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Sega Saturn VA1 Switchless Region Mod Install Guide

Work in Progress

Mod Pinout

Solder Map

This mod requires 5 trace cuts, solder mask removal of 1 via, removing the original LED, soldering 11 points (10 wires, 1 through hole pin of the replacement LED).

Region Jumpers

The jumpers control the region of the Saturn by being connected to ground or supplied 5V in various ways. This is permanently set on the Saturn mainboard but can be overridden by cutting the ground connection or 5V supply and controlling these via a modchip.

The jumpers are usually in pairs JP1/2, JP6/JP7, JP10/11, JP12/13. On this revision (837-11892-01 PAL VA1), JP1 does not have a corresponding JP2.

The jumper pairs share common pads that are connected by a thin trace. They will then have two adjacent pads, one is a ground point and the other is a 5V supply.

 

Region JP1 JP6/JP7 JP8/JP9 JP10/JP11 JP12/JP13
Europe Ground Ground Ground 5V 5V
Japan 5V 5V Ground Ground Ground
North America 5V Ground Ground 5V Ground

JP1

This jumper resides on the bottom surface of the Saturn mainboard.

JP1 is connected to IC14 Pin 79 (VDP2) and it is this pin that controls whether the Saturn is in 50Hz or 60Hz. When it is connected to ground, the Saturn is in 50Hz. When it is connected to a 5V supply, the Saturn is in 60Hz.

The main problem with this revision is that JP1 is also connected to Pin 1 of the PLL chip. If you control the connection to JP1 (Ground or 5V) this will have an adverse effect on the PLL.

There has been a number of ways to get the VA1 Pal Saturn to switch between 50Hz and 60Hz.

  1. You can lift VDP2 IC14 Pin 79 and wire the modchip to this
  2. You can lift PLL IC20 Pin 1 and connect it to ground then wire the modchip to either JP1 or VDP2 Pin 79

If you have searched this on various forums and websites you would have come across these various methods.

I will tell you now that both methods are not ideal.

Method 1 - There is no technique that makes lifting a pin safe, it can take 2 or three bends to stress metal to the point of breaking. I believe a trace cut is preferable to a pin lift. There are methods of cutting traces that are easier and safer than pin lifts.

Method 2 - The same problem, pin lift. It is also not necessary to ground this pin because PLL Pin 1 is internally grounded. Also you should not solder to JP1 as this is on the bottom surface of the Saturn mainboard and the RF shield has almost no gaps for wire to run to the top surface. The result will be crushed wires or wire runs that are a mess.

My preferred method for achieving correct 50/60Hz switching is to cut the trace in front of PLL Pin 1. This will mean that JP1 is now only connected to VDP2 Pin 79. You are then free to wire the modchip to any point on the top surface of the Saturn mainboard that connects directly with VDP2 Pin 79. This includes 2 vias which will need scraping of solder mask or the pin itself.

If you do decide to lift VDP2 Pin 79, you do not need to do anything regarding PLL Pin 1.

In summery. Break connection to PLL Pin 1 and make connections from modchip on top side of the board only.

JP6/JP7

These jumpers reside on the bottom surface of the Saturn mainboard.

 

JP10/JP11, JP12/JP13

These jumpers reside on the top surface of the Saturn mainboard.

 

Reset

 

LED

 

Work in Progress