Sunday, November 29, 2015

Another X1000 and 1541 Ultimate II

Recently I was given the opportunity to purchase another X1000 in Australia second hand for a good price. With what happened to me earlier this year, I decided it was a good idea to have a backup X1000 system, especially now they are sold out. I bought it and it arrived here last week!

What surprised me when it arrived is the much larger (wider) size of the R4 case, compared to the R3 case of my original X1000.

Closeup view of the back of the "new" X1000:

The next shot shows inside my "new" X1000 - unlike my original X1000, this system has 2GB of memory instead of 4GB, and the standard Radeon HD card (non-Warp3D capable).

I needed to check all the cables and cards where pushed in correctly - some had moved a bit in transport like the network card, and needed a push in to be firmly seated before powering on for the first time.

This system has a 1TB SATA hard disk in it, installed with AmigaOS 4.1.6 and almost stock condition - very clean inside and out. Here it is below, once powered on to check it is working ok after transport - All good!

I quickly set to work to upgrade this system to AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition. The previous owner had purchased Final Edition for the X1000, but never installed it. I quickly set about that task:

I have covered in a lot of detail previously how to prepare and install AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition on the X1000 - to save covering old ground again, if you are interested in how I did this then please check the two part blog posts where I cover it step by step - Part 1 and Part 2.

Once the installation of Final Edition was completed, I then set about getting it configured to my liking and transferring my X1000 data across so I have a full backup X1000 system:

Have to admit that fitting the X1000 into the location where the Sam460 was before is quite a squeeze and doesn't really work well with the C64 blocking the front door. Not sure if it will stay here permanently, but for now this is where it lives! I put the Sam 460 away in storage for now.

I might have a go at putting Linux onto this X1000 in the future, but for now I am glad to have the backup X1000 system running AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition!

On the subject of the C64 in the photo above (a bit off topic but still Commodore related!), this week I received my 1541 Ultimate II, which is a C64 cartridge that allows me to run tape and disk games as image files from MicroSD card, in a similar way that the sd2iec and Chameleon64 add-on's I covered in my earlier blog post here do. You can order it from this website, but I believe the next batch of units might be a while.

The 1541 Ultimate II seems to provide better compatibility to C64 software in the testing I have done so far than the Chameleon64. I include some photos here of the 1541 Ultimate II for those curious...

The guide was very useful to get up and running with the 1541 Ultimate II and is a definite read first!

For the unit I bought, I opted to have the optional tape connector fitted, which allows the 1541 Ultimate II to feed tape image files through the tape interface, just like a real tape drive would do:

The tape connector had a pass through connector as well, in case you still want to connect a real tape drive unit to it:

The USB to network connection option I also purchased, although at the time of writing this functionality is not enabled yet.

Once the 1541 Ultimate II is plugged into to the C64 cartridge port, the 1541 disk cable (included) connected to the disk drive port, and tape adapter into the tape port we are ready to power on.

On power on I got the Retro Replay boot screen, which allows you to preload a cartridge image containing the Fastload cartridge functionality before loading any disk or tape images:

By pressing the middle button on the 1541 Ultimate II, I get to see the SD Card, which I have already put all my disk images on, ready to try out:

Apparently you can connect usb sticks to the usb port on the 1541 Ultimate II to load image files from too, although I didn't try this yet.

It is simple to select the disk image (or tape image) on the SD card using the menus via keyboard on the C64, and then mount the disk image, ready to load a program from it:

A slight complication for my C64 setup though is the need to set up the 1541 Ultimate II to use device #9 rather than the usual #8. This is because the sd2iec is installed internally and already has that drive designation. Fortunately changing this configuration is easy enough in the settings:

Once mounted, from the standard C64 prompt I type in LOAD "*",9,1 and then RUN to run the disk I have mounted.

Here is Wizball, running as a d64 image file on the 1541 Ultimate II:

Impossible Mission II as well:

I know this is a bit off topic (sorry!), but I wanted to show the 1541 Ultimate II device on the Commodore 64 as it is a neat device! I purposely do not have a disk drive or tape drive with my C64, and I rely on the image loading functionality of these modern add-ons to provide the ability to load games and demos on the real C64! The retro fun without the large disk & tape collection and associated long disk/tape loading times from real drive hardware! :-)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Kyushu Shinkansen and SL Hitoyoshi

Sorry for the delay in this blog post covering the next part of our Japan train trip to Kyushu in July 2015. This entry looks at Kyushu Shinkansen, Tsubame and SL Hitoyoshi!

After leaving the Seven Stars in Kyushu train (covered in Day 1 post and Day 2-4 post), we awaited on the Hakata Shinkansen platform for the Tsubame Shinkansen, which would be taking us to Kumamoto. Here are some photos from the platform at Hakata station (Fukuoka).

Soon after the Tsubame train arrived:

Once inside you could see the interior was much nicer than JR East shinkansen trains, with wooden details and nicer seats:

Close up of the seat and table:

Nice touch is the window shades, done in a traditional Japanese wooden fixture rather than the normal uninteresting shades like you would get on a plane:

We were soon on our way - this view shows the wooden frame of the shinkansen seats on the Tsubame - so much nicer than JR East Shinkansen seats!

I then tucked into my Ekiben (Station Bento box) that I bought in Hakata station for the journey to Kumamoto:

We soon arrived into Kumamoto Station:

Here is the view of the ticket gates at Kumamoto station:

As it was approaching night time, I could get some great pictures of Kumamoto Station and the surrounding Tram services running in Kumamoto:

Here is the view inside one of the trams as we travelled to dinner from Kumamoto station:

This particular tram looks quite old, and even has timber flooring.

