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Thread: Black Swirl of Death on August 1999 One Wire Modded Dreamcast, how do I fix this?

  1. #1

    Black Swirl of Death on August 1999 One Wire Modded Dreamcast, how do I fix this?

    So, I bought a modded Dreamcast off of a guy who I think is from dcmods.info (and it was a great deal, I got the console in great condition, cleaned thoroughly and got a new CMOS as well, along with a slienced charcoal VMU and SD card adapter) and I was trying to change the region with a Region Changer disk made by the guys from DCSwat I think, the people who made Dreamshell. I was wanting to see how the Black Swirl looked, and when I changed the option to turn it on, nothing happened. 2 days later, I had the Puyo Pop Fever save with the 3D Menu addon. I deleted it to make space, accidentally pressed start after unplugging the VMU activating the 3D while booting a failed burn of Quake 3 on a CD-R. When the bootup screen appeared, it was now a black swirl. Then when the boot screen goes away, it asks me to set my CMOS System Time, even though my battery is brand new and has a large charge capacity. This happens with any CD I put in, even GD-ROMs. I have researched this issue trying to see if it was solved but only found out that the issue most likely lies in the Flash memory and to my understanding the Region Code on the flash is corrupted and it is reading the games and rejecting them since the code does not match up. I have looked up how to reflash it, but I have no tools to do so and I'm assuming that I would need a Devkit and would have to swap out the chips or at least get some parts to put the chip in a reader and use the Dreamcast SDK to fix it, but I have no knowledge of this sort of thing. I'll gladly send anyone my Dreamcast who knows how to fix this problem as I don't want to do it myself and mess up the motherboard AND I don't have a replacement flash. Though, I don't want to send it out because I can't nessecarily trust any random user on here. If a trusted memeber can take my DC and fix it, I'll be very thankful. I just want to use my own DC and not have to keep borrowing my friend's. Not that he plays it. :B I know he'll want it back soon, though.
    Last edited by Sokky; 01-07-2012 at 06:41 PM.

  2. #2
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    You left the 12v wire for write protect connected after modding the console ?


    Bad mistake ... -_-;
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  3. #3
    Well, I was not the one who moved the wire. It had to of been the person who moved the wire's fault. Guess it was bad luck. :c I could run Half-Life and Dreamshell perfectly fine on CD-R, though. My guess was when I deleted the save and accidentally derped when starting the game.

    Any ideas on how to fix this, though? Am I absolutely going to have to reflash my chip to fix it? I honestly have no clue how that would work, I've never known about flashing chips and how it works.

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    Pretty much yeah, I don't know of any other way to fix it

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    <- can flash chips
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    I was going to suggest you, but I wasn't sure you wanted me volunteering your services :P
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    Had it happen to me, those boards need 3.3v not the normal 5v as stated in those guides. You fried the BIOS like I did sorry to tell you. Those models are picky with backups and even the DEV BIOS mod, that is where I found out to use 3.3v instead of 5v as indicated by the guide you used. There was one replacement board on eBay but sorry to say I bought it today. Be on the look out for a rev0 DC mobo to fix your problem. I had tried redoing traces and all to no avail.

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    It's not the bios chip he's talking about. It's the flash chip (original bios is maskrom) that holds region and other info
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    Quote Originally Posted by l_oliveira View Post
    You left the 12v wire for write protect connected after modding the console ?


    Bad mistake ... -_-;
    My first thought as soon as I read the title.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bad_Ad84 View Post
    <- can flash chips
    ^him. I'd offer but I lack the equipment to properly remove the offending chip and the correct adapter for it.
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    At the current state, it's obvious that the 256kb flash chip (settings flash) has been already destroyed and reading it will bear no fruit. I suggest the OP buy another board and replace the flash chip from the bought board in place of the broken flash chip (it's the small 40 pin TSOP chip close to the big BIOS chip).

    Also do not forget to remove the 12V wire (write protection bypass) after configuring the new flash on the intended way. :thumbsup:

    The original flash only broke because the wire was left connected. :shrug:
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  11. #11
    :L I'm ticked that the seller who did that mod was careless enough to slip up that much.
    So, the issue is the flash is dead, but it's so bad that it can't even be read? I'd assume the code can just be changed back but that would take some testing, which I cannot do. I'd love to send my Dreamcast to Bad_Ad, but as some of you said, I need to replace the wire. I'm not really prepared to do surgery on my DC anytime soon since I have no knowledge of circuitry and boards. If someone else could do that, or if Bad_Ad can do that too, I'd be endlessly grateful.

