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Inside the Nintendo 64 Special Pikachu Edition

I have wanted a Pikachu edition Nintendo 64 for a while now. I didn’t know what it did or what was inside but I felt it had a lot of modification potential. My curiosity eventually got the best of me and I bought one. It turns out it does very little. The only thing a Pikachu N64 does that your normal N64 doesn’t is blink Pikachu’s cheeks fifteen times when you power on. It isn’t going to blow your mind but it sure looks amazing.

Nintendo 64 - Pikachu Edition

Nintendo 64 - Pikachu Edition

Here is the inside of it. There is a lot of extra room in there.

Nintendo 64 - Pikachu Edition Inside

Nintendo 64 - Pikachu Edition Inside

Pikachu’s cheeks are actually removable. Red LEDs from the LED board go inside of them.

Nintendo 64 - Pikachu Edition

This is the LED board for Pikachu’s cheeks. It gets 3.3V from the main board (just like the controller ports and original LED). It has an 8-bit binary counter and a hex inverter.

Nintendo 64 - Pikachu Edition LED Control Board

Nintendo 64 - Pikachu Edition LED Control Board

The front power LED is not on this console. I guess Nintendo decided that three LEDs would just be too much.

Nintendo 64 - Pikachu Edition Front

Nintendo 64 - Pikachu Edition No Front LED

That’s it! Now I need to figure out what to do with it. If you are interested in one they can still be found for decent prices on eBay. Amazon
also has some but they can cost a bit more.

Sega Saturn NetLink Guide

I have a soft spot for old consoles with online and networking capabilities – especially consoles that have dial-up modems available. During the last month or so I have been playing with the Sega Saturn NetLink dial-up modem.

Sega Saturn NetLink Front and Read View

The modem originally allowed you to browse the internet and play NetLink compatible games with other people using the X-Band service or direct dial “Quick Link.” Although the X-Band service was shutdown long ago, you can still browse the internet (HTML 2.0) and dial people directly to play games with. They currently sell for about $8-$30 on eBay.

 

NetLink Games

These are the US NetLink compatible games:

  • Daytona USA CCE NetLink Edition (eBay) – No NetLink logo
  • Duke Nukem 3D (eBay / Amazon) – All versions
  • Saturn Bomberman (eBay / Amazon) – All versions
  • Sega Rally (eBay) – Only with NetLink logo
  • Virtual On (eBay) – Only with NetLink logo

This logo will be in the top left corner of most NetLink compatible games:

Sega Saturn NetLink Playable Logo

Daytona USA CCE NetLink Edition is the only NetLink compatible game that has no NetLink logo. Look for “NetLink” printed on the disc and a black and white supplementary manual behind the standard manual. This game is extremely rare. When it pops up on eBay it goes for well over $1,000.

In my opinion, Saturn Bomberman and Sega Rally are the must have games if you plan on using a NetLink. I would say Daytona USA CCE NetLink Edition is also a must have, but it is absurdly priced.

 

How to play with someone else who has a NetLink modem?

You each need the following:

  • Sega Saturn (eBay /Amazon)
  • NetLink Modem (eBay / Amazon) (Web Browser CD not needed for gaming)
  • NetLink Game
  • Analog Phone Service

It is pretty straight forward. Just plug your modems into the phone jack, fire up the systems with the game in it, decide who hosts, and the non-hosting player will dial the host. It is as simple as that.

Sega Saturn NetLink Play

Is it possible to connect with a VOIP router?

I have not heard of anyone successfully connecting with a VOIP router. That is not to say it is impossible, but these modems are extremely fickle. Too much latency and it will disconnect you. People tend to think it is the internet latency that is the issue. That might be part of the problem but the real issue is the speed in which the router encodes/decodes audio. It can take a few hundred milliseconds for encoding/decoding alone. When using a VOIP to analog line configuration there is about a 200-300ms delay. When using a VOIP to VOIP configuration there is a 400-600ms delay. That is not including regular internet latency of 30-100ms.

