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Last Updated: 5th March 2021

GDEmu Errata

Okay – the updater for older GDEMUs is ready and has been tested. Still, after that angry comment in the last post, I’m again questioning the wisdom of openly distributing a FW file that can potentially brick your device if you don’t follow my instructions to the letter. And apparently, some people only read every second line or so, and then come to their own conclusions.

And, frankly, there could still be a bug in it, or perhaps my instructions are not that clear, to begin with. Though – somewhat surprisingly – the people who have most problems are those that nearly don’t speak English and use various automated translation tools but also the native speakers.

My English might be somewhat rough around the edges, but when I ask you to first rename a file and then copy it to the card, it’s not because I’m unable to form a complex sentence. You are supposed to do exactly that, in this particular order, step by step. I meant it when I said pretty much all issues people had updating the FW were self-inflicted.

So, this being a big update and a potential major disaster waiting to happen, I’m asking for some volunteers first. Leave a note in the comments, especially if you own an older (pre-2016) device. I will select a few people and offer full help should something go wrong. If that goes well, I will upload the updater for everyone to use. Also, people who can make a YT tutorial for those with, shall we say, shorter attention span are very welcome. A good video might be useful, as well.

The gist of the update process is this:

  1. Flash the updater FW following the usual instructions.
  2. Remove the card and power the Dreamcast once, without any card inserted, to let the updater do its work. Wait for BIOS menu to appear.
  3. Power off and then insert the 5.20+ FW to flash that, again follow the instructions.

And that’s it. Few notes:

  • Older GDEMUs (and I mean the really early ones) have different flash patterns for FW update. In general, it’s OK to go to step 2 anyway because if the file was corrupted or something went wrong, your device will simply blink and not start, but will not be bricked. So you can retry.
  • When booting the updater, wait for the Dreamcast to go to the main menu. Then you can turn it off. If you get weird blinks on your device instead, contact me. The short LED blinking burst on power-on is normal.
  • Speaking of weird LED flashes, make sure your Dreamcast runs well and did not just get affected by the “bad PSU contact disease”. For example, run it for a few minutes first and make sure it doesn’t randomly reboot or go back to the menu from inside a game. You really don’t want the power loss to occur when updater is running.
  • If you turn off the console after updater has run and then turn it on again, GDEMU will blink like if it had no FW installed. That’s normal, it now wants the 5.20+ version and will no longer work with any previous one. Though if you follow the instructions you shouldn’t ever get here.
  • The updater actually does have some rudimentary OLED support but the 5.20 FW does not. I really need to make that connection diagram ASAP in case someone wants to use it.

UPDATE: The updater was tested on pretty much every GDEMU revision there was, including the early 2014 v5.0 models, and worked every time so I’m releasing it.

UPDATE2: There’s a bug in early GDEMU bootloaders that was fixed in late 2016, it can randomly lock up the device while trying to execute the updater. Sorry about the download link confusion, I have a revised version ready but I need to test it some more. I will upload that one in 2-3 days.