Subscribe via RSS

Biwako-Hamaotsu Station – May, 2019

I'd seen a lot of photos and videos of this location, but had never been there to see it myself. Biwako-Hamaotsu Station, owned by theKeihan Railway Company, is located in down-town Otsu is the junction of the Keihan-Ishiyamasakamoto and Keihan-Keishin railway lines. Due to space limitations, the railway lines actually run down the middle of standard roads, working in perfect concert with the traffic light signals.

I arrived via JR Otsu Station after watching the last run of the 700 Series on the Ohmi Railway. It's a fair walk down to the Keihan Station, but you can interect either Keihan line to make it more interesting. I chose the Keihan-Ishiyamasakamoto Line just before Shimanoseki Station, heading downhill down Chuo Doori,

DSC07881 DSC07882 DSC07883

Once you hit the level crossing, you'll see a few services as the frequency on the line is quite high. You then get to traverse an elevated pedestrian bridge through to the main station. From here you can view the line into the rear of the station.


You can also view the boat race arena across the bay!


If you look closely enough in that photo above, you'll see 5 boats taking their second corner, closest to the camera. They were non-stop whilst I was there.

The Main Intersection

At the end of the pedestrian bridge is the part I ventured here for...


The intersection forms a railway junction between both lines and the tracks are actually quite wide apart. I can't tell if this is to avoid possible trappings of road vehicles, if any were to get in the way, or simply because the station is an island-platform design and requires the tracks to be wider apart. They could have just as easily created side platforms.

The two tracks here venture off in differing directions. From the station, the Keihan-Keishin Line heads uphill to the left and the Keihan-Ishiyamasakamoto Line heads straight ahead before snaking along the roadway.

DSC07893 DSC07894 DSC07905

Before long, there were trains traversing the intersection in all directions.

DSC07895 DSC07900 DSC07902

DSC07921 DSC07929 DSC07935

One of the Keihan-Ishiyamasakamoto Line wore headmarks, but they differed on each side of the train. Heisei in one direction and Reiwa in the other to mark the change of Emperor!



I started to feel a little envious over the local photographers equipment... but was happy enough with the photos I managed to take.


Meanwhile, there's quite a nice assortment of liveries...

DSC07976 DSC07941 DSC07909

After a good hour of watching everything pass by (and digging in to some 7-chiki and coffee from the local konbini), I was off again back to Osaka. I highly recommend this area to anyone interested in street-running!

Filed under: JPN No Comments

Ohmi Railway 700 Series Last Run – May, 2019

For the first time, a real Last Run event happened whilst I was visiting Japan. It was a total co-incidence and I was more than happy to participate. Well, I was more than happy to ride Ohmi Tetsudou's other trains as the actual Last Run tickets were all sold out.

Last Runs are quite an event in Japan. Most residents or railfans build real attachments to railway vehicles and are very sad to see them taken out of service. This time around it was the 700 Series "あかね号" (Akane-Go) which was to run a final trip down all lines before lowering its pantograph one final time.

Getting there

As I was staying in Shin-Osaka, the first step was to jump on a JR Special Rapid from Shin-Osaka to Ohmi-Hachiman. This was a relatively quick trip and I was actually surprised that the suggestion wasn't to take a Shinkansen to Maibara and bounce back. Once at Ohmi-Hachiman, you'll be presented with your first taste of the Ohmi Railway.


DSC07684 DSC07685 DSC07687


The station is external to JR; there's no transfer facility. Once you're out of the JR station, you can turn right and head down to the ticket gates of Ohmi. Here you can purchase single tickets, but they also have a 'Smile Ticket' which provides 1-day unlimited travel... exactly what we needed!

Once on-board, it was a spirited run through to Yokaichi. (Not to be confused with Yokkaichi!) Being a private railway, you wont often find welded rail, so the ride was endearing. The sound of the wheels hitting the joints in the rail at quite a high speed was fantastic, especially with an older vehicle that isn't quite sound-proof. Of course, it's also recommended to sit down, or hold on, as the joints often offer quite a jolt.


