Impressions of the Dreamcast's Innards

Well, we opened the dreamcast up and had a poke around. Found the usual things, some odd things, and some really unexpected things. Here's what we saw, and what we made of what we saw.

To start with, the construction of the unit is very similar to the Sega Saturn. The power supply unit (PSU), the mainboard, controller-subboard and drive unit are very reminiscent of the Saturn.

Everything internal is labelled KATANA. From the GD mech to the main board, the Katana label is everywhere. Looks like that was the official in-house name for the unit right up to the very end.

[Katana Main Board]

There was one odd thing we noticed underneath the board. There's a wire attached to one of six points - No idea what for.

[Who knows?]

The CD mech is labelled Katana GD (probably for gig, or giga, referring to the gigabyte CD ROM mechanism). It's very robust, and is on an enclosed board attached to the mainboard by an expansion-port-like connector. It was, according to the label, manufactured by Yamaha.

[CD Mech Connector]

The battery is hardwired - there's no easy changing of this puppy like there was on the Saturn. Kind of an odd choice, we would have thought, but there it is. This battery is used exclusively for the internal clock, and to maintain the internet information setup.

[The hardwired Battery]

The CD Door switch was located deep inside the system, and probably won't allow you to bypass it without opening the system, and either wiring it closed or adding an external switch.

[CD Door Switch]
The most fascinating thing was the heat dissipation system. There is the fan in the front, which everyone knows about. What's odd is that it's nowhere near the two chips that get hot, located in the middle of the mainboard. [NEW 01/2000] The north american system does NOT use this cooling method - where's the fun in that?

[The Main Board]

[Chip Heat Sink]

These chips are connected to the fan/heatsink unit by means of metal rods, designed to transfer heat to the heatsink. There is a liquid inside which, using convection circulation, is cooled by the fan/heatsink. Absolutely bizarre, but apparently quite effective. You can check out a little more about this kind of cooling here and here.

[Fan/HeatSink Unit]

And as an added bonus, there's a thermistor attached to one of the cooling rods to measure the temperature, probably attached to a cut-off in case of overheating.

[Thermal Transistor
Then there's the power supply. It's been designed, according to the label, for voltages ranging from 85 to 132 AC. This means that there is absolutely no problems running them in North America - they're designed for it. No silly step-down transformers are needed.

[85 - 132v AC]

The Saturn-like design is consistant throughout - this connector from the PSU to the mainboard is almost identical to the Saturn design.

[Power Connector]

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