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PostPosted: January 3rd, 2017, 7:00 pm 
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Some of you may or may not have already heard of SL9821, which is a new emulator for the PC-9821 series which was written from the ground up and released later last year to very little fanfare. The reason for that lack of fanfare is the fact that it wasn't very compatible with ROM files from many machines, just the initial 9821 machines which people have had trouble tracking down to dump.

Well, with a recent update they limited the number of absolutely required ROM files to two, BIOS.ROM and FONT.DAT.

This means we can now get the emulator into a marginally working state! I say marginally because there are still plenty of issues still to clear up. But first let's share the main bit of good information.

I tinkered with the .SLH HD image format of hard drives that SL9821 creates and uses (and it's the only form of HD image that SL9821 uses) and have managed to get it working in EditDisk. You'll need to add at least two (maybe three?) different profiles to your types.ini file, so copy and paste the following into there.

types.ini:
Code:
[SL9821 SLH HD (under 543mb)]
Extension   = ".SLH"
ProfileType = 3
HDDType     = 0
DiskStart   = 512
Sectors     = 17
Heads       = 8
Cylinders   = 0
SecLen      = 512

[SL9821 SLH HD (over 543mb)]
Extension   = ".SLH"
ProfileType = 3
HDDType     = 0
DiskStart   = 512
Sectors     = 136
Heads       = 8
Cylinders   = 0
SecLen      = 512



I've only tested the under 543mb profile currently, but from my reading and searching both of these should work. This will allow you to transfer in files from HDI format games and then run them from an autoexec or the command prompt. I've gotten at least one game running so far using this method:

Image

This also highlights the bad part. The current FONT.DAT we're using (which was just a FONT.ROM renamed to FONT.DAT) creates garbled kanji. Half-width characters seem to work fine though, which is how we got can do things in DOS and what have you.

We think that the FONT.DAT has to be ripped using the program provided on the SL9821 website on a real machine, rather than trying the various ripped FONT.ROM files that are already floating around. So if anyone with a PC-9821 (any version is worth a shot!) is willing to lend a hand, the BIOS ripping tools can be found at the SL9821 site.

http://www.satotomi.com/sl9821/sl9821_dl.html

The files to download and run on your hardware are MKROMIMG.EXE and RECRTM.EXE.

This emulator is still VERY EARLY in its life cycle, so don't expect to get much up and running and have it replacing your standard emulators at any point soon. The developer is still actively developing it, so it can probably only get better from here on out, we hope!

Oh and for good measure, here are the MS-DOS 6.2 BIN rips that SkyeWelse managed to convert using a bunch of different and strange methods that I need to look up again to list here. It's not the best method, but it's given us these files at least. Here is an SLH image with MS-DOS 6.2 pre-installed, as well.

Edit: Here are the steps you'll have to take to convert current files to a BIN format that SkyeWelse went through to get the above MS-DOS 6.2 disks (unless someone can come up with a better method. Someone please come up with a better method.)
1. Find the disk files you want to convert
2. Convert disk files to D88/FDI/other format
3. Convert D88 files to Mahalito format, or convert FDI/other image formats to Mahalito which will get you a set of 2HD and DAT files.
4. Write Mahalito images to a blank disk (mahalito e a:\filename.2hd b:)
5: Run the fd2bin executable from SL9821 on that new disk (fd2bin a: filename.bin)

If it wasn't obvious, you have to have a modern computer with a floppy disk drive for this method to work. Hopefully if you have all those things, you'll know what all of the above means. I'm just reposting the steps SkyeWelse took.


Last edited by kuoushi on January 3rd, 2017, 8:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: January 3rd, 2017, 8:16 pm 
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As far as running the BIOS gathering programs MKROMIMG.EXE and RECRTM.EXE, these are the current results when I've attempted to run these on two separate PC-9821 Ce2 machines.

MKROMIMG.EXE

BIOS.ROM will be created.
ITF.ROM attempts to be created and hangs, creating a 0KB file.

