Panasonic FS-A1GT
This page was last modified 12:22, 5 October 2021 by Mars2000you. Based on work by Gdx and Takamichi and others.
Panasonic FS-A1GT

Contents

Description

Computer

The Panasonic FS-A1GT MSX turbo R is the last MSX computer produced and it follows the latest standard for the MSX line. The FS-A1GT was preceded by the FS-A1ST.

Compared to the FS-A1ST, the FS-A1GT has double the amount of RAM (512kB), it features a MIDI-IN and MIDI-OUT connector. MIDI can also be accesssed by using the built-in MSX-MUSIC BASIC (version with an additional instruction: CALL MDR).

Due to some minor hardware bugs that were discovered, the mainboard is a bit different: e.g. the MSX-MUSIC part is redesigned to decrease influence of the noise from other digital parts, although it's confirmed this was also corrected in the last batch of the A1ST.

Note: there's a bug in the MSX-MUSIC implementation of Panasonic FS-A1GT.

This problem only occurs when a CALL MUSIC is done without any OPLL channel, e.g. CALL MUSIC(0,0) and then a tempo MCL issued (e.g. PLAY"T120") OR when a program is stopped by CTRL-STOP. In these cases, a crash occurs. The problem can be avoided by doing a CALL MUSIC(0,0,1).

This problem doesn't occur on the Panasonic FS-A1ST MSX Turbo R.

Brand Panasonic
Type FS-A1GT
Year 1991-12
Region Japan
Original price ¥99.800
RAM 512kB in slot 3-0, 32kB SRAM
VRAM 128kB
Media MSX cartridges, 2DD floppy disks
Video Yamaha V9958
Audio PSG (AY-3-8910 compatible), MSX-MUSIC, PCM, MSX-MIDI
Chipset Toshiba T9769C and NEC S1990 bus controller
Keyboard layout QWERTY/JIS
Extras R800 as main CPU while Z80 is an alternative CPU, 720kB 3,5" floppy disk drive, microphone, built-in MSX-MIDI interface, firmware switch, pause button, Ren-Sha Turbo slider (autofire), Kanji-ROM level 1 & 2, Kanji BASIC, MSX-MUSIC BASIC also used for MIDI, ROM part of MSX-DOS 2, firmware (A1 Cockpit, Word Processor with support for color printers, MSX-JE, VSHELL, ROM part of MSX View), system disk for option 3 of A1 Cockpit firmware, utility disks with disk part of MSX-DOS 2, tools and MSX View
Emulation ROMs dumped and emulated. The firmware switch is emulated in the OFF position, such that the machine will not by default boot to the integrated firmware application. This can be changed in openMSX with the "set firmwareswitch on" command.

Firmware

The Panasonic FS-A1GT machine comes with 2 integrated firmware: VSHELL and A1 Cockpit. You can skip them by changing the position of the Panasonic front switch.

VSHELL is the door to MSX View, an OS with a ROM part (ROM-disk: C:drive) and a disk part.

Without any game in a cartridge slot and with the firmware switch in the appropriate position, you come on the VSHELL screen. Main icons of this screen:

  • 1 - Exploration of a disk (by default the ROM disk C:)
  • 2 - A1 Cockpit
  • 3 - MSX-BASIC
  • 4 - FS-A1GT Presentation

To access the MSX View menu, click on the 4th icon on the first line. A mouse is required to use VSHELL and MSX View. It is not possible to start MSX View directly, you must use VSHELL.

To choose another disk, click on VSHELL and select the D option (A: and B: real disks, C: ROM disk, D: SRAM disk, H: virtual disk)

The A1 firmware menu includes 10 options:

  • 1 - Japanese Word Processor
  • 2 - Beginner Word Processor
  • 3 - Word Processor Lessons (requires the System disk)
  • 4 - Address Book
  • 5 - Business Card
  • 6 - AV Labels (Video - Cassette - Diskette - Custom)
  • 7 - PCM Recorder
  • 8 - Calculator, Calendar and Clock Settings
  • 9 - Mouse and Printer Settings
  • 0 - MSX-BASIC or back to VSHELL according the position of the front switch

From MSX-BASIC, you can go to the A1 Cockpit firmware menu by typing CALL MWP or _MWP.

