Saturday, September 24, 2016

Sony Kanji Video Titler XV-J555

In this series about MSX and video production we saw many Video Titlers; one from Panasonic, two from JVC and many from Sony. Of those, only the ones from Sony uses all standard MSX chips and a MSX compatible BIOS. I still have three other video edit gear from Sony to show.

Today is the day of Sony Kanji Video Titler XV-J555

The Sony Kanji Video Titler XV-J555

The first thing that we can saw is: Sony tried something different this time, at least in design. This isn't the first time that we saw a MSX with an integrated Trackball; nor the first Sony video equipment with a trackball. But, definetly, this is the first Video Titler with an integrated Trackball that we saw in this blog.

Connections of Sony Picture Computer XV-T600,
look the trackball connected to the "joystick" port

National FS-5500, a MSX2 with integrated trackball

By now it's the Sony Video Titler with less external connectors. It have only one A/V input and one output, both with RCA and S-Video connectors. The compact design eliminates the need of the keyboard connector as all the controls are in top of this unit. And, obviously, the integrated Trackball removes the DB9 joystick connector.

All the controls that the other Sony Video Titlers have
in their mini keyboards are integrated in XV-J555

Only one set of input and output connectors. The switch at
right selects the video between the RCA and S-Video

This lack of connectors isn't bad as it sounds: the Sony XV-J555 is Video Titler, not a computer. With all controls and interfaces packed in a single unit, it saves in maintenance as it have less connectors to break; for home users, less connectors equals simpler to learn; to the "home-pro" user being in a single unit will save space in his desk (that already have at least two VCRs, a camcorder, maybe a digitizer and color corrector...).

Anyone who buys vintage computers with separated keyboards can say another advantage of the all-in-one design: less items to be lost in the attics, storage units and basements.

What is inside Sony XV-J555?

At left side the mainboard. At the right side, the top
have the power supply and the bottom the trackball

Although with an inovative external design, the inside of Sony XV-J555 is very boring. Maybe some electronic engineer or technician could highlights something impressive in XV-J555's mainboard, but to my untrained eyes the only interesting stuff here is how this board looks compact compared with the others.

To our "MSX based" checklist, Sony XV-J555 checks all items: it have a Z80 compatible from Sharp (LH0080A), the MSX2 video processor (Yamaha V9938), a huge amount of ROM ICs (5 in total) and, at solder side, an Yamaha S1985 (MSX-System II) with all MSX2 logic. I still didn't dumped the ROMs, but even without the dumps I am pretty sure that this machine is an MSX based appliance.

From top to bottom: two 8KB SRAMs from Toshiba (TC5564APL)
powered by the CR2032 battery at its right side; then we
have three Fujitsu MB834000A ROMs, which one with 512KB;
the last one is a SONY MaskROM LH53103A.

Here we can see the a 128KB MaskROM (SONY LH531067),
the CPU (Sharp LH0080A) and a 30-pin connector

The XV-J555 have the same ROM ICs than XV-J550 and I won't be surprised if it have the exact the same or a slightly updated contents. Comparing with XV-J550, the XV-J555 doesn't have the big OKI IC and the, nice for hacking, MSX slot connector. I still don't have idea what the OKI M71H003 does, but I guess the 30-pin connector in the XV-J555 is the MSX connector substitute: you can connect a 128KB ROM with the diagnostics software there or some other auxiliar board.

The V9938, the four VRAMs (128KB) and the two RAMs (64KB)

The trackball! Sadly one of the plastic holders was broked
so it doesn't rolls well, but it isn't hard to fix it. The
connection between the two boards is by nine tiny wires.
Yes, it's a MSX joystick port, only the DB9 isn't here. From
the trackball board there is a connection with the top side
of XV-J555, where resides the two trackball buttons.

The solder side of XV-J555 have the Yamaha S1985 (we already knew that), the Sony MB64H444 custom mapper and another two big Sony ICs. My guess is that one (or both) those Sony ICs are the OKI M73H003 substitute, but it's only a guess.

