Pinball 2000 Software Update with Windows 7 x64

Posted August 23, 2012 10:20 PM Categories: Gaming | General | Hardware | Pinball

Warning: pb2kThis is a pretty off-topic post about pinball, but maybe it'll help someone searching for the information.

Backstory: My dad was a coin-op operator.  I'm the son of a coin-op operator.  As you might imagine, I have a just a tiny bit of love for video games and pinballs.  When my dad passed away in 2008, I decided to keep my favorite pins from the route:  Funhouse, Addams Family, Theatre of Magic, Tales of the Arabian Nights, and Revenge from Mars.

After sitting in storage for a couple of years, the software update sitting on Revenge from Mars would no longer checksum properly.  The game was running fine, but obviously something was wrong.  After lots of other work on the machine, it was time to update the firmware again to version 1.5.

Finding the software and ROM images was easy.  Everything is available at PlanetaryPinball.com.  Anyone can just grab the Pinball 2000 Update Manager and the appropriate software update for the machine to be updated.  However, trying to install and run the Pinball 2000 Update Manager was a different story.  The installer choked when running on my Windows 7 x64 machine.  Not surprising since this application and installer was written 13 years ago.  Luckily, I was able to install the app in a Windows XP x86 virtual machine and copy the installed files over to my laptop.

Unfortunately, this didn't immediately get me much further since the GUI updater requires some OCX files to be registered, and that's a circle of hell I didn't want to enter.  Exploring a bit further, I found the fupdate.exe command line application that actually does the flashing.  The Pinball 2000 Update Manager is just a pretty GUI wrapper.  Even more interesting, the source code for the fupdate.exe is included in the package.  It's a win32 command line app compiled against a very old version of Cygwin.  I have ripped out the important files into a separate archive.  If you're just interested in updating a Pinball 2000 machine from a modern computer and OS, you can download fupdate here.

Running this command line tool on the Windows 7 x64 laptop worked just fine.  Here's the command line to start the update process:

fupdate -p\pin2000_50070_0150_07252000_B_10000000\50070 -fpin2000_50070_0150_ COM1
  • The –p switch denotes where the software update files are.
  • The –f switch specifies a file prefix for each file in the update.  For Revenge from Mars, every ROM image is prefaced with the above string.
  • The command's final switch is the COM port to use for the update.

The USB to serial adapter I used on my laptop installed itself as COM17.  Trying to run the above command with the COM17 switch failed.  I was able to go into the properties of the COM adapter and force it on to COM1 which worked just fine.  You can do this by going into Device Manager, right-clicking on the port you're using and selecting Properties.  In the dialog that pops up, hit the Advanced button on the Port Settings tab, then select a new COM port from the drop-down as shown:

image

When you run the above fupdate.exe program, the update process runs, and you should see output in the console window as shown, along with a progress bar on the pinball's monitor:

bootdata.rom:    0 blocks of   64 (   0) sent, total bytes remaining 4980724
im_flsh0.rom:    0 blocks of 1201 (  64) sent, total bytes remaining 4947956
im_flsh0.rom:   64 blocks of 1201 ( 128) sent, total bytes remaining 4915188

...

      sf.rom: 1920 blocks of 2048 (9600) sent, total bytes remaining 65536
      sf.rom: 1984 blocks of 2048 (9664) sent, total bytes remaining 32768
************: 9728 blocks of 9728 (9728) sent, total bytes remaining 0
Update complete - total blocks 9728 (4980724 bytes)

That's it!  Once the update completes (about 15-20 minutes in my setup), the newly flashed software will be verified, and the pinball is ready to be played!

HP TouchSmart 420t Recovery Discs + Software

Posted October 8, 2011 12:53 PM Categories: HP TouchSmart | General | Hardware

imageMy mom desperately needed a new computer (she's still running XP on a very old Dell), so I decided to pick up one of HP's new TouchSmart 420t machines for her, thinking it'll also be a great machine for Windows 8 when it arrives.

HP, in their infinite wisdom, decided that, among other annoyances, one can only create a single set of recovery media from the included Recovery Media Creation application.  Once you make the set, that's it.  If you lose the media, or if you want to make a second set on USB instead of DVDs, you're out of luck, short of ordering the media from HP for a price.

If you are stuck in this situation, there is an easy fix, assuming you still have the Recovery partition available on the hard drive.

  1. Open up an Administrator command prompt window
  2. Change to the D drive (D:)
  3. Change directories to D:\HP\CDCreatorLog (cd \hp\CDCreatorLog)
  4. Delete the ResumeSnapshot.xml file (del ResumeSnapshot.xml)
  5. Restart the Recovery Media Creation application

Alternatively, you could try downloading, saving, and running this batch file as an Administrator: HPRecoveryReset.bat .

A second issue I have is that they don't have their TouchSmart software and other client-side pieces on the driver and software support page on their site.  So, if you want to do a clean install of Windows and then selectively add back certain features, such as the HP TouchSmart shell, or the HP client utilities, you are, once again, out of luck.  However, there is a bit of a workaround.  On the C: drive in the SWSETUP directory, you will find a number of these applications in their installer state so they can be put back on the machine.  Simply copy this directory off somewhere safe, clean install Windows 7, restore this directory, and then install the software and drivers you need/want.

This may (and probably will) work for other models of machines from HP that use the same recovery software and drive setup.  Of course, this is a YMMV fix, but it has worked here without issue.  However, it does make me question purchasing another HP machine in the future.  If anyone from HP happens to stumble upon this, please take this into consideration.  Don't make it difficult for users to restore their machine and/or do a clean install of Windows.  You're not winning people over by making things cumbersome.  Then again, you're out of the hardware business so I suppose it doesn't much matter.

I hope to throw Windows 8 on the machine for a quick spin before I remove it and hand it over to my mom and will report back here if I find anything noteworthy in the install/usage of Win8 on the machine.

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