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howardb
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A "Help! My Saturn modchip's not working!" thread

by howardb Mon Mar 12, 2007 8:14 pm

Hi,

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a modchip from Racketboy for my PAL Model 2 (round buttoned) Saturn. I'm a bit wary of soldering, so, having read that others had done so successfully, I tried "wedging" the red power lead in place, and made a nifty little hook on the end of the black lead for pin 14 on the 32 pin chip. I also diligently filed down the edges of the modchip so it would fit in the slot correctly, and slotted everything (firmly, but, er, fairly?) in place. So far, so good.

With everything where it should be, I reassembled the case, and fired up my (original, PAL) copy of Sega Rally, and hurrah!, it worked; the game loaded fine and everything acted normally. (I wasn't able to try any backups - I've burned an enviable collection of coasters in the last few weeks trying to get Radiant Silvergun working, but I think that's something for another thread...)

Fast forward 10 days, and I turned my Saturn on to give it a quick blast, and... nothing. It had been left set up exactly as it was when it was working fine before (and not been moved an inch), but now there was no power light when I turned it on. Bizarrely, when I turned it off, it made a quiet sighing/ whistling noise, but other than that, there was no sign of life.

I didn't have the patience to have a look at what might be wrong with it there and then, so a few days later, I tried turning the machine on again, and hurrah! (again! Sort of!), the power light came on, and the CD menu screen came on. I inserted my trusty copy of Sega Rally again but this time it wouldn't load - the disc wasn't spinning in the drive. There was also a message on screen saying "Checking CD format" (or something similar) when the Saturn was first turned on. This happened every time I tried loading a game up - the disc would just sit in the drive, as if patiently awaiting further instructions.

I've had the Saturn apart and checked all the connections, which all appear fine (and exactly as they were when everything was working ok). I've also tried removing the modchip, and (perhaps importantly?) the Saturn works perfectly when it's not plugged in. (Plugging everything back in again, jiggling the chip, pushing it in as far as it goes, etc. etc. has had no effect; it refuses to load games.)

So, erm, any advice? Is the chip knackered, or am I just inept and missing out on something obvious?
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Cerulean
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by Cerulean Mon Mar 12, 2007 10:28 pm

The wire that connects to the board under teh CD reader could be touching the other pins besides the one you have it atttached too. also teh power cable line could be coming loose or is touching the wrong pin. You really should have someone solder it in place. thats the only way to find out if it properly works.
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howardb
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by howardb Fri Mar 16, 2007 12:15 pm

Following Cerulean's advice (thanks!), I've now had a friend round with his soldering boots on to solder the power link cable to the socket on the board. I've also had a chance to check the connections to the signal cable and they're definitely not touching any pins other than pin 14.

When the Saturn is fired up, I'm still getting the "Checking disc format" message, and discs aren't spinning in the drive. Again, when the chip's disconnected, the Saturn works fine.

Any ideas?
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racketboy
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by racketboy Fri Mar 16, 2007 6:20 pm

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howardb
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by howardb Sat Mar 17, 2007 7:50 pm

racketboy wrote:Did you try all of these?
http://www.racketboy.com/retro/2005/06/ ... oting.html


Yeah, I've had a look at that page, and I've followed what it says. The chip was filed down and fitted snugly; all connections seem fine (and are clean), and I've only tested original discs with it. The disc drive just plays dead when the chip's inserted - when it's unplugged it's fine.
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racketboy
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by racketboy Sat Mar 17, 2007 7:54 pm

howardb wrote:
racketboy wrote:Did you try all of these?
http://www.racketboy.com/retro/2005/06/ ... oting.html


Yeah, I've had a look at that page, and I've followed what it says. The chip was filed down and fitted snugly; all connections seem fine (and are clean), and I've only tested original discs with it. The disc drive just plays dead when the chip's inserted - when it's unplugged it's fine.


Send me an email and we'll work out a replacement -- maybe its a bad chip
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howardb
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by howardb Mon Apr 16, 2007 6:05 am

Many, many thanks go to Racketboy for replacing my chip; the new one is in place and well and truly working. Burning discs (that work) is proving my next obstacle, though I hope that can be fixed by my not using the cheapest CD-Rs I can find in the future.

My burnt copy of Radiant Silvergun does work though, and has proven to be worth the effort of getting a Saturn and chipping it all by itself; games don't come much better than that.

Thanks Racketboy!
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