Following on from Chiptunes and Battered GameBoy, I thought I’d investigate trying to get a LSDJ on the cheap, see DMG music cartridge… and ended up also investigating flashers, as it is probably cheaper to buy a flashable card than trying to source an original LSDj cartridge.
- For Nintendo DS and DS Lite flash cards, see Battered Nintendo DS Lite
- Making your own GameBoy Flash cartridges
- Resources for making physical homebrew_carts
- Best/cheapest repros to reflash? gb+gba – purchase cheap Pokemon clones, and 70% of them are flashable, such as Pokemon Fan Advance Gameboy Cartridge Game Card For NDSL/GBC/GBM/GBA/SP UK HOT, £2.66
- How to DIY a gameboy flash cartridge with a rom adapter board
- Making a Game Boy game in 2017: A “Sheep It Up!” Post-Mortem (part 1/2) – Not really about flash cards but an interesting read nevertheless.
More Reddit threads:
Quick Recommendation Summary
Slightly longer TL;DR
- Gameboy/Gameboy Color ROMs on Gameboy/Gameboy Color: Get an Everdrive-GB by krikzz
- Gameboy Advance ROMs on Gameboy Advance: Get an Everdrive GBA by krikzz
- Gameboy/Gameboy Color ROMs emulated on Gameboy Advance: Get an EZ-Flash IV 2015, and run Goomba Color Emulator (the Everdrive GBA flashcart also works just as well but is more expensive if you only want to run GB/GBC games)
- Nintendo DS ROMs on a Nintendo DS/DS Lite/DSi: Get a R4i Gold 3DS RTS by r4ids.cn
- Gameboy Advance ROMs emulated on Nintendo DS/DS Lite/DSi: Get a SuperCard DSTWO by supercard.sc (it has a special CPU needed for emulation)
- Gameboy Advance ROMs natively on Nintendo DS/DS Lite: Get a R4i Gold 3DS RTS by r4ids.cn and a EZ 3-in-1 Expansion Pack
- Gameboy/Gameboy Color ROMs emulated on Nintendo DS/DS Lite/DSi: Get a R4i Gold 3DS RTS by r4ids.cn (or any homebrew-capable card) and run any GBC emulator
- Nintendo DSi ROMs on Nintendo DSi: Not possible since DSi 1.4.5 update (nobody cares about DSi games)
Note about LSDj
From DMG music cartridge under the section LSDj:
Note the LSDJ requires a ROM of 4 Mb (prior to version 3.0), or 8 Mb (version 3.0 or greater), and 32 kB RAM (128kB for filesystem), see Backup gear:
The cartridge ROM size should be 8 Mbit (Possibly 4 Mbit if you’re ok with using an old version) This is usually no problem since most carts have more than that. As for RAM you need 32 kbytes to run LSDj, and to be able to use the file system, you need 128 kbytes. Many carts do not have 128 kbytes of RAM, so watch out! Also, some carts do have 128 kbytes of RAM, but do not support acess to all of it at the same time. In this case yo can have four copies of LSDj each with one song, but with no access to file saving.
- 8 Mb = 1 MB
- 4 Mb = 0.5 MB = 512 kB
Note about mGB
/mGB requires only a 32 kB cartridge.
Note about SRAM
1 Mb cartridges:
- Drag n derp
- Dragon cart
- BennVenn cheapo LSDj cart does.
EverDrive cartridges do not have 1 Mb.
The thing is, few USB/SD carts give LSDJ 1 mbit SRAM, which is needed to save multiple projects on a single copy of LSDJ.
I know you can have multiple mono-project (256 kbit SRAM) LSDJ copies on most carts, but then you can’t copy and paste from one onto another.
AFAIK, only ever drives don’t give 1mbit. ElCheapoSD do, ems do, drag n derp do, dragon cart do, my cheapo lsdj cart does. It’s more common than not
Flashable cartridge options
- 32M LDSJ Cartridge, £20 +$2 LSDj license
- 64M USB CARTRIDGE LOADED WITH ROMS OF YOUR CHOICE E.G. PUSHPIN, £32 ($40) – probably cheaper than buying $20 flasher and a $27 flashable cartridge. Contains two pages and both pages share the same SRAM memory. PDF, link, PDF: 326011502-GB-USB-Smart-Card-Manual. From the manual:
Game saver is stored in SRAM. Both pages share the same SRAM. Only one game saver could be stored in the SRAM at the same time. New game saver would overwrite the old one.
- From EMS 64M Smart Card discontinued
It served its purpose at the time, but nowadays for the money El Cheapo ( pre-order is 50 dollars atm I think still) is a lot better, modern SD card storage drag and drop, perfect compatibility ( Smart Card had some strange issues with a few games ), save states…
For those who never used the 64M Smart Card, you only have space to put on 2 ROM’s, and only one shared save meaning if you saved in the other game it would overwrite this file. There is a workaround menu that required a Windows XP machine ( or VM ware ) but it would still take forever transfer like maybe 10 games onto the limited space. They all would have to share the same save file ( multigame savefile ) and it was just a mess to keep track of if you ever wanted to switch the games you put on it.