I've tried running this with a Clean DOS boot. The instructions do say something about how EMM386 / Virtual86 Mode could cause issues with grabbing a good dump of the BIOS. I went through my settings and tried to disable anything I could find relating to launching EMM386, but the results were the same for me.

RECRTM.EXE

Plays a sound and dumps a file called RHYTHM.DAT

I've made BIOS.ROM, SOUND.ROM and FONT.ROM files before from one Ce2, but in taking these from roughly 3 different BIOS dumping tools and renaming them using the instructions that the emulator provides does not appear to work well.

I also thought I should clarify the reasoning behind STEP#2-3 in regards to converting disks with Mahalito. What I meant to say is that for a Mahalito image file to be written to a new physical disk (which is apparently the only thing that this new conversion program FD2BIN understands, a physical disk inserted into the A: Drive on a modern Windows PC) you must have two parts, a DISK type part such as .2HD and a DAT part. When using Virtual Floppy Image Converter (VFIC) you can select Mahalito as a export format. If you feed it FDI files, you get Disk type files back, such as in the case of DOS 6.2, I got DOS1-8.2HD files. But then to get the DOS1-8.DAT files, I needed to convert the FDI images to D88 first, and then feed the D88 files into VFIC to export these in Mahalito format, which presented the needed .DAT files.

So basically to get DOS installed on the SLH harddrive image that Kuoushi put together, we needed to convert all of the DOS 6.2. FDIs so that we could write them to physical media, and then use those physical disks in the FD2BIN program to get BIN files for each disk, then use the DOS1-8.BIN files to install DOS 6.2 on the newly created SLH harddrive image.

-Thomas

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PostPosted: January 3rd, 2017, 8:50 pm 
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Just found out, but HDM files load up and run in SL9821. Tried EVO and the game appears to load fine, though it freezes at points. Not sure what the cause of the freeze is just yet, but being able to use HDMs certainly increases the number of things we can test with it.

Just confirmed that FDI and other file formats converted to HDM (BKDSK) with VFIC work just fine in SL9821. Still need to find a proper BIOS and FONT.DAT combo to get it to work as it's supposed to, but it's getting easier to actually run games and the like in it.


Last edited by kuoushi on January 4th, 2017, 5:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: January 3rd, 2017, 10:15 pm 
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Yes we know about SL9821.

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PostPosted: January 7th, 2017, 1:24 pm 
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I've been playing around with SL9821. This is what I've discovered.

ROMs:
I don't have roms for the exact PC-9821 model that SL9821 expects, but the following roms dumped from a PC-9821Ce2 work to some extent:
Working:
    BIOS.ROM
    FONT.DAT
    SNDBIOS.ROM
    RHYTHM.DAT
Not working:
    ITF.ROM
    BANK.ROM
    IDEBIOS.ROM
    SCSIBIOS.ROM
By using the four working roms with the latest version of SL9821, all of the basic functionality of the emulator works correctly:
Image

Download here: http://www.mediafire.com/file/4p017p8qq ... Ce2%29.rar
*These are for testing purposes only. These roms are not officially supported by SL9821, and it's only a lucky coincidence they work at all. Do not contact the emulator author and report that something is not working because you're using the wrong roms.


Floppy disks:
The .bin format used by SL9821 is simply a headerless sequential sector dump (aka raw format, BKDSK format).

There is no need to do some complicated conversion process. You don't even have to use the converter utility included with the emulator.

Most of the .hdm files in the Neo Kobe set will work directly without any modification. Most FDI files can also be used in SL9821 by converting them to BKDSK format first using VFIC. Then simply rename the file extension to *.bin for convenience.

On the other hand, protected disks and disks with weird formatting will not be recognized.

