This is the Wikified version of The Ultimate MSX FAQ. This page is merely an overview. You can also check out this index.
This FAQ contains information about the MSX system, its expansions and a lot of other things. If you have texts you would like to be added to this FAQ, feel free to add them! If you discover any bugs, please correct them. This FAQ is an ongoing project, so help us make it as good as possible.
The Ultimate MSX FAQ was started by the Red Devil, but Manuel Bilderbeek took it over in 1998. Now it's on this Wiki.
General MSX FAQ
- 1992 interview with Kay Nishi
- What is MSX?
- Where can I find more about MSX on the Internet?
- Are there still MSX fairs/exhibitions?
Basic info on MSX systems
- What is the MSX1 system? (1983)
- What is the MSX2 system? (1985)
- What is the MSX2+ system? (1988)
- What is the MSX turboR system? (1990/1992)
MSX Music expansions
- SCC (1987)
- MSX-MUSIC (FM-PAC/FM-PAK/OPLL, 1987)
- MSX-AUDIO (Music Module (OPL(1)-compatible), 1985)
- MoonSound (OPL4, 1995)
MSX video expansions
FAQ on MSX disk/OS expansions
And here are some uncategorized FAQs...
How can I let most of the MSX1 software work on MSX2 machines/what is the universal slot-select-correct POKE?The universal poke to do this is:
Try this in case a program gives trouble. Always use this universal poke if you put it in a (BASIC) loader, never use POKE -1,170 or POKE -1,255! This will guarantee the program will work on all MSX computers. If you are trying to run a program on your MSX2 and the MSX resets right after running the loader, you can check whether the loader contains one of the aforementioned non-universal pokes. Replace it with the universal poke and try again.
If this doesn't work to get the (MSX1) software running, you can also try to boot the MSX with the CTRL-key pressed. This lets the MSX not reserve memory for a second diskdrive and gives you a little more memory. Since most MSX1 games were on cassette, the programs don't expect that memory was reserved for diskdrives and disabling one might just give you enough memory to run the program.
Another thing that might help is setting the width of the screen to 40 (or less) columns. Some MSX1 games don't expect the width to be 80 columns. Type this before loading: WIDTH 40. You can also set the screen-mode to screen 2 and then load, like this: SCREEN 2:RUN"PROGRAM.LDR", because some games expect the computer to be in screen-mode 2, because originally there was a loader that displayed some nice graphics to amuse you while loading (from cassette), which are most of the time in screen 2.
My Philips VG-8235 (or NMS-8245 or MSXturboR) gives disk-errors, whatever I try! What is this?
This is probably caused by a worn-out string (rubber belt) in your diskdrive. This string makes the disk in your drive spin. You can probably buy a new string in your local electronics-shop. After replacement the drive will probably be fine again. But note that the VG-8235 has a Single Sided diskdrive, so you can only use Single Sided disks.
The size you need is 60 mm diameter of the belt. Seems small, but it is really the correct size. Tried it myself. My belt was named BF-60.
I installed the password on my MSX, but I forgot it. What now?
This password, which is stored in the MSX2 (or higher) real time clock IC, can easily be overrode. Just press the GRAPH and STOP buttons while booting the MSX! Then the Password: prompt will be skipped. Then you can change the password with SET PASSWORD "passwordstring". Or just remove it with SET PASSWORD "" or by making another change in the RTC options (e.g. SET PROMPT "Files").
A problem for emulators is to find what the STOP and GRAPH key are... On RuMSX e.g., GRAPH is the PAGE DOWN key, and STOP the F8 key. Check your emulator documentation.
Where can I get info on JoyNet, the MSX network standard?
Because it would be useless to dedicate a whole section of the FAQ to it and copy all info from the JoyNet page, I'm giving you the URL here: so check out the JoyNet page on the MAP, by Laurens Holst (Grauw). Most other JoyNet pages have disappeared from the net, but most info should be on this one.
The sound on my Philips NMS 8250/55/80 sounds terrible. How can I fix it?
Yes, a lot of NMS8250/55/80 computers have an assembly error in the audio output circuitry. This is probably the case. To fix it:
- NMS 8250/55: R428&R429 (100R) should both be replaced by an elco 100uF/10V with the negative side towards connector `AB'
- NMS 8280: R426 (100R): replace by 100uF/10V (same as above)
I have a Philips VW-0030/NMS-1431 (or some other MSX-) printer. Where can I find drivers for Windows for this printer?
(answered by Hans Oranje)
You can use the IBM Pro Printer or Epson FX 80 driver for these printers. If you use tractor feed, you have to set it as `Chainform' 11 or 12 inch. The drivers are standard in Windows 98. For Windows 2000 use the `Epson compatible 9 pin' printer driver. You may need to set the DIP switches on the back side of the printer to switch from MSX character set to IBM character set.
