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Thread: Inside the Dream-Kara / zip unit

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    Inside the Dream-Kara / zip unit

    Hello all

    I was taking apart a Dreamcast Karaoke unit and inside I was surprised to see that the shell itself was designated to be used as the ZIP drive shell by sega themselves.

    Obviously we have seen the proto version and it uses the same casing, but it was interesting to see that SEGA went as far with the idea as to brand the casing with the word ZIP as if they were close to production maybe?

    Sorry if no ones interested or have seen it ages ago but it was new to me, anyway heres a picture

    Last edited by runkthepunk; 03-27-2011 at 08:10 AM.

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    Interesting, thanks for sharing!
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    so zip drives were really close to mass production ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Guaripolo View Post
    so zip drives were really close to mass production ?
    I don't know if they were really close but SEGA definitely had plans involving the Dream-Kara shell. I guess if they were both being developed in tandem it would make sense to save costs and produce the shell so that either device could be fitted using the same mould.

    Its funny because I had a ZIP Drive for my PC back in the late 90's and really even then they were outdated as the costs of buying/burning CD-R's and CD-RW's was tumbling. That said ZIP discs are simple to use and very resiliant to damage and were much much cheaper than HDD's at the time.

    I assume it would have been used for additional game content and web related activities. A shame it never made it out.

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    Wow that's pretty cool. Can't say I've seen anyone spot that before.

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    I'm sure you're probably the only person that's ever spotted that and posted it online.

    If you compare these pictures of the Zip Drive with Yakumo's Dreamkara pics, the two shells are nearly identical. The only difference seems to be the addition of a USB socket on the front of the Zip Drive.
    Last edited by _SD_; 03-27-2011 at 12:35 PM.

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    Yes the shells are obviously identical apart from the front panel and USB Socket.

    this is a picture of the Official Proto ZIP Drive



    and heres the homemade mod that I bought from Spinksy (hes a member here and over at Dreamcast Talk, Racketboy etc)



    I think he did a great job in recreating the look of the official prototype. I am going to get one of my old ZIP discs and make the label and bang job done a nice recreation :thumbsup:

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    SEGA-boss: "Oh damn, we've already made 50.000 shells and ZIP's a dead technology. What the fuck are we supposed to do?"
    SEGA-employee: "Let's make some random karaoke shit and sell it as Karaoke-addons, everybody loves karaoke, right?"
    SEGA-boss: "YOOSHHH!! GREETO IDEA!"
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    Quote Originally Posted by ave View Post
    SEGA-boss: "Oh damn, we've already made 50.000 shells and ZIP's a dead technology. What the fuck are we supposed to do?"
    SEGA-employee: "Let's make some random karaoke shit and sell it as Karaoke-addons, everybody loves karaoke, right?"
    SEGA-boss: "YOOSHHH!! GREETO IDEA!"
    I'm about 99% sure that's how it went down for my Laserdisc player.
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    Quote Originally Posted by runkthepunk View Post
    Yes the shells are obviously identical apart from the front panel and USB Socket.
    What was the USB port for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christer-swe View Post
    What was the USB port for?
    Originally I don't recall anyone speaking directly of using USB for anything on the DC. That said I wouldn't be surprised if the MP3 capable VMU wasn't able to hook up to it. Every peripheral I can think of released/unreleased used the G2 bus (modem, BBA, DreamKara, Zip drive), Maple bus (controllers, camera?) or the serial port in the back.

    USB would be a great *cheap* way to expand future peripheral opportunities. Can't imagine the custom controller ports were cheap compared to female USB plugs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by APE View Post
    Originally I don't recall anyone speaking directly of using USB for anything on the DC. That said I wouldn't be surprised if the MP3 capable VMU wasn't able to hook up to it. Every peripheral I can think of released/unreleased used the G2 bus (modem, BBA, DreamKara, Zip drive), Maple bus (controllers, camera?) or the serial port in the back.

    USB would be a great *cheap* way to expand future peripheral opportunities. Can't imagine the custom controller ports were cheap compared to female USB plugs.
    I'd reckon the MP3 VMU would be plugged into the regular VMU port...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christer-swe View Post
    What was the USB port for?
    The possibilities are unlimited, but we can only speculate. ;-)
    A USB port for the DC would be very handy. What a pity...

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    Is the Zip reproduction functional?

    Given as Sega couldn't update the BIOS on existing models and they were far enough into production to plan the casing its possible however unlikely that remnants of Zip code exist in the retail BIOS.

    Also did you manage to find the chap selling one minus the PSU for a tenner? I wish I nabbed it now as I have half a mind to guy one and put a mini-ITX PC in to run nullDC :P

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeGIt View Post
    Is the Zip reproduction functional?

    Given as Sega couldn't update the BIOS on existing models and they were far enough into production to plan the casing its possible however unlikely that remnants of Zip code exist in the retail BIOS.

    Unfortunately not. Just a modified Dreamkara case with a selfmade front panel and a PC ZIP drive (and USB port). He maybe connected the ZIP drive to the DC meanwhile but without working software it's just a nice DC holder.

    Code for the ZIP drive in the BIOS? Why? The BIOS just talks to the interface and the software will do the rest. Or am I wrong?

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeGIt View Post
    Is the Zip reproduction functional?

    Given as Sega couldn't update the BIOS on existing models and they were far enough into production to plan the casing its possible however unlikely that remnants of Zip code exist in the retail BIOS.

    Also did you manage to find the chap selling one minus the PSU for a tenner? I wish I nabbed it now as I have half a mind to guy one and put a mini-ITX PC in to run nullDC :P
    No as Jenkins says it is not functional i'm afraid. Although I was thinking of slamming in my old external zip drive and running a USB lead out the back for giggles. If there was a way to run a USB instead of an SD card through the port at the back then it would work with the right programming I guess (with Dreamshell)

    About the BIOS thing I was thinking that as the Dream-Kara used an online only approach to its music tracks so it must stream info through the Dream-Kara through to the DC via the Network Slot so didn't know whether it was worth investigating the Karaoke unit more to see if it could be hacked/reverse engineered for illicit purposes! :thumbsup:

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenkins View Post
    Unfortunately not. Just a modified Dreamkara case with a selfmade front panel and a PC ZIP drive (and USB port). He maybe connected the ZIP drive to the DC meanwhile but without working software it's just a nice DC holder.

    Code for the ZIP drive in the BIOS? Why? The BIOS just talks to the interface and the software will do the rest. Or am I wrong?
    You can't just "connect" the thing to the Dreamcast, you'd have to interface with the G2 bus somehow. For anything less than $50 I don't think that'd be remotely possible for homebrew hardware.
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