Fried PS1 modchip?

cokeman118

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Hello,

I'm hoping someone can help me out with this issue I'm having with a modded PS1. I have a 5501 PS1 that I bought brand new back in the day. Had it mod chipped around the same time I purchased it and it played games just fine. It's been in storage for a long time and haven't messed around with it in years, so I decided to get it back out to play some games. It was working fine just like it always had. I was getting into the softmods that have been out recently, messing around with tonyhax and freepsxboot.

First issue I noticed was with Spyro 3. So I didn't know about all the copy protection on it, so apparently my mod chip is so old that it doesn't defeat the copy protection. I used a tonyhax boot CD and then swapped the Spyro. This method let me get past the start screen and seemed to be playable. No issues so far. however the cut scenes and audio seemed to be laggy. Another backup game also had this issue with laggy audio and choppy FMV's. I figured bad burn, so I made another, same issues. I tried on an emulator on my PC booting from the disc and no lag. I started thinking maybe the laser is starting to fail, So I messed with the trim pot. This improved the audio and FMV issues but did not eliminate it. Now retail games had no issues at all with sound or FMV.

So today I went to play Grand Turismo retail and I got the Memory Card/CD menu. This happened on Megaman also... I was like I just played these yesterday and they worked fine. I tried several reboots and nothing. Now it is to the point where I consistently get "Please insert Playstation CD ROM" screen. The weird thing is I can put a backup in and it boots just fine. Only retail CD's are not booting. So I'm thinking laser is failing and can't read the CD's for some reason. So I messed with the trim pot again no amount of adjusting will make retail games boot. Backups still play fine however. So I thought about loading up the Tonyhax boot disc and swapping it out with a retail game to see what would happen. Well, it boots the retail game just fine! I tried freepsxboot also, and retail boots as well.

So I read somewhere that it could be a conflict or failure with the modchip not allowing retail games to boot. I don't know how or why this would happen all of a sudden. I haven't looked if anything happened to the mod chip, bad wire connection or something like that. Haven't had time to open it up to really investigate. I think the chip is a very early MM3 if that makes any difference.

Should I leave it alone or remove the chip? I have freepsxboot installed to memcard, and can still load backups. Just the retail needs loaded through the exploit methods. Kind of annoying because I know something isn't right. Any suggestions?? I'm still not ruling out eventual laser replacement, but it seems to be working for now. Anyone ever heard of backups loading but not retail? I appreciate any help you guys can give me.
 

KleinesSinchen

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Should I leave it alone or remove the chip? I have freepsxboot installed to memcard, and can still load backups. Just the retail needs loaded through the exploit methods. Kind of annoying because I know something isn't right. Any suggestions?? I'm still not ruling out eventual laser replacement, but it seems to be working for now. Anyone ever heard of backups loading but not retail? I appreciate any help you guys can give me.
We have had a case of a PS1 loading burned discs but not originals. Turned out to be a faulty, badly programmed or not correctly installed modchip (which I sadly didn't consider thinking only of potential problems on the laser).

Since the drive in your console is physically able to read original discs fine, this leaves just the option that the signal of the modchip interferes with the signal from the legit CDs. Two signals at once result in garbage… and the "You are a filthy pirate!"-screen when using an original – while CD-Rs don't produce a valid boot signal that could add on top of the modchip signal. Quite some irony. Normally a working, correctly installed modchip should take care of sending the signal and suppressing the one coming from the disc.
Removing the chip *should* make originals boot again normally (I can't guarantee this though and will take no responsibility for further damage). Please have a look if any solder joint looks strange or even broken. Maybe something got loose when disassembling (the points are tiny and can be damaged easily).

If you are good at soldering, replacing an outdated modchip with a stealth like PsNee (it is open source and I'm very satisfied with it) is a very good option. Theoretically no modchip will be needed at all anymore with Tonyhax/FreePSXBoot, solving even anti-mod.
=====

I'm always hesitant concerning trying to adjust optical drives (potentiometers), but looking at the age of PS1 consoles, often with countless power-on hours, it is no surprise the lasers aren't quite working as new anymore. I think any improvement by tweaking stuff is temporary only, and sooner or later the lasers will die (in the long run a good optical drive emulator will be the best solution).
The oldest PS1 models have worse drives/laser compared newer, especially the slim models. (My slim will just read about everything while the fat SCPH-1002 shows severe signs of wear when loading CD-R)

Media quality does matter on consoles in my experience. They can be picky (looking at you, GameCube). Rather than messing with the internals, I'd try multiple brands of CD-R and multiple writers first.


Good luck and have fun!
 

cokeman118

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We have had a case of a PS1 loading burned discs but not originals. Turned out to be a faulty, badly programmed or not correctly installed modchip (which I sadly didn't consider thinking only of potential problems on the laser).

