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PC-98 – Yahoo Auction Floppy Disks

To the winner of recent Yahoo Auction f1100292216, I salute you! It was a PC Card Support Software Disk for PC-9821Ne, titled in Japanese as NEC PC-9821Ne カードサポートソフト ソフトウェア FD.

Now, I have no idea if it'd work with my NS/A, as its contents were listed as follows:

SSDRV.SYS? We're expecting an SSMECIA.SYS for anything PCMCIA 2.0... as per the information in my other post.

But whatever... I went for it anyway. I prepared a budget for around AUD$80, but I was obviously dreaming.

If you bought this disk, please make it available to the world for preservation! That was my plan.

Update: Actually.. the same seller has just listed a PC-9821Nm PC Card Support Disk and the picture of the disk listing shows PCMCIA LAN Card drivers?... so it's been overwritten. It seems I've dodged a bullet above, as it really didn't have the proper PC-9821Ne drivers!

Update: Actually actually.. This installation document seems to indicate that SSMECIA is part of SystemSoft Cardware and that SSDRV is part of NEC's drivers. Could this be any more confusing? There's another auction up and it has the NS/A PCMCIA Support Drivers in there. The screenshot lists SSDRV.SYS, with a much smaller file-size than what we've seen before... this must be it!?

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Chuo Line, Aichi/Nagano – May, 2023

After an awesome day at the Tokyo Freight Terminal the day before, Hayato-san offered to take me on a tour into the wilderness, north-east of Nagoya. The plan was to head from Tajimi Station, north-east until we intercepted a Nagoya-bound freighter. From there, we'd chase it back and check out the local offerings on the way.


First up was Dachi, a small town south-east of Tokishi, that had a branch line running to support the local pottery factories. As with most other tiny freight branches, this one faded into non-existence, running the last service back in 1972 due to the washaway of a bridge during heavy rain and closing entirely in 1974. Before Dachi, we followed the old alignment, stopping at Yamagami Station first.

Continuing, you end up in Dachi town. The freight yard was located in the middle, using an area with the most-level gradient. The track then continued further to the factories, but this area was used as a station and a switch-back!

Everything has been removed... except for a 5 metre section of track in the old workshop shed and the odd overheard wire hook. There's still some interesting stuff to see, but do mind the roped-off areas... it's still private property!

The area is now actually used as a Bus Terminus, but not for much longer. Anyway, the goal was the Chuo line, so we headed back down the mountain... but on the way we checked out a tunnel on the old Dachi Line.

It's really something out of Sentou-no-chihiro!

Quite a hike down and back to the portal. The other end is filled in as they used the alignment for the road.

Suhara, Okuwa, Kiso District, Nagano

What a title. I have no idea of the exact name of this place, but it's even famous on google maps as a spotters point. And it didn't disappoint. There was even another spotter already camped-out. I hope we didn't disturb his capturing.

And then the whole reason for the road trip...

A bit dark on that last shot... boo hoo...

Just North of Sakashita

This spot on a winding mountain lane was fantastic. I can't really explain it... but the photos will.

I've recently forgotten the essence of right-time-right-place, but taking that last shot, and getting the camera settings correct... and having my a6000 actually focus when I asked it to... was golden.

Oh and, a passenger snuck past not long after the freight.

Kiso Akasawa Forest Railway

Ok ok, this beautiful mountain narrow-gauge logging railway probably deserves a post on its own, but I'm lazy. Instead, I'm just going to dump the photos for your perusal, whomever you might be.

We boarded and were off!

The train trundled along the rails to the end station. It then ran around and returned with the other passengers.

We chose to alight, hoping to see the consist run it's final trip up and down the line a while later.

There's a cute rotten-row up the far end with some old passenger cars and even an engine.

Unfortunately, there were no other passengers, so instead they packed the consist away. So we just wandered around, down the footpath back along the line snakes through the woods and over the river.

As we were driving back to the mainline, Hayato-san pointed out some of the old alignment.

There's also a stuffed-and-mounted consist to see at Agematsu Station.

But nothing on the rails.

Shinrin Railway's Kiso River Bridge

This rusting monstrosity of a bridge still stands over the Kiso River. It was formerly part of the Shinrin Logging Railway, another in the Kiso Valley very similar to the Kiso Akasawa.

The bridge is totally off-limits, but you can get close enough to enjoy it's splendour.

Nojiri Station

Further down the line, we stopped at Nojiri Station to watch a limited express, or two, bolt through.

This station had a lumber yard across from it, which trucks serviced... and it's easy to imagine the railway once doing the job in the past. In fact, this was where the Shinrin Railway brought the lumber to.

A Shinano passed in either direction and we continued on our way. Note that JR Central is on a replacement-spree for these diesel limited express trains. The Nanki and Hida are already HC85s! The Shinano should be replaced by 2026.

