Setup of a Motion Computing M1400 Tablet PC & Windows 7

In mid-2022, I managed to get a hold of a free Motion Computing M1400 tablet PC. It seems like it hadn’t been used since 2005, and judging by the hard drive’s statistics, it barely got any use overall!

The stock specs on my unit were: Intel Pentium M 733 1.1GHz, 256MB DDR RAM, 30GB 4200 RPM hard drive.

The hard drive wasn’t very happy though. When it would run, but especially after maybe a bit more than half of any bootup attempt, it would make a loud grinding noise! I thought it was the fan, but as it turns out, this tablet doesn’t even have a fan! I pulled the hard drive out, and it was completely silent. So I managed to make a disk image of the old, original XP install, and cloned it to a replacement drive. In my case, that was an IBM 40GB 4200 RPM drive. Although it booted up, sadly I was getting random BSODs.

Seemingly, a fresh install didn’t do this anymore, but it didn’t have any of the drivers either. So, I figured the XP install was bust. I then decided I wanted to make practical use of the tablet for practicing art. I’d need to put Windows 7 onto it though, to run my preferred app – FireAlpaca.

This proved to be quite complicated. But, I did manage to get it all working! An old article from 2011 covered this topic, but it didn’t have all the information I was hoping. He couldn’t figure out how to get the graphics driver working, and I almost couldn’t, either – key word ‘almost!’

What I had to do was install this Intel graphics driver known by its filename, which is hard to find. But also, here’s the big gotcha – you have to disable the bootup animation in msconfig, or else you will get stuck in a BSOD loop! It isn’t going to work any other way. So I hear, this is because Windows 7 forces a specific screen mode that this particular display driver really doesn’t like. I have never once seen this behavior on any other video chip installation adventure I’ve had!

Just open up msconfig, and check off OS Boot Information After doing this, every bootup shows drivers loading up like safe mode, and – imagine this – doesn’t crash! Huzzah! Now I get all 1024×768 pixels of my screen. You’re not gonna get Windows Aero, but who expected that? I’m just glad it works at all!

Pen support works out of the box, but to make it better I used Wacom’s tablet driver version 5.2.4-6 (2/15/11), found on their site here (click ‘Older Versions’ under ‘Just looking for drivers?). Now I get pressure sensitivity, too! I tried Lenovo’s driver 7wge69ww, as well as HP’s SP51088 driver, but I found Wacom’s to be the best & most reliable. It works fantastic! I don’t think it could possibly be any better.

For all other devices, such as the fingerprint reader, I headed over to’s page for the device. This site and DriverGuide are my go-to sites – they have a large database full of even very old drivers – and as long as you’re paying attention, you don’t easily get duped by fake utilities, malware & other unwanted junk. Remember – the world’s best antivirus is being cautious of what you click!

Altogether, with the above tweaks & installing 2GB of RAM (probably overkill), it actually does quite a satisfactory job at being a drawing tablet! Yes – even with the 4200 RPM hard drive. I prefer it over my 2021 HP Spectre 13! Using Syncthing, I have it sync my FireAlpaca project files automatically to my main PC, which is very convenient.

Once an old system being recycled, now my gorgeous little art workstation!

Here’s to hoping that this article can help someone!

Floppy Drive Resurrection (Citizen W1D)

Intro and Backstory

Floppy drives are very fine little intricate pieces of machinery, and that’s something I’ve definitely learned. Especially some particularly unique designs, such as the Citizen W1D floppy drive.

I came across a Compaq Presario 1070 laptop from my recycler buddy that I purchased for a measly $10 from him. Its hinges were seizing up when I got it, the screen backlight just barely worked, and, after fixing all of those issues, I had discovered the floppy drive didn’t work!

The floppy drive, made by the probably-long-gone company “Citizen”, was buried deep inside of the system. It wasn’t like the NEC Versa 2435CD I used to have, where the floppy drive simply slid out. No, this one required just about entire disassembly of the system! And as anyone who collects vintage electronics can tell you, that can be dangerous as the plastic parts and what not become brittle over time.

Well, I wound up getting my hands on another couple of these laptops – a Presario model 1070, and a model 1010. The two models are very similar. The former has a modem, as well as a slightly larger screen, despite being the same outside dimensions. The LCD assemblies are cross-compatible, and you can put the 1070’s LCD assembly on a 1010, and vice versa. As far as I can tell, the LCD screen and bezel are the only differences in the assemblies. Everything else seems 1:1 the same.

Sadly, these too, also had bad floppy drives!

Possible Symptoms of a Bad Belt

A couple of different things could happen: either, upon insertion of a disk, you hear a fairly constant whirring/whining noise, or you don’t hear any hints of anything spinning at all. In either case, floppy disks do not read, and this is because the disk itself is not spinning. The former symptom seems to happen as a result of the motor rubbing up against the worn belt which is no longer tight enough to allow proper drive function, while the latter seems to be what happens when the belt is just so bad-off, that the motor can’t even grab onto it whatsoever.

Floppy Drive Adventure

Other than the other two laptops I wound up with, I did buy another Citizen W1D drive for a bit shy of a whopping $90. These drives are just that uncommon, sadly. Unfortunately, it, too, did not work, so I was able to send it back for a full refund.

But why were all of these drives bad? I decided to investigate further.

The belt has turned brittle and broken down into pieces.

Opening up one of the drives, upon lifting the ejection mechanism plate (or whatever the heck I should call it), I immediately saw what you see above. The belt was broken. It had dry-rotted and was completely and totally useless. The only way to proceed was to replace the belt.

But what size?

