Sega Saturn Modchip Troubleshooting

Sometimes there are a few things that can be overlooked when installing a Saturn Mod chip that can cause problems.
If there is something wrong with the installation you may find that your games boot to a Audio CD Player.
If your Saturn modchip installation seems to be giving your problem go through this check list:

  • Make sure you are using the correct set of instructions. Since there are a few different types of Saturn models, you need to make sure you are installing the correct way for your Saturn.
  • Make sure all the neccessary connections are clean. Make sure there is not any stray solder that could cause an electrical short.
  • You may want to look over the Soldering Guide to look for tips you might find helpful
  • Ensure that your system cannot play original games in addition to backups. If your Saturn can play originals with the chip in, it is most likely an issue with the burned CDs themselves.
  • Ensure that the chip is in the slot all the way. Sometimes a chip may have a hard time going into the slot and feels like it needs extra force to cram it in there. If this is the case, you may need to file down the edges of the slot plug.
  • If you are attempting the A+B method, try soldering to the chip on the mainboard instead. The A+B method is supposedly not a 100% sure thing.
  • If you are worried that your Sega Saturn console may be dead, you can take the chip out and see if it still plays regular games.

If you still need help, just post comments below or in the technical help forums and I’ll try to help you out. The forums will be your best bet as I will probably respond sooner and you will have many other knowledgable members at your service as well.


88 Comments

Lalufu says:

Hi.

I got my modchip today (great delivery time, 7 days for cross-atlanic shipping is pretty damn fast), but so far I have not made it work yet.

The machine is a european Saturn, model 2, with the 64 pin chip. The mod must be installed with the component side facing away from the CD unit since the ribbon cable is twisted.
The mod does not fit in this way around, one has to remove the metal shielding from the mainboard and file a notch in it. Not too hard to do, then the mod fits physically.

I used the A-B method (and I can track a connection from pin 7 of the IC to A and B, so the connection is there).
Originals work just fine with the mod installed, CDRs don’t. The failure is either “Disc is unsuitable for this system” or offering just the audio tracks. I have not tracked down what the difference in the disks causing the two modes is.

racketboy says:

First off, I’m assuming you used the mod instructions for the Model 1/64-pin Saturn. The number of pins is the important characteristic.

Second, it sounds like the backups you are trying to play are not PAL games.
The reason I say this is that if the chip wasn’t working, you would most likely not be able to play original games. Also the “Disc is unsuitable” message usually means that you’re trying to play an import.

Try patching the ISO files with one of the region converters on my Saturn Hacks page and then re-burn the games. Hopefully that will solve your problem.

Lalufu says:

Why do you assume that I used the model 1 instructions? The machine has a 21 pin cable.

Some of the backups are most definitely PAL. I even made a copy of one of the (working with the mod installed) originals. The copy just drops to the CD player screen.

There seem to be two subtely different error messages displayed by the Saturn.
“Game Disc is unsuitable for this system” and “Disc is unsuitable for this system”. The former means that the disk is recognized as a game disk, but has the wrong “region code”. The latter (that I am getting) means… whatever, something else, but the machine does not like the disk.

racketboy says:

Hmm, well I’m not a model 1 expert, but I thought that if the chip on the mainboard has 64 pins then it is considered a Model 1.

I’ll ask around on SegaXtreme and see what I can dig up.

mechagouki says:

Hi, further to my e-mail earlier this week, I still have a similar problem to Lalufu: To recap Model 2 US Saturn with jumper conversion to play ONLY NTSC-J (Japanese) games, Modchip installed with signal wire connected to pin 14 of 32 pin chip on laser unit. Saturn plays original JAP games perfectly but when I attempt to play backup system jumps to audio menu and displays ‘Game disc unsuitable for this system’ Have tried two different backup discs, both of Radiant Silvergun, one was a BIN/CUE burned on a mac using Toast Titanium 6, the other was an ISO/MP3 burned on a PC using NERO Express, both were torrent downloads and neither specified any JAP to US patching having been done. Have tried A-B method as well but no joy that way either. Obviously something is working or originals would not play…..I just want to play RSG……I’m so confused!

racketboy says:

The Region Converters I mention on my Saturn Hacks page should be able to display the region that the ISO is set to. I would check that Radiant Silvergun ISO before anything else.

