Hello. Newbie on the MSX-scene with some obvious questions(?)

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Por Lord_Santa

Supporter (4)

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18-09-2022, 22:54

Hi.
First of all, let me introduce myself; I am a 44-year old gamer/nerd from Sweden, who grew up with the Commodore 64/Amiga, then moved on to PC. I wasn't really 'aware' of the MSX-scene of things, so to speak, until a few years ago. Ever since I've occasionally looked at some MSX-games here and there (mainly youtube -videos and such), until a few days ago, when I stumbled upon a Spectravideo SVI-728 with a SVI-707 diskdrive (5.25") at (what I hope) was a 'decent price' (I paid 135€ for both, in box)



Both computer and Diskdrive seem to boot up fine; The problem is that the 707 came without a PSU. Now I did some reading and realized I was able to use the standard PSU that came with the 728 and as such I tried booting it up, just to make certain that it functioned. As I have a lot of 5.25" floppies, I figured I would be able to somehow transfer images to said floppies, but since I can only power one of them up at the time, due to lack of PSU for the 707, I was a bit distraught.

I'm not very tech-savvy, but I do know how to properly hold a soldering-iron =)
I was hoping to find another PSU, but they seem a bit tricky to come by.
I have seen mentions of using a cartridge (the MSX SD Mapper & Megaram 512Kb Expansion) and also seen some people use their phones, etc. to load .cas files (I believe they were called? Cassette, nonetheless) and I have found a site where I am able to purchase such a cable (8-pin DIN to 3.5mm Audio(?)
Being an OldSkool gamer, I prefer using original hardware, but am willing to compromise.

I guess what I was mainly wonder is:
A) Is there any place to find a PSU for my 707/anyone able to point me to (simple) instructions on how to build my own?
B) Is there an 'easy' way of transferring games to floppy via PC?
C) Anything else I need to know? (Feel free to point me in the right direction)

I am a solo indie-game developer, but I mainly use Gamemaker on my PC, but have dabbled with BASIC in the past, both GW-BASIC (2.0), Simon's BASIC, C64 BASIC and C128 BASIC (might been a few more).
I am not really into contemporary gaming, per se. but rather I'm more of an 8-bit kinda guy and as such I would love to learn as much as possible about these machines, as they seem to be right up my alley, so to speak.

I have done some googling and tried to find as much information as possible, but there seems to be so many iterations of the MSX1, that I am having a hard time figuring out what applies to my specific machine and what does not.

I am looking forward to learning more about the machine, its capabilities and whatever current going-ons there are.

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Por jepmsx

Master (190)

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19-09-2022, 06:52

Hi!

Welcome to MSX.

Unfortunately I can't help you with the PSU but when you have both working together you can format the disk 360K and read it in a MS-DOS PC (Windows) without problem. Then you can store some rom images and run them with SROM.com (application to run roms in sofarun). But maybe you won't be able to play megaroms because of memory size. This is why a Carnivore or megaflash are useful

Por gdx

Enlighted (5813)

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19-09-2022, 09:06

SVI-707 power supply is a simple AC transformer. (see pictures)
https://www.msx.org/wiki/Spectravideo_SVI-707

I think you can use a transformer like below (9V 36VA) with a case:
https://www.newark.com/hammond/162j36/transformer-18v-2a-36v...

but you will probably be able to transfer files to it only through the cassette interface if you don't buy an flash card interface.

Anyway, the 5.25'' format is very little used on MSX. It won't be very useful even if it works.

Moreover, there are interfaces with built-in options (like megaRam, SCC and FM sound, etc) that make the MSX even more fun. I think you should start with it.

Por retro69

Rookie (32)

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19-09-2022, 22:17

I am also relatively new to the MSX scene and can understand that MSX can be confusing at first.

If I understand you correctly then you are interested in gaming but also programming, maybe directly on the MSX (in lieu of cross assembling for example). In this case I would also recommend a modern storage device. Just one warning, though: you should understand what you buy as there are quite some pitfalls. However, there is more than enough information available and the people in the forum a happy to give advice.

I will give it a start: as you said that you are coming from the C64 you need to know that in contrast to the Commodore, cartridge emulation is very important as most classic software has been published in this format and maybe on tape but not on disk. Also practically all new games are published as ROM files. This is significantly different from the C64 where you easily can get away with a disk emulator and cartridge emulation is rather a nice to have / comfort feature.

Por Lord_Santa

Supporter (4)

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20-09-2022, 05:52

Thank you all for your replies; I have indeed been looking into SD-card/cartridge -solutions. I do have a Gotek for my Amiga 500 and a SD2IEC for my C64 (among other 'new' peripherals), but as Retro69 points out, I am also interested in developing for the MSX and while there may be emulators, or similar available, I'm more of a hobbyist and would love to code on the MSX itself and as such I was curious about storage-solutions. =)

Since I have zero experience with the MSX, I was at a loss as to whether one of these 'cartridge' -solutions were 'necessary', but as has been pointed out, the 5.25" wasn't necessarily as popular for the MSX, as for other devices of its era.

Coding on an MSX and storing on a floppy, is mainly 'one of those things' I felt like would be a fun thing to spend some time with.

I will be looking into the MSX SD Mapper & Megaram 512Kb Expansion, which I assume is 'the latest/greatest' addition?

