How to make your own Nintendo GameCube (and Wii) SD adapter 4th of Januari 2007
First a small notice:
I do not take any responsibility on what you do. If your GameCube,
Wii or anything else gets damaged in any way you yourself are responsible!
Now that I've been looking into GameCube homebrew I've noticed that running homebrew can be done via pretty much three ways. One of these ways is using a SD adapter that fit's in the memory card slot of the Nintendo GameCube. Because I didn't want to spend a lot of money (and like toying around with electronics) I figured I might as well make my own ;).
The Nintendo GameCube memory card is a modified SD card. Making adjustments to it to create a SD adapter not very hard but the way I do it here means you will no longer be able to use the memory card to save your games to. It is possible to retain the save functionality but I don't know how exactly and I haven't done this myself. Therefore be prepared to sacrifice a memory card if you follow my guide.
To start this guide off I would first like to say that the right tools for the job can make your life a hell of a lot easier. Get a proper soldering iron, proper wire and a proper memory card. Also proper tongs and etc. can be very useful.
- A GameCube memory card; you don't need an official one, I suggest you get one that has room inside for a SD socket.
- A good soldering iron with a nice small tip (or whatever you think will get the job done). This is what I used.
- A SD socket (I'll get to that later).
- Cables to connect the socket to the pins from the salvaged memory card.
- Slight soldering skills (not heavily needed but I highly suggest basic experience and knowledge of soldering and electronics).
Now what you'll need:
Memory card: You don't need a GameCube memory card but I do suggest you buy one. You can of course make your own casing and pins but it will be much easier to just salvage an old one.
A good soldering iron: Like I said good tools make the difference between a pleasant build and a hell on earth.
A SD socket: Now this is the important part. Any SD socket will do as long as it will fit your memory card (whatever position you mount it). Personally I received samples from Molex.com. Namely the 47265-0001. I will continue as if you have this product and will be mounting it in the same way I did. I will however try and explain things in a general way so any adapter will do.
Cables to connect the socket to the pins on the GameCube side: What are proper cables? Any cable will do most probably. Just make sure the ones you will be using will fit into your donor casing. About 7 wires will run through the casing and they will sometimes cross each other. As long as they are thin enough to allow for that you'll be fine.
Step one: Making room
The first thing you need to do is open the memory card and make room in the housing for the SD socket. Personally I wanted to mount my socket so it became side loading. You can of course choose front loading if you like that better. To make room I had to file away a part of the bottom, a small line on the top and one of the screw holes on the top part of the memory card.
Then modify the PCB of the memory card (possibly you can leave large parts attached, but to be safe I simply took off everything not needed making sure all lines were unconnected). I did however try to keep enough of the PCB so I could easily glue it to the bottom of the housing.
The pin outs are actually very simple. As the Nintendo GameCube memory card is a modified SD card you can directly connect the SD socket to the GameCube.
This should be enough for you to make your own SD adapter as it's a simple task of connecting the right pins. To make it easier for you I've made a table containing the pin name, SD pin number, the GameCube memory card pin number and the pin number of the Molex SD socket (those values only apply on the specific socket I used!).
|SD socket, SD card & GameCube memory card Pin layout|
|Name/Use||Pin SD card||Pin SD socket (specific)||Pin GameCube memory card|
|VSS (earth)||3||13||2 or 10|
|VSS2 (earth*)||6||16||2 or 10|
|Connector Data Line 0||7||17||7|
Assembly itself is fairly strait forward, but for those with only limited knowledge of electronics I'll explain the process.
The first thing I did was remove all unnecessary pins from my SD socket to make sure I didn't connect anything that shouldn't be connected. As I stated earlier I've used a SD socket provided by Molex, the 47265-0001. This socket is capable of mating with more then just SD cards. The pins I removed where 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1. If you look at the socket you can see that those are the pins that are mounted "lower" (once you get your hands on one you'll understand ;)).
