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Thread: Sega Saturn long life battery

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    Sega Saturn long life battery

    -------------------------
    *************************
    Sega Saturn 10 year battery FAQ
    *************************
    -------------------------
    By ASSEMbler
    Version 1.3

    Disclaimer
    ------------------------
    Sega Saturn battery life greatly varies by how often you
    use the unit, how often you keep it plugged in, and temperature.
    Battery life has been estimated in both normal use and unplugged terms.

    Revision History
    -------------------------
    1.1Made it a lot more simple to understand and added pictures.
    1.2 Removed time estimates until I can calculate for mAh consumed
    by the sram.
    1.3 Recalculated based on sega estimates per mah, average plugged and unplugged use.

    It seems a lot of people have been talking about replacing their Saturn battery.
    So I have decided to write a min FAQ as there's a big difference between picking batteries.

    ========
    CONTENTS
    ========

    I -GENERAL BATTERY INFO
    -------------------------
    1.1 What is the Saturn Battery for?
    1.2 What kind of battery does it use?
    1.3 All batteries are not equal.
    1.4 Battery power and life, mAh.
    i. How much power?
    1.5 The CR2032 ranking as compared to the SEGA standard 220mAh battery.
    A. Bulk or generics
    B. Store or name brand
    1.6 Extreme capacity mods
    A.CR123A extreme
    B.CRV3
    C.Military batteries, or OVERKILL :-)
    1.7 Vendors and Links.


    *************************
    I. GENERAL BATTERY INFO
    *************************

    1.1 What is a Saturn battery for?
    ------------------------

    From the SEGA support site:

    * The Lithium battery powers the Saturn's system memory.
    * If you have had your Saturn for a while: The average life of the Lithium battery in the Sega
    Saturn is one to two years. If you have had the Saturn for this amount of time, and had no
    problems saving games until now, then the problem may be lack of internal memory space
    or the need to replace the battery with a new one.

    However what Sega fails to tell you is that they expect you to keep the unit plugged in
    most of the time.

    1.2 What kind of battery does it use?
    ------------------------

    The Saturn uses a simple CR2032 battery to system setting and game saves.

    1.3 All batteries are not equal.
    ------------------------

    Q: Why does my Saturn eat batteries so fast? I just replaced it a few months ago and it's dead again!
    A: CR2032 batteries are like any producible item; you can cut corners or skimp. As an example,
    all of you have had cheap cola drinks, and quality ones. Just because they have the same name
    doesn't mean they are of the same quality.
    B. The Sega Saturn SRAM uses a lot of voltage compared to modern SRAM.

    1.4 Battery power and life.
    ------------------------

    The CR2032 battery used in the Saturn is a lithium battery.

    (Do not confuse lithium batteries with lithium-ion rechargeable (Li-on) batteries. Do not use rechargeable batteries in the
    Saturn as rechargeable batteries lose about 10-15% of their capacity every 30 days without use.)

    The formulas used to make lithium batteries vary, and with it battery life. Cheap batteries are just that, cheap. They
    have poor chemical properties and don't last very long.

    Lithium can be partnered with many different chemicals for different life spans and power capacity, and that is the key
    in picking the right battery.

    Any decent lithium battery has a shelf life of about ten years. This does not mean you can run it for ten years.

    i. How much power?

    Capacity is quoted in 'mAh' or 'thousandths of an Amp x 1 hour. It indicates the current that the battery could supply
    if it was going to take an hour to run out. It follows that if you discharge the battery at half the rate then it will last twice as long.

    We are aiming for the battery with the highest "mAh" we can get without spending a large sum on exotic batteries.
    However, for the extreme or modder type, I will go into detail on these exotics.

    1.5 Choosing a battery.
    ------------------------

    The CR2032 is a button type battery. Given its size it has limits to capacity. However,
    through superior chemistry, we can get batteries in that size with superior life compared
    to what you get from eBay, or a walk in shop.

    The CR2032 ranking as compared to the SEGA standard 220mAh battery.

    A. Bulk or generics
    B. Store or name brand
    C. High capacity
    D. Small MFG - High quality hobbyist.
    E. Extreme capacity mods.

    A. Bulk or Generics
    ------------------------
    "Bulk" or generic batteries are found on eBay, usually in large lots. They seem like a good deal,
    but they really have inferior capacity. Expect 50-70mAh. YES ONLY 70mAh. Cheap and usually very old
    chinese garbage or old military surplus that has 1/2 charge left in it.
    Sometimes even alkaline passed off as lithium. Beware of counterfeits.

    This kind of battery is what gives people the idea that changing the Saturn battery is pointless.

    This would give a life of about four to six months with normal use.
    This would give a life of about six days unplugged.

    B. Store or name brand.
    ------------------------
    The names don't really mater so much as these batteries usually never go above 220mAh.
    Think of this as a standard replacement. But it will only last ONE to two years. Sega stated one to two.
    (However this is an average based on the unitl being plugged in percentage of the time.)

