Epson AT-550L

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Re: Epson AT-550L - And we're in Windows :D

Postby yawetaG » 2016-12-28 @ 20:32

Yamaha utility:

IMG_6794.jpg


System Settings box, finally showing proper RAM in Windows:

IMG_6793.jpg


meljor wrote:Very nice little system! I do not like SiS chipsets but i do like it on my Asus sp97-v and the board in your system is made by Asus also and shouldn't be that different.

Try cleaning all the contacts first, just disassemble the whole thing and clean every single connection. It's old so it could suffer from some bad/dirty connections on the ram?


Yeah, I might do that if I keep having intermittent issues. Alcohol is probably best, right?

Also, did you clean the lens on the cdrom drive? It is very easy to acces it on these slims, a q-tip with some alcohol does the trick in most cases.


I will try that, and also check the flat wire connecting the lens to the rest of the drive. When inserting a CD it's very easy to press down on the cable on the bottom of the drive door.

Enjoy it!


Btw, i would disable the onboard sis graphics and use a pci instead.


meljor wrote:Windows not shutting down is a common problem with win9x. It can be driver related (i forgot the exact reasons) but there are several fixes when you search Google.
It can also be a simple bios setting about power management.


I suspect the SiS integrated video or its driver doesn't play nicely with the power management features, as the video-related problem occurred right at the time the Windows 98 power management setting were set to sleep the monitor. It looked like this:

IMG_6792.jpg


I already disabled most of the power management in the BIOS, and will disable the rest of it soonish.

The video is nothing to write home about. Besides buggy video modes, any animations in Windows are rendered very slowly, while anything requiring an immediate change works fine. The darkening of the screen when selecting the Windows shutdown option in the Start menu takes 1 or 2 seconds to complete and looks like a tidal wave moving over the screen :lol: Then once the dialog box is displayed it looks like the refresh rate of the background image becomes unstable. The system has DirectX 5 installed:

IMG_6795.jpg


I don't want to know how DirectX games run, I just don't want to know... (I guess they'll crash) :dead:

Any recommended video cards, besides a Voodoo? Edit: Started a thread for the VGA card.
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Re: Epson AT-550L - And we're in Windows :D

Postby yawetaG » 2017-2-09 @ 10:28

I've started looking into getting media for a fresh Japanese Windows 95/98/NT install, and it's pretty complicated to find what I need. Discoveries until now:

- Retail Windows 95 only came as a full version (not upgrade) on floppy disks in Japan (30+ of them!). The only other full versions of Windows 95 are OEM versions, for which you need the proper key of course. The upgrade version is available on CD-ROM and floppy disks. The upgrade version requires a Japanese version of Windows 3.1 to be installed, although it can also be installed over a bare MS-DOS (Japanese DOS/V) install, but then you still need the first Windows 3.1 floppy to get the CD-ROM installation started (!) because the CD-ROM is not bootable. NEC PC-98 and PC/AT (IBM-compatible) versions available. Separate CD-ROMs for the required version of IME 97 and Internet Explorer 4, as well as USB support etc. are available, although some OEM versions have everything on the same disk.
This explains very well why OEM versions seem to go for higher prices than the other versions and are much harder to find...
- Japanese Windows 98 has both upgrade and regular versions on CD-ROM, includes 3 boot floppies. Upgrade version requires JPN Windows 95 and is suited both for PC98 and PC/AT. Retail full versions are rare. OEM versions tend to be either for PC-98 or PC/AT. I've also seen OEM versions that consist of a Windows 95 CD and a 98 upgrade CD.
- Japanese Windows 98 SE is very hard to find, most commonly as the upgrade version. I'm not even sure it has been released as a full retail version outside of OEM versions. PC-98 and PC/AT compatible CD.
- Japanese Windows NT 4.0 has both upgrade and regular versions, each includes 6 boot floppies. The upgrade versions are very common, but finding an auction that includes both CDs and the floppies is difficult. Earlier versions are multi-platform (PC-98/AT/PowerPC/etc.). Service Pack 1 and 2 don't seem to exist, 3 to 6a do exist (each on separate disk(s)).

Seems like the best path is OEM Windows 95 => Update Windows 98 => Update Windows 98SE or OEM Windows 95 => Update NT 4.0.
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Re: Epson AT-550L - And we're in Windows :D

Postby yawetaG » 2017-10-19 @ 21:11

yawetaG wrote:I suspect the SiS integrated video or its driver doesn't play nicely with the power management features, as the video-related problem occurred right at the time the Windows 98 power management setting were set to sleep the monitor. It looked like this:

IMG_6792.jpg



And suddenly all becomes clear...

