Flashjacks combo cartridge by Aquijacks

Flashjacks combo cartridge by Aquijacks

by Aquijacks on 15-04-2018, 12:05
Topic: Hardware
Languages:

FlashJacks is a new device which includes multiple devices. Inside we can find a typical FlashROM and RAM, a compatible Sunrise drive and a repertoire of audio systems for our MSX. All of this can be connected to an internal slot expander at our convenience. It is the philosophy of this cartridge to get all of these devices coexist in a single slot and behave like the original device they synthesize without patches nor software adaptations.

The technical features are as follows:

  • 1 slot expander.
  • 4 FlashROM units with 14 loading mappers and several synthesized EPROM models (AMD, ATMEL, MICROCHIP, etc) up to 4MB each.
  • 4 RAM mapper units up to 4MB each.
  • 4 MEGARAM units up to 2MB each.
  • 1 Sinfox compatible drive with SD access (v4.04).
  • 1 Sunrise compatible IDE drive. Autoconversion and SD card operations on the fly. FAT16 Nextor compatible.
  • 2 Switchable stereo PSG units. Sampling rate 48KHz/16bit per channel.
  • 2 Switchable stereo SCC units. Sampling rate 48KHz/16bit per channel.
  • 1 Switchable stereo FM unit. Sampling rate 48KHz/16bit per channel. In addition, it can be added an FMPAC unit with full synthesis where the internal soft is included with its original mapper and even an SRAM of 8KBytes.

The estimated cost is about 130€. For more detailed information please refer to the contact form.

Relevant link: Flashjacks website
EDIT: As the author mentioned the cartridge is not for sale!

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Comments (45)

By hamlet

Scribe (1671)

hamlet's picture

15-04-2018, 12:28

Good news and nice design!

By Pablibiris

Paragon (1662)

Pablibiris's picture

15-04-2018, 12:44

This is a GREAT piece of hardware. Congratulations Aquijacks!!

By mambrino

Rookie (30)

mambrino's picture

15-04-2018, 15:39

Good specs & nice device that includes everything a MSX user might need

Great work! thanks Wink

By Manuel

Ascended (14552)

Manuel's picture

15-04-2018, 21:40

Is there an idea how accurate the FM emulator is, assuming an FPGA implementation is used?

Awesome that more and more multidevices are becoming available for MSX users!

By x-nen Aivalahostia

Paladin (873)

x-nen Aivalahostia's picture

15-04-2018, 22:09

Wow, it looks great!!!
Is there any video of the device in operation?
Congratulations

By mars2000you

Enlighted (5368)

mars2000you's picture

15-04-2018, 22:17

I took a look at the manual and I think MSX music fans will love this new hardware: noise extremely reduced, problems of volume/balance between different soundchips resolved, real stereo for PSG, SCC and MSX-MUSIC, possibility to add external soundchips cartridges (FM-PAC, MSX-AUDIO, MoonSound) and even the MP3 cartridge!

It implies that some things that are possible with the blueMSX emulator in the sound area (especially customized stereo) are here enhanced, as the real stereo is produced by an intelligent division of the music channels. For example, the stereo MSX-MUSIC:

Quote:

If we have the Stereo mode activated, the instruments are distributed in the
environment 180º as follows:
- Channel 1, 3 and 5 on the left side at 45º.
- Channel 0, 2 and 4, on the right side at 135º
- Rest of channels and percussion through the central channel at 90º

I guess purists of the original mono sound will not like this, but for many users, a good stereo sound is generally better than a mono sound, at least when it's not pseudo-stereo as like with the Dutch FM-PAK!

By Pablibiris

Paragon (1662)

Pablibiris's picture

15-04-2018, 22:33

I have one of them and...it's awesome. I was one of the three lucky ones who could test the cartridge Smile
The stereo sound is AMAZING.

By djh1697

Paragon (1358)

djh1697's picture

15-04-2018, 23:34

I am impressed with the fat32 compatibility, the 96/24 stereo compatibility is good too! Shame there is no sp/dif out? Hang on, i use my PC to connect to my HiFi, using ROON. I doubt that sort of power will ever be available for my MSX2. I am very impressed though Smile

By syn

Paragon (1862)

syn's picture

16-04-2018, 00:17

Looks nice, very interested in this project.

mars2000you wrote:

I guess purists of the original mono sound will not like this, but for many users, a good stereo sound is generally better than a mono sound, at least when it's not pseudo-stereo as like with the Dutch FM-PAK!

