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Emulation (Games) Graphics Hardware Hacking Games Build Hardware

SD Adapter For Dreamcast Released 130

Posted by timothy
from the for-all-you-dreamers dept.
YokimaSun writes "The Dreamcast was the last console by Sega that had innovations that today's consoles have taken on board, i.e. broadband online gaming and innovative gaming controllers (such as the fishing controller). The console still lives on today, thanks to the support of the homebrew community that still churns out games and emulators and also the odd commercial release for the console by independent developers. Today the spark has been ignited by the fascinating release of an SD adapter for the Dreamcast that allows homebrew games to be played without the need to burn to disc. It's time to dust off those Dreamcast consoles and get back into free gaming. The same company have also released a Dreamcast modified with VGA support and a front-loading SD slot and its own BIOS. Awesome to relive some of those Dreamcast classics."
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SD Adapter For Dreamcast Released

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  • I thought the Dreamcast had a dial up modem...
  • VGA (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 21, 2010 @10:05PM (#33982434)

    "The same company have also released a Dreamcast modified with VGA support"

      The Dreamcast always has had VGA support.
      Dreamcast VGA [wikipedia.org]

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That's VGA support by an external VGA box. TFA refers to a dreamcast with a built in VGA adapter.

      • by Osgeld (1900440)

        I have a 3rd party VGA box on mine, its a pretty dumb circuit and no where near what you would need to resample NTSC / PAL to VGA

        so yea its already in the system, they are just moving the breakout box to inside the system, not hardly new but I don't recall a non DIY version before

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Khyber (864651)

        "That's VGA support by an external VGA box."

        Poor boy couldn't afford to build their own VGA cable?

        "The VGA adapter itself consists of merely a plastic case providing space for the VGA port and AV out (Composite, S-Video, and audio via RCA and/or 3.5mm TRS)."

        It was built natively into the box, son.

        "If pin 6 and pin 7 on the Dreamcast's A/V out is connected to the ground, the Dreamcast switches to VGA mode"

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Ant P. (974313)

          Wow, if the DC fanbase is full of this kind of douchebaggery no wonder Sega went under.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Gizzmonic (412910)

            Not only is he an ass, he forgets to mention that some early games won't work with the VGA adapter at all...so built-in VGA would still need to include a switch to set it back to composite/s-video mode for those games.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The Dreamcast always had hardware VGA support. The Dreamcast 'VGA Box' was just glorified cable -- not an upscale converter like you would need for other consoles.

        Games would even list if they supported VGA resolution on the back of the case. This isn't a new hack, it's part of the stock system.

  • Hope not! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Dreth (1885712)
    Is SEGA allowed to go batshit insane and demand all these people to cease from manufacturing/distrubuting unofficial products? If so, that'd be sad, because it'd likely be a matter of time. On the other hand, the system officially "died" almost a decade ago, they should feel honored that there are die-hard fans not willing to let their last hardware product go to waste.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by acedotcom (998378)
      SEGA is allowed to got batshit insane IF they are using Sega's code in their custom BIOS. they could also freak out about them calling it "Dreamcast" but unless its being sold as a NEW system instead of a used one that has been modified then they wont have an issue. Sont still has alot of IP tied up in their dreamcast library. the last thing they want is to seem soft on piracy. Hopefully this will be more of an enthusiast item the n setting a new market (thus attracting more attention...because i REALL
  • Welcome news (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jcl-xen0n (1926472)
    This is welcome news for any (like me) who have Dreamcasts that work perfectly but have malfunctioning GD-ROM drives. Hopefully someone picks it up for Western distribution.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Khyber (864651)

      If the GD-ROM is not working just replace it with a Mode2 CD drive from TSST or Lite-On - 4x speed.

      Assuming you can hack the drive to fit and either work from the top or install a tray slot.

      Seen plenty of DC mods involving everything from vertical-mounted optical drives to serially-linked with a SPARC server.

      The thing could use tons of different hardware unofficially, with or without a hack, depending upon what you did.

      Hell, I once saw a guy drop linux on it via a 'Live CD' and run a server off of the broad

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        True, you could do all that... or you could pick up a working used one for like $20 at your local used game store/ebay. :)

        Personally, I grabbed 3 partially busted DCs at a local thriftshop for $5 apiece and then combined them into a single working unit. Took about 30 minutes and all I needed was a screwdriver.
    • by Hatta (162192)

      Sorry, this thing requires a boot disc. I guess they are working on firmware for the dreamcast that could boot directly from the SD card, but that's going to require opening up your machine.

