Panasonic FS-A1ST
This page was last modified 17:42, 3 November 2021 by Mars2000you. Based on work by Gdx and Gradius2 and others.
Panasonic FS-A1ST

Contents

Description

Computer

The Panasonic FS-A1ST MSX Turbo R is the second to last MSX computer ever produced and it follows the latest standard for the MSX line. It has a new PCM sound chip, the R800 CPU and 256kB of RAM.

Panasonic was the only company to manufacture and market MSX Turbo R computers, and they were only sold in Japan. Various machines were imported to Europe using grey market imports.

The FS-A1ST was succeeded by the FS-A1GT, which featured more RAM and MIDI IN and OUT. The ST can be upgraded to the newer GT using the Bit^2 Mu-pack leaving the RF and composite outputs from the ST available.

The alternative is to use the MIDI-PAC from WORP3. This device will translate MSX-MUSIC into MIDI and with a mixer you will have both available at the same time! (instead of having to choose between MSX-MUSIC or MSX-MIDI).

Also MSX View from the FS-A1GT is available for the FS-A1ST as an add-on.

Brand Panasonic
Model FS-A1ST
Year 1990-11
Region Japan
Launch price ¥87.800
RAM 256kB in slot 3-0, 16kB SRAM
VRAM 128kB
Media MSX cartridges, 2DD floppy disks
Video Yamaha V9958
Audio PSG (AY-3-8910 compatible), MSX-MUSIC, PCM
Chipset Toshiba T9769C and NEC S1990 bus controller
Keyboard layout QWERTY/JIS + numeric keypad
Extras R800 as main CPU while Z80 is an alternative CPU, 720kB 3,5" floppy disk drive, microphone, firmware switch, pause button, Ren-Sha Turbo slider (autofire), Kanji-ROM level 1 & 2, Kanji BASIC, MSX-MUSIC BASIC, ROM part of MSX-DOS 2, firmware (A1 Cockpit, Word Processor with support for color printers, MSX-JE), system disk for option 3 of firmware, utility disk with disk part of MSX-DOS 2 and tools
Emulation ROMs dumped and emulated. The firmware switch is emulated in the OFF position, such that the machine will not by default boot to the integrated firmware application. This can be changed in openMSX with the "set firmwareswitch on" command.

Firmware

The Panasonic FS-A1ST machine comes with an integrated firmware. You can skip it by changing the position of the Panasonic front switch.

By comparison with the FS-A1WSX, the built-in Cockpit software is very similar. The two AV Labels options have been merged to free place for a new option related to PCM.

The firmware menu includes 10 options:

  • 1 - Japanese Word Processor
  • 2 - Beginner Word Processor
  • 3 - Word Processor Lessons (requires the System disk)
  • 4 - Address Book
  • 5 - Business Card
  • 6 - AV Labels (Video - Cassette - Diskette - Custom)
  • 7 - PCM Recorder
  • 8 - Accessories (Calculator, Calendar and Clock Settings)
  • 9 - Mouse and Printer Settings
  • 0 - MSX-BASIC

From MSX-BASIC, you can go to the firmware menu with CALL HIRO or _HIRO.

Note: This firmware is common to the two Panasonic MSX Turbo R computers. The only difference with FS-A1GT is the absence of VSHELL and the ROM part of MSX View.

Floppy disks

Two floppy disks were provided with this computer:

  • the first disk is a System disk, required to use option 3 of the firmware
  • the second disk is an Utility disk that contains the disk part of MSX-DOS 2 and has its own menu:
    • 1 - PCM Digi Talk
    • 2 - Video Graphics (in screen 8)
    • 3 - Color Printer Tool
    • 4 - MSX-DOS 2
    • 5 - MSX-BASIC

The Video Graphics application in screen 8 is a version without superimposing and digitizing support, but there's an icon for using the FS-RS500 scanner.

Option 3 is designed for the Panasonic FS-PC1 color printer.

When you close one of these applications, you go back to the MSX-DOS 2 command line. You can then enter TOOL to relaunch the menu of the Utility disk.

To run MSX-DOS 2, choose option 4 in the menu. You can also press CTRL+STOP when booting with the disk in drive A, this to avoid the launching of the Tools menu.

Note: This software is common to the two Panasonic MSX Turbo R computers. The only difference with FS-A1GT is the absence of the disk part of MSX View (on a third floppy disk).