Im not a purist of mono sound but a music "purist".. and imho fixed panning per channel settings does not sound preferable. Because from my point of view the current settings will mess up a lot of songs, just because bassline should be in the dead center, but here the first 6 FM channels seem to be panned to either sides, which in my opinion is not "good stereo sound". Chords might get broken up in different sides, or layered instruments (2 channels that are supposed to form 1 instrument/sound are now broken up) Also the panning seems to be fixed at 45/90/135 degrees, while perhaps a more varied/spread out panning per sound chip (for example slightly less wide on scc, even narrower for psg) might sound better.

But I have not heard this device yet so I dont know, it might sound better than I imagine Wink

By Meits

Scribe (5066)

Meits's picture

16-04-2018, 00:44

The Dutch FM-PAK was not pseudo stereo. They split the musical channels from the percussion channels. Each on one side. That was mighty ugly. That was the Checkmark, as well as the one developed by Digital KC which was sold by MK Public Domain and produced (or sold) by MSX-Club West Friesland. I never understood the reason for it.

Stereo can be nice if it's done like Moonsound does it, by choice of the composer.

Anyhoo, you're always free to connect the device with a mono cable Wink

By syn

Paragon (1862)

syn's picture

16-04-2018, 01:02

Meits wrote:

The Dutch FM-PAK was not pseudo stereo. They split the musical channels from the percussion channels. Each on one side. That was mighty ugly. That was the Checkmark, as well as the one developed by Digital KC which was sold by MK Public Domain and produced (or sold) by MSX-Club West Friesland. I never understood the reason for it.

If i recall correctly it was advertised as pseudo stereo back in the days (or magazines called it that). Obviously "true" pseudo stereo something else (I guess difference in phase or pitch between Left and Right)

Quote:

Stereo can be nice if it's done like Moonsound does it, by choice of the composer.

Anyhoo, you're always free to connect the device with a mono cable Wink

Manual says I can select mono out anyway so I dont see it as a problem, just pointing out some potential flaws/problems Wink The other features are interesting/cool enough Wink

By Meits

Scribe (5066)

Meits's picture

16-04-2018, 01:12

MSX-Club Gouda sold the so called Pseudo Stereo Box. Mono in "stereo" out. That little box could serve any mono device. I remember a guy having it. It was very subtle. Not bad at all. It was not fixed stereo per channel. A bit of frequency spreading.

By syn

Paragon (1862)

syn's picture

16-04-2018, 01:26

Meits wrote:

MSX-Club Gouda sold the so called Pseudo Stereo Box. Mono in "stereo" out. That little box could serve any mono device. I remember a guy having it. It was very subtle. Not bad at all. It was not fixed stereo per channel. A bit of frequency spreading.

oh right I was mixing things up. I recall this pseudo stereo box. It had some stereo spreading? nice. My friend back then said it sucks because it was just a splitter but he seems to be missinformed

By gdx

Prophet (2205)

gdx's picture

16-04-2018, 03:34

Have improved compatibility with the driver for Nextor or is it the same as with the original Sunrise CF/IDE?

By Pablibiris

Paragon (1662)

Pablibiris's picture

16-04-2018, 08:43

Well...If you haven't heard the Stereo of the cartridge, why talk about it?
First hear it and later Talk about.

By Meits

Scribe (5066)

Meits's picture

16-04-2018, 09:44

Pablibiris wrote:

Well...If you haven't heard the Stereo of the cartridge, why talk about it?
First hear it and later Talk about.

Because it ain't that hard to simulate this with the numerous split up tracks I already have on my harddisk. So yes, I've heard the effect.

By syn

Paragon (1862)

syn's picture

16-04-2018, 14:41

Pablibiris wrote:

Well...If you haven't heard the Stereo of the cartridge, why talk about it?
First hear it and later Talk about.

So unless I have heard/seen/played something, I can not say anything bad about it but good things are okay?

I'm not shooting the product down/saying it sucks, merely offering feedback based on the information available. I am very interested in this product and will most likely buy one when its out/more info is available. Besides my comment was mostly in response to Mars' post.

By Grauw

Enlighted (7353)

Grauw's picture

16-04-2018, 14:04

Guys,

Have a listen then... :D

My opinion, it’s not my cup of tea, but the effect sounds ok.

(Unlike the FM Stereo PAK which seems born more from a "it’s technically possible" mindset -the OPLL has a separate output for drums-, rather than because it sounded nice or was in any way practical :)).