  • Very interesting (Score:4, Interesting)

    by flimflammer (956759) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @10:45PM (#33982586)

    This is very interesting news. I used to write homebrew for the Dreamcast but my poor unit broke down. Poor laser went bad. Never did get another one. If this pans out, I may need to pick up myself another unit. Always did love the Dreamcast.

    • by chrb (1083577)

      I was thinking the same thing, but it looks like the SD adaptor still requires a boot CD?

  • The dreamcast was the first system that really got me into the homebrew scene. During the days of locked down dev kits, running my own code on a console had a surreal appeal to it. The idea of an SD brings up nostalgic feelings, but its a bit too late. Alternatives such as XNA mean that I don't have to worry about such an archaic system in order to run code on a console!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tepples (727027)

      Alternatives such as XNA mean that I don't have to worry about such an archaic system in order to run code on a console!

      XNA is best among modern consoles, but it still isn't perfect: no porting your existing codebase written in standard C++ because XNA is managed-only, no real-time audio synthesis, a ban on NPCs that speak a fantasy language, the system requirements of XNA Game Studio (you can't just use the old Windows PC that you occasionally drag out just for the odd app), and a $495 certificate bill over the expected five-year life of the console just for the right to run programs that you wrote on hardware that you boug

      • by walshy007 (906710)

        XNA is best among modern consoles,

        depends on how highly you value low level access to the hardware, the wii is easiest to hack and can be rather pleasant. Sure there aren't as many libraries but all the more fun hey?

        • the wii is easiest to hack

          Unlike Dreamcast, Wii has "renewable security", tech-speak for updatable firmware that allows for a game of cat-and-mouse. During the month between 4.0 and Bannerbomb, there wasn't an exploit for the Wii. During the two months between 4.3 and Yu-Gi-Vah, there wasn't an exploit for the Japanese Wii because it didn't have LEGO Indy. Renewable security rules out making commercial releases using homebrew exploits, such as Feet of Fury (Dreamcast). Developers not yet big enough for a traditional business structu [warioworld.com]

          • by walshy007 (906710)

            And for that currently, the wii is the best. Yes there are brief periods where there are no exploits.. but if you want to write your own code for your wii even if you buy a new updated one all you have to do is not update for a month or two and you're fine .

          • by walshy007 (906710)

            In the comment I replied to it was never clear you wanted to sell the programs made to average people. I took it from a homebrew "I want to run my own code on my console" perspective.

            And for that currently, the wii is the best. Yes there are brief periods where there are no exploits.. but if you want to write your own code for your wii even if you buy a new updated one all you have to do is not update for a month or two and you're fine .

            And slashdot mangled my last comment, my bad

            • by tepples (727027)

              In the comment I replied to it was never clear you wanted to sell the programs made to average people.

              The courses I took in college trained me as a programmer, not an artist. In order to make a video game by myself, I would have to put in years to become a competent 3D artist, and I'd need to find some way to recoup the cost of this training. So if a platform limits me to developing software to be distributed non-commercially, I see no incentive to put in effort to develop for that platform instead of nettop PCs. True, only geeks have PCs connected to their TVs, but only geeks (and possibly pirates) have Ho

              • by walshy007 (906710)

                So if a platform limits me to developing software to be distributed non-commercially, I see no incentive to put in effort to develop for that platform instead of nettop PCs.

                Then you are not homebrew's intended audience, the general idea is to have fun making things and doing experiments/etc. If you want to go commercial go commercial, make your company and be done with it.

                Homebrew is not meant to just be a way of skirting license fees for commercial devs. It's doing things just because you can.

                • by tepples (727027)

                  Then you are not homebrew's intended audience, the general idea is to have fun making things and doing experiments/etc.

                  It still isn't clear to me why that can't be done on a PC.

                  make your company and be done with it.

                  How much does that cost?

                  • by walshy007 (906710)

                    It still isn't clear to me why that can't be done on a PC.

                    Of course it can, but some people like developing for other things.. JUST BECAUSE!. You can write commercial software for pc, so why aren't you? same thing applies, for some reason you want to code for a console that is not just for your own amusement, if it's a job take it seriously and go through proper channels it's what they're used for. Homebrew serves a special purpose, for the tinkerer and people who like to share creations, if you are not a part of this category I don't see why you even want to both

                    • You can write commercial software for pc, so why aren't you?

                      Because the multiplayer mode in the style of game that I plan to develop demands a monitor that is physically larger than the 13" in a typical laptop. Player 1 is using a keyboard or a gamepad, and players 2 through 4 [pineight.com] are using gamepads. But as CronoCloud has repeatedly pointed out, only geeks have devices connected to their televisions that aren't locked down.

                      for some reason you want to code for a console that is not just for your own amusement, if it's a job take it seriously and go through proper channels it's what they're used for.

