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Thread: Saturn black screen after date reset - ideas?

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    Insert Coin (Level 0) balkiry's Avatar
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    Question Saturn black screen after date reset - ideas?

    Hi guys,
    My long-suffering Saturn is giving me grief in the form of a black screen when trying to load any game.
    Spec rundown: PAL model 2, unmodded, I am trying legit PAL games
    Solutions tried already:
    1. Reseating the ribbon cable at both ends that runs from laser assembly to main board
    2. Adjusting the laser pot all the way clockwise. Laser moves freely, disc spins. When the pot is fully clockwise, the laser tries REALLY hard to read the disc, then eventually seems to give up, and the disc stops spinning.
    3. Removing and replacing the memory battery. After I put the battery back in, I get the date/clock reset screeen, but as soon as I do that, it goes to a black sreen with no sound.

    I have returned the laser pot to its original position. It's worth noting I cannot visibly see a laser, even in a dark room.

    Any thoughts guys? I am out of ideas!

    Thanks!

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    Peach (Level 3) izarate's Avatar
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    I don't know if it's related but when I got my first Saturn it came without a battery and I always got the black screen after inputing the date. Pressing reset would alow the Saturn to load the game flawlessly.

    After buying a battery and putting it in I never had that problem again except the first time I set the date but after that the black screen never showed up.

    Maybe it's related to some bug in the BIOS and it hangs after inputting the date? If your Saturn behaves the same way (black screen after date screen, loads normal when pressing reset) I would recomend you to get a new battery.

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    Tried resetting after the black screen but no luck. Even tried it with a new battery, nothing. The laser kicks in and the disc spins, but the screen stays black.
    If I try it without a disc, it doesn't even go to the "insert disc" screen.
    It can't be a problem with video out, as I can see the clock/date reset screen.
    So why would it allow me to see that but nothing else?

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    Hmm,I had that same problem with the BIOS hanging and not progressing,I think I put an audio CD in and for some reason when I reset it went to the menu, strange but it worked.
    "...leave love bleeding, in my hands, in my hands again..."

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    Insert Coin (Level 0) balkiry's Avatar
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    Just tried that too alec. No such luck. I don't even get the startup animation (with the grey shards coming together).
    I'm close to buying a JVC OPTIMA150S laser assembly and attempting to replace it. I don't really want a frankenstein Saturn, but I can't think of anything else short of buying another Saturn altogether.

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    Question

    So I just pulled the laser assumbly apart to see how hard it would be to replace. Seems easy enough.
    Before I go and buy a replacement laser, can anyone tell me:

    If the laser IS dead, should the the grey saturn startup screen still appear, followed by the cd player?
    Because right now I can just get the clock reset, then nothing.
    I'm not going to experiment with a new laser if someone can tell me that I should at least be getting the player and a "no disc" message.

    PS I intend to buy another Saturn, yes, but I'm curious to see if I can fix this one.

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    Peach (Level 3) izarate's Avatar
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    If you leave the laser removed and you turn it on, what happens?
    Last edited by izarate; 07-29-2010 at 11:18 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by izarate View Post
    If you leave the laser removed and you turn it on, what happens?
    Same thing. Black screen. Gears turn freely with the missing laser.
    Or if I remove the battery, clock reset then black screen.

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    Even with the laser disconnected to the mainboard,the screen should come on and say No Disc. Makes me wonder if a VCD expansion card maybe could be inserted and causing the hang,that or the BIOS is fried,I mean you're not even getting the Sega Saturn shards boot logo.
    "...leave love bleeding, in my hands, in my hands again..."

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    Quote Originally Posted by alec006 View Post
    Makes me wonder if a VCD expansion card maybe could be inserted and causing the hang,
    Could you elaborate on this? Not quite sure what you mean by this...
    Thanks

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    There's an add on option for the Sega Saturn that plugs into the expansion slot where the battery is that allows you to play VCD's. If not inserted properly or broken, it makes the system hang and not boot at all.
    "...leave love bleeding, in my hands, in my hands again..."

