Showing posts with label DreamConn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DreamConn. Show all posts

Next-gen Dreamcast VMU 'VM2' coming soon from DreamMods (updated)

We've seen various mods for the humble Dreamcast VMU over the years, with modders the world over going to great lengths to add extra functionality, or repurpose the thing altogether. From the implementation of illuminated screens, to full-on Raspberry Pi-powered gaming systems crammed inside the unit's diminutive shell; it seems people from across the Dreamcast community have found myriad inventive ways to milk even more out of the little memory card that could. 

It looks like the VMU is about to embark on its greatest transformative journey yet though, as the VM2 nears completion. Coming from Chris Diaoglou, the same genius who brought us the DreamConn Bluetooth controller back in 2016 (and, incidentally the rechargeable backlit VMU linked above), VM2 is a complete technological overhaul for the VMU, and adds such awesome new features as:

  • New monochrome LCD with backlight: Which can also be turned off to save battery
  • Higher screen resolution: Switchable between original (48x32), or scaled (96x64)
  • MicroSD slot: Gives the VM2 almost unlimited capacity
  • 4x VMU memory capacity: If a microSD is not present, a combination of the Sega 4x Memory and a standard VMU will be accessible. The user will be able to cycle through 4 128Kb pages, while keeping the LCD functionality that the official 4x Memory lacked
  • Embedded high-capacity LiPo battery: This will replace the batteries and provide longer operation time (sadly this will eliminate the beeeeeeep 🙃)
  • External charging: VM2 will charge either from its micro-USB connector, or from the controller while playing
  • PC connectivity: VM2 will be able to connect to a PC via micro-USB
  • Memory management: Connecting to a PC and using a custom GUI, the user will be able to backup/restore/manage both the main (4x) and the additional (mini-game) storage

VM2 will benefit from a new injection molded shell

We reached out to Chris for comment on this highly intriguing project and asked just what the hell was going on in his Dreamcast-powered laboratory:

"The VM2 aims at being a total reproduction of the original - the connector, outer shell, electronics, everything will be manufactured from scratch. For this reason, and depending on the community interest, I plan to start a campaign so I can raise the funds to put it into production.

"This means no cheap 3D printing or anything - everything will be made with quality injection molds, etc. and this is the main reason that a campaign is needed.

"Also, instead of the initial plan of 4x VMUs (main) plus 50+ minigame (additional) memory, I implemented the integration of a microSD card slot. This will allow for literally infinite space and virtual VMUs / minigames.

"The user will be able to create/copy/restore VMU files, either at the root of the SD, or organized in folders (i.e. per game). In addition, in case that a user doesn't want to use a microSD card, the VM2 will also support a default 1x(or 3x)VMU internal memory; and the selection of the current VMU file/memory to use, will be selected from the VM2 user menu."

- Chris Diaoglou, DreamMods

The VM2 has been in development for some time now, and you can find details on the various stages of its creation over at the DreamMods website (where you can also register your interest). 

There's no concrete information on when the VM2 will be available for purchase as yet, but as Chris says, a crowdfunding campaign may well be on the horizon in the near future. The projected price will be around the $100 mark - which may sound steep - but when adjusted for inflation the original VMU would have cost you $75 in 2022 money. Do the math. On that note an Atari Jaguar would have cost you less than £40 in 1999. Swings and roundabouts, innit.

Protoype showing the new hi-res, backlit screen

Judging from the exceptional quality of Chris's previous Dreamcast-related creations in the DreamConn and the DreamPort PSU (which adds full Bluetooth support to the Dreamcast without the need for an adapter), the the VM2 is a very exciting prospect indeed. That, and the small matter that VM2 looks set to offer a riposte to many of the main gripes aimed at the original VMU - namely the piss-poor battery life and the limited space on the card. The added bonus of a backlit, higher resolution screen make the VM2 an even more enticing project and one we'll be keeping a very close eye on.

Watch this space...and while you're doing that go to DreamMods and register your interest!

Oh, and thanks to Derek Pascarella for alerting my colleague Lewis to this. Who then alerted me and made me get my arse in gear and reach out to Chris.


Since we posted this article, Chris has released some images of the redesigned prototype. Sexy, eh?!

We'll be sure to fill you in on whether this is a worthy purchase as soon as we can!

KeybConn: A Wireless Dreamcast Keyboard

You'll no doubt recall the recently revealed LightConn, the wireless Dreamcast lightgun that works with flatscreen televisions. It's the work of talented Greek modder and programmer Chris Diaoglou, creator of the DreamConn wireless controller we looked at in 2015. Chris has been busy implementing his Bluetooth tech into all sorts of other Dreamcast peripherals over the last few months and now he's revealed the next one to be stripped of its wires - the keyboard.
Dubbed the KeybConn, this prototype utilises the same wireless dongle as the gun and the controller and allows users to play any number of keyboard-compatible games from the comfort of a couch or desk without being limited to the length of the cable. While this probably isn't a problem many of us have encountered in the recent past, it's still a very cool addition to the Dreamcast's growing collection of wireless peripherals.

