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"Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans"
    --John Lennon

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MadMan Arcade Update 10-6-2009 PDF Print E-mail

Well, not so much an update but I guess you can call it that. After enjoying the nice summer we had and more or less enjoying the games as they sit, I'm looking forward to freezing my butt off at the garage..I mean...I'm looking forward to being at the garage (not the freezing part) tinkering away on the games. I've sort of neglected them for a while but I started looking things over to see where the Madman stands.

I happen to come across a few monitors and chassis so I'll have a couple extra working monitors finally. A couple were Wells 4900s so I can replace the really poor quality one in the Qbert game. Just need help getting it back out! Another was a 4900 monitor set up and ready to go for a Midway cab, complete with brackets! Thats a major score for my Capcom bowling project, so I may have to start tinkering with that again soon. These 4900s seem to be fairly bulletproof! 

Anyhow - fired up a few of the games and it turns out Video Pinball is acting up. Really dissapointed since this one has been one of the more popular games! Its also probably one of if not the rarest game I own, with less than 1600 ever made. Chances are the power supply is goofed up and it needs some caps replaced. It was literally shut off working and fired back up not-working. Typical cap symptom.

Other than that, I was lucky enough to score a 4900 monitor set up and ready to go for a Midway cab, complete with brackets! Thats a major score for my Capcom bowling project, so I may have to start tinkering with that again soon.

The other projects still in the works include the ever-changing Nintendo Playchoice cab. Its currently wired up for Jamma and my intention is either to make it into a generic Jamma cab or a Mame cab - preferably mame but we'll see. If a nicer cab becomes available I may have to do a swap. I still have Area 51 Site 4 boards now working and I'm considering putting those into a 25" cab - don't ask me how I'd ever get another one into the garage.

Another thing I've been thinking about - I'd really love to have a pinball machine, alas, impossible in my current state of affairs. I really need to get a house!! Really wish I had room for one, but for now, at least when I get it fixed, the Atari Pinball will suffice.

Blaaah! PDF Print E-mail

Figured I would keep this going and make a new post. Not much in the way of progress on much of anything lately, although I've been pretty busy at work. Looking forward to the end of the year and hoping I can get my act in order before the holidays this time. Also looking forward to a much needed vaca.

Keep checking back for updates!


Madman Arcade Update (7-19-2009) PDF Print E-mail

Summer is flying by! As such, I haven't spent a whole lot of time at the garage tinkering, too nice out! Anyhow, the day after a long day at Dorney Park, I needed something relaxing to do, an easy project or something, so I figured I'd tackle the long put-off swap of my Neo Geo to a new cab. No aesthetic work was involved, literally just transplanting guts from one cab to another so I could scrap the old damaged cab.

I didn't realize how bad my old cab until I compared it to the new one. It was a no-brainer, the old one had lots of water damage and just wasn't worth fixing. The new one, save for some paint spots and a little bit of usual wear, is in great shape. Again, since this is a direct identical-to-identical swap, and its not a 1980 game with staples and gobs of wiring, this was a fairly easy project. The first decision was to take some pics forfuture reference, and also to try to disassemble as little as possible (ie - leave control panel connected to harness and transfer both, etc). Slowly but surely we got it taken apart and item by item the new one was reassembled. In the end it looks great and you'd almost never knew we swapped it!

Here's some more things planned for the Madman and for Junknet...

  • Junknet Howtos: Token Conversion for Quarter mechs, Asteroids (and Deluxe) repair, Pole Position repair.
  • Madman: Clean up garage for the millionth time, start working on Capcom bowling cab
  • Junknet - get car section up and running, perform some cleanup, look into adding comments to blog posts
Lots of stuff - little time! Hope you're having a great summer!
Windows 7 installation with Intel Storage Matrix Manager (part 3?) PDF Print E-mail

Actually i'm not exactly sure what part this is, but I'm glad to say, that after so much work, frustration, and near the end, exasperation, I jumped feet first back into this doomed project with reckless abandon, knowing that if Windows 7 wasn't going to run, I need a computer anyway so XP or Vista would have to do.

First I booted the system back up to see what state I left it in, and it was pretty much how I remember it - it ran, but you can tell it would periodically hang, and by hang, I mean the hard drive just seemed like it would stop responding, but the system tried its best to chug on.  Ejecting the cdrom seemed to help unhang it so I knew it still had to be issues with the SATA bus and drivers. It was still in ATA (non-raid) mode so Intel's Storage Matrix Manager software wouldn't even think about installing. (Supposedly the controller has to be in raid/ahci mode to even allow the software to install! WTF!)

After putzing with it for a little bit, I got down to business, and installed another SATA card into the machine. In this case a generic CompUsa SATA card (Sil based). Win 7 recognized it and I installed drivers for it. Gave it a reboot to make sure everything was good with it.

Next, I shut down the machine and switched the main drive from the embedded SATA ports to a port on the new controller. Booted back up, and lo and behold it seems to be a bit faster now, even a bit more reliable, but still not perfect and still seems to be locking up. Since the cdrom seemed to affect it, I unplugged the cdrom from the embedded SATA ports, and the lockups seemed to cut back yet it still wasn't perfect or anywhere near how I thought it should be running.