    MAXELL: 220mAh
    PANASONIC: 220mAh
    SANYO: 220mAh
    SONY: 220mAh
    ULTRALAST: 220mAh
    ENERGIZER: 225mAh
    DURACELL: 230mAh
    KODAK: 230mAh
    VARTA: 230mAh

    This would give a life of about one to two years with normal use.
    This would give a life of about ninteen days unplugged.

    1.6. EXTREME CAPACITY MODS.
    ------------------------
    So you're not content for two meager years of battery life.
    (This should give you a

    A.CR123A
    B.CRV3
    C.SAFT

    Extreme capacity batteries will not fit into the coin battery slot on your Saturn.
    You'll either have to make a dummy coin or directly wire a battery or battery holder to the motherboard.
    However, for the average person this is easy to do.

    A. CR123A
    ----------------------
    CR123A batteries are small canister style cells that have a much higher capacity than a button style could
    ever hope to have.

    You can get these fairly cheaply and have outstanding capacities.
    KODAK 1550mAh
    VARTA 1600mAh

    This would give a life of about six to seven years with normal use.
    This would give a life of about 130 days unplugged.

    B.CRV3
    ---------------------
    Pretty much a double CR123A so you'll have to wire it up like in the diagram.

    KODAK 3200mAh
    VARTA 3300mAh

    or if it's easier to understand

    This would be the best route. Given the 10% gradual loss over ten years with lithium,
    the CRV3 provides a healthy 297mAh even in it's last year. Far more than the 220mAh
    battery that came stock ever provided new.

    This would give a life of about ten years with normal use, this is limited by the lifespan of lithium batteries (10 years).
    This would give a life of about 260 days unplugged taking into account the power curves batteries have when being discharged.

    C. Military batteries. DAS OVERKILL
    ---------------------
    These saves aren't going ANYWHERE.

    Ah yes.. overkill. How we love you. This is my personal choice.

    I introduce to you:(drum roll) The LSH 20 high capacity military 3Volt "D" cell by SAFT industries.

    Saft makes batteries for stuff that goes into outer space, so naturally I want my
    Saturn to be able to go to Saturn.

    SAFT LSH 20 - 13000mAh (Yes, 13000)
    Even at 10% loss, it still provides over 1000mAh in it's last year of life.

    It's a "D" sized cell, so it's a bit of a squeeze, but if you add the wiring and shrink tube it,
    you can easily fit it inside the Saturn.

    This would give a life of about ten years with normal use, this is limited by the lifespan of lithium batteries (10 years).
    This would give a life of about 1000 days unplugged, or about two years, eleven months.

    1.7 Vendors and links
    ----------------------

    Kodak brands available in the USA http://www.kodak.com
    Varta in Europe http://www.varta.com/eng/

    SAFT http://www.saftbatteries.com

    SAFT LSH 20 http://www.saftbatteries.com/130-Cat...PDF/LSH_20.pdf

    All rights reserved ASSEMblergames.com assembler@assemblergames.com
    no reproduction or use without permission.
    Last edited by ASSEMbler; 03-14-2006 at 09:35 PM.

  2. #2
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    Interesting read; thank you.

    Alternately (or in conjunction with a good battery) I recommend a RAM cartridge or PAR type cartridge to back up your saves.

    Now can anybody explain to me the mystery of disappearing-reappearing saves on the Saturn? I play a game of OutRun, for example, and I see its save slot in my system's RAM. I plug in my ActionReplay to copy the save from internal RAM to the AR, and then power on; I can't find the OutRun save slot anywhere! I remove the PAR, and the OutRun save is there again. Weird...
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    The Saturn's RAM cartridges are bloody awful for loosing save data. They also get corupt data on them for no reason. It's probably not really the fault of the cartridge but the awful Saturn cartridge slot.

    Yakumo

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    Nice work ASSEMbler, thanks

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    I don't get it, stacking a 3V ontop of a 3V = 6V.

    Fitting a D sized battery inside a Saturn? Eww, that's beyond perverse :\

    I don't know how much current the Saturn requires to retain data (anyone have an ammeter? I also don't know the voltage req'd across the SRAM) but I'd guess mid 90s LP SRAM in stand-by mode is rated somewhere around 500 uA for 4M.

    If you have a typical Lithium CR2032 rated for 220mAh, you can usually get away with an undefined amount of time (maybe a few weeks!) more than 440 hours without turning the console on thanks to the cell's non-linear chemestry (unpredictible to us.) The mAh ratings apply only to an undefined test current which is definately greater than 500uA.

    Looking at a typical CR2032 datasheet after ~450 hours of 500uA, the cell reaches it's cutoff point (2V), where it may linger for a few more days before fully discharging, dunno whether the SRAM will run on 1.2V etc.

