Pseudo Saturn Kai official thread

Turbotosti

New Member
stupid question, do you have the action replay 4m plus plugged in correctly?
under 'Start Homebrew' you should see 'Firmware Flasher'
i don't know if it doesn't show up if the action replay isn't detected though so it may be you've burnt the wrong image or an older image.

here's the download:

simple burn the pskai_sdm_flasher.iso and boot it on the saturn and then hit the R trigger and you should see 'Firmware Flasher'
click it then choose pseudo saturn kai lite.

this is an old video but it may help you:
This is quite puzzling.
I used that exact file to burn the image and I have 2 action replays. Both are giving me the same result where the firmware flasher just doesn't appear.
The only thing I've done differently compared to the video link you gave me is that I load the burned disk a different way (as I used another video to learn how to do it).
- I put the action replay in the Saturn first and put the burned disk in.
- Just before the Sega logo appears, or during (doesn't seem to matter much), I swap the disk to a real one.
- Action replay boots up
- Select start without cheats
- The moment the disk starts spinning full speed I swap it with the burned disk again and it boots up the menu I need.

It would be weird if the order in which the Saturn is fooled changes the behavior of the software...
 

cafe-alpha

Member
Hi, new member here.
I'm not sure if I should be posting it here but I tried flashing my action replay cartridge today and ran into an issue.
After about 15 tries of disk swapping madness and almost giving up I managed to get the pskai_sdm_flasher.cue to run on my japanese Saturn.
For some strange reason however it didn't have an option to flash my cartridge. Does anyone know what I'm missing?
Please use alternate flasher utility (pskai_alternate_flasher.iso, available in the same archive as Pseudo Saturn Kai's), which shall work better than Save Data Manager CD-ROM.

Reasons why alternate flasher utility is recommended are because :
1. Both flasher program and firmware data are packed in a same file, which reduces problems when using swap trick.
2. It will show flasher menu even if cartridge is incorrectly inserted, and then allow to adjust cartridge in its slot (until getting correct vendor and device IDs displayed on screen) if required.
On the other hand, Save Data Manager will enable access to flasher menu only when cartridge is detected.

There are two versions of Pseudo Saturn Kai flasher for the following reasons :
- Alternate flasher utility (pskai_alternate_flasher.iso) when swap trick is required (= no modchip/ODE installed, or no Pseudo Saturn Kai previously installed), or when cartridge doesn't boots on every try.
- Save Data Manager (pskai_sdm_flasher.iso) when upgrading from a previous version of Pseudo Saturn (Kai or not), or in order to install legacy (Action Replay, Gameshark etc) firmware. or an old version of Pseudo Saturn.

BTW, even if it failed to flash Pseudo Saturn Kai please don't trash your Save Data Manager CD-ROM because as it contains many pre-recorded saves for RPGs, racing games etc. These may be handy after installing Pseudo Saturn Kai and wanting to play a game from a level different than first one :)
 

Turbotosti

New Member
Please use alternate flasher utility (pskai_alternate_flasher.iso, available in the same archive as Pseudo Saturn Kai's), which shall work better than Save Data Manager CD-ROM.

Reasons why alternate flasher utility is recommended are because :
1. Both flasher program and firmware data are packed in a same file, which reduces problems when using swap trick.
2. It will show flasher menu even if cartridge is incorrectly inserted, and then allow to adjust cartridge in its slot (until getting correct vendor and device IDs displayed on screen) if required.
On the other hand, Save Data Manager will enable access to flasher menu only when cartridge is detected.

There are two versions of Pseudo Saturn Kai flasher for the following reasons :
- Alternate flasher utility (pskai_alternate_flasher.iso) when swap trick is required (= no modchip/ODE installed, or no Pseudo Saturn Kai previously installed), or when cartridge doesn't boots on every try.
- Save Data Manager (pskai_sdm_flasher.iso) when upgrading from a previous version of Pseudo Saturn (Kai or not), or in order to install legacy (Action Replay, Gameshark etc) firmware. or an old version of Pseudo Saturn.

BTW, even if it failed to flash Pseudo Saturn Kai please don't trash your Save Data Manager CD-ROM because as it contains many pre-recorded saves for RPGs, racing games etc. These may be handy after installing Pseudo Saturn Kai and wanting to play a game from a level different than first one :)
pskai_alternate_flasher worked. Detection of the cartridge was indeed not recognized at first. Moving the cartridge out a little made it detect properly.
after the flashing was completed the cartridge just always works, no need to reposition it.
Thanks :)
 

cafe-alpha

Member
pskai_alternate_flasher worked. Detection of the cartridge was indeed not recognized at first. Moving the cartridge out a little made it detect properly.
after the flashing was completed the cartridge just always works, no need to reposition it.
Thanks :)
Thank you for the prompt feedback ! I'm relieved that you finally could success in flashing your cartridge.

There is a small cartridge flash tutorial available on Pseudo Saturn Kai homepage, but it is completely outdated and doesn't mentions the usage of that alternate flasher too ... I really need to update it ASAP.
 

RazorX

New Member
hey cafe-alpha i didn't know where i could ask you but i've ordered some saturn gamer's cartridge pcbs and i was wondering what file do i flash to the max3000a using the usb programmer or disc on the saturn, could you help me thanks.
i ordered 10 1.6mm pcbs with enig pads and gold fingers with a tapered edge and i have ordered enough EPM3032ATC44-10 and i'm going to buy the rest soon.
i just need to see if i can find an alternative sd card socket.
my saturn is modded so i can boot cd-r discs.
 
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cafe-alpha

Member
hey cafe-alpha i didn't know where i could ask you but i've ordered some saturn gamer's cartridge pcbs and i was wondering what file do i flash to the max3000a using the usb programmer or disc on the saturn, could you help me thanks.
Firmware for the MAX3000A CPLD is not publicly available in order to avoid Gamer's Cartridge to be cloned. Maybe that's a selfish move from me, but after seeing drop of public interest toward Gamer's Cartridge when "all-in-one" cart became widely available, I don't regret that.
Even if Gamer's Cartridge is currently out of stock, I shall resume sales in the case I find Action Replay shells (in fact, I found some while tidying up stuff during last winter vacations) and motivation or need of money to continue other projects.

In my defense, closed-source hardware is relatively common in retro gaming projects : internals of GAL for Action Replay and "all-in-one" cart are still a secret, that's the same for modchips and Rhea/Phoebe/Fenrir ODEs and will certainly be the same for Satiator too.
In an ideal world, everything would be open source and people would buy things from their respective authors, but in the facts, people prefer to save 5 bucks for non-official crap from ebay. That's maybe 5 bucks saved, but that's also motivation to develop something new being destroyed too.

Without anything available for Gamer's Cartridge CPLD, you have the choice between :
- Develop CPLD by yourself. Personally, I learned VHDL with Gamer's Cartridge project, so that's not an impossible task.
- Support Satiator development, because in the future this may be equivalent to Gamer's Cartridge when used with Action Replay cartridge.
I'm not related to Satiator development, so please don't claim in the case project takes ages to be released, or in the other case that SH-2 side of the firmware (to interact with ODE, emulate memory cartridge on SD card, provide cheat codes support etc) is not in the scope of Satiator hardware project and have to be developed by community.


i ordered 10 1.6mm pcbs with enig pads and gold fingers with a tapered edge and i have ordered enough EPM3032ATC44-10 and i'm going to buy the rest soon.
As long as PCB thickness is 1.6mm, it should be fine. It's recommended (but not mandatory) to use ENIG and to chamfer golden fingers, so everything should be even more OK with your PCBs.
That's OK regarding CPLD specifications, but you may be tight on logic resources. In a first step, I would recommend to use an EPM3064 to have enough room for development and testing purposes.


i just need to see if i can find an alternative sd card socket.
Every SD card socket have their own variations, so maybe it may be difficult to find one with equivalent footprint.
I still have a few stock of theses sockets (last time bought in 2018 IIRC), but when that stock will be empty it will be the time for me to design footprint for a SD card socket still in production.


my saturn is modded so i can boot cd-r discs.
That's a good point to do first installation of Pseudo Saturn Kai. Before installing a Phoebe, I was using a modchip too :)
 

RazorX

New Member
Firmware for the MAX3000A CPLD is not publicly available in order to avoid Gamer's Cartridge to be cloned. Maybe that's a selfish move from me, but after seeing drop of public interest toward Gamer's Cartridge when "all-in-one" cart became widely available, I don't regret that.
Even if Gamer's Cartridge is currently out of stock, I shall resume sales in the case I find Action Replay shells (in fact, I found some while tidying up stuff during last winter vacations) and motivation or need of money to continue other projects.

In my defense, closed-source hardware is relatively common in retro gaming projects : internals of GAL for Action Replay and "all-in-one" cart are still a secret, that's the same for modchips and Rhea/Phoebe/Fenrir ODEs and will certainly be the same for Satiator too.
In an ideal world, everything would be open source and people would buy things from their respective authors, but in the facts, people prefer to save 5 bucks for non-official crap from ebay. That's maybe 5 bucks saved, but that's also motivation to develop something new being destroyed too.

Without anything available for Gamer's Cartridge CPLD, you have the choice between :
- Develop CPLD by yourself. Personally, I learned VHDL with Gamer's Cartridge project, so that's not an impossible task.
- Support Satiator development, because in the future this may be equivalent to Gamer's Cartridge when used with Action Replay cartridge.
I'm not related to Satiator development, so please don't claim in the case project takes ages to be released, or in the other case that SH-2 side of the firmware (to interact with ODE, emulate memory cartridge on SD card, provide cheat codes support etc) is not in the scope of Satiator hardware project and have to be developed by community.




As long as PCB thickness is 1.6mm, it should be fine. It's recommended (but not mandatory) to use ENIG and to chamfer golden fingers, so everything should be even more OK with your PCBs.
That's OK regarding CPLD specifications, but you may be tight on logic resources. In a first step, I would recommend to use an EPM3064 to have enough room for development and testing purposes.




Every SD card socket have their own variations, so maybe it may be difficult to find one with equivalent footprint.
I still have a few stock of theses sockets (last time bought in 2018 IIRC), but when that stock will be empty it will be the time for me to design footprint for a SD card socket still in production.




That's a good point to do first installation of Pseudo Saturn Kai. Before installing a Phoebe, I was using a modchip too :)
i don't really know anything about cpld's sadly, because i have already ordered the parts and have spent quite a bit of money doing so would there be any chance i could perhaps send the max3000a chips to you too flash so i haven't ended up wasting like $100 doing this as i thought everything was open source so i wouldn't have any issues.
i would be very grateful if you could help me, i would of course pay you for your services.
 
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19rsn007

New Member
Hello people,

I found a saturn cartridge PCB in my parts bin.
Al the IC markings are removed by the manufacturer so I didn't have any clue what chips were on there.
I started measuring and found out there were 2 probably 29F001's on there, but the other small 20 pin chip I have no clue of what it would be exactly (probably a PAL or GAL chip....16V8)

Then I found out about Pseudo Saturn Kai and thought to myself, why not try to put that on the cart.
So I burned the cd. dug out my saturn and hooked it up.
So I put the cartridge pcb in and turned out to be a CD+Plus import adapter.

I did the swaptrick, went to the flasher menu and tried to flash the lite version of PSK.
First of all the chips weren't ID-ed by PSK but I went ahead anyway.
Erasing went fine, but flashing failed.....so I had a blank cartridge.
I took the roms of, placed sockets, dug out some pin compatible flashroms and put them on there to verify it was working....no boot but the ID on flash device 1 was ATMEL but device 2 was unknown (I've put 29F020's in there)

Luckely I also have a rom programmer. so I removed the rom's from the sockets and erased them with my programmer.
First thing I did was take the CD+Plus firmware from the PSK cd, doubled it up so it would fill the entire roms) split it into an ODD and EVEN file and burned them with my programmer.
The cartridge is working fine with this and cd CD+PLUS logo welcomed me when inserting it and I've booted up an import just fine.
PSK was still giving me a hard time on ID-ing both chips (first ID-ed fine but the second was still unknown)

Now the next thing I did was take the PSK lite (256k) version, doubled the rom up again and split it into ODD and EVEN bin file.
Burning them to the roms went just fine and it looks like it is booting (I see the sega license screen when powering on the saturn), but after this it won't boot my CD-R's without the swaptrick.

I something going wrong? Is the CD+Plus cartridge incapable of running this firmware ?
Do I need to replace the PAL/GAL chip on there for a 20V8 with the right code and rewire it?

Hope someone can help me out here.
I don't have a lot of burned games, but I would love to be able to play them without swapping discs.
 

19rsn007

New Member
Okay so now I'm 99% sure it's the logic fuse set in the PAL chip that prevents the menu from actually coming up. the boot data is found (is the the black screen with the sega logo) but after that it's kicking me straight to the saturn bios.

I don't know how the CD+PLUS plus works but the PAL chip is in there for memory addressing and I think it's not kicking you to the correct addresses for the PSK thing to work.

I do have an AR+4M cartridge but I just don't want to flash that with PSK.
Would it be possible at all to do this with a 16V8 PAL/GAL chip or should I just put the CD+PLUS cartridge to rest ?
 

cafe-alpha

Member
i don't really know anything about cpld's sadly, because i have already ordered the parts and have spent quite a bit of money doing so would there be any chance i could perhaps send the max3000a chips to you too flash so i haven't ended up wasting like $100 doing this as i thought everything was open source so i wouldn't have any issues.
i would be very grateful if you could help me, i would of course pay you for your services.
Well, it's your responsibility to verify that everything is open source, and also prepare first batches in small quantities to reduce the cost of any unexpected issues.

PCBs themselves are open source for educational purpose : as indicated in my previous post, I learned VHDL with Gamer's Cartridge project, and I would be glad if this could make someone else to follow the same path than mine. But as providing everything including firmware would just promote cloning of the cartridge, resources for the totality of the project are not disclosed.


Okay so now I'm 99% sure it's the logic fuse set in the PAL chip that prevents the menu from actually coming up. the boot data is found (is the the black screen with the sega logo) but after that it's kicking me straight to the saturn bios.

I don't know how the CD+PLUS plus works but the PAL chip is in there for memory addressing and I think it's not kicking you to the correct addresses for the PSK thing to work.

I do have an AR+4M cartridge but I just don't want to flash that with PSK.
Would it be possible at all to do this with a 16V8 PAL/GAL chip or should I just put the CD+PLUS cartridge to rest ?
Problem can be anything between a incorrect soldering, or damaged traces on PCB, or logic in PAL supporting only 128 KB addressing (while Pseudo Saturn Kai lite requires 256 KB) etc.
Unless you have enough knowledge to develop circuits for PAL/GAL chip, I don't thing it's worth the effort to use a larger logic chip.

As you indicated, the fact that the BIOS is kicking you to multiplayer screen after SEGA logo may be caused by by Pseudo Saturn Kai not being correctly decompressed from cartridge ROM to Saturn work RAM. IIRC, in that case I was doing an emergency exit to multiplayer rather than executing a corrupted executable.
 

19rsn007

New Member
Just tested it with some brand new 29F010's.
The flash program detects both chips, flashes them but the result is the same.
I think it is indeed the memory addressing in the PAL chip that is done wrong.

So now I know for 99,9% sure that the CD+PLUS cartridge isn't capable of running PSK.

would have been nice, but alas......

I wonder if the pal chip on the AR is read protected. if not, maybe someone can dump them and share the dumps and the way they are hooked up to the cartridge so I could alter this cartridge. I'm not planning on flashing my AR PLUS 4M for this.
 

antime

Extra Hard Mid Boss
You don't really need to do any decoding, unless you want to control mirroring. Otherwise, it's enough to hook /CS0 to /CE, /RD to /OE, and /WR0 to /WE.
 

cafe-alpha

Member
Just tested it with some brand new 29F010's.
The flash program detects both chips, flashes them but the result is the same.
I think it is indeed the memory addressing in the PAL chip that is done wrong.

So now I know for 99,9% sure that the CD+PLUS cartridge isn't capable of running PSK.

would have been nice, but alas......
Unlike Action Replay, CD PLUS cartridge are no longer manufactured for a long time, so your problem may be caused by a physical damage on the PCB.
Or it can be caused by some weird logic in the PAL, for example only showing first half of the ROM to Saturn etc.


I wonder if the pal chip on the AR is read protected. if not, maybe someone can dump them and share the dumps and the way they are hooked up to the cartridge so I could alter this cartridge. I'm not planning on flashing my AR PLUS 4M for this.
As indicated by @antime, interfacing flash ROM with Saturn is more or less the matter of connecting few wires together, so I personally don't have any interest in reverse engineering this PAL chip.
 

19rsn007

New Member
Unlike Action Replay, CD PLUS cartridge are no longer manufactured for a long time, so your problem may be caused by a physical damage on the PCB.
Or it can be caused by some weird logic in the PAL, for example only showing first half of the ROM to Saturn etc.




As indicated by @antime, interfacing flash ROM with Saturn is more or less the matter of connecting few wires together, so I personally don't have any interest in reverse engineering this PAL chip.
I understand.
Well I might just give up on getting PSK running on this cartridge.
Unless I know where to connect CE and OE. (looks like they are running to the pal chip for some reason on this board)
 

RazorX

New Member
I understand.
Well I might just give up on getting PSK running on this cartridge.
Unless I know where to connect CE and OE. (looks like they are running to the pal chip for some reason on this board)
looking inside my Action Replay 4Mb Plus, CE of the SST29EE020-120-4C-NH chips goes to pin 13 of the PALCE16V8H-25PC/4 (I/O 1) and OE goes to pin 17 of the PALCE16V8H-25PC/4 (I/O 5)
if your cartridge also contains the same lattice chip then there should be no reason why yours shouldn't work with PSK Lite

this is what my action replay looks like:


Datasheet:
PALCE16V8H-25PC4
 

Attachments

TheRealAnubis

New Member
this topic will be used to collect details about pseudo saturn.

cyberwarriorx/pseudosaturn : original sources

Firmware development - will it work somewhere else than in my dev Saturn ? - PPCenter :: devblog : pseudo saturn kai
Hi everyone - new member here.

I've had something strange happen and just wondered if anyone had any tips.
I flashed 2 Action Replay Plus carts, one for me, one for my buddy.

I tried out many games and they both were working fine. Then he said he wanted to try Vampire Savior. No worries, I got that burned and it booted, then after the smaller Capcom logo, the screen went dark and stayed that way. 20 minutes later the same thing. Tried rebooting - Pseudo Saturn Kai logo doesn't come up. Won't read a CD-R. Tried my friend's cartridge - it froze on the Sega license screen. Now it's dead too. After about 20 minutes I tried the 1st cart again and managed to get the alt flasher to boot - it reported a read error and dumped out.
Then I tried the 2nd cart with the standard flasher - it booted and flashed, and now seems to be working.
I tried the standard flasher on the 1st cart and it loaded and erased, then failed at the end (400) with a write error. Now it's not coming on at all.

Update:
After being left off overnight, I popped in the 'dead' one and it booted the Pseudo Saturn Kai lite screen, but failed to load the game, and now it's dead again. This is really strange!

Any ideas? I can plug in another PSKai lite cart that I have and it works fine, but there's no way I'm trying Vampire Savior again.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 
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cafe-alpha

Member
In the past, I had a report of a bit similar trouble (but only concerning expansion RAM : Pseudo Saturn Kai itself was still booting and loading games) after using cartridge self test feature that was available in Pseudo Saturn Kai at that time. Since I didn't had any clue about what was causing the problem ... I simply removed that self test feature so that it wouldn't trigger any voodoo problem after that :)

Long story short, for unknown reason the cartridge worked fine after that episode. Pseudo Saturn Kai doesn't writes to cartridge flash ROM and is not changing configuration of (nor even accessing to) expansion RAM so if there's something to be suspected, hardware problem (defective cartridge, or bad cartridge connection or weak Saturn PSU etc) should be considered.

