This is a follow-up to the modifications I did to a NTSC VA15 Saturn. In this article, I will implement the following Sega Saturn (PAL VA3) modifications: Region-free BIOS, FRAM, and a 50/60 Hz switch (SW4).
After finishing the last article, I took three broken PAL Saturns that I had lying around apart to see what I could repair and modify next: A Model 1 with VA1 mainboard, a Model 1 with VA3 (aka “PAL VA SD”) mainboard and an almost identical Model 2 (VA5, also “PAL VA SD”). I had only one working Type-B power supply, so I had to make a choice. I went with the VA3 Model 1 because the mainboard was in the best condition and only needed a working disc drive and power cable, reset button stick, power suppy and some cleaning. This is how is looked before:
Right now, it seems to have a bug when used in combination with a SuperCIC. As soon as the SuperCIC is enabled in the configuration, there is no picture and sync is lost (also, weird readings on the OSSC display). Upon switching the frequency, the LED of the console turns red and is stuck in that status. According to this thread, a firmware update is needed for one of the SuperCIC chips. I’m looking forward to see if this can be resolved through a SD2SNES firmware update. Otherwise, I’ll have to desolder and flash one of the SuperCIC chips.
In 2014, I bought two top-loading CD-i players, the Philips CDI550 and CDI450. While the Magnavox CDI550 pops up every now and then in the U.S., the Philips CDI550 is quite rare in Europe and I’ve only seen a single one in all these years.
It’s been a while since I opened my first Philips CDI350 portable CD-i player and published a repair guide with capacitor list. I have already received some positive feedback that this was helpful for others fixing their players. However, part 2 of the article ended with a big question mark because some topics remained unsolved. Let’s have a look at the status of these topics and see if I can resolve them today in Philips CDI350 Repair Part 3.
1. S-Video output is not working
This turned out to be my fault. After carefully following the traces to and from the video encoder and comparing every component with the service manual, I noticed that I had soldered two electrolytic capacitors with the wrong polarity: C938 and C991. I can only assume that this happened because I used the + marks as indicators and not the white dots. Just look at the vast amount of plusses:
Last weekend, marqs has released a new firmware for the CPS2 Digital AV Interface. The new firmware enables changing the output resolution with the Volume – and + buttons. The current functions of these buttons (scanlines and vertical offset adjustment) have been removed.
When I installed the AV interface last year, I wasn’t very happy about the 8 missing lines in the default 1920×1080 resolution. I was hoping to have a 1920×1200 Line5x format one day, similar to the OSSC. This is now reality: By pressing Volume +, I can change this video output to this format.
Update (2020-10-23): A new firmware with an OSD and more settings and features has been released.
The Puhui T-962 is a cheap IR reflow oven that has been around for many years (the earliest occurrence that I’ve found is from 2007). It has some serious and not so serious flaws that many blogs have already addressed. Known modifications include: Proper grounding, replacing the insulation tape, custom firmware and additional temperature sensors. Some people go even further and replace the system fan and controller board, add more powerful infrared heating elements or an additional fan for better heat distribution. I have included links to all of these modifications at the end of the article.
I bought the T-962 last November to have some support when soldering SMD components. But before I could use it for the first time, I had to take care of the most critical flaws.
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.
50/60 Hz modifications are quite simple hacks that have been figured out for almost all Philips CD-i player types with SCART connector. But what about all the CD-i players that do not have an RGB output, either because of reduced cost or because they have been sold outside of Europe? Technically, they can still be modified, but the foreign mode is pretty useless and results in a black and white picture or no picture at all.
The reason is easily explained: All Philips CD-i players have a main system clock at either 30,0000 MHz (PAL) or 30,2098 MHz (NTSC) and additional clock generators for some components. All newer players (Mono III and up) have a Brooktree video encoder and generate the colour subcarrier frequencies (PAL 4,4336 MHz and NTSC 3,5795 MHz) from the system clock. The older players with a Sony video encoder use one or two additional crystals and some more components for this task.
Some time ago, I noticed that the service manuals of most Mono II – IV boards have notes about 8 and 32 KB NVRAM types, to be set by jumpers and resistors. I never attempted to do that upgrade because most of my CD-i players feature 32 KB NVRAM or have older mainboards that cannot be upgraded. When I mentioned the possibility in this article, CD-i Fan warned me about the consequences: If device driver and descriptor in the ROM don’t support the extra RAM, then the player might not recognize it and lose the real-time clock – or it won’t work at all.
Why would you want to upgrade the NVRAM anyways? For example, the save files of The 7th Guest, Lost Eden and Burn:Cycle already take up a lot of space. Add some more games and settings, and you will soon reach the critical limit of 97-98% where the player refuses to start.