X68000 FAQ

  • SHARP X680x0 Frequently Asked Questions
  • Source: [X68K] X68000 FAQ by painkilla

  • This FAQ contains undisclosed number of questions, organized and answered by Mr.Takuma
  • Additional information added by Eidis/GameSX

!!! WARNING !!!

Every X68000 contains capacitors which are older than 20 years and way past their expected lifetime. They can have no signs of being bulged or leaked but due to age its electrolyte can dry up, its ESR can increase and its capacity can decrease. This happens more faster with systems which generate heat and have more demanding hardware which stresses the capacitor. A super high quality capacitor can last up to 20 years and super cheap ones for up to 5 years. It all depends on how much the hardware is being used, how much heat is near the capacitor and how much current the hardware draws. It is of great importance that all capacitors are replaced or there is a very high probability that something could go wrong and a simple recap could turn into a multi feature repair extravaganza. The best thing to do, when you receive your newly purchased X68000, is to recap the whole system before even attempting to power it on. This includes motherboard, sub-motherboard, floppy drives, I/O slot riser and RGB module. You have been warned !

0. Introduction

One of the most confusing questions for beginners is which X68000 should I get and how much RAM and other peripherals do I need to enjoy it properly. The following table will try to answer those questions:

Intended usage RAM HDD Keyboard
Playing games from floppy disks 2MB No No
Playing games from hard drive 2MB or more Yes Yes

SASI models require slightly more effort for the hard drive mod but not very much so any model with at least 2MB will do the job quite nicely. It all comes down to your personal preference which model to choose. They all are compatible and games will run fine on any one of them. The following links will help you make the decision more easily:

You will probably need some software to run on your machine too:

1. Main memory


SHARP and I/O data were the most recognized expansion card manufacturers.

Their product codes consist of two main parts:

1) The manufacturer:

  • CZ - Genuine Sharp
  • PIO - I/O data (older models)
  • SH - I/O data (newer models)

2) The model number, which most of the times consists of:

  • 6BE - Identifier for RAM expansion board
  • The amount of RAM

Question: What memory expansions are available for the X68000 ?

Answer: Each X68000 model is slightly different and here are the possible options for each one of them. The original X68000 and ACE/PRO models must have internal 1Mb expansion unit (Total: 2Mb) before they can be expanded further. The total amount of memory must be set by using SWITCH.X which can be found in HumanOS floppy.

X68000 ACE/PRO EXPERT/SUPER XVI Compact X68030 X68030 Compact
CPU speed 10 Mhz 10 Mhz 10 Mhz 16 Mhz 16 Mhz 25 Mhz 25 Mhz
Default RAM 1 Mb 1 Mb 2 Mb 2 Mb 2 Mb 4 Mb 4 Mb
1Mb RAM boards CZ-6BE1 CZ-6BE1A
2Mb RAM boards CZ-6BE2 CZ-6BE2 CZ-6BE2 CZ-6BE2A CZ-6BE2D
2/4Mb RAM boards PIO-6834-2/4M-1 PIO-6834-2/4M-1 PIO-6834-2/4M-1
SH-6BE-2/4M-1 SH-6BE-2/4M-1 SH-6BE-2/4M-1
4Mb RAM boards CZ-6BE4 CZ-6BE4 CZ-6BE4 CZ-6BE4D CZ-5BE4 CZ-5BE4
*CZ-5ME4 *CZ-5ME4
4/8Mb RAM boards SH-5BE4 SH-5BE4
16Mb RAM boards *TS-6BE16 *TS-6BE16
*CZ-6BE2B is a 2Mb RAM upgrade module for CZ-6BE2A and CZ-6BE2D
*CZ-5ME4 is a 4Mb RAM upgrade module for CZ-5BE4
*TS-6BE16 requires Xe30 Xellent30 or CZ50 X68030 board and HIMEM.SYS to address above 12Mb

2. Floppy disk

Question: How can I transfer image files from PC to real floppy disks ?

Answer: There are two different procedures. One for 5.25“ drives and the other one for 3.5” drives:

Question: How can I write image files on X68000 to its floppy drives ?

Answer: The following article will explain how to achieve it.

Question: How can I use different floppy disk formats ?

