New Wii Drive Hardware Emulation


The Wii-Optical-Drive-Emulator (WODE) makes it possible to load Wii and GameCube ISO files from an SD card or USB storage device. This hack uses the ribbon cable for the optical drive to connect to the Wii, requiring no soldering. The WODE is based on an ARM9 processor, runs Linux, and features a backlit LCD screen and 4-way center click joystick. Storage can be hot plugged and then an ISO selected using the stick and LCD display. Selected ISO files appear in the game channel as if an original disc had just been inserted into the drive.

The developers claim that a Wii firmware upgrade will not be able to lock out the WODE. There is also a second ribbon-cable connector to use as a pass-through, giving the option to keep the optical drive hooked up if you so desire. Now the race is on for a replacement case that can house all of this new hardware and still look nice like the original. We wouldn’t be surprised to see a homebrew channel program that allows ISO selection without having to walk over to the console.

The original report (in dutch) is a dead link so here’s the Google cache copy translated. These links came via the translated Tweakers article (here’s the original Dutch). Video after the break. Don’t pirate video games!

[Thanks Roy]


45 thoughts on “New Wii Drive Hardware Emulation

  1. @grant
    USB loaders aren’t perfect, not all games run 100%.
    This is 100% perfect, and works every time, and probably has the bonus of being faster than both the original dvd drive (6x reading) and the back USB 1.1 ports (12Mbits/s max).

  2. What if console makers managed to create some sort of allowance for stored ISOs. You could feed in the disc and it could create the ISO and maybe you would have to load the real disc every month to make some sort of confirmation that you have/own the disc or it would be deleted. I supose you still have the copyright issue but I’m sure it could be done. The annoying thing is having to sit there for half an hour every month putting your discs in…

  3. @Matt Downer : That’s similar to the xbox360s method, you can move most retail discs into the hdd to speed loading times up, but you need the disc in the drive for authentication the entire play time.

    I have wanted this for ages for multiple consoles + PCs included, I am not a fan of optical media. I have been using the same 25pack of cdrw for ages now.

    No reason to be burning OS or utility isos to run on bare metal, although VM’s have made my life a lot better.

    I would be interested in how easily this could support USB atapi emulation.

    The original xbox spoiled us with regards to piracy. [PSP as well… [any MS adaptors feasible?]]

    +1 for xbox 360 support [and ps3? this is more foreign to me]

    +1 general ide/sata + atapi [What interface does the wii hardware use?]

  4. honestly this can already be done using a USB storage device or hdd. no need to remove the optical drive. all that is needed is a couple dol files and iso loader and the wiihomebrew and obviously a usb storage device. ive been running my wii games/backups(isos) and emus from usb hard drive for almost a year now. this is cool but not that impressive.

  5. What this can do, that others can’t softmodded is play NGC isos, since it appears to be a disc present.

    It’s remarkable how clean a setup they have. does anybody know of any good sources for longer ribbon cables?

    Also, they have some renderings of a proposed case, which, if they drop the orange [or offer and orange wii shell [Although, everyone will just want black.]] doesn’t look terrible.

    I am curious why they seem to be sticking with WBFS, instead of fat/similar. Is it that much easier to work with? or does it offer some performance benefit? [both?] <–NVM supports, WBFS+NTFS+EXT3+HPFS

    ALSO! The project is using a powerful hardware because they plan WIFI+Samba iso streaming, and torrenting builtin. too ambitious maybe?

    Anyways, this is one idea the internet has crossed off my wishlist. [50%, still needs to be on 360.]


  6. “We wouldn’t be surprised to see a homebrew channel program that allows ISO selection without having to walk over to the console.”

    *I* would : if the protocol to the wode is 100% compatible with the one to the original drive, the wii homebrew may not have access to the list of .iso files. If some trick is used, then this same trick could be used to identify the device, then the wode would be detectable by futur upgrades.

    One question about this thing is : is there any chance you could build this think for about the same price has you could buy a flatmii ? I think it is a *very* interesting project to work on, but not something interesting for wii dev. Since solutions for piracy are already commercialy available at hard to beat prices, I (unfortunately) don’t think that many wode would be built.

  7. You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to do this….But with a Dreamcast instead. I also had the idea of using something similar on the Xbox 360 ever since they introduced the install to hard drive option. Statement I made when they launched NXE “Xbox 360 Fall update, My thoughts…

    You can install the games with the new update! What if they find a way to communicate to the dvd drives sata cable the necessary data to make the 360 think that a specific disc is inserted. ie a chip that could be on a sata pass through cable to the dvd drive. So then you rent games & download them to the 360 & when asked to insert a disc the chip will emulate the portion of the disc needed for verification. When installing the game to the 360 the chip could store the security information. Just a thought, This seems the most feasible considering the difficulties in trying to bypass the hyper visor. Just some thoughts.”

