How To Attach A Hard Drive To The Sega Dreamcast & Load Games Via Dreamshell

Sega-Dreamcast-Hard-Drive-ModificationOver the last few weeks a plethora of tutorials, software and new devices have surfaced - all of which promising the ability to connect a IDE hard drive to a Sega Dreamcast, and boot games from it. While there is already a SD Card solution out there known as the GDEmu, those confident with a soldering iron can now open up their console and get ready to connect a hard drive full of 128-bit classics.

For quite sometime retro gamers have already had a ISO/Game loading solution at the ready for Sega's console, the Dreamcast SD Card Reader. This small SD card reading device plugs into the serial port of the console, and using some homebrew software known as Dreamshell, you're able to boot games into memory - with varying compatibility. Unfortunately, while this solution does indeed work, it's somewhat unreliable due to the slow transfer speed of the serial port and incompatible titles. This in turn left Dreamcast developers and hackers looking for a new alternative.

The newly released GDEmu (a device which replaces the Dreamcast's disc drive with an SD Card reader) has since resolved a lot of these issues, although its lack of menu to choose software from has left a lot to be desired. Many of those working behind the scenes to create these adapters are adamant to stick with Dreamshell instead, so much so new solutions such as the G1-ATA have surfaced.

The G1-ATA is a device similar to that of the GDEmu, as it replaces the disc drive in your Dreamcast, only this adapter offers a IDE port instead of an SD card slot. From here you can easily connect up a IDE hard drive to the console. During the creation of the G1-ATA, the developers behind Dreamshell have updated their software to support IDE hard drives too, potentially rendering the serial port solution pointless.

Sneak peeks of the G1-ATA adapter and Dreamshell working in conjunction have since surfaced online, showcasing some fantastic results. If we're not mistaken too this new solution loads games around five times faster than a standard console equipped with a game disc. For example, here's Crazy Taxi 2 in action without a game disc in sight.

Although seeming to be fantastic, there are several games that present problems (similar to those found with the serial port adapter) when loaded through the hard-drive, including Soul Calibur and Virtua Fighter 3tb. While it is likely that the team behind Dreamshell will iron out these bugs and issues, at this point in time the GDEmu is the only device which presents next to no problems with existing software.

Those interested in the G1-ATA, however, have a bit of a wait on their hands. The device is still being worked on, although there is another solution at hand.

A Japanese Dreamcast fan recently saw the progress made on the G1-ATA and adapted the schematics provided to create his own solution. Matching the pin-out on the diagrams provided, this Japanese blogger known as Ayasuke hard-wired an IDE ribbon cable to the Sega Dreamcast's motherboard and successfully managed to connect a hard drive to the console. What made this even more impressive, however, was that Ayasuke kept the console's disc drive intact and fully functionaly, allowing the added hard drive to work as a stand-alone add-on.


Plenty of pictures have been made available showcasing the ambitious effort, however, accurate installation instructions are yet to be made available. Those daring enough, however, could attempt to do it themselves using the little documentation currently out there - but we offer no guarantee that it will work.

Until more information and detailed instructions are available - or even a link to purchasethe G1-ATA, stay tuned for further updates on these incredible developments to the Sega Dreamcast.

Link: G1-ATA IDE Hard Drive Adapter for Sega Dreamcast

Link: Hardwiring a IDE Hard Drive to a Sega Dreamcast

Last Updated ( 01 June 2014 )  


Better known as Adam offline, Cauterize is one of RetroCollect's final bosses with an unhealthy addiction to pixels. When he's not out searching the web for the latest retro gaming news or creating content for RetroCollect, he'll will most likely be found working on his Sensible Soccer skills.

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(Link to this comment) el7omo 2014-06-02 06:49
I just pulled out my Dreamcast this weekend, but the above looks beyond me. That new slot is where the Cast's vent is!

Let me know when they release a guide!
(Link to this comment) Milad 2014-06-02 09:45
with this technic is it possible to save game on HDD not Memory Card?
Cause my Memoery died and I can't find another one original memory card with LCD
(Link to this comment) phipscube 2014-06-05 07:33
I was inspired to try this hack on my own Dreamcast, and i've done a similar thing to Ayasuke. But Instead I used an IDE to CF adapter. See it running (along with some of my other ongoing mods) here:-
(Link to this comment) Shirokuma13 2014-06-05 12:19
Checked it out,... Amazing. Wish I had your brains. When you're finished you will single handedly have made dreamcast 2. I love my dreamcast, I can only imagine it being hooked up to a hdd with every game I have on there. Sweet (and no more churning disc noise...) Could you do it with a SSD, or is the IDE to slow to benefit from it?
(Link to this comment) Zetrox2k 2014-06-12 23:30
actually even some clearer pictures would suffice......
(Link to this comment) Zetrox2k 2014-06-12 23:30
Quoting phipscube:
I was inspired to try this hack on my own Dreamcast, and i've done a similar thing to Ayasuke. But Instead I used an IDE to CF adapter. See it running (along with some of my other ongoing mods) here:-

Excellent work phipscube! Any possible chance of a wiring diagram? Im good with a soldering iron, but working out schematics and designing this stuff is about 500 levels beyond my capabilities!

would love to have a crack at this on my spare DC mobo over the weekend...
(Link to this comment) phipscube 2014-06-05 14:57
I think someone has connected a sata drive via sata to ide adapter, but there are no speed benefits. It took me 2 cf adapters and 4 cf cards before i got a conbination that worked. Its quite picky. I am going to try it with a msata ssd with an adapter, i'll let you know how it goes when the parts arrive :-)
(Link to this comment) phipscube 2014-06-15 20:41
Hi Zetrox2k, I've drawn a rough pinout and put it on my G+ DC Hacks album here: -

and DC pins onboard: -

You can get all the info needed from here though if my drawings are a bit naff to follow: -

I've also added a video of some commercial games running from HDD now: -
(Link to this comment) Zetrox2k 2014-06-16 03:11
Thanks heaps phipscube, will have a crack at this sometime this week!

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