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27Oct/172

Shin-Osaka Webcam – More Randomness

I was randomly viewing the Shin-Osaka Webcam 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!

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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...

18Oct/170

Tokyo International Container Terminal – July, 2017

The initial plan was to get to the Tokyo City Flea Markets. Who can resist a good bargain? And I've seen photos of stalls with railway memorabilia! Unfortunately, a little bit of drizzle CANCELLED THE ENTIRE MARKET. Funnily enough, we weren't the only people disappointed; quite a few locals walked past and shared our agony when they read the 'we are closed' sign.

Anyway... I had an ulterior motive... There's a shinkansen yard and freight terminal to the east, not a 20 minute walk away, that I wanted to check out and, fortunately, my comrades obliged when they had nothing else to do in such a remote location of Tokyo!

The map above shows you a terrible walking route from the Markets (M) to the Freight/Shinkansen Yards (Y). It's around a 20 minute walk and it drizzled the whole way! Fortunately there is some tree cover on the east side of the river.

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The yard happens to be huge and there's always a consist being built up or broken down.

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The M250 Super Rail Cargo was sleeping in the yard... it actually looks like these units had been put in storage? They weren't looking as top-notch as the regular runners?

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Of course, Shinkansen are staged here too...

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And then it happened...

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Doctor Yellow has a home here! I thought it always returned to Hamamatsu, but here it was, happily resting before its next duty! Shooting through the railings proved a challenge, but it was great to see the unit in the flesh.

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From there it was another dreary walk back to the Monorail Station at ŌiKeibajō-Mae Station which is part of the Tokyo Monorail.

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Note that you can see horsies from the station if you look out the windows towards the race track!

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So, it was a sad trip thanks to a cancelled flea-market... but, all's well that ends well when Doctor Yellow makes an appearance!

18Oct/170

Shin-Osaka Webcam – Sunrise Seto/Izumo+Track Vehicles

Just for fun I installed FlashBack Express and attempted to record video from the Shin-Osaka Webcam YouTube Live stream. It's probably totally against the rules, but I really wanted to capture a tiny Shinkansen Track Vehicle that you really couldn't see in a single still.

Anyway, first up is the Sunrise Seto/Izumo. This train takes you from Tokyo to either Shikoku or Tottori. It splits at Okayama.

And then the Shinkansen Track Vehicle. I recorded this in double-time as it was really dawdling at the start. It then ends up shooting through the actual station platforms.

As mentioned... these might not be up for long... I'll delete this post if that happens.

17Oct/170

Tennoji, Osaka – July 2015

I'd forgotten to post about this, and I've been catching up lately on the 'airbnb apartments with railway views' theme... We stayed in an apartment just off Shin-Imamiya Station which had a terrific view of the platforms. It was a busy place every morning and you could see the Ltd. Express trains heading to Wakayama or Kansai Airport.

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Of course, you also get all of the Osaka Loop Line (Kanjousen) EMUs stopping through. It's actually quite mesmerising to watch the platforms fill up and empty as each train approaches/departs. A Kuroshio service was blocked from view just as I was taking the following photos...

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Anyway, this apartment is cheap and cheerful and happily supported 6 of us! Convenience stores are nearby. Den Den Town is nearby! Shin-Sekai is nearby! The hosts were also fantastic. Highly recommended.

17Oct/170

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! It also has a list of observations as to when specific movements are run.

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?

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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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Which also has square-ended driving cabs...

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And the Thunderbird with its seriously long consist...

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

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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.

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And then a dead-heading past an actual T'bird service...

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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!)

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

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

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

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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...

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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.

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And again a few days later with an EF64-1000 series being transferred back to Hiroshima?

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

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It returned West the next day...

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

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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?

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It sure did! So keep an eye out for the 0853 westbound and then a 1358 return slot! It had a string of very new-looking flats this time.

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

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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?)

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

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

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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.

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

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And again, for those early birds... a few minutes before the M250 you'll see the Sunrise Express Izumo/Seto (actually expected around 0420).

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

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

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I'll update this as interesting things happen.

17Oct/170

Shin-Osaka Webcam – Salon Car Naniwa

Here's the Salon Car Naniwa departing Shin-Osaka Station (seen via the Shin-Osaka Webcam). This is a tour train that operates around the Kinki area.

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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.

Unknown VIA Chipset 'USB 1394'

This dual USB/Firewire card looked promising... but prevented the entire machine from even booting. It seems to also need an auxiliary power connector in the form of a floppy drive power cable. I wasn't overly fussed to hack up a power cable to test this out, so I wrote the whole card off... don't bother with them! (Or.. tell me if your version actually works?)

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Swann 3-port Firewire (Lucent FW232)

This card worked perfectly. The iSight had no issues with it and OSX just used it as expected. I really didn't need 3 more firewire ports, but what the heck?

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I'll add more as I find more cards to test...