MMC/SD drive newbie - need help

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By cax

Prophet (3722)

cax's picture

12-01-2009, 20:07

I've just bought a MMC/SD drive from sinfox.

I inserted it to my diskless Yamaha MSX2 YIS503IIIR with 128K RAM and 128K VRAM, removed the networking module (I don't use it at the moment and it can prevent a lot of software from running), put the 1G SD card into the drive and started playing with that thing.

I will speak about my first impressions, and I'd like other owners of this drive to fix me if you see anything I misunderstood or if I lack any bits of knowledge in the described scenarios.

It's a great peace of hardware, but it's first time I was exposed to DOS2 tools, big partitions, rom loading tools etc.

Drives and partitions

First of all, I read the instruction and initialized the card with INSTALL.BAT. I got a 22M partition, and a lot of unpartitioned space (1G minus 22M).

Later I discovered that DISKMAN.COM tool can add new partitions, 360K to 22M in size, one of which I can choose to be mapped as A: drive. All these additional partitions (up to 256M in total, as diskman tool permits, so I still cannot use the whole card) are not visible if I insert SD card into PC, and can be accessed only via DiskMan.exe tool.

DiskMan.exe (Windows tool) can choose disk image, create a partition for it on a card and copy the image into the card.
The last added disk image becomes the active one, but the tool won't let you select the active partition by it's number.

DISKMAN.COM tool on MSX can create new partition for a disk image, but cannot copy the image into the partition (how can I do that on MSX ?). The advantage of DISKMAN.COM over DiskMan.exe is the ability to select the active partition.

After mapping a partition with disk image to A:, if you have there software that autostarts on boot, you may loose ability to boot into DOS on your system partition again. In this case I eject the card - this reboots into built-in flash drive, then re-insert the card and run UTILS\XCHGMMC.COM to map A:,B: and C: back to the card, and then run DISKMAN.COM to map system partition to A: . All this sequence seems too long IMHO, am I doing anything wrong ?
If I will have a big number of disk images placed as partitions on a card, this switching may become a pain in the butt.

Running software.

Floppy images:
The only way I discovered is, as I wrote above, use DiskMan.exe Windows to create a image-sized partition and put disk image into it.

Small ROMs:
I couldn't make the built-in on the flash drive ROMLOAD.COM tool to run anything, even smallest ROMs.
I downloaded EXECROM and it worked OK.

MegaROMs:
it seems there is no tool that can use the cartidge's mapping abilities to run a MegaROM.
The only way I found is to use a cracked versions - COM for DOS or sets of BIN files for Basic.

Here comes my lack of knowledge in DOS2.
I tried to use some games that on regular MSX with floppy drive (and DOS1) required to press CTRL at boot time to be able to run them. With DOS2 and CTRL pressed they don't want to run (why ?)

I had to press SHIFT to disable DOS2 and other drives to run the games, but this means I have to put each game on it's own DOS1 image/partition and activate with DISKMAN.COM each time I need them, and switch to system or other partition after usage. Not too convenient IMHO.

The question is: what am I doing wrong with MegaROMs ? Is there a more convenient way of usage ?
I thought I can put them all on a single (or a couple of) 22M partitions and just run the one I need, without all that partition switching.

Can I use partitions >720K with DOS1 ?

Any help is welcome.
Please share your usage patterns of this device, and what else can I do with it.
My next step will be SymbOS installation.

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By Erikie

Champion (324)

Erikie's picture

13-01-2009, 08:36

I have both the sinfox mmc V2.2 and my own built v1.0 drive and they work both very well for me.
If you want to boot from the system disk press the STOP key during start up and your SD led will stay on. Then press the 0 key for starting from your 'system' partition. That will help a lot.

You can flash roms into the flashrom but:
1) you must use other medium then SD card for flashing the rom. As accessing the SD card requires the ROM you want to flash over ...
2) use ROMLOAD.exe to flash any rom into the AT29c040A Flashrom.
3) it must use SCC mapping otherwise it will not work. There is no patching done by romload (as far as I know) to SCC rom mapping.

I have a partition of 22M with DOS1 and it works fine. You cannot use sub directories however.

By cax

Prophet (3722)

cax's picture

13-01-2009, 13:16

Erikie: 10x a lot for your answers !

