw it load off the disk and work seamlessly.

I'll try out writing disk images to the 1.44mb partition tonight...