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    Quote Originally Posted by alec006 View Post
    There's an add on option for the Sega Saturn that plugs into the expansion slot where the battery is that allows you to play VCD's. If not inserted properly or broken, it makes the system hang and not boot at all.
    Wow, I didn't know that. Have looked into since, no RAM expansion.

    If the BIOS is fried, would I still be getting the clock/date screen?

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    Quote Originally Posted by balkiry View Post
    Wow, I didn't know that. Have looked into since, no RAM expansion.

    If the BIOS is fried, would I still be getting the clock/date screen?
    I thought about that,I'm trying to think what else could be making it hang on a black screen. Then again,there's always that chance that only part of the BIOS is corrupt and that the part where the clock is set isn't. Have you tried setting the date to 1995,maybe the Saturn can't take the fact it's in 2010, that's a long shot but some electronics made before 2000 have weird bugs like that sometimes.
    "...leave love bleeding, in my hands, in my hands again..."

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    Quote Originally Posted by alec006 View Post
    I thought about that,I'm trying to think what else could be making it hang on a black screen. Then again,there's always that chance that only part of the BIOS is corrupt and that the part where the clock is set isn't. Have you tried setting the date to 1995,maybe the Saturn can't take the fact it's in 2010, that's a long shot but some electronics made before 2000 have weird bugs like that sometimes.
    Update on this: tried changing the date to various years/months, no luck.
    I've also noticed, the date/clock screen has NO SOUND (weird?)
    I am now convinced that the laser is fine for 2 reasons:
    1. The disc spins, which means the laser is recognizing a disc is present and is communicating with the motor
    2. if the laser was dead and everything else was fine, the BIOS should still load.

    A while ago I was on this forum with a similar saturn problem (it was dropping out to black all the time), and someone suggested this:
    "reflow the solder joints where you slot the power board in the sega saturn, the 4 or 5 pins, if you know how to take a mainboard out then just reflow the solder joints"

    Maybe that's the solution. Thoughts?

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    That could be a solution,maybe parts of the motherboard are not getting power,that would make alot of sense. I say try it and see what happens. As for their being no sound,well if the solution you brought up doesn't work,that could mean the sound processor is not fuctioning correctly,again all could be to a simple power failure.
    "...leave love bleeding, in my hands, in my hands again..."

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    Quote Originally Posted by alec006 View Post
    That could be a solution,maybe parts of the motherboard are not getting power,that would make alot of sense. I say try it and see what happens. As for their being no sound,well if the solution you brought up doesn't work,that could mean the sound processor is not fuctioning correctly,again all could be to a simple power failure.
    I pulled the entire Saturn apart last night. The solder joints under those 5 pins look absolutely fine.
    I also can't find any signs of corrosion or damage to the board. What I might do tonight is check out all the capacitors. Maybe some have gone bad. That would account for the hanging.

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    Insert Coin (Level 0) balkiry's Avatar
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    Some photos. Where's Waldo?
    Can anyone spot anything other than the fact the board appears to be an A9?? I've heard this saturn board version is the worst for failure.

    I have checked every capacitor, every solder joint, cleaned every connection...


    Main board ^^^^


    Close up, showing solder joints for 5 power board connctor pins are fine


    Flip side of the main board


    Only dodgy wire I can see. Unit powers up though and this is just for the power switch.


    Underside of top board. Can't see any bad solder joints here...


    Power board. Capacitors and fuse all look fine.

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    Well,shit,this is a tough one, I can't seem to find schematics anywhere to go further into the design of the system, which is complicated, thank you Sega. I mean, your getting a clock screen which suggests the BIOS is at least partially working. No sound thou meaning the sound processor may be fried or not getting instructions from one of the main processors. Then the RAM could be out, again what sucks about the Saturn is it has so many damn processors and memory chips that if one goes out the whole damn system dies. UGH

    The System Manager or BIOS chip is a Hitachi 4-bit MCU, "System Manager & Peripheral Control" (SMPC). Then you have two sound chips one is a processor (Yamaha FH1 DSP) and the other is a sound controller (Motorola 68EC000). There's a 512 KB Mask ROM for the SH-2 BIOS.