1) 22M DOS1 partitions should solve most of my problems.
I will put all cracked MegaROMs on such a partition and add a menu for easy selection.

2) STOP & partition number: great, that's exactly what I needed - an easy on-boot switching !
But wait - this requires a numeric pad, and my MSX has no numpad.

Maybe I need DISKEXE tool ? Never tried it, but description looks promising.

3) If I find a way to flash ROM from e.g. ramdisk (BTW is it possible ?)
will flashing ROM erase the boot disk so I won't be able to boot with built-in disk and/or SD card anymore ?

4) What will happen if I will try to flash a ROM from SD card ? Will I damage my drive, or ROMLOAD just will silently ignore the command ?

5) In general, why should this or that software that worked under DOS1 stop working in DOS2 environment, being it BIN, COM or anything else ? My first impression is that the list of non-working software is way big.

By Erikie

Champion (324)

Erikie's picture

13-01-2009, 13:31

I never tried flashing the mmc drive from it its own SD card but it could render your rom unreadable.
You probably have to flash it again. Do you have the rom files for the MMC drive in your possession? You really need them.
If you flash your rom with a game you cannot boot anymore from sd card. You have to re-flash the rom first with mmc rom v2.2 before it recognize your SD cards.
It is also possible to use DOS1 under MMC v2.2 so do not worry. Also have you tried running games already? It really works well and since you have no diskdrive in your machine you should have no real memory issues as this is your only drive Smile
Over here http://msx.retro8bits.com/sd-mmc-drive.html you can get the files for the interface and I suggest to read the readme_eng.txt file.

By cax

Prophet (3722)

cax's picture

13-01-2009, 13:49

1) What about STOP feature - it requires a numpad, and I don't have one ?
2) Of course I RTFM, and I know how to switch to DOS1 mode, and I tried tens of games.
But, for some unknown reason, all COM+dat and most multi-BIN-versions of MegaROMs didn't work under DOS2, and this means I have to switch to DOS1 mode with SHIFT + choose partition without subdirs each time I want to play them.
Is there any general tool or trick that will make DOS2 environment more compatible with DOS1, or the mentioned software does something that DOS2 can't suffer ?

By Bastiaan

Champion (332)

Bastiaan's picture

13-01-2009, 16:24

about dos1 progs in dos2:

try map.com (read the faq!)
http://www.faq.msxnet.org/dos2.html

there was also a link there for a programme to get subdirs, but that link seems broken....

By [D-Tail]

Ascended (8234)

[D-Tail]'s picture

13-01-2009, 20:08

Really, really broken?

By cax

Prophet (3722)

cax's picture

13-01-2009, 21:55

Bastiaan:
are you talking about this:


Is there other way to access (sub)directories on MSX?

For those who do not have DOS2 and want to get access to directories, there is a Japanese utility available. I have not tested it yet but it should work fine. This program could be found on Lucky's Home Page, in the MSX section. But it seems that the URL is broken, though...

By cax

Prophet (3722)

cax's picture

14-01-2009, 20:01

map.com didn't help - maybe because COM or BIN versions of MegaROMs work directly with memory mapper, which is not allowed in DOS2.

Heh... it seems having a 22M partition in DOS1 doesn't help too - you still cannot put more than 112 files in the root directory, and subdirs are not supported. This means - I desperately need that tool, mentioned in MSX FAQ, that enables subdirs on DOS1.

Link to the tool is really broken, so I believe somebody here can share the tool or help me to find it ?

By Erikie

Champion (324)

Erikie's picture

14-01-2009, 20:06

I used to have some games on 1 floppy disk. Why don't you do the same? Just put a couple of games on 1 720k partition.
Or get a flash rom so you don't need the cracked versions anyway. I have a couple of flashroms and it works so much better.
I use my SD interface only for true disk games

By cax

Prophet (3722)

cax's picture

14-01-2009, 20:29

MegaROM is usually split into 8 BIN files. If I will write single BAS loader for them all, I will be able to put
~ 112/8=14 games on a single partition. I have some tens of these MegaROMs, so I can manage them, but I still would prefer to organize things in a simpler way.

Do you remember - I have no numpad and I can't easily switch between partitions, so I'd like to switch as less as possible.
It would be cool if the future SD drive firmware will support numpad-less machines.

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