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Saturn Sophia Systems SegaSaturn Programming Box Taisen cable HSS-0107 system link

SuperH

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Some time back I thought it’d be fun to try multiplayer via Taisen Cable on the Sophia. At the time I think I had five Sophias including a Graphics Box but took a photo of 3x Programming Boxes and the Graphics Box (of this batch I currently only own the Graphics Box, the PBs all now with new owners) before setting up the link.

I took a similar setup to my Retro Tuesday meetup earlier this year where we played Daytona among other games (note the Sophias without lids are running as I was also showing off SH-2 boards inside).

There’s only a handful of Saturn games that utilised the cable but given how easy it is to carry LCD monitors around these days, it’s kind of become more practical.

The cable is included with some versions of Steeldom so it can be a more economical way to acquire it.

From segaretro the following is reported compatibility:

Japan
Europe
  • Doom
  • Hexen (accessed through debug menu, very buggy)
North America
  • Hexen (accessed through debug menu, very buggy)
 

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Nemesis

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Hey's what's the graphics box got going on under the hood? Is it basically a regular Sophia, minus a few bits?
 

SuperH

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Hey's what's the graphics box got going on under the hood? Is it basically a regular Sophia, minus a few bits?
Yep, identical just missing the CD/VCD interface (same as what’s in VA0 Saturns so can be easily sourced), the VirtualCD interface and the CD drive (plus the analog power supply to the drive).

In fact a guy from my Retro Tuesday group brought a Rhea emulator along one night when I had the Graphics Box there. I hacked together a 5V in from the Sophia power and connected it to a CD/VCD board from a Saturn. The system booted and Rhea was lookin for a game (unfortunately he’d just got it and it hadn’t configured an SD for it, I had a quick try at it but none of my Saturn ROMs were compatible I think, Rhea just showed no list errors). Something I’ll try again in future though if I ever get a Rhea.
 

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Nemesis

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I picked this up a bit over a month back:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/153450524202
It's a CD interface for the ST-V hardware, I didn't even realise they made one until I saw this come up. Missing the drive, but I'm sure I can plug one from a retail Saturn straight in, as I'm sure you'll notice they also nicked the CD/VCD interface board from a retail saturn for this unit.

My Sophia box is actually unusual in this space. It doesn't have the standard interface board that's in all the other Sophia's I've seen, it's some kind of prototype/dev version. I don't have a pic on hand, I'll snap one when I get home.
 

SuperH

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Oh wow I’ve never seen that before either! Very cool. Send pics of your Sophia when u can. Cheers
 

Nemesis

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Here's some pics of the SH1 board:
SophiaSH1.jpg

SophiaSH1Front.jpg

SophiaSH1Back.jpg

As you can see, the most significant difference is the PROM version of the SH7034 SH1 processor (HD6477034F20 instead of HD6437034F20), in this case in a QFP test socket, presumably so it could be easily removed and have the PROM contents re-flashed. Odds are the code on it has a difference or two from the retail version, although the same may be true of other Sophia units too. I know this Sophia can boot games directly from a regular CDR, IE, there's no security ring checking. Is that normal for Sophia units?
 

SuperH

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Very interesting!

Yes, all Sophias can read any CD-Rs. Even the Saturn branded CD-Rs do not contain security rings and are just regular CD-Rs although designed to match the specification of the Yamaha burner.
 

Nemesis

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There'll definitely be a custom ROM running on these Sophia SH1 units then. I'm interested in dumping them out. When the Saturn Satiator is finally released there'll be an easy way to do it. It should also be possible to put a Sophia SH1 board into a retain Saturn to make it accept CDRs too then. World's most expensive modchip!
 

SuperH

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Yeah I haven’t really investigated it but wondered whether the disc copy override was in the SH1 board, the drive itself or the VCD board. Should be easy enough to test with a retail unit when I have some time.
 

Wombat

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Color me impressed. This is some next level system linking you got going on there. You might be one of the first in the world and/or outside a development studio that linked up those Sophia's!
 

SuperH

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You might be one of the first in the world and/or outside a development studio that linked up those Sophia's!
I have have some original internal communication documentation from Sega ozisoft regarding development of the system link protocol; I’ll scan it and post on here
 

Xe

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those boards you had remanned are downright gorgeous, i dont even own a sophia pb and am tempted to pick up a pair for display
 

Druid II

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I picked this up a bit over a month back:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/153450524202
It's a CD interface for the ST-V hardware, I didn't even realise they made one until I saw this come up. Missing the drive, but I'm sure I can plug one from a retail Saturn straight in, as I'm sure you'll notice they also nicked the CD/VCD interface board from a retail saturn for this unit.

My Sophia box is actually unusual in this space. It doesn't have the standard interface board that's in all the other Sophia's I've seen, it's some kind of prototype/dev version. I don't have a pic on hand, I'll snap one when I get home.

That's the cart used for that STV fishing game. Sports Fishing 2, I think. Just from toying around with the game files, I figured it was using the Saturn CDB unit (I managed to get it booting in an emulator by setting the games ROM file as the Saturn BIOS, then starting the emulator in STV mode - it booted but didn't got far, most likely due to the lack of MPEG cart emulation), but I never seen pictures of that board until now. Nice catch.

Judging from the picture it uses the standard HSS-0119 video cd card board, with a matching boot rom.

I think getting the accompanying CD-ROM drive could be more interesting, since it is a front loader and yet connects through a 20-pin Saturn CD controller ribbon. And it uses CD caddies? No Saturn drive is like that. Even the front loader on the SKC-1000 karaoke units just had a stock Saturn drive (a small and rare Hitachi variant) built into a vastly oversized tray.
 

Druid II

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There'll definitely be a custom ROM running on these Sophia SH1 units then. I'm interested in dumping them out. When the Saturn Satiator is finally released there'll be an easy way to do it. It should also be possible to put a Sophia SH1 board into a retain Saturn to make it accept CDRs too then. World's most expensive modchip!

I suspected this from years ago, when someone first commented on having a Sophia that could boot CDRs, and it had the CDB board you posted. It very obviously contains a custom firmware that predates the copy protection.

FYI, there's a line starting with "CDB" on the SH1 cpus, which indicates the version of the SH1 firmware. CDB104, CDB105 and CDB106 are all in retail Saturns. I've seen CDB104NS in one Sophia, and the socketed, label-less SH7034 in at least two. Some people commented that their Sophias can only run retail discs, so obviously different units came with different CDB cards with different firmware versions.

I was hoping I could get Shane or you to dump those SH1 chips with the Satiator by sending you any beta card I may get for testing, but that was before Prof. Abrasive decided to make the testing public in anticipation of a retail launch.
 

jollyroger

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XenForo says Oct 18, 2008, but actually I originally register in 1998...
Some time back I thought it’d be fun to try multiplayer via Taisen Cable on the Sophia. At the time I think I had five Sophias including a Graphics Box but took a photo of 3x Programming Boxes and the Graphics Box (of this batch I currently only own the Graphics Box, the PBs all now with new owners) before setting up the link.

I took a similar setup to my Retro Tuesday meetup earlier this year where we played Daytona among other games (note the Sophias without lids are running as I was also showing off SH-2 boards inside).

There’s only a handful of Saturn games that utilised the cable but given how easy it is to carry LCD monitors around these days, it’s kind of become more practical.

The cable is included with some versions of Steeldom so it can be a more economical way to acquire it.

From segaretro the following is reported compatibility:

Japan
Europe
  • Doom
  • Hexen (accessed through debug menu, very buggy)
North America
  • Hexen (accessed through debug menu, very buggy)

This has to be one of the most amazing pictures I have seen in a while!
 
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