Posts tagged "NEC"
You can think of them as Japan's IBM, except they were much more successful at establishing a monopoly.
Hirofumi Iwasaki’s book on PC-8801FH/MH repair says that the head loading solenoid is so loud that you should be careful using the computer in an apartment at night, lest the neighbours complain. I am not hearing that, or any other noises from the floppy drives. Let’s investigate.
Get ready to step into the cyberpunk future of the mid-late 1980s, and don’t forget to bring your boxed wine. NEC pulled out all the stops on this, their final PC-6001 computer. I have to pull out even more stops to get the disk drive to work.
I got ahold of a PC-98 laptop. Unfortunately, it has a lot of battery leakage and won’t power on. Come hang out and smell the vinegar with me for a little while.
Sometime last summer, I spotted a local classifieds listing where someone was selling a “Tandy laptop.” After some interrogation, I determined that it was probably a Model 102. Another Kyocera sibling to join my NEC PC-8300?
When I first set up the PC-6001, I had to bring it back to life by replacing the shorted tantalum capacitors on the motherboard’s power rails. It’s such a great little machine! After some more testing, however, it became obvious that I was getting no sound out of the poor little thing.
When I first fixed the PC-6001, there were a few sticky keys on the keyboard. “H,” Left Shift, and - most importantly - Return were all bad to a certain extent. I could limp along with Ctrl-M for a little while to replace Return, but it was pretty awkward. How hard can it be to clean the keyboard?
I finally got a keyboard for my PC-8801MH (I was on the verge of making one myself), and had to settle for a very dirty one as prices are just a hair shy of ridiculous. Even though I was primed by the pictures, I was shocked by just how disgusting the keyboard for the MH was when it arrived.
My PC-6001 came cheap because it was untested (and it did end up needing capacitor replacement), but the PC-6001mkII seems like it has always changed hands for a lot of money in Japanese collector circles, at least for as long as I’ve been paying attention to the prices. When I landed one for a great deal, I figured that there must be something wrong with it.
I’ve had the PC-8801MH for awhile, but haven’t even bothered to get it open. It was only this morning, when I looked over my pickle jar full of removed clock batteries, that I realized I probably hadn’t removed the clock battery from it - and hadn’t done the SR either. No time like the present!
Sure, I’ve got NEC PC-88s, I’ve got NEC PC-98s, but didn’t NEC make anything that was a little friendlier to the home user? By now, you should know better than to doubt our friends at the Electric Company. The NEC PC-6001 has a thriving homebrew scene around it in Japan to this very day, and is still fondly remembered. Let’s rip one open and stuff it with hot molten lead.
I removed the clock battery from my X68000 ACE, sped up my PC-98’s video, and got a keyboard for my PC-8801MH. Come enjoy this bite-sized collection of what’s going on with my machines.
Another postie-threatening crate arrived on my porch this week. There’s a lot of projects in this one; I’m not even sure a single one is “usable” as-is. This one sort of got away from me, but those are the fun kind!
When I was much younger, one of the first portable computers I was exposed to was a Tandy TRS-80 Model 100. It was a surprisingly useful 80s portable machine. A real mechanical keyboard, modem capability, real ports, an okay screen, 20 hours of battery life on a set of AAs: it had everything. As a result, they were really popular with journalists (upload your story from a payphone!), scientists (take readings of your instruments at the site!), and industrial use (what’s wrong with this plane?)
Some more mini updates for things that weren’t big enough to merit a full update on their own. In this entry, we’ll finally get A-Train III running on my PC98, fix an Atari ST keyboard, and ship new hardware for a whole new brand of Japanese 8-bit computer.
In my previous entry, I found out that my old IBM PC “DOS” floppy adapter was not sufficient when trying to read from two drives at once. Somehow, they confused the floppy controller enough that nothing could be read from the second drive.
