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Random photos of stations I have visited


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railsquid

That reminds me, there's a company around here which goes around about once a month picking up "tech garbage" for free (I was reminded as I had an old laptop to dispose of), maybe Mojo could get a job with them? 😉

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I do keep looking for tech jobs, but really I'd like something a bit more active. Run a hotel or something. Or start a business finding treasure at Hard Off and... somehow... making money???

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National is a Panasonic brand that was mostly retired some years back. This is an MSX computer. The MSX was an interesting platform. 8 bit and open design, so that any manufacturer could make a compatible machine. In practice compatibility was a bit mixed sometimes, but it proved to be very popular. All MSX machines ran Microsoft BASIC too.

 

MSX machines have two cartridge ports, although usually only one is used. They also load data off tape, but most games and software came on cartridge. The original machines didn't have much memory so tape wasn't all that practical.

 

Speaking of memory, MSX machines have two lots of RAM. One main RAM that is general purpose, and a separate video RAM. The video RAM is often larger, e.g. the Panasonic MSX2 I own has 64k main RAM and 128k video RAM. That wasn't uncommon on Japanese computers, they often had much better video than western machines due to the need to display kanji.

 

Below the MSX you can see a PC Engine and Neo Geo console.

 

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Another MSX. This Casio model is unusual in that it has an RF transmitter built in.

 

To understand why this is handy you have to understand a bit about how many Japanese people had their TVs set up back in the 80s. Typically Japanese TVs would have a single RF input, and later RGB. The RF input was usually unterminated, no connector. You just had to screw it into terminals on the back of the TV. So most home computers and games consoles had a little adapter that you screwed the antenna into, and then screwed a cable off that into the TV so they could inject their video on a particular channel.

 

Of course that was a pain if you wanted to swap machines, say between your MSX and Nintendo Famicom (seen at the bottom of the photo above). It wasn't just a question of changing a plug over, you had to unscrew the cables twice and move everything around. So Casio made a system that could simply transmit the signal to your set top antenna.

 

It didn't take off. Not sure why... Maybe privacy. Anyone nearby could see what was on your screen, including your parents downstairs!

 

By the way, those are official Famicoms. The original was red and beige with wired controllers, but later Nintendo released these models that had removable controllers with the same plug as the Western versions, but better gamepads.

 

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Speaking of the Famicom, here is a keyboard and BASIC cartridge for one. With this setup you could write your own BASIC programmes. There were a few different revisions of Family BASIC, as it was known. At least the later version came with some extra RAM in the cartridge, as the Famicom only has 2k of RAM itself.

 

Unfortunately it wasn't compatible with the Famicom disk drive, so you had to save programmes to tape. The cart had some Nintendo assets like graphics and music built in so you could re-use those in your own games. Apparently it sold quite well.

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railsquid
40 minutes ago, mojo said:

Speaking of memory, MSX machines have two lots of RAM. One main RAM that is general purpose, and a separate video RAM. The video RAM is often larger, e.g. the Panasonic MSX2 I own has 64k main RAM and 128k video RAM. That wasn't uncommon on Japanese computers, they often had much better video than western machines due to the need to display kanji.

 

No kanji on a 1980s home computer though, even assuming a painfully minimal 12x12 pixels, even with a basic set of 2000 characters you'd be looking at well over 256Kb just for bitmap images, and then you'd need some sort of input method and associated dictionary.

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1 hour ago, mojo said:

Or start a business finding treasure at Hard Off and... somehow... making money???

The Hard Off hobby sections near me seem to know their stuff when it comes to pricing. You’ll occasionally find some interesting bargains that could be sold for a profit. The one in Shimonoseki had some nice brass HO but started at ¥100,000.

 

I’m always amazed at the sheer range of 8 and 16 bit game cartridges still available. I picked up a copy of Star fox and Super Street Fighter 2 turbo for the Super Famicon for about ¥1000. Star Fox was only ¥300.

