Philips MSX external USB keyboard interface

Philips MSX external USB keyboard interface

by ro on 28-12-2021, 15:06
Topic: Hardware
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The MSX platform has a wide variety in form factor, where brands like Philips and Sony manufactured systems with an external keyboard. While the connections of such keyboards are proprietary and divers in layout, a Dutch MSX hardware developer managed to get the Philips NMS series to work with a modern USB keyboard. The interface is now available.

Most MSX models are a uni-formed, or compact systems where every piece of hardware is included in one big chunk of computer galore. A system as a whole, without extensions. While the Philips VG series of MSX computers adheres solely to that format, some NMS (New Media System) series have external keyboards. These keyboards are connected using a typical Philips 26 pins connector. Shopping for a replacement of that keyboard might end in disappointment. Fear not, there's a solution.

Recently MRC user Jeroen Taverne developed a USB keyboard interface for Philips NMS8250, NMS8255, and NMS8280 MSX machines. The interface plugs right into the Philips NMS keyboard connector with an USB connector in front for any USB keyboard to connect. It comes with extra function-keys, a build-in help page, and debug features. The firmware is upgradable on PC, MAC, and Linux. It currently supports Dutch (US layout), German, and French machines and keyboards. Italian, Spanish, and perhaps Russian will follow soon.

Jeroen mentioned that he is looking into the Sony external keyboard connections too, you know the ones that came with the famous HB-F700 series.

If you are interested in a copy, send Jeroen a PM at his Facebook page or drop an e-mail at him. The interface will cost you 40 euros ex shipping costs.

Now, go and plug your favorite mechanical board to you favorite system. Type on, bro!

relevant link: MSX keyboard USB interface
relevant link: More information on our forum

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Comments (15)

By aoineko

Master (256)

aoineko's picture

28-12-2021, 16:17

Nice interface! Very interesting (as a 8250 owner).

What about the key ghosting problem that often occur on PC?
Does this interface solve the problem?
Does it depend on the keyboards?

By JeroenTaverne

Supporter (12)

JeroenTaverne's picture

28-12-2021, 17:26

Key ghosting depends on the used keyboard. The space button often gives issues with the cursor keys while gaming. A gaming keyboard does not have this problem as there are extra diodes in the keyboard matrix. I actually fixed the problem for all keyboards with my interface when version 1.09 or higher is installed. The window keys can be used as space button as well which do not have the ghosting problem.

By ray2day

Paladin (676)

ray2day's picture

28-12-2021, 20:59

Good work! Mail sent.

By aoineko

Master (256)

aoineko's picture

29-12-2021, 00:25

JeroenTaverne wrote:

Key ghosting depends on the used keyboard. The space button often gives issues with the cursor keys while gaming. A gaming keyboard does not have this problem as there are extra diodes in the keyboard matrix. I actually fixed the problem for all keyboards with my interface when version 1.09 or higher is installed. The window keys can be used as space button as well which do not have the ghosting problem.

Thanks for the explanations.

By hamlet

Scribe (3839)

hamlet's picture

29-12-2021, 13:27

I have now had the pleasure of testing the adapter for a while.
As Jeroen mentions, not every USB keyboard works without glitches with it.
Only high-quality gaming keyboards could pass the Nemesis test for me. Razor and Cooler Master did not cause any problems. It is a real pleasure to use these keyboards for MSX.
Special keyboards, such as my Anne and my Leopold unfortunately do not work; also my corded Apple keyboards cannot be persuaded to cooperate.
For the typical, cheap keyboards on offer, Jeroen has come up with a solution: the window key can function as a fire button here.
Setting up and updating the software is also completely easy and problem-free. US-American, French and German layout is supported.
The adapter is not only recommended for people who miss a Philips keyboard or have a defective, worn-out one.
You will be thrilled by the new typing experience on a high-quality keyboard!
Thanks for this great effort Jeroen!

By enribar

Paragon (1155)

enribar's picture

29-12-2021, 14:51

Is it possibile to compile one step at a time a list of "more-or-less good working" keyboards?

