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Fixing the Saturn's cartridge slot


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I have a Model 2 Japanese Saturn that works fine, but the cartridge slot is touchy. I use one of those expanded-flash PseudoSaturn carts that have the 3-way switch for now, until Professor Abrasive actually releases the Satiator or I happen to get my hands on a Phoebe ($450 on eBay is not attainable or reasonable). I'm using basically every mitigation fix in the book - push it in and lift out slightly, slide it side to side to get the pins to align, etc. 

 

The cart works, but if I bump it while sliding the switch, the system no longer sees it. This YouTube video kinda helped but there's still some float left to right. The Saturn's cart slot is notoriously flaky in general, I know, but is there a way to make it more reliable?

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Not this will help you at all. But after recapping and cleaning out my model 1, I found it wouldn't read my Action Replay cart anymore. Messed around with it for some time and finally just plugged the cart in outside of its case and it came right up without an issue. I was able to figure out that basically the AR cart PCB was just a bit too high in the case and it wasn't seating all the way into the saturn's cart slot. So I added some plastic between the AR pcb and the top of the inner cart case shell. This allows the PCB to sit a tad lower when installed and it has been working fine since. So try taking the PCB out of the AR cart and plug it in naked and see if it works better that way. Could be something similar.

 

BTW- Why does your AR cart have a switch on it? Mine is an older AR 4 in 1 with the parallel port on the top and it doesn't have any switches on it? I thought these carts switched between 1mb and 4mb RAM expansion automatically? Mine appears to?

 

Edited by -^Cro§Bow^-
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Speaking of cartridge slot... Sega really missed an opportunity to make the Saturn backwards compatible with the Genesis and 32x via the cartridge slot (and also Sega CD via the CD). I bet the console would have sold so much better in the US if so and the 32x might have gotten more games. But it must have been too much to do so back then.

Edited by DragonGrafx-16
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1 hour ago, DragonGrafx-16 said:

Speaking of cartridge slot... Sega really missed an opportunity to make the Saturn backwards compatible with the Genesis and 32x via the cartridge slot (and also Sega CD via the CD). I bet the console would have sold so much better in the US if so and the 32x might have gotten more games. But it must have been too much to do so back then.

I don't think Sega wanted to do that considering Sega of Japan wanted to ditch the 32X, it would have been a waste of money to implement.

Edited by Magmavision2000
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1 hour ago, Magmavision2000 said:

I don't think Sega wanted to do that considering Sega of Japan wanted to ditch the 32X, it would have been a waste of money to implement.

Well, then just plain Genesis and Sega CD support would have been cool. Sad cause the cart slot gets little use besides a memory card (I don't have one).

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2 hours ago, DragonGrafx-16 said:

Well, then just plain Genesis and Sega CD support would have been cool. Sad cause the cart slot gets little use besides a memory card (I don't have one).

I agree on that, if it had Genesis and Sega CD compatibility it would probably sell better. 

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6 hours ago, -^Cro§Bow^- said:

BTW- Why does your AR cart have a switch on it? Mine is an older AR 4 in 1 with the parallel port on the top and it doesn't have any switches on it? I thought these carts switched between 1mb and 4mb RAM expansion automatically? Mine appears to?

  

He's using a modded cart. ARs didn't come with switches on them.

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Psst: Experiment with dielectric (bulb) grease. You will be amazed! It's intended for connectors and will not short out anything. Being grease it would need to be cleaned out if it got dirty but

A.) That's not hard

B.) You would've cleaned your carts before making a thread like this

C.) Saturn has a spring-loaded door flap that auto-closes, keeping things mostly clean.

 

I suggest washing your hand and then using your fingertip to put an even layer directly on the cartridge edge connector before putting it back in the shell and inserting/removing several times. This should transfer a bit to the connector inside the console. Next, wipe the excess off the edge connector and reassemble. Don't use a cotton swab to apply it since cotton lint/fibers will get caught up in the grease and you can't simply drop, wipe, or blow it out.