 

How to connect two Sega Saturns locally to play NetLink games?

Keep in mind that this is not system linking. You can’t just plug one modem directly into another and expect it to work. You will need some extra equipment in order to get the NetLinks talking to each other. There are two ways you can do this. Method 1 is easy and more expensive. Method 2 is a significantly harder and cheaper than method 1.

Method 1

You will need:

  • 2 Sega Saturns (eBay /Amazon)
  • 2 NetLink Modems (eBay / Amazon) (Web Browser CD not needed for gaming)
  • 2 NetLink Games
  • A Telephone Line Simulator (TLS) (eBay / Amazon)

The telephone line simulator provides the proper voltages and tones needed in order for the NetLinks to work properly. I am using a Teltone TLS-3.

WP_20150111_016

Just connect the NetLinks to the TLS, and have one Saturn dial the other (102 is the number to the second port on my TLS).

Sega Saturn NetLink Local Link Diagram TLS

Sega Saturn NetLink Play 2

Method 2

I am not responsible for any damage to your system or injury to yourself if you choose to use this method. If you don’t understand what is actually happening in this method then please don’t use it. Be careful of the 90 volts AC ring voltage!

You will need:

  • 2 Sega Saturns (eBay /Amazon)
  • 2 NetLink Modems (eBay / Amazon) (Web Browser CD not needed for gaming)
  • 2 NetLink Games
  • Unlocked Linksys PAP2T VOIP Router (eBay / Amazon) (Other VOIP routers may work but you will have to do the research on that)
  • 4 (or more) Port Telephone Splitter (eBay) (Optional)
  • 4PDT Switch (eBay)
  • 9VDC Source (eBay) (Battery or AC Adapter)
  • 300 Ohm Resistor (eBay)
  • Wire

What you do in method 2 is set up a VOIP router to act as a ringdown circuit. It will supply the idle line voltage (-48 VDC) and ring voltage (90 VAC 20 Hz) to the NetLink modems. Once the dialing NetLink opens the line, the VOIP router will ring the host NetLink. A custom switch is then used to manually switch the NetLinks to connect directly to each other while totally bypassing the VOIP router.

Sega Saturn NetLink Local Link Diagram VOIP and Swtich

 

Here is how to wire the switch:

VOIP Ringdown Bypass Switch

J1 and J4 are each connected to a system and J2 and J3 are connected to the VOIP router ports 1 and 2. The ports are a front view. If you don’t want to use a phone splitter you can cut phone cables and wire it all the same way.

To use the switch, start with it in the VOIP router position. Set Saturn 1 up to wait for a call. Have Saturn 2 dial nothing or 1 digit. Once Saturn 1 displays “Answering Phone…”, listen for the relay in the NetLink to click. Once this happens, flip the switch to bypass the router. Both Saturns should say “Establishing Connection…”, “Exchanging Information…”, then proceed to a black screen with character icons and taunts. At that point you know you are connected properly.

 

NetLink Demonstration

 

How to browse the internet with a NetLink modem?

  • Sega Saturn (eBay / Amazon)
  • NetLink Modem (eBay / Amazon) (Web Browser CD is needed)
  • Analog Phone Service along with Dial-UP ISP  OR  Linksys PAP2T VOIP router and Netopia R2020

In order to browse the internet you need the CD that originally came with the NetLink. Keep in mind that most web pages will not be compatible with the HTML 2.0 browser on the NetLink CD. If you have a dial-up ISP, then dial into it and you should be good to go. If not, follow this guide I wrote for the Sega Dreamcast.

 

How To Get Your Dreamcast Online Without a Broadband Adapter or a Dial-Up ISP

Dreamcast Netopia R2020
Before you decide to go online with your Dreamcast, there are a few things you should know. Sega’s Dreamcast servers have long since been shutdown along with the more recent GameSpy shutdown. That means there are not any official servers for any of the online Dreamcast games. “So, why would I want to get online?” you ask. Thanks to a small but talented community of die-hard Dreamcast fanatics, these servers have been brought back online and are being hosted for all to enjoy.

