Zemmix FPGA MSX by 8bits4ever

Zemmix FPGA MSX by 8bits4ever

by PAC on 10-12-2017, 18:44
Topic: Hardware
Languages:

The Spanish hardware developer 8bits4ever, increases its catalogue with the addition of a new MSX machine based on FPGA. The specifications are as follows:

  • 2048/4096 KB RAM mapper
  • SCC+ sound
  • FM sound
  • VGA output
  • RGB, composite and S-Video output
  • PS/2 keyboard connector
  • Two turbo speeds (5.37Mhz and 8.06Mhz)
  • SD card slot
  • Cassette tape input
  • New 3D case design.

If you want to get one unit, please contact them in order to estimate the units to be produced.

Relevant link: Zemmix FPGA MSX by 8bits4ever

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  • Zemmix FPGA MSX by 8bits4ever
  • Zemmix FPGA MSX by 8bits4ever

Comments (42)

By Grauw

Enlighted (6542)

Grauw's picture

10-12-2017, 18:49

Nice design Smile. And good that these machines stay available with new batches from various sources. Really shows the power of open source & open hardware.

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9618)

wolf_'s picture

10-12-2017, 19:58

Nice. So, I may have missed any discussions going on about this machine, perhaps what's below has already been asked before. Murdoch

Questions:
1) Can the FPGA (and thus the MSX-specs) be programmed/accessed from e.g. a game (on SD or cartridge)
2) If so: can the factory FPGA-code of this Zemmix be reset from the machine itself (or some boot-SD) in case it's turned into a brick due to faulty FPGA-code?

By Grauw

Enlighted (6542)

Grauw's picture

10-12-2017, 20:59

It’s pretty much identical to a 1chipMSX, like all Zemmix Neos.

1) In theory yes, in practice no. I wouldn’t allow such a program on my OCM, too scary that it might brick it, or even cause hardware failure, and too annoying that I would have to reprogram the firmware back to normalcy afterwards. Software developers shouldn’t nilly willy tamper with my FPGA. Besides, we’re not exactly swimming in developers with VHDL coding experience.

2) If you brick it you need a USB Blaster to recover.

By wyrdwad

Champion (509)

wyrdwad's picture

10-12-2017, 21:22

One other question that I didn't see addressed anywhere: can an external floppy drive be hooked up to it, in order to play games off of floppy disk? I know you can always emulate the floppy experience, but you can emulate cartridges and cassettes too -- there's just something oddly satisfying about using real floppy disks, and it would be nice to have the option to use the many I've got.

-Tom

By Grauw

Enlighted (6542)

Grauw's picture

10-12-2017, 21:31

External FDD interface should work like on any other MSX. Just like Sunrise IDE, MegaFlashROM SCC+ SD, etc. which use the same standard extension system.

By syn

Paragon (1675)

syn's picture

10-12-2017, 23:00

Great news!

By gdx

Paragon (1758)

gdx's picture

10-12-2017, 23:43

Oh, a Zemmix Neos clone from Europe! Smile
It may be nicer to round some corners at the front.

By KdL

Paragon (1056)

KdL's picture

11-12-2017, 07:36

Is there an improved noise filter or is the audio signal not so good as all the other Zemmix Neo?

https://twitter.com/ocm_pld_news/status/910502760533065730

By gdx

Paragon (1758)

gdx's picture

11-12-2017, 09:49

Neo Zemmix use a filter? I thought that all OCMs did not use filter nor mixer.

By Grauw

Enlighted (6542)

Grauw's picture

11-12-2017, 10:23

I think the audio issue is about the noise floor (interference from non-audio signals), this can’t really be filtered I think, rather the solution is in the board layout. Might be tricky to deal with.

By Meits

Scribe (4769)

Meits's picture

11-12-2017, 11:51

I wonder if it would be a solution to cut the audio rails en put high quality shielded audio cables far away from the cause of interference in its stead. I once bought an OCM with the expectation to be rid of these audio issues. I was very disappointed Big smile

By Samor

Paragon (1868)

Samor's picture

11-12-2017, 12:21

Seems it has joystick ports? What about USB?

By Colemu

Champion (504)

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11-12-2017, 13:58

@ Kdl

Yeh, that noise looks quite bad.

I'd agree that it's down to the board design (audio traces too close to IO signals). Turbo-R has similar problem, the IO noise interference on that comes from it's FM circuit.

By KdL

Paragon (1056)

KdL's picture

11-12-2017, 14:13

For lack of time I have not yet compared the two PCB and I simply did this test using the cables of OCM on Zemmix Neo. So, yes, each of your statements could be correct.

By Grauw

Enlighted (6542)

Grauw's picture

11-12-2017, 14:44

@Samor The hardware has USB but the FPGA does nothing with it (no free space remaining).

Well, not entirely, if you have a PS/2 compatible mouse you can connect it to the USB port without a need for an adapter plug. But USB mice and keyboards don't work.

By Samor

Paragon (1868)

Samor's picture

12-12-2017, 14:26

Thanks Grauw.

When I was reading about the video output I realized I don't even have any screen accepting VGA anymore... I've got the other ones covered though...

By Grauw

Enlighted (6542)

Grauw's picture

12-12-2017, 17:19

If one of your screens has a DVI-I input (not DVI-D) you should be able to feed it VGA with an adapter plug.

By Samor

Paragon (1868)

Samor's picture

13-12-2017, 01:31

no, but s-video isn't so bad either.

It should be able to boot DOS2 from an SD card, right?

By Grauw

Enlighted (6542)

Grauw's picture

13-12-2017, 01:32

Yes, for sure.