Now that I have nothing plugged into the embedded SATA ports, and only the hard drive plugged into the added-on controller, I rebooted it and switched the SATA mode back to "Raid". I also re-enabled all SATA ports just so it would detect any devices I plug back in later. Upon rebooting, Windows 7 blue screened with an error regarding "iastor.dll". It did that before - so I rebooted again, and again switch the SATA controller back to ATA mode.

Once back into Windows, I went into c:\windows\system32\drivers, and deleted iastor.dll, iahci.dll and anything else that looked related. Rebooted again, and again, switched the SATA controller back to raid mode.

This time - Windows booted, and recognized the Intel ICH8 raid controller. It was looking for drivers so I opted now to install the latest Intel Storage Matrix Manager, which in this case was (Supposedly with this or a recent release after my last posting, Intel officially is recognizing Windows 7, and the release notes for this version had a VERY..LONG...LIST of fixes.)This time...the ISMM installed, and opening the Matrix Manager Console, showed the raid controller! Woohoo I think we're getting somewhere! Plus - it seems like the lockups went away! Woot!!!

Reboot again just for kicks - and WOW - we have ignition! System is much much faster, no more lockups, in fact, I think it seems to be running ok! I also went back and made sure I had the latest Dell Bios for this system - which if you haven't been following, is a Dimension E520 with a 3.0ghz P4 Processor and 3 gigs of ram.

Now for the big tests - previously, it seemed like plugging in a DVD burner is what started a lot of problems, ultimately corrupting the hard drive pretty bad. While it seems like the computer is running ok - I haven't run a disk check since I got it going again, so let's do that. Yeaaaah...after what seems like 100 pages of fixing orphaned files, correcting security descriptors and everything else - its back up and running again, this time with a clean bill of health. Unfortunately a couple files and programs got corrupted as part of the fix, so I had to download a couple things, but I guess I should have done the disk check as soon as it seemed like it was working.

Next big test - the DVD drives/burners. The system has two Toshiba/Samsung (TSST) DVD Drives - one is a reader that was included in the machine and one is a lightscribe DVD burner that I added. The DVD burner was the drive that seemed to set it off last time, so lets get ballsy and try that one first. In fact, let's really do it in and use the embedded SATA controller again.

Woot! Rebooted and recognized with no issues! Plug in the DVD reader and reboot...WoOt again! There's a lot of wooting here, and I never say "woot". (Usually a hooo-ah will do)

Reboot one last time for reboot's sake - and the system seems to be up and running, solidly, quickly, and reliably. 

Summary: Problems installing Windows Vista or Windows 7 on Intel-based SATA controllers - either try the latest floppy disk copy of the driver from Intel's web site (currently the latest is dated July 2009), or bypass the embedded Intel SATA controller altogether, use a cheapo to get it running, then install the Storage Matrix Manager once Windows is up and running. A full install of Windows 7 should take no longer than a hour. Those seeing 7-8 hour install times (you're nuts!) - you're having driver issues and wasting your time. Hope this helps at least one person! Until next time...

 -- Jeff

Windows 7 Installation with Intel Matrix Storage Manager PDF Print E-mail

Wow. Just...wow. Almost 3 weeks to try to install Windows 7 on a Dell E520 (messing with it on the side). Countless hours, trying EVERYTHING. For the most part, everything = epic fail. Most of the time it would freeze, hang, or otherwise stay on "expanding files" for hours, and in some cases, it wouldn't even install or recognize the drives properly.

Just now - it flew through the install...FLEW. Figured I'd mention what I did for those going nuts on the internets trying to figure this crap out...

 System: Dell E520, 3ghz P4 w/1 gig ram
             (1) 1tb Seagate SATA drive & SATA DVD-ROM

After countless combinations, I finally believe I figured something out. The Intel ICHx (Storage Matrix) SATA controller built into the BIOS just does not play well with Vista/Windows 7. I believe that if you have the card in "RAID" mode in the bios, regardless of whether or not it seems to work, if you only have ONE DRIVE, do not use Raid Mode. Also, doing a BIOS upgrade (on this machine, the latest is a 2007 bios of 2.3.2) seemed to help a bit.

After putting the SATA mode back to "Non-Raid/ATA" mode, Windows installer could still see the drive but not access/format or otherwise change the config. After download the Storage Matrix drivers from Intel's web site, I optied to install "ahci" driver, and after that, not only does Windows control the drive, but man installation was FAST.

Of course, now that it installed in record time...I'm getting an error of "could not load iastor" driver. CRAAAP!!!! Back to the drawing board...

UPDATE: I booted from the Win7 CD, used the "repair computer" option to bring up the recovery console (dos prompt). I went to d:\windows\system32\drivers (drive letter may vary), and deleted iastor.sys. Rebooted, and it now RUNS! Completing the install..man I hope it finally works!!

Credit for the "delete iastor.sys" is due to this site:

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