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!


  1. SONY MB64H444 is used in MSX HB-F1XD and probably other MSXes.
    It is labeled as SPEED CONTROL.
    I think it is used as a memory bus controller, refresh and ROM bank selector.

    1. Yes, the MB64H444 does the "ROM bank selector", this is the reason to call it a "custom mapper". This chip is used by all MSX based titlers from Sony. Looks those video titlers are all descendents of HB-F1XD (and uses its ROMs).

      Funny this chip is labelled as SPEED CONTROL, didn't know that. Maybe a misdirection from Sony? Which speed it controls?