There are multiple methods to get your Dreamcast online. This guide is geared toward getting your Dreamcast online the cheapest (and dare I say coolest) way possible with the highest number of games working with it. If you find a cheaper method to do this, then please share it with me. This guide assumes you have a broadband connection along with a router.

Things you need

How it works

The Netopia R2020 router can be set up to allow your broadband connection to be shared with a dial-up user. Normally you would connect it to a working phone line at your home or office and dial into it from an outside source in order to access your network remotely. In this setup we want to dial into it from the same location. The Linksys PAP2T VOIP Router can be set up to act as a ringdown circuit, meaning if you have two phones connected to it, picking one up will ring the other. Connecting this in between the Dreamcast and Netopia R2020 will trick both into thinking they are connected to their own working telephone line. This allows the Dreamcast to dial (PAP2T provides dial tone) and the Netopia R2020 to answer (PAP2T provides ring voltage).

It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t. If you can’t wrap your head around it then think about it like this: From your Dreamcast’s perspective the Linksys PAP2T is your phone company and the Netopia R2020 is your dial-up internet service provider. This setup can be used for any device with a modem to access the internet.

There are a lot of steps involved but be patient. The whole setup shouldn’t take more than ten minutes or so if you are used to messing with your router. If not, it could take a bit longer.

Setting up the R2020

The Netopia R2020 can only be logged into via Telnet so you will need a Telnet application. I recommend PuTTy.

The default address for the R2020 is 192.168.1.1 which in most cases will conflict with the primary router on your network. You will have to connect a computer directly to the R2020 and telnet into 192.168.1.1 in order to change it.

Keep in mind – your menu might be slightly different depending on the current firmware Your Netopia R2020 has.

Once you log in go to: System Configuration > Network Protocols Setup > IP Setup

Make the following changes:

  • Ethernet IP Address: This is the IP address of the R2020. Choose something you will remember that does not conflict with other devices on your network (Mine is 192.168.1.90)
  • Ethernet Subnet Mask: In most cases you want 255.255.255.0
  • Default IP Gateway: Your primary routers address (Usually 192.168.1.1)
  • Primary Domain Name Server:
    • For Gaming: As of this writing it is 100.40.25.69. Ping dctalk.no-ip.info for the latest address. (This is what tricks games into connecting to the dreamcast-talk private servers)
    • For Web Browsing: Your primary routers address (Usually 192.168.1.1) or Googles DNS 8.8.8.8

Dreamcast Setup for Netopia R2020 - Step 1

Go back to the main menu then go to: Utilities & Diagnostics > Restart System to restart the router.

Now disconnect your computer from the R2020. Hook the R2020 up to your primary router (as well as your computer). Now log into the address you chose for the R2020 (Mine is 192.168.1.90).

From the main menu go to: WAN Configuration > Add Connection Profile

Make the following changes:

  • Profile Name: Dreamcast
  • Profile Enabled: Yes
  • Encapsulation Type: PPP
  • Encapsulation Options
    • Data Compression: None
    • Send Authentication: PAP
    • Send User Name: (leave blank)
    • Send Password: (leave blank)
    • Receive User Name: dream
    • Receive Password: cast
    • Channel Usage: Dynamic
    • Dial on Demand: Yes
    • Bandwidth Allocation: Auto
  • IP Enabled: Yes (Not all firmware revisions have this here)
  • IP Profile Parameters
    • Address Translation Enabled: No
    • IP Addressing: Unnumbered
    • Negotiate LAN IP Addr/Mask: No
    • Remote IP Address: What you want the Dreamcast IP address to be. I used 192.168.1.91.
    • Remote IP Mask: 255.255.255.255
  • IPX Enabled: No (Not all firmware revisions have this here)
  • Telco Options
    • Dial: Dial In Only
    • Dialing Prefix: (leave blank)
    • Number to Dial: (leave blank)
    • Alternate Site to Dial: (leave blank)
    • Idle Timeout (seconds): 0
    • CNA Validation Number: (leave blank)
    • CompuServe Login Enabled: No

