Mighty Morphin' Power Boards

Last weekend was amazing. Really, really amazing. For several reasons. The first - and most important - was that it was Revival Events' self-titled Revival 2014, a massive retro-gaming event held at Dunstall Park racecourse in Wolverhampton. I was there as part of the RetroCollect team, running loads of gaming challenges and just generally chatting to gamers and acting the fool. Another reason it was amazing was that I got to meet, chat with and actually touch the flowing hair of John Romero:
The photographer wasn't happy with the focus
In case you're unfamiliar with what the genius behind Doom looks like, that's him on the right. Not the grinning fool on the left - that's me. To be fair I was grinning like that because Mr Romero had just whispered the secret to his flowing mane into my ear, and as you can see this was greatly received as my hairline is receding faster than the Norfolk coastline. He also signed my boxed copy of Doom for the Atari Jaguar, so there was that too. But let's get back to the reason you're here: I also bought a Dreamcast. Yes, another Dreamcast. but unlike all of the others I now have clogging the entrance to my bathroom, this one is different. It came in a box...with an orange swirl:

Yes, I bought my first NTSC-J system for the bargain price of £50 from a trader called Sore Thumb Retro Games. And to say its in great condition is an understatement. The console has no signs of yellowing at all, and has all of the documentation including the Dream Passport (sealed) and manuals. Naturally, being a Japanese system the plug adapter ends with two prongs and simply will not fit in a UK power socket. And even if it could, the power coming out of the wall would likely travel down the wire, into the console and instantly transform the immaculate white box of fun into a large ball of flame, simultaneously causing untold collateral damage to any curtains, throw cushions and random empty beer tins in the vicinity. And in my gaff, there's always a high probability that empty beer tins could also be hidden inside the throw cushions, so the damage bill - in this hypothetical situation - could easily be triple that caused inside your average residential shit-hole. In order to prevent the aforementioned cataclysm, I employed the services of one of these things in order to play on my newly purchased NTSC-J machine:

That's a converter thingy. You put the foreign plug in one side and the UK three-pronged side into the wall socket, and by some kind of magical process no doubt involving a tiny wizard living inside the device, the horrid nasty UK electricity transforms into Japanese Dreamcast-friendly power! See - magic! So anyway, I played the DC for a bit, mucked around with the menu and changed the language to English and marvelled at Sega Rally 2 running a bit quicker...and then I went to do some other menial task that life dictated I must do. It was probably the washing up or something...to be honest I've totally forgotten. Actually, it could have been folding some towels up. Or was it some ironing? Fuck it - I can't remember.

Anyway, I totally forgot (there's a theme here) that I'd left the Dreamcast plugged in to the step-down transformer. It wasn't until a few days later that I went to turn on the Dreamcast again that I discovered it would not turn on. I was pretty stumped until I deduced that leaving the transformer plugged into the mains must have damaged it in some way - indeed, the smell of burning wizard flesh coming from the vents on the side of the thing added weight to my hypothesis. So there I was, left with a Japanese Dreamcast and a dead step-down transformer. I looked on eBay for another one, but being a bit strapped for cash having spent all my money buying the secret ingredients to concoct John Romero's Magical Hair Serum™, I decided that I would investigate an alternative remedy to getting my NTSC system up and running again. I took to Twitter and asked the question - is it possible to put a UK power board inside a Japanese or US Dreamcast in order to use a standard UK plug with it, thus negating the need for a converter. Amongst others, The Gagaman himself answered my call - the answer was a resounding "yes!"

Knowing I had a load of spare PAL Dreamcast bits knocking about, I decided to give it a go - putting a UK power board into an NTSC Dreamcast. Here's how I got on:

And there it is! An NTSC-J Dreamcast happily humming away with a UK plug adapter attached to it, with nary a step-down converter in sight. It's a really easy operation to carry out providing you have the parts handy, and I've also kept the original board and plug in the box just in case I ever move to Japan and feel the need to take a native console back there with me.

I'm off to apply some of my hair serum now. If I end up looking like a Cacodemon, I'll be writing a strongly-worded email to my old pal John.


Robert Bishop said...

Intresting article that man's hair is amazing

Tomleecee said...

It certainly is. I got to touch it. I feel honoured.