These are the raw disk formats that SL9821 recognizes with their conventional BKDSK file extensions.
Code:
(.HDM) 1,261,568 bytes   1.23MB   2HD(77/2/8/1024)
(.DD9)   737,280 bytes    720KB   2DD(80/2/9/512)
(.DD6)   655,360 bytes    640KB   2DD(80/2/8/512)
(.HD5) 1,228,800 bytes    1.2MB   2HC(80/2/15/512)
(.HD4) 1,474,560 bytes   1.44MB   2HD(80/2/18/512) **limited support in SL9821
(.HDB) 1,021,696 bytes    1.0MB   2HD(77/2/26/256)


Hard disks:
.SLH files are sequential sector dumps with a 512-byte header, not unlike .nhd images.
The header structure is like this:

Code:
offset   size   meaning
0x00   4          ID "HDIM" (48 44 49 4D)
0x04   8(qword)   size of disk excluding header (thus, total .slh file size minus 512)
0x0C   4(dword)   sector length "512" (00 02 00 00)
0x10   4(dword)   number of cylinders
0x14   4(dword)   number of heads, usually "8" (08 00 00 00)
0x18   4(dword)   number of sectors, usually "17" (11 00 00 00) for disks less than 544MB, or "136" (88 00 00 00) for disks equal to or greater than 544MB
0x1C   20         Serial number (may be left blank)
0x30   8          Revision number (may be left blank)
0x38   40         Model name (may be left blank)
The rest of the header from 0x060 to 0x1FF is blank (00).

If you create a new disk with the emulator, the serial number is a timestamp in the format "yyyymmdd-hhmmss-fff " (last character is a space), while the revision and model name are left blank.

Unfortunately, SL9821 only likes hard drives to be certain sizes, which is an issue related to emulating the IDE BIOS. I tried manually converting some small .hdi files to .slh format, but when I mounted the images in the emulator, SL9821 changed the CHS values in the header to the wrong values, making the disks unreadable.

Essentially, for hard drives under 120MB, SL9821 only allows the following four sizes:
Code:
20MB (21 364 736 bytes raw, 307 cylinders/8 heads/17 sectors/512 sector length)
40MB (42 467 328 bytes raw, 610 cylinders/8 heads/17 sectors/512 sector length)
81MB (85 000 192 bytes raw, 1221 cylinders/8 heads/17 sectors/512 sector length)
120MB (126 222 336 bytes raw, 1813 cylinders/8 heads/17 sectors/512 sector length)

Hard drives greater than 120MB can have arbitrary sizes(?), up to 4GB.

The bad news is that since most existing hard disk images are not one of the allowed sizes, they cannot be converted to .slh directly.

Right now, the best approach is to use DiskExplorer to copy data from your old hard disk images (*.hdi, *.nhd, *.thd, *.hdd) into a new .slh image.

Here are some blank .slh images at the accepted sizes. Included are unformatted, DOS 5.0A-H formatted, and DOS 6.2 formatted disks. The DOS formatted images are just bootable blank disks, not full DOS installs.
http://www.mediafire.com/file/jtjvmxo29 ... _disks.rar

You can open these in Disk Explorer using the profile that kuoushi posted above, or by selecting Manual HD and clicking the Search button.

CD-ROM:
SL9821 only accepts .iso images natively, so if you want CD audio, you'll need to mount the CD using virtual drive software like Daemon Tools.
Use this CD-ROM device driver:
Code:
   NECCD.SYS/NECCDA.SYS
   8,400 bytes
   CRC32: a5410ac7
config.sys: DEVICE=NECCDA.SYS /D:CD_101
autoexec.bat: MSCDEX.EXE /D:CD_101 /L:Q

NECCDB.SYS also works well, but only if a CD is present in the drive. If there is no CD, the system will hang during bootup.
Code:
   NECCDB.SYS
   9,000 bytes
   CRC32: 95163442

Also, enter the following information in the SL9821 CD-ROM tab:
Vendor ID: NEC
Product ID: CD-ROM DRIVE 5

Here's a basic boot floppy with CD-ROM support: http://www.mediafire.com/file/v8i9kwdgb ... t_disk.rar