    I say just buy a normal Japanese CR2032 cell (Maxell is good) and just turn on your Saturn every month for a few hours (put it on your calendar) and backup to an official cell-backed memory card or an unofficial memory card with FlashRAM. Or you can just make an ultra sweet reliable NVRAM cartridge. Or you can actually backup your saves with an ARP X-in-1 and a Comms link.
    Last edited by Calpis; 03-14-2006 at 01:56 PM.

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    I don't get it, stacking a 3V ontop of a 3V = 6V.
    I don't get it either. Stacking in this case would mean that you are placing the batteries in series, which in turn means that you are multiplying the per cell voltage by the number of cells in that configuration. This arrangement would not change the effective capacity, and if too many cells are used, runs the potential of damaging the circuit.
    What you are looking for is wiring the batteries in parallel. While it is not as convenient from a physical standpoint, it does increase the effective capacity and retain the required 3 volt potential.

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    Revised to clarify and I added pictures.

    Here's the pic from the stack, but it's too hard for me to explain. But it's really
    easy to to actually. All you needed was some tin foil and saran wrap, but it doesn't explain well or draw well either so I just killed it.

    Basically you just layer strips.

    Strip to the right
    Battery
    Strip to the left
    saran wrap
    repeat

    Once you're done, just fold all the strips up or down and there you go.




    I see what you're talking about, that old sram is a real hog for power.
    like 500-50 (depending on the chip) mA. I based my calc on the
    current -10microampere SRAM.

    If they used the samsung or toshiba packages, it would be like
    having a pcmcia card on all the time.

    I'll open up a saturn and check what type of chip is in there
    and then look up the specs.

    I've recalculated and made a distinct difference between normal use
    and unplugged storage.
    Last edited by ASSEMbler; 03-14-2006 at 09:36 PM.

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    No luck, I take it?

    I dunno, if at first you don't succeed.... ask he who has the service manual ;)

    Taken from the original model's manual, I believe - err VA0?

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  9. #9
    I know this is probably pretty old, but i was interested in doing one of the battery mods, and noticed that all the pictures are missing (at least for me)

    are the pictures available complete anywhere?

    Also, has anyone considered hard-wiring a Saturn RAM or Backup Memory Cart in? Would it be possible to do that without taking up the cart slot?

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    There's only one pic (of the stack) and it's still there!

    Why would you want to hard-wire either in? You can get the Action Replay with BOTH built-in! What else could you possibly need in your slot?
    Neo-geo.com - fuelling Dion's ego for the past 10 years!

  11. #11
    The 4-in-one doesn't have a way to support games like Fire Prowrestling's "instant save" feature, so i'm going back and forth between an official memory card for that and a 4mb cart for any of Vs. games.

    What i'd LIKE to do is fine a way to hardwire the original memory cart in and use a switch to choose which is active...internal hardwired Memory card, or the cart. If i could, i'd like to fix my cart slot...you can breathe on it and have the cart stop working

  12. #12
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    It also works for Dreamcast.
    @+
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr.Wily
    It also works for Dreamcast.
    the dreamcast uses a rechargeable accumulator, keep that in mind because simple batteries don't like to be recharged.
    http://girugalol.mybrute.com

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    the dreamcast uses a rechargeable accumulator, keep that in mind because simple batteries don't like to be recharged.
    Are you sure ? The batterie in Dreamcast is a simple CR2032. It seem that the CR2032 can't be recharged. However the battrrie in Mega-CD can be, but it is not a CR2032.
    @+
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr.Wily
    Are you sure ? The batterie in Dreamcast is a simple CR2032. It seem that the CR2032 can't be recharged. However the battrrie in Mega-CD can be, but it is not a CR2032.
    3v MnO2-Li (Magnesium Dioxide Lithium, rechargeable) in mine.
    http://girugalol.mybrute.com

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  16. #16
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    Lithium batteries CANNOT be recharged. Lithium-Ion batteries, however, are designed to be recharged. They have a higher voltage and retain their charge longer than NiCad / NiMh.

    By the way, Magnesium = Mg. Mn = Manganese ;-)

    Oh, and CR2032 cells ARE Lithium Manganese Dioxide. All coin cells are. I guess the manufacturers don't want to confuse people so call them just Lithium.

    http://www.powerstream.com/Pli.htm
    Last edited by retro; 02-27-2009 at 01:10 PM.
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    A stupid question :

    When Saturn is powered, the RAM will not get wiped if I replace the battery ?
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    If you hit the blue button you will. It's conveniently located right next to the battery... be careful lol.

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    I should have taken care of the button when I was doing some mods :rolleyes:
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    Quote Originally Posted by ASSEMbler
    If you hit the blue button you will. It's conveniently located right next to the battery... be careful lol.
    Good to know!
    The other day I allmost pressed it to see what happens. :P

    Talking about batteries, what kind of battery Sonic 3 uses?
    I allmost cried when I lost my save with 99 lives and all emeralds.

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