Monday, January 01, 2007

An Experience inside a CAVS JB-99 Karaoke Jukebox

Alternative title:How to PROPERLY create or format a new Hard disk drive for a JB-99 Karaoke System (max 120 Gig Hard Disk, 160 Gig untested)

(Event took place December 17th to December 20th, 2006)

I recently had an experience just before Christmas which may be good for Karaoke MCs using the CAVS JB-99 Jukebox in the event they have difficulties with the hard disk. A Karaoke MC had recently bought a used JB-99 System and all the CD disks from an acquaintance and they wisely inquired about having a backup of the computer hard disk drive in case a hardware fault occured. Unfortunately when the original owner (no, not me) attempted to clone it using Norton Ghost, which is a reasonable enough tool for people who are only familiar with Windows, serious problems arose. (I prefer to use open source tools listed below which are free and as good or superior in many situations)

What should have been an easy clone turned into a nightmare: Not only would the new disk (which was 160 Gigs) would not work in the JB-99 Karaoke Jukebox, but the original disk was unusable. Worse yet: The music originally stored on the hard drive was apparently lost or at least unreadable. The Original hard drive was taken to a professional recovery service with no success. All they got back was a set of ~100 unplayable MP3s. When I heard about this problem I said I would try my hand at it because I've been given disks where clients had be told by "experts" that the data was irretrievable and I had proved them wrong. I ran my usual tools and scans and got just as far the other company had done and spend 2 days in research figuring out how the data was actually stored. I had to cut this data recovery attempt short because of another problem the new MC faced: He had no usable hard disk for upcoming shows. They needed a usable hard drive and CAVS had not made instructions on formatting a new hard drive for the JB-99 easy to find. So I had to figure it out from pieces. I felt obligated to print my research findings because it was such a pain to do even when I found the answers I needed to get a JB-99 Hard drive working.

To start with this system was designed around 1995, when Linux was not nearly as powerful as it is today, computer circuitry was 1/8th is current capability and music files were (and still are) very large when converted to MP3+CDG Files. In addition they wanted a way to minimize ability for people to potentially pirate the music and minimize the processing power required to run the jukebox as well as use a text only interface. To this end the developers wrote the entire CAVS Jukebox computer system in Caldera DR-DOS (And flirted with IBM & MS DOS later on). As many fellow geeks out there are aware, the old DOS had extreme limitations in Partition size with FAT16. The CAVS developers actually came up with a fairly clever around it: Keep the core partition with the OS and binaries (juke.exe is the CORE is the JB-99 jukebox system on a minimal partition of 200 MB in FAT16 format and keep the song data on the rest of the drive which remained in RAW form. The index for the music and graphic data would be stored on a text index file (I.txt) which told the system which parts of the disk each song and corresponding graphic file was stored.

Many of you may now realize the difficulty in getting the files out: Even if I could scan and figure out which block of data belonged to each file, I had to figure out which were graphics files and which were MP3 Files. This is undoubtedly what daunted the specialists where the drive was first sent to for data recovery. They probably had no idea which file was which and assumed that all files were MP3. (And this is what I would have done in their shoes without the additional research I did). To complicate matters further, I noticed on the original source disk there were not one but TWO 200MB partitions on the disk with identical files. Now I understood the seriousness of the problem: The owner had accidentally copied a second 200MB partition to the SAME disk! Because the rest of the music and graphic data was stored on the unformatted portion it was at least partially overwritten even if I scanned the disk and successfully identified the various files. For reference I did test scans of the binary encoding of MP3 files and discovered they depending on the encoder there are different headers and footers for various MP3 files although I assume on the JB-99 import system they would be the same. The real problem was that I'd have to test each individual file to determine if it was corrupted or not. With over 10,000 sets of MP3 and corresponding graphic files to test potentially I quickly realized it would probably take fewer man hours to just reimport the song from the MP3+CDG disk IF I could get a hard drive working.

