Tales of Raspberry Pi SD card corruption are available online by the fistful, and are definitely a constant in Pi-adjacent communities. It’s apparent that some kind of problems tend to arise when a Raspberry Pi meets an SD card – which sounds quite ironic, since an SD card is the official and recommended way of booting a Pi. What is up with all of that?
I can start with a history lesson. Back when Raspberry Pi launched in 2012 – which is now 10 years ago – there were SD card controller driver problems, which makes sense given the wide variety of SD cards available out there. They were verifiably fixed one by one at some point in time, as debugging goes, their impact decreased and bugs with individual cards got smoothed over. This is how the “Pi SD card corruption” meme was originally born; however, if the problems were to end there, so would the meme. Yet, tales of broken SD cards plague us to this day – way less severe than they were in the beginning, but pronounced enough that you’ll see people encounter them every now and then.
It used to be that to play a console game, you just had to plug in a cartridge or put a CD/DVD in the optical drive. But these days, with modern titles ballooning up to as much as 100 GB, you’ve got no choice but to store them on the system’s internal hard disk drive. While that can lead to some uncomfortable data management decisions, at least it means you don’t have to get up off the couch to switch games anymore.
Which is precisely why the MC2SIO project for the PlayStation 2 is so exciting. As [Tito] explains in his latest Macho Nacho Productions video, this simple adapter lets you connect an SD card up to the console’s Memory Card slots and use that to hold ISOs of your favorite games. With the appropriate homebrew software loaded up, your PS2 becomes a veritable jukebox of classic games.
While we’ll admit seeing your Game Boy Camera shots come out on a little slip of thermal paper was pretty neat back in 1998, anyone who’s still using the Game Boy Printer these days is probably more interested in getting their images in digital form. Which is why the open source NeoGB Printer is so exciting.
A collaborative effort between [Rafael Zenaro], [Raphaël BOICHOT], and [Brian Khuu], the project combines an ESP32 development board and some common components with their GPLv3 firmware to fully emulate the Game Boy Printer hardware. Once plugged into your Game Boy, any of the 110 titles that support Nintendo’s paper-pushing peripheral will recognize the NeoGB Printer as the real deal and happily send along the image.
But rather than committing it to paper, the NeoGB Printer saves the image to an SD card. From there, you can put the card in your computer and do whatever you wish with the captured files. Incidentally, it turns out there’s already a commercial gadget on the market that does something very similar, but this DIY approach comes well under its $99 USD price tag. In fact, if you’ve got a Game Boy Link Cable you don’t mind cutting up, you’ve probably got everything you need to pull this off in the parts bin right now.
We particularly like how the team has went out of their way to support different hardware configurations for the NeoGB Printer. If you want to go all out and add status LEDs and an OLED display, go for it. But if you just plan on using the thing once to grab a copy of the Pokémon diploma you earned 20 years ago, then you can skip the bells and whistles.
If you’re only worried about getting your snaps out of the Game Boy Camera, we’ve covered projects that will extract them directly from the cartridge. But this approach certainly has its appeal, as works with a much wider variety of games. We’re glad this project exists, as it means a whole new generation can explore all the wacky ways developers came up with to utilize the Game Boy Printer back in the day.
While it might have been a commercial failure compared to contemporary consoles, the Sega Dreamcast still enjoys an active homebrew scene more than twenty years after its release. Partly it’s due to the fact that you can burn playable Dreamcast discs on standard CD-Rs, but fans of the system will also point out that the machine was clearly ahead of its time in many respects, affording it a bit of extra goodwill in the community.
In the video below, [Ian] shows off his new technique with a port of DOOM running at 640×480. He’s already seeing an improvement to framerates, and thinks further optimizations should allow for a solid 30 FPS, but that’s not really the most exciting part. With the ability to load an essentially unlimited amount of data from the SD card while the game is running, this opens the possibility of running mods which wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. It should also allow for niceties like saving screenshots or game progress to the SD card for easy retrieval.
[Ian] says he’ll be bringing the same technique to his Dreamcast ports of Quake and Hexen in the near future, and plans on posting some code to GitHub that demonstrates reading and writing to FAT32 cards so other developers can get in on the fun. The downside is that you obviously need to have an SD card adapter plugged into your console to make use of this technique, which not everyone will have. Luckily they’re fairly cheap right now, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the prices start climbing. If you don’t have one already, now’s probably the time to get one.
SD cards were developed and released just before the turn of the millenium. Since then, we’ve seen smaller formats, miniSD and microSD, become popular for portable devices. However, sometimes bigger is better. [Useless Mod] dared to dream that dream, and put together a (physically) gigantic SD card.
In card is a full 10x scale reproduction of a SanDisk Extreme Pro SD card, complete with packaging, too. Built out of layers of laser cut MDF, it’s spray painted and given a high-quality label to complete the effect. The write protect slider instead serves in this case as a latch to open the assembly. Inside, there’s a simple regular SD card slot, wired up to the bigger card’s giant contacts made with copper tape. These interface with an huge 10x scale SD card slot, which acts as an adapter, allowing the giant SD to be used with regular hardware like cameras.
The giant SD might seem silly, but it has plenty of useful features. There’s flashing LEDs behind the label that make it easy to find if you drop it, along with an Apple Watch hidden inside that means it can be located using the Find My iPhone service. We’d have loved if it featured a RAID array full of 10 or more SD cards, as well, just to justify its enormous size. That said, [Useless Mod] points out that it’s big enough to keep a DSLR dry in a rainstorm when fitted to the hotshoe, so there’s that.
It’s a fun build, not a serious one, but one that we enjoyed on its merits. We suspect that, regardless of the card inside, you’ll have little luck recording at 4K with such long wire lengths in play. If you’ve ever had more normal compatability problems with the format, consider that it could be size causing your issues. Video after the break.
SD cards have long been a favorite with microcontroller hobbyists. Cheap, readily available, and easily interfaced, they remain a staple for small projects that need to store a lot of data. Now, they’re available in chip form! These are known as SD NAND parts that emulate the SD card interface itself.
These chips come in standard LGA8 surface mount package and can be easily soldered to a board, offering mechanical and manufacturing benefits versus using a normal SD or microSD card in a slot-type connector. Also, unlike other SMD flash memory parts, they handle all the file system details and wear levelling for you! With the inflation of SD card sizes, it’s also difficult to find these on the shelf in normal cards these days.
[Adafruit] plan to have a breakout for these parts out soon with a level shifter included for ease of use. We can imagine these chips finding their way into all manner of datalogger projects, since they can be ordered with other parts and permanently soldered into a design. If you’ve got a particularly good idea where these chips would prove useful, sound off in the comments. Video after the break.
The project is called FujiNet and it uses the lightweight protocol of SIO to add a number of modern features to the 8-bit machine. It’s based on an ESP32, and the chip performs the functions of a network adapter by bridging WiFi and Bluetooth to the Atari. It does this by simulating drives that would have potentially been used on the Atari in its time, such as a floppy disk drive, an RS232 interface, or a modem, and translating them to the modern wireless communication protocols. It even has the ability to emulate a printer by taking the output of the print job from the Atari and converting it to PDF within the device itself.
Not only does this bring a lot of functionality to the Atari, which you may be able to use to view sites like retro.hackaday.com, but the FujiNet is housed in a period-appropriate 3D-printed case that matches the look and feel of the original Atari. If you need a more generic solution for your retrocomputing networking adventures that isn’t limited to SIO, we recommend grabbing a Raspberry Pi to handle that.