Here are screenshots of what it should all look like:

Dreamcast Setup for Netopia R2020 - Step 2
Dreamcast Setup for Netopia R2020 - Step 4

Dreamcast Setup for Netopia R2020 - Step 3

Dreamcast Setup for Netopia R2020 - Step 5

Now go back to Add Connection Profile and hit “Commit”

Your Netopia R2020 is now configured.

Setting up the Linksys PAP2T

Connect the PAP2T to your primary router. The PAP2T will most likely be setup as a DHCP address so you might have to do some digging around find out what it is. Login to your primary router and look for something along the lines of “Attached Devices” or “DHCP Connection List” in order to see what the IP address for the PAP2T is. Once you figure it out go ahead and type that IP addpress into the URL of your web browser.

Once you connect, click the “Admin Login” link on the top right of the page.

Click “switch to advanced view”.

Click the “Regional” tab.

Change the following:

  • Ring Waveform: Sinusoid
  • Ring Voltage: 90
  • Ring Frequency: 20

Dreamcast Setup for Linksys PAP2T - Regional Tab

  • FXS Port Impedance: 600
  • FXS Port Input Gain: 0
  • FXS Port Output Gain: 0

Dreamcast Setup for Linksys PAP2T - Regional Tab - Misc

Click the “Line 1” tab.

Change the following:

  • Line Enable: Yes

Dreamcast Setup for Linksys PAP2T - Line Enable

  • Network Jitter Level: Low
  • Jitter Buffer Adjustment: Disable

Dreamcast Setup for Linksys PAP2T - Line 1 and Line 2 - Jitter

  • Sip Port: 5060

Dreamcast Setup for Linksys PAP2T - Line 1 - SIP Port

 

  • Proxy: (leave blank)
  • Outbound Proxy: (leave blank)
  • Register: no
  • Register Expires: 0
  • Use Outbound Proxy: no
  • Make Call Without Reg: yes
  • Ans Call Without Reg: yes
  • Display Name: line1
  • Password: (leave blank)
  • Auth ID: line1
  • User ID: line1
  • Use Auth ID: no

Dreamcast Setup for Linksys PAP2T - Line 1 - Proxy and Subscriber

  • Preferred Codec: G711u
  • Use Pref Codec Only: Yes

Dreamcast Setup for Linksys PAP2T - Line 1 - Audio Configuration

  • Dial Plan: (S0<:line2@127.0.0.1:5061>)
  • Enable IP Dialing: yes

Dreamcast Setup for Linksys PAP2T - Line 1 - Dial Plan

Okay… We are halfway there! The same thing needs to be done to Line 2 with a few small changes.

Click the “Line 2” tab.

Change the following:

  • Line Enable: Yes

Dreamcast Setup for Linksys PAP2T - Line Enable

  • Network Jitter Level: Low
  • Jitter Buffer Adjustment: Disable

Dreamcast Setup for Linksys PAP2T - Line 1 and Line 2 - Jitter

  • Sip Port: 5061

Dreamcast Setup for Linksys PAP2T - Line 2 - SIP Port

  • Proxy: (leave blank)
  • Outbound Proxy: (leave blank)
  • Register: no
  • Register Expires: 0
  • Use Outbound Proxy: no
  • Use OB Proxy In Dialog: no
  • Make Call Without Reg: yes
  • Ans Call Without Reg: yes
  • Display Name: line2
  • Password: (leave blank)
  • Auth ID: line2
  • User ID: line2
  • Use Auth ID: no

Dreamcast Setup for Linksys PAP2T - Line 1 - Proxy and Subscriber

  • Preferred Codec: G711u
  • Use Pref Codec Only: Yes

Dreamcast Setup for Linksys PAP2T - Line 2 - Audio Configuration

  • Dial Plan: (S0<:line1@127.0.0.1:5060>)
  • Enable IP Dialing: yes

Dreamcast Setup for Linksys PAP2T - Line 2 - Dial Plan

Now save settings and reboot the router.