Sony XV-J555 solder side

Can't read the top IC, but I guess it's a SONY L7A0264.
The one at center-middle is the SONY MB64H444

Yamaha S1985 (MSX-System II) and, hey, another board from Mitsumi

The SONY CXD1358, this same IC is in XV-T550, XV-J770 and XV-J777

This board signalizes again that Sony XV-J550 is the "father" of all Sony Video Titlers that we saw in this blog. The custom Sony custom ICs that we saw in XV-J555 are shared by XV-T550, XV-J770 and XV-J777, only XV-J550 has a different configuration.

After all, plus one to our list of MSX based Video Titlers. Next step, another two Video Titlers to check!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Sony Kanji Video Titler XV-J777: Inside the ROMs

In our last post we saw two video titlers from Sony:  XV-J770 and XV-J777. We find that they are both MSX based machines (if you are keeping a count, now Sony have four video titlers listed in this blog). In that previous post we show a little snippet from one of the ROMs only to confirm that those devices are MSXs. Now it's time to see all the secrets from those ROMs

The five chips at left and the one just below the Zilog are all ROMs

There are six Mask-ROM chips inside each of those video titlers, all from Fujitsu: 3 x 831000 and 3 x MB834000, totalizing 1920KB, which is a lot of data for an 8 bits computer. Besides some version numbers, I don't believe the contents of those ROMs are too different between the two titlers, Alexandre Tabajara have a XV-J777 and made a dump of all those ROMs, so we will examine them.

The first thing that I did to examine those ROMs was to split each dump file in 16KB, 32KB, 64KB, 128KB and 256KB blocks. The second step was to compare the sha1sum of each block with other better known MSX's ROMs. That strategy gives to us all the contents of one of the 831000s:
0fbd45ef3dd7bb82d4c31f1947884f411f1ca344  hb-f1xd_msx2sub.rom
12f2cc79b3d09723840bae774be48c0d721ec1c6  hb-f1xd_disk.rom
4ce41fcc1a603411ec4e99556409c442078f0ecf  hb-f1xd_basic-bios2.rom

They are the HB-F1XD's ROMs. But those files together have only 64KB and the chip is a 128KB Mask-ROM, what Sony did with the extra space? Well, Sony put a copy of the first half of the chip on the second half. The ROM have this layout:



The sha1sum strategy give to us another easy find:

6acaf2eeb57f65f7408235d5e07b7563229de799  hb-f900_kanjifont.rom

This ROM is mapped at the last 128KB of one of those MB834000, which leaves 384KB missing. And more unknown 1024KB in the other two MB834000. I believe that the majority of those ROMs are Kanji-ROMs, so we begin another sha1sum comparison, this time, splitting the Kanji Font of HB-F1XDJ in smaller blocks. That gave a better view. First, the Kanji Font of HB-F900 is included and mapped in the first half of the HB-F1XDJ's Kanji ROM. Second, all data from HB-F1XDJ's Kanji ROM are inside XV-J777 ROMs, but split in two ICs:

        60000-7FFFF JIS1 (HB-F900/F1XDJ/F1XV)

        60000-7FFFF JIS2 (HB-F1XDJ/XV)

My guess is that one of those chips have the JIS1 and the other one the JIS2 fonts, in different resolutions.

We still have another 512KB MaskROM to examine. While it doesn't have the same sha1sums, the contents of this last ROM looks a lot like the second half of the firmware ROM from HB-F1XDJ, as you can see from this sample:

00000000  |±       ±²Ù×ÝÄÞ |
00000010  |±·º     ±¹Þ±ÌÞ× |
00000020  |±¼Þ±    ±Ã      |
00000030  |±Í޶ܠ  ±×²ÊÞ   |
00000040  |±ÜÃÌÀÒ  ²¯·Æ    |
00000050  |²²¸ÙÒ   ²·µ²    |
00000060  |²º³     ²½ÞÐÀÞ  |
00000070  |²Á¼ÞÏ   ²Äº     |
00000080  |²ÎÞ¸    ²ÚÁÞ´   |
00000090  |²ÝÁ·    ³¶ÍÞ    |

00080000  |±       ±²Ù×ÝÄÞ |
00080010  |±·º     ±¹Þ±ÌÞ× |
00080020  |±¼Þ±    ±Ã      |
00080030  |±Í޶ܠ  ±×²ÊÞ   |
00080040  |±ÜÃÌÀÒ  ²¯·Æ    |
00080050  |²²¸ÙÒ   ²·µ²    |
00080060  |²º³     ²½ÞÐÀÞ  |
00080070  |²Á¼ÞÏ   ²Äº     |
00080080  |²ÎÞ¸    ²ÚÁÞ´   |
00080090  |²ÝÁ·    ³¶ÍÞ    |

With this last one, we can say that all MB834000 chips are related to handle the input and display of Japanese language.

