A Kind of Magic

There haven’t been any photos on the blog lately so here’s one:

The big green thing is called Grey Tower Wizard – or Wizard in short. It’s a prototype obviously but the final product won’t be much different. What does it do?

Well, for one it’s a working FM Towns ODE – I mean it works on my gen 3 at least but hopefully it’ll also work on other tower models:

  • gen 1 – MODEL 1 and MODEL 2
  • gen 2 – 1F, 2F, 1H, 2H
  • gen 3 – 10F, 20F, 40H, 80H
  • gen 4 – TOWNS2 CX

If you have gen 1, 2 or 4 please contact me, I need some photos. You’ll need a screwdriver and general knowledge on how to disassemble your unit. I can help with that but you still need the skills. I’m also interested in photos of the UX and UG models since I have no idea if those use tower or desktop CD drives.

Anyway, the Wizard is meant to be mounted inside the case, there’s empty space for it right on the back side of the front panel assembly. This way you don’t need to remove your CD-ROM, no matter if it works or not. In fact if it does work you can still use it, connect it like you see on the photo and the jumper on the bottom selects which device will be used – ODE or CD-ROM.

Does it mean you can use both at the same time? No, and also switching between them requires a power-off, but all you have to do is move the jumper. I might change that to a small switch. Also, that doesn’t allow you to rip CDs directly to the card with that setup, not that you would want to use Towns CD-ROM drive for that purpose, trust me.

There’s a catch though, I was unable to find the very unique connectors that Fujitsu used on these drives so soldering is required. There are a few ways that can be done, depending on whether or not you actually want to keep using the CD-ROM (if it works). Wires can be soldered directly to each PCB or original CD-ROM connectors can be carefully removed and replaced with modern ones.

You can also spot 2 yellow holders for CR2430 and CR2450 coin cells – these are optional but can be used to replace the (usually dead) battery pack in the tower. That requires soldering another 4 wires to the PCB (once cut from the original pack). This way time and HDD settings will not be lost each time, very useful if you use HDD (or SCSI2SD emulator).

Stayin’ Alive

Last post was fun – so many people thinking that my temporary USA ban was some form of political statement, and/or having no clue on how international mail is actually being moved around. Even some of the “you suck” crowd came to chip in. Well, whatever. They see me rollin’, they hatin’.

Facts are: Borders are closed. Well, technically not closed completly but all air and rail traffic is cancelled, foreigners are not allowed in unless they work in Poland, everyone else gets mandatory 14-day quarantine. Again, except people crossing the border to work but I really don’t want to get into the specific details here. The important thing to note here is:

Postal services for all international mail are on hold. There will be no ODE shipping for the next 2 weeks, and frankly it’s pretty much given that time will be extended.

The official statement, use your preferred online translator: https://www.poczta-polska.pl/zmiany-w-zwiazku-z-wprowadzeniem-stanu-zagrozenia-epidemicznego/

I will send confirmation emails later today, but obviously all the orders are on hold until further notice. Sorry.

And for those who still don’t get it – not all goods are being shipped the same way. Sure, some countries might allow bulk cargo ships (after any quarantine period) but that doesn’t mean I can go to the nearest port, toss the bags over and that’s it. Contrary to some opinions of reddit armchair experts – I’ve been doing this for a few years now, I do have some idea of what I’m doing.

No Clover At All

URGENT: On Sunday Poland will suspend all international air and rail traffic. I should still be able to ship to EU/Schengen because that’s road traffic – but that’s unclear due to 14-day quarantine for anyone crossing the border.

URGENT: Italy is no-go as of today (2020-03-13). Czechia and Slovakia moved to conditional status.

Most of DocBrowns have been shipped, if a bit later than I’ve anticipated. That new virus has several names already and keeps spreading, affecting my operations as well. There are delays in part shipments, various timetables change at a moment’s notice and it’s difficult to keep everything organized and going. I’m afraid this will be the case for weeks, if not months, to come.

Speaking of operations, I will open orders for Phoebe this Saturday at around 12:00 CET – that’s noon for the AM/PM people. Most importantly there will be exclusions this time, due to the virus and air traffic being affected:

  • China and Hong Kong / Macau regions: orders will not be accepted
  • Italy: orders conditionally accepted for now not accepted, see above
  • USA: orders will not be accepted

Sorry USA but with that new ban on travelling there’s too much conflicting info around and I can’t have my packages bounce after being stamped – that’s a lot of time and shipping costs wasted. Hopefully this is just a one-time thing but there’s already less planes and a lot of packages go by sea, and I’m tired of dealing with “Dude, where’s my mail?” questions. If it turns out cargo planes are also not allowed to land then ordering restriction will probably stay for the duration of the air travel ban.

And no, I will not accept orders to ship “at a later date”. I did that once, if accidentally, and I’m not repeating that mistake again. I also don’t want to sit, for weeks, on a bunch of “reserved” devices that I can’t ship or sell to anybody else, sorry.

Italy is a bit of a weird case, some shipping methods are not available now but it seems my class of pacakges is still allowed to go through – so as long as that’s the case, I will accept orders. Delivery times might be longer than usual.

China is still mostly on lockdown and I have a queue of Rhea orders waiting to be shipped, so I’m not accepting any more orders until airlines resume flights and I have all that sorted out.

Well, that’s the situation we are in now. It might get worse before it gets better.

UPDATE: Yes, I know the USA ban is for travel, not for goods. I also know that much of the letter-class mail actually goes into passenger planes as extra cargo. No passengers = no planes = no extra cargo space. That means other shipping methods must be used, not everything will fit into cargo planes and my envelopes were not meant to spend weeks at sea, in salty air, crammed together with heavier packages. And I already mentioned the lack of patience on longer delivery times, the comments also speak a lot about that.