                      But the proper channels don't want me unless I have a dedicated office and a previous published title on another platform. I acknowledge that homebre

  • Especially since the drives on the DC are notorious for breaking after a year or 2. Well ok, you can fix it by popping the DC open and adjusting the laser in the drive but at least in my case I've had to do it repeatedly.
    • by Khyber (864651)

      Replace the guidance gear with one 0.15mm smaller with the same number of teeth. Quite often the lasers needed full re-alignment.

      • So does that fix the problem for awhile? Just curious. (Since both my and my bro's DC went out of alignment.)
        • by Khyber (864651)

          It is a permanent fix. The gearing ratio was just SLIGHTLY off which caused a GREAT many first-gen DC systems to fail.

    • by morari (1080535)

      I hear that all of the time, but I've not had any hardware related issues with my Dreamcasts. I own two and inherited a third from my brother a few years back. I purchased the first one on 9/9/99 and played the hell out of it for years, even putting it under additional stress with writable CDs. Damn it, the thing is still hooked up in the living room! It's the only other console in the house besides the Wii. :P

  • 9-9-99 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    9-9-99 was an awesome date. I got a Dreamcast for my Birthday. I could browse the web on my Dreamcast faster than on my Pentium 2 PC. And there were plenty of awesome online multiplayer games. VMUs were awesome too. I'm surprised we don't see mini LCD screens on xbox controllers yet.

    I also had a third party VGA adapter. The dreamcast supports a true VGA 480p signal which was awesome for it's time. Almost every game supported it too.

    There was also the Treamcast. Which was a 3rd party dreamcast with a

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 21, 2010 @11:24PM (#33982744)

    FWIW the SD card modification was invented back in 2008 by a Japanese guy here:

    http://f17.aaa.livedoor.jp/~takotako/dcserial_ft232bm.php#sdcard

    It's an internal mod as the serial port connector is very hard to come by. All this company did was make an external version and package it with (I'm assuming) a CD-R packed with emulators and ROMs without the respective author's permission.

    It's a cool product, but it would have been cooler if the original guy who did the hardware hack (and the emulator authors who are getting ripped off) could somehow have been compensated for their hard work which made this product possible.

    I know I'm dreaming, console products out of China are all rip-offs so they have zero R&D expenses.

  • by assemblerex (1275164) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @11:27PM (#33982758)
    This is based off a free mod from this site [google.com]
  • I still think the Dreamcast controllers were the worst ever produced. Worse than the GameCube controllers, and worse than the N64 controllers.

    But more to the point, I don't know what the minimum reliable specs are for emulators in the popular desktop OSes, but I bet it doesn't take much to run Dreamcast games. Why go to all the trouble of hardware hacks and improvements on technology that is that old? There are better ways.

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      I agree about the controllers, they were like slightly less retarded Saturn 3D controllers that did not work well either, and the cord facing the player was 110% retarded, even with the after thought "groove" ... 2 shakes and its loose

      the VMU was a great idea, but it was expensive for the time and very under utilized, in 1999 I had 1 VMU and another 3rd party just memory stick and never noticed the difference

      add in extra cost for rumble packs (years after sony had them standard), 2 buttons less than last ge

      • by morari (1080535)

        I had two different third-party memory cards end up corrupted, loosing all my data on them. I figured it was just a fluke the first time, but after the second card did the same thing, I packed them away and only used my VMUs from then on.

    • I still think the Dreamcast controllers were the worst ever produced. Worse than the GameCube controllers, and worse than the N64 controllers.

      Why? None of those is perfect, but they're not too bad either. The Playstation's controller, on the other hand, is a complete, intolerable piece of junk.

      • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

        by Sir_Lewk (967686)

        Yeah, the playstation controller was so bad, the public outcry forced Sony to redesign it like a dozen times over the past decade and a half.

        Wait what? You mean the controller hasn't fundamentally changed in over a decade and half? Oh huh...

        Sony bashing is fun, and pretty much always well deserved, but saying the playstation controller is worse than a controller that had not one, not two, but three different ways of holding it, depending on which buttons you wanted to use, is just stupid.

        I don't own or us

        • Sony bashing is fun, and pretty much always well deserved, but saying the playstation controller is worse than a controller that had not one, not two, but three different ways of holding it, depending on which buttons you wanted to use, is just stupid.

          I don't own or use any of them...

          *Smirk*

          • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

            Notice I did not say I have not "used" them, my wording was deliberately present-tense. I'm familiar with playing games on all of them, but lack the bias rabid console fanbois have.

