Subscribe via RSS

Apple G4 iBook

After a lovely drive into the Dandenong Ranges to check out some tulips (and eat oliebollen) (thanks Mum!), it was time to venture home... but who could resist not visiting the tip-shop along the way? After a quick look around the shop, it felt like they'd stopped stocking electrical components... but then I stumbled across this, sitting in the wrong area, but looking in really-great condition!


DSC01906 DSC01908 DSC01910

Check out that keyboard! It's still in perfect condition and clean? How on earth... anyway, I took it to the counter and asked for the price. The checkout-chick had to flip through a book of standard prices before responding with AUD$10. I giggled and kept shopping, hoping to find the power supply... no luck there though!

DIY Power Supply

These iBooks need a 24v DC power supply. The plug is a little adventurous on Apple's behalf. Initially it looks like an RCA composite plug, but then you realise that the central pin is actually a 2.5mm stereo jack. Without the outer shield, I can imagine it would be very easy to short the plug. Either way, it's a bit of a lets-take-two-things-off-the-shelf and combine them to make a proprietary socket that no one else can copy. Or can we? (alternative source)

Turns out that you only really need to apply VCC and GND to a standard 2.5mm jack and it'll work. The very tip is not connected, the middle band is GND and the base, closest to the wiring, is +24v DC.


Jaycar didn't have any full-metal-casing plugs, so I had to live with the cheap plastic plugs. Soldered up, I got the following...


DSC01921 DSC01925 DSC01926


The next morning, at the local flea market, I found this cheap and nasty power supply. It says it produces 21-24v? Seems to have a 4-pin plug, so hopefully one of the wires is the full 24v.


DSC01929 DSC01930 DSC01932

Oh right, that's just a two-wire cable split into pairs. So the 4-pin is a double-adaptor. Not handy... and the voltage is hardly at 22v. Will the PowerBook survive?


DSC01934 DSC01937 DSC01939

Sure did! And the battery even started charging!

Filed under: Apple No Comments

103 Series Final Run, Osaka – June, 2019

This was officially the third final run 'seen' in one trip to Japan! First I got to see Ohmi Railway's 700 Series do its last run. Secondly, although not the final-final, I saw/rode Kumamoto Dentetsu's 200 Series during it's last month of operations. Finally, we have the Osaka Loop Line special: an orange-liveried 103-Series EMU. Starting in 2016, JR West put a lot of money into the Osaka Power Loop marketing campaign which saw new EMUs and new liveries on the Loop Line. This therefore meant a phasing out of the older rolling-stock.

Just my luck, the final run of the last running orange 103-series happened in early June. Unfortunately, I was working from the apartment and hadn't paid enough attention to when the final run would actually be! It turns out it was a single lap in the early morning peak! The train then retired to the yards near Osaka-Jo. I had actually gone out for a lap of the loop at around 3pm, waiting around Bentencho Station for the train to pass... after a while I google'd, only to find out that I was too late and therefore decided to head to the yards at Morinomiya. Before that though, there were some cool sites to be seen!


DSC01717 DSC01720 DSC01733


DSC01728 DSC01735 DSC01737


DSC01742 DSC01745 DSC01749


And, of course, my goal had been to catch the last-run and freight... so at least I was in one correct spot at one correct time!



The yard is located to the south of Kyobashi Station on the eastern side of the Osaka Loop Line. Morinomiya is the station directly south of the yard. The yard's entrance is on the north side and all operations are visible from the southern end of the Kyobashi Station platforms. To see parked trains though, I'd recommend walking from Morinomiya Station. It seems that everyone else had the same idea!


So, the train was in the yard and the wall was high and secure. If you look in the photo above, there was a poor little kid who'd ridden his bicycle down and tried to use it as a pedestal to see over the wall. Unfortunately, he still wasn't tall enough to take a photo with his Nintendo 3DS. I didn't ask why he was using that... but I guess he was too young to have a phone?

I took the following photo over the wall...


And then the poor kid looked up at me ... totally distraught. What else was there to do? I grabbed him and lifted him up high enough to take photos with his Nintendo! Made his day! On the way back, I stopped through Kyobashi Station as I wanted to actually check out the area. Whilst alighting, I grabbed a few shots of the local rolling-stock.

DSC01774 DSC01775 DSC01778

I was pretty sad... this was my second-last day of a 5-week trip.

Filed under: JPN No Comments

Flea Markets, Osaka – May, 2019

There's nothing better than queuing (queueing?) up at the entrance of a Flea Market... there could be any amount of treasure inside, so you'll never know what you might find. One also doesn't want others to steal said treasure, so one must be early! In Japan, just like most other countries, there's a lust for flea markets and there's always someone selling something which piques one's interest.

Banpaku Recycle Fair - Expo Park

This flea market, named Banpaku Recycle Fair, is held twice a month at Expo Park in North Osaka. Getting there from Shin-Osaka was very easy, taking the subway and the Osaka Monorail.

After getting off at Expo Memorial Park Station, exit to the east and then cross under the monorail lines. The entrance is well organised, and really, you just need to head towards this guy to find it...


DSC07545 DSC07546 DSC07547

The park is used for a lot of events, even just families going for a picnic. The weather was perfect for a picnic also, but that's not what I was there for. Following the main path around to the left, you'll find the flea market.


DSC07554 DSC07555 DSC07557


From here, the browsing commenced! I ended up picking up a Famicom and a few n-gauge trains.


DSC07561 DSC07567 DSC07566


That Tower of the Sun God is ever-so-daunting.

Ohatsu Tenjin Shrine Flea Market

This one is nicely tucked away behind the busy streets of Umeda. It's a little bit south-east of the main JR Osaka Station, but within easy walking distance.

The temple itself is beautiful, a complete relic nestled in amongst a ring of skyscrapers. The area is connected to the Sonezaki Ohatsu Tenjin Dori Shopping Street (Shoutengai) which also offers some vintage and retro stores... if they're open when you're at the market!


DSC07502 DSC07508 DSC07503

I managed to pick up a really nice Sony Walkman-style personal recorder. It had all the right inputs and looked like it might be able to be connected to an MSX/C64/etc.. for data recording.

DSC07510 DSC07506 DSC07512

Don't forget to actually check out the shrine itself! Make a wish if you want!

Shi-Tennoji Flea Market

This market was huge! It's on the grounds of the Shi-Tennoji Temple and it's quite an effort to navigate the layout. You can access this market via the Tanimachi Subway Line at Shitennoji-mae Yuhigaoka Station or by walking north from JR Tennoji Station.

DSC 0006

If you're walking from the Subway station, you'll find the residents have their own stalls in the street leading to the main market. I don't know how by-the-book this is, but they've made the most of the traffic that comes through!

DSC 0007

DSC 0008 DSC 0011 DSC 0012

Wandering around, the usual trinkets were to be seen... until I saw this!

DSC 0013

It's a vintage model maglev Linear Shuttle! Opening the box to check the contents proved that it wasn't in the best condition.

DSC 0014

There seems to be a small oil tube included, which makes me think that the vehicle isn't always levitating... a quick google indicated that it actually only levitates on one section of track which then propels it around the loop. The loop is also vertical, as in a loop-the-loop, and not a flat circuit. The metal was also quite corroded... so I passed on it... but I had been pretty damn keen!

DSC 0016

Don't forget to say Hi! to the turtles in the middle of the temple yard. And the dancing monkey! I just missed the show.

DSC 0022

DSC 0017 DSC 0019 DSC 0020

Some stall holders happily dumped their wares on their tarpaulins... others were a lot more organised.

DSC 0021

And yeah... there's a lot of the above as well... it's always fun to check out the customers of such wares!

Shin-Osaka Station - East Gate

This small market is open every Saturday morning. Markets are pretty-much always on Sundays in Australia, so it was fun to come across this randomly when heading to the station to meet friends. Fortunately, there wasn't anyting that interesting... so I didn't have to lug anything around all day.

DSC 0079 DSC 0080 DSC 0081

It was also extremely hot... so anything you see above has probably already melted!

Filed under: JPN No Comments

Suita Yard, Osaka – May, 2019

Thanks to the time of year, the sun was already starting to set later in the evening during May. I used the opportunities, when it wasn't raining, to venture out to the freight areas along the JR Kyoto Line. I'd visited Takatsuki the night before and realised, on the way back to Shin-Osaka, that I'd never really investigated the freight yard in Suita. The yard is officially located between Suita Station and Kishibe Station and there's a locomotive depot on the southern side of the line. I chose to proceed to Kishibe Station on train and then walk back to Suita.


Approaching from the east, I was instantly happy with my timing. The sun was setting perfectly, pointing straight at the faces of quite a lot of freight locomotives! Not only that, the variety was quite surprising. There were even some EF200s ready to be chopped up!


From the east side, there's a gate to the yard. This area provides a great vantage point to watch anything shunting around. It just so happens that a new HD300 was doing the honours with a set of KOKI flats. I don't actually remember the note of the engine as it was shunting, but for the life of me I don't think it sounded any less diesel! Shouldn't it have been more hybrid?

DSC01652 DSC01653 DSC01649

An EF63 then came through and parked into a free road in the yard. It had actually just come from Hirano, where I'd seen it earlier passing through!

DSC01634 DSC01637 DSC01640


Waaaay up the back of the yard there was also a standard YO5000 black guards van.


I continued to walk around to the other side of the yard. A lot of the length is just the side of the engine shed, in which I could here a lot of work being done, but couldn't really see it. And then there was some treasure on the side of the road... wouldn't fit in the suitcase though... might have been handy to test the famicom tho!

DSC01659 DSC01668DSC01661

Things got more interesting on the other side of the yard... EF66s! My favourite!


DSC01667 DSC01665 DSC01671

And then, after a bit more of a walk, there was an open gate with a perfectly framed view straight into the yard.

DSC01680 DSC01681 DSC01682


What an awesome line up! The lighting wasn't too bad either. Finally, down the very western end, is the entrance to the offices. They've mounted a 52 Series EMU (KuMoHa 52001) in their yard!

DSC01683 DSC01684 DSC01686


Nice surprise! I totally recommend anyone in the area to go for a walk and check this place out.

Filed under: JPN No Comments

Takatsuki, Osaka – May 2019

There's a lot to check out in this area of town. If you catch Hankyu in, you'll arrive at Takatsuki-Shi Station and you'll find yourself closer to 国道171号 (Koudou 171) (National Route 171), the main highway through town, than you would if you took JR. On this strip of tarmac, you'll find 3 different recycle shops!

DSC01407 DSC01408 DSC01409

Much fun was had and much junk was bought, but then it was time for trains. Actually, it was time for a cheeseburger at McDonalds next door. After that, a quick walk north takes you to a tunnel under the Hankyu line.


But we're not here for that either... further north (about another 20 minutes on-foot through some beautiful suburbia) is the main JR Kyoto/Tokaido line. More specifically, it's the location of the Takatsuki Staging Yards that I'd visited a really long time ago. The weather was much better on that previous adventure! I think it was a lot earlier in the morning and there were more EMUs in nicer locations.... and it wasn't raining.

Anyway, There's a whole new housing development being built over the rice fields, so the view from the JR lines back to Hankyu will soon be obscured.

DSC01417 DSC01439 DSC01441

But the view of the JR lines wont change as you really wouldn't want to get any closer...


DSC01415 DSC01420 DSC01419

As per the previous shots taken near the monorail, there's the usual selection of Harukas, Thunderbirds, etc... and they are going track-speed here. Surprising really, as the pedestrian crossing is pretty daunting. It's actually a lift-it-yourself weighted broom stick!


DSC01430 DSC01431 DSC01435

So, as per the link above, when you cross you get to wander straight through the storage yards. There wasn't much happening here this time around though.

DSC01427 DSC01429 DSC01424

From the middle of the crossing, there's also cool views in either direction!



Finally, back on the safe-side, there's a good view of the train wash. It just so happened that one EMU needed a clean whilst I was there.


DSC01446 DSC01451 DSC01449

I then walked all the way to Senrioka Station, getting off again at Kishibe to check out Suita Yards... but I'll throw that into another post.

Filed under: JPN No Comments

Minami-Ibaraki, Osaka – May, 2019

I can't remember exactly why, but I'd been on the Osaka Monorail again (see all about it here) and alighted at Minami-Ibaraki Station. The goal was to transfer to JR by following the Monorail north and then turning east towards the Aeon Mall, eventually arriving at Ibaraki Station. On the way, you pass under the freight viaduct and then over the JR Kyoto/Tokaido Line. Both actually offer quite nice afternoon/evening vantage points.


Above you can see the same bridge that I shot the EF66 on previously from Minami-Ibaraki Station itself. The sun was in a really nice position, but there was really little visibility of the freight line from street level! If something did pass, I didn't hear or see it. As I kept venturing north, I passed over the JR lines and saw that there was a direct path to the Aeon Mall. The sun was still up so I checked out the area just across the overpass. It turns out that there was a nice channel to the west of the intersection where one could possibly see some interesting traffic.

As per usual, loitering around long enough got the following...


DSC01521 DSC01523 DSC01524


DSC01560 DSC01563 DSC01564


All the limited expresses that pass my apartment in Shin-Osaka! I was a little sad that I couldn't get a freight train... or the Monorail + a LTD.EXP in the same pic... so here's just a Monorail.


The sun was gone and even a local Crane was eating dinner...


I packed up and proceeded over to Aeon and had a delicious Chicken Katsu Curry with added Spinach!

Filed under: JPN No Comments

Osaka Monorail – May, 2019

The Osaka Monorail runs a quarter-ring around northern and eastern Osaka. Starting at Itami Airport in the north, it passes through Senri-Chuo Station (the terminus of the Midosuji Subway Line), continues through to Expo City and then turns south, passing through Ibaraki and Settsu before terminating at Kadomashi. There's also a branch at Expo City that ventures north, terminating at Saito-Nishi Station.

From Shin-Osaka, getting to the monorail is quite easy. Catching the Midosuji Line subway at either Nishinakajima-Minamikata or Shin-Osaka Stations and heading north will get you to Senri-Chuo Station for an easy transfer. This is the terminus, so there's no need to really worry about which train you catch, although some do terminate and reverse at Shin-Osaka Station. If this happens, then just alight, wait on the platform and the next one should take you to the end of the line.

Riding the monorail is just like any other train in Japan. Buy tickets or use your Ikoka/Pasmo and then board after people have alighted. Note that, just like most trains, you get a great view out the front. There's also a really cool seat where you can pretend to drive... unless someone else takes the seat... and then just sleeps... because why else would you want the front row?

DSC08208 DSC08212 DSC08215


During this most recent trip to Japan, my first venture on the Monorail was due to a huge flea market known as Garage Sale being held at Expo Park, just north of Expo City. As mentioned above, the subway was taken north and then the monorail east to Expo Memorial Park Station. This station is fantastic, as to the east is the junction of the two monorail lines and, if you wait for a while at the eastern end of the platform, you'll get to watch the infrastructure deal with the traffic.


DSC07574 DSC07573 DSC07576

Don't forget to also check out Expo Park... especially for the Tower Of The Sun...



The flea market was awesome, but I'll post about that another time... also note that there's a Poppondetta Model Railway Store in the Lalaport Shopping Centre at Expo City! There's also delicious food and other great shopping.

From Expo City, the main monorail line turns south, towards Ibaraki. The next station is Minami-Ibaraki, but before you get there you pass under a huge sweeping concrete viaduct that happens to be a single-line electrified freight overpass. This line connects the freight yard in Suita to the yard adjacent to the Shinkansen staging yard in Settsu.


DSC08228 DSC08232 DSC08234

I checked my freight timetable and timed a trip on the Monorail once more to catch a freight movement on the bridge. Sure, it was only a light engine (from what I could see?) but hey, it's an EF66! After seeing that, I continued south to Minami-Settsu. Prior to arriving at the station though, the Monorail passover over the Ai River, which happens to be a branch of the Kanzaki River. Anyway, the main point? Directly on the other side of the river is a JR Freight yard and straight after that is the Osaka/Settsu Shinkansen Depot!


DSC07599 DSC07601 DSC07602


DSC07603 DSC07607 DSC07608

You'll find a differing amount of stored Shinkansen there depending on the time of day, but there'll always be at least one and therefore always be something to look at. The Yard is actually longer than 2 16-car shinkansens end to end to facilitate a storage area (closest to the monorail) and then actual cleaning/repair/inspection facilities at the far end.

Once arriving at Minami-Settsu, one can exit to the east and head south to find a land of treasure!


Otherwise stay at the station and watch the trains coming and going from the crazy white wavy bridge further south. This bridge actually crosses the Yodo River!

DSC07616 DSC07620 DSC07628


Actually, the view north is pretty cool too!

DSC07634 DSC07639 DSC07648

If you keep travelling south, you'll end up at Kadomashi, the end of line. The track extends further south, through a crossover and into two end roads and a central lay-over. The best part here is that, if you've come south into the station, chances are good that your train has to run into the central road and turn back. Don't forget to head to the southern end of the platform to watch this happen!


DSC08204 DSC08205 DSC08206


At Kadomashi, one can make an easy transfer to the Keihan Railway.

Filed under: JPN No Comments

Higashi Osaka Line – May, 2019

It was finally finished and it was finally my time to check it out! I've written about this before and before and before as it's exciting to see that JR West are continually building/extending/enhancing their network. This new line meant that, since I often stay in the area, one could have direct access to see the freight trains running through to Hirano without needing to hike too far on-foot!


The line starts at Shin-Osaka and uses platform 2. The train above had terminated an up service at Shin-Osaka Station, but was now on its way back down towards Kyuhoji. It's interesting that they managed to find enough of a slot to have the trains lay-over on platform 2 without causing too much of a timetable re-write. The fact that the trains are allowed to wait for (sometimes up to) 20 minutes at a time is quite interesting as I would've thought that this platform was heavily utilised by limited express services. It seem that crossovers have been installed on either side of platforms 1 and 2 to allow those limited express trains (Kuroshio and Haruka) to only now use platform 1 with no schedule changes!

As mentioned, the line starts at Shin-Osaka Station and heads north-east, following the Tokaido/Kyoto line alignment. Just after Higashi-Yodogawa station, the line splits off the main and elevates, taking you into Minami-Suita Station. This elevated curve and station actually form the fork of a full triangle connecting the Higashi Line to the Kyoto/Tokaido Line. From the northern platform, you can see the other half of the triangle; the path the freighters take to get to/from Suita Yard. Straight after the station is a beautifully curved bridge which you can see under construction here. It takes you across the Kanzaki River into JR Awaji Station. They had to prefix "JR" to the name, as Awaji Station is in use by Hankyu and it's a short walk to transfer between. This is also the easiest station to walk from to get to the northern bank of the Yodo River.


DSC08012 DSC08013 DSC08014

The shots above were actually from another trip I took where I wanted to be in-time for the first southbound freight through the Higashi Line. It turns out that if you take the first JR service, you'll just miss the first southound freight as the passenger service is scheduled afterwards. Instead, from Shin-Osaka you need to use Hankyu Minamikata Station to get to Hankyu Awaji and then walked across to JR Awaji.

DSC08020 DSC08021 DSC08022


From JR Awaji, there's also a good view down onto the Hankyu tracks below. Hankyu are currently undertaking a massive bit of construction to elevate their whole line from Juso to Awaji and beyond... and I believe it'll take quite a while longer as these concrete supports have been around for a few years.


Note that you can also stroll south-west from Hankyu Awaji Station to see the stuffed-and-mounted EH10 in the park just nearby...


From the northern end of the platforms at JR Awaji, you can see the shinkansen pass! You can also get a good view for southbound freight.

DSC00952 DSC00957 DSC00963


And then there's also the northbounders!


DSC00975 DSC00977 DSC00980

From JR Awaji Station, the line heads south and crosses the Yodo River. This bridge is a favourite for railfans in Kansai and used to be just a single lane, with a pedestrian path down one side. This has since been removed to allow the bridge to be dual-tracked.


I'm surprised they didn't receive bad press for removing the ability for pedestrians to cross the river here. You can now, of course, take the train, but more-often-that-not this was used by bicycles with large loads of stuff....


The first station after the bridge is Shirokitakoendori. As with all stations on this line, it's brand new and everything is very clean and tidy.


For some weird reason, I was particularly fond of the design of the escalators. Not just clean and tidy, but the quality and styling! JR West knows how to build a nice station.


From here it's an easy walk north to get to the southern side of the Yodo River. Stay on the eastern side and follow the bike tracks for some good views.

DSC08068 DSC08070 DSC08077


DSC08088 DSC08094 DSC08098

DSC08102 DSC08106 DSC08114

There's also some interesting vantage points from the fire escapes of nearby buildings. Just make sure you ask the local residents or authorities if it's OK to take train photos from an elevated position!

DSC08298 DSC08298 DSC08300


DSC08290 DSC08295 DSC08293

And then the freighter came through! A cute little light engine. My camera perfectly failed at this point with a lens error but I was happy the following shot succeeded.


The train's next stop is JR Noe Station. Again, this is another station where the 'plain' name was already taken; this time by the Keihan Railway. It's an easy walk to transfer between these two stations and it can be a good path to get to the Osaka Monorail, transferring at Keihan Kadomashi Station.

DSC07672 DSC07675 DSC07677


From JR Noe, the line travels south before joining the alignment of the Gakkentoshi Line. Just before the junction, you can see a former alignment and triangle where the Higashi Line branched west to a yard next to Sakuranomiya Station. It's now a footpath/cycleway and the yard is long-gone, full of apartment. I'll have to dig up more information on that area. But back to the line in question, after the bridge, the train curves into Shigino Station. Here you can transfer to the Gakkentoshi Line, through to Umeda at Kita-Shinchi Station, or after it turns into the Tozai Line and therefore beyond to Amagasaki or Nishi-Akashi.


DSC01461 DSC01463 DSC01465


DSC01474 DSC01476 DSC01479



Staying on the train, you'll now approach Hanaten Station and then curve south to finally intersect with the Yamatoji Line to Nara. Before this though, there's quite a few more new stations, where JR have once again had to prepend "JR" to make the names unique: JR-Kawachi-Eiwa Station, JR-Shintokumichi Station and JR-Nagase. Kizuri-Kamikita Station after the list above, is finally a newly-named station, and I made an effort to get here one afternoon for a southbound freighter.

DSC01696 DSC01699 DSC01700


Next comes Shinkami Station, named "shin-" as Kami Station is already just next door on the Yamatoji Line. Due to the design of the triangle, getting an "internal" transfer seemed impossible, so they went ahead and built two stations.

If you've stayed on-board then you're now approaching Kyūhōji Station - the end of the Higashi Osaka Line! Here you get the best transfers onto the Yamatoji Line to continue onto Nara and further east into Kansai. I actually did this on my previous trip through to Yokkaichi and Sendai.

Filed under: JPN No Comments

Unleashing An Old 8-bit ISA IO Card

This monster had been sitting in my box-o'-stuff for a while... actually, it seems next month is its three year anniversary in the box... jeesh. This was part of a dismantled 386 PC, used at the Siding Spring Observatory where I assume they needed a lot of IO to control telescopes? Anyway, I've been cleaning/clearing out a lot of junk lately and decided to finally check this thing out. As per that post above, I'd guessed it might be similar to the ACCESS - IOD-64, but I wasn't too sure.


DSC01831 DSC01832 DSC01833

DSC01834 DSC01835 DSC01836

As you can see it's a full length card with four 50-pin IDC headers along the top. There are very few markings on the card, making it near-impossible to work out who the manufacturer was. The bottom left tag area indicates D6004039 and the top-right IC has a serial number indicating 5215001. The card is 8-bit.

Base IO Header Status

Before getting started with anything like this, record everything you have in its initial state. Take photos of all the switches, all the jumpers, all the traces (handy to point fingers at who scratched what), all the pins, all the headers... one always ends up changing too-many-variables and needs a reference point to return to! Even if that point is incorrect (say 0x220 is a furphy?), it's a base to begin testing from again.

In this situation, I also wanted to know what the four ports were outputting, voltage-wise. Turns out the basic idea is as follows:

01 03 05 07 09 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25
~1.4v ~1.4v ~1.4v ~1.4v ~1.4v ~1.4v ~1.4v ~1.4v ~1.4v ~1.4v ~1.4v ~1.4v ~1.4v
+12v +12v 0v 0v 0v 0v 0v 0v 0v 0v 0v 0v 0v
02 04 06 08 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26
27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49
~1.4v ~1.4v ~1.4v ~1.4v ~1.4v ~1.4v ~1.4v ~1.4v ~1.4v ~1.4v ~1.4v +5v
0v 0v 0v 0v 0v 0v 0v 0v 0v 0v 0v 0v
28 30 32 34 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 50

So, the two tables above should be butted together at the 20s... they're just too long to display in one hit. The table, as a whole, describes the first IO 50-pin IDC plug on the board. This is the one closest to the end plate. Note that the port is keyed, that a SCSI cable fits perfectly and that pin 1 lines up with the red wire.


From the image above, pin 1 is in the bottom-right and pin 50 top-left. We can determine that the even pins (top row) 6 to 50 are all ground/common since you can see them bridged via a horizontal trace. Pins 2 and 4 are providing 12v and pin 49 gives you 5v. I may have accidentally grounded all of these supply lines whilst initially testing, but it doesn't seem to have hurt the card! It did nearly melt my test wire though.

One quick thing we could determine here was the "V/G" jumper aligned with each header. My guess that it was either 'voltage' or 'ground' and would probably control the 'rail' of second pins from 6 to 48. A quick swap of the jumper on the first header proved that assumption totally wrong. Instead, when set to V, as they all were at the start, pins 2 and 4 were 12v. When on G, pins 2 and 4 then became GND, just like the entire rest of the row. This jumper does not affect the 5v on pin 49.

I never did work out what the EDP jumper setting did!

Programming Choices

I was going to install Visual Basic 6.0 (mount it with Daemon Tools) and build a pretty windows form, but I quickly realised that there's no direct hardware access to IO ports? I might dig into that again. Instead I downloaded QBasic 4.5 (it's also on the Win98 CD!) and slapped it in a folder on C:\. Note that if you want to play with QBasic on Windows 7++ then use dosbox.

QBasic supports the INP() Function which simply (and unrestricted-ly) reads a byte from an IO address. I had always thought this was only for serial/parallel ports, but it then occurred to me that any port in the system is really just a direct mapping (hopefully with some electrical isolation) of the data lines into the ISA bus. Therefore, if you give the IO address of anything else on the bus, you'll read data from those locations! Here's a list of standard ports for x86 which can, in this scenario, give you an idea of areas to avoid.

Hardware Configuration

Trying to work this out was a blast.... no, really... it took quite a lot of trial and error. If you look at the images above, you'll see the IO Address setting is set to 0-1-0-0-0-0-0-0, and if you look below, you'll even note a sharpie'd address written on the side of the first IDC port! 0x220 base IO address!


Crap, that'll conflict directly with any SoundBlaster... if that's what you happened to have installed. Using my new-found knowledge above, I wrote a really simple QBASIC script to get the data from a range of addresses near 0x220.

FOR PORT# = 220 TO 230

The output was upsetting... just multiple outputs of the number 255. I wondered what the chances were that the dipswitches had been tampered with? Who knows if that inscription of 0x220 was, at all, correct? At the same time, if my pins were floating, then would the card report a 1 or a 0? Knowing where the supply voltage pins where, I danced around them and grounded a few of (what I expected were) the IO lines.


I still didn't get any results around 0x220, so I started searching... but, of course, where do I start searching? A DOS terminal screen gives me about 8 good rows of text space in text-mode, so I set a larger offset and started panning through the addresses. Using the IO Port Mapping for x86, I knew there were a few locations to skip and so I just kept digging.

This got pretty annoying after a while, so I went graphical... it really helped the next step!

DECLARE FUNCTION PortIsFree! (portNum#)
DIM OnOffPoints(0 TO 128) AS INTEGER
RESTORE OffPointData
FOR PY = 0 TO 5
  FOR PX = 0 TO 3
    READ A
    PSET (PX, PY), A
FOR PY = 0 TO 5
  FOR PX = 4 TO 7
    READ A
    PSET (PX, PY), A
FOR PY = 0 TO 5
  FOR PX = 8 TO 11
    READ A
    PSET (PX, PY), A
FOR PY = 0 TO 5
  FOR PX = 12 TO 15
    READ A
    PSET (PX, PY), A

OnPoint = 0
OffPoint = 33
otherOnPOint = 64
OtherOffPoint = 80
GET (0, 0)-(3, 5), OnOffPoints(OnPoint)
GET (4, 0)-(7, 5), OnOffPoints(OffPoint)
GET (8, 0)-(11, 5), OnOffPoints(otherOnPOint)
GET (12, 0)-(15, 5), OnOffPoints(OtherOffPoint)
SELPORT# = &H220
	col = 1
	row = 1
		IF (PORT# > 0) THEN
				LOCATE row, col
					COLOR 12
					COLOR 15
				END IF
			freeport = PortIsFree(PORT#)
			IF (freeport = 1 OR 1 = 1) THEN
					dotrow = (row * ROWHEIGHT)
					offset = (col - 1) * COLWIDTH
					FOR bit = 8 TO 1 STEP -1
						IF (DATAIN# AND (2 ^ (bit - 1))) THEN
							IF (freeport = 1) THEN
								PUT (offset, dotrow), OnOffPoints(OnPoint), PSET
								PUT (offset, dotrow), OnOffPoints(otherOnPOint), PSET
							END IF
							IF freeport = 1 THEN
								PUT (offset, dotrow), OnOffPoints(OffPoint), PSET
								PUT (offset, dotrow), OnOffPoints(OtherOffPoint), PSET
							END IF

						END IF
						offset = offset + 4
					NEXT bit
					LOCATE row + 2, col
					PRINT "    "
					COLOR 15
					LOCATE row + 2, col
				END IF
		LOCATE 1, 1
		col = col + 6
			col = 1
			row = row + 4
	LOCATE 29, 20
	IF K$ = "q" OR K$ = "Q" THEN
	ELSEIF K$ = CHR$(0) + CHR$(77) THEN
	ELSEIF K$ = CHR$(0) + CHR$(75) THEN
	ELSEIF K$ = CHR$(0) + CHR$(72) THEN
	ELSEIF K$ = CHR$(0) + CHR$(80) THEN
	ELSEIF K$ >= "0" AND K$ < = "9" THEN
			DATAOUT = VAL(K$) + (DATAOUT * 10)
		LOCATE 29, 1
		PRINT "         ";
		LOCATE 29, 1

DATA 00,10,10,00,10,10,10,10,10,10,10,10,10,10,10,10,10,10,10,10,00,10,10,00
DATA 00,12,12,00,12,12,12,12,12,12,12,12,12,12,12,12,12,12,12,12,00,12,12,00
DATA 00,9,9,00,9,9,9,9,9,9,9,9,9,9,9,9,9,9,9,9,00,9,9,00
DATA 00,1,1,00,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,00,1,1,00

FUNCTION PortIsFree (portNum#)
	IF (portNum# >= &H2F8 AND portNum# < = &H2FF) THEN
		PortIsFree = 0
	ELSEIF (portNum# >= &H170 AND portNum# < = &H177) THEN
		PortIsFree = 0
	ELSEIF (portNum# >= &H1F0 AND portNum# < = &H1F7) THEN
		PortIsFree = 0
	ELSEIF (portNum# >= &H278 AND portNum# < = &H27A) THEN
		PortIsFree = 0
	ELSEIF (portNum# >= &H3B0 AND portNum# < = &H3DF) THEN
		PortIsFree = 0
	ELSEIF (portNum# >= &H3F0 AND portNum# < = &H3F7) THEN
		PortIsFree = 0
	ELSEIF (portNum# >= &H3F8 AND portNum# < = &H3FF) THEN
		PortIsFree = 0
		PortIsFree = 1


Ahh... christmas... this now made it very easy for the next step... determination of the IO address switch. If you look at the photo of the monitor, you'll see from 680 that the first and last pins are grounded. This continues for 3 bytes, then skips a lot and continues again. That was the pattern I created on the cables to make it easier to find the card when I was adjusting the switches below.

Decoding the switch for IO address

Here comes the binary! I checked out the manual for that card I mentioned at the very start and it had a very convoluted way of adjusting the port offset. I chose to have more fun with the qbasic app above which simply displays the IO map of the system. Changing the cards' dipswitches whilst the machine was still on instantly affected the bytes displayed on-screen! The pattern of grounded wires, set on the first and last IO ports on the card, made it easy to distinguish... and, well, as dangerous as it sounds, it worked perfectly! The only slightly concerning thing was the address sharing... some of the areas had a duplicated area 0x400 bytes higher in the port table.

SW1 SW2 SW3 SW4 SW5 SW6 SW7 SW8 Output
X 0x1F0
X 0x2F0
X X 0x0F0
X 0x370,0x770
X X 0x170
X X 0x270
X X X 0x470
X 0x3B0,0x7B0
X X 0x5B0
X X 0x2B0
X X X 0x4B0
X X 0x330,0x730
X X X 0x130
X X X 0x230
X X X X 0x430
X 0x3D0,0x7D0
X X 0x1D0
X X 0x2D0,0x6D0
X X X 0x4D0
X X 0x350
X X X 0x550
X X X 0x250,0x650
X X X X 0x450
X X 0x390
X X X 0x190,0x590
X X X 0x290,0x690
X X X X 0x490,0x890
X X X 0x310,0x710
X X X X 0x110,0x510
X X X X 0x210,0x610
X X X X X 0x410
X 0x3E0
X X 0x5E0
X X 0x2E0,0x6E0
X X X 0x4E0
X X 0x760
X X X 0x560
X X X 0x660
X X X X 0x460
X X 0x3A0
X X X 0x5A0
X X X 0x2A0,0x6A0
X X X X 0x4A0
X X X 0x720
X X X X 0x520
X X X X 0x620
X X X X X 0x420
X X 0x7C0
X X X 0x1C0
X X X 0x6C0
X X X X 0x4C0
X X X 0x740
X X X X 0x540
X X X X 0x640
X X X X X 0x440
X X X 0x380
X X X X 0x580
X X X X 0x680
X X X X X 0x480
X X X X 0x300
X X X X X 0x500
X X X X X 0x600
X X X X X X 0x400
X 0x7F0
X X 0x5F0
X X 0x6F0
X X X 0x4F0
X X 0x770
X X X 0x570
X X X 0x670
X X X X 0x470
X X 0x7B0
X X X 0x5B0
X X X 0x6B0
X X X X 0x4B0
X X X 0x730
X X X X 0x530
X X X X 0x630
X X X X X 0x430
X X 0x7D0
X X X 0x5D0
X X X 0x6D0
X X X X 0x4D0
X X X 0x750
X X X X 0x550
X X X X 0x650
X X X X X 0x450
X X X 0x790
X X X X 0x590
X X X X 0x690
X X X X X 0x490
X X X X 0x710
X X X X X 0x510
X X X X X 0x610
X X X X X X 0x410
X X 0x7E0
X X X 0x5E0
X X X 0x6E0
X X X X 0x4E0
X X X 0x760
X X X X 0x560
X X X X 0x660
X X X X X 0x460
X X X 0x7A0
X X X X 0x5A0
X X X X 0x6A0
X X X X X 0x4A0
X X X X 0x720
X X X X X 0x520
X X X X X 0x620
X X X X X X 0x420
X X X 0x7C0
X X X X 0x5C0
X X X X 0x6C0
X X X X X 0x4C0
X X X X 0x740
X X X X X 0x540
X X X X X 0x640
X X X X X X 0x440
X X X X 0x780
X X X X X 0x580
X X X X X 0x680
X X X X X X 0x480
X X X X X 0x700,0x300
X X X X X X 0x500
X X X X X X 0x600
X X X X X X X 0x400
X 0x7F0,0x3F0
X X 0x5F0
X X 0x6F0
X X X 0x4F0
X X 0x770
X X X 0x570
X X X 0x670
X X X X 0x470
X X 0x7B0
X X X 0x5B0
X X X 0x6B0
X X X X 0x4B0
X X X 0x730
X X X X 0x530
X X X X 0x630
X X X X X 0x430
X X 0x0x7D0,0x3D0
X X X 0x5D0
X X X 0x6D0
X X X X 0x4D0
X X X 0x350
X X X X 0x550
X X X X 0x650
X X X X X 0x450
X X X 0x390
X X X X 0x590
X X X X 0x690
X X X X X 0x490
X X X X 0x310
X X X X X 0x510
X X X X X 0x610
X X X X X X 0x410
X X 0x3E0
X X X 0x5E0
X X X 0x6E0
X X X X 0x4E0
X X X 0x360
X X X X 0x560
X X X X 0x660
X X X X X 0x460
X X X 0x3A0
X X X X 0x5A0
X X X X 0x6A0
X X X X X 0x4A0
X X X X 0x320
X X X X X 0x520
X X X X X 0x620
X X X X X X 0x420
X X X 0x7C0
X X X X 0x5C0
X X X X 0x6C0
X X X X X 0x4C0
X X X X 0x740,0x340
X X X X X 0x540
X X X X X 0x640
X X X X X X 0x440
X X X X 0x380,0x780
X X X X X 0x580
X X X X X 0x680
X X X X X X 0x480
X X X X X 0x300,0x700
X X X X X X 0x500
X X X X X X 0x600
X X X X X X X 0x400
X X 0x3F0,0x7F0
X X X 0x5F0
X X X 0x6F0
X X X X 0x4F0
X X X 0x770,0x370
X X X X 0x570
X X X X 0x670
X X X X X 0x470
X X X 0x3B0,0x7B0
X X X X 0x5B0
X X X X 0x6B0
X X X X X 0x4B0
X X X X 0x330,0x730
X X X X X 0x530
X X X X X 0x630
X X X X X X 0x430
X X X 0x3D0,0x7D0
X X X X 0x5D0
X X X X 0x6D0
X X X X X 0x4D0
X X X X 0x350,0x750
X X X X X 0x550
X X X X X 0x650
X X X X X X 0x450
X X X X 0x790,0x390
X X X X X 0x590
X X X X X 0x690
X X X X X X 0x490
X X X X X 0x710,0x310
X X X X X X 0x510
X X X X X X 0x610
X X X X X X X 0x410
X X X 0x3E0,0x7E0
X X X X 0x5E0
X X X X 0x6E0
X X X X X 0x4E0
X X X X 0x760,0x360
X X X X X 0x560
X X X X X 0x660
X X X X X X 0x460
X X X X 0x7A0,0x3A0
X X X X X 0x5A0
X X X X X 0x6A0
X X X X X X 0x4A0
X X X X X 0x720,0x320
X X X X X X 0x520
X X X X X X 0x620
X X X X X X X 0x420
X X X X 0x7C0,0x3C0
X X X X X 0x5C0
X X X X X 0x6C0
X X X X X X 0x4C0
X X X X X 0x740
X X X X X X 0x540
X X X X X X 0x640
X X X X X X X 0x440
X X X X X 0x780
X X X X X X 0x580
X X X X X X 0x680
X X X X X X X 0x480
X X X X X X 0x700,0x300
X X X X X X X 0x500
X X X X X X X 0x600
X X X X X X X X 0x400,0x800

So from above... the magical calculation is... dunno... but the weird sharing of XXX with XXX+400h was confusing and slightly dangerous when both ranges could conflict with other hardware in the system!

Port Mapping

So now we know how to set the base address, how do we then actually work with the data? The card needs 16 consecutive IO Ports, so please make sure you find a space in the address table that has the capacity. You don't want it interfering with other hardware in your system. Actually, the code above gives you a really good idea as to what areas in use and which are free. Also make note of the 'ghosting' that seems to occur with the lower address ranges. The table below expects you've set the above address to 0x220, but this means the data will also be visible on 620! This could easily interfere with an AWE Soundcard.

Port Usage
0x220 CN1 pins 33,35,37,39,41,43,45,47
0x221 CN1 pins 17,19,21,23,25,27,29,31
0x222 CN1 pins 01,03,05,07,09,11,13,15
0x223 Control Register for CN1
0x224 CN2 pins 33,35,37,39,41,43,45,47
0x225 CN2 pins 17,19,21,23,25,27,29,31
0x226 CN2 pins 01,03,05,07,09,11,13,15
0x227 Control Register for CN2
0x228 CN3 pins 33,35,37,39,41,43,45,47
0x229 CN3 pins 17,19,21,23,25,27,29,31
0x22A CN3 pins 01,03,05,07,09,11,13,15
0x22B Control Register for CN3
0x22C CN4 pins 33,35,37,39,41,43,45,47
0x22D CN4 pins 17,19,21,23,25,27,29,31
0x22E CN4 pins 01,03,05,07,09,11,13,15
0x22F Control Register for CN4

Writing to the ports

With the QBASIC code above, you can use the Up and Down arrows to paginate. You can then use the left and right to select a specific address. Use the forward-slash key to skip 10 addresses at a time. Once on an address, you can write a value to the selected port by typing that number in and pressing the letter S. From here I worked out the following:

  • You can only write out values to the bytes if you send a value to the control register first.
  • If you write a number to one of the three blocks of pins, then it'll set all associated bits HIGH.
  • Sending a 0 therefore sets them all LOW, 255 will set them all HIGH.
  • The final control register allows you to set all three bytes to 0 or 255 quickly. But I haven't totally decoded what the required values are.

I'm still trying to ascertain how it works. The EDP jumper seems to determine if one is allowed to send bytes to the ports, but I haven't correctly determined exactly how.
As is, the card could easily be used to control/read binary bits in its default setting.

Let's control a model railway!

This card would've been perfect when I was younger. I remember back at Lyneham Hockey Courts in Canberra, there was an engineer who'd build a smallish model railway at one of the conventions and it was totally computer controlled. There was this hulking XT/AT machine next to the layout with ribbon cables running everywhere. A card with this much IO would've been fantastic for sensors, point control and even throttles. I might do that now, just for fun, using some of the off-the-shelf Arduino modules in my box-o'-junk. Sure, it's cheating, but I'll still be using the full power of the card.

An L298 can provide the throttle, but it needs a variable resistance fed into this. We can use a Resistor Ladder to provide this, as we have so many pins available.

I might just put it back in its box for the next rainy day. If anyone has further documentation on this card, then please leave a comment!

Filed under: Retro No Comments

Shin-Osaka Station Area – May 2019

Whilst recently staying in the area, I made it my goal to check out all corners of the railway. There's a lot to see around Shin-Osaka Station, so I'll try and document everything I stumbled across!

Staging Yards

To the west of Shin-Osaka Station, there's a large staging yard where all sorts of trains get cleaned/repaired/shunted. I started my walk around the yards from the south-east corner, as that was closest to the apartment.

DSC01138 DSC01140 DSC01183

Straight up there were interesting things to be seen. The Salon Car Naniwa was stored, not to be going anywhere anytime soon, and the Twilight Express Mizukaze was being cleaned and prepared for an afternoon departure. I started my anti-clockwise walk around the yard.

DSC01144 DSC01147 DSC01158

There wasn't much to be seen along the northern edge of the yard. Although you can see into the yard, under the shinkansen tracks, you can't really get much of a vantage point as the Tokaido line (for freight and non-revenue movements) runs along the ground level. On the western edge of the yard, there's a level crossing where the Tokaido Line runs out and re-connects with itself. I wonder if this part is actually called the Tokaido Line? It's the track that allows the freight trains to skip Osaka Station.


DSC01152 DSC01153 DSC01154

The level crossing gives you a good fore-warning of railway events. Unfortunately, I only got to see it trigger once when a Thunderbird was dead-heading from Osaka in to the yard. The Twilight Express Mizukaze was being washed and didn't budge. I'd actually hoped it'd leave this yard via the apartment, but instead it seems to have exited on this west side, turned left at the triangle and proceeded down to Osaka Station.

I continued my lap around the yards, there's something to see over every fence... although you might have to jump!

DSC01177 DSC01178 DSC01179



DSC01162 DSC01163 DSC01164


DSC01166 DSC01167 DSC01176

DSC01180 DSC01181 DSC01182

Freight Branch

That line I mentioned above splits off from the main line on the northern side of the actual platforms at Shin-Osaka Station. If you follow the road under the station to the west of the lines, then you'll cross the tracks. It's still a level crossing, so you'll know when something is coming.

DSC01582 DSC01586 DSC01588



If you browse over to the Shin-Osaka Webcam write-up, you'll find interesting things that you can wait here for. Above is the light-engine movements that I've written about. If you see the DE10 run west at around 8am, then you'll have good chances of seeing it drag something east at around 2pm! Extra hint when there's others waiting around!

DSC01611 DSC01618 DSC01623

Higashi-Yodogawa Station Area

Walking east from Shin-Osaka Station, you can do a lap of the area via the Higashi-Yodogawa Station pedestrian overpass. This station used to have a level crossing which, spanning over 10 tracks, was more-often-than-not closed.


The station itself has received a huge upgrade, probably because of the new Higashi-Osaka Line changing the track layout quite a bit. The overpass it a bit of overkill... with REALLY LONG ramps to allow bicycles to easily be pushed over the hill.

DSC08311 DSC08313 DSC08315

Walking down the southern(eastern?) side of the line, I realised I was in direct frame for the Shin-Osaka Webcam. It was dusk, so I used the flashlight on my phone to annoy the locals.

If you look really closely in the video above, I'm standing for the first 4 seconds to the left of the pedestrian underpass tunnel entrance. I'm wearing a white t-shirt and I hold my phone above my head to shine a tiny little white light for a few seconds. I then walk to the right, mid-way into the frame, to the next street corner and do the same again with my phone.


Here's the neighbourhood in more light! Can you spot where the camera might be!?

DSC08318 DSC08321 DSC08325

Shin-Osaka Station

Finally, the station itself! You'll see all sorts of services passing through here. Most stop, as it's the major connection to the Shinkansen above. Freight pass on the northern-most lines, either directly past the station (and the yard mentioned above), or through the station, past the apartment and down to Ajikawaguchi.


DSC08340 DSC08341 DSC08342


With all the departure boards, you'll know exactly what's coming and going... I'm going to finish this article with a shot from 10 years ago, on the same platform, in what-feels-like another lifetime.

The Twilight Express pulls into ShinOsaka

Ahh... loco-hauled sleeper trains... I miss you.

Filed under: JPN No Comments