A Hot Mess

It seems I’ve introduced an annoying bug into some Phoebes that shipped recently (some group 1 orders). The symptoms are:

  • status LED on Phoebe is lit for 3 seconds, then blinks once, then the cycle repeats
  • games don’t work, console behaves oddly

This is triggered randomly, typically when the supply voltage is unstable (so during power-up or power-down) and will not go away on it’s own. Can’t be fixed by reflashing 3.6 FW.

Here’s the procedure you need to follow:

Do you already have the issue? If not, start RMENU and press C button to see what FW version your ODE has. If it’s less than 4.0 then it won’t happen to you.
If it is 4.0.0 there is a good chance you will eventually ecounter this problem – you don’t need to do anything right now but I’d recommend fixing it anyway, sooner rather than later.

If you already have it or want to fix it before it happens:
Download the FIX FW file and the 4.0.1 FW. Prepare a card for FW upgrade, read about the process on my Updating Phoebe page and be sure you understand the instructions. If not, ask first.

1) Flash the _fix FW, turn your console off after flashing. Remove the SD card and any Saturn slot carts you might have installed.
2) Turn the console on, without any card/cart inserted. It might not show the opening animation but it will go into the Saturn BIOS menu eventually. Turn console off once it does.

DO NOT turn it off until you get into the menu, doing so might brick your ODE.

3) Put the 4.0.1 FW on the card and flash that. Once it is done you can use the console again and the problem should not return.

Few things to note:
– The 4.0 series can’t be downgraded to anything lower than 4.0.0
– To prevent people from flashing just the 4.0.1, without the fix, it will not work unless it detects the fix being applied previously.
– You don’t need to upgrade from 3.6 to 4.0 – but if you want to, you have to apply the fix first.

The only difference between 3.6 and 4.0 is I’ve updated the bootloader so it’s much faster now. This is a backport of DocBrown code and allows flashing much bigger FW files in reasonable time.

Sorry for all that but my consoles didn’t trigger the bug (yet) so I never caught it in testing. And again, if anything is not clear ask first.


172 thoughts on “A Hot Mess

  1. Hey D. (Gdemu)

    Still working on Phoebe Round 2?
    Any Update on DOCBROWN?
    Any update on FM Towns Computer ODE?


  2. Here’s my phoebe.ini settings but read the tutorial on how to set it up.

    open_time = 500ms
    detect_time = 250ms
    image_tests = 1
    high_speed = 0
    auto_region = U
    auto_freq = 1

    • I use this..

      auto_region = J
      reset_goto = 1
      open_time = 300
      detect_time = 150

  3. There is an issue I’ve been having with the gdemu (That I mostly adore, btw). I’m not sure where else to contact you or ask for help, so thought I’d try here. Here is the issue:

    After my Dreamcast had been turned off for a while, a few months maybe, it would hang the “Loading” screen of GDmenu.

    I completely formatted the SD card and rebuilt everything from scratch using the latest GDEMU SD and everything was happy again.

    Fast forward a few months with Dreamcast powered off again and the same problem occurs.

    I see on reddit this is a common issue people are having. Any insight on what’s causing this and maybe (read: please!) how to fix it?

      • Pardon my ignorance…

        Wiggling the PSU PCB will fix the card seemingly no longer being liked by the GDEMU after a few months of no use? But this is short term? What is long term?

        I really appreciate the reply, and how that I’m not being a bother (I know you’re super busy). Every time I have to dump that SD, then re-build the long list of games (70+), I lose a couple hours of my life.

        Thanks again for an otherwise awesome product.

      • Well, long term every Dreamcast PSU will develop these issues. You can either keep repeating the “fix” or, if it gets really bad, you’ll have to mod the console and replace the faulty connector and pins with wires soldered to both PCBs.

      • Oh, and BTW if it’s really the card (is it a Transcend brand Class 10?) then just pick a different one. Some cards exhibit nasty behaviours like random latency spikes and re-writing them kinda fixes the issue for a while. But the card is just not good for ODEs.

      • I checked out the connector; it seemed to be a rock solid connection on my particular Dreamcast. That being said, just to be safe, I used some deoxit to clean up the connection anyway.

        As for the card, it’s a Samsung sd card, but as I mentioned in my initial help request, I see on reddit that this is a common issue people are having with many different cards.

        If I knew there was one card that would remain consistent, I’d buy it today, but it seems that folks that sometimes let the Dreamcast stay off for a while (like other people as busy as a grad student like myself), have this problem regardless of sd brand and model.

        If there is an issue with the power supply connector, I still fail to see how that leads to the menu choking on the sd card if it hasn’t been powered on in months, but not when it has. Does this have to do with some kind of a voltage spike when the dreamcast is being powered on for the first time in a long time? I’m wondering, if this is the case, if a fix (while clunky) could be to remove the card when the system is not in use, then on that first boot after months powering the console, then shutting it off, inserting the card, then powering on again. This seems like worth a try maybe, but literally would take months to attempt.

      • Next time this happens pay attention to the GDEMU status LED. Is it lit, or maybe flashing (perhaps randomly)? And the first fix should always be wiggling the PSU and perhaps the card as well (this is especially true for micro cards in cheap adapters). If nothing works, then try to reformat the card – and if that helps, it’s pretty much the card fault. There’s way too many fake cards out there to even bother making a list.

  4. cant seem to get my phoebe to work for love nor money.. tried diff ini setting’s etc,, ould boot games at firt but not games from another region but now when the console starts up it says the drive is empty.. im redoing the whole sd card again to see if theres a issue there..

    • Make sure your Phoebe has the proper region for the INI file.

      I have a Japan system so mine looks like this

      auto_region = J
      reset_goto = 1
      open_time = 300
      detect_time = 150

      Make sure your games are proper format. I use CDI and CCD/IMG/SUB conversions mostly both boot fine. CDI is better in my opinion.

    • Do you have correct startup animation with sound? What does the status LED do when you insert the card?
      And what are you using to format and populate the card, I’ve heard people had issues with Apple HW but Windows PC works every time.

      • hi GDEMU, think my problem was with the ini file and i didnt refresh the rmenue image,, think im sorted now,, cheers for the great peice of kit,, davey..

  5. cheers abe, the cards about half way through once done il try your settings with my console region set to E for a uk unit..

  6. GDEMU, my Phoebe arrived, but I can not make it work! I have already updated and placed the files on the SD Card but do not see any menu. I have some doubts! 1st Is it necessary to solder the wire that goes to the processor pin 79? 2º must weld where it selects the frequency 50hz or 60hz? In my case it would be 60hz?

    • Message that appears: “game disk unsuitable for this system”

    • No, the wire is optional and not required for ODE operation. Do you have the boot-up animation with correct sound? If so you probably put the RMENU image on the card in a wrong way. It’s multi-region so it should always boot.

      • The boot animation is yes with the correct sound, but then the message “game disk unsuitable for this system”

      • You ordered a Type-2 device. Are you sure you have a Type-2 Saturn? Can you provide photos of the original drive and your Phoebe install?

    • It looks OK. Do you have any game image with audio tracks? If so, put in into 01 folder (empty it first!) and see if you can play the audio in the Saturn BIOS menu.
      Also, does this console have (or had) any region mods? Or any other mods at all?

      • Your test of all the songs of music, so you MOD REGION to you, if you have a chave deleted, you will not be able to do so?

      • If there was a region mod and was not removed properly, the console is now in undefined region setting and will not boot any games at all. That’s why I’m asking.

        CD audio playback should work properly in all cases, even if the region is wrong.

      • Played audio tracks instead! The problem was that I removed the MOD and now has 2 wires of the same color, I’m looking for a tutorial to solder the wires correctly.

  7. I’m happy to say that I’m very pissed off!!!
    After updating the 4.0.1 FW from 3.6.0 FW with this lovely guide.
    Now my Phoebe as died. Thank you very much.

    I thought why not update since I was on a old FW that was working fine.
    But I wish I didn’t. I have done everything what this guide said.

    I formatted a SD card to fat 32, flashed the fix_FW that went well and then turned off the system, Taken out my Action replay card and SD card. Powered the system back on so it went to the system menu. Then flashed 4.0.1 FW and again went well. Was blinking fast for 2 seconds and then 2 seconds again. Then it went slow blinking “1/2 second off”..
    Now when I turn on my system with my game menu card in. It will just boot to the system menu saying checking for disk, then going to the game select menu. If I put my Action replay card back in. It will just hang at a loading screen then going to the game select screen.

    I have tried flashing the fix fw again. It blinked fast and did everything and then slow blinking. Again still not working. So now when I look at my Phoebe it’s dead with no light or life. If I try flashing the fix again. This time it will not do anything. Will not blink and very much dead.

    Anyway fixing this????

    Thank you :-/

  8. If you are on 3.6.0 FW or lower.

    Please DON’T update with this FW!!!!
    It will end up killing your Phoebe.