I am not familiar with the RAM-limitations of the MSX, since my C64 can run all my C64 -games, so to speak (although I do have a 4MB RAM -expansion for my A1200, as well as a 512KB RAM -expansion for my A500, there are really 'not that many' games that take advantage of the extra 4MB for the A1200).

Another question then would be, are all 'Atari-style' joysticks compatible with the MSX? (I have 'a bunch', chief amongst them being my Quickshot QS-128 (2-button), with specific support for the MSX (switch on the rear-side, for compatibility), or do I need to modify them in some way? I have a several WICO, TAC-2's, etc. (and a SG-Commander gamepad, for my Sega Master System). The SG-Commander, well as the QS-128 have 2 buttons, but most C64/Amiga games only utilize the one. Is this also true for the MSX?

Thank you all for your response; I am greatly looking forward into exploring the nuances of being an MSX -owner, as I am a 'oldskool' -gamer, if you will and my thirst for games can simply not be quenched. Wink

Por Lord_Santa

Supporter (4)

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20-09-2022, 10:25

Hehe. Nevermind, I found the guide for joysticks and such. Wink Great info on this site. (I am not able to spend 'too much time' on my main computer, since I have a three-year-old running 'round the house and I don't really do 'smart' phones. But I'll make sure to get some proper reading done on this site, during the hours that I have available for such things. =))

Por Parn

Paladin (809)

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20-09-2022, 15:11

There's no "obvious questions" when it comes to MSX. It is a hardware and software platform, but a very diverse one, so although there's a huge wealth of information around, it's not immediately obvious how to make sense of all that.

The SVI-728 is a MSX1 machine, so in terms of what it can do it is a bit limited. Here in Brazil, due to price and availability constraints in the 80s, the 5¼" drive was pretty popular, and we even got 720kB 5¼" drives as an alternate upgrade path, since they were compatible with 360kB media. Most tape and cartridge-based games were converted to disk-loadable formats, but there was a snag: cartridges with ROMs larger than 32kB couldn't be loaded in the onboard RAM, since some of it must be available for the system. So the MegaRAM was developed, which enabled emulation of those larger cartridges (called MegaROM).

But the MegaRAM isn't an official MSX standard solution, since it was originally meant to facilitate games piracy in Brazil. At the time it was very difficult and very expensive to legally import computer stuff, and even big makers sold pirated games anyway. The official way to expand memory on MSX is via the Memory Mapper, which was introduced with the MSX2 and although originally incompatible with MSX1, current models also work on MSX1, enabling you to use MSX-DOS2, its enhanced variant Nextor and a wealth of modern software, including SofaRun for easy game loading.

The SD Mapper and its variants are combo cartridges which offer a card media reader and a memory expansion in one cartridge. It is a very cost-effective solution and, if found cheap, it has the best cost benefit ratio, but it doesn't offer any special features like FM and SCC sound. There are other easily found cartridges like the MegaFlashROM SCC+SD (has SCC sound) and the Carnivore 2 (has both FM and SCC sound), but they are more expensive. FM sound isn't too important for MSX1, since there isn't much MSX1 software that uses it (although you can listen to a lot of chiptunes and make music for it in MSX-BASIC), but SCC is useful for some Konami games.

I will stop here, but there's a lot to discover. Feel free to ask around. MSX-BASIC is very powerful and it can give you access to almost everything the machine can do.

Por gdx

Enlighted (5813)

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20-09-2022, 16:12

Be careful because the price and quality of the SD Mapper is very variable depending on the seller. You may buy one that costs more than twice as much but with tinned contacts instead of golden plated. There is also a 512kB and a 1024kB version. The 512kB version is not necessarily the cheapest although it is quite limited.

Por Lord_Santa

Supporter (4)

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20-09-2022, 19:31

Thank you all for your feedback, it is greatly appreciated, since I do not wish to stumble upon any obvious pitfalls, with regards to price and/or quality, nor do I want to make any other newbie -mistakes.

I have been offered to purchase an MSX SD Mapper & Megaram 512Kb Expansion (2014 edition) for 95€, but looking at the prices of other, supposedly more capable devices, this seems like it might be a bit out of range (in terms of pricing).
Correct me if I am wrong, but availability aside, what would be a 'fair' price-range for such an item, if there is any? Since I can clearly tell that the Carnivore 2 (according to the 'guide') is 100€-115€ and seems way more capable (and more RAM, to boot).

Time is not an issue to me, i.e. "I can wait", quality, however, is and as such I do not wish to spend hard-earned cash on an inferior device, especially not if it is not within a 'fair' price-range.

Por retro69

Rookie (32)

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20-09-2022, 21:45

Having read your posts my recommendation would be to go for the mega Flash Rom with memory mapper / ram Expansion or a carnivore 2. I would Not recommend the sd mapper for you as you need to choose between memory mapper and megaram for the Rom Emulation. Without the memory mapper you will not be able to use nextor in msxdos2 mode. This means 32 MB fat12 partitions, no directories and Maximum 112 files per Partition. Without the megaram you will have difficulties running roms. In Theory you could Look for the sdmmr which is Based on the sd mapper but offers memory mapper and megaram simultaneously. However, i have read already two posts which might indicate a quality issue.

Por retro69

Rookie (32)

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20-09-2022, 21:52

I have just read that one of the two class with the sdmmr has been resolved. May have been a dirty cartridge Slot on the computer itself.

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