Now we only have two ROM ICs to check, each one with 128KB. After search for "SONY" inside one of the ROM dumps this is what we found:
00012000  |SONY JFEP2  Ver |
00012030  |SONY Corporarion|

I remember that JFEP string... maybe from one of those latest examined ROMs? Yes! In HB-F1XDJ's MSX-JE ROM!
00000010  |SONY  JFEP  TINY|
00002000  |SONY JFEP2  Ver |

JFEP is a acronym that for "Japanese Front End Processor", and with that we have all the HB-F1XDJ MSX-JE inplemented in XV-J777. It's only a newer version:

00000010  |SONY  JFEP  TINY|
00000020  | DUMMY  Version |
00000030  |1.0  May  7 1987|
00000040  |  Copyright (C) |
00002000  |SONY JFEP2  Ver |
00002010  |1.00  May 31 198|
00002020  |8  Copyright(C) |
00002030  |SONY Corporarion|

00012000  |SONY JFEP2  Ver |
00012010  |1.06  Mar 14 198|
00012020  |9  Copyright(C) |
00012030  |SONY Corporarion|

That explains why, although very similiar, the sha1sums of those ROMs doesn't match: XV-J777 have a newer version of F1XDJ (and F1XV) firmware. This firmware is mapped to the higher 64KB of a 831000 ROM. We still need take a look at lower 64KB.

The first 32KB looks like some kind of filesystem:

00000000  ffffffffffffffff ffffffffffffffff
00000010  ffffffffffffffff ffffffffffffffff
00000020  4549535531303136 2020464e54000000
          |EISU1016  FNT...|
00000030  00200000580d0000 0000000000000000
          |. ..X...........|
00000040  4549535531303234 2020464e54000000
          |EISU1024  FNT...|
00000050  00400000a01a0000 0000000000000000
          |.@.. ...........|
00000060  4549535532303136 2020464e54000000
          |EISU2016  FNT...|
00000070  00300000580d0000 0000000000000000
00000080  4549535532303234 2020464e54000000
          |EISU2024  FNT...|
00000090  00600000a01a0000 0000000000000000
          |.`.. ...........|

By the name of those files, say that they are fonts with 16 and 24 points is a good bet, but why have more fonts? We already have 1024KB of fonts in the Kanji-ROM ICs. Things get a bit clearer after we know that "Eisu" (英数) means "Alphanumeric", so those are the fonts for latin alphabet, and those in the Kanji-ROM are... Kanji.

In this ROM we still have a last 32KB block to see. And it's very interesting. It begins with:

00008000  c3c0400056455231 2e300000000000ff

Which is very uncommon for a block header. I searched for text strings within this dump and found the following messages:

rom test
Font rom pass
Dic rom  pass
Basic    pass 1/1 sum %04x
Kanji 1  pass
%s %d/4 sum %04x
Kanji 2  pass
%s %d/4 sum %04x
%s %d/4 sum %04x
Program  pass 1/2 sum %04x
Program  pass 2/2 sum %04x

It's a health check software!! And, by this list of ROMs to be tested, now we know that the chip that have the second half of X1XDJ's firmware is the Dictionary part of MSX-JE.

This self test software helps to solve another two questions. Take a look on these strings:

XV-T550 test program ver 1.0
XV-J777 test program ver 1.1

With that, we now know why XV-T550 have a internal slot: to connect a cartridge with the self test program and help the technician to repair it.  The other question that these strings solves is: why XV-J550 and XV-T550 are so different? In our post about those two titlers I wrote:

My guess: the XV-J550 was first released in Japan. Seeing that it's a good product and there is a broader home video market, Sony wanted to sell it in Europe, but had to make some revisions on the board for this release; this new board was meant to be shared by the two versions of the titler (XV-J550 and XV-T550), but for some reason the XV-J550 with the new PCB did not reached the market (or we didn't yet found any XV-J550 with this new board). I believe that, instead release the same old product with a new internal organisation, Sony did launched new video titlers, like the XV-J770.

