PPCenter :: devblog

PPcenter. Arts and craft for my Sega Saturn. Since 1847 :D

Saturn cartridge firmware flasher utility : major (final ?) update

Written by cafealpha 6 comments
I made many fixes to my flasher utility. (Old article available here , even older article available here)

Changelog :
  - Tested on around 30 Action Replay cartridges. It was working fine for all known flash chips.
  - Ask for confirmation before returning to multiplayer screen.
  - Return back to initial screen in the case user don't want to go to multiplayer screen.
  - Retrieve and display chips IDs when firmware selection menu is displaying.
  - Fixed erase/flash operations for AT29C010 flash chips.
  - Minor fix about text display.
  - Fix for BFBF/1010 flash chips.
  - In the case Action Replay flash chips is supected, display disclaimer
    before flashing as a typical Action Replay flash device (SST29EE).
  - Refresh vendor/device IDs display during error/disclaimer message display
    in the case flash is not recognized.
  - Major changes in menu related routines.
  - Added key auto repeat feature : holding Up/Down button should scroll automatically now.
  - Added erase verification test.
  - If erase/write verification test failed, display informations about failure.
  - Use FRT-based delay during flash write/erase.
  - Changed highlight color in menus.
  - Change color of vendor/device strings according to chips flashability.
     - Hopeless   : red
     - Maybe OK   : yellow
     - Recognized : green

In short, it now has nearly the same compatibility as legacy arflash/Atlas utility, while being SGL-free (it doesn't uses Sega libraries), compatible with newer flash chips, embedding several firmwares in a same executable file, etc, etc.

In the case this flasher is not compatible with your Action Replay (it may happen, I don't decide about future revisions of Action Replay cartridges), please let me know in this article's comments or by email .
However, please note that I don't plan to add new features to this utility. New features were added during beta testing phase, and I really thanks beta testers for this.

Some screenshots from beta testers :
data/images/20150115_gameofyou_bfbf_1212.tb.jpg
BFBF/1212 flash chip, now recognized as SST/Greenliant type.
Picture provided by gameofyou1.


data/images/20150304_tabajaralabs_0101_2020.jpg
0101/2020 flash chips : everything is working fine, as in the previous version of the flasher utility.
Picture provided by TabajaraLabs.



data/images/20150305_amoc_53bf_4707.tb.jpg

data/images/20150305_amoc_53bf_4707_cart.tb.jpg
Weird 53BF/4707 flash chips : one chip is recognized as typical BF/07 (SST), while the other doesn't returns its vendor/device IDs.
As you can see on PCB picture, flash chips on right side are different, so that they return different vendor/device IDs.
Pictures provided by A Murder Of Crows.



data/images/20150316_sonic_dcer_1f1f_d5d5_fail.tb.jpg

data/images/20150316_sonic_dcer_1f1f_d5d5_ok.tb.jpg

data/images/20150316_sonic_dcer_1f1f_d5d5_cart.tb.jpg
1F1F/D5D5 flash chips : pictures before and after I fix the Flasher utility.
It (finally) works on latest version
Pictures provided by Sonic Dreamcaster.


data/images/20150315_zorlon_bfbf_1010.tb.jpg

data/images/20150317_saturnar_bfbf_1010_cart.tb.jpg

data/images/20150315_zorlon_bfbf_1010.tb.jpg
BFBF/1010 flash chips : according to datasheet, theses flash chips have twice more memory than usual chips (total 256KB -> 512KB).
However, a look at cartridge PCB between C6 capacitor and bottom-right flash chip shows that most significant address bit is grounded, so only 256KB can be addressed from Saturn ... what a pity
Pictures provided by SaturnAR and Zorlon.


You can download Flasher utility and its source code here : flasher_arp_20150326.7zhttp://ppcenter.webou.net/pskai/
Disclaimer #1 : You will loose your cartridge backup data after flashing it.
Disclaimer #2 : I'm not responsible in the case I brick your cartridge and/or damage your Saturn.

Note : I didn't made PseudoSaturn firmware. All thanks about PseudoSaturn firmware must go to CyberwarriorX.

Read more Saturn cartridge firmware flasher utility : major (final ?) update

Saturn cartridge firmware flash utility : small update #2

Written by cafealpha 12 comments
I made some fixes to my flasher utility.
 - Added support for SST29LE010 flash chip
 - Added memory verify after flashing
 - Fixed erase/write operations AM29F010 flash chip
 - On startup, inform user that 3D pad and multitap pad are not supported

Thanks to beta testers on ASSEMbler forums, this new version has high chances to work on your Saturn cartridge
However, if you experience any problem, please let me know by leaving a comment to this article.