You can always patch it to Japan just to make sure anyway. Patching it again won’t hurt anything.

Usually, if the system is playing original discs correctly, the chip should be working.

Please keep me posted

mechagouki says:

I’ve just played Radiant Silvergun for the first time! You were right all along, the image had been patched to play on US hardware, I patched it back with SatConv and burned it on my Mac using Roxio Toast Titanium, plugged in the Saturn and held my breath, at last instead of the audio player screen that wonderful big blue SEGA appeared, followed by the Treasure logo. It was a special moment…. Soukyugurentai is next! Thankyou so much for all your assistance and kudos to you for enabling people to play these games without taking out a second mortgage. I will be putting together a guide for Mac users and sending it to you, I can’t be the only one. Thanks again.

racketboy says:

Awesome!
Glad I could be of service!

And I would love to see that mac guide also. I’m actually hoping to switch over to the Mac in the coming years, so it would come in handy 🙂

Enjoy your shooters!

Lalufu says:

OK, something changed during my experiments to get the chip going, whatever it was.

The situation now is that the Saturn drops to the CD player screen, no matter if the disk is an original or not.

(Regarding my first post, I can track a connection from pin 8 of the 64-pin chip on the CD unit to the A/B pads on the modchip, not from pin 7 as originally stated)

racketboy says:

Just verify that you are using these directions:
http://forums.segaxtreme.net/index.php?showtopic=14797

Those are the ones you need for a machine with 21-pin cable.

Anonymous says:

Hi, I recently received my mod chip and am having trouble getting it to work. I noticed a few things that seemed odd and I want to know why they take place. First off, when the Saturn starts up, the splash screen where the polygons fly around the screen and form the Saturn logo is shortened to the Satrun logo. Once the disk is inserted, the Saturn says it is reading the disk but the disk and laser do not move. When soldering I tried the A to B method and tomorrow I plan on trying the original way with the signal wire. Also, I wanted to make sure I had the power cord right. The little 5v outlet has a pin sticking up, and I wasn’t sure if i stick it to the pin, or wedge it down in the socket or what. A more detailed pic would be a huge help here. I’m sure the games are ok burn copies, and although they are all imports I have the correct cartrige to play them.

racketboy says:

You don’t always have to solder the power cable in there for it to work.
It’s just good to solder it so it stays in place — but you might want to wait till you have it working.

Also, test to see if original games (not burned) work correctly with the chip in and out.

Best of luck!

Anonymous says:

The modchip is easy to install! Just bridge A and B, it’s easiest and works perfect. If you are having problems, the main reason is probably that you didn’t shove the chip into the slot far enough. I had to litterly try about 10 times before it went down enough. You have to put a ton of pressure on it to go in.
Great mod chips raketboy!

racketboy says:

Thanks for the comments.
Just remember, sometimes you have to file down the edges of the plug part for it to fit well in the slot

Anonymous says:

Yes this is me from the day earlier and I wanted to let you know that the problem was the chip being to large for the slot. I filed it down, slipped it in, and it worked just fine. Symptoms of the chip not being in all the way include the shortened start up screen and the disk motor/laser eye not doing anything. I changed to the signal wire before I did this, but I think A to B would have worked just as well. Thank you for help.

Anonymous says:

I also had an ititial problem with the chip becuase i had to force it in. I actually got games to work; however they would freeze sometimes, or not load the next part of the game. I figured out that the problem was that the chip wasn’t seated in far enough into the slot and the cd-rom had a hard time reading the disc. Once I filed the sides down a bit the chip slid in nicely and games played perfect. I suggest everyone file the sides a little bit so that it goes in all the way.