That is it for the PAP2T. If you want to test it you can plug two phone lines into it. Picking up one should ring the other.

Connect It All

Telephone Cord Connections:

Dreamcast modem <> PAP2T – Line 1
R2020 – Line 1 <> PAP2T – Line 2

Ethernet Cable Connections:

R2020 – Ethernet Port 1 <> Your Primary Router (any port)
PAP2T – Ethernet <> R2020 (any port but 1) or Your Primary Router (any port)

*The PAP2T needs to be connected to a router in order to work even though it does not actually use the network.

Note: You will have very high ping (500+ ms) using this method. Once connected to a server you can quickly connect the Dreamcast directly into the R2020 to greatly decrease your latency. I opted to build a manual switch to do this which I will document at a later date.

Test It Out

The easiest game to test out in my opinion is Quake III Arena. To test out the browser the minimum browser you should have is Web Browser 2.0 (make sure to use a normal DNS server if you would like to use the Dreamcast Web Browsers).

That’s it! Hopefully I’ll see you online soon!

Credit/Thanks

brourke228 – Wrote the original guide using a Netopia R2020 and a Telephone Line Simulator.
uhclem – Wrote a tutorial on setting up a ringdown circuit with the PAP2t for a cheap intercom solution.

How to Get the Best Video Out of Your Retro Consoles

Here is a little guide on what video format older US consoles can output (excluding RF). It is not complete but has all the major ones on there for now.

For most older consoles RGB is your best bet. RGB is generally output using a SCART cable. Since North American TVs don’t use SCART as a standard I recommend getting a SCART to HDMI Converter in order to play on Plasmas and LCDs. If you are very serious about your gaming I suggest purchasing a Framemeister XRGB-mini.

System Composite S-Video RGB VGA Component
Microsoft Xbox Yes Yes No No Yes
Nintendo 64 (N64) Yes Yes Some Models –
Mod Req.
No No
Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) Model 1 – Yes
Model 2 – Mod Req.
Model 1 – Mod Req.
Model 2 – Mod Req.
Model 1 – Mod Req.
Model 2 – Mod Req.
No No
Nintendo GameCube (GC) Yes Yes Mod Req. No Yes*
Sega Dreamcast Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Sega Genesis Yes Mod Req. Yes No No
Sega Master System (SMS) Yes Mod Req. Model 1 – Yes
Model 2 – Mod Req.
No No
Sega Saturn Yes Yes Yes No No
Sony Playstation (PSX/PSOne) Yes Yes Yes No No
Sony Playstation 2 (PS2) Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) Yes Original – Yes
Mini – Mod Req.
Original – Yes
Mini – Mod Req.
No No

System Notes

Nintendo Entertainment System:

Is it worth buying (or modifying) an RGB modified NES? This all depends on how serious you are about picture quality. If you are happy with your picture, then the only thing I suggest is for you to buy high quality A/V cables. This alone can make a big difference. Something else you might want to consider is buying a new TV. I know… this is not what you wanted to hear. However, not all displays are equal and this still remains true for how composite signals are processed in your television. If you have a low quality or older LCD/Plasma TV then you most likely have a low quality comb filter. The comb filter is what converts your composite signal into something your display can use. There are multiple methods used to strip the composite signal and some are better than others. Better TVs have what is called a 3D Y/C comb filter. It combines old and new methods to strip the composite signal in order to display the best possible signal composite can give.

That being said, RGB is always preferred. Even running RGB through a cheap upscaler will give you a better picture than composite ever will. RGB modified NES systems currently go for between $300-$400 so that alone might answer your question. If you can afford it, go for it.