    As I said,the Saturn has so many fucking things that could die, it's bullshit. I mean, Wikipedia seems to list them well:

    *Processors*

    * Two Hitachi SuperH-2 7604 32-bit RISC processors at 28.63 MHz (25 MIPS)—each has 4 kB on-chip cache (4-way associative), of which 2 kB can alternatively be used as directly addressable Scratchpad RAM
    * Custom VDP 1 32-bit video display processor (running at 28.63 MHz on NTSC and PAL Systems) for sprites/polygons
    * Custom VDP 2 32-bit video display processor (running at 28.63 MHz on NTSC and PAL Systems) for backgrounds/video out
    * Custom System Control Unit (SCU) with DSP for geometry processing and DMA controller (running at 14.3 MHz)
    * Motorola 68EC000 sound controller (running at 11.3 MHz / 1.5 MIPS)
    * Yamaha FH1 DSP sound processor, "Saturn Custom Sound Processor" (SCSP), running at 22.6 MHz
    * SH-1 32-bit RISC microcontroller (for the CD-ROM and CD security checks; uses preprogrammed embedded ROM, not programmable by software)
    * Hitachi 4-bit MCU, "System Manager & Peripheral Control" (SMPC)

    *Memory*

    * 1 MB SDRAM as work RAM for both SH-2 CPUs (faster)
    * 1 MB DRAM as work RAM for both SH-2 CPUs (slower)
    * 512K VDP1 SDRAM for 3D graphics (Texture data for polygon/sprites and drawing command lists)
    * 2x 256K VDP1 SDRAM for 3D graphics (Two framebuffers for double-buffered polygon/sprite rendering)
    * 512K VDP2 SDRAM for 2D graphics (Texture data for the background layers and display lists)
    * 4 KB VDP2 SRAM for color palette data and rotation coefficient data (local, on-chip SRAM)
    * 512 KB DRAM for sound. (Multiplexed as sound CPU work RAM, SCSP DSP RAM, and SCSP wavetable RAM)
    * 512 KB DRAM as work RAM for the CD-ROM subsystem's SH-1 CPU
    * 32 KB SRAM with battery back-up for data retention.
    * 512 KB Mask ROM for the SH-2 BIOS

    I'm not even sure of the availability of these chips,I hate to throw away a functional Saturn that has one bad chip or something. I would start would start with the sound processor & or controlelr if you really want to replace it.
    Last edited by alec006; 08-07-2010 at 05:18 PM.
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    Sound advice, but I can't find those parts without raiding another Saturn.
    I have a second Saturn which works fine, so it looks like this busted one will just be a donor from now on.
    Shame, I really did want to get it working. I guess it's the sobering reality of trying to keep these old consoles working... At some point, they will die.

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    you can see what needs to be replaced i put a red crice for the electrolytic capacitors
    you will need 4x 220uf 6.3v all must be mini electrolytic capacitors i know this when first started on sega mods and repairs i had a saturn with no video i just replaced them got video again a tip for segas onece unplug you computer or any console press the power buttion and it discharges the electrolytic capacitors make sure you put them in the right way other wize it will fry the board sega bioses never fry unless put in a chip pan

    Quote Originally Posted by balkiry View Post
    Hi guys,
    My long-suffering Saturn is giving me grief in the form of a black screen when trying to load any game.
    Spec rundown: PAL model 2, unmodded, I am trying legit PAL games
    Solutions tried already:
    1. Reseating the ribbon cable at both ends that runs from laser assembly to main board
    2. Adjusting the laser pot all the way clockwise. Laser moves freely, disc spins. When the pot is fully clockwise, the laser tries REALLY hard to read the disc, then eventually seems to give up, and the disc stops spinning.
    3. Removing and replacing the memory battery. After I put the battery back in, I get the date/clock reset screeen, but as soon as I do that, it goes to a black sreen with no sound.

    I have returned the laser pot to its original position. It's worth noting I cannot visibly see a laser, even in a dark room.

    Any thoughts guys? I am out of ideas!

    Thanks!

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