Hardware After the DSONE SDHC listings, we now have the AK2i and Original R4

lifehackerhansol

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I'm not even sure if they are clones, really.

Recently over at Discord, AliExpress listings for unlabeled Acekard 2is and original R4s were posted. A handful of people picked them up (myself included).

I've received my set today, and here's the overview:

Acekard 2i:
  • AKAIO works, which pretty much flat out tells me that all of these carts have been new old stock. I do not think any of the weird old carts that shows up are clones at this point, rather they're just ancient stock that never got to the market before going defunct.
  • They have the latest firmware installed on it. That's not saying much, as the latest firmware does not work on a stock 3DS or DSi on its respective latest system software. You will need CFW either way. What it does mean though is that it's rather slow to boot. But see the next note for a "fix" of sorts.
  • ntrboot works. I have flashed mine with ntrboot. This means 2 things:
    • It is able to simultaneously have ntrboot and DS-mode at the same time, just like the real(?) Acekard 2is. You can just flash it once and forget about it.
    • The boot time is quite literally cut from 8 seconds to 1, as it's not using a spoofed game to launch the kernel. This is true for any other AK2is, but it's important to note here if you get sick of it. The point here is that the standard ntrboot_flasher with no modifications straight up work with this cart which convinces me even more that they are 1:1 with the real thing.
Original R4:
  • Same limit of 2GB. Nothing has changed on that front.
  • Wood 1.62 works, so if you're crying about being unable to play with the real Wood kernels (since the R4i Gold 3DS Plus is kind of a gamble nowadays), here's one that works no problem.
  • The plastic seems less solid than the actual original R4. Anyone who had it would know that the shell is rigid as hell, but this one seemed less like that and more like the average flashcart shells. It still has the one screw like any other, though. Makes me wonder if they found the PCBs but not shells and just finished the job.
This isn't really a review or anything. There are already plenty of reviews and documentation on both of these carts, and they both seem to apply here. Also, unlike the DSONE SDHCs, they don't seem to have a higher chance of being DOA or anything other. After all there isn't really that much extra hardware.

The PCBs are also identical to its original counterparts, which felt weird to see. The fabled ROHS CARD-7A on the original R4, the black and yellow with spring loaders on the Acekard 2i, it's very convincing if it wasn't for the label missing.

Both of these are a novelty nowadays, with TWiLight Menu++ and nds-bootstrap making flashcarts in general rather irrelevant. But if you want to relive the golden experience of the DS scene in 2008 and 2011, maybe these are for you.
 

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Since B4DS isn't as compatible as nds-bootstrap, which flashcart (out of all the currently available ones) would you recommend for a DS/DS Lite/unhacked 3DS?
If you want to just get things up and running with as good compatibility as it gets OOTB, grab any of the Ace3DS+ clones (an actual Ace3DS+, any of the unlabeled carts with a red PCB, an XX in 1, or any 2021 labeled r4isdhc.hk or r4isdhc.com.cn carts. They are all identical carts). This is about as good as it gets without paying a left nut. This is also the only cart that works with the Nintendo DSi and 3DS on latest System Software.

If you want to take a gamble, you can get the DSONE SDHC carts. (you'll probably want some way to cover the front of the cart.) Though keep in mind if you lost the gamble and you got a defective cart, you are reduced to running YSMenu on it and as most of us know YSMenu is... not great. However if you win the gamble and yours works just fine, then you have RTS, better compatibility and faster loading times. Who doesn't want that?
 

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omg-oh-my-gosh.gif



is this real?

i want DStwo and CycloDS next mr clone chinese man on AliExpress.


what do we type to find them?
 
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lifehackerhansol

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View attachment 285955


is this real?

i want DStwo and CycloDS next mr clone chinese man on AliExpress.


what do we type to find them?
I just searched "R4" on AliExpress and looked for a green PCB in the usual flashcart image. (For original R4, that is.)

For AK2i, I had to search "acekard2" exclusively or it wouldn't give me anything useful.
 
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BETA215

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If you want to just get things up and running with as good compatibility as it gets OOTB, grab any of the Ace3DS+ clones (an actual Ace3DS+, any of the unlabeled carts with a red PCB, an XX in 1, or any 2021 labeled r4isdhc.hk or r4isdhc.com.cn carts. They are all identical carts). This is about as good as it gets without paying a left nut. This is also the only cart that works with the Nintendo DSi and 3DS on latest System Software.