The railway crosses under the Tokaido Shinkansen between Yokaichi and Ohmi-Hachiman and I often actually wondered which railway this was when viewing from the Hikari between Kyoto and Maibara. I was really hoping to catch a glimpse of a Shikansen passing from the Ohmi Train, but no such luck in either direction.

Yokaichi Station

This was where the action started to increase. There was signage everywhere and a lot of interest in anything that moved. The station offers a pedestrian overbridge with windows that can be opened. These were already packed with people holding onto their vantage points. There was also a colourful selection of rolling stock hanging around the station. There's a central road to store consists when not in use.

DSC07689 DSC07692 DSC07694


You'll note the netting above. They used it to prevent a build-up of humans at the bottom of the stairs which would then block the overpass. Of course, it prevented nice angles, but safety always comes first!


A film crew started setting up down the end, as the Last-Run was actually about 20 minutes from approaching this station. We chose not to hang around for that and to take that pink EMU west to get a scenic country shot. The target was Daigakuen-Mae station.


This is a tiny single-platform station which provides access to the local university.

DSC07753 DSC07754 DSC07755


We quickly wandered to the eastern side of the university to check the view...


It wasn't bad. We had also followed a few people through to this location and they then continue further in amongst the rice paddies... but I had a better idea... a spot to the west of the university that I'd discovered on Google Maps previously...


Seems, even here, that others thought it was a good spot too. There was also a farmer ploughing a rice paddy.. a nice touch and nice sounds as I'd only ever seen such a practice from a train window.

DSC07725 DSC07732 DSC07733

In no time the level crossing activated just after the station and the consist came through.

DSC07734 DSC07736 DSC07751


It dawdled through the scene as it was a tourist service and no on the regular schedule. Regardless, it was good to see it running this leg of the company railway for the last time!

Make sure you switch the quality up to 720p60... it was the first time testing with a friends GoPro and didn't realise it would have such a wide field-of-view!

Back to Yokkaichi

A quick wander back to the platform got us onto the next east-bound service. This time a blue EMU. I only needed to ride one cream and one green to cover all liveries!

DSC07757 DSC07766 DSC07769


From Yokaichi station, we walked into the local Shoutengai to see the 'market' that had been set up with memorabilia of the railway and 700-series.

DSC07782 DSC07783 DSC07785

DSC07786 DSC07788 DSC07789

Unfortunately it was all already gone and there was really only a queue to buy tickets for the next let of the Last-Run tour. I didn't really want to ride the consist, so we just had a quick lunch and continued on.


Back at the station there was anticipation for the 700-series to return from the west. A lot more people were hanging out to see it. The news crew was also in-position...


Meanwhile, the Oi Ocha sponsored dark-green livery was in full-view.

DSC07809 DSC07808 DSC07807

We wanted to take the next service back to Ohmi-Hachiman and so waited on the platform where the 700-series was to arrive.

DSC07811 DSC07812 DSC07815


DSC07820 DSC07823 DSC07825

There was a little mayhem as everyone got the right angles for their photos and then we were off, in front of the 700-series, northbound. The next photo location was to be at Ichinobe Station... and it provided a fantastic scene.



The graveyard was sort-of ironic... being that the fate of the 700-series was already decided. A southbound service passed through before the 700-series arrived.

DSC07831 DSC07834 DSC07836


DSC07840 DSC07852 DSC07860

Loitering was then carried-out at the station, waiting for the next timetabled northbound service.

DSC07862 DSC07864DSC07866


Once on-board, we passed the 700-series on its last southbound run from Ohmi-Hachiman...

DSC07879 DSC07871DSC07874


Good Bye 700!

Filed under: JPN No Comments

Mac Mini 1,1 Upgrade!

I was browsing randomly to see if my newly acquired Mac Mini 1,1 had any upgradable components. I was actually pretty shocked to read Jethro Carr's post on Upcycling 32-bit Mac Minis detailing how the CPU is housed in a socket!? He then goes on to describe the best CPU available. I therefore bought a T7300 pretty damn quickly. Turns out there's a step faster though... so make sure you purchase the T7600!


First Step: CPU

Follow iFixit's teardown to open the little beast. It's pretty straight-forward, but give yourself time! Just getting to step 6 was hard enough.. it's pretty scary trying to pry the thing open. Don't forget to clean the underside of the heatsink. Whilst you're there, replace the HDD and battery with newer/faster/better/more-chargier models!

