Dreamcast region free BIOS

Discussion in 'Sega Discussion' started by FireAza, Jun 28, 2012.

  1. FireAza

    FireAza Shake! Shake!

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    I recently ordered a Japanese Sega Dreamcast (I wasn't really looking to buy one, but I found a boxed one on eBay for cheap in really good condition, so I thought why not?), and naturally, since it's a Japanese model, I'm going to need to replace the BIOS with a region free one so I can play American games on it. I was reading on mmmonkey's site that there's a region free BIOS which you can either piggy-back on the original BIOS, or replace entirely if I'm reading this correctly. I'd probably do the latter, since I don't see any reason why I would want to go back to the region-locked BIOS, and the "replace" mod is simpler and neater. Are any of you fine gentlemen burning region-free Sega Dreamcast BIOS chips? How much for such a service? Also, I notice that the new BIOS changes the boot screen, I'm kinda fond of the original version, is it possible to keep it? And does anyone have more detailed instructions on how to do the installation? mmmonkey's guide only has the "replace the original" as a footnote, there's not many detailed photos and instructions.

    Or perhaps one of the BIOS flashers disks would be a better idea? At the moment, I can't think of any Japanese-exclusive titles I would want, so I'd probably be buying all American games for now.
     
  2. l_oliveira

    l_oliveira Officer at Arms

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    Wrong board... Dreamcast had a specific board here, fyi ... :)

    This one is meant to discuss all stuff from the original SG-1000 up to the Mega Drive and it's peripherals. (early SEGA stuff)...

    Saturn and Dreamcast have their respective forums.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2012
  3. Lum

    Lum Officer at Arms

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    It depends how much convenience you want. Region free bios should act similar to a basic modchip. Permanent automated region free on original games. No disc swaps, region toggle, or burnt copies.

    Though I'm not sure of the full details. I've already got an unknown chip and can freely switch between American or Japanese titles. Never tried PAL, which I haven't done for Gamecube yet either...
     
  4. APE

    APE Site Supporter 2015

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    You just program an unmodified BIOS to be region free leaving the boot up animation alone. I've done this for people who have contracted me for installs - dirt easy.
     
  5. FireAza

    FireAza Shake! Shake!

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    Whoops, I didn't spot that, can a mod move this thread?

    The convenience of region-free is what I want, though as I said, for the time being, I'll be playing American games. Perhaps a region-free BIOS is more suited to a later time when there's a Japanese game I want to play, and there's an option that's better suited for what I'm looking to do at the present time?

    Interesting! You can modify the original BIOS and make it region-free? How do you do that?
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2012
  6. APE

    APE Site Supporter 2015

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    I have the BIOS premodified and program it to the chip before installing or use Dreamshell to flash it after installation. That is the beginning and end of it all.
     
  7. FireAza

    FireAza Shake! Shake!

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    Wow, that sounds great! And it's truly region-free? I can pop-in games from any region, and they'll load up? No disk-swapping and region setting required? How can I do this to my console?
     
  8. Lum

    Lum Officer at Arms

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    IIRC you may not use a modchip and region free bios together. I think I heard something about conflicts. As if there's any purpose.
     
  9. FireAza

    FireAza Shake! Shake!

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    Well, if the reprogramming of the original BIOS is as awesome as APE has implied, I won't need a modchip :p
     
  10. omp

    omp Familiar Face

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    It was well worth it mate, done it a few times now. Bad_ad burned a few chips for me. Replace the memory battery while you are in there. There is a guide on mmmonkey that I shared a while ago for a simple one.
     
  11. Bad_Ad84

    Bad_Ad84 The Tick

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    You read mmmonkeys site, yet missing the very first line that mentions me and has a link back to assemblergames where I sell them.
     
  12. FireAza

    FireAza Shake! Shake!

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    Ah, you're right! You got a shoutout on mmmonkey's site, nice! ;) But I am intrigued by the mod APE mentioned, the idea of simply reprogramming the original BIOS to make it region free sounds quick and simple. Though now that I re-read his post, I think he's talking about burning a re-programmed version of the original BIOS to a new chip and soldering that in. My original impression was that you could flash the new BIOS to the original chip, but I have a feeling I've got the wrong idea :p Clarification maybe?
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2012
  13. Bad_Ad84

    Bad_Ad84 The Tick

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    You cant reprogram the original bios, its a maskrom and is read only.
     
  14. FireAza

    FireAza Shake! Shake!

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    Oh well. Okay Mr Bad_Ad84, would you be able to do a modified region-free Japanese BIOS in the manner that APE mentioned? And with regards to installation, do you know of a guide that's a little more detailed than mmmonkey's when it comes to replacing the original chip instead of piggybacking it? Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2012
  15. Bad_Ad84

    Bad_Ad84 The Tick

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    Just swap the chip, lift leg 1 and solder to 23. Then make the connection to leg 44 that you have to make with any method.

    Its simple enough, hence the 1 or 2 lines on mmmonkeys guide.

    And yes, I can region free an original bios (rather than the one with the new animation). Its like a 2 byte patch or so if memory serves.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2012
  16. FireAza

    FireAza Shake! Shake!

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    Sounds simple enough, though it changes depending on what motherboard you have right? That's why mmmonkey's guide also shows a second wire running from leg 23 and leg 44 is soldering to either leg 7 or leg 9 of the IC502 right (though I could swear in the photo he posted that he's got it connected to leg 8...)?

    Anyway, how much would it be for you to burn me a region-free Japanese BIOS?
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2012
  17. Bad_Ad84

    Bad_Ad84 The Tick

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    On a VA0, the original maskrom is 5v rather than 3.3v the flash chip (and maskrom on other revisions).

    You just need to lift the VCC pin, so its not connected to 5v and connect it to 3.3v instead.

    Rest is correct.

    Post in the dreamcast chip thread asking for how many you want and also mention you want a region free "normal" bios, rather than the link83 one.
     
  18. FireAza

    FireAza Shake! Shake!

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    Will do, thanks!
     
  19. omp

    omp Familiar Face

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    Replacing the chip itself is a lot easier/simpler. Literally half an hour job while watching TV lol!
     
  20. FireAza

    FireAza Shake! Shake!

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    Bumping this thread!

    I'm currently installing the region-free BIOS, I've managed to get the original chip off (VERY fiddely!) but it would appear I've managed to take off one of the pads in the process:
    [​IMG]
    As you can see, where pad 7 should be, there's no shiny silver pad. I take it the next step would be to run a wire from from leg 7 on the replacement BIOS to one of the legs on the IC502 chip above like mmmonkey did on his site (I take consolation in the fact that he broke 2 pads while I only broke one!) but which one? The 7th leg? I'm trying to follow the trace from the broken pad, but I'm getting lost where the text starts to cover it up.

    But I was also thinking, see there's that little hole on the trace that runs along the trace from the broken pad? What if I were to run a single strand of wire into the hole, solder it from the back of the board, then solder the other end of the wire to the replacement BIOS? That sounds simpler and easier to me.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2012

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