What should I do with my new Philips VG8235?

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By Meits

Scribe (6338)

Meits's picture

13-01-2015, 07:27

I've never managed extracting file-less disks with disk manager... If I have to I use putdisk.com on my MSX... Don't know if there's a way to do this on a PC...
Eitherway, only format on your MSX or in an emulator... Don't let windows or diskmanager format for you...

By Manuel

Ascended (17692)

Manuel's picture

13-01-2015, 11:48

Meits: dcopy.exe does it (or Linux).

CX5M'er: do you have other disks which came with the machine that work properly?

By CX5Mer

Champion (322)

CX5Mer's picture

13-01-2015, 19:39

I thought I'd already told you that I was given some disks with this machine. These are a games compilation ripped from cartridges, Philips Home Office & Video Graphics, and a fruit machine game. They all work, and I've managed to copy the games disk using my MSX2. The copy works just as well as the original.

By Meits

Scribe (6338)

Meits's picture

13-01-2015, 20:27

Now if you download a DSK file somewhere and you open it with Diskmanager and see files, you can copy them to your floppy disk... If you don't see files you need Dcopy (a dos command) which Manuel mentioned... That tool can copy sector based DSK files to physical floppies as well...

Now if your floppy drive behaves, you can handle every DSK file you can find...

By CX5Mer

Champion (322)

CX5Mer's picture

13-02-2015, 18:05

At last, I've got round to setting up my old PC bought in 2000 with a built in floppy disk drive to see exactly what's wrong with it, as well as if it can read and write floppy disks formatted on my Philips MSX2. This is a Pentium III MMX based PC with 64Mb RAM, which has no Ethernet port and no WiFi. I think the BIOS is Award, but I've unplugged the PC now. I used to connect it to the Internet first of all with an external dialup modem probably plugged into the serial port, then later on with a cable broadband modem, plugged into a USB port. I found it took me at least several minutes of changing BIOS settings to get past error messages such as "CPU has been changed or is unworkable" and "System Disk is invalid. Please insert System Disk then press any key". I changed the CPU speed to Auto, and made the older, smaller (10Gb instead of 80Gb) of two hard drives the Master hard drive. Finally, the old 10Gb hard drive booted up into Windows XP and I managed to log in! I found lots of old, half remembered files from about 2005-2006, including lots of TXT files. I copied some of these TXT files onto the already formatted 720K MS-DOS format disk, but found that my MSX2 couldn't read the disk! I then reformatted this disk on my MSX2 and tried copying some TXT files onto it again. This time, it worked! I was able to read the disk under MSX Disk BASIC 1.0 and MSX-DOS. I found I was able to display the contents of these files on my MSX-DOS screen with the command TYPE [filename] , where the file extension was always TXT. Although some file names on the PC were more than 8 characters long, these were truncated to 8 characters including the ~ character to indicate this. I gave the command TYPE [filename] where I typed the file name as it appeared on my MSX-DOS screen and the files were all displayed! I noticed that a £ sign was displayed as u with a grave accent, but that was about all. I also saved an MSX BASIC V.2.0 program onto this disk as ASCII and used the TXT file extension. This appeared on the PC as a TXT file and I was able to open it using Windows XP. Now I think I just need some way of connecting this PC to the Internet again or a way of getting some MSX software files or DSK images onto it so I can copy these using its built in floppy drive. The easiest thing to do may be to copy the files from my other Desktop PC which has no internal floppy drive onto a USB memory stick. I'm doing a course about building, upgrading, and modifying PCs, so I think I'll be able to fix it somehow. I learnt from this course that flash memory such as USB can only be reformatted about 100 times though. I'm not sure about how many times I can copy files onto it and delete them, but new USB memory sticks are cheaper now. Any suggestions about what to do next would be welcome, though.

By Manuel

Ascended (17692)

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13-02-2015, 21:01

Sounds like a good idea, use usb sticks to move files to the old PC and then copy them on to the floppy disks for the MSX.

By RetroTechie

Paragon (1563)

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13-02-2015, 23:47

Going through this thread, I can't help feeling sorry for CX5Mer in a way... Eek! Bringing a P3 era PC back into service just to transfer some software between PC and MSX. Not worth the trouble imho. There's a few rules I've always stuck to:

  • If at all possible, use real DD disks. The HD disk / tape over hole trick is well known, but it's just asking for trouble.
  • Format the disks on the MSX (720KB / double sided / 80 tracks) so you get correct media ID byte (F9h), disk parameters and MSX bootcode in sector 0. It doesn't matter if you do that in MSX-Basic or in MSX-DOS.
  • Where possible, transfer software as loose files. Faster, easier to place multiple programs on 1 disk, prevents you from writing 720 KB just to copy a few files, and also avoids re-writing a disk's bootsector (which should be avoided if it isn't absolutely necessary).
  • For 720K disk images, find a PC tool that works reliable in your OS of choice, and stick to it. Not a tool of choice, and then jump through hoops to get it to work. Back in Windows 9x days I used DCOPY.EXE (MS-DOS), these days (Debian) it's Linux-standard "dd" utility for me.
  • 360K MSX disks are practically impossible to work with on PC's due to BIOS/driver/other software issues. Crazy The most difficult case is the common one: creating / writing such disks. PC's do know a 360 KB format, but that's double sided / 40 tracks vs. MSX'es single sided / 80 tracks. For 360K disk images, just transfer the 360K image as a file using a 720K formatted disk, and then write to its own disk using a tool on the MSX itself.

