Rhea and Phoebe – SD Card Reader for the Sega Saturn / MY LIFE IN GAMING

As I get older, I’m beginning to realize
the unfortunate likelihood that every piece of electronics I own may eventually fail. In the past year, my thoughts about this have
been more and more focused on CDs and the optical disc drives that play this kind of
media. Whether it be scratches, disc rot, or dead
lasers, we have to deal with the fact that CD media may not be as reliable long-term
as cartridges have been. How do we preserve or store these games in
a solid state form, free of moving parts, but still use the original console’s processing
chips for maximum accuracy? Flash carts are a great alternative for cartridges,
but is there such a thing for CD systems? In this episode, we’ll be taking a look
at one such solution: The Rhea and Phoebe, which let you play your Sega Saturn games
off of an SD card. [ MUSIC: “Principle” by Matt McCheskey
] Created by Deunon Knute, the Rhea and Phoebe
are O.D.E.s or Optical Drive Emulators designed to replace the CD drive of the Sega Saturn
wholesale and replace it with an SD Card reader, allowing you to play games off of solid state
media instead. Knute previously developed the GDEMU, an ODE
for the Dreamcast, so you can play ripped GD ROM images off an SD Card. Appropriately named for the moons of Saturn,
the Rhea and Phoebe are actually two different units. The Rhea is designed to work with early model
1 Saturn consoles… y’know the ones with the oval power and reset buttons? The Phoebe on the other hand should be installed
in later revisions of the model 1, and any version of the Model 2 Saturn, which have
round buttons on the console. We’re able to take a look at this mod thanks
to Drew Littrell from This Olde Console, who generously donated a white Japanese model
2 Saturn with a Phoebe ODE already installed for us to use in this and future episodes. Thanks Drew! But because of that, all of the footage we’ll
be looking at in this episode is explicitly only from a Phoebe unit. Although functionality between both should
be exactly the same, it’s important to specify exactly what we’re running here. The design of the units is fairly unassuming. A black PCB with a single slot for a standard-sized
SD card. Micro SD cards can be used with an adapter,
of course. Next to this card slot is a single button,
but more on that later. But look, I’m no modder, so it’s easy
for me to say that one of the most enticing thing about the Rhea and Phoebe how little
actual work it takes to get them up and running. Both require you to unplug the existing CD
drive… … and plug in the power input and the included
flexible flat cable, but the Phoebe is slightly more complex and requires some soldering on
the Phoebe board itself. So if this sounds pretty interesting, listen
closely: If you have a model 1 console, then you’re
gonna want to open the system and take a look at what kind of innards it has before you
purchase. The Rhea ONLY WORKS on the early versions
of the Saturn that have a 20 pin input for the Optical Drive unit. Later revisions replaced this connector with
a 21 pin input – the Phoebe was designed to accommodate for this change. Users of these devices have been trying to
figure out if there’s any telltale signs on the outside of the console to help you
decide if you have a early model 1 Saturn or later, but unfortunately they’ve been
unsuccessful thus far. However, if you already have a model 2 system,
then there’s no guesswork at all – just get a Phoebe. But please note that you will need to solder
certain points on the Phoebe board based on which console revision you have. Check out the GDEMU website for a detailed
walkthrough for determining which Saturn version you have and how to install the unit. If you want to take things a little further,
there are additional steps that you can take to enable a frequency selector that allows
you to automatically change the refresh of games. That means you can get PAL games to run at
60 hertz. This requires significantly more work, so
make sure you’re comfortable with soldering. Once installed, if a gaping hole in the Saturn
drive bay isn’t exactly your thing, then you could purchase a 3D printed drive tray
for a more elegant look. A number of different retailers sell them
online. This way you don’t have to worry about accidentally
dropping your SD card inside of the unit and you can also store extra cards right there. Copying your games to your SD card isn’t
quite as straightforward as I’d like, but once you know what you’re doing, then it’s
fairly easy. At this time, the Rhea and Phoebe do NOT support
the typical .bin and .cue files you tend to see for CD images. The Rhea and Phoebe do fully support multiple
other file formats though – CDI, CCD plus IMG plus SUB, and MDS plus MDF. ISO files ARE supported, but with limited
functionality – they are mainly only for homebrew development on games without any audio files These file types can be created using applications
such as Alcohol 120% and Clone CD, but I’ve had the greatest success using the
Padus Discjuggler software to extract discs in a .cdi format. Just be sure to make images with Scan Gaps/Indexes,
R-W (CD+G), PQ and Raw Read boxes checked under the Advanced options. If you already have some .bin and .cue files,
say of some fan translations or something, then you can burn them to disc and then rip
those discs using DiscJuggler. If you’re looking for a step by step on
how to rip your discs properly with Discjuggler, then Matt Buxton from Video Game Perfection
dot com has you covered. He’s put together a pretty in depth walkthrough
video that takes out all of the guesswork! To get the file onto the SD card, you’ll
want to download the SD Card maker for GDEMU. This free, lightweight program was originally
designed for the Dreamcast ODE, but since the Rhea and Phoebe all use the same folder
structure, it’ll work just as well. As a quick aside, did you know that it’s possible
to format the your cards in a specific way to go beyond the perceived 32 gig card size