Floppy disks

Three floppy disks were provided with this computer:

  • the first disk is a System disk, required to use option 3 of the A1 Cockpit firmware
  • the second disk is an Utility disk that contains the disk part of MSX-DOS 2 and has its own menu:
    • 1 - PCM Digi Talk
    • 2 - Video Graphics (in screen 8)
    • 3 - Color Printer Tool
    • 4 - MSX-DOS 2
    • 5 - MSX-BASIC

The Video Graphics application in screen 8 is a version without superimposing and digitizing support, but there's an icon for using the FS-RS500 scanner.

Option 3 is designed for the Panasonic FS-PC1 color printer.

When you close one of these applications, you go back to the MSX-DOS 2 command line. You can then enter TOOL to relaunch the menu of the Utility disk.

To run MSX-DOS 2, choose option 4 in the menu. You can also press CTRL+STOP when booting with the disk in drive A, this to avoid the launching of the Tools menu.

  • the third disk contains the disk part of MSX View, an OS with Word Processor and Graphic Tools, you can't start this OS directly, but need to use VSHELL.

Pictures

Computer

Panasonic FS-A1GT box and computer
Panasonic FS-A1GT manuals
FS-A1GT floppy disks + case
Panasonic FS-A1GT box and content
(The monitor is apart)
Panasonic FS-A1GT
Panasonic FS-A1GT right side
Panasonic FS-A1GT left side
Panasonic FS-A1GT back
Panasonic FS-A1GT official flyer
Panasonic FS-A1GT Composite video output cable
Panasonic FS-A1GT box
Panasonic FS-A1GT PCB
Panasonic FS-A1GT drive
MSX Turbo R LEDs
Panasonic FS-A1GT label

Firmware

MSX-View's VSHELL

VSHELL menu
Version info
FS-A1GT Presentation
FS-A1GT Presentation

A1 Cockpit

Cockpit menu
Cockpit Japanese Word Processor
Cockpit Beginner Word Processor
Cockpit Word Processor Lessons
Cockpit Address Book
Cockpit Business Card
Cockpit AV Labels - sub menu
Cockpit AV Labels - Video
Cockpit AV Labels - Cassette
Cockpit AV Labels - Diskette
Cockpit Custom AV Labels sub-menu
Cockpit New Custom AV Label
Cockpit PCM recorder
Cockpit Accessories - sub menu
Cockpit Accessories - Calculator
Cockpit Accessories - Calendar
Cockpit Accessories - Clock Settings
Cockpit Mouse and Printer Settings

Utility disks

Disk 2 - A1 Cockpit

Cockpit - Utility disk - menu
Cockpit PCM Digi Talk
Cockpit Video Graphics
Cockpit Color Printer Tool
Cockpit Color Printer Tool
Cockpit Color Printer Tool

Disk 3 - MSX View

Program menu
ViewTED
ViewPAINT
PageLINK
PageVIEW
ViewDRAW
PageEDIT

Specifications

The FS-A1GT is a MSX of intermediary generation with 2 CPU (Z80A & R800) and many options included. A single CPU may be used at a time by switching. The R800 has two operating modes (RAM mode and ROM mode). The floppy disk controller is the Toshiba TC8566AF.

