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Kyushu, Japan – May 2023

I usually take a much more direct path when visiting Miyazaki, but this time I wanted to see the eastern coast of Kyushu. I also wanted to check out the Hard-Offs in Oita and Miyazaki, so what better way than by rail!? I actually happened to purchase some new-old-stock PC98 and X68000 games!


I took the 4pm Shinaksen from Shin-Osaka Station to Kokura, transferring to the southbound Sonic. The first layover was the Tabist Hotel Smart Sleeps just north of Oita Station.

There's a great craft-beer standing-bar just outside the entrance of the elevator to the hotel. Anyway, the next day the goal was to chase the southbound freight to Minami-Nobeoka, so I got to Oita Station in time to snoop around.

The southbound was on-time, but early by my expectations.

It turns out it arrives and halts in the station whilst the express trains pass it. I'd booked myself onto one of those express trains to get in front of the freight, to be able to see it again.

These poor-old 787s are now relegated to limited express services on the lesser lines. They used to be the main vehicle when getting to Kagoshima, but the shinkansen has since taken all the glory. Anyway, the train makes light-work of the rails through to Nobeoka and the trip is extremely scenic.

Don't forget to also inspect the train, and the hints to its past life.

Note that this southbound freigther has to stop a LOT. So if you do have time, bounce around on the express trains (or even the locals!) and you'll be able to catch it more than once.


There's a path in the timetable showing that this train continues to Minami-Nobeoka with loading after shunting here. Unfortunately, after the comedy of errors that was Engaru, I realised that codes starting with 8000 are 'as required' and that this Minami-Noeboka freight path has NOT been used in a long time. Fortunately, this train did come in to Nobeoka Yard...

A cute little yard shunter then did all the hard work.

Being a Saturday, there was a 787-series scheduled to come through on a tour train. This is the 36+3 Around The Kyushuu (love that name!), timetabled to stop in the platform for half an hour so that the passengers can sample the local specialities!

I actually stayed the night in Nobeoka as there was yet another tour train to catch the next morning. The Seven Stars Kyushu was also scheduled for a stopover, but quite early!

They kicked it over and it was off before-long. I then continued southbound to Miyazaki.

Note that, on the way, you'll pass a concrete viaduct. This is actually the first maglev test-track in Japan. Now being used for solar panels.


Such a beautiful area of Japan. I always love visiting this place, and I do admit that a lodging on the railway line helps!

Nango Station is currently painted for an honorary baseball team. There's no teams in the area, so they support Seibu Saitama Lions.

The next day was spent on a trip up to the Takachiho Railway... but that needs a post by itself.

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Macintosh Classic

This was an unexpected find at the local tip shop back home. The price wasn't low, but I couldn't resist. It was powered up on the bench next to the register and was just begging to be bought. Even though it had a RAM error displayed on the screen, I went ahead and threw money at the cashier.

Although it was 'working' at the tip shop, upon powering it up I heard no chime and just got a checkerboard pattern. A quick google had me fearing the worst... had the battery exploded inside? Somehow they had it running on the bench? I also noticed that it came with a serial cable and not the ADB cable, so I couldn't hook up the keyboard.

Hilariously, as I was taking a photo of the checkerboard, the machine flicked past that screen and started loading! It just seemed to be stuck there whilst trying to get the system online. With no ADB cable, I plugged in the mouse and tried to open Hypercard... it froze.

What's on the inside?

I cobbled together a torx T15 screwdriver to get the four screws out of the back. Note that the two screws, either side of the top handle, are a nuisance and you'll need a thin screwdriver with around 12cm of length. Once they're out though, the rear case just slides off. No leaking battery! No chime either when powering on, so the speaker and/or caps on the analog board are toast. The caps on the logic don't look too bad, but they can get replaced anyway.

There's great information all over the web on how to re-cap these. You either need to recap the logic board (more info here) or the analog board. Those later links have a list of all the parts you'll need. I had to do a run to jaycar to stock up on some 10v variants of electrolytics that weren't in the box'o'junk.

The above was the result of re-capping the analogue board, but the machine still displayed erratic behaviour. Sometimes a boot with the RAM extension saying RAM was toast, other times just Illegal Operations half-way through using the system. This machine has maxxed out RAM: 1mb onboard, 1mb soldered on the expansion board and 2x1mb SIMMs. Unfortunately, the 'About' dialog never showed the correct amount of RAM!

