Most Bang for Buck for new MSX User? (Expanding on a stock Yamaha CX5m)

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Par blur2040

Rookie (20)

Portrait de blur2040

12-01-2017, 18:07

Greets. I'm in the U.S. and have a Yamaha CX5M. It's unexpanded, so that's 32kb of RAM. Using MSX2CAS, I've tried out a couple of games, but I can only get a scant few to actually work. I presume that due to the limitations of that program and my ram, that I can only run 8KB roms. I also have a floppy drive, but that doesn't work yet.

How can I get the most game playing bang for my buck? I'm aware of the ~150 Euro MegaflashROM/512 which seems great...but that also seems like a ton of money to spend at this early stage in my MSX experience.

Can anyone help me navigate an alternative that might be a bit more palatable to me? Am I going to get that much more use out of MSX2CAS with 48kb of RAM (16kb expansion carts seem common) or just wait for a 32 or 64kb cart? Or is there an alternative to a Megaflashrom cart that might seem just as good to me but cheaper?

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Par hamlet

Scribe (4105)

Portrait de hamlet

13-01-2017, 17:39

Welcome blur2040.
Always nice to meet other CX5M users around the planet. I´ve done a lot of cassette loading in the 80´s, but to be honest never used a tape with my CX5M. Many MSX1 games should work perfect (and do with my MFRSD), althought some need 64kb. Prices for periphals are rising, I guess it´s (not cheaper but) less painfull to buy a 64kb machine or even a MSX2.
You will need a MFRSD or similar device to shorten loading times and eventally get 512kb of mapped memory for MSX2 apps.
Nonetheless you might have a lot of fun with hundreds of tape games with your CX5M. Original tapes are cheap, but if you just wanna play around you will find .wav files on the internet.

Par Maggoo

Paragon (1216)

Portrait de Maggoo

13-01-2017, 18:29

Welcome blur2040, I know it's fairly expensive but it's probably your best bet to play most MSX 1 games without too much.

If you try to get an external floppy interface, the external memory upgrade and an SCC separately it will probably cost you more and you'll end up needing a slot expander. Not worth the trouble.

If you want to stick to tape playing, keep in mind that most game will require at least 64KB to play with a few exceptions so I'd invest at least in a 64KB ram expansion.

BTW, where are u at in the US?

Par blur2040

Rookie (20)

Portrait de blur2040

13-01-2017, 21:13

Thanks for the responses. (Apologies to mods/admin for double posting, btw, I'm guessing that as a new poster, I get screened first.) Ohio, USA FYI.

A brief update: I had ordered some belts and got my FDD going last night. It's only 360KB but it seems functional. I was able to save a "hello world" basic program to it and retrieve it later. Got a disk i/o error once or twice, though. I suppose I need to do a bit more work to put it through its paces.

I think the thing I'm most perplexed about at this time is RAM. It seems that if I were to get a 16kb RAM cart or 32kb ram cart it wouldn't be as good as having it built in due to lack of a memory mapper?

What of the SD-512 carts here: http://www.8bits4ever.net/msx Is the only difference here vs. MFRSD the lack of SCC or am I missing something?

Par Louthrax

Prophet (2435)

Portrait de Louthrax

13-01-2017, 21:37

blur2040 wrote:

Got a disk i/o error once or twice, though. I suppose I need to do a bit more work to put it through its paces.

That can also be due to the disk itself. I have a lot of old floppies here, some are still working, some not, even after re-reformatting them...

blur2040 wrote:

I think the thing I'm most perplexed about at this time is RAM. It seems that if I were to get a 16kb RAM cart or 32kb ram cart it wouldn't be as good as having it built in due to lack of a memory mapper?

Avoid the 16KB or 32KB RAM only extensions. With these, you won't have continuous 64KB RAM in one slot, and that will confuse lots of (kind of bad designed) games and apps (that's not even linked to memory mapper).

You could expand the internal memory of your MSX to 64KB, but you won't have memory mapper (you'd need to add extra chips for the memory-mapper logic, which is waaaaay more complex). Memory mapper is mainly useful for MSX-DOS2 and cracked games (that are using this RAM Memory mapper instead of the original ROM mapper).

The MFRSCC+SD+512KB RAM expansion is really the "all-in-one" solution (this will enable you to play almost all MSX 1 games). The SD-512 cartridge from 8Bits4ever is quite cheaper and looks fine, but the ROM support might not be as wide as with a MFRSCC+SD. You have to choose between using the 512KB for RAM or for ROM flashing (to be confirmed as I do not own a SD-512 device), the MFRSCC+SD+512KB has both at the same time.

Par MsxKun

Paragon (1112)

Portrait de MsxKun

13-01-2017, 22:20

blur2040 wrote:

Greets. I'm in the U.S. and have a Yamaha CX5M.