If you absolutely want to get one, then I recommend using the android app and get a USB OTG cable to transfer roms and saves ( still has the 2 game limit and 1 shared save file limit this way, and a very slow transfer speed )
- Software including OSX/Linux, https://www.dmgs-r-us.de/downloads/
GB USB Smart Card 64Mlatest software, manual and drivers (32bit and 64bit)GB_USB_Smart_Card_64M.zipCompressed Archive in ZIP Format 4.3 MB
- Alternative software for GB USB Smart Card 64M
- Multiple save-file support for GB USB Smart Card 64M
- Android App for GB USB Smart Card 64M
ArduinoBoy 2017 Documentation – Modes DetailsArduinoBoyDocu_ModesDetails.pdfAdobe Acrobat Document 802.5 KB
- Flash Boy
- Flash Boy Cartridge for Game Boy Classic DMG and Color GBC 16Mbit / 256Kb / RTC, $74.90
- Flash Boy Cartridge for Game Boy Classic DMG and Color GBC 16Mbit / 64Kb, $53 (no filesystem available)
- Flash card 16Mbit+256KB+FRAM (but no RTC), comes includes with Flash Boy Gameboy GB/GBC Color Cart Cartridge Dumper Flasher FRAM With USB Cable, $55.44 (£42.26) +$0.58
- 32k Gameboy Flash Cart, $10 + $15 (ROM only) Will not run LSDJ
- Inside Gadgets:
- Gameboy 32KB Flash Cart, $10 + $3 (and they will flash ROM for you)
- Gameboy 2MB 32KB FRAM Flash Cart, $27 + $3
- Gameboy 2MB 128KB SRAM Flash Cart (Great for LSDJ), $27 + $3
- May require Altera USB blaster: Altera FPGA/CPLD Program (USB Blaster Compatible) / LC MAXII EPM240 Dev Board M, £2.76
- Gameboy 4MB 128KB SRAM Flash Cart (Low power, Great for LSDJ), $34 + $3
- Gameboy 64MB Mighty Flash Cart (New version), $45
- Jack-DIY Game Boy ROM Flash Cartridge JACK DIY + 8GB micro SD Card, £29
- Everdrive – the best according to Which flashcard do I want? Start here!
- Everdrive-GB (Cyprus Stock) $70
- Everdrive GB X3 For Game Boy, £54
- Everdrive GB X7 For Game Boy, £119 – Pricey but has RTC
- Comparison from EverDrive-GB X7
EverDrive-GB X series comparison:
- [EverDrive-GB X5]
- Same as X7 minus save states, in-game menu and RTC
- [EverDrive-GB X3]
- Same as X5 but required reboot in menu to save game progress stored in SRAM (Like Mega-X3 or ED64-V2.5)
- Flash Cartridge ( 2MB / 4MB ) for GameBoy, $29.95/41.90 (£22.89/32.02)
- El Cheapo – this is a drag and drop cartridge (User guide v2.0), and which is more highly rated than EMS 64m. There are various versions, some of which have issues.
Nintendo Power Flash
From GameBoy Power Flash Pc Adapter, £38.99
Flash Cartridge images
32k Gameboy Flash Cart – CatSkull
Gameboy 32KB Flash Cart (comes with case)
From InsideGadgets comparison page:
Flash card 16Mbit+256KB+FRAM (although the image shows 16/32Mb)
Jack DIY – takes microSD
From EverDrive-GB X7
From 32M LDSJ Cartridge
The above cartridge is referred to in Yet another Arduinoboy Gameboy and Midi HowTo:
For the project you need a special cartridge (the grey memory boxes where the games are usually on). You need a cartridge wich can be rewritten with the mGB code (see below), so the gameboy knows what to play when a midi-note comes in.
This was one of the biggest mysteries for me. What do I have to do? Buy a cartridge and a programmer, if yes, which? Build the programmer myself? Build the cartridge itself from scratch with used RAM? It might seem confusing, but in the end, there are only two main cartridges:
Cartridge with mini USB Connector, works like a USB-Memory Stick (Easy)
As seen in the picture above. I would go for this option, but these cartridges are sometimes hard to find. You can google “GB USB Smart Card 64Mbit” to find source or use these:
Flashlinker Shop (german, 40€)
Kitch Bent StoreMafipulation (new batches from time to time, but sold out very quickly)
You can also check the chiptune forums from time to time
Cartridges you need a programmer for (hard)
Escecially if you plan to programm lots of cartridges you should think about getting a programmer. There is gorgeous site form Mr. Ziegler with extensive info on this issue.
You could make your own programmable cartridges using recycled commercial cartridges: GameBoy Cartridge Reader and Writer by Reiner Ziegler
Flash Boy should not be confused with FlashBoy.