DSC07208 DSC07213 DSC07214

DSC07220 DSC07225 DSC07226

Finally, when replacing the motherboard, watch out for the metal ground tag above the power socket. You'll need to make sure you slide the board in under it!


Can you see it in that above photo? It's the little tag above the power socket.

Second Step: OSX Lion

OSX Lion was the first version of OSX to drop support for 32-bit CPUs. Therefore, it's hardcoded to prevent installation on any machines that are expected to be 32-bit. Of course, we've meddled with that, so we can safely remove the block for our system and let the OS try to boot! The following steps are based loosely on this forum.

  1. Get a copy of OSX Lion
  2. Open the DVD/DMG and find BaseSystem.dmg then burn it to a USB drive or other bootable partition. Anything ~6gb. Call it LionInstaller
  3. Delete a symlink: /Volumes/LionInstaller/System/Installation/Packages
  4. Copy the actual packages from "/Volumes/Mac OS X Install ESD/Packages" to "/Volumes/LionInstaller/System/Installation/Packages"
  5. Delete "/Volumes/LionInstaller/System/Library/CoreServices/"
  6. Copy "/Volumes/LionInstaller/System/Installation/Packages/OSInstall.mpkg" to a temporary folder
  7. Go to that folder and unzip it: xar -x -v -f ~/Desktop/OSInstall.mpkg (more details here)
  8. Edit Distribution: I had to add "Mac-F4208EC8" to the block of supported platforms up the top
  9. Delete the OSInstall.mpkg that should be in the same folder, that's the old one
  10. Re-compress it to the new file: xar -c ./ -v -f OSInstall.mpkg
  11. Send it to the right folder: "/Volumes/LionInstaller/System/Installation/Packages/"
  12. Reboot and install!
  13. When Installation is complete, whilst it's prompting to reboot, open Terminal from the Utilities Menu
  14. Browse to /Volumes/[DISK_YOU_INSTALLED_TO]/System/Library/CoreServices/ and Delete PlatformSupport.plist
  15. Quit terminal and reboot the machine

Third Step: Firmware

I had mucked around with rEFInd initially to have multi-boot, but my metal apple keyboard wouldn't work with the interface. Turns out it won't even trigger bootup options (CD selection, etc...) as the Mac Mini doesn't like USB 2.0 keyboards at startup! This can all be fixed via a Firmware Upgrade. You even then get the option of installing 4gb of RAM. More information can be found in this thread.