By Meits

Scribe (5066)

Meits's picture

16-04-2018, 14:35

I've heard it and it was exactly what I expected of it. I do think the majority will like this and that's what the maker does it for and gets credits for. I'm kind of interested in the cartridge as well, but will not use this feature for myself Smile

By PAC

Guardian (4817)

PAC's picture

16-04-2018, 17:56

In my opinion this feature is very welcome, very innovative and it sounds great. This is something new to the MSX standard and as the author explain in the manual, it offers a new way of composing music taking into account how the stereo output is conceived. Like it or not is there, so let's take advantage of it.

By Ivan

Ascended (9008)

Ivan's picture

16-04-2018, 19:53

In Spain that so called stereo FM-PAC was also sold here, take a look at the last page of this magazine:

https://archive.org/stream/MSXClub/MSX%20Club%2080#page/n53/...

It was probably imported from The Netherlands.

By Aquijacks

Master (229)

Aquijacks's picture

16-04-2018, 21:26

Hi.
I introduce myself. I am the creator of Flashjacks and I want to comment on some comments I received in the mail.
You ask me by mail for the sale of Flashjacks and unfortunately I do not have the necessary means to make this unit in quantity and less to export it from the country.
In advance, I apologize for this.

It is my desire to be able to make units for everything but as a private person I can not reach that dream for the moment.

Greetings to all and thanks for your understanding.

By syn

Paragon (1862)

syn's picture

16-04-2018, 23:28

OH so it will not be for sale? too bad Wink the newspost made me think it will be for sale later. So basically it will just be a small local batch?

*edit* nevermind, I just read your e-mail to me. I see its indeed a small local batch. Too bad. Thank you for taking your time to respond anyway Wink

By Giangiacomo Zaffini 2

Expert (67)

Giangiacomo Zaffini 2's picture

17-04-2018, 00:49

Too bad it is not for sale (I hope it is like that for now, but in the future it will change)!
Just out of curiosity: what is the purpose of four mega ROM configurations? Is it to cram 4 mega ROMs into one, enabling favourite one at switch command? Or mega ROMs can some-how be chained? I guess only ASC16/ASCII-16kByte rom mapping can give a 4 MBytes size.
Beyond that, 4 MSX-DOS2 mapped RAM banks of 4 MBytes each? Is it MSX-DOS2 standard feasible? mumble

By Aquijacks

Master (229)

Aquijacks's picture

17-04-2018, 06:41

You can configure it as you want.
You can put 4x4Mb Rom each in a subslot or you can make it Ram and have a sum of 16MB.
And the Msx accepts it perfectly.

By Meits

Scribe (5066)

Meits's picture

17-04-2018, 11:20

If you can't produce big quantities, maybe go the same way as Carnivore 2 went: https://www.8bits4ever.net/
I think it's a bit sad for the people who read the news about the product, just to find out that they can't have it.

By Wolverine_nl

Paladin (908)

Wolverine_nl's picture

17-04-2018, 12:22

Yes, it is a bit confusing, if it is local, then when published here, where allot of people world wide see it, you really need to mention it in the news article.

I do agree with Meits, strike a deal with 8bits4ever, they can handle a more international market. Smile These inventive products are always great news anyways Wink

By Pablibiris

Paragon (1662)

Pablibiris's picture

17-04-2018, 13:34

at first,some of here criticized the cartridge and its Stereo .... now everyone wants it ... curious Wink

By syn

Paragon (1862)

syn's picture

17-04-2018, 15:09

Pablibiris wrote:

at first,some of here criticized the cartridge and its Stereo .... now everyone wants it ... curious Wink

Talking about me? The stereo is only a small part of the features. Like I said multiple times, I am interested in this device and was most likely going to get one once ppl have shared their experience /any initial issues are reported/solved.

I don't think I can make it more clear: Criticism does not equal dislike or hate Wink Hannibal

By gdx

Prophet (2205)

gdx's picture

17-04-2018, 15:18

Pablibiris wrote:

at first,some of here criticized the cartridge and its Stereo .... now everyone wants it ... curious Wink

Not me because Nextor driver for Sunrise CF/IDE is used, the contacts are not golden, stereo is not really interesting on a mono system and the price expensive.