on FAT32 formatted cards? There’s a free program called Fat32Format
that can format any size card to FAT32. After the files have been copied to the card,
you’ll need to build a menu image. You can achieve this by downloading Rmenu
from the GDEMU website. Copy that to the zero one folder on your SD
card and double click the Rmenu application. This will show you a list of all of the games
on the SD card. If you’re particular about this sort of
thing like I am, you can rename each game however you want. Finally, you can tweak the performance of
the ODE by creating a document in notepad called Phoebe.ini or Rhea.ini and placing
it in the root folder of the SD card. There is a list of values you can add to the
file on the GDEMU website. You can change options such as region, frequency
and high speed mode. The latter being faster loading from the card. This is still experimental however and may
cause issues in some games. I feel it’s better to just leave it off
to be safe. Quick heads up though! Every time you add games to the SD card you’ll
have to make a new menu image. [ MUSIC ] Alright, after all that, you’re finally
ready to go. Booting up the Saturn will take you to the
menu where all of your games are listed alphabetically. It’s fairly inelegant, but it does exactly
what it needs to do. Choosing a game brings up an option for Fast
Boot or Full Boot. The first takes you directly into the game
from the menu, while Full Boot will take you back to the regular Saturn user interface
with the disc image loaded up like the CD was in the drive. But wait a second…you hear that? Get a little closer… No moving parts means no noise at all. Probably the most fascinating thing to me
about using the Phoebe is that Saturn is completely mute. So what kind of compatibility does this have? Let’s check out some random games, shall
we? [ MUSIC: Thunder Force V ] First and foremost, you’re probably wondering
if there is any glitchiness in game graphics or hitches in the audio. In other words, do the games play just like
the real thing? Games that really push the Saturn hardware,
like Virtua Fighter 2 run without issue. [ Game Audio ] The Saturn’s library was absolutely full
of games that used Redbook audio for its music. In the Hunt and Nights are just a couple of
examples. [ Game Audio ] If you’re unfamiliar, Redbook audio is when
the music for a game is on the disc as CD audio tracks. You can take games with this kind of audio
format, put them in your CD player and listen the music that way. But yeah, these play completely normal as
well. It’d be a pretty big oversight if they didn’t. [ Game Audio ] If you load a game that has redbook audio
with the full boot option, you’ll be able to play just fine in the Saturn’s CD player
UI. [ Game Audio ] One of the big questions you probably have
is: is the loading faster? Even with the faster loading turned off in
the .ini file, the Phoebe does result in slightly faster load times across the board. Syncing up the video from the moment I press
start in Shinobi Legions and letting all cutscenes play out, does get you to the game about a
second and a half quicker. So, it’s nothing huge, but nonetheless,
it is something. Now, over the course of a lifetime of saving
a second here and there, you’ll have more time to play with your toys. [ Game Audio ] Earlier I mentioned this button right next
to the SD card slot. When the Rhea and Phoebe was first released,
this was used to select your disc image. But since the implementation of the menu,
this button isn’t quite obsolete… its primary function is now to “swap” discs
on multi disc games. This is especially important with games like
D that don’t allow you to save before a disc ends. [ Game Audio ] Simply go to your console, pop open the lid,
press the button, slap that sucker closed and bam! Disc 2 is under way! [ Game Audio ] It’s pretty cool that you can still get that
disc change adrenaline rush, right? [ Game Audio ] Fighting game fans, rejoice. Games that use the Saturn’s 4 Meg RAM cart
like Vampire Savior and Street Fighter Zero 3, work just as good as the real thing. [ Game Audio ] The MPEG video card also works good, although
I only had the chance to try with Lunar Silver Star Story. It’s safe to assume that the results would
be much the same with the handful of games that support it. [ Game Audio ] If you want to use an Action Replay for cheats,
it’ll also function correctly. [ Game Audio ] One of my favorite things about this mod is
that it let me check out a number of fan translations I’ve always been interested in. The big one, Policenauts, is well worth your
time – it’s extremely well done. For you Shining Force fans, you can finally
finish out the story with the fan translations of Scenario 2 and 3. [ Game Audio ] I was relieved to find that everything I threw
at the Phoebe works with the newest firmware and menu available. When I first got it I had issues with Capcom
Generation 4: Wolf of the Battlefield where the music wouldn’t play during the game. Kind of a bummer. But, updating the firmware fixed this and
now everything works great. [ Game Audio ] So there you go, a complete optical drive
replacement for the venerable Sega Saturn. It works great, is fairly easy to install
and runs with little to no issues. You can purchase the Rhea or Phoebe from the
GDEMU website whenever they go on sale 130 euros. It’s also important to remember that Professor
Abrasive, who has more recently figured out how to hack the Saturn is working on a solid
state solution that will use the MPEG card slot on the back of the unit. It will be really interesting to see how that
modless approach stacks up next to the Rhea and Phoebe. Regardless the ODE approach is a fantastic
solution to the eventual challenges that lay ahead for optical media and hardware. So, if you love your Saturn and are nervous
for its long term well being, then grab yourself a Rhea or Phoebe when they go sale. Now, if I can just manage to actually get
one of the GDEMUs for the Dreamcast whenever they’re available!