I then endeavoured to replace the logic board capacitors. Jaycar didn't have surface-mount tantalums in 47uf, so I went with standard through-hole capacitors and just made them look as-presentable-as-possible.

The machine felt better, but it was still not repaired.

Sound Is Loudest At Volume Setting 2?

I also replaced the capacitors around the audio circuitry and this revived the bong startup sound and others... but... when adjusting the volume, it peaked at '2' and then went quieter as you raised to 7? The actual issue was capacitor residue on the amp IC chip. A good clean with alcohol wipes got the sound back to 100%.

Crash And Burn... Then Sad Mac

Ok, the fun was short-lived, I started receiving erratic startup errors. Usually 00000003 0000FFFF. Fortunately, the internet always has a solution.

Seems the LS174 next to the power plug cops a beating from the omega-3 fish oils from the leaking 47uf 16v self-destructing caps.

The above shot is post-cleaning. Prior to wiping it down (as I did to the audio chip), you couldn't even see the legs. This did get the machine back to stable booting, but the extra 2x1mb SIMMs in the expansion board were still not being recognised! I then realised that there was a broken trace on the bottom-left third leg in.

I couldn't find my transformer winding wire, so I used a resistor leg. All the other pins beeped out, so I booted it up and...

No way! What's next? To hook the keyboard up, I just used an S-Video cable.

It turns out that, although you can use S-Video cables for ADB, you can't safely do it the other way around. ADB cables aren't overly-shielded to prevent interference to video signals.

So pretty in monochrome. The music sounded great also!

Destroying CRTs

Whilst doing all this, I had accidently applied incorrect lateral pressure to the rear of the CRT's input circuit board. This happened to crack the glass stem of the tube, right at the end!

The tip is missing there... it cracked off and the vacuum failed! Fortunately, I was able to find a donor CRT on Facebook Marketplace. Thanks Danny!

The yoke wasn't included, so there was a fair amount of stuffing around to get the picture looking plumb!

What's next?

I have a BlueSCSI in kit form, so I'll build it an get this thing on my local network. I flogged off all of my previous ethernet to localtalk hardware. If you have the space... then hoard stuff... you'll need it all a year later.

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Sangi Freight Museum, Mie – May, 2023

The Sangi Railway Freight Railway Museum had an open day on the last day of Golden Week 2023 and Hayato-san offered to chauffer me around the area! Unfortunately, it was raining cats-and-dogs once again. The day started off with a Shinkansen trip from Shin-Osaka to Gifu-Hashima, which happened to be the first time I'd ever alighted at the station. I arrived mildly-early to see the Nozomi services bolt through ... in the rain.

That last shot above is the Shin-Hashima, the terminus of the Meitetsu Hashima Line.

Anyway, we had plans... the drive south-west began.

Nyūgawa Station

The carpark was dirt and the puddles were deep, but wet shoes didn't stop either of us! A northbound service greeted us not long after we arrived.

Nyugawa Station is directly south of the siding where the Freight Museum is located, so we quickly checked that out.

Along the carpark, between the station and the museum is a string of 4-wheel freight cars. Very much the type you'll find from the Tomix range.

There's even a matching DB101 shunter...

Freight Railway Museum

The museum is hosted in an old goods shed. There's a steamer on the old siding with a few other wagons up behind it. Inside, there's a great amount of memorabilia and model railways.

The railway's timetable is proudly displayed... but the freights weren't running due to the public holiday!

After a good gander, we returned to the heater in the car, and then a rice field just south of Nyugawa Station to wait... and hope... that a freight would pass.

Unfortunately, just a few passenger services... and rain. We then realised we hadn't checked out the steamer (and the other stock around the back of the museum), so we returned to do so.

Two services then passed eachother.

As always, be like a cat and don't play in the middle of a level crossing!

Nishi-Fujiwara Station

We then went for a tour up the line, ending up at the terminus. This station building has been decorated to look like a steamer, or two! I realise now that I should've taken a shot with the fog correctly lined up.

The station has a miniature ride-on railway and a line-up of stuffed-and-mounted vehicles.

