Freezes while writing with MFR running Nextor

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By SuchAGoonie

Expert (108)

SuchAGoonie's picture

16-01-2016, 21:30

A few weeks ago, I finally purchased a MegaFlashROM with SD slot. I've always used my FDD up until now and it's amazing to have so much storage and fast file access. I'm really loving the device.

I ran into freezing problems while writing files, though. I've been mailing with Manuel, trying to figure out what could be the problem. He even sent me a second MegaFlashROM to see if I could replicate the problems with that cartridge as well. I have the freezes with both cartridges, and I think it might be a problem with Nextor instead.

What happens, is this: when saving files in Basic, Compass and sometimes in Xtor, my MSX locks up. The caps lock, kana and pause keys still work, and pause even seems to function like it should: when paused, caps lock and kana won't do anything. I've been able to reproduce the freeze by writing a Basic program that I'll post below. Every time, I manually type it in, and I renum and save the program regularly. The freeze occurs while writing the final part of the program.

I've also tested saving to my diskdrive, and the freeze even happens then, so it's not directly related with SD-card access. When I try the same thing without the cartridge (and thus also Nextor), I don't run into freezes while writing to my FDD.

I'm thinking (and Manuel is as well, I believe) that the problem lies within either Nextor or the Nextor disk rom. I've found an old work in progress topic about Nextor in which Néstor mentions a user having a similar problem. The topic is here, and the post about the freeze-problem is on page eight:

https://www.msx.org/forum/msx-talk/development/nextor-work-progress-topic?page=7

My hardware setup is pretty basic:

  • MSX turboR A1ST without modifications, using a step down transformer
  • MegaFlashROM SCC+ SD 512K in slot 1

The Basic program (it's nothing special or even well coded or anything, but I can consistently freeze my MSX with it):

100 ON STOP GOSUB 340
110 STOP ON
120 '
130 GOSUB 190
140 GOTO 410
150 '
160 ' Start Program
170 ' -------------
180 '
190 SCREEN 5
200 COLOR 15,1,1
210 CLS
220 '
230 COLOR=(1,1,1,1)
240 COLOR=(2,0,0,0)
250 COLOR=(3,1,0,0)
260 COLOR=(4,2,1,1)
270 COLOR=(5,3,1,1)
280 '
290 RETURN
300 '
310 ' End Program
320 ' -----------
330 '
340 SCREEN 0
350 COLOR 15,4,4
360 END
370 '
380 ' Main Menu
390 ' ---------
400 '
410 X = 50
420 Y = 50
430 W = 100
440 H = 100
450 GOSUB 600
460 '
470 A$ = INKEY$
480 IF A$ = "" THEN 470
490 '
500 GOTO 350
510 '
520 ' Draw Panel
530 ' ----------
540 '
550 ' X - X-coordinate
560 ' Y - Y-coordinate
570 ' W - Width
580 ' H - Height
590 '
600 XW = X + W
610 YH = Y + H
620 '
630 LINE (X+1,Y+1) - (XW+1,YH+1), 2, B
640 '
650 LINE (X,Y) - (XW,YH), 3, BF
660 '
670 FOR N = 4 TO 8
680 LINE (X+N,Y) - (X,Y+N), 4
690 LINE (XW-N,YH) - (XW,YH-N), 5
700 NEXT
710 '
720 FOR N = 10 TO 14 STEP 2
730 LINE (X+N,Y) - (X,Y+N), 4
740 LINE (XW-N,YH) - (XW,YH-N), 5
750 NEXT
760 '
770 FOR N = 0 TO 3
780 LINE (X+N,Y) - (X,Y+N), 5
790 LINE (XW-N,YH) - (XW,YH-N), 5
800 NEXT
810 '
820 FOR N = 5 TO 5 STEP 2
830 LINE (X+N,Y) - (X,Y+N), 5
840 LINE (XW-N,YH) - (XW,YH-N), 5
850 NEXT
860 '
870 RETURN

And, yeah, I know lines 820 .. 850 don't need the loop, but that's because I first copy lines 720 .. 750 and save before cleaning up. The freeze mostly occurs around this part, while saving.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, as I really hope I can figure out what's causing the problems. I'm loving the MegaFlashROM cartridge and using Nextor has been amazing as well. I'd like nothing more than to see this fixed. :)

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By Louthrax

Prophet (2093)

Louthrax's picture

16-01-2016, 23:46

Nextor (and all FAT related OS) might be significantly slower when you have an SD card with lots of data. Each write access to the drive will take a lot of time (but this does not explain the problem with the floppy disk drive).

Anyway, could you try the same BASIC program / operations with a near-empty SD card (just Nextor and what's needed, nothing else) ?