          • by nschubach (922175)

            Well, I own and use a PS3 controller and I, quite frankly, like it... though I wish there was a controller kind of like the 360, but with the joysticks in the right place (both on the outside with the buttons toward the center)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Hatta (162192)

          saying the playstation controller is worse than a controller that had not one, not two, but three different ways of holding it, depending on which buttons you wanted to use, is just stupid.

          And none of those ways to hold the N64 cramp my hands as bad as the only way to hold a PSX controller.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by Khyber (864651)

        "The Playstation's controller, on the other hand, is a complete, intolerable piece of junk."

        Only if you have tiny woman hands. In the meantime, there's no other controller that works with my hands in such a proper ergonomic fashion.

        Try your assertion when you've got hands that can swallow a basketball. Even the 360 controllers and old XBox controllers were more of a pain on my hands.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Try your assertion when you've got hands that can swallow a basketball. Even the 360 controllers and old XBox controllers were more of a pain on my hands.

          It's not about size, my hands are plenty big (I can palm basketballs too) and the Playstation controller makes my right thumb hurt. My thumb literally started to hurt when I thought about how wrong you were, although that may just be constant pain from using Dual Shock controllers that I've mentally suppressed.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Hatta (162192)

          I've got nice big hands, and the PSX controller sucks. I liked it at first, but the more I use it the more it cramps my hands. It's essentially an SNES controller with handles hanging off. But the handles mean I can't rest the controller on my fingers like I used to, I have to grasp the handles. I've tried not grasping the handles, it requires sustained concentration, not natural at all. Problem is, the handles on the PSX controller are thin and straight. So I end up really curling my fingers around it

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I know I'll get downmodded for this by someone, but hopefully, calmer heads can even the odds. I actually LIKED the Dreamcast controller, as it was quite comfortable for me to use, and honestly seemed to make sense to me, overall. It was actually better than the stock controller for the original XBox, in my opinion, although Madcats made a smaller XBox controller that was much better by comparison. Gamecube controllers were about equal for my taste, and the God-awful abomination that was the N64 control

      • by crtreece (59298)
        In general the VMU wasn't all that useful.

        In two player NFL games, it was priceless. Being able to call plays without your opponent being able to see what small group of plays you were selecting from was THE BEST. Other games have tried to implement various ways to obfuscate what play was being selected, but I've never seen one that was as easy to use as the VMU on the DC.

        FWIW, I believe you could also get a card that went in the same slot as the VMU, without the LCD. I.E, a plain memory card.

        Looks

    • Sega has done it right only once. The six-button controller for the Megadrive (Genesis) was the best I ever played with.

    • Worse than the GameCube controllers, and worse than the N64 controllers.

      That wasn't hard to do, both those controllers were at the top of their respective generations.

      Why go to all the trouble of hardware hacks and improvements on technology that is that old? There are better ways.

      The best way is to use the hardware that the software natively runs on. The specs of the machine aren't what makes an emulator 'reliable'. You should try playing with MAME and 90's video games a bit and you'll be a much better judge of what the 'better ways' are.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tepples (727027)

      Why go to all the trouble of hardware hacks and improvements on technology that is that old?

      Because it's a console. Advantages of consoles over PCs include SDTV output as a standard feature, a guaranteed minimum performance level of the hardware, and a culture of actually using the two to four controller ports for local multiplayer gaming [pineight.com]. The Dreamcast just lacks the disadvantage of a lockout chip.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mattack2 (1165421)

      Why go to all the trouble of hardware hacks and improvements on technology that is that old?

      Because it's fun?

      Compact Flash card for Apple IIs: http://dreher.net/?s=projects/CFforAppleII&c=projects/CFforAppleII/main.php [dreher.net]
      (I have no connection, though a friend has written some of the drivers)

  • "...that allows homebrew games to be played without the need to burn to disc" Was this really a big problem? Burning discs?
    • you need to burn the homebrew to a boot disk, which isn't just an ordinary disk image. And you just didn't add a bunch of files and burn it to a standard format, if I remember correctly you had to run the files you wanted to a converter to create a disk image that you burned. And if you forgot a game or two that you wish to add, you have to start all over again.

      • by Khyber (864651)

        "you need to burn the homebrew to a boot disk, which isn't just an ordinary disk image."

        Uh, what? That's how we first got homebrew on the DC, by using the boot sectors from a disc image and having DC-readable code after the header. Same way we hacked the original PSX to make it read burned discs (minus the need for the lid open/disc swap.) This is well before VMU hacks and whatnot.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cwix (1671282)

      If your a dev you might have to burn a lot of disks when your doing bug checking. Yea an emulator will prob help with alot of that, but running it on the hardware can make a difference.

