GD-ROM drive emulated to use SD cards instead

This board is the prototype which [Deunan] has been working on in order to use an SD card in place of a GD-ROM drive. The idea is to fully implement the hardware protocol used by a GD-ROM drive so that it can be completely replaced. The end goal is to do away with the optical drive on a Dreamcast game console.

As these game systems age, the optical drive is the most likely part to fail first as it involves moving parts and a lens that may degrade over time (we’re basing that assumption on our experience with DVD-ROM and RW). This may sound like a way to play pirated games, but [Deunan] makes it clear in his question and answer post that the firmware for his prototype is written to only play proper disc images and will probably not play the rips which are found in the darker recesses of the interwebs.

He’s been at this for quite a while. Here’s an earlier project he did that uses an FPGA board for the hardware.

[Thanks Walt]

Simple fixes breathe new life into aging game consoles

dreamcast_repair

While the Sega Dreamcast has long been out of production, there is an avid fanbase that loves the console dearly. As with many CD/DVD-based consoles, the Dreamcast can sometimes run into issues reading discs, at which point all games are unplayable.

Instructables user [Andrew] got his hands on a pair of the consoles and found that one could not read CDs, while the other suffered from a fried controller interface board, the result of a controller wiring mix-up on his part. Determined to get the consoles up and running again, he disassembled them and got to work, sharing his fixes with us.

The CD drive fix is a pretty standard one. He first needed to locate the potentiometer that regulates the laser. Once he did, a slight counter-clockwise turn is all it required in order to increase the laser’s voltage. Once he did this, he popped in a game to see if it worked. No longer greeted with a disc read error when he powered on his Dreamcast, he reassembled the console and began work on the other one.

To fix his controller issues, [Andrew] had to remove the entire controller board from the console. He eventually located a resistor that had been damaged by his wiring mishap, and replaced it. The console was tested and seeing that the controllers worked again, he put everything back together.

While this pair of fixes is not incredibly complex, it’s nice to see people sharing their tips for bringing these consoles back to life.

Dreamcast VMU, meet iPod

We’d bet you never had a Dreamcast Visual Memory Unit, but if you can find one now it can be turned into an iPod (translated). The VMU was originally a memory card for the not-so-popular gaming console that put an LCD screen right in your controller. When you weren’t at home you could take it with you and play mini-games. This version lacks its original guts, which have been replaced with a 6th generation iPod nano. The screen is just a bit small for the opening so a frame of white tape was applied as a bezel. The sleep button has been extended through the cover for the VMU connector. It seems there’s a gaping hole in the back of the case, but after seeing the ultrasonic knife used to cut away the plastic we don’t care. We’ve embedded video of that tool after the break.

[Read more...]

[techknott]‘s portable dreamcast

[Sydney] sent in this fantastic portable Dreamcast, built by [techknott], in response to the one we posted yesterday. While we agree, this one is much more polished, we want to point out why the post yesterday is more Hack A Day material. Sure, it looks more “hackish”, but that’s not what we are referring to. What we want to draw your attention to, is the lack of information. Yesterday, there was a build log. Today, there is not. Sure the other one could have had much much more information and we’re not commenting on which one is “better”. We’re just reminding you to please please please document your projects. Oh, and also, this thing is awesome.

IntoDream, the ‘portable’ Dreamcast

What looks like an absolute mess of wires,5 fans,3 batteries, and other miscellaneous equipment squeezed into a Tupperware box on the left? At first we didn’t believe it, but it is actually [John's] fully functioning slick-looking portable Dreamcast on the right. The system runs Quake 3 for a little over 2 hours, not too bad considering it is also powering a VMU, rumble pad, 5 inch LCD screen, and did we mention 5 fans! All in all, it’s still smaller than the original Xbox controller, and we like that one of the greatest consoles is getting some well deserved respect. Check out the work log and a video of it functioning after the break. [Read more...]

The Dream tablet

dreamtablet

[Matthew] has completed this Dreamcast tablet modification. That’s right, you’re looking at a Dreamcast laid out in tablet format. We’re not really sure what advantages the tablet layout has, since it’s not touch screen and you probably need to put it down to play anyway. The laptop or clam shell might have been a smart choice simply for screen protection. Putting that aside, this is really cool. He had to do some extensive re working of the motherboard in the Dreamcast to get it to fit. Interestingly, he hacked together a custom disk drive for it too. You can see detailed pictures of the entire process, including the construction of the case, on his site. Great job [Matthew].

[Thanks John, via Fusion Mods]

iCast: imac + LCD + DreamCast

[Logicdustbin] sent in his iCast project. He gutted a blue iMac and inserted a DreamCast and an LCD. It looks very nice. His ports on the front seem almost factory installed. You can follow his build on the cgcc forums.