I got another couple of Gotek floppy emulators from China, and now the SR has dual floppy drives. Unfortunately, I can’t use them both at the same time.
I’ve been wanting to get back to the SR for quite some time. I figured the Gotek adapter PCB and the HxC-flashed Gotek would be a direct drop-in to the new machine, and I was right.
Japanese Santa dropped by my house earlier this week and left behind a back-shredding 40lb box of microcomputer goodness. Let’s investigate.
I’ve been up to a bunch of little projects while waiting on parts and time for the big jobs, so here is another mini-update on three of those projects.
After a respin of the PC88 colour video board, the PC8801mkII now has excellent digital colour video out.
Just as I was beginning to lose hope that the hard drive I had ordered back in August from Yahoo Auctions Japan would ever arrive, my doorbell rang. Inside a beat-up but functional Suruga-ya box sat the hard drive, done with its international journey.
Now that the PC98 can load software off of a USB stick instead of floppies, I decided to explore the software catalogue a bit.
I’ve been using the monochrome video cable on my PC88 ever since I built it. Colour video was a little more complicated, so I ended up designing a bunch of adapters to try and get it to work. I’m happy to announce that one of those adapters has finally worked!
Now that the PC98 can load a game off a flash drive, there’s a lot more parts of it I can test. Today, I spent a few minutes putting together a new revision of the floppy board and inspecting the computer.
After I designed the first version of my PC88 floppy board, I thought it would be fun to put one together for the PC98 as well. Why do I need an adapter for a computer that already has 3.5” floppy drives? The PC9821AP2 I own has a 26-pin floppy drive connector, like a mid-90s laptop, and most standard IBM PC style floppy drives have 34.
In the last entry, I found myself with a working adapter board to allow a 3.5” floppy drive (like a Gotek) to work with the NEC PC8801mkII. This liberated me from having to source, organize and maintain 5.25” floppy disks, and opens a large library of software for this computer without having to hunt through the used market. However, like all good things, there were a lot of bugs with the old adapter.
I wanted to get a Gotek working on my PC88, and after seeing that there were a lot of Japanese hobbyists who had managed to get an HxC floppy emulator working, decided it must be possible - even if not simple.
I delved into the depths of my trusty Showa-era NEC to remove its leaking (leaked?) battery. Here’s what I found.
Going to try a new format for this entry; there are some small updates to keep a record of, but nothing deserving of a full entry on their own.
In the last entry, we left our intrepid hero with no video out. After a quick consultation of the Japanese internet, and a not-so-quick cable soldering job later, we now have black and white video and can use N88 BASIC (at least in theory).
While the PC9821 has horsepower and 90s clone styling for days, the real reason I spent all this effort and money was to get personal with the PC8801 platform. This humble little NEC home computer platform launched an indie game development revolution - well, or at least it did after this one was made. In fact, this 8801mkII, having been released immediately before the gaming-friendly 8801mkIISR, is only really useful to someone super weird who wants to learn about its guts on the cheap. I don’t know anyone like that around here, so I might as well do it. You’re welcome, future historians.
I only had a short amount of time to play with the computer today, but thanks to a very knowledgable friend, I got a known-good DOS 6.2 image with some disk utilities written to a floppy and booted.
Months ago, I won a PC8801mkII and a PC9821AP2/U8W off Yahoo Auctions. They arrived, but life got busy, and so the blog hasn’t been updated in quite some time. What better way to bring it back than a deep-dive into a computer whose language I literally do not speak or understand in even the slightest way?
If all goes well, I will soon be the owner of an NEC PC-8801mkII “Model 30.” The platform is famous in Japan, as later models of the PC88 featured a ton of independent games, including many from developers who would go on to create games that were popular worldwide (Thexder, Snatcher and Ys all got their start on this platform). It also has a lot of trash, but neither of these things are interesting to me right now. I’d be happier just getting the computer to work (not least, because as a non-SR mkII, there are very few games I can enjoy on it anyway).