With a modern PC I'd go the USB floppy drive route. If that USB floppy drive can't handle DD disks properly, move onto the next one. I myself have 3 of these USB floppy drives, only ever used the 1st one because it did all it's supposed to do. For all of those 3 I paid anywhere between 5 and 10 Euro's / piece. These drives are being dumped left & right these days, and a good brand / model 2nd hand drive has more chance of working with DD disks, than those cheapest-possible-cost models you'll find new.

And last but not least: CF or SD card readers (for MSX) are expensive / hard to find, but well worth it. Having one of those makes your MSX life sooooo much easier! I can understand a need for cheap, but all your time wasted isn't free either.

Btw: there's also some utilities around to transfer software from PC -> MSX using the tape input. Have you looked into that? Question

By RetroTechie

Paragon (1563)

RetroTechie's picture

14-02-2015, 00:16

RetroTechie wrote:

The HD disk / tape over hole trick is well known, but it's just asking for trouble.

Just to elaborate on that, consider this:

  • The magnetic properties of these disks are different (unlike single sided vs. double sided). A (real) DD drive writing to a HD disk will magnetize the material weaker that a HD drive would. And thus even if successful, such recordings will last a lot shorter. A drive writing as HD onto a DD disk, uses more magnetic 'force' than needed, so recording may spill over into adjacent tracks, or corrupt bits right before/after on the same track.
  • That is assuming other things like data transfer rate, # of sectors per track etc. are set correctly.
  • Suppose like in this case, you have a HD drive in your MSX. You tape of the DD/HD hole using transparent tape, but the drive actually uses an optical sensor, and thus 'sees' a HD disk. Or you use tape that looks opaque in visible light, but the sensor uses IR light, and the tape is more transparent to that than one would expect.
  • Thicker tape may have effect on the position of the disk inside the drive. Due to mechanical tolerances, this probably won't matter. But again, you're gambling.
  • The DD/HD sensor is a mechanical switch, it may fail without you noticing. The signal is passed onto the floppy controller, for a PC that supports HD and DD disks, the wire that carries this signal is also subject to failure. Compare with a write protected disk that's happily written to because "write protect" signal wire has lost contact... Evil

All of the above may combine to f**k things up. And if that happens, chances are you don't know the exact cause.

Summarized: if you 'have' to use real floppies on your MSX, use real DD disks. They're relatively rare, but still easy to find.

By CX5Mer

Champion (322)

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14-02-2015, 18:56

The HD floppy disks with black tape over the HD holes work. It seems to me that DD disks are only available used and reformatted on eBay, so this doesn't sound like a very good idea. HD disks are available new from Maplin. I haven't got all that much money and I've already wasted money on one USB floppy drive, so I don't want to waste any more. I can't afford a CF or SD card reader for MSX. My time spent on doing this is free or not worth anything at all, so it doeesn't matter that it's already taken me nearly two months to do it. Apart from this, I'm learning how to build, repair and upgrade PCs, so working on this will help me with that. I hope one day to once more run the original version of "The Sims" on this PC, which I used it for a lot in the past. Unfortunately, I added a CD/RW drive and a DVD R/W drive, replacing the original DVD/CD ROM drive and now neither of these optical drives is working. Having that running on a spare PC in the background would be worth all this work. I've never heard of any utilities to transfer software from PC to the MSX cassette interface.

By CX5Mer

Champion (322)

CX5Mer's picture

12-03-2015, 13:52

Good news! Last night I had a session to try and transfer software, which lasted a few hours. I reformatted an 8Gb USB memory stick as MS-DOS and FAT16 which only used about 4Gb of it, followed of course by wondering where my newly formatted USB drive actually was on my computer system. I didn't make a note of everything I did or in what order, but it involved one desktop PC running Windows XP and Ubuntu Linux with an Internet connection but no floppy drive, and another desktop PC running only Windows XP, without an Internet connection, but with a floppy drive. I downloaded a few or several disks worth of software, found some HD floppy disks which weren't that important, stuck some black tape over the HD holes and reformatted them on my Philips VG8235. To copy the software from the USB stick to the older PC I used copy and paste. I also used copy and paste whenever dealing with lots of individual files, but I successfully used Disk Manager to copy some DSK images! After all this, I finally managed to run AGE5 and PaintIV on my Philips VG8235. Unfortunately, I couldn't manage to draw anything with them. These disks wouldn't autoboot and copying the MSX-DOS system files onto them didn't help. I had to run them by first booting from my Philips Home Office disk. I suppose I'll have to carefully read the documentation and may even have to get an MSX mouse or an adapter. Apart from this, I copied the BCF disk No. 1 which either crashed or I didn't understand it, then I finally reformatted that floppy disk and copied the ZEN Assembler onto it. I managed to run ZEN, then made an AUTOEXEC.BAS loader which also displayed a list of commands available. I don't know how to use most of these commands yet, but these are featured in one or more books which have recently been uploaded to these forums. I found out by trial and error that the command u gave a disassembly of part of the RAM, but all other commands required capital letters. I started using A for Assemble, but I couldn't work out how to stop editing a program. I'll have a break from this now, because tonight I'm finally building a PC as part of a course I'm doing!

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