  1. Grab the firmware and extract it somewhere.
  2. Open Terminal and go to that somewhere.
  3. Copy both files to /System/Library/CoreServices/Firmware Updates.
  4. Run the following:
    sudo bless -mount / -firmware /System/Library/CoreServices/Firmware\ Updates/EFIUpdaterApp.efi -payload /System/Library/CoreServices/Firmware\ Updates/LOCKED_MM11_0055_08B.fd -options "-x efi-apple-payload0-data" --verbose
    EFI found at IODeviceTree:/efi
    GPT detected
    No auxiliary booter partition required
    System partition found
    Returning booter information dictionary:
    <CFBasicHash 0x7f8343d02fe0 [0x7fff78e37ea0]>{type = mutable dict, count = 3,
    entries =>
    	0 : <CFString 0x10aa4afb0 [0x7fff78e37ea0]>{contents = "System Partitions"} = (
    	1 : <CFString 0x10aa4af70 [0x7fff78e37ea0]>{contents = "Data Partitions"} = (
    	2 : <CFString 0x10aa4af50 [0x7fff78e37ea0]>{contents = "Auxiliary Partitions"} = (
    Substituting ESP disk0s1
    Mounting at /Volumes/bless.y5CS
    Executing "/sbin/mount"
    Returned 0
    Creating /Volumes/bless.y5CS//EFI/APPLE/FIRMWARE if needed
    Deleting previous contents of /Volumes/bless.y5CS//EFI/APPLE/FIRMWARE
    Deleting /Volumes/bless.y5CS//EFI/APPLE/FIRMWARE/EFIUpdaterApp.efi (33888 bytes)
    Deleting /Volumes/bless.y5CS//EFI/APPLE/FIRMWARE/LOCKED_MM11_0055_08B.fd (2097152 bytes)
    Opened dest at /Volumes/bless.y5CS//EFI/APPLE/FIRMWARE//EFIUpdaterApp.efi for writing
    preallocation not supported on this filesystem for /Volumes/bless.y5CS//EFI/APPLE/FIRMWARE//EFIUpdaterApp.efi
    Type/creator set to     /     for /Volumes/bless.y5CS//EFI/APPLE/FIRMWARE//EFIUpdaterApp.efi
    /Volumes/bless.y5CS//EFI/APPLE/FIRMWARE//EFIUpdaterApp.efi created successfully
    Relative path of /Volumes/bless.y5CS//EFI/APPLE/FIRMWARE//EFIUpdaterApp.efi is \EFI\APPLE\FIRMWARE\EFIUpdaterApp.efi
    IOMedia disk0s1 has UUID F6A85C4B-BDBA-4127-ADB9-7B4D07AA40E4
    Opened dest at /Volumes/bless.y5CS//EFI/APPLE/FIRMWARE//LOCKED_MM11_0055_08B.fd for writing
    preallocation not supported on this filesystem for /Volumes/bless.y5CS//EFI/APPLE/FIRMWARE//LOCKED_MM11_0055_08B.fd
    Type/creator set to     /     for /Volumes/bless.y5CS//EFI/APPLE/FIRMWARE//LOCKED_MM11_0055_08B.fd
    /Volumes/bless.y5CS//EFI/APPLE/FIRMWARE//LOCKED_MM11_0055_08B.fd created successfully
    Relative path of /Volumes/bless.y5CS//EFI/APPLE/FIRMWARE//LOCKED_MM11_0055_08B.fd is \EFI\APPLE\FIRMWARE\LOCKED_MM11_0055_08B.fd
    IOMedia disk0s1 has UUID F6A85C4B-BDBA-4127-ADB9-7B4D07AA40E4
    Setting EFI NVRAM:
    <CFBasicHash 0x7f8343d02fe0 [0x7fff78e37ea0]>{type = mutable dict, count = 2,
    entries =>
    	1 : <CFString 0x10aa4afd0 [0x7fff78e37ea0]>{contents = "efi-boot-next"} = <CFString 0x10ab1a930 [0x7fff78e37ea0]>{contents = "<array><dict><key>IOMatch</key><dict><key>IOProviderClass</key><string>IOMedia</string><key>IOPropertyMatch</key><dict><key>UUID</key><string>F6A85C4B-BDBA-4127-ADB9-7B4D07AA40E4</string></dict></dict><key>BLLastBSDName</key><string>disk0s1</string></dict><dict><key>IOEFIDevicePathType</key><string>MediaFilePath</string><key>Path</key><string>\EFI\APPLE\FIRMWARE\EFIUpdaterApp.efi</string></dict><dict><key>IOEFIBootOption</key><string>-x efi-apple-payload0-data</string></dict></array>"}
    	2 : <CFString 0x10ab1add0 [0x7fff78e37ea0]>{contents = "efi-apple-payload0"} = <CFString 0x7f8343d03430 [0x7fff78e37ea0]>{contents = "<array><dict><key>IOMatch</key><dict><key>IOProviderClass</key><string>IOMedia</string><key>IOPropertyMatch</key><dict><key>UUID</key><string>F6A85C4B-BDBA-4127-ADB9-7B4D07AA40E4</string></dict></dict><key>BLLastBSDName</key><string>disk0s1</string></dict><dict><key>IOEFIDevicePathType</key><string>MediaFilePath</string><key>Path</key><string>\EFI\APPLE\FIRMWARE\LOCKED_MM11_0055_08B.fd</string></dict></array>"}
    Executing "/sbin/umount"
    Returned 0
  5. Shut Down
  6. Press and hold your power button until you see your Mini's power light flash repeatedly, and then release. You should hear a strange boot sound from your Mac.
  7. You may-or-may-not see a grey screen with a progress bar loading. I did, but others report they do not, so it will vary. If you do encounter this screen, just let the progress bar complete, and don't touch anything.
  8. You now may-or-may-not get a corrupt screen - Let it get to the desktop and then hold down the power button.
  9. Reboot, but this time do a PRAM reset (Command + Option + P + R)
  10. Listen to that lovely chime... it's actually the first time my Mac Mini ever made the startup chime since purchase!!
  11. Profit.

