Modifications for Philips CD-i Players

This is an attempt to collect all known and available modifications for Philips CD-i players in a single article. Consider it a work in progress – I will add new information from time to time. Please give feedback if you find an error or want to add something to this article.

Due to the plethora of different models, versions and revisions of CD-i players that have been sold under the Philips / Magnavox or entirely different brands (OEM), it is virtually impossible to create one big list that contains every player. I chose a different approach with several lists to cover most of the hardware combinations: Available modifications, mainboards, video encoders and NVRAM.

Available modifications

This is an overview of the available modifications:

  • 50/60 Hz modification: This is done by changing the STAND! / STANDIN! signal to make the player believe that it is from a different region (PAL = 0 and NTSC = 1). It does not really change a PAL player to NTSC or vice versa, but it changes the refresh rate of the video output.
  • PAL/NTSC modification: This is the actual hardware change from PAL to NTSC. Depending on mainboard and video encoder, this can be as easy as installing a DFO or as hard as populating the entire analog video section of the mainboard or encoder panel.
  • RGB modification: This will add an RGB video output to your CD-i player. Useful for all CD-i players from the NTSC regions and the cheaper players from the PAL regions.
  • NVRAM modification: Depending on mainboard and ROM, the 8 KB Timekeeper chip of some players can be upgraded to a 32 KB SRAM chip in a SmartWatch socket. The NVRAM section also contains hints on how to deal with dead Timerkeepers.
  • Adapters and cables: Aftermarket adapters to connect accessories of other computer or game systems to CD-i players.
  • ROM/Software modifications: Simple modifications for fun that will probably render your CD-i player useless.

Mainboards

The focus of this list lies on the 50/60 Hz modification. Players without SCART connector/RGB video output will need additional modifications, as explained in the video encoders section.

Before proceeding, identify the mainboard with the aid of the model and version of your CD-i player. It is important to understand the versioning that Philips uses. The comparision tables and explanations at ICDIA are vital for this understanding.
To support in identifying the mainboard, this list contains the major CD-i player versions as well. CD-i players from the U.S. are only listed if they have a different model number. As a rule of thumb, it is always 17 added to the major version/revision (i.e. /17 /37 /57 /77 /97).
Players that come pre-installed with multi-region switches and RGB output (e.g. 3×0 portable and 60x professional and authoring) are not listed.

Mini MMC

Found in the 205/00, 220/00 and 910/17 (US) consumer players:

  • Service manual: Here (use the CDI 220 document; unfortunately, the Mini MMC part is incomplete).
  • Video encoder: CXA1145P/M.
  • NVRAM: 8 KB only.
  • 50/60 Hz modification: Possible and documented here.

    Move the solder blob in the lower left of the Mini MMC panel to PAL or NTSC for a permanent modification or add a switch. (Do not attempt this modification on professional CDI60x players!)
Mini MMC PAL/NTSC
Mini MMC PAL/NTSC
  • PAL/NTSC modification: Probably possible, but needs some additional components or swapping the encoder panels.

    The encoder panels are available as PAL or NTSC versions for consumer players. The 60x professional and authoring players have multi-region encoder panels. I don’t think that they can be swapped with the single region panels.

    Have a look at these two panels to see the differences:
Mono I

Found in the 210/00, 220/20 and 200/17 (US) consumer players:

  • Service manual: Here.
  • Video encoder: CXA1145P/M.
  • NVRAM: 8 KB “SGS-Thomson” only, set by 0 Ω resistor 3201.
    (The service manual reveals two “NOT IMPLEMENTED” resistors 3205 and 3227 for a “Motorola” chip. These match the 32 KB resistors of the Mono II board.)
  • 50/60 Hz modification: Possible and documented here.

    Location: Grid square C6 on the SMD/track side. A 1 kΩ resistor (1% / 0,1 W) sets the STAND! signal.
    3243 to GND = PAL / 3246 to +5V = NTSC.
  • PAL/NTSC modification: Probably possible, but needs some additional components. See the unpopulated area of this CDI220/20 next to the yellow circle:
Mono II

Found in the 210/20, 220/40 and 200/37 (US) consumer players:

  • Service manual: Here.
  • Video encoder: CXA1145P/M.
  • NVRAM: 8 KB “SGS-Thomson”, set by 0 Ω resistor 3201.
    32 KB “DALLAS”, set by 0 Ω resistors 3205 and 3227.
  • 50/60 Hz modification: Possible, but it hasn’t been documented yet. It is basically the same as for Mono I.