SL Park Nagaiso

This park has a D51 mounted on the previous railway alignment. The line was railed through a tunnel and they left a few remnants behind to create the park.

This stuffed-and-mounted giant-of-the-rails would've been majestic to watch back in the steam era.

The old alignment is now a footpath to walk between the new station and the SL park.

There's also a great view of the valley from the park's perch on the mountain-side.

What a day! Thank you Hayato-san!

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PC-98 – PC-9801NS/A – CPU, SCSI and Windows 95!

After failing miserably with the previous CPU upgrade, I scoured Mercari and YafuOku and found another accelerator. It's a HNS-25T DX4 75mhz module created by Buffalo/MELCO.

This time, after reading numerous pages online, I'd decided it didn't need to be IPL'd and would just work.

And well, it just bloody worked! Even the RAM count on post felt zippier! Of course, it's not actually able to run at the full clock speed thanks to the system bus speed in this laptop?

So, in the same care package, I also picked up an ICM IF-2660 SCSI module. This bulky unit screws onto the 110pin "C-Bus" connector on the rear of the Laptop.

I initially had no-end of trouble with it, as the HDD I'd plugged in was actually badly partition/formatted and caused the whole laptop to lock up. It wasn't until I connected up the same CD drive (as when I was mucking around with the PC-9801VX) that things started to work.

I could see the drive get init'd, and so I went on the hunt for drivers. SENRI's 98Station seems to have gone offline again, so the drivers are back to unobtanium. I swear this page had been online two weeks back when I was looking for the other accelerator drivers. I found other drivers here, but didn't have much luck with them. Update: SENRI's site is back again!

The ASPI driver loaded and listed connected devices, but no ASPICD.SYS that I could get my hands on would init the CD drive. Just for fun, I tried the same NECCDB.SYS from the DOS folder (they're all sitting in there on a standard install) and rebooted.

Hilarious... it just worked! This made it much easier to get data onto the unit.

Further down the track, whilst mucking around and re-installing DOS 6.22, the CD drive was simply found and NECCDB.SYS was installed by the DOS installer. It didn't even need the ASPI drivers?!

Windows 95

Just for shits-and-giggles... I gave the installer a spin...

All was going well until that last shot! Not enough space on A:! What to do?

Add more disk! Doing so caused the SCSI boot menu to appear.

But the drive wasn't in the right format... so I installed DOS on it (this is when I realised the DOS installer would just set up the CD drive by itself with zero help.) Of course.. problems always come out of the woodwork... I replaced LEDs and tidied up the HDD housing whilst it was taking its sweet time to format.

And then we were off and racing again...

Oh yeah, it was now installing to B:\ as A:\ was the internal IDE drive.

It crashed when it tried to install the video drivers... on a second install attempt it actually asked which driver to install. I had to choose "other" from the bottom of the list as there was no actual driver available.

And then we were off again...

Upon reboot, it crashed and rebooted itself again into safe mode.

Thanks to the internet, other users have already tried to do this before me. There's a driver over here by nanabon which simply uses the safe-mode driver as a real driver. You can find it at also. I 'installed' the INF whilst in safe-mode and rebooted.

And so yeah, Win95 was up! I wanted to then muck around with network cards but, due to the PCMCIA 2.0 hardware, the two I had on-hand would just crash out badly. I thought about scouring buyee again for an older PCMCIA card, like a PC-9801N-J02, but then I remembered I don't have the PCMCIA PC-Card Support Software and that the network would only work under Windows 95 and... and... it'd be fun but pointless. Maybe if I go for another care package, then I'll add the PCMCIA card to the loot.

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Tokyo Freight Terminal Open Day – May, 2023

This was a very unexpected event! Thank you Hayato-san for managing to obtain two tickets so that we could attend! We jumped on the earliest Shinkansen possible to Tokyo and transferred via Hamamatsuchō Station to the Tokyo Monorail. Hamamatsuchou is home of the peeing kid statue, so do be sure to check it out.

After transferring, we took the monorail through to Oikeibajo-Mae Station, and took some photos.

Whilst taking the photos at this station, it occurred to me that I'd been to this area before! We were in search of a flea market at the horse race course back then, and I somehow managed to see Dr Yellow snoozing in the shed. Turns out this time around Dr Yellow was in the same position!

To be able to photograph Dr Yellow, we had to cross the bridge that traverses the freight yard, and while doing so, we thought we were also making our way to the entrance of the open-day. It wasn't until we'd crossed the entire bridge/yard that we were told by an official that we were at the absolute wrong end! This was the middle, or northern, end and the entrance to the open day was at the very sourthern end. We therefore started our long trek along the entire length of the freight yard. I must admit, with around 40 other people who'd made the same mistake.

