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 SNES region free mod

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Drakon
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PostSubject: SNES region free mod   Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:31 pm

In order to test a pal game I bought on my snes I did a region free mod to my snes system. Apparently this mod works on 99.5% of pal games. The other 0.5% of pal games require the system to have a pal lockout chip so there's nothing we can do about that very small percentage of games except buy a pal system which would defeat the purpose of this mod.

So I used this guide here:

http://www.mmmonkey.co.uk/console/nintendo/snes-switches-1.htm

The pictures in this guide aren't very easy to follow and the diagram is sloppy. Therefore I made my own improved version of the diagram:



This mod was a lot more difficult than I expected it to be. The traces you need to lift from the pcb are absolutely tiny. The "O G I" solder points are on the solder (bottom) side of the snes pcb. These are the solder points from the voltage regulator chip. The voltage regulator will be screwed against the heatsink so it's pretty easy to find. The other chips should be marked the same as what I labelled them as. If you're in a different country then your lockout chip (F411A) will have a different marking but it will be similar.

The reason I didn't mark where you'd find these chips on the snes pcb is because there's many different versions of the snes pcb. And on each different version of the snes pcb the chips that we need to mod seem to be located in different places. The S-PPU chips are the picture processing unit chips (they draw graphics). Apparently the snes has 2 of these. The F411A chip is just the lockout chip that tells the cartridge what country your system is designed for.

The concept of this mod is that you lift and combine pin 24 of S-PPU 1 with pin 30 of S-PPU 2. Connecting both of these pins to either 5v after it's gone through a 2.2k ohm resistor or ground switches the video display between pal (50 hz) and ntsc (60 hz). Most pal games check that the ppus are running in 50 hz mode otherwise the game will refuse to start. You can switch the ppus between 50 hz and 60 hz safely while the snes is running. So basically you start a pal game in 50 hz so it boots and once it's running you switch the system to 60 hz so the video displays properly on your ntsc (american) tv.

The other switch changes the lock out chip (F411A) from being enabled and disabled. I asked doug why it's necessary to be able to turn the lockout chip on instead of just permanently disabling it. According to doug some snes games require a lockout chip to be enabled otherwise the game won't run. The one pal game I tested (winter gold) didn't run at all unless the lockout chip was disabled. It wouldn't even display a black screen.

I decided to first lift pin 4 of the lockout chip since it's a larger pin and it's a good pin to practice on:





I tried using both a sewing needle and an exacto knife to lift the pins. The exacto knife turned out to be the most useful tool for lifting tiny pins on tiny chips.

The next step I did was I soldered a wire to the lifted pin. And I hot glued the wire on top of the chip that I lifted the pin from. The hot glue keeps the wire firmly in place and since it goes over top of the chip the lifted pin is very far away from the other pins. Doing the job this way made it so I didn't have to use electrical tape to keep the lifted pin seperated. Also wiring things this way makes sure that the pin doesn't move around. If the lifted pin were loose and able to move around it may eventually come in contact with another pin or it may just eventually break off.





The next step I did was I lifted and wired up the pins on the s-ppu chips. The blue wire has nothing to do with this mod. I accidentally damaged a trace on another pin of the s-ppu 1 chip and I rewired the damaged trace using that blue wire to fix the broken connection. I should have made sure there was no solder on the iron before using it to lift the pin. Not cleaning the solder off of the iron first turned out to be a big mistake because a bunch of pins got small bits of solder connecting them. You can also see in this picture how the wires are hot glued on top of the chips keeping the wires firmly in place.





The last piece of wiring I needed to do was connect wires to the 5v and ground points on the power regulator. the red wire is 5v. The brown wire is ground. I made sure when tinning the wires to make the exposed piece of wire very small to be sure that the wires would avoid coming in contact with anything. Also these two wires are hot glued into place so they firmly stay in place and don't move around.





Here's the initial temporary wiring. The circuit is complete here (although very rough and messy) and I ran the system like this just to test that the mod worked. The mod worked great!





After making sure that the circuit was working correctly I started to think about where to place the switches. I decided near the back of the system sticking out the top would be the best location. Since the heatsink is really high on the left side near the back I decided to install the switches on the right hand side of the case near the back. Here's the system after I carefully glued all the wires across the pcb so they'd all wind up on the right hand side. I also re-installed the heatsink and screwed the power switch back into it's mount.






Next I put all the wires into a small connector so I would be able to easily disconnect the two halves of the console case.






The next step I did was I drilled holes in the top half of the case, bolted the switches into place, and wired up the top half of the connector






After testing that everything still worked I hot glued the switches into place, and I also hot glued the top half of the connector so the wires wouldn't come into contact with anything.






Then I re-installed the eject button, and the modded system was finally complete:





Yay for completing another random mod :ninja:



*edit*

Oh I forgot to mention that you need to remove two small pieces of plastic from inside the cartridge slot otherwise pal and japanese snes cartridges won't fit properly inside the slot. :doh:
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PostSubject: Re: SNES region free mod   Sat May 19, 2012 12:49 am

very nice
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PostSubject: Re: SNES region free mod   Fri Oct 12, 2012 1:43 pm

nice work. and your right, those pins are absolutely fin small. It took several tries before i got it right. i did this mod years ago to play terranigma.

its kind of an obsolete mod now though because you can just software patch the games.
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