Monday, March 30, 2009

A Dreamcast SD Card Adaptor!

The Dreamcast homebrew scene never fails to surprise me. Not content with developing games and game ports for the system, we now have a piece of homebrew Dreamcast hardware on the way via those chaps over at dreamcast.es! Here's the translated article from DCemu:

"After turning several months, we've assembled an adapter to connect an SD card for the Dreamcast port of the link. The truth is that the speed is amazing and we already have a library to use. More info on our wiki.

But for the production of a few adapters and selling, we need to know how many people would be interested. Cost about 20 € with shipping to SPAIN (+10 € for some foreign countries) and sent with a CD with a program that will be able to exchange files with VMU BINS and launch from the SD card.


The prices have been changed to make them accessible to the world, remember that this is not done for profit but for the common good. For this reason we have reset the price originally agreed to cover costs of materials, and assembly time.


Later we will use the library and implemented quickly to a pager for the big games of AES4ALL, load / save snapshots DCaSTaway all emulators and ROMS can be loaded from the SD card.

Reason for development

The Dreamcast has support CD / GD, and visual memory card (VMU). The first one is read-only, and the latter has clear shortcomings: transmission speed and size. For this reason, are always looking for an alternative storage unit that saves the main support (save states) and other files, such as the configuration in our emulators. For a time it was speculated that the port expansion (G2) where the currently connected network adapter (or modem) is ideal for access via the new peripherals. But unfortunately, its architecture and requirements are far beyond our reach. Therefore, the serial port of an alternative that, while not enjoying all the privileges of the port allows for expansion if the most part, our wishes for a new carrier additional capacity and speed. This port allows us to use an SD card adapter that are usually used in mobile devices such as phones, MP3 players, etc..


Key Features

* Good transfer rate in both reading and writing (about 500 KBytes / s).

* Very low average access time for reading (a few milliseconds).

* Support for cards up to 2 GBytes of SDS (not tested with larger cards).

* Loading binary from the card as a backup utility dcload and to / from VMU.
"

What an amazing development, I wouldn't of thought something like this was even possible! It even uses the extension port at the back of the console that was barely used! Imagine having all of your VMU save files in one place! I know in my case at least it would be major handy as I have around 15 VMU's worth of save files and it's hard keeping it all organized. Imagine being able to run emulators without having to keep burning CD-R's? This is one of the most exciting things to happen to the scene in a long time, and the fact there are going to sell it for rather cheap (cheaper than it'll cost to make) is highly commendable.

Chui is currently looking to see who's interested in one when they're ready, so if you'd like one of these reply at either the Dreamcast.es or DCemu forums. I know I'm putting myself for one!

15 comments:

Tomleecee said...

Wow - that's a pretty impressive piece of reverse engineering. I too have a nightmare when it comes to finding game saves on my VMs and having them all bunged on one SD card would be brilliant. Nice find GM, great post.

The GagaMan(n) said...

For me I tend to use DCTool to try and keep my files organized. I've gone out of my way to get different coloured VMUs so I can tell them apart, sort them by different genres on each VMU (fighters, 2D fighters, shooters etc) and even have had tiny stickers on the back of them! It's madness! I almost considered one of those VMU's you can plug into a PC to make things a bit easier.

Tomleecee said...

Thought of doing the sticker thing myself, but never get the time! On the subject of gamesaves though, I wonder if it would be technically possible to add a Hard drive to a Dreamcast...

I'm sure someone out there has the genius to be able to create such a beast!

マーティン said...

Technically, if they're adding flash SD cards in this manner, you can add a flash USB drive... and a flash hard drive. Would take a bit more effort... but would be very cool.

Ujn said...

Super Awesome! I need to sign up for one.

Barry said...

I'm up for one too! Ever since moving to a phoneless apartment, I have been unable to link to the net with my DC ad download some VMU saves.

Benjamin said...

Thats really neat. I'm personally sticking with the VMU's I found a used place in town with ten for $1 each so naturally i snatched them all up. So now I have a grand total of 16...a little army! I keep a notepad to keep everything straight.

Lee said...

That is a really great idea. Thanks for me making me aware of this product.

maxim2boobles said...

I need a hard drive for my dreamcast. someone please make one, i will pay a lot of pesos.

Dreamakuma said...

I...want...one! NO! TEN! this is a dawning of a new dc age! They ould possibly build new emulators that are more powerful by just routing the roms onto the sd card. As for memory I have three offical 4X cards and used the vmu tools extra blocks on them. 4 banks per card, 41 extra blocks per bank 164 extra per card total, x 3 = 492 ! add that to the 2400 blocks originally on those cards(800 per card)....2892 blocks!

NebachadnezzaR said...

That's simply amazing! The homebrew scene never ceases to amaze us. I would gladly buy one if only I wasn't so tight on cash right now. You know, I only had 1 (one!!!) VMU until our dear Father K gave me another *blushes*

BTW, the translation was probably automatic, because it's a little off at times. No biggie, just something I noticed when reading the original post on dreamcast.es

Panta said...

Hey gang! Quick off topic comment... (sorry didn't know where else to send/post this..)

and sorry for the shameless plug.. but .. love the site and love everyone that has supported us before.. so...

Well we are doing it again! The Dreamcast album is finally finished. So this Sunday night from 8pm - midnight Eastern Time we'll be streaming our CD release show.

The whole gang will be returning to the gaming den once more and will play Dreamcast along with some short musical performances by all the bands involved in the album's release. Additionally, we have picked up a few more games since last time, most notably Rez and Cosmic Smash. So look out for those!

Lastly, the album will be available for purchase* Sunday night or as a free digital download.


*Purchased albums come in handmade packaging and will include other goodies when mailed!!!

Check us out if you are bored this weekend.
Sunday
8pm-midnight (Eastern)
www.ihaveadreamcast.com


Thanks!
Panta

novarage1 said...

Where can i get this. This also boots game iso's right?

Joshua said...

I'm currently waiting on two of these adapters from taobao to arrive. I'll be selling one on eBay Australia when they show up (hopefully within a couple of weeks). International listing, ofcourse.

If they're of decent enough quality, I'll be importing larger quantities in the future.

Kenneh said...

I've heard in this video that the SD card can be a bit too slow to play retail. Is this true? A damn shame, as I was hoping to save my laser some work, and have a backup if it goes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gTpylJi9wk