If you want to take a gamble, you can get the DSONE SDHC carts. (you'll probably want some way to cover the front of the cart.) Though keep in mind if you lost the gamble and you got a defective cart, you are reduced to running YSMenu on it and as most of us know YSMenu is... not great. However if you win the gamble and yours works just fine, then you have RTS, better compatibility and faster loading times. Who doesn't want that?
I remember reading that r4isdhc.hk/com.cn seemed to be buggier than their XXX-in-1 counterpart, I guess you have them and can't see a reason why they should work different?

Big thanks for your answer and for making this thread 😄
 

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I remember reading that r4isdhc.hk/com.cn seemed to be buggier than their XXX-in-1 counterpart, I guess you have them and can't see a reason why they should work different?

Big thanks for your answer and for making this thread 😄
They are identical in my experience, though I did have to repack the kernel a little because they put the wrong DLDI in the kernel (lol how do you screw that up). This seems to be fixed in their website's later downloads, but I cannot in good faith recommend downloading from there as they bundle pirated ROMs in their kernel and that is a big no to me. Go find your ROMs elsewhere, it doesn't belong in the kernel.

The repacked kernels are here, and it works for both Ace3DS+ and the funny r4isdhc.com.cn clones: https://github.com/DS-Homebrew/flashcard-archive/tree/main/Ace3DS+_R4iLS
 

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Man, I'm behind the times. They don't make the r4ids.cn ones anymore, do they? Those ones were probably the best regular flashcards on the market for a hot sec.
 

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Man, I'm behind the times. They don't make the r4ids.cn ones anymore, do they? Those ones were probably the best regular flashcards on the market for a hot sec.
They kind of disappeared right around the COVID lockdowns began.

The best part is that the R4i Gold 3DS Plus's last batch is known to be defective. Except this batch is more widespread than one may think. So nowadays buying it is kind of a gamble. (I paid like 65CAD and it came defective with the same telltale signs as others of the "known defective batch" as I like to call it.)

They can play games with nds-bootstrap though, so at least you have some use. But at that point get the Acekard 2i if you really need the ntrboot for some reason.
 
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CeeDee

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They kind of disappeared right around the COVID lockdowns began.

The best part is that the R4i Gold 3DS Plus's last batch is known to be defective. Except this batch is more widespread than one may think. So nowadays buying it is kind of a gamble. (I paid like 65CAD and it came defective with the same telltale signs as others of the "known defective batch" as I like to call it.)

They can play games with nds-bootstrap though, so at least you have some use. But at that point get the Acekard 2i if you really need the ntrboot for some reason.
Man, that's a total shame. It's like they died with a sad, hurt whimper.
But with things like nds-bootstrap I do suppose for 3DS it doesn't matter which cart ya get nearly as much as it used to?
 

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Man, that's a total shame. It's like they died with a sad, hurt whimper.
But with things like nds-bootstrap I do suppose for 3DS it doesn't matter which cart ya get nearly as much as it used to?
In my opinion getting a cart is a last-gen thing and we should stick to TWiLight Menu++/nds-bootstrap for the future.

It should be noted though, nds-bootstrap does support flashcart mode, as long as said flashcart has a publicly available DLDI driver. This is where I'm personally banking all my hopes on, so that even the oldest of carts can have the same compatibility across the board. It is possible to pair it up with TWiLight Menu++ installed to the system and flashcart so that you can have a dual-storage kind of thing in one menu. This can lead to my favourite saying "No flashcart? Don't bother. Have one? Let's find a use for it"

Running it on a DS or DS Lite is another thing completely, and support there is very primitive but my hopes are that it'll work much better.

Maybe my hopes are too high for the scene.
 

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In my opinion getting a cart is a last-gen thing and we should stick to TWiLight Menu++/nds-bootstrap for the future.

It should be noted though, nds-bootstrap does support flashcart mode, as long as said flashcart has a publicly available DLDI driver. This is where I'm personally banking all my hopes on, so that even the oldest of carts can have the same compatibility across the board. It is possible to pair it up with TWiLight Menu++ installed to the system and flashcart so that you can have a dual-storage kind of thing in one menu. This can lead to my favourite saying "No flashcart? Don't bother. Have one? Let's find a use for it"

Running it on a DS or DS Lite is another thing completely, and support there is very primitive but my hopes are that it'll work much better.