Thx for a post talking about a real MSX machine! Love ya for that Santa And a cute one Smile
As they already said, a MegaflashROM with SD reader and RAM is a must. With that, you can do reality your most wet MSX dreams Smile It can seem a ton of money, but with that you're not going to need more hardware in ages (unless you like to play with different sound cartridges and so).

Par Manuel

Ascended (19053)

Portrait de Manuel

13-01-2017, 23:57

With the 32kB of RAM you could still play all 32kB tape games and cracked 16kB ROMs...

If you're not interested in the main features of the cx5m, I recommend to simply buy a cheap msx2 to begin with...

Par MsxKun

Paragon (1112)

Portrait de MsxKun

14-01-2017, 01:14

Manuel wrote:

With the 32kB of RAM you could still play all 32kB tape games and cracked 16kB ROMs...

Sushhh!! They're called "preserved" ROMs.
In fact he can play ANY comercial era (and 99'9% of the modern times) MSX1 ROM if he has the original cartridge too Smile

Manuel wrote:

If you're not interested in the main features of the cx5m, I recommend to simply buy a cheap msx2 to begin with...

That. Get an MSX2 and send the CX5M to me Running Naked in a Field of Flowers

Par blur2040

Rookie (20)

Portrait de blur2040

14-01-2017, 04:18

Simmer down now. I like the CX5M. I'm somewhat obsessed with it due to it being pretty much the only US released MSX. I'm jazzed for the music functions too. I even have the upgraded sound unit for it ...Along with a backup CX5M and another upgraded sound unit. LOL!

Cracked 16k Roms? I'm guessing that I need to enhance my google-fu to find such things.

Par Manuel

Ascended (19053)

Portrait de Manuel

14-01-2017, 10:49

They're really cracked, not preserved. They're modified to be loaded from cassette tape or disk into normal RAM. As the game itself also needs 8kB of RAM, you can't fit more than 16kB cracked ROM games into your 32kB RAM.

Hint: search for lzh files typically for the cracked ROMs. But as I said, there are also preserved MSX tapes in CAS format and many of these were designed to also run on 32kB systems. Check the cassette boxes, it usually says 32kB or 64kB. Most Aackosoft/Eurosoft games are 64kB though. But I think many titles of Electric Software work on 32kB, for instance.

Par sd_snatcher

Prophet (3592)

Portrait de sd_snatcher

14-01-2017, 14:19

@blur2040

Some answers here might sound a bit confusing. Here's a in-a-nutshell guide of what you can roughly do with each amount of memory on an MSX1 machine:

1) 8KB of RAM
- Can play most plainROM games and some MegaROM games, only in cartridge format
- Can use some very simple BASIC programs
- Can load/save files from tape
- Can't use a disk drive
- Can't play any cracked ROM games.
- Can't play any ZX-Spectrum ports

2) 16KB or 32KB
- Can play nearly all MSX1 cartridge games
- 32KB: Can use any MSX-BASIC program that don't use binary routines that require more RAM
- Can use the disk drive to load/save your BASIC programs
- 16KB: Can't play any cracked ROM games
- 32KB: Can't play the majority of cracked ROM games
- Can't play any ZX-Spectrum ports
- Can't run MSX-DOS or CP/M

3) 64KB
- Can play all MSX1 games except MegaROM cracks
- Can use MSX-BASIC without restrictions
- Can run MSX-DOS1 and CP/M
- Can't run MSX-DOS2/Nextor
- Restricted floppy drives without subdirectories. Can't use mass storage
- If the machine had less than 64KB of internal RAM and has an external expansion to reach this amount, buggy programs will have trouble to run (notably ROM cracks and ZX-Spectrum ports)

4) 128KB or more
- Can do anything that 64KB can do
- Can run MSX-DOS2/Nextor
- Can use mass storage and subdirectories
- Can play MegaROM cracks given that they fit in your available memory
- If the machine had less than 64KB of internal RAM, those buggy programs will run because the memory will now be continuous

Notes:
- MegaROM cracks are usually buggy. I wouldn't count too much on them
- ZX-Spectrum ports made in the 80s/90s are usually full of bugs. Many of them have trouble to run on anything different than an European MSX1. There are some workarounds though, and even some fixed versions and newer ports around the Net.

I hope this guide help you and anyone who google for similar questions.

My two cents about your options:

- If you're on a budget, go for the SD-Mapper interface. You'll be able to play all MSX1 games and MSX1 MegaROM cracks that don't have bugs. The sad part is that Konami games that feature the SCC soundchip will have their soundtrack severely crippled.

- If you're not in a budget, go for the MegaFlashROM SCC+ SD 512KB as everyone and their mothers have already told you. Smile

BTW, be very welcome to the MSX community!

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