GR8BIT - Do it yourself MSX2

by snout on 15-08-2011, 16:38
Topic: Hardware

Source: MSX Forum

A few days ago already, Eugeny Brychkov of Age Labs announced a very exciting new project in this topic on our active MSX Forum: the GR8BIT platform. Behind this cool name is an educational platform fully compatible with MSX2, offering a complete and relatively simple introduction to every aspect of engineering. Based on the belief that there is no better way to gather knowledge than to actually build, break, fix and improve the platform yourself GR8BIT offers just that: all the information you need to build (and understand) your own MSX2 computer from scratch. To accomplish this, you will be provided with basic information like the platform concept, PCB layouts and schematic diagrams. When finished, the specifications of GR8BIT are as follows:

  • ATX form factor
  • Z80 (4-20MHz), compatible or emulation board (3.3V)
  • 1 MB SRAM (upgradeable to 4MB)
  • V9938 VDP with 128kB VRAM and direct video memory access
  • Composite TV out (grayscale) and RGB NTSC out
  • 1.44MB FDD drive
  • IDE HDD drive
  • Seven internal GR8BUS slots
  • Two external slots
  • PS/2 keyboard interface, Parallel printer port and 2 joystick ports
  • PSG and SCC sound

Furthermore, the GR8BIT will be capable of handling multiple processors and can be provided with further extensions that allow up to 1GB or DRAM. Also, having completed the GR8BIT platform you should have gathered the knowledge that allow you to further adapt and extend the platform yourself.

It's not the first time the MSX is chosen as an educational platform. In the past years, for instance, we have seen the award-winning Japanese platform MSX-BASIC for Robo-Education and, of course, the One Chip MSX, which aimed at introducing people to hardware design via VHDL. Never before, however, was one taken through all the steps from building a complete MSX2 compatible computer from the ground up.

Relevant link: GR8BIT website

Comments (5)

By OeiOeiVogeltje

Paragon (1442)

OeiOeiVogeltje's picture

16-08-2011, 16:22

i think its an awesome thingy
i am wondering though what Eugene's aim is at
People buying a license to use a shematic for building an MSX?
Some educational thing?
Build an MSX to become a Great Engeneer?

i dont see it
id like to have a DIY kit though,but then it would be more of a "puzzle the thing together" kindof poject and i dont think thats the idea
as i said in the orginal post ; a DIY kit would probably sell more than a "license"

But then again
i might be missing the whole point of this thing

please clarify!!

By Sander

Founder (1875)

Sander's picture

17-08-2011, 08:34

It could be sold and used on schools, but for us: making all those pcb's and obtaining all the components would be way to high compaired to just buying a secondhand MSX and wreck it. I like the idea though. But I see a few obstacles such as market demand, production costs and software licensing (if schools gonna buy this you probably want the latter covered).

By Vampier

Prophet (2415)

Vampier's picture

18-08-2011, 21:33

Nowadays you can buy an arduino board.... great little hobby things

By Eugeny_Brychkov

Paragon (1234)

Eugeny_Brychkov's picture

19-08-2011, 08:55

"making all those pcb's and obtaining all the components would be way to high"
If doing it in bulk it's not so high as you think, it's actually not high, and price is comparable to LEGO Mindstorms. While people moan about me trying to recover my costs, none takes responsibiity and action helping with components and PCBs (and making some money on it). Let's hope I will finally find a partner on this. OeiOeiVogeltje and Sander - you can be the one?

"Nowadays you can buy an arduino board"
You can't compare GR8BIT and Arduino. They are in different "weight" classes. And, if you wish, there're two arduinos in the GR8BIT.

Snout, thank you very much for posting a reaction!

By OeiOeiVogeltje

Paragon (1442)

OeiOeiVogeltje's picture

19-08-2011, 16:15

Helping out in producing PCB's?
i would like to but i simply do not have the resources for this.

What i would do i make an inventory no how much this would cost (producing the pcb's)
Lets say a 100 sets of PCB's
make an estimate an how much it would cost for "customers" for PCB alone
make an estimate for PCB's and components

post on MRC and see if people would actually buy it
take into account that about 25% of those people will eventually NOT buy it
and see if its still worth the trouble of trying to distibute this AMAZING build-it-yourself MSX

i cant speak for Sander of course but since Supersonics made the Playsonic device he might know more about those kind of figures