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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Repairing a SEGA Dreamcast that Randomly Restarts

Update 20/12/13:
I've since created a video tutorial on this subject. To watch that, check it out embedded on the bottom of this page.

I hadn't given my ye ole faithful Dreamcast a spin as of late, so the other day I decided to take it for a drive. What happened there after scared the bejesus out of me; it kept randomly restarting as I was trying to play it.
From there I panicked, I love that stupid beige cube. It can't die on me, I'm emotionally attached to it since it was the start of my retro collection that we know today.

As it happens though, I have a belief. This is the belief that there is no such thing as a dead console. This belief isn't strictly religious, but I stand by it thoroughly. All it took was a few Google searches to find out that it's fortunately an easy fix. Basically, the contacts that connect the PSU to the rest of the system are prone to getting dirty, which of course can sever the connection every now and again, causing the whole system to restart.
I watched a few YouTube videos and picked up the general gist of how you're suppose to undertake such a repair. One such video that I found useful was this one, right here. That video is quite well made, but majority are just awful. So awful in fact, that I've been inspired to create my own in the very near future. I pride myself on my production values, and I'll create something that wasn't filmed on a potato.  

Until then though, I created a photo diary of sorts of me fixing my Dreamcast this afternoon. I must stress that this isn't really a tutorial, but just me following another tutorial. Having said that however, you may find it useful non the less.
Since this is sort of a tutorial though, I have to state that you follow this at your own risk, and that I'm not responsible for any negligence on your own behalf. It should go without saying really, but that's the nature of this shitty world. Some ass-hats will sue others over anything.

Right'o, lets get down to business.
First off, the tools you'll need. The list is quite a small one as the repair is easy. All are shown in the photo below, which includes a standard Philips head screwdriver, a paper towel and some rubbing alcohol (over 70% if you can). I also did the whole thing on a tableclothe as to not scratch the Dreamcast or my totally expensive desk from Officeworks (hint: that's sarcasm. Officeworks is awesome).

From there you want to make sure there is no game inside (durr) and then remove the modem. There is a screw under the modem, and another three spaced around the bottom of the console. Remove them all.
After that, turn the console around and remove the top case. It's a little easier if you first pop open the disk bay too.

Once it's off, you have to remove the PSU (pictured below). There is a plug at the top that needs to be removed (don't be too aggressive with it, it comes out fairly easily) and two screws. All that's holding it in from there is a clip, and it should slide right on out. If you're having trouble and are scared of breaking something, refer to the video I link beforehand.

The PSU slides right off some pins, which are usually the dirty culprit.
I splashed some rubbing alcohol on a paper towel, and then scrubbed it thoroughly on both sides. In some videos peeps have used steel wool, but paper towels worked for me.

After a bit of housecleaning, my Dreamcast seems to be a-okay. I played it for about 20 minutes without any problems, while before I couldn't even get past the Dreamcast splash screen.
I can't believe how easy this fix has been, and hopefully it will help you too. May the Dreamcast live on.



  1. Ugh, that's such an annoying design flaw. From what I've read, it only affects PAL Dreamcast consoles. Super, duper annoying. The only way I've been able to fix it is to periodically put some pressure on the prongs after having the Dreamcast warm them up a bit. I've read they're pone to bending every now and then.

    Makes me want to get my hands on a NTSC Dreamcast though.

    1. That's crazy if true, I wonder why they would be manufactured differently. The only difference that I thought would exist is the geo locking, since my PAL unit can play games in 60hz as well as 50hz.