Answer: Download 9SCSET v3.14r4 and use 9SCDRV driver. Here is the list of supported formats:

  • 0 - 2HS (9sec/trk 1440k)
  • 1 - 2HD (8sec/trk 1232k) Standard X68000 format
  • 2 - 2HDE (9sec/trk 1440k)
  • 3 - 2HC (15sec/trk 1200k)
  • 4 - 2HT (1599k)
  • 5 - 2DD/9 (9sec/trk 720k)
  • 6 - 2DD/8 (8sec/trk 640k)
  • B - 2HQ (18sec/trk 1440k) IBM 1.44MB 2HD format
  • Z - 2HDE98 (FDISK.SYS v0.98 compatible)
  • 7 - Initialize FAT
  • 8 - Initialize IPL

3. Hard Disk

Question: How can I connect a hard disk to my X68000 ?

Answer: All X68000 models can be equipped with a hard drive and the most modern approach is by using a SCSI to IDE/CF/SD adapter. The earlier X68000 models with SASI (SCSI1 predecessor) require SxSI driver in order to work. SCSI models require specifying boot device ID with SWITCH.X. Here is the list of SASI and SCSI models and links to tutorials:

X68000 SUPER
EXPERT Compact
PRO X68030 Compact

Question: How can I edit contents of a hard disk image and restore it to physical media ?

Answer: The following articles will explain how.

4. Display

Question: What monitors are compatible with X68000 ?

Answer: The original X68000 monitor supports 15kHz/24kHz/31kHz display modes. 15kHz is used by TV's and 31kHz by PC monitors. The 24kHz mode is very rarely used and is not important. Approximately 80% of all software uses 31kHz mode, however some of the most desired games run in 15kHz. CRT monitor will provide you with the best possible picture quality. It is possible to use a LCD monitor with upscaler and scanline generator to make the picture look sharp as on CRT and not pixelated/blurred. However, be warned that LCD monitor and upscaler will introduce a small input lag. You will also need a SANWA AD-D15NE adapter or make your own if you want to use the X68000 with anything other than its original monitor. There are several options:

  • A standard PC monitor which will allow you to use only 31kHz software.
  • Microvitec M1438 which was very popular with Amiga enthusiasts and supports all X68000 display modes.
  • NEC XM29 (24kHz not supported) or any other PVM CRT monitor which supports 15kHz and 31kHz modes.
  • Micomsoft XPC-4 upscaler (manual) + Mini SLG scanline generator.

The following reviews will help you make the decision more easily:

5. Keyboard

Question: Do I need a keyboard, which is the best and are there any DIY alternatives ?

Answer: A keyboard is mandatory for everyone who wants to use a hard drive but a system which loads software only from floppies can very well do without it. The pre-compact keyboards are bigger and more durable. They usually cost on Yahoo Auctions somewhere from 8000 Yen but lucky for us there are two DIY PC keyboard converter adapters. In the following links you can see a list of nearly all keyboards which were available for the X68000 and instructions on how to build a DIY keyboard adapter:

6. Mouse

Question: Do I need it ?

Answer: Only if you want to play 1% of games which use it or run SX-Window or other operating systems which require it. It is possible to make a DIY PC mouse converter adapter.

7. RS-232C

Question: How can I transfer files between PC and X68000 ?

Answer: First of all you will need to build a null modem cable for X68000 <> PC data transfers. Then you can use ZM.X or Muterm for data transfers. It is even possible to use the internet through RS-232C. The following links will explain how to do it:

Question: What is the maximum transmission speed of RS-232C ?

Answer: It is possible to go up to 76800bps however most software only supports 38400 or 19200bps. 57600bps can not be used because of hardware limitations but 51200bps can be set.


Question: What MIDI boards and configurations are available for the X68000, how do I set it all up and make it work ?

Answer: You will need a MIDI board and a dedicated external MIDI synthesizer module. There are two MIDI boards produced by SHARP and two by SYSTEM SACOM. CZ-6BM1, CZ-6BM1A and SX-68M II have a Mini DIN connector so you will need to make a custom cable. The following links will explain it in more detail:

9. Troubleshooting

Question: What are the most frequent problems with X68000 and which mandatory repairs need to be done ?

Answer: The most important problem is the capacitors. High quality capacitors usually last up to 20 years however it is way past it so they need to be replaced as soon as possible or a simple recaping can turn into a multi feature repair extravaganza. Recap everything you can, especially PSU, floppy drives, main motherboard and sub-motherboard. This will ensure that your X68000 will work for a long time to come. Here is a list of articles which deal with the most common problems and their solutions:

 x68000/x68000_faq.txt · Last modified: 2014/12/06 18:34 by eidis
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