Dreamcast Homebrewed Broadband Adapter

Started by hammer55, May 06, 2004, 01:46:39 PM

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I do not have a Dreamcast yet. I am thinking of buying one if I can surf the internet with my DSL connection. I don't really care for online gaming, nor do I care for the Windows Server trick.

First, my question is to make sure you can still surf the web with DC?

Second. I am from Canada and I do not want to shell out 100 american dollars (even more pricey) for a Broadband Adapter (BBA). So this idea may sound stupid but can someone with a bit of wiring knowledge answer or provide some insight to this?

Since the Broadband Adapter is a modified network card for the dreamcast platform, wouldn't it be possible (somehow) to modify a normal network card to work with the Dreamcast?

Maybe, make a converter PCI to Dreamcast Modem slot, so you plug the network card (NIC) into a PCI slot, which converts it to a plugin to the DC modem slot? Or do the same thing with a USB NIC?

I have also heard that the Dreamcast's modem slot is a PCMCIA slot? Can anyone confirm this?

A PCMCIA slot would make it easier. No converter would be needed, however I would still have to worry about drivers. Is it possible to load a driver through Windows CE?

Who has a DC BBA and can tell me some information on it?

Let me know if I'm extremely crazy, but this has got to be possible somehow.


Your ambition is commendable, but what you're thinking of would take a real electronic engineer some time to figure out.

Let me give this a shot... may not all be right though..

While the BBA is essentially a NIC, it is not so much modified as uniquely produced. Even were it a PCMCIA connection, the interface may not be the same as would be a PC Ethernet card. Establishing new drivers might be possible through the memory card, but the problem would be using PC drivers on a DC. That's quite a jump.

R&D on such a project would be quite nuts; you'd save money shelling out for the BBA. I'm sure it is possible, just not sensible.

It would be nice if someone would dissassemble their BBA for analysis, but getting one for $100US is quite a steal these says; they (understandably) wouldn't want to damage their investment.

The DC isn't so great for surfing (OK, it is a little bit of a cheap thrill), but being locked in 640x480 is rough; this is only compounded if you don't have the mouse and keyboard. That, and (I think) all of the game servers are down, except for one fan server being used to keep PSO alive. (God bless 'em.)

Use your PC. That is how you're typing now, right? ;)

Sorry I couldn't be of more help. :( Maybe there are some real engineers about who can give you a better answer...


This bears repeating for all questions of this nature, I think:

Modern equipment is complicated, and you'll spend more trying to reinvent this wheel (or any other) than you will buying the wheel off Ebay.  Or, put another way, if you have no money and have to ask questions like this you can't afford to build your own (and, truth be told, don't have the knowledge to do it either).

Or, put another way, if they could be made cheaper someone would be selling them by now.  



I do realize this is quite a feat. I am no engineer and only now am I starting to understand hardware and networking fundamentals. I want to free up my PC (old 500 mhz Celeron) as there is a rush for it daily. If I wanted I could buy a BBA but I don't wish to invest that much in a dead console. If it were that much then I would put it toward a second PC.

Drivers are a problem, especially finding an NIC compatible with Windows CE. CE was probably not meant to operate as a Desktop, (though I have no experience with it). How similar is it to 95?

I fully understand why people do not wish to take apart their $100 investment and don't think I'm crazy. However, everywhere there always seem to be some daredevil who takes apart his new toy or opens up his brand new $200 machine. Usually only dedicated techies do that, and only a dedicated DC fan would invest a fair sum of money into a dead console. That was my reasoning.

Next year I am enrolling in some wiring and PC hardware courses and in the meantime I could use a neat little project. As long as it's not too complicated. Thank you for your posts but this is where I get to a dead end.

Is the modem slot indeed a PCMCIA? If yes, then the focus is the harder step: drivers. PC drivers could possibly work on a DC since DC does have a mboard, processor and accesible OS. I would need to find a NIC with drivers compatible for Windows 95, and that's still a longshot to CE, let alone CE on a DC.

I need information where you access the drivers (if at all).

If this fails, nothing horrible will happen. I'll just come out of it knowing nothing else but buying one could have worked. Yes I'm crazy and others who are more technically inclined have combed through the dreamcast, but I just want a shot. If anyone has information please let me know. I don't need to hear it's impossible or it won't work. I just need help.


No one said you were crazy. ;)

Robert Ivy... now he's crazy...

In any case, with your 500MHz machine you should have no trouble hosting the Dreamcast for tunnelling.

I say this as nobody has developed cross-platform drivers. Furthermore, the DC modem connector may follow a PCMCIA protocol, but I'm fairly sure that it doesn't use a standard type PCMCIA socket.

That's where general knowledge runs dry. You could develop something, but with parts and labor (PCMCIA NIC and socket, soldering supplies, software), you easily eclipse the cost of just getting a BBA.

Of course, the Dreamcast only costs $20 and has an incredible software library. Perhaps you should invest in one anyway. I would say I've invested a derranged amount of money into my dead console. :D

If I may reccommend, try looking for an old PC at your local thrift store. You can find an old 200MHz shindig for around $20, and other supplies can be found cheap as well. It works pretty well; that's what I've been using for around 8 years now... ;)


Eric Wright

QuoteThe DC isn't so great for surfing (OK, it is a little bit of a cheap thrill)
Saturn, even more so ;)


QuoteWhat you are looking for

And, no, it will not be an easy task.
Especially when the page doesn't show up.
Why are you reading this?