Frequently Asked Questions
Is my Dreamcast compatible?
Most Dreamcasts are. If you have a PAL Dreamcast then you don't have anything to worry about. If you have an NTSC Dreamcast check to make sure it's manufactured before October 2000--this is not a guarantee that it will or will not work, however. You can also check the revision number. It's a circled number near the manufacturer date. It's either 0, 1, or 2. If it's a 2, then your Dreamcast may not be compatible, but some of the revision 2 Dreamcasts are compatible. There is no easy way to determine the compatibility.
Chances are that most Dreamcasts purchased will be compatible systems. There is little reason to worry when searching for a new system.
Do I need a modchip?
No. If you like to play imported games from different regions other then your system is, then a modchip might be a good idea. The only use a modchip has is to boot imports without a boot disc.
How do I play imports?
There are a few ways: boot discs, region changing, or a modchip. If you're wary of opening your Dreamcast, then you might want to hold off on the Region Changer or a modchip.
Boot discs are by far the easier methods to do; simply put the boot disc in, boot up your Dreamcast, swap the import in, and play. If you're wondering which boot discs are available, there's the Utopia Boot CD, the GameShark/Action Replay CDX, CodeBreaker, DC-X, DC-IE, and DCHakker.
If you don't mind opening up your Dreamcast, you might want to take a look into finding yourself a modchip. These allow you to boot any import from any region once it's installed. The Region Changer needs a small modification to your Dreamcast, but allows you to change the region and video output of your Dreamcast. It can be downloaded along with Russian instructions from DC-SWAT. An English tutorial can be found here.
What discs should I use?
Usually, this shouldn't cause a problem. Some use TDK discs, some use the cheap Office Depot discs, some use Verbatim, some use Memorex. It doesn't really matter, as long as the disc quality is good.
Does it also work with CD-RW?
Short answer: no. Some have been lucky and able to play CD-RWs on their Dreamcast out-of-the-box, but this is very rare. In normal cases, it won't read them without tweaking the laser to have a stronger beam, which in turn will lessen the life of the GD-ROM drive.
How about DVDs?
No. No way, no how.
Will a CD-R damage my laser?
There's been a lot of talk about whether a CD-R damages the Dreamcast's laser. The short answer is "no." Most homebrew games load directly into the Dreamcast's main RAM and stop the disc at that point. For CDs that require extensive loading you might feel safer adding a dummy file (that pushes the game data to the outer edge of the CD) to the CD. As a result, your games will also load a little faster.
Which should I get? The 'plain files,' 'SBI,' 'DiscJuggler image,' or 'Nero image'?
That all depends on what you wanna do and what you're burning. For the most part (if you're new) you might wanna start off downloading the DiscJuggler image or sbi. There's a lot of variables to take into consideration when you're dealing with Nero images (DAO, TAO, old version, new version), so just stick with DJ images (unless you decide to get plain files).
If you do decide Nero is the best format for you you'll need to figure out the format of the image. If the image is label "Nero 5" or "Nero DAO" then it should be a DAO image which means Nero 5.5 and older only support it. "Nero 6" or "Nero TAO" labeled images mean Nero 6.0 and later only support it. Nero 6.3 should work with both DAO and TAO images.
Plain files let you be more flexible with your CD, meaning you can put ROMs (if you downloaded an emulator), pictures (if you downloaded a picture viewer) or even MP3s (again if you downloaded an MP3 player) on the same disc. This means you don't have to swap CDs.
SBIs are a proprietary compressed format used by Selfboot Inducer which work mostly the same way plain files do (after they're uncompressed). The cool thing about sbis is that they're made to be used by Selfboot Inducer which allows you to put more then one app on a CD by giving you a nice menu to pick your apps. Selfboot Inducer uses Dream Inducer and is actually an interface to ease adding more than one app.
If you burned a emulator using a pre-build CD image, you will need to use a swap CD that contains MP3, ROMs or pictures depending on the app you burned. Be sure to follow th app's disc layout (read it's readme for more information on where to put the files).
How can I get multiple emulators/homebrew apps on one disc?
Simple. Head on over to Sbiffy! and grab Selfboot Inducer 4. There's a tutorial on the main GUI once installed. Not too long ago, DCHelp took over Sbiffy! and now maintain the Sbi file database. You can get most recent Sbi releases at DCHelp.
If a new version is released, should I use a new CD-R or can it be burned to an old CD?
If you feel like saving CD-Rs, then using what we call a multisession CD is best. There's a nice tutorial of how to get that working over here.
What are scrambled/unscrambled files?
Sega's attempt at copy protection. Unscrambled files are loaded directly without any sort of scrambled loading. Homebrew apps such as DemoMenu, DCHakker, and Dream Inducer use them. Scrambled files are unscrambled files with it's data randomized in chunks within the file. Scrambled files are needed when making a selfboot CD and can also be used with DemoMenu and DCHakker. This tool is available to manipulate scrambling and unscrambling.
What's a selfboot?
Selfboot means you can put a burned CD in your Dreamcast and it will play without any sort of modification to the Dreamcast or any need for a modchip or boot disc.
How do I make a selfboot disc?
The easiest way to make a selfboot disc is to use a selfboot program. There's a few available. The most used are BootDreams, Selfboot, and Selfboot Inducer. You'll also need to download the plain files of the homebrew app you want.
What should I do if I can't burn selfboot discs?
There's a lot of answers to this question. The obvious answers are make sure the main file (usually 1ST_READ.BIN) is scrambled, you're burning at 8x (or slower), the CD isn't scratched or dirty.
Depending on the format of your CD image (DiscJuggler or Nero) you can also run into problems with the image settings. Not too long ago Alcohol 120% was released and made the need of installing both DiscJuggler and Nero obsolete as it supports both DiscJuggler and Nero images. When burning, leave the default settings in Alcohol 120% as is.
How do I burn .rar/.001 files?
RAR files are actually a compressed archive. That means you need to download a 3rd party tool to extract files from inside the archive. There are a few tools you can use like 7-Zip (free) or WinRAR (nagware). Usually warezed games come in multi-part RAR archives meaning there's more than one RAR. Since we don't condone that sort of thing, this won't go any further.
How can I use GD-ROMs with my computer?
You can't, unfortunately. There is one way, but it requires taking your CD drive apart, and not all CD drives support it and it's not too reliable. Don't get too excited, but if you're interested in taking a look click here.
How do I find out what year and region my DC is?
All this information is on the sticker on the bottom of your Dreamcast.
What's a MR logo? How do I use them?
The MR logo is a small image that's displayed on the bottom right corner during the SEGA licensing screen. It was originally intended for WinCE games and they would display "Powered by WindowsCE."
To use them, you have to "inject" it inside an IP.BIN. Here's a list of tools you can use to do that: