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Shin-Osaka Webcam – What you can expect to see…

Welcome back to Shin-Osaka. This station is north of the main Osaka station and provides a transfer point to the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen. There's a webcam hosted live on Youtube to the north-east of the station and it provides a perfect view of all traffic heading in and out of the station. The link to the camera is here.

View my post here with a timetable of the standard trains. It'll help you find a specific service!

The two lines in the bottom-right are freight and you'll see all sorts of interesting things passing through. You'll also see shinkansen up top, hence Doctor Yellow, and any other plethora of EMUs/DMUs and freight in the middle.

Here's another... an older 283-Series Kuroshio. There aren't many of these running any more; they quickly upgrade the consists in Japan!

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And the next day in the reverse order... must run a loop somewhere?

other-kuroshio

And here it is in its latest incantation with the Wakayama Adventure World livery (Yes, that's an angry PANDA)...

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And the Airport Express Haruka...

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And the Super Hakuto...

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And the Thunderbird with its seriously long consist...

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Which also has a pointer-other-end...

thunderbird

Note that they also sometimes run dead-headed back along the Tokaido line. I believe they'll then take the triangle south of Amagasaki and enter Osaka Station from the West end.

dead-head-tbird

And then sometimes you'll get unexpected movements... like this 117 Series (300 subseries) which usually only hangs around Kyoto and further East on the Kosei Line...
(Update: It was actually an end-of-year school excursion!)

117-series-green

The Wide-View Hida is a DMU that will take you out to Gifu and Takayama via Nagoya...

hida

They even sometimes slap an extra cab-car on the front to cater for busier mornings!

double-hida

Another DMU is the Hamakaze which will take you up to Tottori.

hamakaze

Freight also takes the inner lines when heading to Ajikawaguchi (down near USJ)...

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And sometimes just runs as a light-engine...

light-engine

There's always freight running on the bottom-right lines, but usually only with single locos in the lead. Today an HD300 was being transferred inline.

hd300-load-balance

There's actually light-engine movements quite often... Here's a DE10 on the main freight line... (can you see it?)

de10

It returned West the next day...

de10-returning

Seems it was heading out to Kawasaki in Hyogo to pick up a brand new EMU. Here it is dragging the new set east...

de10-new-consist

The best part about Japan is their adherence to timetables... here's another DE10 running the same timeslot east. I wonder if it'll come back on the timeslot above?

more-de10

And then even a light EF64 running west on the main Tokaido track...

ef64-light

Aaannd... even a DD51 towing a single flat with rails?

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And then it returned the next day, but on the line from Ajikawaguchi (or further south?)

dd51-rail-train

A DD51 has also been seen bolting Southbound towards osaka station on the standard passenger lines.

dd51-to-osaka

An EF210 hauled two railset flats on the mainline...

ef210-railset

And now I present a Blue 103 Series EMU, dead-heading along the Tokaido Line towards Kyoto!

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Which then returned 40 minutes later.

blue-103-return

If you're up early/late enough, then you'll also see the M250 Super Rail Cargo heading through Shin-Osaka...

super-rail-cargo

In the afternoons, you even get cool planes flying over... the shadows are really cool!

plane-shadow

The goal is now to have a train on every track. So far I've got the current shot pegged as the most various....

lotsa-trains

I'll update this as interesting things happen.

17Oct/170

Shin-Osaka Webcam – Salon Car Naniwa

Here's the Salon Car Naniwa departing ShinOsaka Station. This is a tour train that operates around the Kinki area.

salon-express-naniwa

17Oct/170

Akihabara, Tokyo – July 2017

Following on my thread of airbnb apartments with train views, here's a beautiful apartment in Akihabara with a good view of the Chuo Main Line and the Sobu Main Line. It's, as to be expected in Japan, a small studio-style apartment which comfortably fit 3 of us and, thanks to being in close proximity to Akihabara and some great restaurants, never left us inconvenienced!

Of course, I could stay in a pig pen, as long as the balcony had something to look at...

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Yes, Platnium Fish Cafe (previously known as N3331 Bar and Cafe) in Maach Ecute on the old Manseibashi Train Station is just there... on that platform on the curve next to the building!

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That's better... check that view out! Right up front is the Chuo Main Line, and up the back in amongst the buildings of Akihabara is the Sobu Main Line. I must admit though, there's a lot of standard passenger traffic over limited expresses. But then again, you do get some cool movements. We arrived on a Thursday night and the next morning ~0700 a Super Azusa consist dead-headed west and then another (or maybe the same) returned east. I didn't have my camera ready and this didn't happen on Saturday or Sunday morning! A little sad as they're slated for the recycle center once the new model comes out.

Either way, it's still a fantastic location to sit back with a few tinnies from 7/11 and you'll get enough Limited Express Shiosai or Ayame on the Sobu Main Line as well.

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Sheesh... I need to work on my angles! I promise the track is level.

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An Azusa consist also takes the Sobu Main Line on a single inbound AM service and outbound PM service, getting people to and from Chiba.

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Anyway, I can only recommend this place if you need quick access to Akihabara and like trains! It's also an easy commute from Narita; just take the Skyliner to Nippori and transfer to the Yamanote Line clockwise.

16Oct/170

Power Macintosh Graphite G4 – PCI Cards

This thing has a lot of room for expandability, so I went rummaging through my spares box for PCI cards that might fit. Actually, I managed to find a FireWire card on the same day I bought the ATI 9250 AGP Graphics Card, so I had that to test also. This Apple failed to come with an AirPort PCMCIA card, so I also wanted to get wireless working without paying for premium Apple devices.

ASUS WL-138G V2

I had a TP-Link something-something box in my stash and googled to see if there were any drivers. Nothing good came up and I thought I was out of luck. I had actually bought this from the markets years ago and never used it... in fact, I never even opened the box. You can imagine my surprise when I found this inside instead!

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Haha... winner... this sure isn't a TP-Link!

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The best point is this... the bloody thing just worked! At first, I hardly got any signal... but then I realised I didn't have the antenna screwed on :)

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Done... does wonders for my limited supply of Ethernet ports.

No-Name FireWire Card KWE582

And again, from the category of 'just works'... this FireWire card happily let my iSight Camera function as expected.

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Totally no-name... can't even find a brand.

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I actually don't even need the ports... but hey, there are spare PCI slots to fill! The last shot above shows my iSight looking towards the machine working perfectly in iChat. Will need to find if Photo Booth is available for 10.4.6?

Adaptec AIC-7880P

This SCSI card will let me use more internal and external drives, but I really don't need them. Despite this, I think it'll still be fun to test. I've a hunch that it's actually a fake card as the only identifier is the chipset number. Adaptec doesn't name their cards after their chipsets... their cards all have individual codes!

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Everything, again, just worked perfectly! My external SyQuest removable HDD worked perfectly showing my FAT32 drive in all its glory.

16Oct/170

Power Macintosh Graphite G4 – ATI Radeon 9250

My recently acquired Power Mac G4 was originally spec'd with an Nvidia GeForce, but instead came with an ATI Rage Pro 128. I therefore started researching my options for a graphics card upgrade. Most 'apple-designed' items, that would work out of the box, would cost an arm and a leg, so I ventured deeper into the web and came to the understanding that PC cards could be flashed to work on Apples!

Which cards?

Good question. Some people have had luck with the NVidia GeForce range, whilst others have succeeded with the ATI Radeon chipset. There's a good compatibilty chart here at The Mac Elite which will show you the series and then any required modifications.

Sapphire ATI Radeon 9250 128mb

I happened across an ATI Radeon 9250 AGP with 128mb of RAM at trash and treasure on the weekend for a few dollars and my decision was therefore made for me. The VGA port was dangling and needed whatever screws I could find to secure it.. and well, it was cheap.

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Quick research showed that the basic process is to first flash it in a compatible PC, disable pins 3+11 and then shift some resistors. The pin disablement is required as the Macintosh actually uses these to send 25v over it's proprietary ADC port to power an Apple Display. AGP 1x originally didn't require these pins and so Apple hijacked them. Plugging an AGP 4x/8x card into an apple expecting a 1x card will prevent the machine from booting and possibly cause other hardware damage.

Flashing with a Macintosh ROM

Thanking The Mac Elite once more, they have a great flashing tutorial here. Firstly, you'll need a ROM, so follow the links and agree to the disclaimers. Note that the 9250 driver is actually not 'official'. It's a modified version that has the device IDs hacked in to allow this card to work. You'll find 3 ROMs for the 9250 over there. A 'full' version and 2 reduced versions. The latter are smaller versions of the original ROM file, allowing it to fit on cards with smaller flash memory. Actually, there's a whole article on reduced ROMs here. I'd read on a forum of a success story with the 'Reduced TOME ROM', so I chose that.

Finding ATIFlash actually became quite a challenge... the tools available for ATI Flashing were all windows-based and the DOS version was nowhere to be found. I tried Archive.org, but the links were all dynamic and wouldn't give me an older version. Googling then provided me with a link to a newer version of the DOS ATIFlash tool. I managed to get it onto a bootable floppy, with both of the ROMs to test and ... well ... each attempt resulted in: Adapter Not Found. The tool couldn't find my AGP card!?!

At this point I had two options... Keep scouring the web for an ancient version of ATIFlash (v3.10 is the version everyone seems to prefer) or try the windows versions... I actually did try the latter, but my test PC only had Win98SE and the app needed Windows 7 at a minimum. I therefore kept digging and found other versions of ATIFlash! Finally, v3.10. It still didn't work... so instead of wasting hours to get Windows 7 up and running, I chose to force the flash. Using atiflash -f -p [CARD_IDX] [ROM_FILE], things started happening!

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Finally, we have a successful flash and it's actually now listing the card and the ROM information correctly. NOTE: The screenshot above shows ATIFLA2.EXE... this is v3.10. ATIFLASH.EXE is v4.17, the first version I tried.

Disabling pins 3 and 11

The Mac Elite has a great write-up on this requirement. As mentioned, these two pins were used to provide power to an ADC monitor. Later on, AGP 8x came along and used these pins for something else. Since my card is an 8x card, the pins are 'in-use' and therefore the Macintosh wasn't happy with this at all. In fact, it wouldn't power up with the card inserted nakedly into the slot. Fortunately, the fix is simples... grab some sticky-tape and cut it into thin slices and insulate the pins.

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To stop the tape from sliding when the card is inserted, wrap it half way around the edge. Don't go all the way around though, as you'll disable other pins on the other side of the connector.

At this point I tested it out... I was curious to see if the machine would even power up.

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It did!... but the frequency was totally out-of-whack. That last shot is of me going back to the PC to check if I could write the other 'full' ROM as I'd thought a bad ROM write was to blame. It didn't let me and I was about to despair, before I remembered that I still had to hack resistors to switch this card into Mac Mode.

ATI 9250 'Macintosh Mode'

The 9250 needs a further 'Macintosh Mode' hack. It seems that the card has soldered jumpers to configure it as either Macintosh or PC. This link at The Mac Elite has an example of what resistors to change... but my card wasn't 100% identical. I took a flying leap and guessed that the resistors in the same area provided the same purpose. This, thankfully, turned out to be correct!

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So, the card was on the workbench, the soldering iron was ready, and I had assumed that the 'block of three' resistors was the top 3 of 4 in that upper area and the '2 pair' was the obvious 2-pair below. Fortunately, the first 2 of 3 of the top block were already in the correct location; I just had to shift the last one. Removal was easy: I tinned the soldering iron and just heated up the SMD resistor until it lifted and stuck to the tip. After this I cleaned the pads ready for the switched resistors.