Image taken from the official PDF document made by Molex, see their website for copyright details.
This is how it looked before (left) and after (right. I hope you can see what I mean and what pins I removed):
Because I wanted to mount the socket sideways the length and positioning of the cables to connect the salvaged bit from the memory card to the socket became very important. For every cable I checked the length to both connection points (the socket and the memory card) and how I could position it so that all cables would fit. Changing their size once you've soldered them can be tricky so you should really try to get their size right the first time.
Once you get the cables done you should have all parts needed for your SD adapter. Now on with the real assembly :D! Personally I suggest you first solder the cables you just made to the SD socket. You can do it the other way round and solder them to the salvaged memory card pins first if you like but that could make it quite hard when you want to solder them to the SD socket. Your housing will probably get in the way. But prove me wrong if you must :).
Now you will need to connect the pins as stated in the pin out section (when you are soldering print both the pin images and the table or keep them on screen). It is not needed to connect two ground pins on the GameCube side but I think it is needed on the SD socket side. To give you a clue on how it can look in the end here is mine (which is a pretty bad soldering job really...):
Please note: This image does not show a completed SD adapter. One still needs to connect both sense lines on the Nintendo GameCube side.As I can understand you don't know exactly which pins you need to connect (and which aren't needed) I've written down which pins need to be connected (and numbered them so you know how much wires you'll have to make). If you have the same SD socket as I have you can use the pin layout I have provided. If not check your own socket and make a table similar as this one:
|What pins connect to what pins?|
|Wire number and color*||Name/Use||Pin SD socket (specific)||Pin GameCube memory card||Pin GameCube memory card|
|3. Red/White||VSS (earth**)||13||2 or 10||-|
|4. Yellow||VDD (current)||14||4||-|
|6. Red/White||VSS2 (earth**)||16||2 or 10||-|
|7. Black||Connector Data Line 0||17||7||-|
|8. Black***||Sense; GameCube side only||-||1||12|
*.: This is only the color I used you are of course free to use any color you like (I do suggest using different colours for every connection though).
**.: On my images you can see a long white wire, a short white one and a long red one. This is because when I connected VSS (red) I noticed the salvaged memory card I was using was no longer grounded as I had removed too much of the PCB. To fix this I placed a white wire to the small metal plate (also ground) and connected that to VSS on my SD socket. To ground VSS2 on my SD socket (I believe it HAS TO BE grounded) I placed the small white wire from VSS to VSS2.
***.: Both sense pins have to be connected or else your adapter will not get detected (this has not yet been done in the pictures of my adapter)!
On a side note: As you can see I've pressed down on the cables to make them flatter. This had to be done so it would fit inside the GameCube's memory slot. I did this by simply getting a pair of tongs and push down on the wires. Also try to solder as flat as possible, if the connections are too high your memory card will no longer fit in the GameCube's memory slot (maybe you can make the salvaged PCB thinner by filing of a small layer, but I haven't done this myself so I can't guarantee anything).
Once you have succesfully connected all the soldering it's time to finalize your adapter. If the connector side is able to move you'll have to glue it into place. Once done close up your housing and test out your newly homemade GameCube SD adapter!
*Addition - updated*
I've recently found a SnesGX build that works for me (with all my SD cards) and which can be used to test your SD adapter. You can download it here. After some tests I also found that pretty much all new homebrew that uses the SDadapter works for me, but only with one of my SD cards. Apparently it really matters what SD card you use, but I'm unsure why one works and the others don't.
Also, I've received a nice set of pictures of a completed SD adapter from shtonkalot. You can download the images here. Thanks for sending the images mate, this makes it a lot easier for people to make their own adapter!
And here I have a second set of pictures from someone who made his own adapter. In this case the SD socket wasn't even removed from the cardreader it was taken from! To allow for easier handeling a network plug was used to make the socket removable. See for yourself here. Thanks Derek!
-Simon "Scorpei" van de Berg