 

The point is to transfer a thin coating to the contacting surfaces of the pins. It blocks corrosion/oxidation and promotes conductivity. It's similar to the grease they put in volume potentiometers to get rid of problems with scratchy volume knobs. As long as you don't gob it in there it should clean out easily with isopropyl if you want to reverse it. There is no risk.

 

You can go on cleaning your carts as usual but you probably won't have to since it stops oxidation. The small amount in the connector will usually be enough to transfer back to a clean cart and you can always apply it again if you lose too much from inserting clean, greasless, carts.

 

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On 9/15/2019 at 2:28 AM, CZroe said:

Psst: Experiment with dielectric (bulb) grease. You will be amazed! It's intended for connectors and will not short out anything. Being grease it would need to be cleaned out if it got dirty but

A.) That's not hard

B.) You would've cleaned your carts before making a thread like this

C.) Saturn has a spring-loaded door flap that auto-closes, keeping things mostly clean.

Hmm, that's an interesting idea. And yes, I did clean the cart before making the thread. :) 91% isopropyl on a Q-tip. Tried to do the same thing with the connector but I doubt it had any effect. 

 

On 9/14/2019 at 7:54 PM, Austin said:

He's using a modded cart. ARs didn't come with switches on them.

Correct. This is something you can get on eBay (or probably do yourself, it's just replacing the flash chip with a bigger one of the same type) and is supported by Pseudo Saturn. 

 

http://www.rfgeneration.com/news/saturn/The-Pseudo-Saturn-All-In-One-Cart-Now-there-are-no-limits-on-what-your-Saturn-can-do-3875.php

Edited by derFunkenstein
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1 hour ago, derFunkenstein said:

Correct. This is something you can get on eBay (or probably do yourself, it's just replacing the flash chip with a bigger one of the same type) and is supported by Pseudo Saturn. 

Ahh... I didn't realize. I have an old Racketboy modboard installed in my model 2 that still works (Minus a lockup here or there once in a while). And with my main model 1 now outfitted with a Rhea, I've just always kept my AR cart stock. Although I did flash a more recent updated to it a couple years ago that added more game cheats to it. Although I've added quite a few myself over the years.

 

What does the increased flash chip offer? Genuinely curious since I honestly can't see myself EVER filling the ram storage on my AR now. I have thought about and will attempt to do the FRAM upgrade on my saturn though...

 

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Ahh... I didn't realize. I have an old Racketboy modboard installed in my model 2 that still works (Minus a lockup here or there once in a while). And with my main model 1 now outfitted with a Rhea, I've just always kept my AR cart stock. Although I did flash a more recent updated to it a couple years ago that added more game cheats to it. Although I've added quite a few myself over the years.
 
What does the increased flash chip offer? Genuinely curious since I honestly can't see myself EVER filling the ram storage on my AR now. I have thought about and will attempt to do the FRAM upgrade on my saturn though...
 
The switches sound like they are for bank-switching which I presume means the user can switch between a bank flashed with the original functionality or go back to PseudoSaturn at the flip of a switch.

I've had some GameStop or EB-branded import adapter for decades. Inside it's obviously a Datel product with reduced functionality:
parallel port removed and no cheat functions in the FW. It has a low-capacity EEPROM to match the limited FW but I can probably flash it back to an AR using a larger flash chip.
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The cart is an AR 4M Plus, which has 4MB of expansion RAM, that has been modded to add extra save memory. Then you can upgrade the flash memory in the cart so that there's room for both the PseudoSaturn software and still have room to save games. The single 3-way slider puts it in Memory Cart mode, 1 MB RAM cart mode (for games that don't work with the 4 MB cart), or 4 MB RAM cart mode. The Memory Cart mode presents the cartridge as a standard memory card, no need to save to internal RAM and copy it to the cart. It's a must-have for systems that don't have modchips but you still want a way to play backups. Where the parallel port would have otherwise been is the 3-way switch. 