All of the power management issues are chipset and video driver related, and occur in combination with Windows 98, sometimes specifically the Japanese version of Windows 98, according to the Release notes of the updated SiS chipset and video driver set I just downloaded from their website. For example, the issue described above is this one:

<Title>: When waken up, there has black bars at the bottom of screen
<O.S.>: Win98 Japenese
<Description>: 1.)Enter win98 Japanese version, press the hareware "standby".
2.)When waken up the system, there has black bars st the bottom
of screen.


(Engrish courtesy of SiS :lol: )

Also included: many more crashes involving standby and power saving modes, both in Windows and MS-DOS mode, DirectDraw fails, corrupted graphics in PDF files, and the media player changing to pink hues when a video file is played from CD and the CD is subsequently ejected :lol: I'd love to know what caused the last one...

Also also included: The SVGA utility that should make it possible to have SVGA command prompt MS-DOS graphics... :cool:
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Re: Epson AT-550L

Postby yawetaG » 2017-12-24 @ 15:02

After a long time I've taken the time to continue this project (very noisy neighbours last night, hope they enjoy the sound of the LOUD fan in this system today :evil: ).

I started by cleaning the lens of the CD-ROM drive with a cotton swab (no alcohol, just gentle rubbing). After booting and some tries at inserting a CD-ROM, I was greeted with this:

IMG_9164.jpg


(SimCity 2000 readme)

The slimline CD-ROM drive is very finicky. It won't work when it's in the vertical position, and sometimes has trouble detecting disks in the horizontal case position. When it works, it works pretty well for a 20 year old drive. :blush:

I unfortunately also discovered this system is not suitable for DOS gaming. Most games complain of too little conventional memory (probably due to the Japanese DOS Input Method Editor), crash upon launching, don't like the video adapter, or sound fails to work. :depressed:

However, with a working CD-ROM drive, I now could install the drivers for my USB ZIP drive:

IMG_9166.jpg

IMG_9165.jpg


The drive works, even though the Iomega installer complained about an unidentified issue with the USB controller chip that means using more than 1 USB device at once will make the system unstable. Fortunately I won't be using any other USB devices on this system. So the next step was to deflower this virgin pack of 250 Mb ZIP disks:

IMG_9167.jpg


...and back up the most important files (i.e. Japanese MS Office, the Epson CD-ROM driver, the flowery background, the Yamaha utilities, end some other shit).

Then, I disconnected all cables, opened up the case, and pulled out the PCI fax modem for which I lack the drivers:

IMG_9168.jpg


To replace the fax modem I will install my old Adaptec 1520B SCSI controller.
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Re: Epson AT-550L

Postby yawetaG » 2017-12-24 @ 15:22

But first, another look at the motherboard, more specifically the part that was hidden by the fax modem until now:

IMG_9170.jpg


So motherboard version 1.02, with support of AMD K6 processors up to 300 MHz :exclamation:

In goes the Adaptec 1520B ISA card:

IMG_9173.jpg


It barely fits, and the side opposite the slot cover actually touches the flat cable for the CD-ROM drive. There are no conducting parts that touch.

Then came the software installation part. This was a pain in the behind, because Adaptec's EZ-SCSI installer is ass-backwards and insists on installing the drivers from floppy, even if they are already present on the hard disk. The system itself has a latency issue regarding accessing the floppy drive and CD-ROM drive at the same time - you have to give it time to read the floppy, otherwise you are greeted with read errors (and sometimes system lock ups). :neutral: Finally I figured out that the most recent sparrow.sys driver was, in fact, Iomega's Jaz driver for a Jaz-adapter card (could it be that the USB ZIP drives are actually SCSI-over-USB?). After letting Windows install that driver by itself, I could finally install EZ-SCSI properly, at the end of which I was greeted with this window:

IMG_9176.jpg


And then I checked out the SCSI exploration utility, and was greeted by this:

IMG_9179.jpg


Two SCSI adapters :exclamation: . One of which has the CD-ROM drive as a SCSI device:

IMG_9177.jpg


Note the SCSI version: SCSI-0.