LightConn: A Wireless Dreamcast Gun That Works With HDTVs

You may recall the DreamConn - the wireless Dreamcast controller we featured here at the Junkyard some time ago. Well, it seems that Chris Diaoglou - creator of the DreamConn - has been hard at work on another prototype device for the Dreamcast, and this time it's a wireless light gun...that works on flatscreen HDTVs with the aid of a modified Wii sensor bar! The LightConn, as it's known, is the next step in the plan to rid all of the Dreamcast's peripherals of wires and we can't help but be impressed with the reverse engineering Chris has shoehorned into the LightConn.
As with his previous creation, the LightConn also incorporates software VMUs and appears to use the cannibalised innards of a Wii controller to allow for use on a flat panel TV screen. And while this isn't true light gun technology, it's impressive stuff nonetheless. From Chris himself, here's a rundown of the features LightConn will offer, and there's a video of the LightConn in action below:

A Rechargeable, Backlit VMU Appears!

You may be familiar with the name Chris Diaoglou. He's the man behind the DreamConn wireless Dreamcast controller, which is now on its fourth revision and features improved firmware and a host of new functions since my video review. Most notable of these is PC connectivity and a VMU browser app. Chris is planning to apply his impressive wireless technology to a selection of other Dreamcast peripherals too, and we're hoping to bring news about those in the coming weeks. For now though, here are some exclusive images of his latest creation - a VMU with a backlit screen and a rechargeable lithium polymer battery:
One of the major criticisms of the humble VMU is its ability to suck those CR2032 cells dry in a matter of hours, resulting in that skull-piercing beep every time you turn your Dreamcast on. That could be a thing of the past though, as Chris's VMU incorporates the aforementioned Li-Po battery that recharges as the unit is inserted into the controller. Charging states are indicated by an LED located on the bottom of the VMU, with a red light indicating that the battery is charging and a blue light indicating fully charged status.

DreamConn V3 Adds PC VMU Browser Support

Welcome to 2016! The future has arrived and it looks just like it did in The Jetsons. Flying cars, robotic butlers, houses on stilts and 75" hovering CRT televisions for every room in the home. But by far the best thing about living here in 2016 is the DreamConn wireless Dreamcast controller. We have featured Chris Diaoglou's impressive Bluetooth-enabled peripheral here at The Dreamcast Junkyard several times in the past, and even did a full-on video review of the second revision here, but now DreamConn V3 has arrived with several hardware updates and one major software update: the ability to connect it to a PC to browse VMU files. The hardware updates include a new white on/off button and a bi-coloured LED, along with minor internal hardware and firmware upgrades. The real appeal here though, is the new VMU Explorer connectivity.
The DreamConn I reviewed comes with a USB cable and I did try to connect it to my Macbook to see if file browsing would be possible, and I also tried to connect via Bluetooth but it was futile as the DreamConn V2.0 will not allow such rummaging around - the supplied USB is for charging the unit only and it seems only the Bluetooth transceiver is capable of recognising the DreamConn itself. Now though, using the newly created DreamConn Backup Utility in conjunction with Speud's VMU Explorer, it is possible to connect DreamConn V3 to your PC via Bluetooth and edit the contents of the memory units (both the built in memory and external VMUs), and also add downloaded save files. Chris explains the power of this PC connectivity in his own words:

"As you see, this feature gives now numerous possibilities for VMU managing (like copying from a real VMU to DreamConn and then to PC); and it may even render the usage of real, physical VMUs as obsolete."
- Chris Diaoglou, creator of DreamConn

This is a great addition to an already fantastic device and we'll be keeping an eye on any further developments. While the price point may still be prohibitive for many Dreamcast owners, I can personally vouch for the quality of the product and would recommend it in an instant if you are in a position to buy one. DreamConn V3 is available to buy here.

Edit: Chris has made the PC software freely availible for people to have a look at. You can download the DreamConn Backup Utility here, although be aware that at present it is PC-only.

DreamConn V2.0 Video Review

I was going to do a standard written review of Chis Daioglou's DreamConn V2.0 wireless controller, but I just thought it'd be a bit difficult to convey how awesome it is with words alone. There are only so many times you can copy and paste lists of features and post pictures, so I thought a proper video review was required. Furthermore a video review is much harder for other, more 'mainstream' outlets to lift almost verbatim and pass off as their own work. Below you will find the fruits of my - and Chris's - labours. Enjoy the video.

If you like what you've seen, you can purchase a DreamConn here.

DreamConn Wireless Controller Version 2.0

Several weeks ago we had a brief look at the DreamConn wireless controller that popped up on eBay, and after much deliberation came to the conclusion that it looked like a great bit of kit. Featuring an impressive level of homebrew technology and reverse engineering, the DreamConn took an original stock Dreamcast controller and added Bluetooth technology and virtual VMUs amongst other things. Fast forward to the present and the creator of the DreamConn, Chris Diaoglou has produced an updated version with many more features and a lower price point: DreamConn Version 2.0.
Version 2.0 has a whole host of improvements over previous iterations of the DreamConn, the most impressive being the vastly improved battery life - from around 3hrs in V1.0 to 10-14hrs in V2.0. Furthermore, the charging port has been changed from a micro USB to a 3.5mm jack (with a cable included as part of the package). Elsewhere, the LED has been upgraded so that it will now glow red when the battery is low.