I checked on the forum from the CAVS website and only got partial answers. There were references to a "how to" of creating a Hard disk. I found at least partial instructions on various parts of the forums. I called CAVS directly to see if I could get any direct answers. I discovered two things about CAVS: 1. None of them speak English as a first language (probably all speak Korean) but having taught ESL abroad, that didn't daunt me. 2. They like to make money buy selling preformatted hard drives. One person was worried I was attempting to pirate songs but I was able to persuade him to confirm the files that were present on one of his "preformatted drives". Here is what he send me:

COMMAND COM 66,785 01-07-99 7:03a
FONT <dir> 11-18-06 7:52a
WORK <dir> 11-18-06 7:52a
EMM386 EXE 120,926 02-01-96 12:36a
HIMEM SYS 29,136 02-01-96 12:37a
CONFIG SYS 107 11-05-99 2:49p
AUTOEXEC BAT 24 11-05-99 2:58p
JUKE EXE 257,676 11-09-02 4:17p
TITLE TXT 117 06-14-01 1:00a

Now the original drive had IBM DOS files but I knew I was close to having what I needed from the web even if this wasn't an exact match to what was was originally damaged .I called later that day (as time was pressing for this MC as he had a show to do) and a senior technician (who came in afternoons) directed me to this link:

Jb-99 Hard Drive Format Howto

with disk images located here:
Jb-99 Hard Drive Format Floppy Disk Images

Now out of respect for the company printing this much I'm not going to print the exact contents of this forum here. You can look it up. However I will simply point out that when I followed the instructions exactly as written, the disk didn't work in the JB-99.

I discovered that the instructions a the posting were actually incomplete. The fellow at CAVS who sent me the file list gave me the hint I needed in his e-mail. Notice above that you need a JUKE.EXE file on the root of the 200 MB partition in order for this to work. The procedure listed at the site doesn't copy the JUKE.EXE file. Not only that but every time I ran it there was a complaint about a missing folder. Fortunately I had already looked up how to restore a corrupted system and found updated files for the JB-99 Juke.exe prorgram here:

Juke Box Update for JB-99

This is the latest version of the JUKE.EXE program which is version 7.

The core system files to restore damaged files on a JB-99 formatted hard drive are here:
Core JB-99 System Restore Files

and the core missing files for fonts are here:
CAVS Forum: Hard Disk Formatting

I also found someone else who had also followed the directions and had difficulties:
CAVS Forum: Hard Disk Formatting

A senior technician posted for him an UPDATED version of the system files. You have to go to this page and its set so I cannot send you a direct link to the download but you are required to go to the above page first and click the link to the *.IMZ file. If you cannot download it at all you can e-mail me and I can send you a copy but ONLY if you are unable to get it from the CAVS link I sent above. It is their application after all.

You now have every file I had when I (After some trial and error) created a working 80 Gig Hard Drive (forums indicate the maximum supported hard drive is Winimage Program
and the original formatting disks (which will get you 80% home) here:
JB-99 Hard Drive Format Floppy Images

Note: There are other compression tools that will open IMZ/IMA files on the Internet.

2. Make floppies of either the original 2 floppy images from the howto listed above or use the newer one I listed from the forum. I suggest the first one because it has the fanfare folders you may want to use to get a welcome message from the JB-99 when you turn it on. Also, make an additional floppy (non-bootable is fine) from the JB99_UTIL_BOOTDISK.IMA file.(see link above for where to download this) This is VITALLY important as I was unable to find any other source for the required fonts to show data on the TV screen from the JB-99. Before going to the next step, make SURE your BIOS settings attempt to boot from the floppy drive BEFORE the hard drive.

3. Boot from the Disk 1 (or only disk if using second image from forum) with the new target hard drive connected to the Second IDE Channel as MASTER. This is VITALLY important because the jukehd.exe program will NOT work unless the target drive is the MASTER on the SECOND IDE channel. (Hard coded into the .exe). Would recommend disconnecting all other hard drives to prevent accidental alterations on the wrong drive. ;-) (removable IDE drive enclosures help if you have one)

4. type "fdisk" and hit enter. Follow the steps on he screen/documentation to make a 200 MB partition in FAT16 format.