Since the drive in your console is physically able to read original discs fine, this leaves just the option that the signal of the modchip interferes with the signal from the legit CDs. Two signals at once result in garbage… and the "You are a filthy pirate!"-screen when using an original – while CD-Rs don't produce a valid boot signal that could add on top of the modchip signal. Quite some irony. Normally a working, correctly installed modchip should take care of sending the signal and suppressing the one coming from the disc.
Removing the chip *should* make originals boot again normally (I can't guarantee this though and will take no responsibility for further damage). Please have a look if any solder joint looks strange or even broken. Maybe something got loose when disassembling (the points are tiny and can be damaged easily).

If you are good at soldering, replacing an outdated modchip with a stealth like PsNee (it is open source and I'm very satisfied with it) is a very good option. Theoretically no modchip will be needed at all anymore with Tonyhax/FreePSXBoot, solving even anti-mod.
=====

I'm always hesitant concerning trying to adjust optical drives (potentiometers), but looking at the age of PS1 consoles, often with countless power-on hours, it is no surprise the lasers aren't quite working as new anymore. I think any improvement by tweaking stuff is temporary only, and sooner or later the lasers will die (in the long run a good optical drive emulator will be the best solution).
The oldest PS1 models have worse drives/laser compared newer, especially the slim models. (My slim will just read about everything while the fat SCPH-1002 shows severe signs of wear when loading CD-R)

Media quality does matter on consoles in my experience. They can be picky (looking at you, GameCube). Rather than messing with the internals, I'd try multiple brands of CD-R and multiple writers first.


Good luck and have fun!
Thanks for the reply. I was looking at the PsNee as an option, but with softmod available it probably wouldn't be all that necessary.

I didn't really want to mess with the laser settings at first but I figured I'd give it a try anyway. I knew there was a potential to mess things up, but I couldn't have done too much damage if it can still read both retail and backups.

I thought I could just get a replacement if it comes down to it. Seems most if not all of the optical drives are cheap Chinese components now a days. Probably with questionable reliability compared to an actual used oem unit... But I read that the late model PSOne drives could be an option and they aren't being cloned so whatever is out there is technically oem. I guess cloning them isn't cost effective to bring in profit. However I also read early boards could potentially be picky with late model optical drives. Also I would need an extension ribbon cable.

I'll look at the solder joints of the mod chip and see if any are bad or any wires came loose. Maybe just remove it all together. Thanks again for the info, I appreciate it.
 

duwen

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With regards the chinese optical drive units; I replaced mine with one from aliexpress a few years back and it's still working fine (although, my PS1 doesn't get anywhere near as much use now as it did 25 years ago).

If you do go the aliexpress route just make sure you get the exact version that your playstation requires - some are oriented differently in the console and won't fit the stand-offs and (more importantly) the cutout in the upper shell housing, as well as having different connector lengths.
 

cokeman118

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Well I opened up the console and sure enough one of the wires from the mod chip to the board came loose. I'm going to leave it as is for now. I don't have a small enough tip on my soldering iron to comfortably repair it right now.

After further inspection my board is a pu-18 and my mod chip only has 4 wires. I looked online and the diagrams I saw show 8 wire connections. Not much info on this 4 wire setup, must be obsolete and definitely not stealth capable. Maybe remove it later.

Update:. I decided to just say screw it and removed the mod chip. Retail boots up fine now. I'll just stick with softmod at this point. Thanks for all the help!
 
Last edited by cokeman118,

cokeman118

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I ended up buying a replacement laser assembly. Total junk! Of course I'm not surprised, but took the chance. Came with a broken hub so right from the beginning it's not looking good. Got a replacement hub hoping to salvage it. Install it and nothing. Makes some noise but won't spin.

Seemed like the laser carrier was stuck so I moved it, reinstalled. This time it seems like it's sliding now... Still no good. Won't read anything, or intermittently. Didn't want to adjust pot, not sure if it's needed on replacements. Finally got it to read retail but no backups.

It started making horrible noises, grinding, droning and hit or miss reading. I said screw it. Bought a replacement PS1 for less than the laser assembly. We'll see how that goes when I get it.

Xstation looking so much better at this point...
 

SylverReZ

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I ended up buying a replacement laser assembly. Total junk! Of course I'm not surprised, but took the chance. Came with a broken hub so right from the beginning it's not looking good. Got a replacement hub hoping to salvage it. Install it and nothing. Makes some noise but won't spin.

Seemed like the laser carrier was stuck so I moved it, reinstalled. This time it seems like it's sliding now... Still no good. Won't read anything, or intermittently. Didn't want to adjust pot, not sure if it's needed on replacements. Finally got it to read retail but no backups.

It started making horrible noises, grinding, droning and hit or miss reading. I said screw it. Bought a replacement PS1 for less than the laser assembly. We'll see how that goes when I get it.

Xstation looking so much better at this point...
Those replacement lasers from China are the worst, the mechanism is so cheap and fragile that it breaks so easily. Best to get an official spare part somewhere.
 

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