Some screenshots :
data/images/20140829_bfbf_0808.tb.jpg
BFBF/0808 flash chip, not recognized on previous version.
This version does now detect it as a 29LE010 device from SST.
Picture provided by dgist71.

data/images/20140901_flash_ok.tb.jpg
Write to AM29F010 chip was incorrect in previous version.
As displayed in this screenshot, this is fixed now.
Picture provided by XeCuTioNR.

You can download this utility here : flasher_20140902.7zflasher_arp_20150326.7zhttp://ppcenter.webou.net/pskai/
Disclaimer : You will loose your cartridge backup data after reflash. And, I'm not responsible in the case I brick your cartridge and/or damage your Saturn.

Read more Saturn cartridge firmware flash utility : small update #2

Saturn cartridge firmware flash utility : small update

Written by cafealpha 17 comments
Memory Card Plus restore utility I made few days ago is now obsolete : I added a menu to select the firmware to flash.
Firmware list includes Action Replay Plus/Pro (various versions), latest Pseudo Saturn, Memory Card Plus, USB dev cart.
data/images/20140821_flasher_fwlist.png
Firmware selection menu

As you can see, I added some colors in text display too

The utility doesn't read data from the CDROM, so that it can be uploaded to Saturn via commlinks port (Action Replay) or USB port (USB dev cart).
All the firmwares don't fit as-is in Saturn HRAM (1MB), so I compressed them by using LZF compression, so that everything could fit in a single ~800 KB binary file

Here are some pictures of utility running on real hardware :
data/images/20140821_flasher.tb.jpg
Firmware selection menu from early beta version.
Picture provided by r1cola.

data/images/20140824_flasher_video.png
(click to open video)
Flasher in action : from firmware selection to end of flash operation.
Video provided by zorlon.

You can download this utility here : flasher_20140824.7zflasher_20140902.7zflasher_arp_20150326.7zhttp://ppcenter.webou.net/pskai/
Disclaimer : You will loose your cartridge backup data after reflash. And, I'm not responsible in the case I brick your cartridge and/or damage your Saturn.

Read more Saturn cartridge firmware flash utility : small update

Firmware restore utility for Saturn Memory Card Plus cartridge

Written by cafealpha no comments
First, let's introduce to you memory card plus :
data/images/20140817_memory_cards.tb.jpg
Black cartridge : Memory Card Plus
White cartridge : official memory card

Memory Card Plus looks like regular backup cartridge, but behaves differently : while regular backup cartridge provides memory on CS1 memory area, Memory Cart Plus have flash ROM chip mapped on CS0 memory area, as Action Replay does.
Consequently, Memory Card Plus boot before game on CDROM, and during this this time, it modifies some settings in order to make BIOS detecting this cartridge as a second backup memory device.

As Action Replay cartridges, it is possible to reflash Memory Card Plus, and in the case you would like to restore its firmware to its original state, I prepared a flasher utility containing my Memory Card Plus firmware I dumped 2 years ago (time flies ...).

You can download this utility >here<
(source code is included, please refer to readme.txt for installation instructions)
data/images/20140817_memcartplus_flasher.png
Flasher tool in action ... well reflash don't work under yabause,
but should work on real hardware.

As en extra, I let my old game saves with firmware itself ... please format cartridge from BIOS memory manager if you don't need them.
data/images/20140817_memcartplus_contents.png
Good old times I played Night Xmas and Shining Force 3

Remark 1 :
Flashing your Saturn cartridge will erase all the data on it, including your game backup data,
so use only after saving backup data to Saturn internal memory.

Remark 2 :
Memory Card Plus firmware is designed to work only with specific flash chips, so it
probably won't function correctly on other cartridge (Action Replay, USB dev cart, etc).

Disclaimer :
I'm not responsible of damages that this utility may cause to your game save data, Saturn cartridge or Saturn itself.

Please let me know if reflash worked (or not worked) in this article comments


Extra : I also made a diagnostic utility that displays flash chips ID without modifying flash memory contents. It can be downloaded here.
It can be useful when analyzing exotic cartridge, but not really useful with Memory Card Plus.

Read more Firmware restore utility for Saturn Memory Card Plus cartridge

Rss feed of the tag