By syn

Paragon (1675)

syn's picture

13-12-2017, 13:13

Hmm I was interested in getting a zemmix neo clone from 8bits4ever. How big is the noise problem in reality?

By Parn

Master (228)

Parn's picture

15-12-2017, 11:57

It is quite noisy, but I've seen worse, and all sound chips are well balanced and sound clear. There's an option for balanced audio output which should mitigate most of the problem, but I haven't been able to test it yet. I got the cable, though.

Edit: I have a Brazilian Zemmix Neo. Since it is so similar to the Korean one, I bet it sounds just as bad. I've heard OCM is also bad, but not quite. Haven't listened to it myself.

By Samor

Paragon (1868)

Samor's picture

15-12-2017, 13:46

Is it possible to record a sample?

By giuseve

Paladin (721)

giuseve's picture

15-12-2017, 18:25

Ok,
I have to stop dreaming now.
I still remember the last ZemmixNeo from Brazil. I was one of the first subscribers for it and after about 1 year I discovered they would never ship ZemmixNeo to Italy.

Now this... Yes, it is fantastic. But ...
how many months would it necessary to wait?
at which price considering that it would be made in spain?
More news about it?

By Samor

Paragon (1868)

Samor's picture

15-12-2017, 18:50

I emailed them and they told me they expected the price to be around 130 euros (not final), and hope to have the product in their store by the end of this month.
Best email them too if interested Smile

By Haze

Expert (82)

Haze's picture

15-12-2017, 19:18

Samor, how did you contact them? I've tried using the contact form on their website, to show interest as well, but haven't heard back from them.

By Samor

Paragon (1868)

Samor's picture

15-12-2017, 19:27

That's exactly what I used as well.

By Parn

Master (228)

Parn's picture

16-12-2017, 09:05

Samor wrote:

Is it possible to record a sample?

Yes, I intend to do that.

By Lord_Zett

Paladin (807)

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17-12-2017, 13:19

i hoped that there was a more smaller design size like a large cardrige. just one slot done

By Samor

Paragon (1868)

Samor's picture

17-12-2017, 19:16

The case closely matches the form of the zemmix neo board.
They quite literally cut the corners on the original zemmix neo case. It's not gonna get any smaller.
Also, seems the one in the pictures was auctioned on ebay.

By Samor

Paragon (1868)

Samor's picture

17-12-2017, 20:27

The site was updated with a product listing:
https://www.8bits4ever.net/product-page/zemmix-fpga-msx

Not yet in stock. Price listed is 140 euros.

By Lord_Zett

Paladin (807)

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17-12-2017, 20:38

yeah i love the 3d printed case.

By Parn

Master (228)

Parn's picture

19-12-2017, 13:06

Lord_Zett wrote:

i hoped that there was a more smaller design size like a large cardrige. just one slot done

Like the OCM? It can be a bit unwieldly when you have cartridges as big and heavy as the unit itself. Smile

By Samor

Paragon (1868)

Samor's picture

19-12-2017, 13:35

Going by the picture with the keyboard, it seems in terms of size the zemmix sits somewhere between a dreamcast and a playstation.
Considering it was originally a console, that seems fitting Wink

By DarkSchneider

Hero (519)

DarkSchneider's picture

20-12-2017, 12:56

Looks very well. With a price of 140€ and being within Spain the total cost could be about 150€ delivery included without the damn customs. I'll take one if available sometime.

By syn

Paragon (1675)

syn's picture

20-12-2017, 13:33

yeah price is also better than the korean and brazilian zemmix neos. I am definitely getting one.

I do hope the case is sturdy enough though because its 3D printed. (since most ppl put some pressure on the case when inserting/removing cartridges) but I have no doubt this will be tested Big smile

By 8bits4ever

Rookie (21)

8bits4ever's picture

20-12-2017, 14:10

Hey guys/gals! Thanks for your interest on the project!

A small update: If everything goes as planned we will be having a few units in stock by January.
There will be uncased fully functional Zemmix boards (cheapest option) and optionally you could add a low resolution or high resolution 3D printed case to it. The high resolution case will be expensive due the printing time (20hrs for one case) so we cannot deliver many of these (maybe 3-4 a week only); the low res cases will be affordable as they print quick.
Both, low and high res cases, are sturdy enough to resist the inserting/removing of cartridges. We will provide the .stl files for people who has access to 3D printers and like to print the case themselves (so they can just buy the Zemmix board).
Also we will offer the option of including PSU and the Altera USB Blaster programmer.

If you have any questions/suggestions dont hesitate to contact us through our website. We do our best to answer all emails.

Cheers!

By Robby

Master (133)

Robby's picture

21-12-2017, 15:52

Thanks for the update!
Great that you will provide people with the available stl files. Keep up the good work.

By hamlet

Scribe (1436)

hamlet's picture

21-12-2017, 21:28

Sounds great!The first european MSX again since?

By DarkSchneider

Hero (519)

DarkSchneider's picture

22-01-2018, 13:00

It is already available on the shop. Purchased the full pack with case, PSU and programmer. With this I have MSX for a long long time.

By syn

Paragon (1675)

syn's picture

22-01-2018, 15:29

Thats pre-order though right? Since it still mentions coming soon.

Anyway great news nevertheless Wink

By Samor

Paragon (1868)

Samor's picture

22-01-2018, 15:56

Doesn't say "coming soon" anymore here.
Ordered one as well, ending my 10 year break from MSX hw ;-)

By syn

Paragon (1675)

syn's picture

22-01-2018, 16:37

Oh nice, probably some cached page that I was looking at.

My MSX profile