8Bitdo SF30 Pro and SN30 Pro Controllers

I’ve been working on a new emulator build using Windows, Launchbox, and Retroarch. For my controllers I’ve always used Qanba Q4RAF sticks for arcade games and Xbox 360 controllers for consoles. I decided it was time to upgrade the controllers to something newer so I decided to pick up the 8Bitdo SF30 Pro and SN30 Pro Controllers. They’re basically replicas of the old SNES controller in both the Super Nintendo (SN30 Pro) and Super Famicom (SF30 Pro) colors. You can find plenty of in-depth reviews of these controllers on YouTube or Google; overall I’m quite pleased with these controllers for emulation usage.

Some things I noticed:

  • Everyone says to update the firmware out of the box; my SF30 Pro was already v1.25 (newest at the time of this post) but my SN30 Pro was v1.22.
  • The D-Pad on my SN30 Pro feels more worn and isn’t as stiff as my SF30 Pro’s D-Pad.
  • They pair quite easily with Windows 10 over Bluetooth; you can also use them wired (flat style USB-C cable is included)
  • You can pair both the SF30 Pro and SN30 Pro to your Windows PC for multiplayer games; they show up in Windows as “8Bitdo SF30 Pro” and “8Bitdo SN30 Pro” respectively. Not sure what happens if you have 2x SF30 Pros or 2x SN30 Pros since they share the same device name.
  • Works great with RetroArch; shows up as “Bluetooth XINPUT compatible input device”. If you have the SF30 Pro and SN30 Pro paired, then they will appear as “Bluetooth XINPUT compatible input device (#1)” and “Bluetooth XINPUT compatible input device (#2)”.

Windows 10 search not finding applications

I recently did a clean install of Windows 10 on my primary workstation. After installing most of my apps again, I noticed that the search function in the Start Menu was only finding some of the applications I had installed. Instead of clicking on shortcuts to launch applications, I’ve grown accustomed to using Windows Key to search for the app I want to launch; a habit that stems from my time spent on a Mac using Command-Space bar to search for and launch applications. Not being able to find every app that is installed was very annoying; also puzzling since I had just done a clean install of Windows. In googling this problem, I found different answers regarding rebuilding the index cache, checking the Windows Search service, reinstalling Cortana, or deleting some registry key. I didn’t find a solution until I stumbled onto this Reddit thread – apparently if you disable background apps under Settings > Privacy > Background apps it prevents Windows Search from working correctly.

Funny enough, this answer is in the first result from my Google search above but I didn’t see it until I wrote this post; I just never bothered to scroll down far enough.

Hackintosh – ASRock Z87E-ITX and OS X 10.11 (El Capitan)

I successfully upgraded my Hackintosh to OS X 10.11 and it appears everything is working as expected including audio and Intel SpeedStep. I performed a clean install of El Capitan by using this guide; I was pleasantly surprised to discover that in 10.11 you can restore all of your applications/data/settings from a Time Machine Backup using the Migration Assistant. Initially I had trouble getting the new OS X installation to boot correctly; the Unibeast application used for making the installer has changed to the Clover bootloader. Clover has support for booting in UEFI mode and it seems some ASRock boards have issues booting from it. To fix this I had to create a manual entry for the Clover bootloader in my UEFI Boot menu; it’s not enough to just configure the drive as first boot device in the BIOS. I found the necessary commands thanks to the following guide (under section 4.1).

After booting from the Unibeast USB and selecting “Start UEFI Shell 64” you will be greeted by the following screen:

uefi_shell

On this screen we have entries for FS0, FS1, etc. which are the partitions detected; we need to find the one that corresponds to the EFI partition of the drive where OS X was installed. If you look at the strings beginning with “PciRoot (0x0)”, you will see some of them contain “/USB”; you can rule those out since that is the Unibeast USB. For my particular system I found the EFI partition under FS2.

For example, lets enter the partition FS2 and check the contents:

If we see a directory labeled EFI in the ls output, then we’ve found the right partition. Now we get a list of the current boot entries with:

You should get output similar to the screen below; this is from my Hackintosh after I already added Clover to the UEFI Boot menu.

bcfg_boot_dump

Use the following commands to add Clover to the ASRock UEFI Boot menu:

After going back into the BIOS, you can change your first boot device to Clover and OS X should boot normally.

Sega Dreamcast Battery Mod with Panasonic Eneloops

After modding my Sega Saturn to use AA Panasonic Eneloops, I found a guide where someone modded their Dreamcast with rechargeable AAA batteries. The Dreamcast uses a rechargeable 3V lithium battery; I’ve seen conflicting sources on the exact type of battery. I’ve read it can either an ML2430, ML2032, or LIR2032. Since my Dreamcast battery seemed to be dead, I decided to do the same mod but with AAA Panasonic Eneloops. They have a minimum capacity of 750mAh which is 7.5x the capacity of the ML2430 mentioned above. It will be interesting to see if the Eneloops stay topped off in the Dreamcast; assuming the Dreamcast uses the ML2430 and charges at a rate of 1C, it would take about 7.5 hours for the Dreamcast to fully charge the Eneloops.

You can see below I used a 2 AAA battery holder instead of taping and soldering them together like in the guide.

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Sega Saturn Battery Mod with Panasonic Eneloops

I’ve been cleaning out old boxes of junk and stumbled on my forgotten Sega Saturn console. Sometime during high school I had taken the wires for the CD-ROM door switch and simply twisted them together to enable using the Swap Trick to play backup games. I decided to implement a better fix by soldering an actual on/off switch and also do a mod of the built-in battery. Unlike the Sega Dreamcast that came after, the Sega Saturn does not use a built-in rechargeable battery for memory saves; it uses a CR2032 lithium battery. According to this Sega Saturn Battery FAQ, the CR2032 has a capacity of 230mAh and will last 1-2 years in normal use or 19 days if the console is unplugged. This FAQ also discusses using other lithium batteries with higher capacities than the CR2032; I decided to try using Panasonic Eneloops instead. They are considered one of the best, if not the best, rechargeable AA batteries on the market; Eneloops have a minimum capacity of 1900mAh and can keep their charge while sitting unused for several years.

I went to my local Fry’s Electronics store to pick up a 2 AA battery holder, mini on/off switch, and some 3M mounting tape. The battery mod is straight forward; solder the positive sides of the battery holder and the Saturn’s battery contact together and do the same for the negative sides. If you get a 2 AA battery holder, make sure it’s wired in series so you’re getting 3V from the two AA batteries.

Since the Eneloops have a capacity of at least 1900mAh, it should theoretically last much longer than using a CR2032. I’ve had it running since yesterday July 29th; I will make an update in the future on how well it performs. You could also use AA Lithium batteries instead like these.

I lost the cover to the battery compartment so I just mounted the battery holder where you would normally see the model number of the Sega Saturn. You can also see the mini on/off switch mounted above the battery compartment area. Not the cleanest looking mods but it works.

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