      • If you're a dev you use a ethernet/serial cable. KallistiOS (the DC homebrew OS) supports file IO over these.
        • by Khyber (864651)

          Uh, no, we used the DC IDE-HD interface, because any other way was too damn slow.

    • by blincoln (592401)

      Was this really a big problem? Burning discs?

      Maybe not so much for the people playing the games, but it's a big hassle if you're writing your own.

      And, of course, as others have mentioned, the lifespan of the Dreamcast's GD-ROM drive was definitely finite. After this long, I wouldn't be surprised if most of the existing units are worn out. It's always made me a little sad that disc-based consoles would wear out after such a relatively short period of time, whereas consoles like the Atari 2600 that are almost

  • Toy Commander.
    • by cosm (1072588)
      Worms and Fur Fighters was pretty ballin' as well.
    • Soulcalibur. Heck the console, game, and arcade stick probably cost me less than the arcade game had taken from me in quarters =)
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Soulcalibur. Heck the console, game, and arcade stick probably cost me less than the arcade game had taken from me in quarters =)

        Power Stone 2! You can play Soul Calibur elsewhere.

        • by tepples (727027)

          Power Stone 2!

          Other than Power Stone series and Smash Bros. series, are there any other platform fighting games?

        • by afidel (530433)
          No, you can play games with Soul Calibur in the title on other platforms, you can only play the real game in the arcade or on a Dreamcast. There's a reason it's the 5th highest ranked game of all time at gamerankings.com =)
          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            No, you can play games with Soul Calibur in the title on other platforms, you can only play the real game in the arcade or on a Dreamcast.

            False [neogaf.com]
            I guess you can only play it legally under those conditions, unless you buy a ROM set and rip them yourself...

    • by neumayr (819083)
      Shenmue.
      Still hoping they make a third part. For the Dreamcast =)
  • by Vyse of Arcadia (1220278) on Friday October 22, 2010 @12:17AM (#33982946)
    It cheers me to see the system living on so long after its official death.
  • by noidentity (188756) on Friday October 22, 2010 @02:36AM (#33983444)

    [...] SD adapter for the Dreamcast that allows homebrew games to be played without the need to burn to disc. It's time to dust off those Dreamcast consoles and get back into free gaming. [...] Awesome to relive some of those Dreamcast classics [slashdot.org].

    Yeah, homebrew classics like Soul Calibur, Shenmue, Jet Grind Radio, Space Channel 5, Crazy Taxi, Virtua Tennis & Tennis 2K2, Skies of Arcadia, Power Stone & Power Stone 2, Sonic Adventure & Sonic Adventure 2, Samba De Amigo, Virtua Fighter 3TB, Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future, Chu Chu Rocket!, Phantasy Star Online, Street Fighter 3:Third Strike and other Fighters, Ikaruga and other Shmups. Oh wait, those are all commercial games. If you had them already, why would you take the time to transfer them to SD, when you could just put the disc in and play immediately?

    • Duh, so you don't have to CD swap! *ducks*
      • by luther349 (645380)
        lol so few games need to use cd swap. mostly ones they couldn't brake into 2 cds and where to large for the self boot loader. very few games pso is the only one i know of.
    • by luther349 (645380)
      it says commercial game wile they do works lag alot if thy use cca and most did. serial is much slower then cd-rom. the dc serial port was used for dev in the past anyways they just added a sd card to the mix.
    • Easy. The laser assembly motor noise could be damn near unbearable. Seriously, F that thing. But I do miss my DC...
  • Does this mean my Dreamcast is worth its weight in chocolate coins? Let's start the bidding at one hundred. One hundred chocolate coins.
  • Because of the VGA box which provides excellent color separation and 480p, the Dreamcast actually looks very good on modern HDTVs. If your HDTV doesn't have a VGA input, you can pair it with a VGA to HDMI adapter from Monoprice. I have the DC hooked up to my 42 inch plasma for an occasional game over Power Stone 2 or Crazy Taxi.

  • I honestly hadn't realized that this system still had a dev community. I have a Dreamcast dev kit and some original blanks gathering dust in my garage, perhaps it's time I passed them on to someone who will actually use them.
    • by JDeane (1402533)

      I would love it.... but alas I am more of a collector then a dev, my skills are laughable at best....

      Anyway yes it should go to some one who would use it, there are a ton of people here who would probably sell some body part to get something like that.

      http://dreamcast.dcemu.co.uk/ [dcemu.co.uk]

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