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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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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!

Filed under: JPN 1 Comment

PC-98 – PC-9801NS/A – RAM, CPU And PCMCIA

This story doesn't have a happy ending. I went on a buyee-spree, trying to find all the parts I needed for this laptop... including a single (obviously-not-legit) floppy drive that contained the PCMCIA driver software needed to get the PCMCIA slot working in DOS. The goal was to then load up a SCSI PCMCIA card connected to a SCSI CD Drive to get data flowing. There were also RAM and CPU upgrades and they looked awesome! Who didn't want a DX2/66 laptop? Who cares if the internal LCD is monochrome.

Anyway, the crap arrived...

RAM and CPU Upgrades

The RAM module was clean and tidy, but the CPU (PK-NSA66/C) not so much.

They're both add-in modules that slot in underneath the unit.

No issues powering up... and the RAM was obviously working!

Very nice... +11mb? There was already a 1.2mb RAM disk in this thing, so the additional 11mb was a bit weird. Maybe it's 10mb? Or maybe it totally replaces the onboard RAM and it's +12mb? Anyway, I went into MSD.EXE and CPU info showed...

No dice... no amount of cleaning or re-inserting got it to say anything different. There was also no heat in the board, so I can't quite tell if it's kicking in... or if it needs an IPL like the PC-9801VX. It seems there are many hardware benchmark softs and other CPU tools on which I'll play around with later. Thanks to this thread on another upgrade for pointers.

Update: Yeah, I was right... this specific upgrade board for the NS/A is the only one that needs an IPL! Of course, the drivers at IO-Data are just updates... just like the hell I went through with obtaining the IPL for the PC-9801VX. See more about the available upgrade boards here, and an even better write-up over here. It seems I need to find PKNSA.EXE. How insulting.

Anyway, I suppose I might as well go ahead and install Win3.1 via floppies... since I'd already created them. Later.


So, I'd received the disk from Yahoo Auctions with an original manual. I still cannot work out what that image/logo is on the manual? Anyway, I eagerly got everything set up.

I slapped the disk in the laptop and DIR'd.

Get stuffed. What is TAKAHOUSE? I tried to boot it...

GRRRR... AUD$60 for an over-written floppy ... but I got the manual!

Marcin to the rescue!

If you jump to the comments below, you'll see two pointers from Marcin to drivers that might-just-work. I tried the MECIA3ATA driver first from PC-98 Tips, using a PCMCIA to CF adapter that I had lying around.

First screenshot is with no card in the slot... and a complaint from the driver saying it can't find anything. Second screenshot above is a switch to D:! What's in there?

Random Macintosh stuff that I had totally forgotten about! Useless for this unit, but we can read a PCMCIA ATA card! Unfortunately the second link just provided SSDRV.SYS which doesn't work with this hardware. Maybe it'll work on the 9821Np/540W that I'll whip out next.

Thanks Marcin! We've made progress!

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Hojo Railway, Hyogo – April, 2023

Hojo is a small town in Hyogo, just a bit north of Kakogawa. It contains the terminus and depot of the Hojo Railway Line, the only rail line operated by the Hojo Railway Company. The line is single-track and non-electrified, running through the countryside from Ao Station. They own a fleet of four one-man DMUs, with two or less operating at any one time via passing loops at larger stations. Their fleet used to consist of only three 2000-series "flower" DMUs, but they recently had a crowdfunding operation to bring a KIHA40 into the mix. It succeeded, and I helped!

Getting there...

From Shin-Osaka, there are a few hops to traverse. Hojo Town is in the sticks and the JR Kakogawa Line, starting at Kakogawa Station, happens to be the best rail connection to get there. Unfortunately, there's no Shinkansen connection at Kakogawa Station, so the closest transfer point from Shin-Osaka happens to be Nishi-Akashi. Once at Nishi-Akashi, you can transfer to a Special Rapid on the Tokaido Main Line which'll have Kakogawa as its next stop. As that Nishi-Akashi is smaller Shinkansen Station, you'll either need a Hikari or Kodama. I took the first Kodama from Shin-Osaka Station, but first had to let the first Sakura get out of the way...

Then check out the view... as the Kodamas don't come frequently...

And yeah, don't forget to grab an eki-ben snack from the platform shops... it's a slow ride. The funniest part about the 'slow ride' is that it's usually operated by the (well, back in the early 2000s) fastest rolling stock. You're either going to get a 700-series Rail Star, a 500-series shinkansen, or even a hello-kitty themed 500-series if you're lucky! Mine turned out to be a Rail Star and I wasn't disappointed.

Still looking good for its age! There's even business cabins which you can happily make use of as the services aren't very well patronised. The next best thing about the Kodama, for a rail-fan, is that (apart from single-platform stations like Shin-Kobe) they have to stop at all stations to let the other services pass. This allows for great photo opportunities, when you're not stressing that the train might leave without you!

You can even fluke it... and have another Kodama waiting in the other loop platform!

Ok.. that's enough Rail Star love. I made it to the Nishi-Akashi Shinkansen station and transferred to the JR Tokaido Main Line.

The Special Rapid was ready to roll and before-long we were at Kakogawa Station. Interestingly, you will need to go through a set of turnstiles to get to the platform, even though it should all be one concourse as it's all JR. Don't fret, just show your JR Pass or ticket and you'll be able to proceed.