 

Without the upgraded flash chip, the PseudoSaturn cart disables saving. You can't use Pseudo Saturn and a RAM cart together unless you do the mod or get a Saturn Gamer's Cartridge: http://ppcenter.webou.net/satcart/

 

Here's where I got the all-in-one cart:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Sega-Pseudo-Saturn-All-in-One-1M-4M-Ram-8M-Save-Card-Action-replay-SS-FAST-SHIP/323889703188

 

 

Edited by derFunkenstein
clarification
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Also, this is what I referenced earlier saying that the PseudoSaturn Kai dev somewhat endorses these carts:

 

http://ppcenter.webou.net/devblog/article/120/various-pseudo-saturn-cartridges.html

 

I took mine apart and it seems to match the red cart in this post. It seems this is a relatively new Chinese development, rather than a hack. I was not remembering correctly. He says that the ROM with Pseudo Saturn installed and the flash chip for memory saves are separate physical chips, so there's no problem with bricking if the save ability gives out. 

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Still would try plug it in outside of the cart shell and see if it comes up more reliably. If it does, then you know the issue is similar to what I had with mine in that I needed a way for the cart PCB to sit in deeper into the slot to make contact with the pins and work.

 

 

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57 minutes ago, -^Cro§Bow^- said:

Still would try plug it in outside of the cart shell and see if it comes up more reliably. If it does, then you know the issue is similar to what I had with mine in that I needed a way for the cart PCB to sit in deeper into the slot to make contact with the pins and work.

Yeah, I would definitely suggest trying that too. It's only, what, two screws?

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Yeah, that helped a lot. The PseudoSaturn screen came up on the first try, probably since it's not a legit Saturn cart. Thanks for the suggestion, gonna have to think on this since sliding the PCB down in the shell will necessarily lower the toggle making it hard to switch. I guess I could just leave it out naked, but that kinda makes me nervous. 

 

There's a little metal shielding that sits on top of the cartridge slot. Would taking that out remove enough of a gap to make it work better?

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Yeah, that helped a lot. The PseudoSaturn screen came up on the first try, probably since it's not a legit Saturn cart. Thanks for the suggestion, gonna have to think on this since sliding the PCB down in the shell will necessarily lower the toggle making it hard to switch. I guess I could just leave it out naked, but that kinda makes me nervous.   

There's a little metal shielding that sits on top of the cartridge slot. Would taking that out remove enough of a gap to make it work better?

 

In my experience this is often because of dissimilar metals reacting where they make electrical and physical contact. It's why they used to say to pair tin with tin and gold with gold when upgrading RAM back in the '90s.

 

 

If the pins consistently rest on the exact same part of the contacts with the new position then it will likely develop their too... unless something like DeOxit or dielectric grease is separating the two. The other major use for dielectric grease is to put on automotive battery terminals so that the electrolyte fumes don't react with and corrode the battery terminals. My understanding is that it's the same sort of thing in effect with dissimilar conductive metals... like a bit of unintended environmental electroplating contaminating the contact points.

 

 

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On 9/14/2019 at 12:19 PM, derFunkenstein said:

I have a Model 2 Japanese Saturn that works fine, but the cartridge slot is touchy. I use one of those expanded-flash PseudoSaturn carts that have the 3-way switch for now, until Professor Abrasive actually releases the Satiator or I happen to get my hands on a Phoebe ($450 on eBay is not attainable or reasonable). I'm using basically every mitigation fix in the book - push it in and lift out slightly, slide it side to side to get the pins to align, etc. 

 

The cart works, but if I bump it while sliding the switch, the system no longer sees it. This YouTube video kinda helped but there's still some float left to right. The Saturn's cart slot is notoriously flaky in general, I know, but is there a way to make it more reliable?

There is another Phoebe run happening next week. If you are fast enough you can get one.

 

https://gdemu.wordpress.com/author/gdemu/

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5 hours ago, derFunkenstein said:

Thanks for the heads up! "Noon" what time zone? He's in Europe somewhere right? So probably around 6am Central time?

 

edit: it's 9PM in Poland right now, so 5AM Central time. I'll have to drag my ass out of bed and try to get one. 

Its definitely early in the morning. Well worth it though. Make sure you look up what type your Saturn is before hand. He has a guide on the site and it will ask you on the order form.

 

Edit: it looks like it might be this Saturday. The way he wrote it sound like both but in comments they are saying tomorrow 

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