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Emulation Hardware News

Raspberry Pi MSX Clone first Test

Today we post a first test with the Raspberry Pi MSX Clone, a HAT specially designed to make it possible to use real MSX cartridges with your Raspberry Pi.

Our test setup has the following components:

  • Raspberry Pi 3B+
  • Raspberry Pi MSX Clone (RPMC V9)
  • 16Gb MicroSD Card U1 (Only 1Gb is needed)
  • HDMI Screen
  • USB Keyboard
  • Ghost Cartridge
  • Galaga Cartridge
  • Nemesis2 Cartridge
  • Megaflashrom SD Cartridge

First we have setup a SD-Card with Blueberry MSX, that has been special prepped to be used with the RPMC HAT. This SD-Card Image can be downloaded from this site.

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Raspberry Pi MSX Clone SD Card Image 0.4 98.93 MB 219 downloads

Raspberry Pi MSX Clone SD Card Image 0.4 MSX Emulator based on Blueberry, used for Raspberry...

Then we connect the RPMC Hat to our Raspberry Pi and started testing the cartridges. First we tried Nemesis 2 and after the player select we started in the first level. Unfortunately the game crashed after a minute or so. Then we decided to give the Megaflashrom a try (all tough we already heard that it wouldn’t work). The MSX it self cam into a reboot loop.

After these 2 cartridges we tried Ghost and Galaga. Both games run smooth on the RPMC, as you can see on these video’s.

Galaga on the Raspberry Pi MSX Clone

GHOST on the Raspberry Pi MSX Clone

If your are interested in a Raspberry Pi MSX Clone HAT to use your real cartridges on a Raspberry Pi, MSX Information Network still offers a groupbuy. Please fill in the form on this page: https://www.msxinfo.net/group-order-msx-pi-extension-board/

The groupbuy will close om January 23th, what gives you 10 days to place your order.

Since the groupbuy is already open for 2 weeks, we already had some questions about the RPMC HAT.

1) Is there any known compatibility problem with specific Raspberry-PI boards?

Any RPi with 40 ways GPIO connector can be used, but Meeso Kim, the original author, recommends the Raspberry Pi 3 because the speed and CPU extra cores. So, even the Zero can be used, but maybe the emulation would not be good enough for some games.

2) I see that the project is in a very early stage, especially in terms of emulation, so I wonder if it is prudent to produce the extension board already. How do you know that unforeseen emulation constraints would not affect current hardware design, rendering produced boards useless?

Actually the board is well settled at this point. The first version of this hardware was published almost 3 years ago when Meeso Kim was satisfied with his initial tests and even “Zemmix Mini” is using the same hardware, with another form factor. From the initial version to this day a few changes were made to simplify the design, but still the same initial hardware. Talking about the “electronic side”, the hat replicate the Z80 address, data and control lines, just like the original “real” MSX slot, so, it will not change in the future.

3) I see that emulation is based on BlueMSX. How does that impact on using real cartridges/SD implementations (e.g. Carnivore2, MegaFlashROM SCC+ SD, and BEER) which are not emulated by BlueMSX)? In other words, are limitations on software emulation impacting on the use of actual hardware?

BlueMSX or OpenMSX can be used.

4) If new features come up after producing the extension board, such as integration with OpenMSX, should we only flash the update into the board or are there other implications?

There are no “upgradable” component in the hat, it’s just TTL logic ICs to make the RPi happy with the MSX voltages. 100% of the emulation runs on the Pi side and the user can always update the SD card with the last emulator, just burning the SD with an updated image.