Nintendo GameCube:

The official GameCube component cables are extremely rare and currently cost between $200-$300. To make matters worse there are no 3rd party GameCube component cables available. The cable itself has circuitry that is required to produce the component signal. A few people have successfully hacked their GameCube to output a component signal on a custom port using an FPGA but nothing has been made for the masses. We are looking into writing a guide on doing this but the cheapest/easiest option for now is to buy a Wii and a Wii component cable to play your GameCube games.

Sega Dreamcast:

I recommend running the Dreamcast through VGA when possible (a few games don’t support it). Currently the best Dreamcast VGA box is the Hanzo. It has some neat features like a built in scanline generator. They are $62 new. They seem to be produced in short runs and can be hard to find. If you don’t care about scanlines then you can get a VGA box/cable for around $20 on eBay. I actually have a cheap little VGA box and it works great.

Sega Genesis:

A lot of Genesis games seem like they were designed with a composite signal in mind. Some games seem to have better color when being played through composite. When using an RGB cable everything look much sharper but the color in many games can look a little off. I still prefer RGB over composite, but I know some who actually prefer composite for their Sega Genesis. Again, if you choose composite over RGB do the bare minimum and get some high quality A/V cables.

Super Nintendo Entertainment System:

If you are obsessed with RGB then you might want to check out the board in your model 1 SNES. One version actually produces a better picture than the others. If you already have RGB cables and a decent converter you might as well dive deeper and acquire the SNES with the best board. If you want to find one of these, start by finding one with a serial number that starts with “UN3.” You will have to take it apart to be 100% sure. Look for “SNS-CPU-1CHIP-01” printed on the board. Some eBay sellers have already done the work for you and are selling the 1CHIP SNES at a premium.

The model 2 produces similar quality when modified to output RGB.

How To Overclock the NES

There are a ton of NES games that have annoying slowdown when there are too many things happening at once. One way to get rid of slowdown (or greatly reduce it) is to overclock your NES.

Things you need to know before attempting this:

This will not fix blinking sprites. Sprite blinking was programmed in many games to allow more sprites to seemingly be on the screen at the same time.

This will not work properly with all games. I strongly recommend installing a switch so you can switch between normal and overclocked mode. I am writing this guide with the switch included.

This will make the sound higher pitched. Most people won’t realize the pitch has been raised unless you are actually trying to compare the two.

This guide is for the front loader (Toaster) NES.

NTSC and PAL systems have different clock speeds. Both can be overclocked.

Things needed:

  • Oscillator: For NTSC systems a 24 MHz or 26 MHz oscillator would be best. I don’t recommend going higher than 28 MHz. Most of the slowdown I noticed had been fixed, or greatly improved, at around 24 MHz. For PAL systems I would stay in the range of 32 MHz to 38 MHz. This is all personal preference. I prefer lower overclock speeds as I only want to reduce slowdown, not play games extremely fast.
  • (Optional) RGB LED: If you want to have the LED on the front of the NES turn blue or green when overclocked and red when normal then get this.
  • Switch: If you decide to use the RGB LED, you will need a double pole double throw (DPDT) switch. Otherwise you will only need a single pole double throw (SPDT) switch.
  • Drill and drill bits to drill the hole for the switch.
  • Solid 30 AWG wire for the clock signals.
  • Stranded wire for power and LED upgrade.
  • Hot glue gun to mount the oscillator

Step 1 – Drill the hole for the switch

Once you have your Nintendo apart, you should decide where you want the switch and drill a hole for it. The easiest place to drill would be on the back somewhere. I drilled underneath the NES so the switch would be somewhat hidden (it is a tricky spot to drill). Wherever you decide you want the switch, make sure it has enough clearance from the board and other parts of the case. Don’t install the switch yet – just make sure it fits properly.