Game tests:
Many games and software work well, and SL9821's low audio latency is great for fast action games (Touhou bla bla bla). However, there are still many glitches and minor issues that need to be fixed.
For example:
- Farland Story - horizontal black line glitch when scrolling, and incorrect battle graphics (SL9821 is actually emulating a different graphics display controller chip (uPD72020) that was not used in early PC-9821 models)
- Policenauts - incorrectly positioned furigana over text
- Night Slave - inaccurate sound effects
- Kohakuiro no Yuigon - no response to keyboard input
- Venus - fails to boot
- Flame Zapper Kotsujin - entire emulator crashes during bootup (possibly due to font rom incompatibility), severe graphics errors in-game
- VEM486 memory manager - general protection fault occurs inside PC-98 DOS. This one is most unfortunate because we have been using VEM486 in most of the Neo Kobe HD images. To fix this, you'll need to boot from a floppy disk and edit the config.sys file to use HIMEM.SYS and EMM386.EXE instead of VEM486 and VEMEMM. Use sedit.exe to open c:\config.sys, del "REM" from the beginning of the himem.sys/emm386 lines, and add "REM" to the beginning of the VEM486 and VEMEMM lines.

On the other hand, SL9821 is able to correctly run a number of games that other emulators struggle with.
For example:
- Angel CD version - only works in SL9821!
- Shadowcaster - previously only working in Anex86
- Private School - previously only working in Virtual98
- Appareden with CD audio - only works in SL9821!
- Policenauts - do, do, do, do-do-do... yes, the infamous Policenauts lip syncing works in SL9821.
    Note 1: you must use the correct version of AVSDRV.SYS (v3.10, file size 48,048 bytes, CRC32 1a90b67d). This is the only driver that correctly reproduces the lip syncing, even on real hardware.
    Note 2: If the game gets stuck on the Konami logo, try ejecting and reinserting the CD.
Here's a preinstalled Policenauts .slh hard disk and .bin boot disk for SL9821. You'll also need a copy of the Policenauts CD (not included).
http://www.mediafire.com/file/547usx8cj ... nstall.rar

Conclusion:
Minor inconveniences and glitches aside, I am impressed by how well this new emulator works. If satotomi continues to improve it, SL9821 definitely could become one of the top PC-98 emulators.

TL;DR
It works. Here's some stuff.
- Working substitute roms: http://www.mediafire.com/file/4p017p8qq ... Ce2%29.rar
- Boot floopy with CD-ROM support: http://www.mediafire.com/file/v8i9kwdgb ... t_disk.rar
- Blank hard disk images: http://www.mediafire.com/file/jtjvmxo29 ... _disks.rar
- Policenauts install (CD not included): http://www.mediafire.com/file/547usx8cj ... nstall.rar

※良い子は上記のリンクをクリックしないで下さいね。ダウンロードしたら…
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PostPosted: January 7th, 2017, 10:57 pm 
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Thanks Kobushi for the brilliant forensic report.

About Policenauts, is the furigana offset a known bug of the emu or the byproduct of an unsupported ROM?

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PostPosted: January 8th, 2017, 7:34 am 
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Kaminari wrote:
About Policenauts, is the furigana offset a known bug of the emu or the byproduct of an unsupported ROM?

Can't say for sure until we acquire the correct roms, but I think it's an emulation bug. The text characters themselves are fine, it's just the positioning/layer order that's messed up.

Another text-related limitation I've noticed is that SL9821 crashes when attempting to register gaiji (non-standard custom characters). This is one of the problems with Flame Zapper Kotsujin.
If we could acquire the officially supported font rom, this issue might be fixed.


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PostPosted: January 8th, 2017, 4:15 pm 
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I still prefer to use Neko Project 21/W

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PostPosted: January 8th, 2017, 9:46 pm 
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That's a lot of good information. Thanks kobushi! Out of curiosity, have you tried or had any luck getting YU-NO's CD Audio to work with SL9821? Someone from the Discord wanted to see if you knew anything about it specifically.

Anna_Wu wrote:
I still prefer to use Neko Project 21/W

NP21/W is still one of the better emulators out there, but it's always good to see where these newer projects are going. SL9821 was built from the ground up, so it could possibly shape up into one of the better emulators out there. Just have to keep our eyes on it and see where Satotomi takes it.