Bridgeboy13 says:

I received my Chip today!

But I quickly realized that my Saturn is a model that you don’t have simple instructions for.

My system has a 21 pin cable, 64 pin IC, and the plug on the mainboard for the chip faces outward. I tried soldering the signal wire to the 8th pin on the IC chip (as I read on Sega Xtreme), but it didn’t work so I bridged A and B and it still doesn’t work. The chip gets warm, so it is getting power, chip fits snug after a little filing, what am I doing wrong? Please Help.

Outrider says:

I’m having the same problem. PAL Saturn, 21-pin cable, 64-pin chip, cable socket faces outward.
I removed parts of the shielding as well and filed down the sides until the chip went in and out of the socket smoothly.

When A and B are bridged, the Saturn logo starts normally, but no matter whether an original or a backup game is inserted, the CD player starts. Audio tracks on the game disc play just fine; the Saturn just doesn’t boot the games. Also note that there’s no kind of “unsuitable disc” errors for me.

I’ll try the instructions from the segaxtreme thread next. Expect my report soon.

Anonymous says:

I think AB meathod my destroy the mod chip. I connected my chip in about a month ago, worked fine with AB for a while. Then it stopped working.

It had a normal load up screen the cut to BIOS screen. Happens with both burnt and regualr chips.

I pulled out the mod chip and the saturn works fine, i’m going to try attaching it to the main board.

Anonymous says:

Yeah I used the A+B method too and now I have the same problem as the above poster though my chip lasted a lot longer than a month so Im not convinced that the A+B method is at fault. I did notice however that the area where I had to re-solder the power cable to the chip has turned some what brown. I do not know if this signifies that there was some sort of short or if it is rusting (is that even possible?). I do not know much about electronics so I was wondering is some one could provide an explanation for the symptoms I have described. Frankly, I am glad that my Saturn is not broken but I would like to get back to playing my burnt games.

Lalufu says:

Just for the record, I got my hands on a new saturn, and it was a 32-pin model (lucky me). Ripped the chip out of the 64-pin model, put it in the 32-pin one, and lo and behold, it just works.

Anonymous says:

Hi.
I completely botched the mod chip installation, and now my Saturn doesn’t even play original CDs. I think the 32-pin chip is completley ruined. The Satun logo appears, but then I’m taken to the Audio CD screen, and nothing ever happens. I was wondering if there is a site that sells replacement parts or repairs Saturns that are damaged due to an unsuccessful mod chip installation?

Thomas says:

hi i am having trouble with my mod chip. The Saturn boots up with animation, cds spin, but orig disks are detected as audio cds. It acts as if it is playing music but no music is playing. On the screen there is one green cube on the left and red ball on the right. It is a model 2 us saturn with the 32 pin chip. I tried the A-B method but i ended up just removing it and connecting to pin 14.

Temjin says:

hi, im the australian that bought the chip off you and am having trouble. My CD drive is the same one which is pictured in your instructions with the 32 pin IC (what does IC stand for?, im not good with computer lingo) it also has a 21 strip cable. however my power board has five pins not four. i tried installing the chip using each different power pin in consession with the signal cable attached to the 14th pin of the 32pin IC, then switched to the A to B method and tryed all the power sources again, but to no avail. the best i could get was for both originals and backups to play in CD menu. i also tried the chip in my other older saturn which is basically identical except for minor differences on the power board and only got the same result. could it be to do with that fact that i have an australian dreamcast which is 240volts and PAL?, ive heard of a chip called version 7.0 or somthing which does not require a signal cable to be hooked up, do you know anything about that?
thanks

Temjin says:

sorry i said dreamcast instead of saturn in that last one, force of habit, also what is the significance of the 0014 and 0019 thing on the chip, i also tried swapping the bridge over to the 0019 and testing all the things listed previously, but that didnt work either

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