By TheKid

Paragon (1235)

TheKid's picture

29-12-2021, 15:07

Maybe it is an idea to make some keys programmable. So that you could determine for your self what F6 up to 12 will do.

By hamlet

Scribe (3839)

hamlet's picture

03-01-2022, 14:15

I will update this list with any messages you send, but note that Jerome will continue to add improvements to the driver and changes may occur.
Sooner or later we can implement this list to the wiki.
This list does not claim to be complete:

Work:

  • Razor Black Widow
  • CoolerMaster MASTERKEYS MK750
  • Motospeed mechanical RGB keyboard (no ghosting)
  • Battletron mechanical RGB keyboard (no ghosting) (sold by Action)
  • Logitech G105 gaming keyboard (no ghosting)
  • Logitech wireless keyboard with Unifying receiver
  • Lenovo EKB-536A
  • Logitech K120
  • Microsoft wired keyboard 400
  • Sweex KB060US
  • DELL SK-8115
  • Dell KB216
  • Konig CSKMCU100US
  • Crossair K70 LUX RGB
  • Rapoo (X)1800

Don't work at all:

  • Leopold FC660M
  • ANNE PRO 2
  • Apple Pro Keyboard
    • M2452
    • M7803
    • A1048
    • A1243
  • Logitech k400+ with a Unifying receiver

Don't passed the Nemesis test but works; need to press Windows key instead of space to shoot.

  • Dell nameless generic cheapy

By JeroenTaverne

Supporter (12)

JeroenTaverne's picture

30-12-2021, 12:01

Keyboards which have a USB hub built in will not work at the moment. Most Apple keyboards have a USB hub to connect the mouse to the keyboard, so don't please be alarmed by large lists of non working Apple keyboards. Most keyboards will work fine. If someone can supply me temporary with a Leopold or Anne keyboard, then I can see if I can fix it.

The problem with space and cursor keys are caused by the keyboard itself. The problem is shown in MSX emulators as well. See https://www.msx.org/forum/semi-msx-talk/emulation/bluemsx-24.... By pressing CTRL+ALT+M when connected to the interface a keyboard matrix monitor is started which shows exactly which keys can be pressed together or not.

The interface works with all the keyboards I have here:

- Motospeed mechanical RGB keyboard (no ghosting)
- Battletron mechanical RGB keyboard (no ghosting) (sold by Action)
- Logitech G105 gaming keyboard (no ghosting)
- Logitech wireless keyboard with Unifying receiver
- Lenovo EKB-536A
- Logitech K120
- Microsoft wired keyboard 400
- Sweex KB060US
- DELL SK-8115
- Konig CSKMCU100US

By SkalTura

Champion (349)

SkalTura's picture

31-12-2021, 08:28

I had this idea too for a while and did some tests, but never got around to completing it...
Seems that someone else did ;-)
Great work

By JeroenTaverne

Supporter (12)

JeroenTaverne's picture

01-01-2022, 01:28

Thanks. I heard it is also working with a MSX running at 7MHz. So the matrix simulation speed is fast enough.

By AxelF

Champion (391)

AxelF's picture

01-01-2022, 02:59

The USB keyboard interface works very nice… (v1.10)

Does Work:
- Dell KB216

Doesn't work:
- Logitech k400+ with a Unifying receiver

More keyboards later...

By JeroenTaverne

Supporter (12)

JeroenTaverne's picture

02-01-2022, 11:48

Also working:
- Crossair K70 LUX RGB
- Rapoo (X)1800

By Haze

Expert (122)

Haze's picture

05-01-2022, 00:08

Received the interface today and it's working like a charm! As I've only tested it with (another) DELL SK-8115, I don't have any data to add. But I'll test it with some more keyboards when I get the chance!

By poke-1,170

Paragon (1766)

poke-1,170's picture

18-01-2022, 20:21

this looks like a nice solution indeed. Can individual keys be reconfigured? Usually the ctrl and shift keys have switched positions on modern pc keyboards.