  8. The “wii part” is similar to the flatmii which uses a pc to do the mounting of the ISO (and has fairly buggy software). If the maker of the flatmii had the guts to document the interface (USB based) to talk to the Flatmii this would have emerged sooner. But with all the USB loader hype I guess no-one bothered to reverse engineer the flatmii pc software.

  9. @ho0d0ohg:

    Check the above comments. You need to remember that the USB 1.1s that are already on the wii are quite slow, and that the USB softloaders have problems running games (I think two examples are the new Metroid Prime Trilogy and Super Smash Brothers Brawl). This will enable read times FASTER than a Wii DVD (Wii reads authorized discs at 6x, burned discs with CIOSCORP/backup launcher will run at 3x). So while it’s kind of a pain in the ass (you have to install it), you are rewarded with the potential to run MUCH faster games.

  10. With USB Loaders you can extract and decrypt only the partition game to use. Wii Sports is less than 500MB extracted(i cant remember, but i think it’s not bigger than 300mb), but original signed iso is more than 4GB.
    Using WODE you will store a lot of signed padding, but it’s like an original DVD. With USB emulators, you will store less bytes for same games.
    I’m thinking if Wii Optical Drive have a S/N inside that Nintendo can check…

  11. I have wanted something like this for ages, mainly for installing Windows XP and the like. It’s largely redundant for that purpose now that Vista and Windows 7 can be installed from a USB drive anyway. I know XP can be as well now, before someone says it.

    I never buy games consoles until you can copy the games for them. I’m not cheap, I just hate using original discs because they get scratched and damaged no matter how careful you are with them. I had Crazy Taxi in my Dreamcast for about two years with only the occasional removal for Soul Calibur, and now the music skips.

  12. “With USB Loaders you can extract and decrypt only the partition game to use. Wii Sports is less than 500MB extracted(i cant remember, but i think it’s not bigger than 300mb), but original signed iso is more than 4GB.”

    Wode supports WBFS, you can use the exact same HDD and data.

    “maybe you might want to give ben a call?”

    Well, we really do need a case to put it in :) Ben does cases, right?

  13. FINALLY something like this comes out that is not technically circumventing copy protection so the DMCA doesn’t cover it.

    Maybe when this comes out for the 360 and PS3 we’ll finally see them slack up on homebrew users and stop using the DMCA to harass their customers.

    The ONLY reason I haven’t bought an xbox 360 and PS3 is because of the arrests / raids on modchippers. I’m just not going to deal with any of that BS anymore. When I purchase a piece of technology, hardware or software, I will use it how I want, when I want, where I want, and on what I want.

    Why? Because I paid money for a product and I *WILL* have advertised functionality out of it, and any unadvertised deficits / limitations that are not present on the box for me to see will be ‘remedied’ by me, or I won’t buy the product.

    Thanks to the group that did this, I hope they expand it to the xbox and PS3.

  14. @treg + @Blizarddemon + @polossatic : Thanks for the flatmii info, I never heard of it [the page is somewhat barren, but I’ll find more.]

    @Lank : The wii hardware is USB 2.0, but the stock IOS usb drivers are 1.1 only atm. so naturally, the users made their own 2.0 support. similar to the SDHC support being homebrew first.

    @WodeDev : You got a homepage now, woo… Will you be providing detailed technical info? or are you going to keep this closed? Also, I don’t see how this will interface in a wii base type case, since that makes dis/assembling the wii itself tricky.

    Also, going at faster rates than an optical disc supports /could/ be detected, and would be a little suspicious, so you would be able to do normal speed at best. [unless N’ doesn’t care atm.]

    Does anyone know the interface on the wii’s optical drive? Also, can anyone chime in about the feasibility of just emulating ATAPI on Sata/IDE? [sATApi? heh…]

    *OffTopic : The usb sticks that came with a util partition as a separate “physical” cdrom… Lot’s of people removed that for more space, but could it be replaced with an eltorito booting CDFS, and would a bios be able boot off it? [apart from standard USB stick booting support – I am curious how these flash drives achieved their CD Emulation]

    –PidGin128 [After all that, I still think I forgot something…]

  15. Nintendo used to make a cartridge-loading GameCube for development – it emulated the optical drive in just this way, with a large HDD in each cart (up to 4 images possible per cart). Google ‘NPDP’. History repeating itself :)

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