  1. WTF my Rhea is broken! 2:18 it doesn't make that noise when I insert SD card!!!! I want my money back, lame quiet defect!

  2. I find that SSF emulation is about perfect…and more convenient and better image quality than a real saturn…anyone having issues with SSF emulator over a real Saturn?

  3. The guy who makes these is not selling them anymore.. Obviously A lot of people want to buy them so why doesn't someone else start making them?!?!

  4. id buy one if they were readily availible otherwise the way the guy sells all 3 of his devices is inecussable and is infested in scalpers

  5. what about using a raspberry pi 3 and safely store your saturn and it's media?
    i bet someone can/has made a saturn shaped pi case

  6. Great Video! Thanks for the information, I've been really looking forward to Saturn modding for the past few years. 🙂

  7. While i appreciate the quality and originality of his work, he really needs to come up with a faster production format, ive been trying for years to get EMUs for any of my consoles

  8. Without using the cd drive you wont beable to tell if you are about to get into a fight in shining the holy ark.

  9. Is there any alternative to this that doesn't involve completely removing the laser assembly, like a flash cart? I'd love to be able to play games off an SD but I'd like to have the option to play my physical discs as well. I guess I could just have two Saturns, one with this and one without, but it'd be nicer to just have one that could do both.

  10. Since before this video came out, I’ve been trying to get one, but it’s just impossible. The guy who makes these is overwhelmed with demand and seems to have not figured out a way to keep up with demand. It’s crazy, he could be selling so many more… but instead complains about it on his blog. Oh well.