DSC07252 DSC07261 DSC07263


Yessss... we now have a MacMini2,1!

Fourth Step: RAM

Easy enough, but only after the firmware update! Grab two 2GB DDR2 PC2-5300S 200-pin SODIMMS and install them in the two available slots in the motherboard. Yes, you'll have to rip the entire unit apart again, so it's probably beneficial to buy these at the start and do it all in one hit!

DSC07362 DSC07367 apple-desktop-3

Fifth Step: Why is the CPU fan always maxed out?

Turns out, that if you leave things disconnected, then the poor little Mac Mini can't monitor it's system performance and will default to a full-speed fan. There's a wire at the front near the power light that you need to disconnect as one of the first steps... I'd forgotten to reconnect this and, well, the result is max-tilt on the cooling fan.


Make sure you plug everything back together!

Sixth Step: Alternative Operating Systems

Just for fun I decided to install rEFInd and then toy with the other 80gb I still had on the HDD. Installation was as simple as opening Terminal, switching to the Downloads directory, unzip refind*.zip, switching to the extracted directory and then finally: ./refind-install. It copied over the default configuration and then, upon reboot...


Nice. Now, off to Linux Mint to download an ISO. I chose Mate, I don't know why... I don't think I like the black of Cinnamon. It turns out my internal CD drive is toast... it just tries to read and read anything I put in there and then spits it back out again. So, thankfully my external CD drive just-worked!


Of course, the bootloader didn't. The picture above shows as far as it wanted to get... it then just freezes. It turns out all 64-bit ISOs need 64-bit EFI BIOS' and our machine doesn't have this! It has a 32-bit EFI with a 64-bit CPU. So... you need to hack the ISOs. Thankfully, Matt Gadient has already done this for us.

Filed under: Apple No Comments

VTech Socrates – Educational Video System

This poor unit was found in a box of random junk at the local tip shop. It's a VTech Socrates educational computer based of the Zilog Z80 chipset. It seems to have standard RF input/output, but someone has gone ahead and wired in their own antenna cable? The couldn't be bothered finding a screw-to-plug antenna adapter?


DSC07069 DSC07071 DSC07072

DSC07074 DSC07076 DSC07078


After working out how to tune an analog signal on my TV, I applied 12v... A very slow screen started to appear! Is that Johnny-5?


Giant Bomb's Review of the system doesn't give a favourable view. It seems that the unit had a 'very short life' due to slow graphics/animation and little software being available. It does mention the extra items, such as the mouse and touchpad... of which I've been unable to find physical examples of.

DSC07082 DSC07085 DSC07087

DSC07088 DSC07092 DSC07121

The expandability is obvious in the above photos.. you can see the Cartridge slot and Expansion slot on either side of the motherboard.

Composite Mod

Just like most items that come across my workbench, I don't believe there's any need to keep them as RF-output. RF modulators were a requirement back in the day as TVs only had RF-antenna input. RF was fine for terrestrial signals, where a cable would be slightly inconvenient! Not so when the unit producing the a/v output was located right next to the TV. Once composite signals started appearing on TVs, there was absolutely no need to convert to-and-from RF. Of course, it was already too late for devices that only had RF output.

The RF modulation circuits in these units usually consist of a silver modulator unit and the inputs to this are more-or-less the exact composite signal required. Removing (or bypassing) the modulator is an easy step and RCA sockets can usually be installed somewhere in such units. Here's how to do it on a Famicom.


DSC07097 DSC07098 DSC07100

Anyway, back to the Socrates. The original owner had already trashed the RF modulator, so I chose to remove it. The ribbon that runs to it is pretty hard to work with, but I spliced into it and ran the wires to RCA sockets instead. I provided both right and left audio plugs, but they're both wired to the same single mono audio output signal.

