Snega2usb Update: Usb Snes And Sega Cartridge Reader


When we first posted [Matthias_H]’s USB reader for SNES game carts, it was met with enthusiasm. The snega2usb allows you to play SNES and Sega games on your pc right off the cartridge. The latest revision is even more amazing than the first.  [Matthias] has added the ability to read Sega Genesis/Mega Drive cartridges as well as the ability to save games directly to the cartridge. The board has also been updated from the rats nest it used to be to a smart looking dual sided PCB. So far [Matthias] hasn’t had any trouble reading cartridges, even ones with the SuperFX chips. [Matthias] also launched a site for the project where the lastest information on its development can be found.  [Matthias] is getting close to a production version which will feature better firmware, console quality connectors and a shiny case.

32 thoughts on “Snega2usb Update: Usb Snes And Sega Cartridge Reader

  1. The funny thing is that I actually want the opposite. Diy USB flash carts for old systems, most of the current solutions are being monetized, but there is one for NES, and most other systems including N64 if im not mistaken…

    It would alleviate the emulation problems,

    Most wouldn’t notice, but in some games you can tell a difference in the emulator vs the real thing

    For example I always get higher scores and do better on the O.G. NES Vers. of Tetris,Marble Madness,etc than I do using any emulator..

  2. This project could be great for creating a universal old school TV game console, maybe add a micro linux board and get a composite video out, add memory card readers and ports for all the different game pads. Could turn out to be a beastly little project.

  3. A projected price of $100?!?! Thats a little expensive for this sort of hack. I would much rather have the schematics for this and breadboard it myself. Even it it still cost $100, at least I could reuse the parts for another project once the novelty wore off.

  4. emulators > Original Consoles > snega2usb

    id rather not pay for anything, or at least enjoy the nostalgia of the consoles themselves (especially if i have to buy the carts too). Plus, consoles aren’t as rare as people think and are way cheaper than this alternative…

    This “hack” is fail. I wouldn’t consider buying it, even if the price was $20, let alone “projected” at $100…

  5. @Bob:
    First, it is not going to cost $100. (But well, that’s what you get when you put up figures too soon. My bad.) Second, doing this on a breadboard will require quite some mechanical hacking, since SNES connectors don’t have the standard 100mil pitch. Otherwise, see below.

    @chris: it appears you are easily saddened :-) There will of course be a public release of the source code, once it is polished to a point where I could give away the source without losing face. Until then, allow me to sell a bunch of units so I can at least get rid of my debts. The wiring is more or less trivial. Take a datasheet of your favorite USB microcontroller, marry it to your favorite SNES/SEGA cartridge pinout document, and you’re done.

    @Mr. Sandman: Is this a part of some Things Mr. Sandman Wouldn’t Consider Buying Blog, or am I missing your point?

  6. @Matthias: This is hackaday, were if it’s not sporting an Arduino, is completely documented, free, open and doesn’t meet a very strict definition of hack, it’s not doin it rite. The peanut gallery can surely do it better, cheaper, faster and with more flair if you listen to them.

  7. This is a really cool device, even if it WAS in the $100 range. The people who don’t think that it has merit are just not in the target market is all. (although the site at least now does say ‘well below $100’).

    Someone who has a console and some games in a box is not the target customer really. Someone who has nothing and wants to get started playing older games for nostalgia is not the target customer.

    For someone who had a console(s) and the console(s) have long since died yet they have 100 cartridges that they can’t play unless they re-purchse a console (good luck on what condition you can find one in) may find this very useful. Being able to play the box full of games they used to enjoy without the chance of buying a brick console on ebay or buying one that works but will die soon anyway seems to be a valid goal to me.

    I realize we’re talking to the DIY crowd here, and some people just don’t want to actually pay someone for their work no matter what though. I don’t think the whole community is that way, but as one poster said it, even if the parts cost $100 he’d rather buy them for himself and put it together instead of giving money to another person.

    I guess I can see some kind of logic there with re-using parts, but not after you look at the device (which is NOT a bunch of resistors that could be re-purposed). And c’mon, we blow $100 on tons of stuff as electronic geeks. You really can’t stomach the idea of one of our own getting a little monetary prop for some hard work that provides real benefit to people?

    You turn a hard drive into a clock, cool. But nobody was lacking a clock before. Still, I’d bet a few people might be willing to buy one versus make one. Like if I had all those spare parts sitting around then I’d make one, but I don’t, so I’d have to destroy a hard drive to make one and buy all the components at full retail in low quantities. I’d buy some of these projects completed in a heartbeat if they were available and I’d be happy that I was supporting a hardware hacker’s next project.

    I get the idea of being cheap, but you won’t even *consider* the idea of supporting another human being that is contributing to society? Really? *sigh*

  8. @Tyler:
    > Isn’t this just a ROM dumper? […] We’ve had those for a while.
    Yes and no. First you’d have to get one, then you’d have to use it. Both of which could be pretty much of a pain from what I’ve heard. Unavailable devices, serial connections with pretty much zero datarate or having to run around with diskettes, stitching together multi-disk images using commandline tools, and stuff.

    Also, technically I don’t actually dump the game to a file. The ROM chip is the contents of the file.

  9. The renaming of the rom name is probably what added to that technical confusion.

    Would it be fair to say that the ‘volume label’ that was detected was renamed so the emulator could use it (why was that again?) and not that an actual rom file was downloaded and given a local file name?

    Would it also be fair to say that while at least some part if not all of the rom data must be in memory, any read functions that take place are being sent to the cartridge? And not handled by a local PC copy of the rom data?

    Forgive me if any of that doesn’t make sense, I don’t really have much experience with the rom scene, I just read about it a lot and it seems those points might benefit from some clarification.

  10. @archaic0: The data on the “virtual thumbdrive” consists essentially of two different memory regions: stuff that is contained on the ROM/SRAM chips (contents of the files), and stuff that the microcontroller makes up (i.e. mainly the FAT16 file system), the latter partly using metadata from the ROM. Which, in the video, lead to the problem that a couple of special characters from the cartridge ended up in the filename. When I “renamed” the file in order to make it readable, only its FAT16 entry was changed but it still referred to the same ROM data.

    From the snega2usb’s point of view, at no time there is more than 1 byte from the ROM/SROM being stored in its memory, so IN PRINCIPLE it is possible to randomly access the cart data. In practice, any SCSI read access always gets an entire sector of 512bytes. Also, most emulators do load the entire ROM file before executing it. This is to avoid read/write delays during execution, and reading the whole thing is the only way to check the contents against the checksum. So, by the time you start playing your game, it will no longer be read from the cartridge but entirely from your computer’s memory. If you WANT your emulator to crash upon cartridge removal, just like the real console, I can have the snega2usb deploy a special hotkey which tells it to ;-)

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