By SuchAGoonie

Expert (108)

SuchAGoonie's picture

17-01-2016, 00:00

I've already tried that, but that didn't solve it. I've tried one large 4GB FAT16 partition, a smaller size FAT16 partition (don't remember exactly, it was 128MB, I think), and 16MB and 32MB FAT12 partitions. I get freezes while writing on each, and they were all newly created partitions.

Another problem I have, is that Compass can't show files on my large partition. It freezes my MSX in the same way that the write access sometimes does. I I try it on a 32MB partition, it can read the files. I've had write freezes in Compass on a 32MB partition and on a DSK image that I mapped to a drive with mapdrv.

By Grauw

Ascended (8515)

Grauw's picture

17-01-2016, 00:16

Did you try another SD card?

By SuchAGoonie

Expert (108)

SuchAGoonie's picture

17-01-2016, 00:30

Yeah, I've tried a cheap Patriot 8GB SDHC and a higher quality Lexar 32GB SDHC. Both had the same problem, in both cartridges.

By Louthrax

Prophet (2093)

Louthrax's picture

17-01-2016, 08:44

That's weird, I've never seen that problem here on my A1ST. I had a similar issue on another MSX, but this was caused by a dirty cartridge port (I just cleaned it and then it worked).

This could maybe be caused by a too weak step down transformer (something like the writing operation requires more power).

Ideally, to completely rule out hardware issue, we need to try to reproduce it in openMSX. That will also be a nice first step in solving the Nextor bug, if there's one. By the way, which Nextor version are you using ? Also, do you have a first non-writable A: partition on the cartridge itself (like the default one provided by Manuel, with MultiMente and other tools) ?

Also, nothing special in your AUTOEXEC.BAT ?

By SuchAGoonie

Expert (108)

SuchAGoonie's picture

17-01-2016, 10:00

I've tried cleaning the cartridge slots too. Both ports have the same issue.

My step down converter looks exactly like this one on eBay, but has these specifications:

Input: 230V ~ 50Hz
Output: AC 110V 75W

I'm using Nextor 2.10 alpha 2, but I've also tried downgrading to 2.04 (the last stable release).

I've been using the default ROM disk and my own version. There's nothing special in that, I've updated the PATH variable and don't start MultiMente as default.

One last thing I've tried was using the cartridge in my F700D. That MSX is modified with an MSX2+ BIOS switch, a V9958, a 7MHz switch and it might have an upgraded disk ROM (that was a modification you see often in F700s, right?). The F700 doesn't see any partitions on the SD-card, even when I repartition with FDISK on the F700. It just acts as if nothing has happened. It does this in both cartridge slots with both cartridges. All switches are off, but I think it has to do with the modifications the F700 has.

How could I try to replicate this in openMSX? Can it emulate the MegaFlashROM too? I don't use emulators normally.

By Louthrax

Prophet (2093)

Louthrax's picture

17-01-2016, 11:14

So you already did most of the relevant tests, darn!

I have an openMSX configuration with turboR and MFRSCC+SD. I did that a long time ago, I do not remember all steps (just know that's not so easy).

Anyway, I never had that freeze in openMSX, but I'm not using Glass and do not save too much BASIC programs. Also my openMSX configuration is probably a bit different from your real one.

Do you see that freeze when writing stuff using DOS "standard" commands, like "copy mgear.rom mgear2.rom" ? Maybe also try "copy" with different file sizes (smaller BASIC programs, bigger .DSK images...).

By Manuel

Ascended (15829)

Manuel's picture

17-01-2016, 11:28

openMSX emulates the cartridge, but it comes with empty flash. So you'll have to install the nextor kernel, rescue stuff and ROM disk all by hand, using the instructions of the MFRSCC+SD manual.

Another issue is how you get data onto the emulated SD card. For that you can either use floppy images (or dir-as-disk) or use diskmanipulator to import them onto a Sunrise IDE harddisk image and use it together with the MFRSCC+SD and then copy the data in MSX-DOS2 from the IDE 'harddisk' to the (virtual) SD-card.

By Guillian

Prophet (3234)

Guillian's picture

17-01-2016, 11:48

I tried to reproduce the bug in openMSX + MFR SCC+ SD yesterday but it worked fine. I saved the posted BASIC program about 8 times, adding and removing some lines.

By SuchAGoonie

Expert (108)

SuchAGoonie's picture

17-01-2016, 12:44

I'll try to set up openMSX, but I think it'll probably work just fine. There are loads of people with my set up, and I haven't found anyone experiencing the freezes I'm getting. Could it be something in my turboR maybe? Something with its transformer or my step down converter or something?

Copying files has always worked just fine, by the way. I've copied and move heaps of them, concatenated disk images into larger ones, stuff like that. That all went just fine.

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