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Showing posts with label Dreamcast Repair. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dreamcast Repair. Show all posts

Well Oiled Machine

The Dreamcast is knocking on a bit these days - as you're probably no doubt aware, the entire planet celebrated the 15th year since the system's US launch barely a week ago. With age, comes knowledge and wisdom...but also wear and tear, and Old Father Time does not discriminate between the mechanical or the biological. To this end, you've probably noticed that occasionally your Dreamcast may not load certain games or that the system sometimes resets in the middle of a game. You may also be more acutely aware that the console's GD-Rom drive makes way more noise than any of the more modern systems. There are remedies to both the disk reading errors and the cacophony of grinding drives and GD access though, and these videos from Youtubers Mark Fixes Stuff and Carl Eggett will show you how to go about banishing those ear-shredding noises and game resets from your Dreamcast once and for all:


Pimp My 'Cast

Chances are, if you collect retro consoles you’re likely to own at least one beige-coloured piece of hardware. And the chances are that, if you’re reading this site, you own a beige Sega console. And that beige console is more than likely a Dreamcast. How do I know this? Magic, naturally, with a slight hint of mystical intuition. One of the more common problems I’ve noticed with the hallowed Dreamcast (yes, aside from the controller port fuse blowing) is that unless you keep it in the box and only ever get it out for special occasions (you know, like Christmas or a family funeral), it will eventually start to ‘yellow.’ Yellowing is what happens to lightly coloured plastic over time, where the chemicals that make up the dye in the plastic react with UV light and begin to break down, thus giving the material a tired and well...yellow appearance. And frankly, it looks shit. Add that to all the knocks and scuffs that build up over time (over a decade now, actually), and your Dreamcast can end up looking pretty sorry.

There are several remedies to this. First, you could attempt to ‘bleach’ your system’s shell as this Youtuber demonstrates...but that malarkey looks pretty dangerous to me - and besides, caustic chemicals do not mix well with hands that constantly drop cups of tea onto new carpets. Cough.

Secondly, you could spend a small fortune on one of those replacement cases that regularly pop up on eBay for fairly reasonable prices...but are located in Venezuela and so cost £30 to ship to the UK (granted, it may be cheaper to ship if you live closer to Venezuela but damn that’s expensive shipping). The Dreamcast shell is fairly easy to take apart and remove from the internal workings, so if you don’t mind spending the equivalent of a fortnight’s worth of food shopping on shipping costs, this is a fairly good way of pimping your Dreamcast.

But there is a third remedy. Enter DCJY reader Mike. He does shit like this to Dreamcasts:

Skies of Arcadia-cast

That right there isn’t one of those console stickers you just peel off and apply to your console - it’s a full on professionally applied vinyl coating. And you can have pretty much any design you want:

Jet Set/Grind Radio-cast

How is it done? I’ll let the man himself explain:

“Basically I work for a graphics and vehicle wrapping company, wrapping everything from race cars to motorbike helmets. I actually work in the finishing department. This involves cutting vinyl graphics, laminating prints, getting race car kits etc ready to fit, mounting custom graphics to Foamex and diabond panels etc.

For wrapping the Dreamcasts I first use an HD or similar quality image - this ensures that the picture doesn't look pixelated at all or blurry when upsized to fit the console. It's then down to the printing and artwork department to retouch the image (maybe change the colours slightly, resize it, upscale it etc). The picture can then be printed on cast vinyl in one of the HP Designjet L65500 printers (which are serious bits of kit), and it then comes to my department to be 'finished,' which in this case involves laminating it with some cast Arlon laminate, then trimming and applying to the Dreamcast. 

Placement is key to making the console look cool (you don't want to have an image of say Shenmue where Ryo's face is half off the console), and once you've got placement sorted apply the graphics and heat around all the different levels of the console. Trim carefully around the lid etc to ensure the join looks good. Then it's just a case of popping any air bubbles and trimming the edges and recesses nicely.”

I think you’ll agree that these custom Dreamcasts look pretty damned sweet, and as any image can be applied using the technique detailed in Mike’s explanation, you could have the world’s only Spirit Of Speed 1937 Dreamcast. Or not.





















If you’d like to have your Dreamcast transformed - hell, go crazy and get a top-down view of a Sega Saturn or Neo Geo printed on it! - drop me an email via the link in my profile and I’ll supply contact details for Mike and his factory of wonders.

Blowing up the Dreamcast Controller Board.

This is a public service message to all the Dreamcast fans out there.

I have heard from many different sources that crappy third party controllers can easily blow out ports on your Dreamcast.

What I found out yesterday was that even an official Dreamcast controller can do this. A first party Dreamcast controller I had recently bought was faulty and blew out the F1 resistor in the controller board. That means that NONE of the controller ports will work.

Here is the culprit. I bought it from a thrift shop the other day.



I suppose it's live by thrift shops, die by the thrift shops. But there are two ways to look at buying Dreamcast stuff from pawn shops, Salvation army, "boot sales", garage sales...ect.

A. - Most people won't resell or donate electronics that they know are faulty.

B. - Most people are jerks or too stupid to know that the stuff they are selling is faulty.

For me it's a moot point. I only paid like $10 for the Dreamcast I blew up because I got it at a garage sale. I could have paid more for stuff from Ebay, but are electronics purchased like that really safer? It's debatable.

Anyways you can buy a new resistor to replace the one the faulty controller blew out. It takes a bit of time and RISK to your Dreamcast. Some people have had better luck than others.

Here is a nice little guide from the Devcast site:

http://devcast.dcemulation.com/mods/repair/repair.php


And here is a little blurb from the Dreamcast Scene Site.

http://www.dreamcast-scene.com/index.php/Main/Controlboardrepair

There is also a less safe but easier way

I do not suggest that anyone tries this. You can hurt/kill yourself if you don't know anything about electronics (I was supposed to unplug it?!!?!?) and you can easily damage your Dreamcast beyond all repair. It involves using a bit of wire to directly connect the legs of the busted F1 resistor.

I am mainly putting this up so people get a little better picture of what the F1 fuse looks like.

Basically the Dreamcast is very easy to crack open. You just need a regular Phillips head screwdriver.

Take out the 4 screws then flip it over to remove the top.




You then can see all the bits that make the Dreamcast magical!


Anyways there is the damn F1 resistor that blows out if you use a crap controller

(or an official controller that's faulty)







My crappy fix actually seemed to work. However, this Dreamcast might now be the largest fire hazard in my house. Plus if you ever use a faulty controller in that Dreamcast it might just blow out the whole thing...





So it's a bit hard to fix this if you are not used to it. Buying a new resistor isn't expensive but you will need a soldering iron to get the old one out and replace it.

It might be a better idea to simply buy a replacement controller board or even a new Dreamcast.

In conclusion beware of trying out new controllers! If you happen to have two Dreamcasts don't use the nicer one to test out controllers for the first time. And yes, even official Dreamcast controllers can ruin your controller ports.

All in all I suppose that it's a good lesson to learn. Even the Dreamcast can fail (though it's pretty damn simple to try and fix it).