As we were walking south, down the western side of the yard, we saw the entrance queue approaching us. A staff member was guiding everyone along the fence (towards us?) to get the queue to line up and loop back. As we intersected, he simply inserted us in. If we'd come from the other side then we would've been around 2000 people back in the queue... but instead, in absolute non-japanese style, we queue jumped! It was so bloody hot already (~9:45am) that I was a little happy to be able to not wait in the sun.

The queue kept going... and going... and after the left turn... it kept going... but luckily on this corner there was something cool to check out...

The freight yard actually has multi-storey truck unloading facilities. That green-cab truck above did 4 laps of the entry spiral before getting to its unloading bay. Crazy.

Before long we were into the festival and melting in the Tokyo sun!

First up, if you'd booked, there was a chance to ride in a YO8000 guard's van behind an HD300. The shuttle ran all the way down to the end of the yard and back.

We hadn't planned for that and there were no tickets available on the day, so we just watched it loiter along the rails... orderly... with everyone else. The respect and patience of everyone in the crowd was starting to show: people queued behind eachother to get the right shot!

Next up... containers... and more containers...

And tank-tainers with consist documents...

And, of course, the Super Rail Cargo. Up close!

There were also random stalls for merchandise, and one with a mini flea market!

I picked up some sad HO vehicles for a buck each.

The SRC had Super Rail liveried JR containers on it ... but it turns out these are remnants of when they were building and commissioning the consist.

They loaded these up with weight to test the capabilities of the train.

At the far end, the SRC was lined up next to the fleet of current Tokaido freight locomotives.

And, of course, the HD300 was rolling in every now and then, providing an even greater line-up.

The locos also had commemorative headmarks for the day... being the 50th anniversary.

Well, ok, not all... the EF210 had the Super Liner instead.

Meanwhile, the second Dr Yellow consist was loitering in the background, but a staff member was shoo-ing people away who were trying to take photos... "today is about freight", he kept yelling!

Containers, more containers, how to move containers... you could even jump in the forklift.

Ride-on trains!

Tiny trains.

Fukuyama Rail Express represented.

And then, even a cute vintage bus that you could ride on.

More containers...

And then a training course for children who wish to derail trains:

On the way out... something caught my eye.... could they be the fateful brown onions that I'd been searching for?

Turns out that, although they were indeed brown onions, they weren't from Engaru. Instead, they were from Saga in Kyushu. Interestingly, the staff were giving everyone a bag!

On the way home, we ended up on a pedestrian bridge near Nippori Station, with a bunch of other gunzels. Many trains were seen...

All very Tokyo... but nothing as Tokyo as:

Just like the old JR West's Twilight Express, the Cassiopeia was a high-end night train from Tokyo to Sapporo by JR East. Now relegated to tour trains, as this train one was. Anyway, back to Tokyo... a day can't be spent without a trip to Ochanomizu.

Especially if you're nearby in Akihabara. Remind me to wear sunscreen next time.

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East Osaka / Kinki Sharyo – May, 2023

It was the start of Golden Week and everyone was busy, so I scoured the flea-market calendar and found one as-close-to the Kinki Sharyo plant as possible. Japan has a lot of railway rolling stock manufacturing plants and some of them are hidden in plain site. This one is located right next to Tokuan Station on the JR Touzai-Gakkentoshi Line, but I was to start my urban expedition a on the Osaka East Line, to hopefully see some freight.

Hanaten was very quiet. There were only a few services passing through, be it because it was 7am in the morning, or because of Golden Week timetables. Interestingly there were a lot of kids in baseball uniforms heading off to the miriad of fields in the area. Must be a holiday thing!

First up was a dawdle to the JR yard just to the east of Hanaten. There's a very nice set of bridges where the East Line splits from the Touzai-Gakkentoshi Line, but it's only for passengers services.

The shot above was the best I got of the JR depot. It's elevated around 3 metres from the road-level and you couldn't see a thing. All good, lettuce continue to the main course. You can take a due-north path back to the JR line to, at least, see something operating.

A little further on and the promised land appeared before me.

And so did all the 'no photo' signs! They obviously get a bit of interest from rail-fans, from this side of the plant anyway.

There were a few cars in the end yard of the plant. The area was very quiet, so I did the wrong thing and took a photo anyway.

My investigations on google maps had proven there to be a footpath around the back of the plant, past the service station on the corner. I continued around until I found the entrance.

That path provides a good view around the back of the plant where there are no "no photo" signs! There wasn't much else happening either, thanks to Golden Week.

Around the north-east corner, there's an old softball pitch that's being used to store the new Tokyo Metro rollingstock.

Yup, we get it, no more softball!

The plant is still connected to the Touzai-Gakkentoshi Line and must receive/send sets via rail. Unfortunately, the little shunter wasn't up to much this weekend... but it did look like there was a set ready to dispatch:

And is that a 100 Series Shinaksen behind it? Beautiful. Next time I try this I'll try and get insider knowledge to know when something is to be transported out of the factory!

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