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33 minutes ago, railsquid said:

 

No kanji on a 1980s home computer though, even assuming a painfully minimal 12x12 pixels, even with a basic set of 2000 characters you'd be looking at well over 256Kb just for bitmap images, and then you'd need some sort of input method and associated dictionary.

 

So the original MSX needed a special Kanji ROM cart in the second slot, which only covered about 1000 characters (JIS1) and was 128k. The MSX2 and later had that built in, but you could also get an extended Kanji ROM cart that was 256k and covered about 4000 characters.

 

The font was 12x12 pixels for full with characters, and there were some 12x8 characters as well. Of course a lot of kanji looked quite bad at 12x12 but it was enough that you could get the meaning.

 

The characters couldn't be displayed directly from the ROM though, they had to be copied into VRAM.

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railsquid

Interesting (now I must fight the urge to acquire such a system out of curiosity 😄 )

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11 hours ago, Kamome said:

Weren’t the original 2 Metal Gear games on MSX?

 

Yes. The MSX platform is quite unusual in that it's one of the few home computers that had a decent amount of support from both Japanese and Western developers. Quite a few European games were released for it.

 

The original MSX1 machines were quite limited for games really, e.g. sprites were only 1 colour and I think a maximum of 8. Scrolling was usually the big issue because there was no hardware support for it so it tended to be very choppy, or flick screen like a lot of ZX Spectrum games. The MSX2 was much better.

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Martijn Meerts
On 3/12/2021 at 11:19 AM, mojo said:

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Hifi enthusiasts will remember pouring over magazine ads and reviews of these things, the latest and greatest of their day.

 

Ooh, I have the black version of the Denon CD player, or at least, something very similar. It's actually still worth quite a bit apparently 🙂

 

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11 hours ago, Martijn Meerts said:

 

Ooh, I have the black version of the Denon CD player, or at least, something very similar. It's actually still worth quite a bit apparently 🙂

 

 

Seeing how much things are worth now is all part of the fun. Like a Famicom is only a few k yen now, there are so many of them available in Japan. But some hifi gear became legendary and commands high prices.

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Multimeter I built from a kit. Just for fun, although the battery test function can be quite useful. It sticks a small load over the battery, but of course you can load up any low voltage.

 

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Super Junk in Akihabara. This shop is a bit out of the way and I think a lot of people don't know about it. They have some really classic stuff in here, like ancient telephone equipment and random computer parts, as well as a lot of components. I managed to find a load of rare switches I needed to repair a joystick here. I think they were mostly used in hifi gear. Also some giant high power resistors and some BNC to VGA cables.

 

Sadly there are fewer and fewer shops like this left now. I think a lot of it is going online or being consolidated.

 

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The entrance of Models IMON in Yokohama. They have some good model railway stuff, although they are not cheap. There's a place in Akihabara that I don't have a photo of now, I must get one next time. It's on the 2nd floor and is just one small room. The stairs have a "mind your head" warning sign with a grenade on it. I bet someone knows it... Anyway loads of interesting used stuff there.

 

ABC Mart is a big chain of shoe shops. I like ASICS shoes for comfort, but it's usually quite hard to get them even in Japan because I'm a size 30. Most shops only have a very small number of size 30 shoes, if any at all. ASICS do "wide" styles and their size 30 wide sneakers are the most comfortable I've found.

 

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Liberty in Akihabara, well worth a look for model railway stuff. It's all on the second floor, first floor is model cars.

 

By the way, in Japan the 1st floor is what we call the ground floor in the UK. 2nd floor is the first one above street level.

 

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This is CompuAce in Akihabara. Another not well known shop. It's near the Segafredo café which does rather nice Ille coffee, but is also a smoking establishment so best visited in summer when they have the French windows open.

 

Anyway, CompuAce is a tiny shop with all sorts of random stuff, mostly computer cables and accessories. Classic Akihabara slum store, but off the main junk street.

 

https://goo.gl/maps/17HW7agPycJFbZWo6

 

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This is Retro Game Camp. They used to have two shops but I think one has closed. I bought my PC Engine Duo-R from here. They have a lot of great stuff.

