Ninja Copimaru Kun the rare cartridge

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By Takamichi

Champion (389)

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26-09-2020, 07:57

The simplest procedure would be LOAD TRANSFER DATA -> MAIN BASE SLOT 2, then SAVE SAVE TAPE DATA.
I don't know GEAR's size but beware, according to the Backup Katsuyou Technique 1987 6 issue article, Copimaru's max dumpable size = 32 kb.
This articles insists Copimaru increases MSX's RAM depending on the original size. 8 -> 40 kb (ram at page 2 and 3), 16 -> 48 kb (1 and 2), 32 -> 64 kb (0 and 1). If it's true the **K figure would be 32 if MSX's RAM is 8 kb, though on openMSX Copimaru hangs with the 8 kb RAM Casio PV-7.

By gdx

Prophet (3753)

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26-09-2020, 09:42

Either info are missing or the software is buggy.

Rom Hunter is maybe more interessing.
https://www.msx.org/wiki/Rom_Hunter

By gdx

Prophet (3753)

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26-09-2020, 18:36

Takamichi wrote:

The above strongly suggests the cart has SRAM beside ROM. Can any bright spark analyze further and possibly get it working on emulator?

I noticed the port #40, #41 and #43 is read several time. That may be a protection or a function.
{mod: please don't edit quotes}

By Manuel

Ascended (16974)

Manuel's picture

26-09-2020, 22:46

Wasn't someone going to open the cartridge and post pictures? Smile That would help so much.

By NYYRIKKI

Enlighted (5595)

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27-09-2020, 01:18

I also now did have a look...

gdx wrote:

Either info are missing or the software is buggy.

It might be it does not work correctly as it does not have internal RAM to transfer the data... When you save the non existing RAM you actually just end up getting copy of the program ROM as a side effect... After saying this I must say that I tried the obvious tricks like adding RAM around the ROM, but there must be something else to it.

I also suspect it has some more bugs though... In all setups it does not initialize diskdrive correctly... and I suspect it does not work from sub-slot correctly either. I get a bit of a feeling that this software might be rare and forgotten for a good reason.

gdx wrote:

I noticed the port #40, #41 and #43 is read several time. That may be a protection or a function.

Yes, this seems a bit weird... It does seems to read the ports a lot, but values don't ever get used... It might be that this also some debug stuff left over from development... or maybe we are really looking copy of an copy protected copy program. All that I see just does not make real sense.

By gdx

Prophet (3753)

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27-09-2020, 02:54

Reading a I/O port can be used to command a mapper's page switching or something else in the same way as a write to an address or to an I/O port. Colecovision Rom mappers use INs to switch pages.

NYYRIKKI wrote:

It might be it does not work correctly as it does not have internal RAM to transfer the data...

I tried putting the Rom in the slot 1 extended with the RAM in one of the other slots with openMSX. So I tried several possibilities without result.

By Takamichi

Champion (389)

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27-09-2020, 14:57

Copimaru is indeed overprotected. The review says its developer defaced/erased chip names to evade circuit analysis. If it's tamper proof and intentionally corrupts itself when dumped, there are few things we can do...
Another control: Pushing right/left cursor key switch all cassette symbol colors cyan/red. What does it mean is unknown.

By gdx

Prophet (3753)

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27-09-2020, 15:30

The text says that Copimaru have 32kB RAM located in the pages 2 and 3 when inserted in a MSX 8kB, in the pages 1 and 2 in a MSX 16kB or in the pages 0 and 1 in a MSX 32kB.

By enribar

Paragon (1073)

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27-09-2020, 19:15

@manuel: I'm the owner of this cart, unfortunately plastic case parts are strongly joined together, I'm fear of destroy this unique cart. Maybe I will try in the future, but... (read further).

I've done some tests about saving dumps to tape and I discovered one surprising feature that allow me to say: "wow! you're so great but also so bastard, Copimaru!"
NYYRIKKI and Takamichi said right things about internal RAM: maybe there's not RAM inside and for sure it's not SRAM.
More RAM is needed to the dump's operations but it doesn't keep data after the shutdown of the MSX.
I tested the Copimaru on a Philips NMS 8245 with 128KB RAM: maybe the cart uses 64KB of this main RAM, since it cannot find RAM expansions in other subslots. The evidence is that every time I select the RAM option, Copimaru replies that I'm not allowed or like so... RAM is simply a buffer between the cartridge reading and the saving to media steps, of the dumping process.
So a dump to a tape, using a real Philips MSX2, was done following these steps:
- Copimaru into slot1 and cart into slot2;
- press SELECT at boot to enter the Copimaru's menu;
- choose LOAD <= ROM option, "TRANSFER DATA" hilights in red colour;
- choose SAVE => TAPE option, and Copimaru goes into the save screen;
- default speed is 1200 baud but you can retrype another value; I dind't test this in depth;
- type filename and confirm the saving.

And now here's the real suprise!
I sampled the recording at 44KHz mono and openMSX started to read the wave.
But I noticed that volume decreases from the normal level and then raises again!
This is really bad during loading a tape and openMSX returned "Device I/O error!".
This make me speculate that dumps are protected and loadable only within the Copimaru environment.
Some screenshots of my experiment are here:
https://msx.pics/album/yzix

By mars2000you

Enlighted (5698)

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27-09-2020, 20:06

The rarity of this cartridge could be explained at the same time by
* its hyper-protection (probably super-glue and 'evil' programming)
* the unability to use the dumps independently from the cartridge features
* its unabiliy to detect RAM in sub-slots - At the time it was released (1986), most new MSX computers had 64kB RAM in Japan and using sub-slots was 'normal', especially with MSX2 computers.

When you consider all these elements, its only real utility is adding RAM to computers with only 8kB, 16kB or 32kB RAM, what limits the number of interested MSX fans.

The hyper-protection makes me also think that a part of the BASIC instructions are maybe there just to create extra confusion. It could be possible that some instructions are actually without any effect.

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