NVRAM+RTC Solutions for Philips CD-i Players

There are two types of NVRAM+RTC solutions for Philips CD-i players to store user data and settings: 8 KB and 32 KB. They have a built-in battery that powers the non-volatile memory and the real-time clock. These two types are not compatible and thus cannot be replaced with each other (at least, not without hardware and/or ROM modifications).

In this article, you’ll find information about the different NVRAM types and their alternatives. You’ll also find tips for repair and upgrades. If this looks familiar to you then you have probably read parts of it in my Modifications for Philips CD-i Players article before. Since the NVRAM section grew so large, I’ve completely rewritten it and will continue to update it in its own article.

Philips CD-i 8 and 32 KB NVRAM
Philips CD-i 8 and 32 KB NVRAM
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Philips CD-i Mono III / IV Fuses

Replacing blown fuses in Philips CD-i players with Mono III and Mono IV mainboards – sounds too simple to write an article about. That’s why I’m going to dig a bit deeper into the topic. An important fuse sits on the mainboard and protects the -5 V rail. I tripped (over) it by accident and was confronted with these weird symptoms that are hard to diagnose:

  • No video output (well, there is something, but see below)
  • Service Shell video output with a rolling/flickering image
  • The disc tray opens on its own (tray loader motor is constantly spinning)
  • The spindle motor is constantly spinning
  • “cd” flashing on the VFD
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TVGuardian 101 and 201 Foul Language Filters

These two foul language filters have been in my possession for quite some time. I bought the TVGuardian 101 in 2014 as alternative to a Closed Captioning decoder to view subtitles of some NTSC LaserDiscs. In 2015, I got a Pioneer DVL-909 LaserDisc player with S-Video output together with the newer TVGuardian 201, which supports both composite and S-Video. I never got around to write an article about it, but now it’s time to remove that from my to-do list.

TVGuardian 101 and 201 Foul Language Filters
TVGuardian 101 and 201 Foul Language Filters
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Sega Pico Flash Cart / Adapter v2

After 2,5 years, TeamEurope updated their Sega Pico Flash Cart / Adapter to v2. Previously, I either modified “Assembled in Mexico” Pico cartridges or used the first version of the flash cart / adapter. Version 2 comes with some new features (e.g., added switches for ROM sizes and memory banks) and is split into two PCBs: FULL and REPRO. Additionally, they have released design files for the back covers.

Sega Pico flash cart / adapter v2 kits and back covers
Sega Pico flash cart / adapter v2 kits and back covers
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Philips CDI450 32 KB NVRAM Upgrade

In this article, I’ll upgrade a Philips CDI450 with 32 KB NVRAM. You’ll find all information that is needed to modify the system ROM and the mainboard. If this sounds familiar – yes, it does: In 2019, I explored the possibility to upgrade a CDI470. Even though patching the system ROM failed back then, the experiment was still a success. The final solution to access 32 KB NVRAM was to use the ROM of a 490. As it turned out later, this was also Philips’ solution for the 470/85 model, but that is a topic for another article.

With the 450 (and all other top-loading players with Roboco mainboard) it is a bit different: It’s a low-cost model with 8 KB NVRAM only. The mainboard was neither prepared for a bigger NVRAM solution nor is there a similar advanced model that I could borrow the system ROM from. This time, a ROM patch must succeed.

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Philips CDM 12.1T Laser Sledge Replacement

This guide shows the replacement of the laser sledge in Philips CDM 12.1T CD mechanisms. It assumes that you have already cleaned the lens and done the necessary troubleshooting to rule out other errors (see this article for diagnosis with the Service Shell). If you only get dirty disc messages or experience stuttering audio/video from time to time, you can still follow the guide to clean and grease the mechanism.

For documentation, I replaced the laser sleds of two CDI450 players with unreliable or no disc recognition at all. I took different approaches to find the easiest replacement procedure, so don’t be surprised if you suddenly see pictures where things are in different places.

Philips CDM 12.1T laser sledge replacement
Philips CDM 12.1T laser sledge replacement
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Component Lists

This is an overview of the lists of capacitors and other components that I had to create in order to repair or modify my devices. Currently, all of them are already featured in my repair articles, but I will add further lists that are not featured yet or are a work in progress.

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Neo Geo CD Controller Pro Ball Top

When I made my MV2FS ready for home-use, I also added a ball top to my Neo Geo CD Controller Pro. This was supposed to be handled in an article in 2018, but it somehow got lost. Anyways, here it is:

The SNK Neo Geo CD Controller Pro (aka kidney bean stick) doesn’t have a regular ball top like the arcade stick. Instead, it has an indented head, probably to rest your thumb on.

SNK Neo Geo CD Controller Pro
SNK Neo Geo CD Controller Pro
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Philips 22ER9021 CD-i Gamepad Repair

Recently, I acquired yet another CD-i player for repair and it came with a Philips 22ER9021 CD-i Gamepad. The gamepad showed two common signs of usage: Broken cable insulation and an unresponsive D-Pad.

The coating is broken right behind the cable strain relief. I’ve seen much worse cases of broken insulation and even ripped out conductors, but this still needs to be fixed before it becomes worse.

Philips 22ER9021 PCB - front - with broken cable insulation
Philips 22ER9021 PCB – front – with broken cable insulation
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Philips CDI660 Service Shell

For quite some time, I was puzzled why my CDI660 was stuck in a reset loop after I inserted the test/dummy plug into Input 1. I expected it to boot into the Service Shell, like most other CD-i players. My solution so far was to use a 490 system ROM in the 660 whenever I needed the Service Shell (the compatibility and also the error were discovered during this experiment). However, this wasn’t a very practical approach because I had to open up the player and dig out the system ROM from underneath the DVC every time.

When CD-i Emulator with -testplug option showed the same behaviour, CD-i Fan figured out what is causing this error: The Service Shell module sv is missing from the 660/670 system ROM.
In this article, I will show you a simple ROM patch to enable the Service Shell for the CDI660.

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