I used my “Google-fu” skills, and I found out that these drives use approx. 70mm belts. But keep in mind, I really had no real way of knowing. My only drives are bad, so I had no working drive to use as a reference. Even if I did, in that case, would I really want to open it up?

I wound up buying a cassette player belt kit on Amazon of multiple sizes. Here is a link to that kit.

2023 EDIT: The kit seems to have gone out of stock! Here is another kit that seems to include the same kinds of sizes – please note that I cannot guarantee!

The replacement belt, installed.

The belt replacement was fairly involved, but I went ahead and got it done. Here is the complete process:

  • Remove top cover of drive. (Two hidden screws are under the metallic tape.)
  • Gently lift the head, and carefully remove the ejection mechanism plate.
  • Remove the motor (top-left of above picture).
  • Remove any and all existing fragments of the old belt. Do take that it can get messy, as the belt has become so brittle that it splits into pieces.
  • Install the new belt. This is a bit tricky, and is a process in itself. I like to first put it around the motor, reinstall the motor, then put the belt around the large drive wheel in the center that spins the inserted floppy disk, and afterward put the belt against the little golden wheel.
  • Gently lift the head once again, and reinstall the ejection mechanism plate, taking care that the spring for the dust cover is put under the plate.

It’s definitely tricky, but it’s possible! I really hope this article can help someone, because it was very difficult finding information on this topic.

A Clear Guide to Install SGI IRIX

Here we are in October of 2017. I was recently given an SGI Fuel, a cool red server that runs SGI IRIX. The only problem is that I didn’t have the original hard drive, but at least I had the original discs. How the heck do I install it, though? It’s not like a standard computer, where you just ram Esc or F12 or whatever and boot from the first install disc, no.

They, of course, in their UNIXy nature, had to make it more complicated and cryptic than that.

Let’s begin.

First, you’ll need:

  • An SGI system with all necessary components
  • All the discs you can possibly find

The discs you need (as far as I know as of yet) are:

  • Each “Overlay” for whatever version you’re installing (skip the overlays if you like tons of conflict aggravation)
  • Foundation 1 & 2

First, boot up the system. For this guide, we’re going to say you have a 64-bit system, that being a Fuel or the like. Remember, for the Fuel, you need an IRIX new enough. Fuel support started with IRIX 6.5.17.

Stop the system for maintenance as soon as it says “Starting system”. Now, go ahead and run this command:


The output should look like this:

>> hinv
System  SGI-IP35
1 900 MHz IP35 Processors
Main mmory size: 4096 Mbytes
Graphics Controller
Integral Fast Ethernet
IOC3 serial port
USB (OHCI interface)
Integral SCSI controller 0: Version Qlogic 12160
    Disk drive: unit 1 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,1,0))
    Disk drive: unit 2 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,2,0))
    Disk drive: unit 3 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,3,0))
    Disk drive: unit 4 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,4,0))
    Disk drive: unit 5 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,5,0))
    Disk drive: unit 6 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,6,0))
    Disk drive: unit 7 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,7,0))
    Disk drive: unit 8 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,8,0))
    Disk drive: unit 9 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,9,0))
    Disk drive: unit 10 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,10,0))
    Disk drive: unit 11 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,11,0))
    Disk drive: unit 12 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,12,0))
    Disk drive: unit 13 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,13,0))
    Disk drive: unit 14 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,14,0))
    Disk drive: unit 15 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,15,0))
Integral SCSI controller 1: Version Qlogic 12160
    CDROM: unit 6 on SCSI Controller 1, (cdrom(1,6,7))

Look in there and see what your CD-ROM drive’s SCSI IDs are. In this case, we’ll say it’s 1,6,7, because that’s what it is for me.

Now run this command:

boot -f dksc(1,6,8)sash64 dksc(1,6,7)stand/fx.64 --x

Note that you actually do have to increase the last number of the first instance of “dksc” by one. That’s exactly what you need to type, trust me on this.

Now, the fx program (partitioner, not AMD FX) will start. Just keep pressing Enter. Here, I’m hoping your hard drive shows up as “0,1,0”. If that’s the case, fx will start.

Danger! Don’t continue if you have any data on the hard drive. In this solution article, we’re going to assume that you don’t have any useful data on the drive. Please don’t lose anything important!

Enter “r” for repartition, “ro” for root drive option, press Enter to confirm XFS, “..” to go up one level, “l” to create a new disk label, “sy” to sync the disk, and then, finally, “/exit” to leave fx.

In case that sounds familiar, I am more-or-less quoting this guide.

The system should then return to the maintenance menu. Pick “Install”, and then, if your IRIX is new enough, it’ll begin copying files to the disk.

If, at this point, you are asked to create a new filesystem on /dev/dsk/realroot, say yes and yes again. Unless your drive is <4GB, tell it to use 4096 bytes for the block size.

Enter “13” in the Inst prompt to go into the Admin menu, then “11” to select mkfs. Enter “y” to confirm, and “..” to go back to the top level of Inst.

Enter 1, and press Enter. Have it read each disc you want to use. At a minimum, you must read the Installation tools disc, each “Overlay” (if applicable), then Foundation 1 & 2, and, lastly, Applications. Add anything else if you wish/can.

Once you’re done with the annoying disc switching, go ahead and type this out:

install standard

Unless you’ve got some conflicts, the installation will then begin! If you’ve got conflicts, use the “con” command to deal with them, and type “go” again when you’re done.

Now that IRIX is installing, look at the installer every now and then to make sure it isn’t asking for you to do something. In my case, at one point, a “No such file or directory” error halted installation, but typing “continue” let it continue just fine.

It’ll ask you every now and then to insert a different disc. Go ahead and follow those instructions. No need to press Enter after loading the disc, as it automatically detects when you load a disc.

That should just about do it!