NES Overclock

Step 2 – Cut the master clock trace

Now you need to find this trace on your board and cut it. I cut it in two places and did a continuity check to make sure it was completely cut. Make sure you don’t cut the wrong trace on accident. The picture is of an NTSC RP2A03G CPU. PAL Systems will have a RP2A07G CPU.

NES Overclock

Step 3 – Wire up the oscillator

  • Pin 1 – N/A
  • Pin 2 – Ground on Voltage Regulator
  • Pin 3 – Clock signal (to switch, see drawing below)
  • Pin 4 – +5 VDC from Voltage Regulator

Here is the voltage regulator:

NES Overclock Voltage Regulator

Solder the +5VDC (red wire) and Ground (green wire) here.

NES Overclock Voltage Regulator Solder Points

Step 4 – Hook up the switch to the clocks

PAL systems have a RP2A07G CPU and a RP2C07-0 PPU. The pins are the same.

NES Overclock Mod With Switch Schematics

In the picture below, I took the original clock from the other side of the trace that was cut instead of pin 18 of the PPU. Either way is good.

NES Overclock Mod Installation

Once you have everything hooked up properly, test out both the original clock and the new clock signals. You will have to turn the system off to switch between the two clocks.

If one or both of the clocks are not working, check your soldering points, make sure nothing is being shorted, and make sure your connections are in the correct spot.

If you opted for the RGB LED then read on. Otherwise, go ahead and mount the switch. I used hot glue after mounting the switch in order to make it a little more secure.

Step 4.5 (Optional) Hooking up the RGB LED

The original LED in the NES may not be as clear as the LED you have. You may want to consider sanding yours a bit or the light will shoot out of the NES like a little flashlight.

You are going to have to remove that little board with the LED on it in order to work on it. Once you have access to the LED, go ahead and desolder (or cut) it.

Now wire up the RGB LED before connecting it to the board. You can use whatever colors you want. I used red for normal and blue for overclocked. The color you are going to use for normal mode should be soldered to the side of the switch that has the original oscillator connected to it. Solder the other color to the overclocked side of the switch. Connect the positive side of the board to the center pin on the switch.

NES Power Switch Assembly

NES LED Mod

Not all RGB LEDs are the same so some trial and error may be required to get the right color.

Now solder the LED to the board and make sure it all fits properly.

Test everything again making sure the clocks still work properly and the LED color changes with the clock. If everything looks good, mount the switch.

Step 5 – Clean up

While your NES is still open you may want to consider disabling the lockout chip if you haven’t done so already. Now put it back together and enjoy your suped up NES!

Consider going back and sanding the LED or using a resistor if it is too bright for you…

WP_20140131_018

Fix for LCD Replacement Mod Blinking

You may have noticed that after you upgraded the LCD in your system to a new one, it starts to blink after a short time (it generally happens when using rechargeable batteries). The issue is that some replacement LCDs have a higher minimum voltage threshold than others. When ordering a replacement screen, it can be hard to figure out what the minimum voltage is. If you bought an LCD with a lower minimum voltage than the system you are using, the screen will blink as the battery voltage drops.

There are two ways to fix this problem. Method 2 is preferred and greatly increases battery life but method 1 is the easiest.

Method 1

This method uses an external DC to DC converter. You may be asking yourself, “Why would I want to convert DC to DC?” The answer is this: Because you can convert a lower voltage to a higher voltage. When using a DC to DC step up converter, as the battery voltage drops, your output voltage would remain the same. That means no more blinking LCDs! Battery life will be decreased when using a DC to DC converter to increase the voltage. Anyway, let’s get to it!

If you have not purchased your LCD yet, consider purchasing the LCD/Converter combo from our store (US residents only).

Things you need:

Although I am using a Sega Nomad in my pictures, this applies to any system where the LCD can be replaced (assuming there is enough space for the converter).

Step 1:

Connect the inputs of the converter to your system (where your LCD normally gets power).

Step 2:

Turn on the system and measure the output voltage. Adjust the potentiometer until you get a reading of about 10.5 Volts.

