Reading Sega carts off a breadboard

Golden Axe is great, and the Sonic 3/Sonic and Knuckles combo is one of the highest works of art from the 16-bit era, but for those of us without a working Genesis or Megadrive, we’ve had to make due with the ROMs others provide. [Lee] figured out an easy way to read the data off these old Sega cartridges using easily scavenged parts and an Arduino Mega, paving the way for an Arduino-based ROM dumper.

The connector on the bottom of a Sega Genesis cartridge has a 2×32 pinout, normally requiring 64 connections to actually read the card. These connectors aren’t readily available, but [Lee] did manage to find a few 2×31 pin connectors lying around in the form of old ISA sockets. The outer pins of a Genesis cart are used for grounds and a ‘cartridge insert’ slot, and after filing away the end of an old ISA connector, [Lee] found he could actually read the data on these old game cartridges.

There are 49 data and address pins on these old Sega carts, so an Arduino Mega needed to be brought into the mix to actually read some of the data on the ROM chip. As of now, [Lee] can read data from the cart but has only gotten so far as to read the licensing data stored at 0x80. Still, very cool and the first step towards an Arduinofied Sega cart dumper.


  1. Hack Man says:

    There are 49 data and address pins on these old Sega carts, so an Arduino Mega needed to be brought into the mix to actually read some of the data on the ROM chip.

    Or a shift register or Centipede Shield.

  2. elwing says:

    It’s always nice to see such a project success, but just one word:

    • KnightFire says:

      I’m actually a collector of the old ROM carts, and never heard of this site, so thank you.
      But it does cost $85us before shipping, and then I will still have to buy adapter carts for my GB and other cart collections… Lee’s might be the way to go.

  3. Coda says:

    Hmm, reminds me, I have a bunch of rarish Sega Mega-tech carts in a box somewhere. AFAIAA they are almost identical to Megadrive carts.

  4. NewCommentor1283 says:

    49 pins and only one of em is a real *&^&*(&

    im no sega expert, but if theres a ram chip in there and no memory mapper (or maybe even if there is) then if you get a wrong logic state on the WR wire and then try to… fried RAM chip, or even fried ROM chip, or possibly fried AVR but i doubt it.

    i was able to read and write to a static RAM chip until one of my wires broke, the damm WR wire!

    reason it breaks stuff when it is bad is if the wire is disconnected, the RAM thinks its always reading, and if u try to write to the RAM when it thinks u read, you get “BUS CONTENTION”.

    which is a friendly way of saying “short-circuit” bcuz one of em tried to say “HIGH” and the other tried to force a “LOW”

    MY AVR SURVIVED, and thankfully, bcuz it was MEGA128

  5. Matt says:
  6. cantido says:

    You mean you can electronically read mask ROMs these days? And here I was decapping them and manually recording the bit states. Damn!

  7. Nunya Bidness says:

    It’s “Make do”. Not “Make due”.

    This isn’t the first time you’ve made this mistake, either.

  8. daniel says:

    sweet, anyone been able to make a writeable cart using arduino?

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