Sony HB-F1XD Cap List - New MSX User What Do I Need

By mbliss11

Supporter (7)

mbliss11's picture

17-07-2022, 16:40

Hey everyone!

Just joined and excited to check out the MSX! I am a retro computer and video game enthusiast! Some of my systems include VIC20, Apple iie, ti994a, Commodore 128, Amiga, NES, SNES, PS1, Genesis, etc. I enjoy refurbishing and restoring old systems and usually replace caps and voltage regulators on old computers that I acquire.

I recently got a very mint condition Sony HB-F1XD from Japan. The listing did not have any pictures of it actually working but it appeared to have been stored in its original box basically its whole life. The instruction manual, AA batteries for rtc and rca cables were in their original plastic. I did a lot of research on this forum and noted that the HIC-1 boards are a common issue with these systems. When it arrived I opened it up and sure enough on of the small caps on the board had started to leak but there was no damage. Out with the old and I replaced them with Tantalum caps. I am in the US so I needed a step down converter which I got as well. Powered on after plugging everything in and it booted right up! I was able to write Aleste 2 to some 2DD disks I had laying around and all works great!

I wanted to ask the community if anyone had a cap list for this computer and if they would be willing to share it. If not I will definitely create one as I plan on recapping the board eventually. All of them looked great so I am not in a huge rush and the system appears to be working flawlessly (couldn't believe how clean the board was too I don't think this was ever used).

I also have on order an MSX Fractal 2000 clone from Brazil. That was one of the only SD cartridge solutions I could find in stock and available. I purchased it without really having a full understanding of all of the different mappers and SCC and memory, etc. There is a lot to learn with this platform! I realized that the Fractal 2000 would not be able to do SCC Konami games so I also ordered a SCC+ from Repro Factory to fill that gap in. It has 2048k of RAM and supposedly I just use a program in MSX-DOS to throw ROMS to it.

With these 2 cartridge solutions and the ability to write floppy disks do you think I need anything else as far as being able to enjoy the MSX library on this system? With the 512K of RAM in the Fractal 2000 and the 2048K in the SCC+ should I consider upgrading the internal memory of this anymore? I have seen others that have updated the video chip and internal memory with this particular model and didn't know if it would be a redundant upgrade with the carts that I have on order. Also anyone use the SCC+ cartridge? How exactly do I get ROMs on there? Do I just boot into MSX-DOS and then create a floppy with the ROM image and SCROM on it?

Any feedback would be appreciated and am glad to be a part of this community!

Login or register to post comments

By Grauw

Ascended (10633)

Grauw's picture

17-07-2022, 23:53

Hi and welcome, and congratulations on getting that HB-F1XD in such great condition!

In my opinion (as a fellow HB-F1XD owner), you do not need to recap anything other than the HIC board. Unlike some other computer systems where leaking capacitors are a widespread problem and a full preventive recap may arguably be a smart thing to do, there have been no reports of issues with the capacitors on the main board of the HB-F1XD that I know of. Electrolytic capacitor issues are also in general rare on any of the MSX machines. So in my view there is only risk of damaging the main board in the process, with nothing to gain.

I presume you’ve already seen this wiki page: Vulnerable MSX hardware.

As for the memory, note that there are two types of RAM memory: Memory Mapper (general purpose RAM) and MegaRAM (ROM mapper emulation). Afaik the Fractal SD interface has a switch to select the RAM mode between these two, and the SCC+ cart only has MegaRAM.

It is important to be aware that in order to use Nextor DOS2 (that supports subdirectories and FAT16) you need a memory mapper with 128K or more. Since the HB-F1XD has only 64K internally this means for DOS2 the Fractal SD interface memory switch should stay in Memory Mapper position and you should use the SCC+ cart for ROM loading.

For the HB-F1XD there is no super trivial internal memory upgrade, though of course it can be done with enough determination I personally just rely on an external memory mapper of which I have plenty.

My main experience is with the MegaFlashROM SCC+ SD 512K, and to a lesser degree with the Carnivore2 multi cartridges. I would recommend them over the Fractal 2000, but the pair you’ve bought will do the job as well. I actually also have the SCC+ reproduction though I haven’t used it much yet. In terms of usage you just put the ROMs on the SD card and then load them into MegaRAM straight from DOS. I would recommend to check out Louthrax’s SofaRun software, which has a nice UI and a broad feature set.

