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Sega Saturn won’t Boot

Tokimemofan

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I just purchased a broken Japanese Saturn, console loads to the clock settings screen and crashes after setting the clock. There is no sound on that screen. When it crashes it is stuck on the Sega Saturn logo if the door is open or a black screen if it is closed. The drive appears to be working. Power Supply voltages are within proper ranges. Unit is a va 0.5 any suggestions?
 

Druid II

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Sounds possible, there is 1 suspicious capacitor on the power board, want to try to get more info first though

It's probably just glued down, people confuse that for leaking all the time.

You most likely need to recap the motherboard. Even if the caps don't show possible faults, they are still old and beyond their lifespan. The few consoles I had with the "randomly crashing" problem got fixed after recapping. The PLL chip sucks and is too sensitive for bad caps. In the next decade we'll have to start looking into replacement parts for that chip, since it dies too easily. It fries if you accidentally point a heatgun at its general direction, so you can't even replace them with parts taken from dead units.

As for the power supply, if it has one of those TOP chips, replace those with their modern equivalent to be safe. I think the replacement part was TOP224YN (TOP223YN may also work, but the 224 has higher power rating, so I recommend the 224 just to be safe). The TOP chips in the power supply die very frequently, and it's more useful to replace that than the caps. Of course the caps on the power supply are also old, so you might as well do a complete fix-up job.

Note that you need the lowest profile caps for the motherboard, otherwise they won't fit under the heatsink/EM shield, and you can't mount some components without it. Though for a VA0.5 that might be less of an issue since it uses standalone pegs for the cd drive. Also, the VA0 uses SMD caps.
 

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as abowe. awsome, just if you replace the TOP chip, do replace the diodes also, and maybe even the voltage reference. My bet is still recapping the mother board will solve it.

The 110v supplys seem to last in my opinion, the 230v ones suck!
 

Tokimemofan

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It's probably just glued down, people confuse that for leaking all the time.

You most likely need to recap the motherboard. Even if the caps don't show possible faults, they are still old and beyond their lifespan. The few consoles I had with the "randomly crashing" problem got fixed after recapping. The PLL chip sucks and is too sensitive for bad caps. In the next decade we'll have to start looking into replacement parts for that chip, since it dies too easily. It fries if you accidentally point a heatgun at its general direction, so you can't even replace them with parts taken from dead units.

As for the power supply, if it has one of those TOP chips, replace those with their modern equivalent to be safe. I think the replacement part was TOP224YN (TOP223YN may also work, but the 224 has higher power rating, so I recommend the 224 just to be safe). The TOP chips in the power supply die very frequently, and it's more useful to replace that than the caps. Of course the caps on the power supply are also old, so you might as well do a complete fix-up job.

Note that you need the lowest profile caps for the motherboard, otherwise they won't fit under the heatsink/EM shield, and you can't mount some components without it. Though for a VA0.5 that might be less of an issue since it uses standalone pegs for the cd drive. Also, the VA0 uses SMD caps.
I can assure you it isn’t glue. It’s a thin powdery discoloration on one of the leads. I’m going to replace that one regardless because I have a spare
 

Tokimemofan

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I gave up, turns out there are cold solder joints on nearly every component on the board, I figured that out when cleaning using a toothbrush, a capacitor came right off the board exposing bare clean copper. Reflowing every solder joint is a complete waste of time Only paid $20 boxed for it. Just be careful buying VA 0.5 Saturns I doubt that it was just a bad day at the factory
 

hbard

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By recapping you will accomplish reflowing. Only reflowing solder joints on old consoles is almost no work and takes very little time, there are a lot worse boards out there that are 10x more work.
 
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Tokimemofan

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By recapping you will accomplish reflowing. Only reflowing solder joints on old consoles is almost no work and takes very little time, there are a lot worse boards out there that are 10x more work.
Apparently you either didn’t read my last post or have never worked on a Sega Saturn. Almost everything has cold solder joints some of these ic chips have well over 100 pins. I am quite good at soldering but this is a job for a mad man. Of course the pads are oxidized too so hot air and flux won’t make it much easier.
 

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untrue. change all the caps and it will be fine! This is not a hostile message. Just do it!
 

Tokimemofan

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untrue. change all the caps and it will be fine! This is not a hostile message. Just do it!
I already did a recap and had no change. I am tired of the modern conventional wisdom that capacitors are the only possible problem. As I said already I found large numbers of cold solder joints on this board. There is minor damage to the case of the system that probably compromised one of them. Every capacitor I pulled out intact enough to test tested within normal ranges. Helpful advice at this point would be narrowing down what chip is likely to cause the specific problems. The potential issues with the clock generator ic are concerning though. If any ic chips are faulty I have a spare us release board of a similar revision.
 

FREE_WORLD

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Surely if you do a bit at a time - start on one end of the board and work your way to the other - I suppose the question is - is it worth your time? - or can you find a better board at a reasonable price...?
Or you could always ship it to me and I can see what I can do....
 

ItsMeMario

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Please forgive me, I had to ^^

 

Tokimemofan

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Surely if you do a bit at a time - start on one end of the board and work your way to the other - I suppose the question is - is it worth your time? - or can you find a better board at a reasonable price...?
Or you could always ship it to me and I can see what I can do....
And of course the possibility that yet another problem awaits, I’m probably just going to call it a loss at this point. I’ve been looking on eBay for broken va 0.5 Saturns and it seems board faults are very common on this revision. Seems this is totaled here’s some photos of the problem. The dark areas are bare copper. I have been repairing consoles for 15 years and have never seen anything like this. How did this even make it out of the factory. This unit is a Virtua Fighter Campaign bundle, be careful when buying units from around that time
 

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FREE_WORLD

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Yea I see what you mean - if spares were to be completely unavailable - it is not completely beyond saving...
But that being said - alot of time and work only to find that it becomes a gift that just keeps on giving....
When a later revision would probably yield a fully functional unit with little effort (maybe just a re-cap?)
 

Tokimemofan

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Yea I see what you mean - if spares were to be completely unavailable - it is not completely beyond saving...
But that being said - alot of time and work only to find that it becomes a gift that just keeps on giving....
When a later revision would probably yield a fully functional unit with little effort (maybe just a re-cap?)
At this point my plan is to parts bin the board, there is damage to a few mechanical components that will require a donor system anyways, I’ll just use the drive to fix my spare us Saturn that’s missing pieces and I already have a lead on a replacement console only locally. If I ever get the board working I’ll put an ode in it.
 
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