Nooo… Nop… it is dead. I am terribly sorry to everyone who values these hardware, and I am totally ashamed of myself. This piece was working properly, with all the original parts… This had value (I could have sold it to someone who would value a console on it’s original condition, and bought a faulty one for myself… the leftover money might even allowed me to buy a Optic Disc Emulator).
The thing is… yes I did provoked that short on the power supply, the fuse blew, and I thought the mosfet transistor the solder touched just blew. Without even testing it I ordered equivalent new ones. Look at me all happy with the new pieces:
Small mistake (these were cheap, and I can always use the fuses, pretty standard). When I replaced, the new fuse also blew up. Something was wrong there alright, but it wasn’t the actual piece that provoked the short… maybe something else provoked it?
So I decided to take the same approach as I did with a PS2 Fat power supply (also died, eventually found out that it was a Zener Diode… tinny piece in the board, but took the opportunity to replace all the caps… erm… because I could). Dissemble the entire power supply, and test each of the components individually.
This is what I got:
That’s a lot of flux on the lower part of the board, the top “dirtyness” is flux, with alcohol, and still smoke from the fire. So since I had to test each of the components, why not wipe them all and the board clean? Did so… Glorious cleaning:
All pretty. Each of the components has that yellow tape with the alpha-numeric code for it’s placement on the board. You can see those written in black on the upper part of the board. This is really necessary so you can put everything back in place, specially when you don’t have schematics, and you don’t understand much about electronics.
So I started testing the basic components. Capacitors, Resistors, Diodes, Transformers, Coils and what not. I’ve actually learned to somewhat test each of them with a multimeter. It isn’t accurate at all, but you can at least check if they are blown or not. Even if they are not working properly they can still hold their own and they shouldn’t blow fuses.
Everything checked out… So all that was left were the Transistors (the things on the metal plates, and similar to them), and those kind of Chips on the board that I didn’t even desoldered.
Now where this requires some explanation.
This power supply is smaller, and more complex than a fat Playstation 2 one. Check this out (best picture I could find, closest to my own):
In plain numbers, the Dreamcast power supply has more components. It also exports three different voltages, 12V, 5V, and 3.3V, as you can see on this LINK. These are basically the same voltages as a Tower PC power supply (those are huge because they produce A LOT of current). As you can also see the Playstation 2 has two transistors, that actually are plain and normal transistors. On the Dreamcast it has 6, and only 2 are normally transistors, and can be tested so.
So I tested what I could, even learned how to test Mosfet Transistors with a multimeter, you know the one that I suspected. It was working fine… not blown at all. So one of the others had to be at fault. But only one of the other five tested normally. I was very confused.
I decided to buy replacements for all the other 5 on the board that I still haven’t replaced. Now that was a HUGE problem. Searched and searched and I couldn’t find them selling anywhere. Also neither me nor Takashi (he helps me with this stuff) knew enough about electronics to find any equivalents. This is all very very sad… It’s actually pretty hard to restore one of this power supplies very close to the original if one of these components is gone. I bet someone who actually knows about these stuff would be able to get equivalent ones after some study of the board, but definitely not the casual “fixing guy”.
So a new strategy was necessary. One of the things that are sold now, or are about to be sold, is the Dream PSU. These look real cool, and look how they show you how smaller it is, and it actually doesn’t heat. However… you don’t immediately see but you actually need a power brick on the outside, when the original power supply only needed a figure 8 cable. That’s a bit of a disappointment right there, another brick to the already completely brick filled power sockets? Also it is obviously that it doesn’t do any heat, because the heat is being done by the power brick. Also the cost… If you check it HERE, these cost 50 bucks. Wow… and no power brick??? Seriously???
However many might think “But there’s nothing else… what can you do?”. Well… in fact these kind of “voltage converting gadgets” are nothing new. I’ll have to admit these are pretty clean, and to go nicely inside the console… But to many people who build a PC, you already know about the Pico PSU. These go directly to a motherboard though a Molex connector. As a PC mother board needs, guess what, 12v, 5v, and 3.3v… just like the Dreamcast. They also are powered by a 12V Switch Power Supply… just like the Dream PSU. The only thing you need is a big of creativity, know where the correct voltages comes out, and some Molex connectors and cable to make those fit just right on the Dreamcast. They even come with other power cables so you can properly feed mods or whatnot… just like Dream PSU. It’s less cleaner but it also goes inside the console… so who cares? One only has to be careful not to put the wrong voltages on the wrong place.
Also, the Pico PSU exports as much current as the machine demands… so you can even buy an accordingly low current power brick. IMO… this is a perfect solution for these disc reading consoles if you want to replace the power supply. I personally got three Pico PSU, and three 3A Led Strip power supplies (yeah… for those Led strips that people how a days use to make cool light around their houses… they are 12V switch power supplies, and they come in many currents outputs… perfect for these). These were pretty cheap on Aliexpress, and they come from China… like everything else =P. I am sure I’ll use 2 of those for sure. One for a Saturn Takashi will give me because it has no power supply and no reader. And another for the N64 that I also saved from my cousin, and also was on the parent’s house fire (cause I have no power supply, and I trust more this configuration than a 3rd party N64 power supply… which is actually hard to get).
Anyways… I had a plan… Things were looking brighter again. Then here is when my personality crashes with what I try to do. Impatience IS NOT a good thing for when you are working with electronics. I still wanted to work on the Dreamcast while I waited for the new power supply (you know these orders from Aliexpress, they really take time to get to arrive). So what alternatives did I had?
Like I previously said various times, the voltages necessary for the Dreamcast are the same as on a Tower PC. I have one lying around… So yeah, lets connect that huge old beast to the Dreamcast. You know what? Of course it worked. Even the worst PC Tower power supply with a huge fan is standard enough to produce good voltages, at least good enough to make the console work, and you can again only suck the current you need. All was going well, I was excited, so there I was trying again to work with the BIOS, back to the basics.
However… the disc reader was still not connecting properly to the board. Every time I tried the Piggyback BIOS mod, with switch and all… I couldn’t get it working. And as soon as I reverted the mod (it was only one solder actually) it still didn’t worked, unless I would go around moving the reader on the fit till it found the right connection >_<. It was absolutely annoying.
I was getting mad and more impatient because I had to:
- turn off the power supply
- disconnect the cables that feed power to the mainboard through the shielding on the top
- take out the reader that was supported on the top shielding, without the shielding the reader had no where to support itself, and even with support was giving me troubles because it wasn’t screwed
- and finally take out the top shielding to expose the motherboard.
I was fed up with things not working… and obviously I made a mistake. The way I was connecting the power supply to the board was simple… actually too basic and prone to mistakes. I soldered 4 cables to the power connection on the power supply, and I was simply sticking 4 cables with exposed tips with solder (to make them tough) into the Molex connector.
I was using a 24 pins one, for the people who know, there final 4 sockets were the voltages I needed plus ground. I did a nice square “connection” with some hot glue and thick cables.
But… obviously… the impatience, and one of the going back and forth, connecting and disconnecting the power… I went and connect all the wrong voltages and KAPOW. Something on the board exploded.
That… is embarrassing, it’s a waste of great hardware… I felt like shit. Sure I am also doing these stuff to learn but it is a real shame to learn from such valuable machines >_<. It was a very stupid mistake and from now on I will be taking much more care to what I am doing when doing these kind of modification. But so far… absolutely stupid, and I hate myself.
Anyways, since I blew a Dreamcast, I decided I could only compensate buy recovering one that was being sold with problems. By pure luck, I did found one. Housing in terrible state, reader is close to dead, missing cables, random resets (this is the power supply not connecting properly), and most importantly… very cheap (bit over $30) with 1 controller. These usually disappear even here in Poland (console are really not a thing, BIG PC scene from very old days). But I was lucky to get my hands on this one.
So this new console will be arriving today or tomorrow (early morning here), and I’ll start the modifications all from the start, and proceed in a different order. VGA, Bios, SD and finally HDD.
I’m still holding to the old board, and I really hope that what blew was a fuse of some kind… those really tiny ones, but I can’t see it anywhere. But I’ll still try.
Anyways… terrible post this time, and took my sweet time because I was busy at first, and then I went and got sick with the addiction of inflamed back muscles, so just sitting on a chair is agony for me. Been 3 days lying in bed reading online comics D=.
Please don’t hate me guys for ruining a perfectly good console.