5. When step 4 is done you'll have to reboot(with the same floppy in the drive). After doing a reboot, type 'S' and hit the "enter" key. This starts a Batch file (S.BAT) which does the following 3 steps in one shot: jukehd.exe -f, jukehd.exe -s, copy titles.txt c:/title.txt. You can do the 3 steps manually if you want but why bother.

6. Remove the first floppy and insert the second floppy. Copy manually the following: The FanFare Folder with all files inside (3 MP3 files), fan.txt (root directory on c:), fan.bat (root directory on c:). The commands (for those who are no techies) are:
1. copy a:\fan.txt c:\fan.txt
2. copy a:\fan.bat c:\fan.bat
2. xcopy a:\fanfare c:\fanfare

Note: You will have to copy some files from the 2nd floppy of the howto images because they have been split.

7. Insert the floppy created from the JB99_UTIL_BOOTDISK.IMZ file.

8. Copy the font directory to the root of your 200 MB partition. The command would be the following:
xcopy a:\font c:\font

or you can do it this way:

c: (then press enter)
mkdir FONT (then press enter)

copy a:\font\asc32.fon c:\FONT\asc32.fon
copy a:\font\asc48.fon c:\FONT\asc48.fon
copy a:\font\spfont.fon c:\FONT\spfont.fon

Note: I make the target directory "FONT" because that is how the original drive
had it but since dos isn't case sensitive it shouldn't matter. I just a stickler for detail as I work in Linux a lot which is case sensitive.

9. If you want the fanfare to appear when the system starts do the following:
c: (then enter)
fan (then enter)

This will initialize the fanfare sequence for the JB-99. Note: It is possible to customize the fanfare greeting by changing the text file containing the message about CAVS JB-99. Just change the text there. I believe it is the fan.txt file in the root directory which was written to when you ran the fan.bat file. I don't remember exactly but I'm pretty sure that is where the text is.

This should be everything you need to get a new hard drive working 100% on the JB-99. You can skip the fanfare files and steps if you want to but I kind of liked the greeting. It just felt more complete but ignore it if you want to. The real key that was missing from the howto steps was that you needed the font files and its failure to copy the juke.exe to the root of the 200MB partition. The misisng fonts were mentioned when someone commented on missing screen text but it was a separate posting so I thought it was appropriate to clarify that here. I also told the CAVS people to put the link to the howto section for hard drives on the JB-99 in a more obvious place as it took me some time to find it. It turned out fortunately I looked around else I would have been confused about the missing fonts.

When I first called CAVS and the junior technician told me I couldn't make a JB-99 hard drive myself you can image my first thought: "Petty money padding to the profits already made with the initial sale". Upon talking to a more senior technician later that day and my research my opinion had changed. Its not that they don't want to give you the information, its that they didn't bother to organize information relating to the topic properly. The information and necessary files are there if you are persistent and know where to look. But that takes time and time is money. So to CAVS I say, thanks for your willingness to help, but your documentation and information is not well organized. Possibly because of various translations from Korean to English, but regardless, it looks more professional to have information properly organized and reduced people asking the same question many times over. Would I recommend a CAVS system to a professional Karaoke MC/DJ? Yes, if you have the computer background. Otherwise you may need a friend/consultant to help you figure out all the computer technobable and/or fill in any gaps CAVS may have left in their instructions if you want to make proper use of the hard disk capabilities which I think are essential for a top MC because of potentially shorter change times plus the ability to make relatively quick backups to your valuable music archives once you know how to do it properly. The JB-199 makes it a lot easier (as its based on XP Home edition with FAT32 partitions) than the JB-99 (DR-DOS based) but in all fairness, there were limitations that I think the engineers did a decent job of getting around with the limited partition spacing FAT16 and efforts to prevent mass copying. (Or at least take minimal precautions to satisfy the corporate executives at ASACP and the like). I knew one MC who had his entire collection stolen from a venue he trusted so a computer based song system remove the requirement of carrying around a valuable CDG collection which people may be tempted to steal, especially if you have an exceptionally good song selection.