To get more clues about what's going wrong with your cartridge, it's good to process test step by step with the checklist below :
1. Can the Saturn play original games without cartridge inserted ?
2. Can the Saturn show Pseudo Saturn Kai boot menu without any CD inserted ?
3. Can the Saturn play original games with the cartridge inserted ?
4. Can the Saturn play copied games other than Vampire Savior ?
-> If possible, please try by using a game not requiring expansion RAM, and reported to work fine in Pseudo Saturn Kai compatibility list : PPCenter :: Pseudo Saturn Kai Compatibility List
5. Can the problem be reproduced on your friend' Saturn ?
6. Can the problem be reproduced with another burn of Vampire Savior ?
-> If possible, please try by using another brand of CD-R.
 

TheRealAnubis

New Member
Hi,

Thanks for the reply! I'll answer what I can now, then get to the rest ASAP.

>To get more clues about what's going wrong with your cartridge, it's good to process test step by step with the checklist below :

1. Can the Saturn play original games without cartridge inserted ? YES

2. Can the Saturn show Pseudo Saturn Kai boot menu without any CD inserted ? YES

3. Can the Saturn play original games with the cartridge inserted ? YES - although I've found that F-1 Live Information, and one of the bootleg samplers that I have will not work with the cart in (F-1 boots and runs, but crashes after the intro movie, bootleg makes it to the menu, but locks up when any selections are made). Cat the Ripper, Enemy 0, Literary Fragment, etc. all load and run fine.

4. Can the Saturn play copied games other than Vampire Savior ? YES - I've tried out around 30 games, and the only ones that haven't worked for me so far are Vampire Savior and Waku Waku 7 (goes to the character select screen, you pick a character, and then black screen).

>-> If possible, please try by using a game not requiring expansion RAM, and reported to work fine in Pseudo Saturn Kai compatibility list : >PPCenter :: Pseudo Saturn Kai Compatibility List

Here's a sample of what I've already tried out and played at least 1 hour on -
Batsugun
Street Fighter Zero 3
Lost Vikings 2
Radiant Silvergun
Lode Runner The Legend Returns
Sega Ages Vol.1
D&D Collection Tower of Dooooom
Emit Vol.1
Techno Motor
Three Dirty Dwarves
DoDonpachi
Twinkle Star Sprites
Sokyuu Gurentai (with artifact as described on the PPcenter page)
Gunbird
Cotton Boomerang
Game Tengoku Game Paradise!

Some use the 1M or 4M RAM, most do not.

>>5. Can the problem be reproduced on your friend' Saturn ? Unsure, the other cart was going to be a gift that I mailed to him.
I have another Saturn, I just have to get it unpacked - this one is my main one, and I've never had an issue with it.

>>6. Can the problem be reproduced with another burn of Vampire Savior ?
-> If possible, please try by using another brand of CD-R.

I'm wondering about this as well - All of the CD-R's are sony's that I've burned at 8X, which is the slowest speed available on my burner.
The only worry is that I only have a couple carts to tinker with, 1 is dead, 2nd one did flash to kai lite finally and seems to be working ok - the third one isn't mine, and is being borrowed for testing only. I borrowed this one a few months ago, liked how it worked, then purchased a couple AR's to flash for myself. After getting the hang of the swap trick, I flashed both of them in a row with no problems.

At any point when either of the other 2 carts failed, I popped in the 3rd one and it worked perfectly. This 3rd cart is the exact same brand, but was flashed by someone else on a different console.

I suppose it could be my luck that my Saturn didn't flash them correctly due to some unknown problem, or maybe like you suggested - the carts had some flaws that didn't show up when they were Action Replay's.

***** Update 5-25-2020 *****

I got out the other Saturn console - it's the oval button one with the power supply in the top. It seems to load slower, and have a pickier laser - it works with the 3rd borrowed cartridge, but it won't load F-1 Information (an original Japanese game), but it loads another original (US) - Virtua Fighter Remix just fine. The dead cartridge is still dead in this console, and the 2nd one seems to be ok so far.

I did have a quick question - if I hard mod one of these Saturns, it should make flashing/experimenting/etc. easier, right? Trying to do the swap trick - especially with the one with the power supply in the top is a real pain, and I seem to get worse at it with practice instead of better!
 
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