Up on the Kakogawa Line platform, you'll find a 2-car green EMU ready to take you to Tanikawa (or Nishi-Wakishi, as per the service above.) The trip takes around 30 minutes to Ao Station, the start of the Hojo Line.

A Hojo DMU was already waiting on the platform when we arrived. Everyone else had a Pasmo/Ikoka/Suica card and just transferred using the machine, but I didn't so I asked the conductor what to do. It turns out that the driver also accepts coins! Just review the electronic board above the driver to work out the cost... knowing that you've travelled from the first station. I was going through to the terminus and would pay whatever the greatest cost was... and fortunately I had the coins in my pocket. If you don't, the ticket machine next to the driver can turn a 1000yen note into coins.

Single-Track Working

Straight away, you're in the country-side and you can see straight out the front of the DMU. The country-side was very green after a lot of recent rain.

Before-long we were approaching Hokkeguchi Station and an opposing DMU was already in the platform, waiting for us to clear the line.

Their driver was waiting on the central platform, radio'ing with the base to confirm that we were out of the block. I wish I'd watched if he also grabbed a staff from our driver? Either way, we were on the way again and in Hojo after about half an hour.

Hojo Station

On approach, the target was visible, but once in the station, getting to the target required a wander...

The poor KIHA40 was parked in an end-road and obviously wasn't going to be operating on the day I visited, but I still got to visit it!

After a quick dawdle around the streets, I made it to the level crossing in the the rear of the photos above...

It looked in really great condition! Sad I could go for a spin on it, but hey... I'd already done that in Hokkaido. I loitered for a bit to see the service we'd crossed earlier come back into town.

And then I checked out some junk shops up the road. Nothing of great interest, but a few cute SCSI and USB cables. What next? There's a notable park on the mountain just north of the junk shop, so I went for it... I had an hour+ before the next service!

Maruyama Park

Maruyama Park is located on a mountain (which they obviously think is circular!) in the east of Hojo Town. It was quiet when I was there, but if you go by the "don't do this" signs, then it must get pretty busy. There's a large pond, a globe that actually functions as a clock and a really long rollercoaster/slide.

Anyone paying attention to that last shot above will see the red 'pads' handing in the little shelter at the end of the slide. You're meant to take one and sit on it whilst you go down the slide... but I totally missed them and just bolted to the top of the mountain. There was a train to photograph!

Straya! The globe spins and tells the time... supposedly. I was too excited for the slide. But actually, the next service was due to depart soon, so I checked the clock closer and waited for a shot of the train.

The train passed...

The slide beckoned...

Fun was had!

There's a pause half-way... probably to stop human avalanches. Also to let people on half-way if they don't want to do the whole run.

Not using a pad under my arse, I was nearly jolted around enough to stop... but... when in Rome.

Tunnels... twists... turns! But that last corkscrew had me jammed... had to scoot forward and off.

That's what I finished the rides and saw the pads you were meant to sit on. Haha. Speaking of park rules...

In every language! And... look how scruffy that poor feral cat is.

A little bit of wildlife watching... and then done. Thanks Maruyama Park!

On the way back to the station, I passed this random under-contruction freight yard... or was it? Hah containers-as-hotel-rooms!

Back to Kakogawa

The weather was pleasant, so I dawdled to co-incide with the return trip of the DMU, of which I'd seen from the mountain-top.

I then pre-purchased a ticket from the vending machine and waited for the next service to depart. There happens to be a list of donators on the station wall, but I had chosen not to pay for that level of crowdfunding.

Before-long the service was off to Ao.

Ao Station

I had half a plan to walk from Ao Station back to Abiki Station to photograph the Hojo DMUs are they passed through the countryside. There's a great S-Bend between these stations and I had calculated a ~35 minute walk. What I hadn't calculated was a late arrival at Ao Station, as that meant I'd have milliseconds to get to the first photo spot before the train I'd travelled on returned to Hojo Town.

I walked way too slowly from Ao to the photo point... getting distracted by the Kakogawa Line...

Only to see the DMU piss past quickly...

It's a great spot. It was actually getting too warm, so I chose instead to return to Shin-Osaka and chill out for the afternoon. Mainly I was sad that it wasn't a KIHA40 in the shots above. I was a little put-off that I'd come on a day when it wasn't running. So... I returned to Ao Station, only to realise that the Kakogawa Line service that I'd photo'd above was the service I should've transferred to and that the next service was 1 hour away.

No problems? There must be a convenience store nearby? There isn't? It's a 30 minute walk!? I won't get back to the station in time? Hah.

The middle shot above shows the directions to each of the three railways that service Ao Station. Kobe to the left, JR straight ahead and Hojo to the right.

So yeah, where was I? No food? Too much time? I'd drank enough coffee cans to pee for the rest of my life... let's just photo the crap out of the station. Oh, and dawdle back to the rice fields to check out a cemetary.

Google says it's Ao Castle Ruins, but I don't know what to believe. Anyway, back to the station... and starvation...

Hojo then returned... as it was to make the connection with my Kakogawa service.

And then we all had to run up the platform as the 2-car service stopped way forward next to the Kobe Line Service.

This time I actually checked out the view from the front of the train. One is never unimpressed!

And then it was a transfer onto the Special Rapid. I could've then switched to the Shinkansen, but I had time, and a front seat on the Tokaido Main Line.

Not too many limited express trains at that time of day... or freight, for that matter, but I wasn't ready for much more than just staring out the front.

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