 

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Ikebukuro Station. They have some shops inside. In Japan many shops spill out onto the street. I guess shoplifting isn't such a big problem.

 

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Akizuki Denshi in Akihabara, a famous electronics store. I bought their own brand pocket multimeter years ago and it's proven very handy. They have loads of useful stuff and the prices are quite good. It's often very busy though, but to come on off-peak times.

 

There was another great electronics store down the road from here, which sadly went some years ago now. I had a lot of stuff from there too, including some big VFD displays and some LED matrix displays that I built into a clock.

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railsquid
13 hours ago, mojo said:

ACtC-3eda2G38yVqgIJ18BIdJLgJuP_hLIPdDSPQ

 

The entrance of Models IMON in Yokohama. They have some good model railway stuff, although they are not cheap. There's a place in Akihabara that I don't have a photo of now, I must get one next time. It's on the 2nd floor and is just one small room. The stairs have a "mind your head" warning sign with a grenade on it. I bet someone knows it... Anyway loads of interesting used stuff there.

 

Just to clarify, you don't mean IMON Akihabara? That's on the third floor (Japanese style) and though not huge, has a decently-sized stairwell.

 

There was a place called Artesia on the second floor with lots of 2nd hand stuff and stairs with restricted headroom, but that's been gone for a couple of years.

 

13 hours ago, mojo said:

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Liberty in Akihabara, well worth a look for model railway stuff. It's all on the second floor, first floor is model cars

 

 

They like to rearrange things every few months, so sometimes the model railway stuff is on the first floor (1F). There is sometimes also a 3F, which at one point was where they kept Tomytec stuff, but I think that's entirely devoted to something else now.

 

Liberty do seem to have been downsizing/consolidating their various stores around Akihabara so wouldn't surprise me if things get shifted around further.

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9 hours ago, railsquid said:

 

Just to clarify, you don't mean IMON Akihabara? That's on the third floor (Japanese style) and though not huge, has a decently-sized stairwell.

 

There was a place called Artesia on the second floor with lots of 2nd hand stuff and stairs with restricted headroom, but that's been gone for a couple of years.

 

I know that place, although I didn't realize Artesia had gone as I hadn't been there for years. I did mean somewhere else though, let me see...

 

Looking on Google Maps I wonder if it's still there. I thought it was by the barber shop near MOS Burger. You can see the stairs on Street View, but it looks like the shop on the 1st floor is now a Matsumoto Kiyoshi, and maybe they took over the second floor as well.

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railsquid
13 minutes ago, mojo said:

 

I know that place, although I didn't realize Artesia had gone as I hadn't been there for years. I did mean somewhere else though, let me see...

 

Looking on Google Maps I wonder if it's still there. I thought it was by the barber shop near MOS Burger. You can see the stairs on Street View, but it looks like the shop on the 1st floor is now a Matsumoto Kiyoshi, and maybe they took over the second floor as well.

 

Might have been Rail Center Chiyoda, which was around there and on the second floor (2F), was quite poky, but has since moved around the corner to a larger location in a building otherwise infested with maid cafes.

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23 hours ago, railsquid said:

 

Might have been Rail Center Chiyoda, which was around there and on the second floor (2F), was quite poky, but has since moved around the corner to a larger location in a building otherwise infested with maid cafes.

 

I will look for it next time! Maid cafes... So long long ago I went to what I think was the very first one, or at least it was before they became a craze. Didn't really realize what it was about, I just wanted some coffee and the prices were fairly normal looking. The outfits were Victorian style, long dresses that back in the day were one of the main ways that floors got swept. Yes, even women's clothes back then were designed for domestic servitude! Anyway it was very nice and I was a little surprised that one of the waitresses came over to chat for a bit.

 

A couple of years later when more maid cafes started to appear I understood it. Anyway it was the Cure Maid café and Wikipedia claims it was the first permanent one in Akiba. I haven't been to one since.

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