Of course, I couldn't be assed trying to put the tiny SMD resistors back; there's really no need. They're actually just jumpers or 0 ohm resistors providing links between two solder pads. I therefore just grabbed a nearby full-size resistor and bent its leg to act as a jumper.

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I tinned the end of the resistor and then soldered it in place.

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From there, a nice set of sharp snips removed the excess and the short was in place!

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One done, two more to go...

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Before I knew it, all were done and it was time to test it out again...

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With the card in place, you really have no idea if the sticky-tape insulating the pins has succeeded... but just turn it on anyway! Meanwhile, look at all those spare PCI slots! I'll get back to them later.

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Haha! It just worked!

Software

Well... it nearly worked. The second monitor was maxing out at 640x480 and controls seemed limited. I assumed I needed some form of a real ATI driver, so I went searching. ATI/AMD actually has the drivers right here and installing them was a breeze. After a reboot, I had full resolution and the monitor model numbers were even showing up!

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Success!

13Oct/170

Shin-Osaka Webcam – Timetable

I'll update this as I add more services, but here's a list of trains that you can expect to see on the Shin-Osaka Webcam. I'll try and get the freight timetable in there ASAP. Note that the current data below is sourced from Google Maps. It is very up-to-the-minute and therefore will only show future departures!


Regarding the times above... the video is on the east side of the station, so anything heading west will actually appear sooner than the time indicated. The time is the departure time from Shin-Osaka Station, so anything heading east will depart the platforms as indicated. Take anywhere from a minute to 10 seconds off the time for trains heading west.

Unfortunately, the video cannot be embedded, so you'll have to practice alt-tabbing when required.

Here's a post on what you can expect to see on the camera. And here's a cool sighting of Doctor Yellow. Send messages through if you see interesting trains!

Filed under: JPN No Comments
12Oct/170

Virtual Train Trip – Osaka Station to Shin-Osaka Station

For those who don't know, suburban Japanese passenger trains, more often than not, have front windows of which passengers can actually see out of. This is very unheard of in Australia, as the driver's cabin is usually separated from the dangerous passengers by opaque walls.

Therefore in Japan, if you get into the front car of a passenger consist, not only can you see the driver and watch his every move.. you can see out the front of the train and watch as you drive along the tracks!

It's totally mesmerising. Of course, you can then also watch all the gauges and other instrumentation that the driver must control to keep the whole system functioning.

I hereby present a video I took by suction-cupping a GoPro to the front window inside a 223-Series EMU from Osaka to Shin-Osaka.

What you're seeing here is the view on the 'conductors' side of the cabin. When the train is running in the opposite direction, this is the area where the conductor usually works from as the doors switches and guard light controls are all on the wall. It's also a good shelf to store your work bag.

The trip starts with the curve out of Umeda, crossing the Yodogawa before quickly arriving at Shin-Osaka Station. If you want to then see the area afterwards, check out my Shin-Osaka Webcam sightings here.

11Oct/170

AnyDrive – Use bigger drives than your BIOS permits!

I've mentioned this use of this before, but I just want to go over some of its intricacies. Although 90% of it is totally straight forward, there's a few gotchas that you need to be aware of.

  1. It only works when the MBR has been 'booted' first
    This means that, if you have AnyDrive installed and you want to boot a floppy which can see the drive in full, you need to attempt to boot the HDD first, holding shift, to then boot the floppy straight after.
  2. When installing, use the drive number, not letter
    I first installed it on drive C instead of drive 0, this caused all sorts of strange issues.

Installation

The best way to do this is to format your 3 DOS 6.22 installation disks and then copy the ANYDRIVE.EXE file over onto the first disk. Boot your machine into DOS and then hit F3 twice to exit out to the command prompt.

