The Ultimate Dreamcast Upgrades (Part 1)

Quake 3 Online – Dreamcast Live Game Night

I was finally around for a game night and got to jump in on a few matches of Quake 3 online. This is probably the first time I’ve actually played it against actual humans and not bots. Definitely was a lot of fun, but need to tweak my mouse sensitivity a bit. And also practice more. This should give you a pretty good idea of what kind of performance to expect playing online. 

USB4MAPLE – Now it looks a little more official

I was trying to figure out what kind of case I could use to hide away this little device so that it is safe from getting destroyed or having the cable ripped out. I remembered I had this little plastic box that came with my Logitech mouse that the weights and little buttons could be stored in. I only remembered it, because I threw it away the night before, so I had to fish it out of the trash can. It worked about as well as I expected.

Now it almost looks like an official Logitech product 🙂 

USB4MAPLE – Use USB devices on your Dreamcast!

This is a project I learned about from the fantastic Dreamcastic YouTube channel. It’s a Pi Pico device that loaded with custom firmware, acts as an interface between the Dreamcast and various USB devices. We’re talking PS3 controllers, PS4, Xbox 360, certain joysticks, certain racing wheels, and your own mouse and keyboard’s.

I’m working on making a video of my process of building it but for now I just wanted to drop a brief introduction, and my thoughts of it so far. 

For starters, it’s not entirely beginner friendly. If you’re familiar with a soldering iron, you should be fine. But, as I learned the hard way, soldering something this tiny is difficult. I will definitely be working on a do-over soon, which is why my first hour long video of me fumbling about with it will never see the light of day. 

The device itself is fairly simple, and is readily available on Amazon for around $10. The other things you’ll need is a USB-C to A adapter, a USB-C cable to program the device with the custom firmware, and either a broken controller to donate a cable from, or one of those cable extenders you’re willing to part with. 

I opted for using the cable from a Dreamcast controller, which really hurt me. It was easier however, since my multimeter would fit in the male connector to trace the pin outs, and I couldn’t find a reliable wiring diagram for the extension cable. 

I followed the instructions from the wiki, but will be putting my own notes and experience in as well. You’ll want to visit this page regularly however, it has the instructions for the flash process, and will have the latest firmware available. 

Above is the image from the Wiki. It had me a bit confused at first, but everything started to make more sense once I found pics of someone else’s completed build. Which I want to clear up here a little bit to help others in need. This is at your own risk of course. 

  1. Orange – Pin 14
  2. Green –  Pin 5V
  3. White – Ground
  4. Blue – Not used? I didn’t.
  5. Red – Pin 15

I may have 3 and 4 reversed. But wire the white cable to Ground on the board. For my build, I did not use the blue wire and just cut it off. If this is a mistake or not, I’ve yet to determine, but so far it has worked fine without it. 

So far, the only device I’ve tested with it has been a Microsoft Optical Mouse. This has mostly been the only thing I’ve been interested in trying however, my main reason for doing this project was to skip using the awful old school Dreamcast ball mouse. 

I went nuts with hot glue on mine to ensure that the cables don’t move around too much and hopefully won’t come loose. Version 2 that I’ll work on soon should be put together far better than this.

So you want to install Windows 98?

I’m detailing the basic process of installing Windows 98 SE on this nearly pristine Dell Inspiron 5100 that fell into my lap. It’s a Pentium 4 from the XP era of laptops, I’d guess released sometime around 2003 or so. The service tag doesn’t bring up any info on Dell’s site anymore since they purged it a long time ago, but none of that really matters anyways. They never released official drivers for it, so I’m having to make up everything as I go. 

The things that helped me the most are finding a giant universal driver pack, old video drivers, and installing USB mass storage device support. I’m not going to go over all the details on how to set up Windows or install drivers, just cover some of the basics of what worked for me. If you’re attempting something like this, chances are you’re savvy as it is. That or you’re insane. Or a little bit of both. 

I’ll have the drivers I needed linked at the bottom. For video drivers, you’ll be on your own to find those. There is a good chance they’re available though, AMD (then ATI) and nVidia were both great at supporting older OS’s, and finding their legacy drivers is a pretty simple Google search away. 

Universal Driver Pack

I obtained this from the Retro System Revival blog and you can find out more info clicking here. I wanted to rehost the installer just in case the page goes down and/or to lighten the server load. 

Contains 100,000 universal drivers
Holds drivers compatible with Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP/Vista/7
Compatible with 3com, Acer, AMD, AOpen, APC, Asus, AutoDesk, Brother, Canon, Creative, Epson, HP, Intel, Microsoft, Samsung, Toshiba, and many more brands!

Windows 98SE USB Mass Storage Device Drivers

This driver was a bit tougher to find. I’m not exactly sure where I got it, as the link to download it is dead. But it is the one I found that worked. You can find more info about it here. Once it is installed, Windows will pop up the new hardware found window when you plug in your thumb drive. Just follow the prompts and let it install the drivers manually. 

It’s important to note – Windows 98 does not support NTFS or exFat. You must format whichever thumb drive you’re using as Fat32. Windows 10/11 will only offer that as an option if the drive is 4gb or less. There are programs that let you format larger drivers, but there is a chance 98 will have no idea what the hell the drive is if it’s larger. I haven’t tried it, but keep those warnings in mind. Also, 98 only supports up to 512mb ram and a 137gb storage drive natively. 

Why would you this? Why not. It’s a fun little project, and old laptops are a great way to play some classic PC games. They can be had for dirt cheap, don’t take up a lot of space, and some of the specs were more than adequate enough to play most games from the Windows 98 and DOS era. 


The Need for Speed Credits Video

I fired up Need for Speed on the Playstation 1 recently, which brought back a lot of fond memories. I mostly played it on the Saturn when I was a kid, but discovered at some point that the Playstation version was superior. It looked a bit better, though the game was impressive on both consoles. I’m not really debating which version is the best right now. Just the one thing the PS1 version had, that no other version had – this really cool behind the scenes video in the credits.

I searched high and low, and couldn’t actually find anywhere that this has been posted before. So I went ahead and ripped a copy of it, tossed it up on Youtube, and here it is! 

Video cards are too damn big!

Modern video cards are the size of water melons, and about as heavy to boot. This is a problem since they barely fit in cases, and they block access to existing ports, which is a problem that I ran into recently.

I recently upgraded to an RTX 4080, from my 3080, to get some extra frames in Cyberpunk. The upgrade was totally worth it, as running it at the native 5120×1440 my ultrawide monitor supports was causing me issues. Mostly with the GPU running out of VRAM, as that resolution pushes the 10gb my old video card has. 

While worth it, the upgrade presented me with another issue. The new card is so damn big, my 2nd PCI-E x16 slot is completely blocked by the heatsink, which renders my capture card completely useless. But luckily there is a solution to this problem. And luckily for me, my case has vertical slots to side mount cards. 

Enter this little cable; the pci-e riser cable. 


For $35 from Amazon, one end pops into the port on the motherboard, and is low profile enough that it can fit under the cinder block sized heatsink. 

Worked like a friggin’ champ.