The Dreamcast Trouble Page

On & off, my Dreamcast would occasionally reset back to the Dreamcast logo screen right in the middle of a game, without any warning whatsoever. At first I thought it was something wrong with the game I was playing, but it wasnít. This went on for a few weeks, until one day, I decided to crack out Dead Or Alive 2, and it wouldnít go past the Tecmo screen. I couldnít think what the heck was wrong. I cleaned the laser, the games — nothing seemed to work.
By this stage, I was ready to look for a new console, if I couldnít get it repaired cheaply. I asked Electronics Boutique, where Iíd got it from, and they said to ring Sega Ozisoft. It was well out of warranty, ícos I got it on the midnight launch.
I checked the trusty phone book, but had no luck there. Next I rang Telstraís hopeless voice recognition operated directory assistance.
“Please state the name of the service you are looking for.” I think the voice said.
“Ozisoft” I said.
“The name you asked for is Microsoft. Is this correct? Please answer Yes or No.”
Microsoft? You dopey piece of garbage!
“NO!” I said.
“Please wait for an operator.” said the voice. Yeah, thatís what I shouldíve got straight up. Something with a brain.
I told the woman I was looking for the number for Sega Ozisoft, and she got it for me. Next thing I was ringing up. Good thing I rang, ícos it wouldíve cost me extra to put me through. Probably to pay for that stinking voice recognition stuff.
I was then put on to Rhett Mannís pager, or something. I left my name & number and said my Dreamcast was a bit deadish.
He rang back the next day, I think, and told me that for a new motherboard it would cost like $250 or something, and about $100 or so for a new GD-ROM drive. Aaaaaagh!
He then said that if you crack it open, you might want to try cleaning the power supply connection inside. He said, opening your Dreamcast is like taking your girlfriend home at night for the first time — youíre not quite sure what to do! :-D
Anyway, I removed the modem, unscrewed the four screws, gave the power supply board a jiggle, did it back up and cracked out D.O.A. 2. Woo hoo! It worked!
From then on I had little trouble, & whenever it died, Iíd clean the 6 pins inside with some methylated spirits. That was until I got fed up with that, and the fact that the plastic case was probably going to suffer from me tightening the screws all the time. Anyway, now Iíve permanently soldered some wires to the connection, to fix the problem. If you want to do this yourself, make sure that you have a suitable soldering iron, and that you use acid-free solder. Make sure too that you donít solder the plug to the pins, ícos if anything else ever goes wrong, youíll have a hard time getting it apart again. If you connect the wire to the top of the pins like this: (in the picture) and then feed the wire back up through the socket and round to the power supply PCB underneath, you can get everything back together again without any trouble. This will give you the most reliable connection and will ensure that you donít end up with the Dreamcast chucking a wobbly right in the middle of playing some game. I have heard of another way to try and fix the problem that involves bending the pins to make them fit tighter against the socket, but you can risk damaging the motherboad when you bend them, so personally Iíd advise against this, and going for the soldering method, which will be more certain anyway.
If you want to contact Rhett Mann, send your e-mail to: rhettm@ozisoft.com or ring (02) 83036862

• Lucas wrote to me, saying that he had trouble with his Dreamcast also. Hereís what he said:

“i read your sdc troubles section and had trouble with mine just 2 weeks ago. it kept on freezing as soon as the action started. it could go through 15 mins of titles screens but as soon as you pressed start and the gameplay began... splat. no moving image. i solved it with the help of an ebayer who advised i blow hard on the hole where the fan is? and it worked.”

Thanks for your info, Lucas. It sounds like your fan jammed up, which is bad news. I think the fan may be connected to the cooling “pipes” in the Dreamcast also that contain that liquid for the SH-4 & the Power VR. But donít quote me on that one.

Iíve also had some trouble with V-Rally 2: Expert Edition — the disc seems to be a bit iffy. If you have any info on bodgy discs, and the like, Iíd like to hear from you on that too. Currently I can only recommend fixing scratches with a proper method that fills in the cracks. Please remember also that the Dreamcast has 2 soft pads inside that may brush on the disc to prevent it from being scratched on the plastic. So if you do use anything to fill in the gaps, keep in mind that if it hasnít or doesnít dry properly, it may rub off into the Dreamcast itself. Sega recommends a commercial CD cleaner, but be warned, some can make the discs worse than they already were. You might want to consider taking it to a place that professionally “resurfaces” the GD.

Also note that you canít easily back up your Dreamcast discs, simply by whacking them into the computer. Most computer CD drives wonít go near the game area because they already detect the end of the data area on the 1st part of the disc. This is followed by audio & finally the game data, which may also include further audio tracks. In some instances on the outer area, there may be data, followed by audio, followed by more data. Due to the constant speed nature of the Dreamcastís drive, itís apparently necessary to put some files that need faster access on the outer part of the GDs. The game data area also has finer tracks than standard CDs.

There are ways to make a backup of your Dreamcast games, but due to the amount of piracy that goes on, I wonít be listing anything about it. Steer clear of these rip off companies that claim they have software to back up your video game discs, and DVDs to CDs also. Some are so obviously bodgy, and I even saw one that claimed you could play PS 2 games on your XBOX and the XBOX games on the PlayStation 2 & even the Dreamcast! Yeah, right… If you think thatís a laugh, one even claimed to back up PlayStation 3 games! That might be alright if the console actually existed. (At the time I wrote this, it didnít.) One site even claimed to have (& I quote): “GAME-SWITCH SOFTWARE - X Box, Gamecube, PS, PS2 Games will play on any game console!” Mmm, really? Well, I sure would like to see Dead Or Alive 3 running on my Atari 2600. Now is that false advertising or what?

My latest problem is that my GD-ROM drive has failed. Although Iím not exactly sure what component died. Anyway, the motor no longer spins the disc round, and on my last usage it made one of those all too familiar smells of something getting fried. Now Iím on the look out for a good condition 2nd hand Dreamcast for spare parts. Although I need to see it working 1st, which may be a problem. Hmmm. And if I have no luck, I guess Iíll have to find a replacement drive on the ínet somewhere. Luckily the GD-ROM drives are as easy as pie to remove from the console. My one required the removal of 3 screws and a a lift on the right hand side with the screw driver to separate the socket dealie.

If youíve discovered any other faults with your own beast, send me some e-mail, and Iíll include other problems on the page. If you know solutions to the problems, then thatís an added bonus.