Since the freight services were on holidays, we ventuerd south to find where all the wagons were stored.

Higashi-Fujiwara Station

The branch to the Taiheiyo Cement plant stems from the yard of Higashi-Fujiwara Station. Unfortunately, it's hardly accessible, so here's a shot of the northern end of the plant.

Further south in the station yard, there was a bit more to see.

The station building is beautiful. Seems to have been rebuilt lately? Seems they've also managed to flog a cement wagon for display.

So yeah, that's where all the wagons were stored. Shots were taken from the passenger window and I can't say they're my best work.

Ageki Station

Since there wasn't much happening, we went and checked out the Narrow Gauge Museum at Ageki Station. This is the terminus of Sangi Railway's Hokusei Line.

There was a neatly liveried EMU ready to depart. The livery is actually the local soccer team Veertien Mie and means "fourteen" in Dutch. How random. I was told there was a well-known hack spot around the corner, so we battled through the weather and made it in time.

Beautiful area... terrible lighting. There was one more hidden secret though. That bridge the yellow consist traversed.

Turns out it's one of the last 'corkscrew' style stone bridges in Japan. Supposedly it was a style of build back in the day that isn't used anymore.

Taiheiyo Cement, Yokkaiichi Port

The other end of the cement line is located in Yokkaiichi Port. For the rail to get there, many bridges are required, with the most famous being Suehiro Bridge (末広橋梁). It's actually registered as a cutural asset, as it's one of the last remaining 'lift bridges' in operation.

Of course, it was doing very little when we visited, so we ventured further to see what was happening at the port yard.

Lots of stabled locos, but also a newly delivered one? Sans-wheelsets!

Oh, and frogs...

Many loud, happy, noisy frogs.

Back to Nagoya

No light, lots of wet... but we still stopped for photos. And recycle shops!

The KIHA85 is now gone, replaced by the HC85.

Lots of Kintetsu... something I don't take enough photos of. Will do so next... time...

Kimble Part II, there's a Part I somewhere else, is a recycle shop full of randomness. Some shop-seconds where they have old stock, looking brand new. Random furniture, etc... but no computers!

Dinner was Italian as the Old Spaghetti Factory.. in a tram.. in a building... the last one remaining after the owner ran out of money and this restaurant was saved! Finally... desert was served on a turntable...

The rain was horizontal... my umbrella kept inverting... and even with a tripod, people walking over the vibrating bridge (plus the vehicles on the road behind) made the shot impossible. Not to even mention my lack of skill! Still, an amazing trip! Thank you Hayato-san~!

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Sony Electronic Book Player DD-S35

Found this in a Hard-Off in Shikoku, somewhere. Maybe Niihama? The Hard-Off is actually in the basement of a hardware store. It was great to rummage around, as I also found a boxed PC-98 game, or two!

To no surprise, others have toyed with these machines before, so I knew I was in with a chance to get something going on it. Fortunately it spun straight up with 2 AA batteries.

It also came with an original disc...

Turns out these are 8cm Mini-CDs. I had thought they were minidisc, or magneto-optical. As you can see above, I managed to find some on eBay. But testing the original disc anyway:

So yeah, that dictionary is pretty boring... Let's make some other CDs? Finding Mini-CDs wasn't easy...

They sit nicely in tray-loading drives... DON'T try and use them in slot-loaders!

And then we need to find images! Japanese Wikipedia has a great list of formats for ebooks that this sytem should be able to use. Searching for EBXA on web.archive. Turns out there's quite a lot. Do you want Passport's World Travel Translator (Version 2.0)?, English Teacher? or how about Five Star Stories, The - Chronicle 3 (Japan)? We could even possibly make our own.

Burn any of the images (Use PowerISO if you can't open the BIN/CUE with anything else) and pop them in the caddy. You'll need a sharp tool to press in the tab in the 'open' hole on the side. For an old unit, the plastic is still in great condition.

Different boot screen... must be working?

Choose your own adventure! I do note it's pretty clunky. But you can select chapters and read... really just as if it was a physical book.

You can even just browse through the graphics.

Seems that Sega saturn had a reader. Even the Mega Drive! Many have fallen down the rabbit hole. Find more info here in this great video. And more images here in EBG format.

I'm not going to. This unit has already changed hands via eBay!

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