After a good nights rest in a hotel in Kumamoto (near the main station), we got up early to ride the SL Hitoyoshi Steam train, which departs from Kumamoto Station.

Before that though, I got to see a few more interesting trams running outside the station:

Kumamoto Station in daylight!

Here is the sign board for the SL Hitoyoshi, leaving at 9:45am. Very excited as it will be my first ever Steam train I have ridden in Japan.

Kumamoto station has two sections - the Shinkansen platforms and and local trains. The Tsubame arrived at the Shinkansen platforms, but today we had to walk a bit to reach the local platforms (due to some construction work underway at the station itself)

Kumamoto Station board:

A local train arrives on the platform, next to where the SL Hitoyoshi is due to shortly arrive:

The Steam Locomotive Hitoyoshi (in Japan called an SL) arrived on schedule and looked fantastic on the platform. I rushed to take plenty of photos of it before boarding.

They affectionately call this SL Hitoyoshi '86', taking the 86 from the train number 58654.

Amazing clean for a SL I have to say!

It was a seriously hot and humid day, and I can't imagine what shovelling coal must have been like in the Loco during this trip - it must be unbearable!

In Australia we don't run steam trains in the summer months because of this, but in Japan they ONLY run most of the SL's in the summertime...go figure.

Close up of the controls inside the SL:

The first carriage:

The 2nd carriage - at this point we had to board as the train was about to depart:

Once onboard we could see beautiful clean carriages - completely unexpected given the age of this train and the carriages. The restoration of this train is very impressive.

Nice pictures adorn the carriage walls in various places:

This is the entrance of Carriage 2. I learnt the hard way (more than once I might add), that the head clearance of these entrances is much lower than 6 foot. Multiple times I smashed my head into the top of the door going in and out of the train at various points on the journey. Taller people beware!

More inside photos - here you can see some of the souvenirs for sale.

The wooden details inside this carriage are wonderful, as are the little steam train models inside the display cabinets in the distance in the shot below:

The SL Hitoyoshi has a Cafe on board, and here is the menu in Japanese - usual fare, softdrinks, tea, icr cream and more:

In the SL Hitoyoshi there is even a small library!

I really like the framed picture - would love to buy it, but it was not for sale unfortunately.

Entrance to carriage 3:

The seats are comfortable and the table makes eating bento lunches and other food/drink comfortable too:

Shortly after sitting down the train set off!

It was a seriously hot day so the staff requested the windows remain closed after the first 10 minutes of the trip so the air conditioning would work well.

Luckily I got some photos taken before they made us close the windows.

Here is the view from the rear window of carriage 3 on the train as we made our way towards Hitoyoshi.

The views from the rear carriage are fantastic:

Passing a local station platform:

I made my way to the Buffet to get some ice cream and cold drinks as it was very hot outside and my wife and I needed to cool down!

The views as we enjoyed our ice cream in our seat were great, but even better was to come. There are some truly spectacular views on this train trip!

We went forward to the Lounge car (Carriage 1) to get our photo taken by the staff with a SL board (with the day's date on it). The kids get to wear a conductors replica uniform, and the daults the conductor's hat. Lots of people wanted to do this so we had to patiently wait a while:

View from the lounge car back towards the seats in the carriage as we waited.

Shortly after we arrived at our first stop, Yatsushiro Station. We were only stopped for 10 minutes, but we could get off the train and take some nice photos!

A Local train at Yatsushiro station, colourfully decorated:

Taking photos of the SL Hitoyoshi was challenging was lots of people wanted to do it everywhere we stopped!

SL Hitoyoshi stopped at Yatsushiro Station - looking at the carriages from outside:

The rear view carriage 3 looks very impressive from outside too! I didn't get a chance to take photos of it at Kumamoto station, so I was glad to get another chance to!

Some historical photos of SL history around the station were also on display:

While waiting at Yatsushiro a local diesel train arrived too:

Shortly after we were underway again, an the views just got better and better as we went.

Shot from inside the train as we passed another train stationary at a train platform.

And the views from the train just kept getting more amazing.

Seriously - this is why I love train travel so much. How awesome is this.

I could sell this photo as a postcard. Seriously. The views from the SL Hitoyoshi are stunning. You have got to go on this train if you get the chance to.

We then arrived at another stop - Shiroishi Station.

SL Hitoyoshi reflected in the mirror on the platform:

The station building at Shiroishi Station is an old wooden building which has been well maintained:

Close up of the steam from the SL Hitoyoshi as it prepared to depart the station:

View down the platform at Shiroishi Station:

The next step on our journey was Isshouchi Station:

The view of the train from the platform at this station was great!

Close up of the JR Kyushu's carriage maker's plate:

Some more scenery as the train journey continued:

At this stage my Tokyo to Hitoyoshi trip ticket was getting heavily used with so many train transfers! I had to surrender it at Hitoyoshi Station so I made sure to get a photo of it!

We finally arrived at Hitoyoshi Station and it was a fantastic train trip - I really recommend it!

There was a welcome party and samurai costume adorned people around the platform too!

Hitoyoshi Station exit:

But we couldn't leave without buying a Bento from a old Bento salesman who is keeping up the old tradition in Japan of selling Bentos on the station platform - a practice that was commonplace but now very rare. And by the way, the Bento was delicious! :-)

I took some more photos of the SL at Hitoyoshi station, it's final stop:

We then exited the station briefly to look at the amazing clock out the front, which does this amazing display every hour!

The SL Hitoyoshi trip was amazing! This is the last photos before it left the station.

We then rushed to catch a local diesel train back to Kumamoto to catch our next train, the A-Train. It was a tight schedule but we made it work! I will cover the A-Train in my next blog entry!