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SEGA Pluto Prototype (Hands-On Review and Ben Heck Repair)

Zeigren

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Bernie Stolar; Yes. More money could have been spent on product. I said this from the beginning. There were three things that I wanted in Dreamcast: an online network (for multi-player and digital downloads), DVD support, and internal storage. I had to argue for everything. At one point, I had to ensure the modem didn’t get dropped from the US version. Online was most important to me, so I chose that over DVD and internal storage because my plan was to add those later.
Yeah I think this is right on the money. I put together some quick info and speculation about the Pluto but I'll echo my quick speculation here.

The Pluto is largely the same as the stock Saturn with some small changes. Besides ASIC revisions, alternate parts, and layout changes what makes the Pluto unique is the extension of the cartridge slot to an external bus for the modem and hard drive. The cartridge-to-external-bus is buffered with some bus transceivers which appear to be controlled by IC50.

Sega Pluto Bus Transceivers.png


IC50 looks like it might also act as a middleman between the cartridge and external bus. IC50 is probably some Altera or Xilinx FPGA, or maybe Lattice based on the part choice for IC52.

Sega Pluto IC50.png


Considering that the Modem and HDD PCBs don't appear to be from SOJ or Cross Products, the use of a Seagate HDD instead of a Hitachi one, and that both Pluto's were discovered in the US, my guess is that the Pluto was made by SOA to sell the idea of including a modem and hard drive in the Saturn to SOJ. Or maybe as a concept idea for the Dreamcast? I don't remember all the rumors and stuff from this time period. But going through all the trouble and engineering effort to make it look like a commercial product is a bit much for a simple proof of concept.

Since the Net Link already existed the big selling point of the Pluto would have been the inclusion of a hard drive, so there is likely something on the hard drive. Or at least there was at some point. I think Super Magnetic's "PLUTO 02" also had a hard drive.
 
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Druid II

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Speaking of which whatever happened to the Saturn wizard DruidII?
I'm here, but there's no reason for me to post when everything has already been summed up. Yes, the drive button repair was cringe, this thing turns out to have full stock hardware with just some stuff connected to the cart slot, the board is already at its 2nd revision, etc etc etc.
I posted my thoughts already on the youtube comments.

It would be interesting to see the contents of the HDD. I don't think the console itself would delete its contents because it has a stock boot rom, and that one wouldn't even know how to access the hdd. There were pics of some Pluto software on a Saturn CDR, that one may be able to access it, or the modem, but all we have is a screenshot of it, I don't even know who owns it.

But after 24 years, the hdd is probably long dead.

Funny fact by the way, the first Saturn user manuals (in HST-3200 machines) mention a hard drive accessory as "to be released", so it was clearly something they always planned.
 

Getta Robo

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Hello, I don't have access to twitter, nor Ben has replied to the current process of extracting the data from the HD, has anyone noticed if there is any progress on that?
 

Getta Robo

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Ah snap I missed that!
Does anyone got information on the current holder's Pluto? It would be a shame if he vanish just like that.
 

Greg2600

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I do not think they had any luck getting data off the drive.


Meanwhile the other Pluto-02 just sold at auction for $84,000! This was the unit which we first learned about on the old forum.

 

FamilyGuy

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I do not think they had any luck getting data off the drive.


Meanwhile the other Pluto-02 just sold at auction for $84,000! This was the unit which we first learned about on the old forum.

Good for SuperMagnetic, he was very nice to interact with on the boards.

Where did you read that it was also sold?

Though I do hope one of those ends up at a museum in the long term and not rotten in a dank basement.
 
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FamilyGuy

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They're wrong about the original owner though, he didn't buy it for a few bucks and wasn't featured with Adam Koralik. He used to work for Sega US.
 

AUSTIN PEYTON

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That's a shame the data couldn't be extracted. Someone else should give it a whirl.
 

Greg2600

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That's a shame the data couldn't be extracted. Someone else should give it a whirl.
Well it's unlikely anything on there would be of much interest. I doubt it's an unreleased game or something like that, and SEGA's actual released NetLink application was clearly superior to whatever they were testing.
 

Druid II

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Well it's unlikely anything on there would be of much interest. I doubt it's an unreleased game or something like that, and SEGA's actual released NetLink application was clearly superior to whatever they were testing.
They may have tested lots of stuff that was NOT released, and we don't even know what exactly this machine was supposed to be - why include a hard drive in the first place...?

In Japan they had a karaoke machine (SKC-1000) which was also a Saturn with a HDD and a modem (and a lot more). That's the closest parallel to the Pluto I can think of. If they could make the Pluto the stock unit and then pair it to a separate amplifier and external synth, they could've reduced the cost of the karaoke machine tenfolds. So who knows what we could find on that HDD, if it is readable at all (most SKC-1000 machines are dead today due to HDD errors).
 

Greg2600

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The more viable software would have been on whatever devkits or PC's SEGA were using on that Pluto. Whatever they installed I doubt is of any use now.
 
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