If I would have to think of anything else I would say to look for an MSX-MUSIC cartridge, there’s quite a couple of games with great FM music to enjoy (including Aleste 2). Oh, and a JoyMega adapter to connect a MegaDrive controller to MSX is also nice (and cheap). Some games can even be patched to use the additional buttons so that you don’t need to use the keyboard anymore to access menus for the full sofa experience.

So in summary, I think you’ve got a great set going, such a nice brand new system, I would personally leave it as original as possible. The HIC capacitor replacement was definitely a very important procedure, but with that out of the way honestly once those cartridges arrive you’re all set. Just explore the library, and if you hit any limitations down the road you can always ask for solutions here.

By Grauw

Ascended (10633)

Grauw's picture

18-07-2022, 00:13

Grauw wrote:

For the HB-F1XD there is no super trivial internal memory upgrade

To elaborate on this a bit, the memory of the HB-F1XD is not using a memory mapper. Although the Yamaha S1985 ASIC provides one, which supports up to 512K, it is not used. So increasing the memory requires a fair bit more surgery than just adding some additional memory chips, capacitors and wires for the extra address lines and chip selects. Luckily MSX allows for easy memory expansion using cartridges.

By mbliss11

Supporter (7)

mbliss11's picture

24-07-2022, 13:10

Thanks so much for the response! In my research your post on the HIC-1 board came up and I read that very carefully! Thank you for sharing that with the community. I have not done that many smd replacements (used to through hole components) but these were not that hard. I used the twist method for the caps have been using that on all of my recaps with smd's so far and it has not failed me yet.

I have some controller adapters on order from Monster Joystick. As cool as it is to see the keyboard directional buttons in that order (I believe that the MSX standardized that before the IBM Model M) I think rocking out a gamepad will be a more enjoyable experience.

I'll report back as soon as those cartridges arrive the SCC+ should be delivered tomorrow hopefully the other one comes in this week as well.

By sd_snatcher

Prophet (3593)

sd_snatcher's picture

24-07-2022, 15:52

Be very welcome to the MSX! You have chosen one of the most beautiful MSX models, and arguably one of the most beautiful computers from the 80s. Wink

As for the 100V step-down converter, it's not really necessary for Sony, Sanyo and Panasonic machines. These always have very well designed power supplies that can take up to 127V without sweating. On the opposite side of this rule are the machines by Toshiba: never connect these directly to the mains, or their power supply will overheat after just a few minutes.

Sony machines have a tendency to have cracks on the solder of any connectors, but this is very easy to solve: just remove all of the old solder and replace it with new. Do not just add new solder over the old that's there.

Grauw already gave you a great introductory overview, but I would like to emphasize the need for an MSX-Music cartridge (aka OPLL) to fully enjoy most MSX titles. There are combo cartridges that feature "everything you need": RAM expansion, Flash cart, OPLL, SCC+ and mass storage interface.

One trivia that is worth mentioning for newcomers is that, contrary to the other contemporary systems, the mass storage support is native and disk emulation is entirely done by the MSX itself in software. This is only possible because the MSX was designed like a modern computer, with its BIOS acting as an abstraction layer for the hardware. Because of that, no hardware trickery is necessary. So, it wasn't just the keyboard directional keys that the MSX had in common with newer computers. Wink

I also would like to recommend this video as an excellent/unbiased introduction to the MSX system.

By mbliss11

Supporter (7)

mbliss11's picture

26-07-2022, 03:07

Hey sd_snatcher! Thank you so much for the warm welcome!

I actually watched that video in anticipation while waiting for my msx to be delivered! Never saw this channel before that but I really enjoy it.

My Mapper came in the mail this afternoon and I have been checking out some of the library. I my SCC+ will be coming in the mail hopefully tomorrow and I can check out the SCC+ sound difference. I tried playing Space Manbow on the Fractal but unfortunately it looks like it buffers while loading certain points of the game and it doesn't play well. I have read from other reviews that certain games have trouble working on the Fractal but hopefully they should work well on the SCC+.

I am digging Kinghtmare what a good schmup! Someone ported it over to the Amiga recently it is a really nice port and plays well on it.

I will definitely try to get my hands on a Music Cart at some point too thanks for the suggestion!

By mbliss11

Supporter (7)

mbliss11's picture

26-07-2022, 03:13

Also Grauw - have you done any other hardware level mods to your HB-F1XD? Upgrade the VDP? Been doing some research and noted that the MSX2+ has some better hardware scrolling and some games run smoother on it. May research what would be needed to upgrade this a bit to get that capability if it is even possible.