Now the CD-ROM drive is a PATA slimline drive that somehow exists besides the two main IDE channels, yet does not show up in Windows Explorer when no CD is inserted. I guess this explains how that's possible; it's hooked up to a PATA-to-SCSI bridge transforming it into a SCSI device that depends from the motherboard's hidden SCSI controller. Then the only thing the optional Asus-specific PCI SCSI card does is to provide external connectors to the integrated-but-almost-fully-functional SCSI controller...
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Re: Epson AT-550L

Postby yawetaG » 2017-12-24 @ 15:28

And here's the Adaptec card, with nothing connected at the moment:

IMG_9180.jpg


So, future plans:
- Boggle at weird hardware solutions on system. :lol:
- Test MO drive with this computer.
- Get better (PCI) video card, the redraw rates are awfully slow on the integrated video.
- Get SCSI2SD adapter, hook up to internal connector of Adaptec controller for four additional microSD-card-based SCSI "hard disks".

Edit: hmm...coincidence that there's a "506"-version of that interface and that the abbreviation is exactly the same as the hidden controller's designation?
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Re: Epson AT-550L

Postby yawetaG » 2017-12-25 @ 11:30

yawetaG wrote:(could it be that the USB ZIP drives are actually SCSI-over-USB?).


Seems the USB ZIP driver + drive also show up as a SCSI controller and SCSI device. More surprisingly (or perhaps not, considering some of yesterday's events :lol: ), the ZIP drive only works on a single specific USB port and appears to be hot-pluggable.
Edit: Manual reads "USB port 1 and 2: accepts 15 USB devices on each port". Since when does the USB standard have a maximum number of 15 devices? :confused: However, Wide SCSI (which is what the onboard SCSI BIOS would provide) normally has a maximum of 15 devices. So I strongly suspect Asus/SiS used a non-standard USB and IDE CD-ROM implementation that makes them depend off the SCSI BIOS internally...

Regarding sound and DOS: Restarting in MS-DOS mode via the Windows shutdown menu results in the Yamaha setupsa configuration utility popping up, being controllable via the keyboard for a short moment, and then hard-locking the machine. Starting setupsa from within Windows also hard-locks the machine, and starting it from MS-DOS mode after booting directly into DOS fails in the same manner. :dead: Can the integrated OPL3 soundcard be configured without using setupsa?
Within Windows everything works as expected, there's a MIDI-to-FM driver too.

Edit: Oh well, screw DOS games, who plays those anyway? :wink: Let's make it a MIDI-music producing monster: Right now I have installed Cubase Lite, Voyetra Orchestrator Plus, the Yamaha CBX-T3 serial driver, Karaoke software, Yamaha software players for IE, Adobe Acrobat JP, Japanese Singer Song Writer 4.0 MIDI sequencer, Yamaha XG Works 4.0J + all optional Yamaha board plug-ins, and all Yamaha utilities I could find on the various MIDI software CD-ROMs I've bought in recent months, plus as many MIDI demo files as I could find on said CD-ROMs.

TODO, software-wise:
- WinZip
- Copy over remaining MIDI files from various CD-ROMs and floppies
- Backup certain things
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Re: Epson AT-550L

Postby yawetaG » 2017-12-27 @ 13:19

yawetaG wrote:- Test MO drive with this computer.


The drive appears to be equally dead on the Epson, so either my SCSI-2 cable is bad or the 3.5" MO drive in the enclosure is. I might pop open the enclosure (and the computer) to see whether hooking up the drive directly to the internal connector of my SCSI interface card brings it to life, which would enable me to isolate the problem further (if it works -> bad external cable or enclosure cables, if it doesn't -> bad drive), but that's not for today.

Instead I got this set up for the first time :D :

IMG_9192.jpg


From left to right: My step-down transformer for 100V devices with Yamaha 100V power supply plugged in, Yamaha MU10 sound module connected via serial cable and headphones plugged in, Epson NLX system. Background, left: my old Apple PowerBook G4 that sleeps under the desk :lol: , middle: Gateway PII system (side), right: my leg and Dell P4 system.

I then set up the Yamaha CBX-T3 serial driver, with options set to multicast so I can use a total of three copies of the driver (and 48 MIDI channels) at once over a single serial connection, installed the remaining MU10 software (a program called PC Karaoke, that also offers controls to set up the A/D inputs on the module) and even more SMF and XG demo files. Right now I am listening to the PC Karaoke demo songs (which include the Brave Rydeen theme, guess Yamaha was aiming at a certain crowd with the MU10 :lol: ).

A cool thing on the MU10 is how its single red LED pulses on the rhythm of the MIDI data (shades of HAL9000... :lol: ).
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