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PostPosted: January 8th, 2017, 11:22 pm 
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kuoushi wrote:
Out of curiosity, have you tried or had any luck getting YU-NO's CD Audio to work with SL9821?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure YU-NO has no option for playing back CD Audio in-game, only FM synth. The CD tracks are just included as a bonus. Consider that there are only 9 songs on the CD, whereas there are about 100 different FM tracks in-game.
As for YU-NO in SL9821, it boots up fine, but the mouse is stuck in place, so it's keyboard controls only.

Anna_Wu wrote:
I still prefer to use Neko Project 21/W

I agree, but SL9821 also seems to run Windows pretty well. It's exciting to have a new emulator with a completely independent codebase.


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PostPosted: January 10th, 2017, 1:26 am 
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As Kobushi said, Yu-No for PC-98 doesn't have any ingame CD Audio track.

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PostPosted: January 13th, 2017, 9:00 am 
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I had apparently asked the wrong question for Yu-no, but the right one doesn't belong in this thread.

But on topic, I'm trying to get Appareden's CD audio to work and I'm having some trouble. I've got a DOS 6.2 installed SLH image which I'm using as the basis for the install. I've brought in the NECCDA/NECCDB.SYS files and installed them properly so I have CD support in my DOS as well. As for Appareden, I have a couple of different formats (ISO, and then CCD+CUE+IMG+SUB). I've tried launching Appareden with CD audio enabled on the ISO, and the game will run just fine but no CD audio. I was expecting that. But getting SL9821 to recognize the other collection of files is a fun thing, so I got a virtual CD drive (WinCDEMU) and tried loading the CCD and the IMG files separately into virtual drives (the CUE and SUB are apparently not valid), which works. I actually installed the game to my SLH image using the CCD mounted on my computer and then again in SL9821.

Anyway, the problem is this. When I try to run the game with CD audio enabled using either the IMG or CCD mounted, the game will simply crash (after starting the opening or hitting game start). I'm wondering if it has something to do with my DOS settings or anything like that. I am using the BIOS files you've uploaded above, but not sure what else I need to try to get it working.

Any help would be appreciated! Thanks a bunch man.

Note: I am using the updated version of Appareden as well, though the problem persists in both retail and updated.


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PostPosted: January 13th, 2017, 2:34 pm 
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Perhaps you didn't have enough free memory to run the game. Appareden also requires EMS memory, so be sure to add the following line to config.sys:
DEVICE=EMM386.EXE /UMB

Here's my install, with the patch applied: http://www.mediafire.com/file/k714if9u8 ... _SL9821.7z

A few other things:
1. ISO format does not support CD audio at all, so it's useless in this case.
2. To access CD audio, you need to mount the CD as a drive in SL9821, not an image file.
3. You should always mount the CCD file, otherwise the subchannel data won't be accessible. The cue sheet is not needed if you have the ccd/img/sub files.
4. I'm not sure if I understood you correctly, but you should not mount the same disc into more than one virtual drive at the same time, otherwise you'll get a file lock conflict.
5. I recommend using Daemon Tools. It's gotten more spammy over the years, but it is still the best virtual drive software, and often succeeds in situations where WinCDEMU, VirtualCloneDrive, etc. fail.

The game is working perfectly for me in SL9821 using the above .slh install, with the CCD mounted in Daemon Tools.


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PostPosted: January 13th, 2017, 6:08 pm 
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The last good DT version is 4.49.

For info, the last version of DT that supports CD Audio analog playback is 3.47. Some old emus with CD support won't work without analog playback (which doesn't exist in Windows post-XP anyway).

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PostPosted: January 13th, 2017, 8:47 pm 
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Yeah I needed Daemon Tools, that was the problem. I tried with WinCDEmu, gBurner, and Virtual Clonedrive. Only the last of those three actually had the music working in my normal OS. Said fuck it and got the Lite version of Daemon Tools and sure enough, it's working in game and everything now. Sounds really nice, the CD version of Appareden is probably the best version of the game.

Thanks for the help once again! Going to be nice to play this game with the CD audio, like a whole new game almost.


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