PulseVU Hardware Mod Review

Discussion in 'Wii - Hacking' started by bluebright, Feb 24, 2007.

  1. bluebright

    bluebright GBAtemp Advanced Fan

    Feb 24, 2006
    Melbourne, Australia
    PulseVU Hardware mod Review


    First off, what the freak is a ‘PulseVU’? Well you may have seen this around gaming blogs and links to stuff, it’s the Wii’s first marketed hardware mod made by Sickmods, which takes control over the LED’s around the DVD slot and makes them do sexy exciting stuff.

    What sexy exciting stuff exactly? Well check out this video to find out:


    It controls the slot illumination to react to audio and adds a ‘MAC’ style sleep light for when the Wii is in standby mode (only when Wiiconnect24 is on).

    What’s included with your order off the developers website is just the PCB with all the junk slapped onto it. So, no wires, no other instructions, no anthrax lined receipts. This is kind of disappointing, but it’s real easy to get a hold of the wires needed to install this, pretty much the same as needed as you would use to attach any drive chip on the market.



    Lemmie apologise now for just using all this stock crap, but I couldn’t find my camera, but these pictures are fine…

    Anyway, the PCB is about the size of a fat thumbnail. Pretty small. To install it you have to break open your Wii and rummage down until you get to the motherboard. This is no small feat. It’s easy enough to get to the DVD drive to just install a drive chip but the main board is a whole other story. If you’ve never opened the Wii up that far, don’t worry. Don’t be a pussy and just do it. That’s what I did and everything turned out fine. Nar, I could just say “only do it if you know what you’re doing”, but you’ll never learn if you don’t try. Just keep track of all your parts and take your time...and don't freak out. For guides I used this one by Informit and this video tutorial by tecknoconsoles.

    I stripped the wires I used from and old usb cable. Actually, it was a brand new usb extension cable…but I didn’t need it. I used 0.8mm Rosin core solder (or 0.032”) and a 17watt soldering iron, all the same stuff you use to chip the Wii’s DVD drive. Oh, and another note, if you’re planing to do this, don’t remove the heat sink on the MB when flipping it over. If you do, don’t panic, just re-apply some thermal paste onto the processor and GPU.

    Now I'm not going to explain how to install it, you can find all that info here but it’s all fairly easy if you have a steady hand and know how to solder. Oh yeah, you sort of need a bit of soldering experience when installing this as some of the points a freaking small and very close to capacitors and points that are close together. Well, you can bridge whatever the hell you want, just don’t send it back to Nintendo asking for refund…


    Okay, so you’ve spent 1 hour opening your Wii, another hour stressing that you’ve pulled out the DVD strip cable wrong…and what the hell that’s not in the diagram! Well, it is, just KEEP TRACK of all the screws and the exact order of the steps you take. After all the sweaty soldering and crazy burnt silicon, you decide to put it all back together and turn it on…

    To cut to the chase, this thing looks too damn cool. I don’t understand why Nintendo is scared of that blue light. They should use it more, because it is quite arguably ‘da bomb’. The audio response is pretty cool, silky smooth transitions between beats and blips. When you start playing Zelda again you wont know what’s more interesting to look at…The light fades in and out of audio drops, so if there’s no audio, it slowly fades to black and then peps up again when sound comes back.

    The sleep light looks nice, it’s all fadey. That reminds me, if the Wii needs the light, it takes over, PulseVU doesn’t interfere with jedi business, uh I mean the Wii’s gay message light (once you get the audio response, everything the slot light is originally used for is officially gay).


    This is hard. The PulseVU is certainly worth the $20 (alternativly you can make your own, all instructions and source code is on the sickmods website). But with all the trouble you go through to install it, it kinda feels like it should do more, like burn siblings who say they “don’t need to put the wiimote strap around there wrist”.

    Yes it’s a lot of trouble, yes it is awesome looking, but if you have time, the expertise and you want to pimp our your Wii just that little bit more, then certainly, go for it. If you enjoy case moding, or like ripping expensive things apart, knock yourself out, this ones for you.

    Installation: 4Installation is a freak in pants, psycho small points, eight wires and opening the Wii down to the mother board is fairly complex-ish if not intimidating for out beloved newbies.

    Performance: 9Looks fantastic, makes great use of the otherwise useless slot light

    Price: 7 $20 for a bit of silicon and code? It’s mediocre, but you don’t even think of the price when your friends say “hey, how come my Wii doesn’t do that?”

    Tilt: 6Detailed instructions on Sickmods website plus open source makes the cut. But, if you don’t have a fetish for LED’s you may not think all the trouble was worth it in the end. You will come around eventually, but if you do ruin your Wii it will all be because you wanted to make a couple of lights flicker.

    Score 6.5

    Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or find any mistakes, post them somewhere. Preferably in this thread.

    Resources used: