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.

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143 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?

    Thanks…

  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

  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..

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