Step 3:

Turn off the system and connect the outputs of the converter to the LCD you want to use. Also, make sure the composite input of the LCD is connected to the system.

Step 4:

Turn on the system with a game in it. If you see a picture, decrease the voltage with the potentiometer until the screen starts blinking. If the screen is off, make sure you have everything connected properly. If so, continue to step 5.

DC to DC Step Up Converter Nomad Blinking Screen Fix

Step 5:

Now, increase the voltage with the potentiometer until the screen is on and not blinking, then turn it a tad more. This is where we are going to leave it.

Step 6:

If you were using an AC adapter, this is a good time to test it with the batteries. The ideal test would be letting it run until the batteries die. This way you can see that the LCD does not blink at all.

Step 7:

If the LCD did not blink, mount the converter in the system (I used hot glue to mount it). If you are concerned that the potentiometer might be moved when putting your system back together, you can use some hot glue on it to keep it in place. If the LCD did blink, increase the voltage output to the rated voltage of the LCD.

DC to DC Step Up Converter Nomad Blinking Screen Fix  2

Method 2

In method 1 you add a DC-DC step up converter to increase the voltage for the LCD driver board. In method 2 you don’t use a DC-DC converter at all. Most of the LCDs you can buy are meant to be used with vehicle backup cameras. The LCD driver boards are designed to accept 12 VDC from a vehicle. The LCD driver board takes the 12 VDC and steps it down to around 5 VDC. In method 2 you use a 5 VDC source and bypass the DC-DC converter on the LCD driver board. If you are using the recommended LCD/driver board, solder a wire to jumper these points:

LCD Driver Board Jumper No Blinking LCD Mod

If you have a different LCD driver board you will have to figure out where the DC-DC step down converter is. If you aren’t up to it then I’d stick with method 1.

Once you do this DO NOT connect this to anything greater than 5 Volts! If you are doing the Sega Nomad Mod you need to use this voltage point instead of the one near the power connector to power the LCD:

Sega Nomad No Blinking LCD 5 Volt Point

You can reuse the connector from the old LCD when using this method which makes it a bit cleaner.

That is it! You now have a system with an upgraded LCD that doesn’t blink. Let me know if you have any questions.

How To Disable the NES CIC Lockout Chip.

I have been modifying consoles for many years and only now have I done one of the most common, simple, and useful mods there is: Disabling the NES lockout chip. If you have had issues with your NES constantly resetting when a game is inserted, you might want to consider doing this yourself. I hadn’t experienced this since I cleaned my 72 pin connector… at least until today. I was having issues using a Famicom to NES (60 pin to 72 pin) adapter with a Famicom Everdrive N8. It worked fine on one of my adapters but not on the other. The reason for this is that one of the adapter boards had a real CIC chip on it while the other adapter just tricks the CIC chip in your NES to allow imported games to run. In order to prevent any future issues, I decided to disable the CIC chip. Although this little mod has been covered hundreds of times on various sites, I am going to go over how to do it. Remember, this is for the front loader NES (toaster), not the top loader. This mod is not needed for the top loader. Things you will need:

  • Soldering Iron
  • Solder
  • Wire Cutters
  • Small piece of wire
  • Screw Driver

Take apart your NES. The chip you need to work on is located underneath the main board. My chip is labelled as 3193A. Your chip may have a different number. NES Disable CIC Lockout Chip WP_20140113_001 Now cut or desolder pin 4. I cut mine close to the board so I would have a little room to solder the ground wire to it. Try not to bend those capacitors too much! WP_20140113_014 Now jumper a wire from pin 4 to one of the ground pins (11-15). I used pin 13 because it is directly across from pin 4. WP_20140113_022 Test it before putting it back together completely. If you are still having issues with games not working, you may need to clean/fix your 72 pin connector or buy a new one ($6 to $8 on eBay). Anyway, that’s it! Enjoy your blink free NES.