Sega Saturn Region-Free BIOS Installation Tutorial

Discussion in 'Modding and Hacking - Consoles and Electronics' started by Nully, Feb 13, 2019.

  1. Nully

    Nully Intrepid Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2010
    Messages:
    698
    Likes Received:
    76
    Today I'm going to teach you a quick and simple way to replace the Sega Saturn BIOS with a region-free BIOS. This is not for beginners and requires a hot air station, solder paste, solder braid, flux, alcohol and a pickup tool. This is just how I do it, having done around 50 of these without issues I would say this is the bare minimum that anyone can do with the tools mentioned above. Use your savings doing this yourself to pick up a $40 hot air station. :cool:

    If you are new to this process, you may want to buy some alluminum tape and block off that capacitor and the ribbon cable connector so you don't blow it up or melt the connector. I'd seriously recommend it. When using the wand, do not get too close to anything you're trying to heat, give yourself a few inches at least or you can warp the PCB or burn it/other components. Take your time, go slow and bring it up to temperature "slowly" not just blasting the chip with extremely hot air to finish quicker.

    1. Remove the old BIOS with your hot air wand at around 380C , go in a circular motion to preheat the sorrounding area and to be sure the chip/pads are all brought to the melting point at the same time before attempting to lift it with the poor man's "vacuum pickup" tool. This motherboard revision typically doesn't have the epoxy that the boards with the BIOS chip on the bottom has so it's objectively easier to remove. Once you've heated it for about a minute or so attempted to lift it quickly with the tool, it will be very hot so do not touch and sit it on something metal so it doesn't burn anything like your table.

    [​IMG]

    2. After the chip is removed, use flux and solder braid to gently remove the old solder. Clean the pads with isopropyl alcohol and a brush.

    3. Apply a thin yet liberal amount of solder paste once the board has cooled down (some prefer to apply it once the chip is in position, but there's an issue with the chip explained further)
    [​IMG]

    4. You will notice that the new BIOS chip's leads are a bit longer than the original chip, you need to GENTLY mash down the leads or bend it back and forth on your table, I'm not aware of a more professional way to do this such as DIP lead straighteners etc. You also need to gently lift pins 1,2 and 43,44. Once they allign on both sides you're good to sit it in the paste

    [​IMG]

    5. Turn down your hot air temperature to about 280-320C as we have data on this chip we don't want to be overheated and corrupted. Melt the solder paste on both sides in rotation as it will "pull" the chip into position so you don't want to do it on by one in my experience
    [​IMG]

    5. Now that the chip is soldered to the board, we need to cut two wires, one goes from pin 13 to 2 and the other from 23 to 43,44 (bridge these with solder prior). Gently clean flux with alcohol and a brush, the lifted pins can break off if you're too rough, just avoid touching them at this point.

    [​IMG]

    6. Test the install and if you don't get an image, reflow the leads with your soldering iron or check continuity with a multimeter. One unscrupulous and sketchy method of desperation is to use your chisel tip to sort of GENTLY "push" the lead back/down if you bent it or wasn't bent far enough before soldering to adhere to the pad, but be careful when applying pressure to 25 year old PCB solder pads.

    [​IMG]

    Finished!
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
    Taijigamer2 likes this.
  2. gorgyrip

    gorgyrip Gutsy Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    Messages:
    427
    Likes Received:
    14
    I just found 4 x am29f800bb. I hope I will give this a try someday.

    Is Saturn v1.01a (WW-RF).bin the best file to use? All my saturns are PAL.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2019 at 7:25 AM
  3. gorgyrip

    gorgyrip Gutsy Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    Messages:
    427
    Likes Received:
    14
    I've used Saturn v1.01a (WW-RF) + GameNavi HiSaturn 1.03 (RF) on am29f800bb and it's working.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2019 at 2:49 PM
    Nully likes this.

Share This Page