Pictures

Computer

Panasonic FS-A1ST box + content
Panasonic FS-A1ST
FS-A1ST official flyer
Panasonic FS-A1ST left side
Panasonic FS-A1ST box
Panasonic FS-A1ST right side
Panasonic FS-A1ST manuals
Panasonic FS-A1ST label
Panasonic FS-A1ST floppy disks + case
Panasonic FS-A1ST
Panasonic FS-A1ST PCB
Panasonic FS-A1ST drive
MSX Turbo R LEDs
FS-A1ST PCB with 512kB RAM
Panasonic FS-A1ST back

Firmware

Cockpit menu
Cockpit Japanese Word Processor
Cockpit Beginner Word Processor
Cockpit Word Processor Lessons
Cockpit Address Book
Cockpit Business Card
Cockpit AV Labels - sub menu
Cockpit AV Labels - Video
Cockpit AV Labels - Cassette
Cockpit AV Labels - Diskette
Cockpit Custom AV Labels sub-menu
Cockpit New Custom AV Label
Cockpit PCM recorder
Cockpit Accessories - sub menu
Cockpit Accessories - Calculator
Cockpit Accessories - Calendar
Cockpit Accessories - Clock Settings
Cockpit Mouse and Printer Settings

Utility disk

Cockpit - Utility disk - menu
Cockpit PCM Digi Talk
Cockpit Video Graphics
Cockpit Color Printer Tool
Cockpit Color Printer Tool
Cockpit Color Printer Tool

Specifications

The FS-A1ST is a MSX of intermediary generation with 2 CPU (Z80A & R800) and many options included. A single CPU may be used at a time by switching. The R800 has two operating modes (RAM mode and ROM mode). The floppy disk controller is the Toshiba TC8566AF.

Floppy Disk Drive Belt specifications:

Type: Rubber Belt
Thickness: 0.3mm
Diameter: 58mm
Width: 3mm

Detailed Specifications

  • CPU R800 (DAR800-X0G), with 28.63630 MHz external clock and 16-bit ALU. (Can be accelerated to 40MHz by changing the crystal.) Note: the CPU clock is 7.15909MHz (external clock divided by 4) and the bus frequency is 3.579545MHz, however, an instruction on the R800 that takes 1 bus clock cycle, often takes 4 clock cycles on the Z80, so one can indeed say that the R800 runs roughly like a 28.6 MHz Z80.
  • CPU Z80A 3.579545MHz compatible (included in the MSX-Engine)
  • 256kB of main RAM (can be natively expanded to 512kB internally)
  • 16kB SRAM for backup (used internally)
  • 32kB BASIC/BIOS ROM and 32kB subROM (MSX-BASIC V4.0, with extra command _PAUSE to make delays in BASIC independent of the current CPU and extra commands for the PCM device (_PCMPLAY, _PCMREC)), 16kB Disk ROM, 48kB MSX-DOS 2.30 kernel, 16kB MSX-MUSIC BASIC ROM, 16kB Kanji BASIC ROM.)
  • TC8566AF disk controller
  • 3.5" double sided double density (720kB) disk drive
  • S1990 MSX Bus-controller
  • T9769C MSX-ENGINE (also contains Z80A & AY-3-8910)
  • MSX-JE (a simple Kanji input interface)
  • Kanji-ROM with approx. 32000 characters
  • MSX-Music (Yamaha YM-2413 OPLL)
  • PCM synthesizer 8-bit (sample rate 16kHz)
  • Internal microphone for the PCM unit
  • Pause key (software in R800-mode, hardware in Z80-mode)
  • Reset button
  • Internal software switch (Can be accessed also through BASIC using CALL HIRO)
  • 6 LEDs (power, caps-lock, kana-lock, pause, CPU mode, FDD in use)

Slot Map

Slot Slot
0-0 0‑1 0-2 0-3 Slot 1 Slot 2 3-0 3-1 3-2 3-3
Page C000h~FFFFh Cartridge
Slot 1
Cartridge
Slot 2
256kB
Memory
Mapper
Panasonic
mapper
Page 8000h~BFFFh Kanji
driver
Page 4000h~7FFFh Main-ROM MSX-Music Opening ROM Disk ROM
Page 0000h~3FFFh Sub-ROM
  • Slot 3-3 is divided into 8kB Pages using the Panasonic mapper. Each can contain internal RAM, ROM or SRAM. A1 Cockpit runs in this slot.
  • The Disk ROM is combined with MSX-DOS 2.30, it's a 64kB ROM with a specific mapper.

Connections

  • RF output
  • RGB output
  • S-video (aka Y/C) output
  • Audio and Video composite output (aka RCA)
  • External microphone connector (input, mono)
  • Centronics compatible Parallel port for a printer
  • 2 general connectors (Joysticks, Mouse, Paddle controlers, etc)
  • 2 cartridge slots
  • Power Plug male for main power supply (JIS C 8303 class, AC 100V +/-10% 50/60Hz)

Notes:

  • No cassette connector
  • ASCII paddle controllers are no longer supported by the MSX Turbo R BIOS.

Maintenance / Repair / Upgrade

Original 24-pin FDD flatcable: Sumitomo-Y AWM 2896 80C VW-1 (100mm, 1.25mm pitch)
Alternative 24-pin FDD flatcable: AWM 20624 80C 60V VW-1 (100-200mm 1.25mm pitch)

Recommended batteries: Lithium batteries or Eneloop (white or cyan).
Batteries advised against: Alkaline batteries because they leak one day or another.

Links