NEC PC-9821 and the Framemeister

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.

Of course you can buy a special converter like the Micomsoft XPC-4, that will cost you 300-400€ though. There are other solutions:
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FM TOWNS II Fresh・E Battery Replacement

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 thought was that the HDD has finally given up. It had sounded like an airplane engine lately (and still does). Then I noticed that date/time settings were lost too, meaning it was probably related to the BIOS battery. To access or replace the battery (3V CR2450), the whole unit needs to be disassembled.


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Atari Jaguar Power/Sound Fix and Rotary Controller

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 accidentally picked the wrong power supply – smoke was rising from the console immediately.

The culprit was easily found, chip U38 (MC34163DW):

Toasted U38 (MC34163DW)
Toasted U38 (MC34163DW)

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Serial Terminal on Atari Portfolio

In order to access the Low-Level Test of Philips CD-i players or debug other units with a serial port, you will always need a VT100 compatible terminal. An old laptop with Windows 98 and HyperTerminal works fine, but I was looking for something more portable. The Atari Portfolio with Serial Interface add-on is a good portable choice.
Update: Meanwhile, I’ve found the Psion 5mx Pro to be a better choice.

First of all, we need to transfer the terminal software ACOM to the Portfolio. This is possible via the serial port, but I had to back up some data from the old memory cards too. I hooked up the Atari PC Card Drive HPC-301 to transfer the data and software.

Atari Portfolio and PC Card Drive HPC-301
Atari Portfolio and PC Card Drive HPC-301
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3RADD – The 3-D Sound for Video Games and PCs

An unusual SegaSaturn accessory: The 3RADD – A sound enhancer with SRS psychoacoustic technology. Read a review on this japanese blog. Here is a scan of the manual.

The effect with audio sources is quite nice, it boosts the sound and positions it around your head. The technology is used in all kinds of devices and software, e.g. the Windows Media Player (SRS WOW).

3RADD - The 3-D Sound For Video Games And PCs
3RADD – The 3-D Sound For Video Games And PCs
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Cheats for Lucienne’s Quest (3DO)

The 3DO game Lucienne’s Quest is the Western release of the JRPG Sword & Sorcery. It has an interesting storyline and very funny dialogues. Read a full review at Hardcore Gaming 101.
The game makes heavy use of random enemy encounters. If you want to enjoy the story without being disturbed constantly, there are some cheats to ease the experience. To enable the cheats, you’ll need the Game Guru disc with the advanced interface (apply the code IHAVETHEPOWER on the file GameGuru.CFG).

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A New Battery for the Sega CD BackUp RAM Cart

Now that I have an extra backup of my Mega-CD save files on the Sega CD Ultra Backup RAM cart, I can replace the battery of my old CD BackUp RAM Cart without worrying about data loss.
It is possible to do an open-heart surgery to prevent the memory from being erased and replace the battery while the Mega-CD is turned on. I went for that procedure to avoid having to copy all files from one cart to another again.

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Power Base FM

The second cart from Canada is the Power Base FM, also known as Power Base Mini FM. It is an attempt to enable FM sound for selected Master System games on a Mega Drive without modifying the console. This cart is somewhat hard to obtain, it’s now sold out in all stores.

On the next pictures you can see why it is called “mini”: It is much smaller than the official Sega Power Base Converters. It fits in a regular Mega Drive cart, but you have to cut holes in the top for the connector and the front right for the Pause button. The JTAG connector isn’t necessary and was added just for fun. Sonic is still looking at you because there is no label available – the only one I’ve found is from Stone Age Gamer and kind of ugly.

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