    Location: Grid square D2 on the SMD/track side. A 1 kΩ resistor (2% / 0,25 W) sets the STANDIN! signal.
    3243 to GND = PAL / 3246 to +5V = NTSC.

  • PAL/NTSC modification: Probably possible, but needs some additional components, see Mono I.
Mono III

Found in the 210/40 and 220/60 consumer players:

  • Service manual: Here.
  • Video encoder: BT9106KPJ (Calvin).
  • NVRAM: 8 KB, set by 4,7 kΩ resistor 3241.
    32 KB, set by 0 Ω resistors 3244 and 3246.
  • 50/60 Hz modification: Possible and documented here.

    Location: Grid square D5 on the component side. A 10 kΩ resistor (1% / 0,1 W) sets the STANDIN! signal.
    3204 to GND = PAL / 3203 to +5V = NTSC.

  • PAL/NTSC modification: Installing a DFO is the next logical step.
Mono III-based

Found in the FW380i mini system:

  • Service manual: Here.
  • Video encoder: BT9106KPJ (Calvin) / BT9107KPJ (Hobbes).
  • NVRAM: 8 KB only, set by 4,7 kΩ resistor 3241.
  • 50/60 Hz modification: Pointless, unless you combine it with an RGB and/or a PAL/NTSC modification. See the video encoders section.
Roboco (Mono III-based)

Found in all top-loading consumer players (450, 550, 5000, 9000, GDI-750 and GDI-1000), as well as in the TV 21TCDI30:

  • Service manual: Here.
  • Video encoder: BT9106KPJ (Calvin).
  • NVRAM: 8 KB only, set by 4,7 kΩ resistor 3241.
  • 50/60 Hz modification: Pointless, unless you combine it with an RGB and/or a PAL/NTSC modification. See the video encoders section.
Mono IV

Found in the 210/60, 220/80 and 740/00 consumer players, as well as in the 615/00, 660/00 and 670/00 professional players:

  • Service manual: Here.
  • Video encoder: BT9106KPJ (Calvin) / BT9108KPJ (Hobbes).
  • NVRAM: 8 KB, set by 4,7 kΩ resistor 3241.
    32 KB, set by 0 Ω resistors 3244 and 3270.
  • 50/60 Hz modification: Possible and documented here.

    Location: Grid square C2 on the component side. A 10 kΩ resistor (5%) sets the STANDIN! signal.
    3290 to GND = PAL / 3203 to +5V = NTSC.
Mono IV board, grid square C2
Mono IV board, grid square C2
  • PAL/NTSC modification: Installing a DFO is the next logical step.
  • ROM/Software modifications: See below.

Found in all 470 and 490 consumer players:

  • Service manual: Here.
  • Video encoder: BT9107KPJ / BT9108KPJ (Hobbes).
  • NVRAM: Same as above.
  • 50/60 Hz modification: Pointless, unless you combine it with an RGB and/or a PAL/NTSC modification. See the video encoders section.
  • ROM/Software modifications: See below.

Video encoders

Let’s have a look at the prerequisites and additional possibilities for your CD-i player, based on the video encoder family:

Sony CXA1145P/M
  • Datasheet: Here.
  • RGB modification: Here, here and here.
  • PAL/NTSC modification: A DFO for the system clock is possible, but that won’t change the colour subcarrier frequency. Consider adding missing components according to the service manual. NTSC uses many more components than PAL. (i.e. modification of NTSC players is easier than of PAL players.)
Brooktree BT9106 & BT9107 / BT9108 (Calvin & Hobbes)
  • Datasheet: N/A.
  • RGB modification: Here.
    See also 3DO RGB tutorials and the schematic below for guidance.
  • PAL/NTSC modification: A DFO for the system clock is possible and recommended.

NVRAM

There are two types of NVRAM solutions for storing 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. All of them operate within the accuracy of ± 1,53 minutes per month at 25 °C. The battery life also depends on the temperature of the environment and the state of the oscillator (started: several years, stopped: several decades).

