MSX hardware and software developer, Eugeny Brychkov (@Eugeny_Brychkov), who brought to us the amazing platform known as GR8BIT, also created the incredible MSX extension GR8NET, a standalone Network cartridge compatible with any MSX generation that also provides 8 distinctive mapper modes, 7 composite mapper modes, a very extensive MSX-BASIC add-on, flash ROM, SD-Card interface accessible through internal _NET instructions (FAT16/FAT32/exFAT) and/or through Nextor (in composite mapper modes – FAT12/FAT16), plus a range of display options and several multimedia devices such as MSX-MUSIC, MSX-AUDIO, OPL4, PSG, and SCC that also has been able to – until now – to operate as a MP3 media player by playing MP3 files either from the network, the SD-card, or online streams (internet radio).
I said “until now” because with the help of Maarten Loor and Laurens Holst, Eugeny was able to extend the GR8Net and add MIDI replay features and capabilities to his already Herculean device.
The upgrade package is available for download HERE. DOS 1 and DOS 2 are supported, however, only MIDI format 0 is supported for now. Someone suggests the GNMidi Application can be used to convert MIDI files to MIDI format 0. GR8Net owners may also like to update the OPL4 firmware to the latest because it now contains MIDI MathPack.
There is a very good set of information, links, and comments in this MSX Resource Center post. We’d suggest anyone who wants to upgrade their GR8Net cartridge to start from there. The post offers several valuable technical information, even counting with comments from Eugeny Brychkov himself, who provides additional specific notions and add offer additional downloadable items.
While reading the comments, don’t forget to take a quick pick at the Python script to convert MIDI files to MIDI format 0 gently shared by the user SjaaQ. It seems awesome.
The GR8NET playing OPL4 / Midi
GR8Net Technical Specifications
- RJ-45 UTP Ethernet connection, 10/100 Mbit auto-negotiation / auto MDI, IPv4 TCP, UDP, RAW and HTTP communication protocols
- Built-in simple web browser to browse web server directory tree
- DHCP configuration, DNS auto-resolution
- 2 user programmable sockets
- MSX-BASIC extended command support
- Built-in terminal application
- Built-in HTTP-based bload application
- Operation as 1 Megabyte mapped RAM
- ROM mapper emulation (plain, Konami)
- Built-in SCC for standalone and Konami implementations
- Hardware accelerated functions:
- Interrupt generator using time period or frequency, with watchdog
- PCM buffered 8 and 16 bit mono performance
- Data prefetch from onboard RAM, ROM and W5100
- Micro-SD card interface
- Mathpack for FAT16/FAT32 and 32-bit multiplication and division
- Native stereo output since serial number 6C
- Mixed GR8NET mapper 512K, Mapped RAM 512K mode plus Nextor with SDC support
- RAM-disk 2KB to 720KB, user programmable size
- Operates at standard 3.58 MHz as well as at overclocked 7.11 MHz bus speeds
- Built-in OPLL (YM2413, MSX-Music) with its ROM BIOS (in mapper mode 8)
- Built-in OPL-1 with ADPCM (Y8950, MSX-Audio)
- MP3 audio streaming from network and SD-card into additional MP3 cartridge
- TCP/IP UNAPI version 1.0 implementation
The cartridge is so powerful in terms of resources and capabilities that most likely we are overlooking many of its great and valuable resources in this small list. For a through view of the GR8Net, please check the extensive 325 pages manual in PDF format that can be freely downloaded from this link.
GR8cfg – The GR8NET Configuration Tool:
This quick News Article wouldn’t be complete if we did not speak about the GR8cfg tool (available for download here), which is a valuable resource GR8Net owners can use to:
- Show info on current device firmware versions and dates
- Show info on current network settings
- Change network settings via DHCP or your own fixed settings
- Change GR8cloud settings
- Change Audio mixer settings and volumes, for PSG, SCC, MSX-MUSIC, MSX-AUDIO, PCM, WAVE
- Change Mapper modes and Boot mapper modes
- Switch to MP3 FPGA in a second
- Use a quick url to use Netbrowse
- Use a slotfix if needed for use of FM-PAK rom in mode 8, some models have issues like HB-F700, this solves it.