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May 20th, 2023 | 2058 - 2121
So like a week or so ago, whenever I redid my start at a PC-9821Ra266 page to make it exist again, I thought back to the constant issue I've been having with that computer. It's a seriously nice system, no doubt about that, but it's also got a seriously goofy crutch in that the IDE interface sucks. It works with PIO mode transfers and you get something like 3MB/s at max, a fine speed for when they first built IDE into the things with the A-Mates but pretty lame when you're running a Pentium II. Mix that in with the 8GB max disk size limit and you come out with a pretty boring stock experience.
My original solution to this was "well I'll buy a nice PCI SCSI card and use SCA hard disks!" and that just failed hard. I got my hands on an IO Data SC-UPCI, a card that allows for up to fourteen 8GB (32GB on the newest firmware revision?) disks at 20MB/s over the 50-pin header or 40MB/s over the 68-pin header. I also bought a box of SCA hard disks that came with an 80-68 pin adapter. It worked amazingly for about ten hours, the first disk died, I moved to the second disk, it worked for about six hours, it died, I moved to the third disk, it worked for about twelve hours...
I've had a long-running grudge against SCSI disks and that was just another instance on the pile of why I think SCSI is hell. I think it's been two years since then?
Say hello to the new setup, a BlueSCSI V2 hooked to that good 'ol SC-UPCI.
It wasn't fun getting here, my BlueSCSI boards weren't working after assembly (SMD was all pre-done, I just had to do through-hole). I looked everything over, I switched from Pico to Pico W to Pico H then back, I tried doing jumpers three different ways, and I really did want to just throw the idiots out. They came with me to work, we have some CMMs and microscopes which I could use to give the boards a once-over, and I think JLCPCB screwed up 'cause some of the SMD was bridged. Blah. Redid those bits and now the idiots work. Yay.
I'm now at the real pain in the ass part of everything, actually installing Windows 98. If I remember this correctly, the idea is that you make a real minimal disk image to boot from and then you put all the WIN98N folder on the drive to install to and run SETUP.EXE. Last time I did this I couldn't find a good guide to save my life and spent a week swearing at the Ra266 'cause I didn't know any of tha. Add on that most of the discussion on places like nfggames was someone going why would you even want Windows 98 on a PC98 anyways???? that ruins the purpose of it being a PC98??? or whatever and you can see how it might have gotten a little frustrating.
Someone made a pretty cool guide on YouTube for installing Win98 to a 9821 (I wanna say that's Shoutmon from the old server I was in? Glad to see they're making videos 'cause they bought a lot of cool hardware, love to see it running!) which would've helped me loads two years back but at the moment I can't even get to that part. For some reason the Ra266 is being a right pain in my ass and just not seeing COMMAND.COM no matter what I do on my modded YAHDI image, good 'ol NO SYSTEM FILES is all I can manage to see, so I need to figure that out first then the rest is simple enough.
I'm hoping I can have this pile booting by the end of tomorrow. It would be neat to have a disk going at 10MB/s, three times as fast as my old IDE setup would go, without me having to worry about "stupid friggin' SCSI disk dying because I'm cursed" as it was historically going. "Sucks" the BlueSCSI V2 won't do the whole 20MB/s but ah heck I don't need that much speed, Half Life wasn't that bad to play even on the slower hard disk.
In other PC98 news, I finally brought out the Xa13 I got a while back. It works but whoever previously owned it hardwired the power supply so that any AC input just makes the thing turn on, something something "former hotel lighting management system" so I guess that makes sense.
I also got this funny Microsoft bus mouse that works on the 98s. I like it.
Once I get out of SCSI Heck I'll be going into MIDI Heck, I have a Yamaha FB-01 I need to get playing bleeps/bloops. And some cables to get shipped out. And some midioris to get built then shipped out. Oh joy.
Some bug got into me, both making me physically sick (sniffly nose and a dry cough, oh joy...) and mentally sick (I revived the old RCA Studio II clone to revise it and put it out).
I have nothing else to put for this section so yeah, 1802 content from CDP1802 coming soon. Ha ha. Funny.
May 21st, 2023 | 1736 - 1744
I friggin' did it.
I got Windows 98 to run on the Ra266 via BlueSCSI. Install wasn't too bad and I'll detail it all on the Ra266 page itself soon enough.
I was going to run some sort of drive benchmark to see how fast it's working, I'm quite interested to see if that 10MB/S rated speed is true, but I had to go to work.
Studio II stuff is a bit more done now by the way, I just need to put MA decode logic (A 373? I think a 373.) on the board so I can have the full MA0-15 open and available to hook up. It's looking like I'll be running a 6116 for RAM and a 2732 for ROM? If this keeps moving along at a good pace, I'll hopefully be ordering v0.1 PCBs next week. Yay!
Speaking of ordering PCBs, MSX-PG boards will be in that same order. It's looking like I may just be taking RCA Studio II crap and MSX Laserdisc crap to cons this year as my main showpieces, ain't that a mix?
If you know a cool FMV game or maybe even a (fairly linear, maybe not? I need to figure out how I'm doing this...) visual novel title please drop me a line and recommend it, I've got to try doing MSX Laserdisc homebrew as a part of this.
I didn't think this was enough of anything to justify a whole new page so yeah, something something updates exist now I guess. I dunno.