Maybe my hopes are too high for the scene.
I mean, I'd totally hope that's where the future lies, but as it is now I still think a flashcart's a superior experience to nds-bootstrap - IIRC compatibility still ain't perfect, especially compared to a flashcart, which runs everything I've thrown at it.
Won't lie, I'm not huge on Twilight Menu from my experience, it weirdly seems like it's less intuitive than a flashcart? The GUI's pretty high effort, but load times for the app are high and I ain't a fan of twenty seconds of splash screens. I do wish there was a more simple, to-the-point loader.
 

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I mean, I'd totally hope that's where the future lies, but as it is now I still think a flashcart's a superior experience to nds-bootstrap - IIRC compatibility still ain't perfect, especially compared to a flashcart, which runs everything I've thrown at it.
Won't lie, I'm not huge on Twilight Menu from my experience, it weirdly seems like it's less intuitive than a flashcart? The GUI's pretty high effort, but load times for the app are high and I ain't a fan of twenty seconds of splash screens. I do wish there was a more simple, to-the-point loader.
You know, that is valid. I think that as well.

The best thing about nds-bootstrap is that it is its own project. You don't actually need TWiLight Menu++ to run it, anyone can make a menu that runs nds-bootstrap if one wanted to, since it's just another nds file. It's just no one has.
 
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I mean, I'd totally hope that's where the future lies, but as it is now I still think a flashcart's a superior experience to nds-bootstrap - IIRC compatibility still ain't perfect, especially compared to a flashcart, which runs everything I've thrown at it.
Won't lie, I'm not huge on Twilight Menu from my experience, it weirdly seems like it's less intuitive than a flashcart? The GUI's pretty high effort, but load times for the app are high and I ain't a fan of twenty seconds of splash screens. I do wish there was a more simple, to-the-point loader.
You can always use nds-bootstrap to load games from DS forwarders, or actually also using GodMode9i. GM9i is fast and simple, just select the game and run it.

Of course, I guess you're relying on stock configuration, you can't set DSi mode and things like that (which would be highly welcomed). But if it just works for you, hey, a good app to use nds-bootstrap with.
 

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The best part is that the R4i Gold 3DS Plus's last batch is known to be defective. Except this batch is more widespread than one may think. So nowadays buying it is kind of a gamble. (I paid like 65CAD and it came defective with the same telltale signs as others of the "known defective batch" as I like to call it.)
I haven't heard of this, how do you find out if your flashcart is part of this batch?
 

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I haven't heard of this, how do you find out if your flashcart is part of this batch?
Have to take it apart, and then check the FPGA. It appears the FPGAs that are censored are the ones that are the bad batch. Take that with a grain of salt though.

The most reliable way to find out, unfortunately, is to actually run the kernel yourself and see what happens. Games will just crash and burn if you try.

Thankfully, homebrew runs fine, and meaning a DLDI-based ROM loader such as nds-bootstrap can run games fine. You'll just feel like crying from how painfully incompatible DS/Lite version of nds-bootstrap is as of now.
 

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Have to take it apart, and then check the FPGA. It appears the FPGAs that are censored are the ones that are the bad batch. Take that with a grain of salt though.

The most reliable way to find out, unfortunately, is to actually run the kernel yourself and see what happens. Games will just crash and burn if you try.

Thankfully, homebrew runs fine, and meaning a DLDI-based ROM loader such as nds-bootstrap can run games fine. You'll just feel like crying from how painfully incompatible DS/Lite version of nds-bootstrap is as of now.
well mine runs games fine so there's that going for it at least. I'm guessing those are the versions they sell for ntrboot only on nds-card.com
 

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The best thing about nds-bootstrap is that it is its own project. You don't actually need TWiLight Menu++ to run it, anyone can make a menu that runs nds-bootstrap if one wanted to, since it's just another nds file. It's just no one has.
Exactly what I'm hoping for someday tbh. I don't need a Sega Saturn menu for my DS games, I just want a ROM list.
 

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A flashcart is the closest you can get to running games as intended. It does far less patching than nds-bootstrap and it shows in speed and bugs. I still think this makes flashcarts the superior choice if you want near perfect compatibility.
 

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Do you have pictures of it? I hate DSTWO because it is way too thick. I have a R4(with spring) from 2006. But one day it could die.
The best part about cartridges is about using the same save in multiple systems from DS fat to New 3DS. Yes, I use CFW on 3DS and DSi.
 

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