The Chinese versions of Flash Boy come in two variants, basic (no version number) and version 3.1. The differences seem to be:
- Version 3.1
- GBA support
- Camera support
From a description of the basic, from Flash Boy-Gameboy DMG and Color GBC Cartridge Dumper Flasher memory equipped ROM:
- Copy DMG & GBC cartridge ROMs onto your HD, use a device like the EZ-Flash Omega to play your collection
- Burn ROMs onto Flash memory equipped cartridges like the official Flash Boy cartridges
- Read & write game saves (RAM) on supporting game cartridges (like Pokemon series)
From a description of version 3.1 from For Flash Boy 3.1 Cyclone GBC/GBA Cartridge Dumper Flasher ROM With USB Cable
- Dump ROMS and backup SAVS from both original GBA/GBC cartridges and most third-party GBA/GBC cartridges.
- Dump images as .bmp format from the Game Boy camera to PC.
- Write GB/GBC ROMS to original Flash Boy cartridges and some similar MBC5 or FPGA based carts.
- Write GBA ROMS to “29LV320xxx” series etc. Flash chip based GBA Flash carts.
Suppliers on eBay
- Game Boy / Color Cart Flasher / Dumper Custom, $119
- Flash Boy – NS Gameboy DMG & GBC Game Cartridge Dumper Flasher ROM + USB Cable, $27.53
- Flash Boy 3.1 Cyclone GBC/GBA ROMS Game Cartridge Dumper Flasher with USB Cable, $43
- Flash Boy Gameboy GB/GBC Color Cart Cartridge Dumper Flasher FRAM With USB Cable, $55.44 +$0.58 includes a flash card 16Mbit+256KB+FRAM (but no RTC)
- GBxCart RW (Gameboy/GBC/GBA Cart Reader/Writer), Mini $21 (DMG/GBC only), MicroUSB $29, USB-C $31 – CH340G based, 3D printed case files
- Gameboy Cart Shield for Arduino (Discontinued), For building your own I would recommend v1.2 as it contains less parts – Download v1.2
- GBA Reg & Charge v2.0 (Run your GBA/GBC/mGB from a LiPo battery), $21-23
Build your own flasher
Apart from the Arduino Shield, Gameboy Cart Shield for Arduino (Discontinued), For building your own I would recommend v1.2 as it contains less parts – Download v1.2, which can only read, Manual link, PDF: Gameboy_Cart_Shield_v1.3_Rev3_Manual.
- – 74HC595D SMD SO16 (2)
- – GBA Game Cart Slot for NDS Lite SMD (1) –
- http://dx.com/p/repair-parts-replacement-gba-game-cart-slot-for-nds-lite-37787 (has been out of stock for a while) or
- 10pcs from Aliexpress https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Repair-part-for-GB-GBC-console-connector-card-slot-32-Pin/32696244189.html
- Xunbeifang Replacement 32 Pin Card Slot connector for GameBoy Coolor for GB GBC console, £3.04+£0
- – Arduino (5V version)
- – 8 pin Male headers (2) – (or Arduino 8 Pin .100″ Stackable Header)
- – 6 pin Male headers (2) – (or Arduino 6 Pin .100″ Stackable Header)
- – Red LED SMD 0805 (2) – comes pre-soldered to PCB
- – 10K Resistor SMD 0805 (2) – comes pre-soldered to PCB
- v1.3 Rev. 3 (28 May 2016) – Download
- Updated GBCartRead to v1.8 Rev 1
- v1.3 Rev. 2 (21 Mar 2016) – Download
- Updated GBCartRead to v1.8
- v1.3 Rev. 1 (17 Feb 2015) – Download
- Updated GBCartRead to v1.7 Rev 1
- v1.3 Rev. 1 (17 Feb 2015) – Download
- Updated GBCartRead to v1.7 Rev 1
- v1.3 (12 Feb 2015) – Download (for GBCartShield v1.3)
- Added power circuit/button to switch power on or off to the Gameboy Cartridge, allows you to easily switch between cartridges without needing to unplug your Arduino (thanks to Frode vdM. firstname.lastname@example.org for the suggestion)
- Moved SCK wire from pin 12 to pin 13 for SPI
- Updated GBCartRead to v1.7
- v1.2 Rev. 3 (14 November 2014) – Download (for GBCartShield v1.2)
- Updated GBCartRead to v1.5
- v1.2 Rev. 2 (21 July 2014) – Download
- Updated documentation as GBA Game Cart Slot from DX has changed what it looks like
- v1.2 (3 January 2014) – Download
- Updated to included LEDs for WR and RD pins
- Changed pin 13 to pin A3 as some Arduino’s may have issues with pin 13
- Corrected issue with VCC not being connected to the 74HC595D VCC
- v1.1 (2 July 2013) – Download
- v1.0 (14 March 2013) – Download
- Initial Release
There is also this excellent series of blogs, again from InsideGadgets:
- GBCartRead: Arduino based Gameboy Cart Reader – Part 1: Read the ROM
- GBCartRead: Arduino based Gameboy Cart Reader – Part 2: Read the RAM
- GBCartRead: Arduino based Gameboy Cart Reader – Part 3: Write to RAM
- GBCartRead: Arduino based Gameboy Cart Reader Completed
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Bottom (original image)
Schematic (original image)