The test program shared by XV-T550 and XV-J777 seems to confirm my guess, while the western markets got the XV-T550 the Japanese market got XV-J770 and XV-J777.

And, with that last 32KB, the memory map of this ROM is:

00000-07FFF EISU 16/24 Fonts
08000-0FFFF Test Program
10000-1FFFF JFEP2 VER1.06 Mar 14 1989

There is now only one ROM that we don't examined yet and we already know what is there. We found the MSX BIOS, Kanji-ROM, MSX-JE and even a Test Program, but what is missing in this Video Titler? The Video Titler Software! And yes, as expected, the last 831000 is the Video Titler Software.

It's a 128KB ROM, divided in 16 blocks of 8KB, some of them are clearly labelled:

00006000  |BANK3 ÃË Ã[ Ãw¨Ã|
00008000  |BANK4 ÃF¢..å..å.|
0000a000  |BANK5 Ãf§ÃȦÃѦÃ|
0000c000  |BANK6 Ã7«Ã3«ÃM«Ã|
0000e000  |BANK7 Ã΢ÃN£Ãò¢Ã|
00010000  |BANK10Ã. 2.Ø:.Ø·|
00012000  |BANK11ÃÓ¡¬.s.K..|
00014000  |BANK12ÃA°Ãå®Ã.¿"|
00016000  |BANK13Ã7 ...*­Aë|
00018000  |BANK14Ã. 2.Ø:.Ø·|
0001a000  |BANK15Ã. +}¤<ÈÃ.|
0001c000  |BANK16ÃW¤ÃM Ãå°"|

Banks 1, 2, 8 and 9 aren't labelled. But they are there:

00000000  |AB.B............|
00002000  |Ýåá....ÍÉe¯íyíy>|
00004000  |·(+Í.}åÍy})å*ÏÃ.|
0001e000  |ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ|

The first bank have the program header and the video titler software starts here. The second and third bank seems to have some program parts and the last block looks like a empty filler, the 0001db7c address is the last byte which isn't FF recorded in this ROM.

The last interesting data from those ROMs are some dates:

00000000  |AB.B............|
00000010  |VER2.07 89/3/24 |
0000e070  |...[.(C)1987 by |
0000e080  |Sony Corporation|

This is the version 2.07 of the Sony Video Titler software, built in 1989. There is a copyright notice from 1987, maybe from the first release?

We still have more Video Titlers from Sony to examine. But, by now, Sony's the recycling queen! Panasonic did put their old font ROMs in the VW-KT300, but Sony reuses everything: all the Video Titlers uses a very similar build, the same HB-F1XD ROMs, same Kanji-ROMs and, except the Titler Software itself, all the other stuff are small updates from other ROMs released in other MSXs.

Even the Titler Software, while not coming from their MSX computers, looks to be reused between it's Titlers (to check this we need to dump more ROMs to compare).

They really know how to reuse their know-how and previous designs.

If you want examine the ROMs, I put the dump files inside this tarball with a text describing their contents and what I know about them now. Good Luck!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Sony Kanji Video Titler XV-J770 and XV-J777

The last Sony equipment that we saw was the XV-T600, which is not a MSX. That's not fair, Sony was a big supporter of MSX standard and, most important to this blog, sold many devices powered by MSX technology. To repair this injustice we will examine two Sony Kanji Video Titlers at once: XV-J770 and XV-J777.

The XV-J770 is in Wikipedia's list and we can see it in the MSX Magazine's pages:

Picture of Sony XV-J770 from page 79 of MSX Magazine 1990-04

If you have a good eye (and good memory), the mouse of XV-J770 is the well known Sony MOS-1, the same one that Sony sold for their MSX computers and is included in XV-J550. The small controller keyboard is the same of XV-J550 too. Although not famous as its cousin XV-J770, XV-J777 have a very close look.

Pile of Sony Kanji Video Titlers.
From top to bottom: XV-J550, XV-J770 and XV-J777.
The silks are the only difference that can be
spotted between XV-J770 and XV-J777.

The keyboard and mouse connectors
are the same on all three models.

