RCX firmware download problem

Hi. I hope someone can help me with a problem with getting an original RCX 1.0 system working with a current PC.
I bought the RCX 1.0 system back in (I think) 2000 but its been in
storage a long time. In the meantime I had children, and now one of them is curious about it and I want to encourage that.
The brick powers-up ok, but the RIS software won't install on my laptop (Win7 x64) and the laptop has no serial port to plug the IR tower into. To work around this I created a Windows XP virtual machine (in VMware Workstation), installed the RCS software on the VM, connected the IR tower to the laptop with an USB-to-serial converter [1], and bridged the USB port to the VM. This kind of works, in that the RIS software can recognise the RCX brick. However, it says that the firmware is missing and needs to be downloaded. When I do this I repeatedly get a download error.
Has anyone here got a similar setup to work, or has any thoughts on what might be going wrong? Are there any diagnostic tools I could use to interrogate the RCX and/or upload the firmware outside of the TIS?
I'm tempted to just buy an NXT, which will be compatible with modern hardware, but I don't feel ready to give up just yet...
Thanks,
Andrew
[1] http://robosavvy.com/store/product_info.php/manufacturers_id/19/products_id/370
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You did try switching short/long range on the tower? And put in new batteries?
Last time i tried it, was 3years ago, but on linux, Using lejos, so i cannot really be helpful on w7.
-- Bjrn
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Is this group still active? snipped-for-privacy@linuxseclabs.com http://linuxseclabs.com
On Saturday, February 4, 2012 at 9:35:32 AM UTC-5, Andy Johnson wrote:

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