  11. I don't know much about the Saturn library (though I bought one used with a couple of games), but it seems like it had a lot of awesome 2D games.

  12. This is so awesome. Maybe someone will take the symphony of the night and actually finish it so that it plays like it does on the PlayStation.

  13. Any chance you can tell us the opening and ending theme song please? I would like to listen to the full version. Thanks, Dave.

  14. very cool! is it possible to do the same work for a Sega CDX or Sega CD or PlayStation 1 ??? it would be so good!!

  15. i don't even own a Saturn and I want this! Would be great for people that don't collect and only want to play "backups" and get the pretty close to full experience without the crazy cost of games.

  16. this is amazing! discs and disc drivers are so anoying to mantain. hope they figure out a solution lihe that for GameCube

  17. I kinda think saving one second here, another second there on load times is just going to break me even on all the time investing in learning about, acquiring, installing a Rhea or a Phoebe… if that

    That's not to say it's not a welcome surprise, to be clear

  18. I will never purchase a Rhea or a Phoebe… Deunan makes them nigh impossible to purchase, has no grade school level understanding of supply and demand, and you have to use outdated software to create CD images. I won't be paying ANY price to any kind of ebay scalper to get one of these products. Prof_Abrassive's solution seems to be a lot better, and frankly, the man will make them more easily available for purchase when it's released.

  19. For image conversions: use imgburn & daemon tools! Mount the image to convert in virtual drive, select that drive in image burn, to create iso from the virtusl drive… I use this method to pack ps1 images with multiple audio files to one iso

  20. I think this idea destroys the basic concept of the Sega Saturn which is a CD based system. All the originality of the console vanishes with this part. It may seem nice for some, but I think it's not… You'd better install a modchip and buy burnt CDs or something.

  21. ill pass until the software is more mature, the allure of a psuedo kai cart is plug and play, burn your cue file and go… this requires reripping discs, potential solder work and other configuration… and for that reason, im out… for now.

  22. FUCK ALCOHOL 120% SUPPORT IMG BURN FUCKERS!! Img Burn is still the best software to rip an iso or image of a CD-DVD fuck Alcohol and Clone CD and their weird formats

  23. Could you review Dreamshell for the Dreamcast please. I have the latest 4.0 version on my Dreamcast (I finally have Dreamshell). I can tell you plenty of the details in my experience too. Would you like to here them, Retro Hero.

  24. Why not just use ImgBurn guys? It's easy to use. I already copied Sonic 3D Blast Flickies Island and Sonic CD JP version onto TDK quality coated CDs. If only I had the victor Wondermega and an Action Replay 1MB for my US Model 2 Saturn. Not to mention the endless amounts you can make available to other people in the world as long as you don't ILLEGALLY sell them.

  25. Oh yeah, the USB to SD converter. If I had a Phoebe already installed on my Saturn, I could just rip my Saturn games with ImgBurn (Which I already have the game BINs) and place them inside the SD card and plug it in the Saturn. If that's the case I would literally hire a solderer to setup the device and I can just put the thing inside and I would get real busy by then, I actually would try it if only solderers for hire were a thing, especially here in Arkansas.

  26. Speaking of VCD I can make the perfect VCD ever, and with the best audio quality in a way that the 1990s didn't even have in existence. That's right, I can make SRS work. SRS is just stereo simulating 5.1, 7.1, or even object based DTS X right. I have a set of steps that make it work. If anyone wants to know, just ask me. I spent an entire month trying to figure out how to get SRS into VCD but I finally managed to do it. 8 steps, 6 programs.

  27. Don't go for GDMU, just get Dreamshell and the SD Card Reader and rip the GD-ROM games into an SD card (preferably a fast loading 8gb SDHC). And never worry about the Dreamcast being so loud or tearing itself apart anymore. I have Power Stone 2 completely ripped from disc. It's like windows on a console.