DSC07117 DSC07122 DSC07126

From there, the picture was clean and crisp. The sound too! Of course, it's always hard to take photos of CRTs.. I tested it on the BeoVision MX 7000.


And.. about that refresh rate... this was it trying to draw a spelling game over about 12 seconds...

DSC07148 DSC07151 DSC07154

I was presented with R A I O D as a scambled word challenge...


Nope.. it doesn't know what RAID-0 is.


A short time googling found me at Team Europe's blog post regarding the innards of a VTech Cartridge. How cute are they? Designed after a floppy drive, of which you jam in the side of the machine when it's turned off.

The insides look as simple as an EPROM on a board with a single capacitor? I was about to ask for the board pinout, as it seems there's one or two traces under the chip, but then I came across their post from this year regarding their multicart! Hah, it's exactly as expected... an EPROM on a very simple circuit board. They've used an EPROM that's 8x too large, to fit 8 images (all games ever produced) on the chip... you then select the start offset with the dipswitch.

I've sent out a message requesting one... let's hope they're still available!

Filed under: Retro No Comments

Setting up a Palm OS/Sony Clie Development Environment

Why would I do this in 2019? Because fun! I found this unit in Malaysia and wanted to try and control my BeoVision MX 7000 with it. Turns out that none of the software I tried wanted to work! Actually, even at first, I had trouble trying to install the applications. Everything wanted HotSync? Muhahaha... I remember those old days! The I found this forum thread where everyone is just like "duh, copy the files to the LAUNCHER folder"... and so, I did.. and so, well, the apps worked... but that was about it.

DSC07182 DSC07184 DSC07186

Of course, before even getting the MS to read, I needed to find a reader that would support it. There seems to be (at least) three types of MemoryStick and this thing uses the very first version. I tried my standard card-reader that I use constantly for my camera's SDHC card, but this wouldn't read the MS at all. Fortunately, there was an older reader (with CF slot!) in my box-o-junk that happily read the MS. Of course, it then didn't read the SDHC, so there was a lot of juggling to get data transfered.

DSC07199 DSC07196 DSC07189

So, the apps.. OmniRemote Pro was the closest to work. It supported learning and even supposedly 'recognised' my fake BeoVision remote. But no attempt to send the signal back to the TV worked.


DSC07202 DSC07205 DSC07207

At least I now knew how to run external programs... let's write one!?

Cygwin + PRC-Tools

GCC for Palm OS (or PRC Tools) is a self-contained compiler that sits on top of Cygwin. It even comes with source code examples. I've recorded the steps below to set up a functional development environment... the code even worked on the Sony!

Firstly, download Cygwin 32-bit Setup from here. 64-bit won't work! Once downloaded, run setup-x86.exe -X from the command line to allow unsigned packages. Choose a local mirror and then add in the User area below. After adding, both mirrors will be selected... hit next. Search for prc and check the selections...

2019-03-25 21 40 14-Window

Make sure you then also choose to install make and pilrc. Hit next and let it all install. Whilst that's happening, go and download the Palm OS SDKs from here. Yes, you'll need to download the whole lot (Download as Zip from the root github folder), but it's not that big. Once downloaded, extract the contents to a new directory called c:\Cygwin\PalmDev.

If everything has been done correctly, then open the Cygwin Terminal and run palmdev-prep.exe.

$ palmdev-prep.exe
Checking SDKs in /PalmDev
  sdk-1         headers in 'include', no libraries
  sdk-2         headers in 'include', no libraries
  sdk-3.1       headers in 'include', no libraries
  sdk-3.5       headers in 'include', libraries in 'lib'
  sdk-4         headers in 'include', libraries in 'lib'
  sdk-5r3       headers in 'include', libraries in 'lib'
  sdk-5r4       headers in 'include', libraries in 'lib'

When GCC is given no -palmos options, SDK '5r4' will be used by default

Writing SDK details to configuration files...

Yes, we got it installed!... Now grab the code from this link and try and compile it...

