Category Archives: Sega

SEGA

Sega Saturn (PAL VA3) Modifications

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:

Sega Saturn Model 1
Sega Saturn Model 1
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Sega Saturn Modifications

This article is about implementing the following Sega Saturn modifications: Region-free BIOS, FRAM, and switchless 50/60 Hz.

But first, we’ll need to go back in time a decade or so. Back then, I was modifying my “This is COOL” skeleton SegaSaturn (HST-0021/HST-3220) like crazy, stuffing everything inside that I could find:

"This is COOL" skeleton SegaSaturn
“This is COOL” skeleton SegaSaturn
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Pippin Atmark ADB Adapter Dongles

Initially, I was planning to replace the P-ADB connector of my AppleJack controller with an ADB plug (Mini-DIN-4). The remaining P-ADB plug attached to a Mini-DIN-4 socket would then become an ADB adapter dongle.
But why would I destroy the cable of my only controller? According to the documentation, which can be found here and here (in a very low resolution, unfortunately), a “Hosiden HGC0492-01-010 or equivalent” connector is needed. And that connector is impossible to find.

To get started, I created a new schematic based on the available documentation:

Pippin-Apple Desktop Bus pinout
Pippin-Apple Desktop Bus pinout
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Terraonion MegaSD Cartridge

This has just arrived yesterday: The Terraonion MegaSD Cartridge. The makers are known for quality products like the NeoSD and the Super SD System 3. Their recent move of the office from Spain to Andorra has stirred some controversy and caused over-the-top reactions from some buyers. I didn’t experience any trouble and my cartridge arrived safely within a few days. This is what I got:

Terraonion MegaSD box
Terraonion MegaSD box
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Sega Pico Pen Repair

When I bought a second-hand Sega Pico in 2015, I immediatly noticed that something must be wrong with it. I didn’t expect a lot of interactivity or gameplay, but at least it should let me draw something. It turned out that the pen was registering the position/movement and also made a clicking noise when pressed down, but nothing else happened. The error was quickly found and repaired (broken micro switch), but the photos have been waiting on my hard drive ever since. A short repair instruction was posted on the ASSEMblergames board in the following year, so I didn’t see the need to rush out an article. Well, here we go:

The label of the pen is missing and it seems that somebody tried to open it up before me:

Sega Pico pen
Sega Pico pen
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Sega Dreamcast Karaoke

The Dreamcast Karaoke is probably the most useless Sega add-on. It serves no other purpose than to accompany the Sega Kara software, which is useless as well.

Back in the days you were able to download and sing thousands of songs, then in 2006 the servers were shut down for good.
Without the servers there are no songs – you can still connect microphones to the Dreamcast and listen to your voice with Sega Kara, change the volume and add effects, but that’s about it.

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