  28. I dunno…I got some modchip in my Saturn I dont remember well…but it was a little chipboard and I had to connect it somehow to a little cable from the Saturn…dont recall any soldering since I dont have that gear….got an Action Replay 4 meg card so I can download and burn every Saturn game that is available on the net. I will trust that the disc reader from my Saturn will keep up enough years for me to play.
    Isnt there a way to mod the Saturn straight through the cartridge port using a cart. with an sd slot just like everdrives….

  29. haha I previously had a model 1 Saturn and was so desperate to play backups I went for the infamous 'swap disc' trick…using an original game…hacking the opening tray..making it think its closed while you open it…listening to when the cd reader went from the general Saturn startup to the boot of the cd…swapping the original cd with a copied disc on a still spinning cd motor….
    Only game I got working with this trick was Casper though….

  30. It functions like a flash card (I’d rather retain the disc drive and have a cartridge that has a SD slot which would require a modchip to allow the flash card to work and be able to play discs at the same time) but this mod looks awfully risky. Even if the laser or whatever spins the disc is no longer functioning, it’s definitely possible to fix the disc reader and have it working like new. This option is for those who want to play right away (same for Dreamcast) by replacing their disc drive (either broke down or too lazy to fix it) with this. Any video game console disc reader can be fixed and I would go for that route so I can use burned games or whatever I have collected.

  31. These lasers aren't proprietary are they? Should still be a bunch if replacement or upgrade parts around. Disc rot is another story.

  32. But here’s what: I’d have one Saturn to play discs while I’d have the other to function like a flash card.

  33. I'm wondering if one of those for the PS1 and/or PS2 will be a thing. I hope it does in the future… for the Saturn, this looks awesome!

  34. Do I need a computer for this or I can buy the saturn with Rhea because I see ppl are selling it with saturn just wanted more information please want this bad

  35. My Life in Gaming (or anyone that would know), Can you please let me know the email where to order one? My lens is failing and I wouldnt appreciate to loose my dear Sega Saturn!!

    Please help me!!

  36. This product has everything but the one thing that is vital for any product: accessibility. I understand it's one guy doing all this, but at this point the designs could be handed off to another company and he could make a lot of money without doing anything.

  37. The only discs I've had a problem with so far are the early Lionsgate Blu Rays like House of 1000 Corpses.

  38. 5:06 Also, if you want to save time (and a blank disc!) instead of burning the Bin/Cue to a disc, just use the free program called Daemon Tools Lite to mount the Bin/Cue. DiscJuggler will simply see this as a disc in a virtual drive, now you can just rip it as a .cdi image.

  39. There are archival quality optical discs(archival CDs, archival DVDs, etc), which I think companies should just use full stop for everything(games, music, etc), but if one used an action replay with backups of their games on archival disc media then you wouldn't have to worry about disc rot, although scratches can always be an issue. The issue though with an SD card reader is that you could have a chance that it would fail(although because there aren't moving parts this is reduced), and that NAND isn't to my knowledge as reliable as ROM chips from things like the NES-N64.

  40. Rhea and Phoebe are ALWAYS UNAVABLE , not even a cheap Clone as been produced to this day. Our LAST HOPE is SATIATOR.

  41. I tested my Phoebe but did not do anything, so I followed all steps but one, so file phoebe.ini was not there, is it MANDATORY that file to be there, or creating Phoebe.ini is just optional?

  42. these mods are useless and very expensive, for those prices it could be better a mod that also preserved the original working drive, it is the same for the gdemu. for the saturn it is a good way to go to wait for satiator and for the dreamcast it could be wise to go for the cf mod.

  43. Yea you cant buy it from him anymore inless you want to spend half a grand on ebay. Not to sound like an ass but just hire a small team to mass produce the boards and bulk flash them.

  44. ODEs are awesome. There are also solutions for the Gamecube. Do they still have some direct audio issues? Probably not so many people are still talking about it as a Wii can be soft modded and is backwards compatible. However you cannot use the Gameboy player via a Wii.

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