    Making it as a good paper weight.

    Now my Phoebe as no life.
    No light blinking or anything.

    Great. . . .

    I have tried everything to try and get it working again.
    And I’m having totally no luck.

  9. Where can I get a new one ASAP???

    Since I can’t get hold of the developer, or In anyway on contacting him for help.

    The Sega Saturn is one I have brought off eBay sometime back. It is a Japanese model with a UK Pal power supply installed. It came from Australia with Phoebe already installed.
    I have payed around £500 for the system since it as came over seas. At the time!

    I have just taken it apart to see what model the Phoebe is.
    It’s a v2.3 2017 model.


    I have tried many SD cards and no matter what. Its not working!
    When I power on the Saturn. The Phoebe is not showing any blink light.
    Very much dead.
    It was working great before I updated it.

    I’m furious that it’s now dead.
    In a way it is my own fault for following an update guide.
    But I did’t know it was going to kill the damn thing.

    And I thought why not update since it’s a Phoebe!!!

    If any one know how I can get hold of the developer or any place I can get a new one.
    On the cheap???
    As I don’t fancy paying loads of money on eBay just to get hold off a Phoebe, As they are very hard to get hold off and expensive when you really want one.

    Thanks 😦

    • Pray tell what made you think that coming here on Sunday and demanding immediate attention while raging and insulting would motivate me to help you?

      If your Phoebe does not even blink on power-on then it’s dead, and will have to be sent back to me for repairs.

      • Well it was ”’YOUR!!!”’ guide that I have followed that as killed it.
        You should have done more beta testing before posting News for everyone to follow.

        It was your doing my friend.

        This will be the last time I ever update or read about your posts.

  10. So, I finally flashed my Phoebe with fix & 4.0.1. I ran rmenu and now when I hit “C” to confirm if I updated fw correctly in just takes me back to Saturn bios screen. 🤷‍♂️

    • That’s how I tested mine and it works. Could that be a controller issue? What RMENU version are you using?

      • Thank you for your reply. The issue was a NA cdi on a JP, didn’t account for the different region.

  11. I desperately need guidance. Looking for a step by step guide if can. Can’t get the Phoebe to work. Flashed the 4.0.1 FW file. The light blinked like in the pattern it should. Can’t get Rmenu up. Can’t get a game to run in 01 folder. All I do get is the Saturn’s Dashboard with a “Checking Disc Format” message that then goes away. Is my Phoebe dead? Wrong type? Any advice would be much appreciated … from anyone.

    • What is the status LED on Phoebe doing?
      Did you remember to move the lock tab on the card back to unlocked position?

      • When I turn the Saturn on the LED flashes twice and then remains off.
        The tab on the side of SD card is up (unlocked).
        Another thing I am noticing compared to others showing tutorials on YouTube is … where is my ini file. I run the rmenu.exe and generate an iso file (which is really a WinRAR archive) do I extract the contents? Leave it compressed? Keep it in 01 folder? Move it to the root? Extract it to the root?
        I am using a .cdi file type converted using DiscJuggler 6. Even just forgetting about the rmenu and placing that in folder 01, it should still load the game, no? Really confusing. Your Dreamcast ODE for me was setup in no time. I Appreciate your reply(ies) and input on the matter.

      • That file is an ISO9660 image, not a WinRAR archive. Do not modify or convert it, just make sure it got created directly in 01 folder (and not another subdirectory). Placing a game there instead (CDI or another supported format) should work as well.

        Boot the device without the card. Do you have Saturn boot animation? Is the sound correct, as well as in the BIOS menu? Does it still say detecting disc or that drive is empty?

  12. I figured it out Deunan.
    I guess this is what I get for listening to other peoples video tutorials that don’t know what they’re talking about completely. Like there comparing apples to oranges not fully informing their audience of the minute differences between all Saturn types.
    It was the damn ribbon cable. It is NOT a “straight shot” from the ODE to the motherboard. You HAVE to twist it, unlike other tutorial and forums I’ve read that say not to.
    Let this be a Public Service Announcement to those who may be having trouble to check your connections and be sure to FULLY READ Deunan’s website and ALL his LINKS. I got the rmenu up and running. Info section confirms I’m on 4.0.1 FW. Alien Trilogy booted up flawlessly. It looks like alll systems go. Now to get some games on there.
    Any chance though I could buy another ribbon cable from you though … or point me in the direction on where to buy another (with the right specs of course)? It was folded originally wrong and now looks like garbage.

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