From here, run the ANYDRIVE command to get an idea as to your current scenario. You can use ANYDRIVE S to check an installation, if any exists. Note that if you booted straight off your floppy then ANYDRIVE will tell you that it's not correctly loaded. This is perfectly acceptable if you have booted from a floppy and not let the HDD initialise first.

To get an old 840mb HDD running on my 386, I did the following:

  1. Build 3 DOS 6.22 floppies
  2. Copy ANYDRIVE.EXE onto the first disk
  3. Install the HDD into the computer and then boot the first DOS disk
  4. Hit F3 twice to get out of DOS Setup
  5. Run ANYDRIVE [DRIVE_NO] [CYLS] [HEADS] [SECT]
    (ANYDRIVE 0 1647 16 63 for my Quantum Trailblazer 840AT as C:)
  6. Remove DOS Disk 1 and Reboot
  7. Hold down LEFT SHIFT to tell ANYDRIVE that you want to boot from a floppy
  8. Wait for ANYDRIVE floppy prompt and then insert DOS Disk 1 once again
  9. Install DOS as per usual (it should format to the new size of your disk)

Usage and Boot-time quirks

Once it's installed, and your OS is installed, it's all happy days. Everything is fine until you try to boot from a floppy. As per every old BIOS, boot will be handed to the floppy drive prior to the HDD and therefore the HDD won't be initialised until later. If this happens, then ANYDRIVE wont be initialised correctly and your actual BIOS settings will be used.

This is a problem. As any attempt to then access C:, which has been partitioned and formatted based on ANYDRIVE settings, could cause all sorts of damage as the geometry will be wrong!

To prevent this, make sure your boot disks are ejected and hold shift when your machine starts... you'll instead see the ANYDRIVE boot line and then a prompt to boot from A:. Booting your boot floppy at this point will ensure that any software afterwards sees your ANYDRIVE settings rather than BIOS settings.

I hope this helps anyone trying to get more storage on their older dinosaurs!

4Oct/170

Shin-Osaka Webcam – Twilight Express Mizukaze!

First it was Doctor Yellow, but today proved a more rare sight....

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You'd better believe it, that's the Twilight Express Mizukaze. The link to the camera is here. It has been raining the last two days and the sound of the rain has actually been fascinating!

Update, here it is again on the 11th October 2017...

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I've made some most posts on this webcam! See here for standard services, here's Doctor Yellow and here's the Salon Car Naniwa. I've also posted a live timetable of the normal traffic in and out of the station.

28Sep/170

OSX vs External MIDI Synthesizers

I've had an Edirol UM-1 USB MIDI Interface for ages and assumed it would 'just work' with the new Apple Power Mac G4 running OSX Tiger 10.4.11 that I recently acquired. The short answer is, it worked in the end, but the path to get it sorted wasn't overly intuitive.

Installing the correct drivers

Browse to the Roland Support Site and download the UM-1 Driver Version 2.1.0 for Mac OS X. This will give you the usual DMG on your desktop.

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Run the UM1USBDriver.pkg file and follow the prompts. You may need to restart!

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Configuring MIDI on OSX

Once you're back at your desktop, browse to Applications and run for Audio MIDI Setup.

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You should have a device called UM-1 listed here. What you now need to do is add a new device for your external synthesizer. Hit Add Device from the top toolbar.

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Give it the appropriate name and adjust the ports as required. Then click the icon to add something appropriate.

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From here, you need to join the output of the UM-1 to the inout of your new synthesizer. Look at the first image in this section above.

Playing MIDI Files

QuickTime Player JUST WON'T WORK. It only seems to ever want to use the QuickTime Music Synthesizer. Forget about it and download Sweet MIDI Player. Once it's open, click the MIDI menu and then choose MIDI Setup.

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Choose Core MIDI and then select your device. Now play your songs!

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Of course... you'll only get the first 3/4 of the song... will need to work out how to buy a license.

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Good luck!