Introducing Darky, the stereo ePSG soundcard with effect processor

Hi all,

You know these questions that start with “What if?”. Here at SuperSoniqs it is all about making our own “What if’s” possible. One of those was of course the lack of stereo sound in any MSX.  A while ago we stumbled upon an AY8930 sound processor. It was designed by General Instruments as an successor of the AY-3-8910 and sold to Microchip Taiwan together with their other chip designs. Microchip actually released it, implementations were made for PC (the infamous Sound Master) and the design was also used in a few arcade systems. The fun thing about the AY8930 is that it has two different operating modes, one is AY-3-8910 compatible, and the other one is the enhanced mode. The enhanced mode of the AY8930 adds separate envelopes for the three channels (as opposed to one shared envelope in the AY-3-8910), variable duty-cycles, more bits of precision for note frequency, volume, and envelope frequency, and a much better configurable noise generator.

darky

 

But of course the main fact that it was backwards compatible with our MSX PSG made us thinking why not release a cartridge with this soundchip? And why not a cartridge with two new ePSG’s? Since these chips have separate outputs for each PSG-channel (even our MSX PSG has, but few MSX’s actually make use of this), we thought it would be nice to put each channel into a stereo mixer, so that each seperate channel can be mixed and placed into the stereo dept field (stereo panning). Also, the channel mixers used have some more functionality like treble, bass, equalizing and 3d stereo spatializing.

But that’s not all. The audio end result of the mixed channels is fed into a SPIN FX-1 Effect processor, which has fixed effects such as echo, reverb, flange, chorus, etc. and 8 programmable effects. For this a EEprom is also part of the PCB design.

In default mode our new cartridge will start in the MSX PSG compatible mode, with the second PSG on a different clockspeed to create a pseudo stereo effect, usable with all existing MSX software. Registers are being made to access all PSG’s in MSX or ePSG enhanced mode, and to control the mixers and effect processor. An Atmel processor and Philips CLPD are used to control all hardware on this PCB.

The ePSG stereo card has two stereo mini-jack outputs, one line-out and the other one is an amplified headphone output.

Programming and testing this pcb will take some time. We hope to be able to release this card later this year.

Franky Cartridge Enclosure .STL files

Dear all,

Due to populair demand we hereby publish the .stl files of the Franky cartridge enclosure too. Some people had problems converting the Sketch-up files. With these .STL files you can 3d-print a compatible casing for your Franky project. Most professional 3d printer companies also accept these .stl files. Have fun with it.

Link to zip file containing the stl files

 

PSQTOOLS updated and SMSLOAD for PlaySoniq released!

TNI informs us that PSQTOOLS, the toolset for the PlaySoniq module has been updated! Three new tools have been released: PSQSAVE and PSQLOAD, to save and load PlaySoniq module settings and SMSLOAD, a tool to load and run Sega Master System ROM images. SMSLOAD also supports Sega SC-3000 and SG-1000 rom files, when the correct extension (e.g. name.sg) is given at the command line. Grab them at the TNI site: www.tni.nl

Philips MSX-Audio Expander Bios Upgrading

Some users have asked us how to modify the Philips Music Module expander to support the new MSX Audio Rom 1.3 made by Brazilian MSX user FRS. This new bios has quite some new features like better MSX-Music instrument support and support for games that make use of the MSX-Music (FM-PAC) bios. A lot of ASCII MSX-Music now work! Please follow the FRS page link later on in this article for the release notes.  We have tested this new rom with our expander and indeed some modifications needs to be done. Although those modifications are not complicated to do at all.

First you have to remove the yellow wires on the bottom of the expander:

Then you have to connect jumpers labeled 2 and 3 on the expander board. See below for the example (done on the bottom of the expander)

And this is all you have to do! Please note that the new MSX Audio bios from FRS does not include the original Philips software.
The latest bios from FRS can be downloaded at his homepage, in the tools section: http://frs.badcoffee.info/tools.html

You need the file msxaudio13.NMS-1205.rom from the MSX Audio Bios v1.3 zip package. Please contact Bas at www.bas-ditta.info if you need help obtaining a new flashed rom. If you own a Music Module and want better support for games and music, please note that we still have a few MSX Audio Upgrade boards left.

MSX meetings

Unfortunately we could not attend the latest MSX meeting held by AAMSX in Barcelona due to an unexpected strike of the air traffic controllers in Spain. Luckely Spanish MSX user Salva managed to bring his PlaySoniq to the party so at least visitors could take a peek. Thank you Salva for demoing the PlaySoniq.  We did however manage to attend the nice MSX Info Party in Helsinki last August and made a small video of the PlaySoniq in action for you to enjoy.