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

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Par blur2040

Rookie (20)

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15-01-2017, 21:52

sd_snatcher wrote:

@blur2040
...

Thank you, this was very helpful. It would explain why I can't get damn near anything to work.

I think I'm going for the SD-512. The cost-differential is a bit too much for me and I suppose I can live without extra fancy music.

Par RetroTechie

Paragon (1563)

Portrait de RetroTechie

16-01-2017, 01:11

Seems nobody mentioned this yet: service manual says the CX-5M has 32K RAM in slot 0 (!). Eek! This has a few effects:

* Many cracked ROMs or other software uses RAM in 4000-7FFFh. A common method is not to search for that, but do: determine what slot is enabled in 8000-BFFFh area (or C000-FFFFh), and enable same slot in 4000-7FFFh. For MSX machines that have a slot with continuous 64K RAM, this simple/dumb method works. On machines that have 64K but spread in 2 halves across slots, not so. On the CX-5M, this would enable the BASIC ROM in 4000-7FFFh, which obviously can't be used as work RAM.
* If you plug in an external RAM cartridge, MSX BIOS will -as normal- select RAM from the lowest numbered slot. On most MSX machines that will be the slot you plugged the RAM cartridge into. But on a machine with RAM in slot 0 (or 0-x), machine will still use internal RAM for 8000-FFFFh area. RAM in 0000-7FFFh area will then be from another slot - see problem above. Perhaps some flash interfaces will have software to detect this, shuffle around RAM contents & update system variables, but no guarantees there. Some software will be smart enough to search & find RAM in these cases, but that's the exception rather than the rule... Sad

To summarize: the CX-5M is a pretty difficult machine to get software to run on. And there's even the chance that built-in firmware (for the special audio features) prevents some software from working. On the plus side:

* POKE -1,... issues don't apply since all un-expanded slots.
* Without diskdrive attached, booting with [CTRL] or [SHIFT] pressed doesn't apply either. But be sure to check this this Wiki page for tips concerning specific software.

Barring internal hardware mods, I'd just preserve that CX-5M for its special features. Whatever software you can get to run on it, bonus. For all other software, get another/2nd MSX (or better: MSX2) to plug your flash interface into. ;) If there's some special game(s) you really 'need' to have, get those as a cartridge.

Par blur2040

Rookie (20)

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16-01-2017, 03:53

Well this one's a bummer. Any feedback from CX5M users?

Par JohnHassink

Ambassador (5607)

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16-01-2017, 07:16

blur2040 wrote:

I think I'm going for the SD-512. The cost-differential is a bit too much for me and I suppose I can live without extra fancy music.

I just think it's important to add that it's not about "extra fancy" music in certain cases.
None of the Konami games that use SCC have any 'alternative' version of the soundtrack for PSG-only, because the SCC was included in the cartridges themselves.
If you run one of those games without an SCC, you'll just get some percussion, and a bassline or a bit of reverb if you're lucky. I'd say "severely crippled" is even an understatement. So keep that in mind.

Par ren

Paragon (1930)

Portrait de ren

16-01-2017, 13:48

Regarding SCC: you can get an idea on @niek's MSX music page. Alas, the sound chips aren't completely mutable (feature request, @niek? ;)), but you can get an idea of the balance between SCC <> PSG.
Otherwise check an SCC KSS file with in_msx (which can mute each sound chip completely) (tip: also works with XMPlay).

ps. the 'reset' on niek's page makes the PSG way too loud. More realistic is the way it sounds on a fresh page (re)load (though then the PSG seems to be on the (too) soft side..) Note that this balance SCC <> PSG can differ (and does differ) between MSX models/computers.

edit: ..or check in an emu.. ;)

Par Manuel

Ascended (18953)

Portrait de Manuel

16-01-2017, 18:30

You can indeed just check what will run and what will not run in an emulator on beforehand, blur2040. Try before you buy! Smile

Par ScreamingJoeBlade

Supporter (2)

Portrait de ScreamingJoeBlade

27-01-2017, 00:49

I just bought a CX5M this week as well (In Toronto area, Canada) - I have seen ROMs for some of the Yamaha Carts on http://www.cx5m.net/software/. Would these not work on the MegaFlash cart? They appear to be copied from original EPROM chips...

And what's the deal with using a cart like that on a yamaha CX5M unit? Do you not need an adapter? (The Yamaha slot is bigger no?)

With the exchange rate the Megaflash is CAD$200.00 - but seeing as the Yamaha carts go for 60 -150 each on ebay it seems like a more economical way to run these programs.

Par ToriHino

Paladin (792)

Portrait de ToriHino

27-01-2017, 01:18

The Sony F500 had a similar problem with memory in slot 0 and split over 2 slots. I remember back in the days using this machine with a 512K memory cartridge in one of the expansion slots. We created a special boot disk with a small program that first sets the memory selection correct using the ram expansion and then soft reboot. This way a lot of programs eventually did work on this machine.