  12. #12
    Also, a personal request.
    If I am able to send in my DC, can it be flashed with the hacked Devkit BIOS that is compatible with retail consoles? Thanks. <3

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    Ok well I can't speak for Bad_Ad, but he has done some stuff for me before, the wire stuff is easy, a monkey with a soldering iron could do it, and frankly Bad_Ad is a wizard, it would probably take him like 2 minutes to replace the wire. Also the devkit bios will probably cost you extra as you'll have to pay him for the replacement chip (not possible to flash the original bios chip) and for him to replace the old one with the new one. He doesn't charge masses, in fact he's an incredibly reasonable guy and I couldn't reccomend him highly enough. No point sending the entire dreamcast though, it would like quintuple the postage, all he needs is the mainboard.
    Though if the flash chip is fried beyond repair, you're a bit screwed

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hedgeyourbets View Post
    Though if the flash chip is fried beyond repair, you're a bit screwed
    AFAIK, the devkit bios doesn't even check for the flash chip at bootup (and the region-free retail bios may work the same way).

    The console might not works for online gaming (it uses info stored on the flash chip to establish internet conenction) but only a few games still work online nowadays...

    As I understand it, it's not the flash chip that's broken, but the region flag of the console has been overwritten to an invalid value by a program that has randomly written something in the flash. Most of the time it's not a problem and the region-byte is unwriteable, but the region changer mod makes it writeable like any other part of the flash. You're now stuck with a console that will refuse to boot any disc, as its region flag is invalid. Which is ironic, as if you could boot a disc, you could change the region to a valide one. Chicken and egg problem.

    I know someone said the flash chip could "die" is conencted to the 12v line for too long, but from my experience, it can be connected for weeks without problems. I only experienced the black swirl weeks after doing the mod (a few years ago already :P) after running the Dreamcast Loop Checker; a program that test-write the flash among other things.

    I hope you'll find this info useful.

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    If the chip is 100% fried it will need to be replaced by another programmed appropriately, something Bad_Ad84 does have the equipment for. If the chip isn't fried beyond belief it can be pulled but it'd make more sense to reprogram it instead of trying to dump it seeing as an invalid value was written to it. Modifying the dump to be correct would take more time and have the same result.

    The region free BIOS using the Devkit boot-up animation does check the flash to some extent. I've personally modified one Dreamcast's flash to have a blue swirl with the rest being NTSC-U capable with the devkit animation on a piggybacked Macronix. It was indeed blue while outputting NTSC and flat out ignoring region by design. Beyond checking for swirl color I have no idea if it will read region settings.

    And no I'm not about to fry the flash on a spare Dreamcast to find out.
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    I could do all of the work, however if the chip is completely dead - you would need a replacement.

    I cant get them in low amounts very cheap and I dont think they are worth buying in large amounts to get the price down.

    Also, it depends where in the world you are - I am in the UK, so shipping could be a lot if you are in the US
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    Cannibalizing a mobo someone destroyed the traces of due to putting the wrong screws in the wrong holes would be a cheap way to do it. Assuming it was the same pin count.
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  18. #18
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    Dont have any broken boards :(
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  19. #19
    I wouldn't mind buying a bunch of flash chips. :3c It's never bad to have some backups for flashing. Which you would need a Devkit for, right?

  20. #20
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    I have managed to find a way to bypass this for anyone that is curious. It isn't a fix for the bad flash ROM but a way to bypass it and use your Dreamcast to play again. I recently bought a DC off eBay and someone left that darn wire to flash the chip for region swapping and I didn't know. So I was a little irked when my screen became all fuzzy and when I turned it off and back on I got a black swirl and the boot loop. I knew my battery was good and would work but the flash ROM was DEAD. So I mucked around for a while and found setting the date and time of the system to 01/01/1950 (the furthest the system allows) and turned it back on and wouldn't you know that my system worked again.

    No more loop but I also can't keep my date/time or any sort of configuration for games that need it (ie PSO) or the BBA for that matter as it saves the IP address you assign to the flash ROM but I can play all the games I want again on the system. Not sure if it makes any difference as I don't care to rip it apart again it does have a 4 wire modchip installed now and that injects the system region to the system instead of reading from the flash ROM so that might need to be done as well. If I actually get my soldering station out again I will do this and test for confirmation. Sorry for briging this thread up again but I saw it never got a way around it other then replacing parts something we all can't do but this works just fine and everyone can set the date and time on their systems.

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