Mitsurugi-w's Review of the USB Host Controller for 3DO FZ-1

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    • Mitsurugi-w's Review of the USB Host Controller for 3DO FZ-1

      Some of you may remember me attempting to buy one of these USB controllers for 3DO several months ago. I've had an FZ-1 (Launch Console) for several years but it literally loaded a game once and then the CD-ROM drive crapped out on me. It has been boxed since two days after I received it. The 3DO was a console I always wanted. When I was a kid I would save up and buy every new console. Hell I even spent the summer between 7th and 8th grade working every day and saving all my pennies to buy a Neo Geo AES and two brand new games. Over $1000 spent that summer but worth it. However, when the 3DO came out it was $800. It was the first 32bit console and I so wanted it but it was way out of my price range.

      Unfortunately for the 3DO it tried new concepts that were about 15-20 years ahead of it's time. It was a truly multimedia machine. Yes it was a video game console first but it also had tons of educational software and played video disks pre-dvd. Also, it had a large amount of adult 'games'. How many other consoles has VIVID been a developer for??? One thing that really set it apart was the licensing of the hardware. Over it's lifetime the 3DO had consoles manufactured by several different companies and even had a PC card developed by the Sound Blaster folks, Creative, that allowed 3DO games to be played on PC. This licensing platform sort of reminds me of how Android is licensed to mobile companies today.

      So when I heard about the USB Host controllers developed by Dr.MNEMO I knew I really wanted one. Only problem was that he and his distributor was out of the FZ-1 versions. He did still have the version for the Goldstar GDO-101. I was impatient so I ordered one from him and I picked up a cheap Goldstar 3DO off ebay and I waited patiently. It was coming from Kazakhstan so I expected it to take a long time. I received an email about a month later that said the package was waiting for me at the post office. Only problem was the tracking number said it was at a post office in Montana. After a few calls the post office could not even find the package and they believed it had been delivered or was being returned. After checking with his distributor it was found the adapter was sent to the wrong customer. Dr.MNEMO wanted to wait to see if it would be returned and I agreed but it never was. By this time he had a few more FZ-1 versions made! He offered to sell me one if I just paid the difference and he would take care of shipping the new one. I took him up on that offer. It took less than two weeks to arrive. I got it last Wednesday and couldn't wait to install it.

      A few notes about this controller (directly from his page):

      - USB Host Hi-Speed(480 Mbit/s)
      - supports any USB media up to 2 TBytes: USB Flashstik, USB HDD, USB-SD
      - FAT32 (long file/dir names supported)
      - unlimited sub-dirs with any names
      - fast loading
      - 100% compatible (connecting & working as generic CD Controller)
      - "open/close" button used for return to Menu
      - easy installation - plug & play (100% solder free solution)
      - excellent design as usual ;)
      - additional features: save NVRAM to File and vice versa, launch ISO images without RSA sign

      Installation was pretty easy. The hardest part was opening it and removing the CD drive from the metal mounts. The CD unit in the 3DO used a CD unit and a generic CD host controller rather than a PC type CD drive or a laser unit and a CD controller built into the motherboard like the PS1 or Neo CD. This was taken advantage of and the installation of this unit is extremely easy. The new USB host controller attaches to the old mount once you remove the laser unit/disk tray from it. Then you just plug in two ribbon cables to the new host controller and the motherboard. See the pics below:







      There are a few different versions of this controller. There is an internal only one where you load the USB drive and then install it inside the console. There is a version that does not include the hardware to reattach the front door. And then there is the version I received which comes with a pcb that snaps onto the back of the CD face plate and allows you to connect it back to the front of the unit. This version looks much better. You do have to measure and cut out the space on the plate to plug in your USB drive. The hole it cut isn't perfect as you can see from the pics but after reassembling the console it looks fine.









      After installing the controller and face plate I decided to replace the CD ROM shield even though I didn't need to just for completeness sake:



      And here is what it looks like after reassembling the console:





      Now there are a few games I just HAD to try out for this system including the very nice port of Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo this system had the exclusive console rights to for over a decade! Also the iconic GEX and what was considered to be the best port of Samurai Shodown at the time.