$ make
m68k-palmos-gcc -O2 -Wall -g -c -o helloworld.o helloworld.c
      3 [main] m68k-palmos-gcc (11268) C:\cygwin\bin\m68k-palmos-gcc.exe: *** fatal error in forked process - couldn't allocate heap, Win32 error 487, base 0xEF0000, top 0xF50000, reserve_size 389120, allocsize 393216, page_const 4096
    915 [main] m68k-palmos-gcc (11268) cygwin_exception::open_stackdumpfile: Dumping stack trace to m68k-palmos-gcc.exe.stackdump
      1 [main] m68k-palmos-gcc 1983 dofork: child -1 - forked process 11268 died unexpectedly, retry 0, exit code 0xC0000142, errno 11
m68k-palmos-gcc -O2 -Wall -g -o helloworld helloworld.o
pilrc -q -ro -o helloworld.rcp
build-prc -n helloworld -c helo helloworld

That error looks a little scary... but whatever... let's see what happens?! Noooo waaaaay....


We got an icon! Does it work?


Look at that glorious string of redundant text! Next I'll come back and write actual source to talk via IRDA. Maybe even to my Matsucom On Hand PC?

Filed under: Retro No Comments

Sony Clie PEG-SJ30 (N50)

I picked up this Sony Clie at the Chinatown fleamarkets in Kuala Lumpur during the last trip and have finally gotten around to testing it. As expected, the battery was dead-flat, so I didn't have much hope. Also, no cables or other accessories... so how to bring it back to life?


DSC07004 DSC07006 DSC07007


I found a standard rechargeable 3.7v battery after unscrewing the back panel. I say 'standard', as this voltage seems very popular for small rechargeable devices! I don't have any rechargeable batteries on hand... but then remembered something else I'd picked up in Malaysia!

DSC07012 DSC07014 DSC07019


The current battery was dead, so I snipped the connector and wired it into the drone battery...

DSC07019 DSC07023 DSC07026

DSC07028 DSC07029 DSC07030

Niiiiice! It works! But this isn't a good answer... the battery is too big for the unit. Off to Jaycar I went to pick up a GT4195 battery. This one happens to be the correct voltage and fits perfectly!


DSC07037 DSC07042 DSC07043

Off the shelf, the battery came with zero charge! That's pretty unusual actually... I don't think I've ever bought a rechargeable battery from anywhere and have it have absolutely no juice. This straight-away presented a problem... I have no charger for this PDA, meaning that I can't seal the battery in and charge externally. So, I had to wire in another plug to use the drone charger to keep this thing going. Not 100% awesome, but it's a workable solution.


After a full charge, or so the usb-charger reckoned with its red light off, I gave it a quick test. All worked perfectly with this smaller battery!


DSC07050 DSC07051 DSC07052

I'm also surprised it accepted the year 2019!


Before I knew it... we were at the home screen.


Meanwhile, it has a Memory Stick in the slot... a quick check found the following...

DSC07060 DSC07061 DSC07062

Joy! Time to format that and get some IRDA software to try and control the BeoVision MX 7000.

Filed under: Retro No Comments

Seibu Train Announcement Mishap

This is something that doesn't happen often. Soranews reported that a passenger had recorded an announcement mishap and I thought maybe they just added an extra station.

A gift that just keeps giving! :) Actually... here's another one, for any Hokkaido fans...

It seems that there's no 'script' and the auto-reader is just running through the list from top to bottom. I assume they usually queue up snippets to make up the announcement, but this time (maybe when the list is empty?) it just goes for gold!

Filed under: JPN No Comments

Iomega 1GB Jaz Drive Power Supply

Picked this little beast up from the flea markets recently. It came with 2 disks and no power supply! I was so excited to see a random pile of SCSI junk at the markets that I forgot to check that everything I was picking up was complete!

The power plug on the back looks like a PS/2 cable with a lower pin missing. Why do it for? Of course: proprietary power means you need to contact their service desk when you need a replacement... or do you?


I started hacking up a spare PS/2 extension cable and got it to fit!

DSC06974 DSC06976 DSC06979


As I was rummaging for a compatible brick that could supply both 12v and 5v, I found that I already had a "ps/2-style" power adapter in my box-o-shite. It had exactly the right pinout, voltages all in the correct places, but the extra pin was there...


I quickly hacked that off and tested it...