I want to buy/sell an MSX. What should I do?
If you want to buy an MSX, just put an advertising message in English on the MSX Mailinglist and/or Newsgroup. Of course you can also place it in local newspapers or MSX club-magazines or whatever. You can also check the various MSX sites, some have MSX auctions or advertisements online (like MSX Resource Center's Trade forum). See the links database of The MSX Resource Center for some more links. If you're selling MSX equipment, practically do the same as above, but first check if Manuel Bilderbeek already has your item in his collection on his MSX page and if not, then mail him! ;-)
Can I install a PC diskdrive in my Philips NMS-8250/55/80?
(Maarten ter Huurne, Mari v/d Broek, MSX Mailinglist)
You can easily replace a 8250/55/80 drive with a standard PC disk drive. The only modification you need, is to place a jumper over pin 33 and 34 of the second drive connector on the main board. Pin 33 is ground and pin 34 is /RDY, the ready signal, a signal that modern PC drives no longer have. Connecting the pins will tell the 8250/55/80 that the drive is always ready, the 8250/55/80 DiskROM has no problems with that.
For the pin numberings, refer to the connector section.
- Drive doesn't work and LED of it keeps lit: you put the connector on the drive upside down. Reverse the connector and try again.
- The drive only works when I access it as drive B: (by e.g. FILES "B:". Check if there is a D(rive)S(elect) jumper on the diskdrive... Many diskdrives do not have jumpers but are soldered (SMD-resistor!). Be sure that DS=0 for drive A en DS=1 for drive B. If there is no jumper, or you can't solder SMD it is possible to solve the problem... Open the connector at the side of the drive and remove the flatcable from it... With a sharp knife you can split the cable between wire 9 and 10 en 12 and 13 (over a length of about 4 cm!)... If you turn this piece of cable (3 wires) 180 degrees and put it back in the connector, DS0 and DS1 are switched from there place and it should work then.
- Errors occur when a HD drive was put in: you cannot use the drive as a HD drive. So use only floppies formatted as Double Density. Sometimes you need to put a piece of tape over the HD hole in the disk to make it work. Better is to short the sensor that checks for the HD hole.
Note that it's possible to put two drives on one cable, as long as one reacts to DS0 and the other to DS1.
Can I use my mouse in joystick-controlled software?
If you have the right mouse, you can. It seems some MSX mice have a built in feature to emulate the joystick with the mouse. You enable it by powering on your MSX while pressing the left mouse button. This feature is known to work with the Philips SBC-3810 and the Sony MOS-1 mice and most likely also works with other mice that are similar to these. At least the Witty mouse doesn't have this feature. Try playing Aleste 2 with mouse like this!
Where can I find plotter pens for my Sony PRN-C41?
This is quite a popular plotter, but the big problem is that the pens that came with it and in fact, all pens that were ever manufactured for it, have been dried up in the mean time. So, they don't work anymore and hence, the plotter is not usable. However, recently some people found out that you can still by new (fresh) pens in online or other shops. This is the information: Sharp pens, Type EA-850C, UPENP1002CCZZ. This is a set of four colour pens (black, blue, green and red). A few years ago they costed about 5 euros per set and they work fine in the plotter.
How can I use modern (?) floppy discs on my MSX, or MSX formatted modern floppies on my PC?
MSX machines can only handle Double Density (720kB) floppy discs and normal floppy disks are High Density (1.44MB). You can try to use HD disks as DD disks by putting a piece of sticky tape on the hole in the disks at the bottom right (the other whole is the write-protected whole, which should have a switch). Make sure that the tape is black, because some disk drives use an optical method to determine if there is a hole. Original MSX disk drives don't need the tape on the hole, but can still give problems with HD disks (most will work). If you want to use DD formatted disks on a PC disk drive, you most likely need the dark sticky tape on the HD hole.
Can I use PAL software on an NTSC MSX (or vice versa)?
Yes, you can. MSX software is not specific to PAL or NTSC (it's not on the box either), except when the maker specifically checks for it. I know one case, which is the Japanese Metal Gear, which does not run (on purpose) on European MSX machines. For the rest, no worries. There are a few differences, though: if the NTSC machine is Japanese, your European ("PAL") game may suddenly display a Japanese intro screen (for some Konami games). Also, the speed may be different, as many games run on the interrupt frequency, which is 50Hz for (most) PAL and 60Hz for NTSC (Japanese) machines. So, a Japanese game ("NTSC") on a European ("PAL") machine may run a bit slower than the authors intended and vice versa. Some Japanese games may change the interrupt frequency to 60Hz on your European MSX. If you have a monitor connected which cannot handle that, you're screwed. It remains PAL, by the way, but it's just 60Hz.