Sakhr AX-350
This page was last modified 14:31, 27 December 2021 by Gdx. Based on work by Mars2000you and Alexey and others.

Contents

Description

Computer

Sakhr Computers was a Kuwaiti company (Al Alamiah co.) that was selling MSX computers imported from Japan in all of the Arab world. These MSX were localized and rebranded for some Arabic markets.

The AX-350 is the Yamaha YIS-604/128 or CX7M/128 localised by Al Alamiah. The mini-slot has been replaced by a floppy disk drive and the module slot has been removed. However, the internal structure is closer to the YIS-805/128.

Note that AX350 is printed on the front of the computer but most AX350 are indicated on the underside as AX-350II and sometimes come in an AX-350II box. See AX-350II for more details. The hardware is the same for both machines.

It's actually very difficult to find a real AX-350 (that is not a disguised AX-350II), only 2 machines have been found until now :

  • one whose menu makes think to the MSX1 Sakhr machines with the separated Word Processors and the removal of the Calendar option (see picture below)
  • one whose menu is almost the same as the AX-350II menu, but it contains also the Sakhr Files rom while this specific AX-500 option is not available in the menu.

Probably these real AX-350 are only prototypes.

After booting without pressing the CTRL key, the computer will be in Arabic mode. In this mode:

  • the combination of the GRAPH key with an alphabetic key will display an MSX-BASIC instruction on the screen
  • the extra STAR key can be used in a similar way to the GRAPH key
  • some combinations can produce accented characters instead of MSX-BASIC instructions
Brand Sakhr (Manufacturer: Yamaha)
Model AX-350
Year 1987
Region Middle East
Launch price
RAM 128kB in slot 3-2
VRAM 128kB
Media MSX cartridges, DD floppy disks
Video Yamaha V9938
Audio PSG (YM2149 integrated in MSX-Engine S1985)
Chipset Yamaha S1985
Keyboard layout QWERTY/Arabic
Extras 720kB 3,5" floppy disk drive, reset button, Arabic BASIC, firmware (Arabic Writer, English Writer, The Painter)
Emulation ROM dump needed. See this thread for details

Firmware

Most AX-350 have the same firmware as the Sakhr AX-350II. It's version 2.02 of the Arabic firmware. However, the menu is closer to the Sakhr AX-500 menu for the bottom part.

The only known exception is a model with a menu closer to the MSX1 Sakhr machines, without the Calendar. Probably version 2.00 of the Arabic firmware.

The firmware can be skipped by pressing CTRL key while booting and until you hear a first beep. By doing that, the machine will be in International mode and the Arabic characters will not be available. If a software (even in cartridge) doesn't work, try it in this mode.

Note: If you continue to press CTRL until a second beep, you will get only one drive (the A: drive) even if you have added an external diskdrive.

Firmware v.2.00

This firmware adds Arabic characters, new MSX-BASIC instructions (see Arabic BASIC) and 3 applications. You can choose them in the menu with the keys 1 to 3:

  • Arabic Writer (Word Processor)
  • English Writer (Word Processor)
  • The Painter (Arabic version) - graphic tool in screen 5 (the original version can be found in the Yamaha YIS-805)

By comparison with version 1.01, the Calendar has been removed and the Graphics application replaced by the Arabic version of The Painter.

If you press key 4 when you are in the menu, you will go to MSX-BASIC.

From MSX-BASIC in Arabic mode, you can

  • go to the menu with CALL MENU or _MENU
  • launch The Painter with CALL PAINT or _PAINT

Don't use these instructions if you are in International mode !

Firmware v.2.02

This firmware adds Arabic characters, new MSX-BASIC instructions (see Arabic BASIC) and 3 applications. You can choose them in the menu with the keys 1 to 3:

  • English / Arabic Word Processor
  • The Painter (Arabic version) - graphic tool in screen 5 (the original version can be found in the Yamaha YIS-805)
  • Calendar - white background instead of the black background of the versions 1.0, 1.01 and 1.02

By comparison with version 2.01, the Sakhr Files option has been removed.

If you press key 4 when you are in the menu, you will go to MSX-BASIC.

From MSX-BASIC in Arabic mode, you can

  • go to the menu with CALL MENU or _MENU
  • launch the Word Processor with CALL SWP or _SWP
  • launch the Calendar with CALL CALENDAR or _CALENDAR
  • launch The Painter with CALL PAINT or _PAINT

If you are in International mode:

  • only CALL SWP or _SWP can be used, you will directly go to the English Word Processor. It's not recommended to use the other instructions without first enabling the Arabic mode.
  • you can fully enable the Arabic mode with CALL ARABIC, _ARABIC, CALL ARABON or _ARABON

Pictures

Computer

Sakhr AX-350
Sakhr AX-350 underside
AX-350 manuals and cables
Sakhr AX-350 label
Sakhr AX-350 inside
Sakhr AX-350 PCB
Sakhr AX-350 left side
Sakhr AX-350 right side
Sakhr AX-350 back

Firmware

Firmware v.2.00

Arabic firmware version 2.00
Arabic firmware 2.00 menu
Arabic Writer
English Writer
The Painter (Arabic version)
The Painter (Arabic version)

Firmware v.2.02

Menu

Arabic firmware version 2.02
Arabic firmware 2.02 AX-350 menu

Word Processor

English/Arabic Word Processor
Arabic Word Processor
English Word Processor

The Painter

The Painter (Arabic version)
The Painter (Arabic version)

Calendar

Arabic Calendar
English Calendar

Specifications

The AX-350 is a MSX2 with a Z80A from Zilog and an MSX-Engine S1985 from Yamaha. Floppy Disk Controller chip is the MB8877A.

Slot Map

Most AX-350 have the same slot map as the Sakhr AX-350II. The only known exception is a model with a menu closer to the MSX1 Sakhr machines, without the Calendar. The slot map of this model is unknown.

Note that the model with the Sakhr Files application, not accessible from the menu, has also the AX-350II slot map, because the rom corresponding to this application is not mapped (slots 0.3 and 3.3 are empty).

Slot Map with firmware v.2.00

Help needed
The below slot-map is an assumption, it needs to be checked on a real machine.
Slot Slot
0-0 0‑1 0-2 0-3 Slot 1 Slot 2 3-0 3-1 3-2 3-3
Page C000h~FFFFh Cartridge
Slot 1
Cartridge
Slot 2
Painter
ROM
128kB
Memory
Mapper
Page 8000h~BFFFh Arabic
ROM
Page 4000h~7FFFh Main-ROM Disk ROM
Page 0000h~3FFFh Sub-ROM

Slot Map with firmware v.2.02

Slot Slot
0-0 0‑1 0-2 0-3 Slot 1 Slot 2 3-0 3-1 3-2 3-3
Page C000h~FFFFh Cartridge
Slot 1
Cartridge
Slot 2
Painter
ROM
128kB
Memory
Mapper
Page 8000h~BFFFh Arabic
ROM
SWP
ROM
Page 4000h~7FFFh Main-ROM Disk ROM
Page 0000h~3FFFh Sub-ROM

Connections

Upgrades

RAM upgrade

On this model the RAM can be relatively easily expanded to 256kB by adding four 4464 or compatible DRAM chips to the empty spots on the motherboard and bridging the jumper "-J-" (near IC305, LS670), and cutting a jumper trace and bridging another jumper, both immediately next to IC326. Former will connect the fourth bit to the mapper register (on the existing LS670) and the latter is required to connect MA17 to the LS139 (IC306) instead of pulling it low (which is correct for 128kb configuration).

The RAM expansion of 1024kB from Caro is not supported.