By Wolverine_nl

Paladin (908)

Wolverine_nl's picture

17-04-2018, 16:17

interested and wanting it are 2 different things, plus now take also into account interested vs disappointed in this news-post. Please let us know when you are going to sell it on a larger scale or make it Open Source on GitHub. Cool

By Meits

Scribe (5066)

Meits's picture

17-04-2018, 16:47

Pablibiris wrote:

at first,some of here criticized the cartridge and its Stereo .... now everyone wants it ... curious Wink

I don't think I understand you on this while I do think you understand that the part Syn and I criticize is a minor thing which can be circumvented rather easily.

Anyhoo. In the future please have a producer for a device before telling the world about it. MRC's newspost is not a platform for telling people what they can't have. There's the forums for that.

By Pablibiris

Paragon (1662)

Pablibiris's picture

17-04-2018, 17:57

Lol...this is the news section,is not a post in "trading and collecting" forum Wink

By Meits

Scribe (5066)

Meits's picture

17-04-2018, 18:53

Pablibiris wrote:

Lol...this is the news section,is not a post in "trading and collecting" forum Wink

This is going nowhere.

By ro

Guardian (4002)

ro's picture

19-04-2018, 07:36

I think Aquijacks did a great job on this device. Not only because it trully is a wonderfull piece of electronics, but also a goal he realized. Making new waves just because you feel the need to is stepping forwards. And it feels good, I'm sure you know that feeling.

Even if this is just a local batch and not world domination, it still deserves a news posts. This is the MSX platform that tells you what's up. There's no "rules" on when it should be news post worthy as in "is it for sale worldwide or not". I'm glad I read this post.

Makes me feel good. Running Naked in a Field of Flowers

Hope we hear from you more often, Aquijacks. Keep that soldering iron hot!

By Parn

Champion (304)

Parn's picture

18-04-2018, 14:01

knm1983 wrote:

Hello. Here I have some samplers for us.
I hope good for us.

Thanks Smile Smile

Sounds better than I expected. Too bad we can't have it! Will it be open sourced or made available for someone else to produce it?

By Dhampird

Hero (583)

Dhampird's picture

19-04-2018, 06:53

This cart looks amazing! Outstanding work behind!
Felicitaciones Antonio por el Proyecto, la ostia!

By PAC

Guardian (4817)

PAC's picture

19-04-2018, 20:55

Let me comment that I've been the person behind this news post. Although it was written by Aquijacks itself my main goal was to publish it in this format and I was pushing him to do so. I was already aware from the beginning that only a limited batch would be produced but even so I thought it deserved this announcement due to its great features and quality development. Yes, maybe I was so optimistic thinking future batches would produced after good reception, I'm sorry.

I understand your reactions but please don't focus your frustration to him, just me.

By Wolverine_nl

Paladin (908)

Wolverine_nl's picture

20-04-2018, 09:47

PAC wrote:

Let me comment that I've been the person behind this news post. Although it was written by Aquijacks itself my main goal was to publish it in this format and I was pushing him to do so. I was already aware from the beginning that only a limited batch would be produced but even so I thought it deserved this announcement due to its great features and quality development. Yes, maybe I was so optimistic thinking future batches would produced after good reception, I'm sorry.

I understand your reactions but please don't focus your frustration to him, just me.

No worries PAC, every new MSX expansion is good news and eventhough i am a little dissapointed because it was not mentioned. thats all Wink

By Alexey

Guardian (1602)

Alexey's picture

04-05-2018, 12:50

Interesting project. However, the BGA chip makes it almost impossible to assemble the cartridge at home without the special equipment. I wonder why this chip was selected in the first place.

Will the project be open-source? How is the firmware updated?

By Aquijacks

Master (229)

Aquijacks's picture

04-05-2018, 18:07

Hi.
That chip was selected because it allowed great power in a small space.
Its FPGA power exceeds 4 to 8 times (in some versions) the FPGA that has a onechip.
The firmware is updated with physical cable.
And at the moment it is not opensource. In fact, it carries a complex encryption system that would prevent any copy.

Regards.

By Pencioner

Hero (647)

Pencioner's picture

04-05-2018, 21:24

Any chance you will create batch for sale in the future?

By Alexey

Guardian (1602)

Alexey's picture

07-05-2018, 10:03

Copyprotection for a device that no one will be able to assemble? Sounds a bit extreme to me. But it's the engineer's choice of course.

By Aquijacks

Master (229)

Aquijacks's picture

07-05-2018, 20:49

It is really conceived as a whim, not as a line of business.
Copy protection is one of those theories that I implanted simply to know if it worked.

I do not know if I can do this device massively. As you say, the manufacturing itself is already an anti-copy system.
Complicated, very complicated even for me.

My MSX profile