To do a proper clone (without damaging the original as happened here), use Norton Ghost EXACTLY as specified here (do it slowly and for heaven's sake don't rush):
JB-99 Ghost Instructions
(search for Q12 or Ghost to skip to the section).

For those of you who do not wish to pay the somewhat high price tag to Symantec for what I consider to be basic cloning software check out the following:

this is GREAT tool but its command line so it takes some getting used to. Perfect for disk-to-disk clone or taking an image file which I recommend but clone the ENTIRE hard disk or you'll lose your songs. Basically same risk as Ghost if you do it wrong but the odds of making a mistake that overwrites your original disk are less based on my experience. (Someone obviously managed to mess this up with Norton Ghost which resulted in this article being written). While you're there consider making a small donation because this truly is a superior quality product which free and open source.

Knoppix has all you need to do disk cloning using the famous dd and dd_rescue tools. dd_rescue is a godsend if the disk has damaged sectors as is the GNU ddrescue which doesn't come on Knoppix yet but is probably better for people new to this as its more user friendly.

Knoppix Live CD Distro

Now for the record, any Knoppix distro will have the tools you need to clone a disk (dd and dd_rescue) (and again clone the entire disk only or you'll lose your songs) but my favorite is the following:

Helix Computer Forensics Knoppix Distro

This is for hard core gurus but it works, and if files are badly damaged or you want to pry out secrets from hard drives, this collection of tools is great. Its often used by pros who don't want to write ANYTHING to the original hard drive.

The best part about all the above tools is they're free and support by the open source community!

For those who can compromise on the easier graphic interfaces but want the convenience of the more user friend GNU ddrescue you can get the following Linux Live Distro:

if you only have a CD burner this one may be better for you.

Anyway I hope this little journal of my experience trying to rescue a JB-99 is useful to all you Karaoke MC and hopefuls out there. To those of you who ask, yes it is possible to setup a karaoke system similar (or in some cases better) to the CAVS JB-99 or JB-199 with a laptop computer. I've seen it done very successfully (although I can think of one or two points I would use to improve upon it) but details on that are for another time. Cheers all.

PS: As I said before if you for some reason cannot download the files I've provided links to I can e-mail them upon request but ONLY if you cannot download the files from CAVS. After all, they made the files. Presumably one asking for them already owns a JB-99 system.

PPS: (2007-02-06) Update: Some people out there are apparently trying to backup their disks to 160 Gig Hard Drive. It says clearly on the CAVS website to use a Hard Drive of LESS THAN 120 Gigs. There are testimonies of 120 Gig hard drives working and NONE of a 160+ Gig Hard drive working. I saw one attempt of using a 160 Gig Hard drive fail. I will experiment briefly but I'm pretty sure that if you use anything larger than a 120 Gig hard drive, the CAVS JB-99 system won't use it. So if you buy a 160 Gig hard drive and can't get it to work no matter what the website or this posting indicates, there is a reason. I've haven't seen many 120 Gig hard drives around but there are still pleanty of 80 Gig hard drives at $55 USD or less. I recommend Seagate. Wester Digital IDE Hard drives are the cheapest thing you can buy, and they seem to die. I wittnessed a new JB-199 with a Western Digital 250 Gig IDE hard drive die after one week. The "click,click,click" from the hard drive was the second sign things weren't well. The first sign was the system wouldn't boot. :D In fact if you buy a JB-199, I suggest you clone the hard drive to a Seagate or Samsung IDE drive ASAP. Western Digital may make good SATA drives but their IDE drives appear to have serious reliability issues. (I know this isn't supposed to be a hardware review but I've seen 3 CAVS systems (Jb-99 and JB-199s) with Western Digital IDE drives that died in the last 3 weeks so I'm giving everyone a head's up)

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