DSC06999 DSC07000 DSC07001

Noooo waaaaay... it also worked perfectly when on a SCSI card. Nothing interesting on the disks though!

Filed under: Retro No Comments

Adding more RAM to a Toshiba Satellite 300CDS

Picked this up recently and loved the design and specifications. It needed more RAM though, so I started unscrewing it to find the relevant slot. Turns out there's minimal effort needed... not even a screwdriver! Usually you get a panel underneath with a cute RAM icon, or somesuch, but there was no such thing on this unit.


DSC06914 DSC06915 DSC06917

Instead... there's a lever-point on the right-hand-side of the unit, on the edge of the 'bevel' that runs along the top of the keyboard. Once popped out, the keyboard nicely lifts up and you have full access to the RAM slot.

DSC06919 DSC06920 DSC06922


The trusty box-o-crap was emptied and all laptop RAM shown. 4 were a good fit, but all SDRAM. Unfortunately this unit only accepts EDO!

Filed under: Retro No Comments

Matsucom OnHand Wearable PC

Saw this on eBay... no one else bid on it? Are you serious? It's one of the first smart watches! It was also one of the first to have its own software development kit.


DSC06887 DSC06890 DSC06894

Totally reminiscent of a Casio, it's a chunk Matsucom OnHand PC which is actually the american close of a Seiko Ruputer. In the package is a whole lot of documentation, software, the watch, a docking station and a cute little extra battery holder.

DSC06889 DSC06895 DSC06896

I expected CR2032 coin cell batteries, but it turns out it wanted CR2025s? I went off to find some...

Using it

I was immediately presented with "Fatal Error" after turning it on. The default action is to try and open "My Computer", so I assume that area of memory is crap.

DSC06898 DSC06899 DSC06900

I booted my Windows 98se VM and plugged through the serial port. We were connected in no time and I was straight-away warned that the internal memory was rubbish. A quick format later and I had a connected watch!

2019-03-10 12 05 35-Window 2019-03-10 12 06 02-Window 2019-03-10 12 07 20-Window

2019-03-10 12 28 31-Window 2019-03-10 12 29 03-Window 2019-03-10 12 29 28-Window


The file browser kept throwing an error that shortcut.ini was missing, so I created an empty file in the relevant directory, which successfully shut the error up. I wonder what software I can put on this thing?

The community still exists!

There's a whole raft of software at PC On Hand. This website actually has all the information you could ever want. If you're bored, it seems you can even convert movies into short animations to play on your watch.

2019-03-10 12 45 18-Window

I quickly downloaded the fishtank and copied it to the watch with zero effort required.


DSC06910 DSC06911 DSC06912

Yup... Fish. Worked nicely... EXF seems to be the compiled executable for the watch and it was seen as such in the file browser after copying. It's then a really quick navigation on the watch itself and, before you know it, you've got a mini aquarium on your wrist!

Software Development

PcOH-C For Windows is here, but they want you to register to download. I tried to do so, as I'm a legitimate human and was happy to see what random emails they wanted to send. Regardless, the signup process is dead... so the file is out of reach... or is it? I changed the URL from .asp to .zip and, you guessed it, the 1.6mb of glory downloaded. Here's a version just for keep-sake. The SDK is required, and that URL doesn't work either... so here's the entire product CD.

2019-03-10 13 53 54-Window 2019-03-10 13 54 12-Window 2019-03-10 13 55 13-Window

2019-03-10 13 55 30-Window 2019-03-10 13 56 37-Window 2019-03-10 13 57 09-Window

There's a few samples in PConH and I quickly compiled the first one. MAIN.EXF was created and I was able to upload it to the watch straight from the IDE. Before that though, the IDE has an emulator in it! You don't even need to deploy to your watch to test!

2019-03-10 13 57 49-Window

I copied it to the watch anyway...

2019-03-10 16 12 46-Window

It also executed perfectly fine and, as expected, the relevant indicator popped up when pressing the joystick directions. The best part was that you can do diagonal actions as well... might come in very handy for a game!

DSC06925 DSC06928 DSC06929

What's next? I think this watch deserves a mini-model-railway.

Filed under: Retro No Comments