Sample code for Franky available

As reported earlier, Kralizec is busy with porting existing games to Franky. Kralizec also started with making code to support MSX compatible screen mode2 on Franky. We asked Armando (main coder) if it would be possible to share his code with the rest of us. Luckely Armando agreed.

His code detects if Franky is present and does all the initializations to ready the Franky screen mode (MSX screen 2 compatible mode).  Also included is the compiled rom file. You need a tool like loadrom for MSX-DOS to load the 32kb rom. The rom first detects if Franky is present, initialize Franky and then shows a snapshot of Arkanoid on Franky and at the same time shows a color rotation on MSX (on the Franky VDP interrupt). Feel free to download, study and use for your existing or new productions. Thank you Armando!

Link to Franky Example code (zip file)

To execute the example rom you need a tool like loadrom which can be downloaded here:

Link to loadrom (lzh file, can be unpacked with Winrar under Windows)

For your convenience we also put the Sega loader tool online:

Link to Sega Loader (zip file)

36th MSX users meeting in Barcelona a succes!

We attended the 36th users meeting of AAMSX in Barcelona.

AAMSX kindly provided a stand and a couple of monitors for us so that we could show our Franky cartridge with the latest converted software. Luckily we managed to assemble our first batch of Franky cardridges on time for the meeting. And, to our surprise, all Franky cartridges we brought with us were sold! We even got to take pre-orders (we do our best to send these to you in the coming days).

Our participation resulted in given support from the following Spanish developers: Relevo Software, Nerlaska Studios, Z80ST Software and Kralizec. Z80ST software ported their new game Qbiqs live at the meeting to Franky, which is of course quite an achievement.

Kralizec will adapt  one of their great productions to Mode4 on Franky, great news indeed. The other developers will port existing code or -hopefully- build in support for Franky in their new productions.  All in all the MSX meeting was vibrant and crowded. Refreshing!

Also, we had a late dinner afterwards (and with late I mean very late 😉 with most of the active meeting crew and active Spanish developers. We really had a great time.  Our hosts took care of everything, even the massive bill afterwards. A big thank you for that! We owe you ;-).

We hope to be there next time. Barcelona is always a great place to stay. Also on Sundays. See below..

We even managed to get two Sega Master System consoles (pretty wrecked on the outside) on a flea market. They will probably get a new life soon…

Franky instruction manual now online

The first version of our  instruction manual of Franky is now online. Please don’t hesitate to send your comments. Our special thanks go to Maxim and Charles to give us permission to use their earlier texts on the Sega VDP and Audio parts to make this manual happen.

Check it out if you want to know more about Franky and what you can do with it.

Instruction Manual for Franky v1.0

Design considerations – part 2

In our earlier post we explained a little about all the choices that have to be made when developing new hardware for MSX. One of those choices was whether we  should support input connectors on Franky for the MSX video output signals. After looking at all the options, we decided not to support this functionality. Let me explain this decision. First of all, there are a lot of MSX computers which have different types of output signals. We can simply not support all (TV PAL/ TV NTSC/RGB/CVBS). Second, space on the Franky PCB itself is limited (take a look at the earlier posted photo of the Franky PCB).  Third, all that extra logic to reroute input signals not only costs money in terms of electronic parts and thus the final sale price, but also makes the design even more complex than it already is. And bigger and more complex designs are more vulnerable for errors, during assembling and operation.

Now, before everybody start throwing tomatoes; we did include one thing and that might also solve a lot of problems regarding your monitor setup, namely the inclusion of a PAL/NTSC encoder for CVBS (composite) output . If you have a TV or monitor with support for switchable RGB and CVBS input signals (Like most TV’s have, and for example the Philips CM 8833 MSX monitor) you can connect your MSX to RGB and Franky to the CVBS input signals (or vice versa) and there you go.

Another option is to buy an external switch box for video signals. There’s one lying here, it costs about 15 euros  and it eats multiple SCART and CVBS input/output signals.

Franky Box Art -W.I.P.

It’t not finished yet and might be changed completely, but here’s a peek. Inspired by a 1931 lobby card and a poster of Frankenstein the movie, I think it fits perfectly. Take a look. Franky is redrawn in Japanese Super Deformed style. Everything is made with Adobe Photoshop, converted with Vector Magic and then imported in Adobe Illustrator. This version took about 10 hours.

Franky box art