Recently I managed to get my hands on the GDEMU – an SD card reader that takes the place of the Sega Dreamcast’s optical drive. With it you can place multiple Dreamcast game images on an SD card and load whatever game you want from a simple menu system named GDmenu. I set mine up with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 128GB SDXC and was able to fit all the games I cared about. The best part is you can play 1:1 dumps of Dreamcast games instead of burning rips to CD-Rs or scouring eBay for original discs. There is a noticeable decrease in loading times as well since there are no moving parts.
In addition to the GDEMU upgrade, I also replaced the original 30mm Dreamcast fan with a 40mm Noctua NF-A4x10 5V using a 3D printed mounting kit I bought off eBay (listing is gone but you can find the files for the kit here). Supposedly the Dreamcast runs hotter with the GDEMU because the GDEMU doesn’t use the 12v rail on the PSU which causes it to spike in voltage thus creating extra heat. There are some guides on the internet for either adding a resistor to load the 12v rail or removing the regulator for 12v entirely. I decided it was simpler to add a 12v fan for load and provide additional cooling to the PSU; I put a 40mm Noctua NF-A4x20 FLX in the back blowing into the PSU. Even with 2 fans, this entire setup is nearly silent compared to a stock Dreamcast.
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)”.
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.
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.