RetroTechie wrote:

Seems nobody mentioned this yet: service manual says the CX-5M has 32K RAM in slot 0 (!). Eek! This has a few effects:

* Many cracked ROMs or other software uses RAM in 4000-7FFFh. A common method is not to search for that, but do: determine what slot is enabled in 8000-BFFFh area (or C000-FFFFh), and enable same slot in 4000-7FFFh. For MSX machines that have a slot with continuous 64K RAM, this simple/dumb method works. On machines that have 64K but spread in 2 halves across slots, not so. On the CX-5M, this would enable the BASIC ROM in 4000-7FFFh, which obviously can't be used as work RAM.
* If you plug in an external RAM cartridge, MSX BIOS will -as normal- select RAM from the lowest numbered slot. On most MSX machines that will be the slot you plugged the RAM cartridge into. But on a machine with RAM in slot 0 (or 0-x), machine will still use internal RAM for 8000-FFFFh area. RAM in 0000-7FFFh area will then be from another slot - see problem above. Perhaps some flash interfaces will have software to detect this, shuffle around RAM contents & update system variables, but no guarantees there. Some software will be smart enough to search & find RAM in these cases, but that's the exception rather than the rule... Sad

To summarize: the CX-5M is a pretty difficult machine to get software to run on. And there's even the chance that built-in firmware (for the special audio features) prevents some software from working. On the plus side:

* POKE -1,... issues don't apply since all un-expanded slots.
* Without diskdrive attached, booting with [CTRL] or [SHIFT] pressed doesn't apply either. But be sure to check this this Wiki page for tips concerning specific software.

Barring internal hardware mods, I'd just preserve that CX-5M for its special features. Whatever software you can get to run on it, bonus. For all other software, get another/2nd MSX (or better: MSX2) to plug your flash interface into. ;) If there's some special game(s) you really 'need' to have, get those as a cartridge.

Par blur2040

Rookie (20)

Portrait de blur2040

06-02-2017, 16:11

I thought it would be worthwhile, if not for my sake, but for some future person in a similar conundrum, to update this. I bought an SD-512 from 8bits4ever. Lets call this a mini-review for my specific context/setup.

Device is well built/sturdy, no complaints there. As a paranoid person though, I have slight concerns about the switches on top. I worry that some friend or pet or whatever is going to accidentally get curious and switch them while the machine is on. Then again, I'm very paranoid.

I ordered it without an SD card, so I had to set up one myself. The instructions direct you to go to the Nextor page to get Nextor, but also talks about getting Nextor.dsk and also makes reference to installing Nextor.sys and Command2.com. These things seemed confusing because the main bit of Nextor was a .rom file and I didn't understand how Nextor.dsk would load without me giving the device some sort of instruction to use it (then again, I suppose that could have been built in.) and lastly, I didn't really get how to "install" Nextor. Further, the Nextor Getting Started and Instruction Manual documents, as suggested by the SD-512 instructions, did not make a bit of sense.

My confusion was due to a lack of understanding of the device itself (and being an MSX and MSX-DOS novice). I thought that it would be more akin to a floppy disk drive emulator---where I'd be able to select a disk image from a menu and it would play it like a real floppy. In fact, the SD cards serve as mass storage drives, up to 4GB, As soon as I figured out that I was, in essence dealing with a blank hard rive, I figured out that I just needed to drop the right files in root and I was off to the races. Ancient MS-DOS experience helped me figure that out, I think.

Once I got it booting, things got very easy. ROMs up to 32k load into RAM and play quite nicely. However, I hit a wall and thought I'd made a lousy choice when I realized that I couldn't get it to load 128k or beyond ROMs. After reading SofaRun documents, it seems that I can only load them into MegaRam, which I can't use as I'm using the SD-512's builtin in RAM as main ram. I'm preplexed as to why the large ROMs can't simply be loaded into the quite vast 512k of RAM. I suppose more reading will explain why.

...I was a bit disappointed until I discovered disk images. Thus, while I can't load the ROM version of many of the games I want to play, I can definitely load disk versions. Those have been very friendly to me, with most games loading just fine for me. A few here and there have been problematic, but I expect I'll figure them out sooner or later.

So, I'm thrilled with what the SD-512 can do. I'm sure that MFRetc. is a better and more capable device, but so far, for a new MSX user, SD-512 is great.

Par Louthrax

Prophet (2432)

Portrait de Louthrax

06-02-2017, 17:13

blur2040 wrote:

I'm preplexed as to why the large ROMs can't simply be loaded into the quite vast 512k of RAM. I suppose more reading will explain why.

The ROMs are sometimes using 8KB pages instead of 16kb pages for main RAM. Also, the selection mechanisms for ROMs are not the same as for main RAM.

There are already some tools to launch ROMs on main RAM (patching the ROM code to make it work). I've been working on a new tool like that this week-end (SofaROM ?), which seems to work not so badly. This could be the new official tool to launch ROMs for SofaRun without official flash devices. I might release a beta version (working only for Konami cartridges for now) soon.

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