Floppy Disk Drive Belt specifications:

Type: Rubber Belt
Thickness: 0.3mm
Diameter: 58mm
Width: 3mm

Detailed Specifications

  • CPU R800 (DAR800-X0G), with 28.63630 MHz external clock and 16-bit ALU. (Can be accelerated to 40MHz by changing the crystal.) Note: the CPU clock is 7.15909MHz (external clock divided by 4) and the bus frequency is 3.579545MHz, however, an instruction on the R800 that takes 1 bus clock cycle, often takes 4 clock cycles on the Z80, so one can indeed say that the R800 runs roughly like a 28.6 MHz Z80.
  • CPU Z80A 3.579545MHz compatible (included in the MSX-Engine)
  • 512kB of main RAM
  • 32kB SRAM for backup (used internally or by MSX-View as SRAM disk) (holding ESC during boot will erase settings, FS-A1ST will keep settings ^^)
  • 32kB BASIC/BIOS ROM and 32kB subROM (MSX-BASIC V4.1, with extra command _PAUSE to make delays in BASIC independent of the current CPU, extra commands especially for the PCM device (_PCMPLAY, _PCMREC)), 16kB Disk ROM, 48kB MSX-DOS 2.30 kernel, 16kB MSX-MUSIC BASIC ROM, 16kB Kanji BASIC ROM.)
  • TC8566AF disk controller
  • 3.5" double sided double density (720kB) disk drive
  • S1990 MSX Bus-controller
  • T9769C MSX-ENGINE (also contains Z80A & AY-3-8910)
  • MSX-JE (a simple Kanji input interface)
  • Kanji-ROM with approx. 32000 characters
  • MSX-Music (Yamaha YM-2413 OPLL)
  • PCM synthesizer 8-bit (sample rate 16kHz)
  • Internal microphone for the PCM unit
  • MSX-MIDI interface built-in. Includes 8251 (UART) and 8254 (timer) and MIDI-IN / MIDI-OUT connectors. Uses the MSX-MUSIC BASIC 16kB ROM. Also available as a cartridge for FS-A1ST.
  • MSX View ('MSX Windows') developed by ASCII & HAL. Software as Page Edit, PageView, Page Link, VShell, VTed, VPaint and VDraw) on 512kB ROM DISK (C: drive). Also available as a cartridge for FS-A1ST. Internal A1 Cockpit software can be accessed from BASIC with CALL MWP
  • Pause key (software in R800-mode, hardware in Z80-mode)
  • Reset button
  • 6 LEDs (power, caps-lock, kana-lock, pause, CPU mode, FDD in use)

Slot Map

Slot Slot
0-0 0‑1 0-2 0-3 Slot 1 Slot 2 3-0 3-1 3-2 3-3
Page C000h~FFFFh Cartridge
Slot 1
Cartridge
Slot 2
512kB
Memory
Mapper
Panasonic
mapper
Page 8000h~BFFFh Kanji
driver
Page 4000h~7FFFh Main-ROM MSX-Music Opening ROM Disk ROM
Page 0000h~3FFFh Sub-ROM
  • Slot 3-3 is divided into 8kB Pages using the Panasonic mapper. Each can contain internal RAM, ROM or SRAM. A1 Cockpit or MSX View (VSHELL) runs in this slot.
  • The Disk ROM is combined with MSX-DOS 2.31, it's a 64kB ROM with a specific mapper.
  • MSX-MIDI Basic is included in MSX-Music Rom.
  • MSX View is partially on the provided floppy disk 3, but also uses the VSHELL firmware and the ROM disk C:

Connections

Notes:

  • No cassette connector
  • ASCII paddle controllers are no longer supported by the MSX Turbo R BIOS.
  • Composite video output is provided by the RGB connector. The cable was included in the packaging. (See picture)

Maintenance / Repair / Upgrade

Original 24-pin FDD flatcable: Sumitomo-Y AWM 2896 80C VW-1 (100mm, 1.25mm pitch)
Alternative 24-pin FDD flatcable: AWM 20624 80C 60V VW-1 (100-200mm 1.25mm pitch)

Recommended batteries: Lithium batteries or Eneloop (white or cyan).
Batteries advised against: Alkaline batteries because they leak one day or another.

Links