      I downloaded every 3DO ISO I could from 3 or 4 different sites. I mostly stuck to the US versions of most games and the Japanese exclusives. This console had a ton more titles made than I had realized and there seems to have been a good amount of support in Japan. I still managed to fill 200GB of my 256GB USB stick. The device supports USB 2.0 but my 256GB stick is USB 3.0. This made loading the large game images from the PC to the stick super fast. But you could also just use a USB HDD also. It has to be formatted for Fat32. I had to use a Fat32 formatting app to format my USB stick since Windows will only format a large flash drive as FatEX. Once formatted to Fat32 it worked fine on both the PC and the 3DO. There are a ton of 1st person shooters for the system. It was after all released in that period of Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM. Unfortunately many of the 1st person shooters are really bad. There are some gems though. There were a LOT of really bad games made for this system but I did enjoy a lot of the games I played as well.

      Regardless of the quality of the overall library of games the USB host controller for the FZ-1 works great! I highly recommend it and to be honest I will most likely replace my GDEMU with one of Dr.MNEMO's USB-GDROM controller. It seems to have much better compatibility and supports USB devices up to 2TB. Much better than the GDEMU. (3do-renovation.ru/USB-GDROM_Controller.htm) I am very happy with my purchase of this ODE.

      Find info about all of Dr.MNEMO's products here: 3do-renovation.ru/USB_Host_for_FZ1.htm
    • nice one....brings back the memories when i was at tech and having all the time in the world to go around the shops in the city and see what was around.....if i remember right....this was launched around the same time as the sega 32x....The graphics and video on the 3DO blew the 32x away but it cost £699 in the uk and came with Need for Speed if i remember correctly.....I remember my friend at the time chose the 32X over the 3DO....we loved playing Virtua Racing on the 32x and nearly every lunch break we used to que up in a shop in a mall to get a game on either the 3DO or the 32X.....Many moons ago......
    • nice review!

      ...but DUDE I can't believe you cut a hole in the face-plate... you've got a 3D printer you should have 3D printed a replacement!
      Buy 3D Printed Parts: bit-district.com
      Projects: instagram | blog
      Games: VAPS | VOOT | UMK3 | RFM | Vewlix | FiF Jr. | KI2 | E29 | Net City | DDR | Flash Beats
      Wanted | For Sale/Trade
    • twistedsymphony wrote:

      nice review!

      ...but DUDE I can't believe you cut a hole in the face-plate... you've got a 3D printer you should have 3D printed a replacement!
      I don't have those skillz to design something like that. lol. I like how it looks regardless. Once you put the console back together you don't notice the hole at all since there is no light coming from the inside.

      I also forgot to mention that the game ISOs need to be in .ISO format to run. So if they are in bin/cue format or .ccd format they need to be converted. For some reason some of the bin files would not convert and I had to manually burn them and then re-rip them as an ISO. Most games aren't region blocked but some towards the end were. You can bypass this easily by pressing B to launch the game rather than A. Make sure you download Game Guru as well. You need the utility to clear the save memory for all of the games you will be booting. :)
    • Mitsurugi-w wrote:


      I also forgot to mention that the game ISOs need to be in .ISO format to run. So if they are in bin/cue format or .ccd format they need to be converted. For some reason some of the bin files would not convert and I had to manually burn them and then re-rip them as an ISO. Most games aren't region blocked but some towards the end were. You can bypass this easily by pressing B to launch the game rather than A. Make sure you download Game Guru as well. You need the utility to clear the save memory for all of the games you will be booting. :)
      I would've just mounted them to a virtual drive using Daemon-Tools or CloneDrive. Alcohol 120% is another option.
    • CZroe wrote:

      Mitsurugi-w wrote:

      I also forgot to mention that the game ISOs need to be in .ISO format to run. So if they are in bin/cue format or .ccd format they need to be converted. For some reason some of the bin files would not convert and I had to manually burn them and then re-rip them as an ISO. Most games aren't region blocked but some towards the end were. You can bypass this easily by pressing B to launch the game rather than A. Make sure you download Game Guru as well. You need the utility to clear the save memory for all of the games you will be booting. :)
      I would've just mounted them to a virtual drive using Daemon-Tools or CloneDrive. Alcohol 120% is another option.
      I guess I need to learn how to do that. I did try to download Alcohol 120% but it was giving me issues when installing. It would ask to reboot to finish installation and then nothing. About a week after I wrote this up my computer announced it had finished installing alcohol.
    • I use Daemon-Tools, it's really great. Basically point it to an ISO and your PC thinks it's a CD drive with the disc in it. I used this to re-rip a number of Saturn games for the Rhea. I also use it on my Hyperspin setup as a lot of emulators for disc based games prefer to load disc from a drive so when I select a game it automatically loads the iso into a virtual drive and then loads it into the emulator.
      Buy 3D Printed Parts: bit-district.com
      Projects: instagram | blog
      Games: VAPS | VOOT | UMK3 | RFM | Vewlix | FiF Jr. | KI2 | E29 | Net City | DDR | Flash Beats
      Wanted | For Sale/Trade
    • Mitsurugi-w wrote:

      CZroe wrote:

      Mitsurugi-w wrote:

      I also forgot to mention that the game ISOs need to be in .ISO format to run. So if they are in bin/cue format or .ccd format they need to be converted. For some reason some of the bin files would not convert and I had to manually burn them and then re-rip them as an ISO. Most games aren't region blocked but some towards the end were. You can bypass this easily by pressing B to launch the game rather than A. Make sure you download Game Guru as well. You need the utility to clear the save memory for all of the games you will be booting. :)
      I would've just mounted them to a virtual drive using Daemon-Tools or CloneDrive. Alcohol 120% is another option.
      I guess I need to learn how to do that. I did try to download Alcohol 120% but it was giving me issues when installing. It would ask to reboot to finish installation and then nothing. About a week after I wrote this up my computer announced it had finished installing alcohol.
      Well, you had the right idea. :)

      Not sure what's up with your 120% install but it's kind of funny! I never really understood the ever-increasing popularity of Alcohol 120%, which is why I only mentioned it in passing. D-T was clearly superior and already established when 120% landed. D-T remained lighter/less-intrusive and feature-full (120% was playing catch-up in format and protection support), but somehow 120% continued to grow in popularity as D-T waned. Pretty sure 120% had the bundled opt-out crapware before D-T too.
    • swisstoni wrote:

      Thanks for the review Mitsurugi-w, so is there no soldering required for the FZ-1 version is it as easy to.install as the Rhea.or GDEmu? Ive got an FZ-10 im sure soldering is needed for that version.
      There is no soldering required for this one. The hardest part was removing the cd unit from the brackets and that didn't take very long either. After that you secure the kit pcb with two screws, attach two ribbon cables, and if needed cut the hole on the faceplate for the USB drive. If you order the cheaper version you don't cut the hole.
    • Mitsurugi-w wrote:

      Yeah it's S-video. I don't have anything modded for RGB to be honest. Not sure I want to open that can of worms. I might get stuck in a money pit.
      it's not so bad... the display and/or a scaler is the only expensive part and you only have to buy that once. Most consoles are fairly inexpensive to RGB mod and buy cables for. the only exception is the NES which will run you about $100 before cables. By comparison most Sega Consoles output RGB already and you'll just need cables.
      Buy 3D Printed Parts: bit-district.com
      Projects: instagram | blog
      Games: VAPS | VOOT | UMK3 | RFM | Vewlix | FiF Jr. | KI2 | E29 | Net City | DDR | Flash Beats
      Wanted | For Sale/Trade
    • twistedsymphony wrote:

      Mitsurugi-w wrote:

      Yeah it's S-video. I don't have anything modded for RGB to be honest. Not sure I want to open that can of worms. I might get stuck in a money pit.
      it's not so bad... the display and/or a scaler is the only expensive part and you only have to buy that once. Most consoles are fairly inexpensive to RGB mod and buy cables for. the only exception is the NES which will run you about $100 before cables. By comparison most Sega Consoles output RGB already and you'll just need cables.
      There is an RGB output mod that I am trying to locate. But, in future, I am hopeful that a version of Marqs CPS2 scaler/hdmi output board can be can be adapted to the 3DO, it seems like a good candidate for it seems it has plenty of space inside the case once you go with the USB mod.
    • Just had the USB mod done on my FZ10 the USB stick flashes the 3DO logo disappears then I get a black screen and it goes back to the 3DO logo. The USB stick is Fat32 formatted the game im trying is Doom and its in an ISO format do you need to have the 3DO bios on the memory stick for it to boot (I noticed there was a launch bios file on the USB stick).