Philips CD-i 8 and 32 KB NVRAM
Philips CD-i 8 and 32 KB NVRAM
8 KB
  • These are the Timekeeper chips by SGS-Thomson / STMicroelectronics that are built into most of the Philips CD-i players: MK48T08B-15 and M48T08-150PC1.
  • They can be calibrated with the clock calibration tool.
  • An alternative, and my preferred choice, are the Dallas / Maxim DS1643 NV Timekeeping RAM chips.
  • Hacks: Timekeeper chips have passed their best years and most of them are failing by now. There are many tutorials and videos online that show how to hack a Timekeeper and replace the battery.
  • Installing a socket: All CD-i players that pass my table have the NVRAM chip removed and a 28-pin IC socket fitted, for easy replacement of the chips. The removal requires a powerful desoldering gun and a lot of patience, as some (or all) pins are always soldered from both sides.
  • Note for top-loading players: When in a socket, the chip will bump into the metal cage. You will have to bend it a bit to make it fit.
32 KB
8 to 32 KB upgrade
  • This is still in a very early stage and experimental. Read this article about the first successful upgrade of a CDI470 with 8 KB to a CDI490 with 32 KB NVRAM.
  • The same should be possible for all Mono II/III/IV CDI210 players when using a matching CDI220 ROM.
  • I have yet to find out more about the mysterious Motorola chip mentioned in the Mono I service manual. I have opened many CDI220/20 players and none of them had 32 KB NVRAM.

Adapters and cables

In this section you will find aftermarket adapters to connect accessories of other computer or game systems to CD-i players. In the second part, I will list cables and adapters designed by Philips.

  • With the CD-i Gamepad Adapter by Paul Hackmann you can connect analogue PC joysticks and gamepads to CD-i players. The adapter is not available anymore and the website is long gone, but this capture of the website contains an archive with the specifications of the adapter.
  • With the Arduino-based SNEStoCDi adapter by Laurent Berta you can connect Super Nintendo (SNES) / Super Famicom (SFC) gamepads to CD-i players.
  • This is a fork of the SNEStoCDi project by Larry Erb. It contains layout and code changes for Arduino Nano and ATtiny85.
  • With the Arduino-based PS/2 Mouse to Cdi adapter by Dan Brakeley you can connect PS/2 mice to CD-i players.
  • With the Arduino-based SMDtoCDI adapter by Lauraiss you can connect Sega Mega Drive game pads to CD-i players. This project is closed-source; the adapters are for sale only.

ROM/Software modifications

Simple modifications for fun that will probably render your CD-i player useless.
Remedy: Use the original ROM and/or delete the NVRAM to go back to normal.

  • A modification of a ROM file has been attempted here. Even though the results were not successful yet, there is still a lot to explore in these files. The article will give you an overview of how to patch a file and how to calculate the required checksums.
    Suggestion: Why don’t you create a customized low-level test menu for your CD-i player? You can change the texts without being penalized.
  • Speaking of customization, the start-up message of CDI660 and CDI670 players can be changed with the CDI 660/670 Key disc and PIN code 3094.
    This customization is not limited to the aforementioned models and will work on other Mono IV based CD-i players as well – if the ROM supports it. For example, on a CDI470/20 with a CDI490 ROM.

Hint: Use a keyboard to enter the text. CDI470 and CDI490 require a 22ER9208 I/O Port splitter for the keyboard to work.
If you don’t want to use the key disc, you can simply create a text file with your message on a PC and name it “.keycontrol” (without the quotes). You can even use special characters like “/” that are not possible with the editor of the key disc. Then, place the file in the NVRAM, e.g. by downloading it to /nvr with the CD-i Link program and restart the CD-i player.

Changelog

2020-01-13: Added pictures and schematic of the Bt video encoder.
2020-01-17: Added more details to the 50/60 Hz modifications and links to the service manuals.
2020-01-29: Added the NVRAM section.
2020-02-18: Added the ROM/Software section.
2020-04-24: Added the Adapters and cables section.
2020-08-30: Moved FW380i to Mono III-based and added link to the service manual.

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