They have the same high and are both taller than the XV-J550, which gives more space inside their cabinets. More space is a good thing if you think in to hack those machines. They are high enough to put a small cartridge, and the XV-J550 have a internal MSX slot. The expansibility of the XV-J770 and XV-J777 looks promising.

From behind, all connectors are the same, Sony included
S-Video output on those machines. The XV-J777's rear metal
plate is painted in black while in XV-J770 it's in bare metal.

Both units have a power outlet to connect other equipments
(in this picture the power outlet of XV-J777
is obstructed by XV-J770's power cord)

Another difference between these two titler's models and the previous one, the XV-J550, is the presence of a external mass storage. They have a slot for IC Cards, this way the user isn't stuck with the internal storage, which is a small (16KB) SRAM backed by battery. With all this storage available, the front of both titlers have a button row to select between the many data banks saved.

The two video titlers have a button row to select which
of programmed title sequence will be used. The door
below those buttons protects the IC card slot.

Behind the doors, the IC card slot.

What's inside XV-J770 and XV-J777?

The internals of those two video titlers aren't the same, while they are still very similar. In a Sony's catalog from 1991 those two equipments are announced and the only listed difference between XV-J777 and XV-J770 is that XV-J777 comes with an IC card. So I guess that the internals of those two machines are intended to be the same but I have two different revisions of the main board. Probably if someone buys many of those titlers we will find some XV-J777 and XV-J770 with the same board.

Lucky us, so we can see two different boards (though very similar):

Main board of Sony Kanji Video Titler XV-J770

Main board of Sony Kanji Video Titler XV-J777.
You can see, at lower of this picture, the "included"
64KB IC card inserted in its slot.

The first thing that I noticed after open the titlers was: there is no slot connector. Damn. The XV-J550 have a MSX slot connector, but doesn't have internal clearance to put anything in this slot. The XV-J770 and XV-J777 have room to put a cartridge but doesn't have the connector.

The component side of the board have the main processor (Zilog Z80 in my XV-J777 and Sharp LH0080A in my XV-J770), the VDP (Yamaha V9938) and the respective ROMs and RAMs. As the boards are almost the same, I'll use the XV-J777 pictures:

The first column of IC's are all ROMs; the second column
have, from top to bottom, two SRAMs (8KB each), the CPU (Zilog Z80) and,
lastly, another ROM. At bottom right two groups of RAMs.

At top, a bit blurred, you can see six RAM ICs,
64KB as Main RAM and 128KB as Video RAM (in the
previous picture you can see better these chips).
At bottom, the MSX2's Video Processor, the Yamaha V9938.

We already have many items to identify these two machines as MSX based: Z80 CPU, V9938 VDP, VRAMs, RAMs, etc. We still need to check the ROMs and to find the PSG and PPI equivalents.

At solder side the two boards are almost the same, too:

The solder side of XV-J777 main board

And the one from XV-J770

The solder side gives to us more items in our MSX based checklist, there we can see the PSG and PPI equivalent, the MSX-System II (Yamaha S1985) and a Sony custom memory mapper (Sony MB64H444).

The two QFPs at middle are the Yamaha S1985 and the Sony MB64H444

To eliminate the last item on our checklist, Tabajara saved the contents of all those ROMs from XV-J777 and now we can confirm:

00007ed0  01 09 00 09 22 62 f8 c9  4d 53 58 20 20 73 79 73  |...."bøÉMSX  sys|
00007ee0  74 65 6d 00 76 65 72 73  69 6f 6e 20 32 2e 30 0d  |tem.version 2.0.|
00007ef0  0a 00 4d 53 58 20 42 41  53 49 43 20 00 43 6f 70  |..MSX BASIC .Cop|
00007f00  79 72 69 67 68 74 20 31  39 38 35 20 62 79 20 4d  |yright 1985 by M|
00007f10  69 63 72 6f 73 6f 66 74  0d 0a 00 20 42 79 74 65  |icrosoft... Byte|

They are MSX based machines!! These ROMs will be the subject of another post (hey, there are a lot of ROM ICs to be analyzed)

Another nice detail in solder side is the board manufacturer name: Mitsumi Elec. Co. Ltd. Mitsumi was the only manufacturer in the list of MSX licensees that didn't built any MSX (NEC did some MSXs for Philips). Even doing these PCBs at Sony's request, I guess we can now say that Mitsumi built at least these MSXs.