Get Back Online With DreamPi

Online functionality was one of the the main selling points of the Dreamcast, but in the here and now, playing online-enabled games with Sega's final system is something that is out of reach for many a gamer. There are lots of Dreamcast games that are still playable via the internet and new dedicated servers are popping up all the time, but unless you have a broadband adopter or some other more convoluted means to get your console connected to the internet, offline gaming is your lot.
It seems that a clever guy called Luke Benstead has other ideas though, and has created a rather impressive little Raspberry Pi-based device called DreamPi. What does this creation do? Well, it allows the Dreamcast to connect to the internet using the dial-up modem so you can play games online again. Without a dial-up ISP or a Dreamcast broadband adaptor.

DreamPi is a piece of software I've written combined with a standard set of hardware which allows the SEGA Dreamcast to connect to the internet without a dial-up ISP
- Luke Benstead

You'll still need a modicum of technical know-how to get the DreamPi working as intended, and Luke has also written a piece of bespoke software that you'll need to download and dump on an SD card, but if you're looking for a relatively cheap way to get your Dreamcast back online you could do much worse than investigate this project.

As stated over at Luke's blog Kazade's Internet Address, you may also need to create a Line Voltage Inducer in order to get the modem to recognise the telephone line (or something), but if you're the type of person who already owns a Raspberry Pi you'll probably find creating one of these a breeze too and helpfully, the instructions for creating the inducer are also provided. Here's the science bit:

When you switch on the Raspberry Pi, the DreamPi software starts automatically. It goes into 'listening' mode. When in this mode, the software listens for the DTMF dial tones from the Dreamcast modem. When it stops receiving these tones it assumes that the Dreamcast has finished dialling and is now waiting for the other end to answer. Because we're not going through the telephone network, there is no ringing tone which is why the software waits for the dial tones to stop.

Once DreamPi stops receiving dial tones, it attempts to answer the call. This can take 10-20 seconds. It then hands over the connection to the PPP process running on the Raspberry Pi. DreamPi then enters a connected state and waits for the connection to finish, at which point it re-enters listening state.

The DreamPi software is currently in Alpha release and Luke is looking for Dreamcast owners with a bit of technical nous to help test the unit. If you feel you're up to the challenge and want to play Phantasy Star, then head over to the blog. For those who don't know one end of a resistor from the other (like me), here's a lovely video demonstrating the DreamPi.

If this looks like something you'd like to be involved with, be sure to head over to Luke's blog here.


sandro said...

Liam D Nicoll said...

This is amazing news! cant wait to have a shot of this.