Changing settings in the BIOS of a japanese computer can be dangerous if you don’t have any knowledge of the japanese language or don’t what you’re doing. I don’t have that much knowledge of the language either and tried to translate the BIOS.
This is how I did it: I connected my PC-9821Xe10 with a sync combiner to the Framemeister and grabbed a video of the selection of each and every BIOS menu item. Then I converted the frames of the video to image files. The images were then cropped and converted into grayscale negatives to be processed by an OCR engine. Most of the output was gibberish and every single line of text needed manual processing. The japanese text was then fed into the Bing and Google translators and some common sense added to the output. Continue reading NEC PC-9821 BIOS Translation→
The NEC PC-9821 computers output a very unusual resolution that most western monitors struggle with: 640 x 400 @ 24 kHz. I tried at least half a dozen monitors of all types and ages and none of them was able to display a picture at all (except an “out of range” message). Video scalers like the DVDO iScan VP50 Pro don’t recognize the signal either. Some sources claim that the cheap GBS-8220 converter is able to convert the signal – that is only partially true. You can see a stuttering picture that eventually becomes clear when you start the Windows 98 Desktop, but that doesn’t work in DOS.
When my FM TOWNS II Fresh・E suddenly refused to boot from HDD and Towns OS (from CD) didn’t show the HDD anymore, my first thoughts were that the HDD has finally given up. It sounded like an airplane engine lately (and still does). Then I noticed that date/time settings were lost too, so it was probably related to the BIOS battery. To access or replace the battery (3V CR2450) the whole unit needs to be disassembled.
The other day I prepared my Atari Jaguar to build a rotary controller for Tempest 2000. I hadn’t used it in a while and accidently picked the wrong power supply – smoke was rising immediately from the console.
The culprit was easily found, chip U38 (MC34163DW):
There is always a need for a serial terminal (VT100 compatible) to debug Philips CD-i players and other old units with a serial port. Even though an old laptop with Windows 98 and HyperTerminal works fine, I was looking for something more portable. The Atari Portfolio with Serial Interface add-on is a good choice.
First of all we need to transfer the terminal software to the Portfolio. It is possible via the serial port, but I had to backup some data too from the old memory cards, so I hooked up the Atari Card Drive HPC-301: