Welcome in PPCenter !

Saturn Cartridges - Gallery

Saturn Cartridges - Gallery

Many pictures of the homebrew Saturn cartridges I designed and populated so far #smile#
I started electronics when USB dev cart project was announced on Segaxtreme forums somewhere in Summer 2012.
First, I just populated USB dev cart, then started to design my own cartridges, with the goal to make a Saturn memory cartridge using SD card.
Since I was a complete beginner about PCB design and SMD soldering, I made many broken prototypes until getting something working, and thought it would be funny to gather all theses prototypes on this page #smile#

USB dev cart Rev 3
Rev 1b cartridge
Rev 1c cartridge
Rev 2a cartridge
Rev 2e cartridge
Rev 2f cartridge
Rev 3.1 cartridge
Rev 3.3 cartridge
Rev 3.3a cartridge

USB dev cart - Rev 3 #anchor#PCB Design : June 2012

This is the initial PCB revision of USB dev cart by antime.
It supports only 256KB flash ROM (128KB x 2 chips), but this is OK for installing USB dev cart original firmware or Pseudo Saturn Kai.
I'm nostalgic about this PCB revision, because I learnt SMT soldering with it #smile#

USB dev cart Rev 3
"Rev 3" cartridge.
Very first one I made (?)
USB dev cart Rev 3
"Rev 3" cartridge.
(Condensers, resistors unpopulated)
USB dev cart Rev 3
"Rev 3" cartridge.
USB dev cart Rev 3
Another "Rev 3" cartridge.
Many USB dev carts Rev 3
Many "Rev 3" cartridges
USB dev cart Rev 3
"Rev 3" cartridge, rear side
in official Memory Cartridge shell.

Saturn Cartridge - Rev 1a #anchor#PCB Design : Sept. 2012

First time I designed a PCB ... the result was horrible #biggrin#
The only success in this prototype was to allow 1MB flash ROM (= 512KB x 2 chips). Except that, everything was wrong : no power regulator to feed SD card, mistakes in glue logic, etc.
My best lesson from this proto was : "don't trust the PCB auto-router, unless you know how it works" : I initially thought auto-router was a great tool to do the dirty routing job instead of humans ... it wasn't as expected, hence the result looks like a mixed spaghetti meal #biggrin#
I don't say that auto-router is bad : it is for experienced users ! Beginners shouldn't use auto-router, but rather do PCB routing by themselves in order to understand how PCB routing works.
(And in Saturn cartridge case, routing everything "by hand" is actually funny #smile#)
Well, this was an occasion to get used to KiCad and SMD soldering ... I actually wasn't expecting anything from this prototype #hehe#

Saturn Cartridge Rev 1a
"Rev 1a" cartridge.
(You probably guessed it doesn't works #biggrin#)

Saturn Cartridge - Rev 1b #anchor#PCB Design : Oct. 2012

Rev 1a was USB-less ... and consequently, debugging programs with it was a nightmare #biggrin#, so USB module was restored from Rev3.
Few things regarding glue logic were fixed, and I started do manually route the PCB.
Also, a spare SD card socket (standard size, not micro SD size) was added, and because of its dimensions, SD card sockets were moved to PCB rear side.
Basically, it was an USB dev cart with 3 LED turning on or off when writing a register on the cartridge (#biggrin#), but with some rework, and external power supply for the SD card, SD card SPI access was sometimes possible #smile#

Saturn Cartridge Rev 1b
"Rev 1b" cartridge used as USB dev cart.
(ICs related to SD card are left unpopulated)
Saturn Cartridge Rev 1b
Fully populated "Rev 1b" cartridge
(Tape is used to protect ICs when
unplugging PCB from Saturn).
Saturn Cartridge Rev 1b
"Rev 1b" cartridge, showing SD card register.
First time I could access SD card via Saturn cartridge #smile#

Saturn Cartridge - Rev 1c #anchor#PCB Design : Dec. 2012

Next attempt to interface SD card by adding a 3.3V step-down power regulator from sd2snes project. With stupid details (forgot pull up resistor on SD card's DOUT line, etc) fixed, this probably would had interfaced SD card without major problems.
Also, as I became used to KiCad, I added a 128KB SRAM chip on PCB rear side ... finally removed on Gamer's Cartridge since it wasn't required to get it working.
(Glue logic for this SRAM chip was buggy in this version, making incorrect 8 bit data write on SRAM.)
Cartridges were manufactured with gold plating on pads, in order to see if it was better than normal plating ... nothing really special to notice, so I revert to normal plating on next prototypes.

Saturn Cartridge Rev 1b
"Rev 1c" cartridge used as USB dev cart.
(ICs related to SD card are left unpopulated)
Saturn Cartridge Rev 1c
Another "Rev 1c" cartridge, used as USB dev cart.
Saturn Cartridge Rev 1c
Fully populated "Rev 1c" cartridge, put in official Memory Cartridge shell.
This was my main dev cart for around half a year until I sell it #smile#
Saturn Cartridge Rev 1c (rear)
Fully populated "Rev 1c" cartridge, rear side with SRAM chip and SD card socket.

Saturn Cartridge - Rev 2a #anchor#PCB Design : July 2013

First PCB revision using CPLD #smile# I used Altera's EPM3128 (TQFP package, 100 pins), resulting in terrible results due to my poor experience in soldering these relatively fine pitched (0.5 mm) ICs ...
But thanks to the usage of CPLD, SRAM access could be easily fixed in 8 bits write mode #smile#
It worked for a couple of months, then stopped to function correctly ... I suppose this was due to CPLD soldering ? (At that time, I was still soldering ICs without using flux, which probably damaged the CPLD)
There wasn't any plan to put it in a cartridge shell, so I designed this PCB at 100mm x 100mm dimensions, because PCB manufacturing costs are same as standard size (100mm x 70 mm), resulting in a "fat" cartridge design.

Saturn Cartridge Rev 2a
"Rev 2a" cartridge, a couple of months
before manufacturing it.
Saturn Cartridge Rev 2a
"Rev 2a" cartridge, ready for testing.
Saturn Cartridge Rev 2a
The same cartridge, few months after.
(As you can notice, I forgot
to route some signals
on the cartridge connector ...)

Saturn Cartridge - Rev 2c #anchor#PCB Design : Jan. 2014

Attempt to add DRAM, as used in Action Replay cartridges. Because I wanted this PCB revision to fit in a standard cartridge shell, I routed flash ROM and DRAM in a relatively weird way (half of the ICs on front side, remaining half on the rear side), but making everything routable #smile#
Also, I put "extra" stuff (USB connectivity and SD card socket) available from separate board ... with wires (not connector) interface between theses two boards, giving in a "spaghetti" result to the whole #biggrin#
There were many new things I tried, many others I wanted to challenge with this board, and ... everything was a complete failure. I don't want to hear about this board anymore.

Saturn Cartridge Rev 2c
"Rev 2c" cartridge, (WIP).
Just finished to route
Flash ROM and DRAM stuff.
Saturn Cartridge Rev 2c
"Rev 2c" cartridge preview,
just before sending to PCB manufacturer.
Saturn Cartridge Rev 2c
"Rev 2c" cartridge, ready for testing.
Dev Board Rev 2d
Extra dev board with
USB and SD card socket.

USB dev cart - Rev 2e #anchor#PCB Design : Aug. 2014

First PCB revision on which I separated USB dev cart and Gamer's Cartridge projects #smile#
This PCB focuses on USB dev cart : everything not related to USB dev cart is removed, so that cartridge can be re-routed in a "clean" way.
It is basically similar to rev3 PCB made by antime, but with PCB routed by myself #smile#

Saturn Cartridge Rev 2e
"Rev 2e" cartridge.
Saturn Cartridge Rev 2e
Another "Rev 2e" cartridge.
Saturn Cartridge Rev 2e
Still another "Rev 2e" cartridge #zzz#
Dev Board Rev 2e
"Rev 2e" cartridge, with only
Flash ROM chips populated.

Saturn Cartridge - Rev 2f #anchor#PCB Design : Aug. 2014

PCB designed in the same time as Rev 2e. This PCB focuses on Gamer's Cartridge, with also the ability to do some debug things over USB in the same time.
Rev 2a was used as a starting point, and USB module was put outside of CPLD, because I wanted USB to work even in the case logic in CPLD is incorrect.
As a consequence, CPLD is smaller than the one used in Rev 2a, hence easier to solder #smile#
Also, I put an edge connector on the top of the cartridge : main purpose was to easily connect debug gadgets (example : logic analyser).
I prefer edge connector rather than through hole one, since edge connector allows to connect multiple wires on a same pin, and is easier when having to remove the wires.
Sadly, SD card register map wasn't fully decided when routed the PCB, and stupidly I didn't routed CS1 signal to CPLD #tsss#
As a consequence, a small rework (yellow wire on my Rev 2f cartridge picture below) is required in order to access SD card in the same way as Gamer's Cartridge's.

Saturn Cartridge Rev 2f
"Rev 2f" cartridge,
used as USB dev cart.
Saturn Cartridge Rev 2f
My own "Rev 2f" cartridge.

Gamer's Cartridge - Rev 3.1 #anchor#PCB Design : July-Aug. 2015

SD card access with Rev 2f cartridge was showing good results, so I decided to design Gamer's Cartridge alpha version #smile#
Goal for this PCB was "fit in official memory cartridge case", "standard (not micro) SD card socket" and "no debug stuff".
Designing custom footprint for SD card socket was a pain for a beginner like me, but printing out PCB layers in order to verify for real if footprint is correct or not helped a lot #top#
PCB routing was the easy part : just removing useless stuff (SRAM, debug connector, USB module) from Rev 2f schematics was enough to do the job #smile#
For some reason, I initially thought that putting SD card socket on PCB rear side was a good idea ... but after soldering the first cartridges, I realized that putting SD card socket on front side would be even better ^^;
I first planned to order PCBs in standard green color only, but parcel containing theses PCBs was lost somewhere between manufacturer and my home. So re-ordered theses PCBs ("Rev 3.1 (a)", dated August 2015) in blue color, and few days after that, PCB manufacturer re-produced PCBs lost in initial order (green color, July 2015).
Blue PCBs arrived here first, and consequently first Gamer's cartridge I populated was a blue one, dated August 2015 #smile#
Soldering blue PCB wasn't as easy as green ones (it was more "sticky" as usual), so I don't plan to use blue color in future PCBs. If you own one, you're lucky #smile#

Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.1
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.1"
Preview just before ordering the PCBs
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.1
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.1"
in white Action Replay cartridge case
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.1
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.1"
Detail on SD card slot
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.1
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.1"
with SD card inserted
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.1
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.1"
(The first one made ?)
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.1
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.1", rear side.

Gamer's Cartridge - Rev 3.2 #anchor#PCB Design : July 2015

PCB designed in the same time as Gamer's Cartridge Rev 3.1. Purpose was to debug Gamer's Cartridge firmware, so it's basically a "Rev 3.1 + USB dev cart" cartridge.
I didn't wanted to spend a lot of time in designing it, so I "just" fixed the Rev 2f (= routed CS1 signal to CPLD) and removed useless things such as SRAM chip

Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.2
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.2"
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.2
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.2", rear side.

Gamer's Cartridge - Rev 3.3 #anchor#PCB Design : Jan. 2016

Gamer's Cartridge Rev 3.1 debug was progressing well (at that time, few games were compatible with Virtual Memory Cart #smile#), so I removed the remaining debugs things from PCB (test pads around SD card, jumper, SMD LEDs), and moved the LEDs from the cartridge label area to a more appropriate location.
Also, SD card socket was moved from PCB rear side to front side, and positioned as deep as Action Replay cartridge case is allowing to.
And, I added an extra cow logo on the PCB, from new "pixel art" image, and rendered by using copper layer and solder mask #hehe#

Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3"
Sticker removed
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3"
Detail on SD card slot
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3"
with SD card inserted
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3"
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3
Cow logo added on
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3".
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3",
only SD card socket populated
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3"
and its cartridge case.

Gamer's Cartridge - Rev 3.3 (a) #anchor#PCB Design : Feb. 2016

Nothing really special in this revision : I just moved the LEDs a bit, and ... it wasn't at the position expected #triso# I will re-re-move the LEDs by a couple of milimeters in the next revision, and hope it will be the last time I have to move them #smile#

Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (a)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (a)"
Sticker removed
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (a)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (a)"
Detail on SD card slot
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (a)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (a)"
in white Action Replay shell
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (a)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (a)"
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (a)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (a)",
rear side
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (a)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (a)",
LEDs position
(I wanted theses to fit in case's gutter ...)
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (a)
Another Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (a)"

Gamer's Cartridge - Rev 3.3 (b) #anchor#PCB Design : July 2016

Still nothing really special in this revision : I just moved the LEDs a bit, and ... they were at the position expected #joie#
There are nothing left in my TODO list regarding Gamer's Cartridge PCB design, so this is very probably Gamer's Cartridge's last PCB revision #smile#

Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (b)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (b)"
with "Cassini" label and black shell
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (b)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (b)"
with "PCB" label and white shell
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (b)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (b)"
with "CDROM" label and black shell
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (b)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (b)"
with "Deza_White" label
and black shell
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (b)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (b)"
with "Deza_Black" label
and white shell
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (b)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (b)",
front side
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (b)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (b)",
rear side
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (b)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (b)",
red PCB
(The first red PCB I soldered !)
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (b)
Even more colors !
It's a long time I didn't soldered blue PCBs #zzz#
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (b)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (b)"
with "Deza_White" label
and white shell
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (b)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (b)"
with "Deza_Black" label
and black shell
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (b)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (b)"
with "CDROM" label and white shell
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (b)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (b)"
with "PCB2" label and black shell
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (b)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (b)"
with "Cassini" label and white shell

USB dev cart - Rev 3.4 #anchor#PCB Design : July 2016

Minor changes from Rev 2e consisting in adjusting PCB shape in order to make it fitting in Action Replay shell.
I also catched this occasion in order to "pixel art" cow logo, identical to the one used in Gamer's Cartridge #smile#
Additionally, this is the first USB dev cart revision shipped with custom label and Pseudo Saturn Kai firmware.
It took around four years between first USB dev cart assembly and this "ready to use, user friendly" revision, but I did it #smile# Big thanks to all concerned people for label design and printing as well as people who helped in Pseudo Saturn Kai development #top#

USB dev cart Rev 3.4
USB dev cart cartridge,
custom label and black shell.
USB dev cart Rev 3.4
USB dev cart cartridge,
3D rendered from PCB design software.
USB dev cart Rev 3.4
USB dev cart cartridge,
custom label and white shell.
USB dev cart Rev 3.4
USB dev cart "Rev 3.4",
unpopulated PCB, front side
USB dev cart Rev 3.4
USB dev cart "Rev 3.4",
unpopulated PCB, rear side

Gamer's Cartridge - Rev 3.3 (c) #anchor#PCB Design : August 2018

That's basically the same stuff as in previous PCB revision, but footprint for alternate voltage regulator is added.
This alternate voltage regulator is used in another project, and as I would like to unify parts used in my electronics components library, the regulator used so far will be dropped when stock will be emptied.
So in order to do a smooth transition between theses two voltage regulators, footprints for both regulators are put on the PCB, and the old one will be removed from the PCB on next iteration.

Additionally, pre-programmed CPLDs are used from this PCB revision : so far I was programming the CPLDs one by one after populating each board. Thanks to pre-programming the CPLDs, this step is no longer needed so that populated boards can directly go to the "mount into shell" step, thus saving some little time on my side #smile#

Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (c)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (c)"
Preview just before ordering the PCBs
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (c)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (c)",
unpopulated PCB, front side
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (c)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (c)",
unpopulated PCB, front side

USB dev cart - Rev 3.4 (a) #anchor#PCB Design : October 2018

A friend wanted a spare USB dev cart, and as I stopped USB dev cart manufacturing I still had some Rev 3.4 spare PCBs in stock.
I however preferred to order another a new batch of PCB to test if my favorite PCB manufacturer would notice the instructions written on the PCB and do edge bevelling on cartridge connector. Fortunately the PCBs arrived with requested shape so that it is (for a while ?) the last USB dev cart PCB iteration #hehe#
Additionally, this was the occasion to -finally- indicate version information near edge connector so that it is possible to verify PCB revision without having to open cartridge shell #trigic#

I botched a little the first PCB because of trying to fix a solder bridge that ended in damaging a pad under a flash chip pin. Such kind of problem doesn't happens frequently, so I took a picture for the occasion. Fortunately it was easy to fix thanks to parallel architecture of flash ROM chips #smile#
I sometimes (one or two per year) make "functional, but after repairing" cartridges and put theses for sale at reduced price and after informing future user about what was fixed, but in this case I didn't planned to charge the friend for this cartridge so everything is fine #biggrin#

Maybe I was a bit rusty after a long time without preparing USB dev cart, but this cartridge took way longer in comparison with Gamer's Cartridge #zzz# I don't have any regret to have stopped production and support for this kind of cartridge.

USB dev cart Rev 3.4 (a)
USB dev cart "Rev 3.4 (a)",
unpopulated PCB, front side
USB dev cart Rev 3.4 (a)
USB dev cart "Rev 3.4 (a)",
unpopulated PCB, rear side
USB dev cart Rev 3.4 (a)
USB dev cart "Rev 3.4 (a)",
ready for flashing Pseudo Saturn Kai
USB dev cart Rev 3.4 (a)
USB dev cart "Rev 3.4 (a)",
detail on edge connector,
indicating version information

Gamer's Cartridge - Rev 3.3 (d) #anchor#PCB Design : October 2018

The continuation of PCB revision 3.3 (c), with old voltage regulator circuitry removed.
This was also my first occasion to test PCB assembly service from my favorite PCB manufacturer. Well, it was actually "half-manufactured" because some parts are not compliant for PCB assembly service : CPLD and SD card socket are obsolete hence can't be easily supplied, and additionally the decoupling capacitors were soldered on my side since it's more convenient to solder theses after the CPLD.
Whatever it may be, this saves some time on my side, especially regarding the flash ROM chips : PLCC-32 footprint is boring to solder, and I have to solder two on each cartridges #zzz#
PCB assembly price was so-so, but that was because of the relative simplicity of the PCB and parts used, and also because of the small quantity I ordered : I suppose it is more advantageous with more complex and larger scale projects #smile#

Additionally, this PCB revision is the first one to -finally- indicate version information near edge connector so that it is possible to verify PCB revision without having to open cartridge shell #trigic#

Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (d)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (d)",
pre-assembled PCB, front side
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (d)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (d)",
pre-assembled PCB, rear side
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (d)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (d)",
ready for flashing Pseudo Saturn Kai
(Trivia : the 4.7μF capacitor is missing on the picture)
Gamer's cartridge Rev 3.3 (d)
Gamer's cartridge "Rev 3.3 (d)",
detail on edge connector,
indicating version information
P.P. Center. ~ What's this ? ~ Contact the webmaster ~ Webmaster's blog ~ w3c Validator