Sega Dreamcast owners will be all too familiar with this following screen..
Your poor little Dreamcast is lost in the past still thinking it’s in the late 90s, naturally this is because the internal battery has decided to give up. This guide will show you how to change over the Dreamcast’s internal battery, it’s not the most elegant way of going about it but it works and with minimal fuss. Also doing things this way leaves your Dreamcast in the same condition as it came from the factory, there’s a few other alternatives involving other battery types but personally I think it’s best to stick to original parts.
First off you’ll have to source out a replacement battery, there’s a number of sellers on eBay that have these exact batteries listed. From the factory the Dreamcast uses a Sanyo ML2430 3v rechargeable battery. This battery is actually soldered into one of circuit boards of the Dreamcast as one unit, it’s notoriously difficult to solder the contact pins back onto the actual battery so it’s easier to find a battery designed for the Dreamcast that has the contact pins pre-soldered onto the battery. I found one listed on eBay for only 7 dollars, if you shop around you might find a better deal. 7 bucks isn’t much to pay to rescue your poor Dreamcast from its own internal Ground Hog day syndrome.
What you’ll need is the following; your Dreamcast with flat battery, a replacement ML2430 3v rechargeable battery, a soldering iron, some solder and a solder sucker(optional). Finding yourself a well lit area to work is recommended as well.
On with the disassembly, keep track of the parts you remove from the console. It’s not overly complex but the last thing you want to do is lose a screw.
Start by removing the expansion port cover.
There’s 4 Philips head screws under the console that have to be removed, one of which is only accessible when the expansion port cover is removed.
This is where the Dreamcast’s internal batter is located. please note I removed mine earlier to get the model number and to assess how much work is needed to replace it. As you can see it is possible to separate the battery from the contact pins, if you wanted to cheat you could slot in a standard ML2430 battery now and just tape it back up and hope for the best.. If you want to do it properly then read on.
To access the soldered connections holding the battery in place you’ll have to remove a few components. First off unplug this data ribbon cable, be careful not to fold or break this cable.
Disconnect the cooling fan, just gently wriggle the plug out of its socket.
Remove the 4 screws next to the controller ports that hold this circuit board in place.
This circuit board is overlapping the board you want to remove so this will have to moved out of the way, no need to completely remove it though. There’s 2 screws holding it in place located at the side of the console, there’s a screw at each end of the board.
With the two screws removed careful lift the board out of your away, lift this board directly up because there’s a row of contact pins that plug into the bottom of it.
Now the circuit board housing the battery can be lifted straight out, you may have to jiggle it slightly since the controller ports on this board overhang slightly into the front of the casing.
Flip the board over so you can access the solder points of the better connections, there’s 3 in total. Using a soldering iron carefully heat up the solder that’s holding the battery in place. If you have a solder sucker use that to remove the excess solder, if not you’ll have to gentry wriggle the battery (or contact pins if you have previously removed the battery) until they come free. Try to avoid having the soldering iron close the circuit board for a long time.
Now fit your new battery to the board, if there’s any excess solder left on the board then it will be difficult to get the new battery back into place. Ensure that you can see through the holes in the board so the new pins can pass through freely.
Fold over the contact pins on the other side of the board then apply a very small amount of solder to each point. Be careful not to use to much or you could short out the board. As mentioned previously try to limit the amount of time you have the soldering iron on this board because you could burn it.
I won’t win any awards for my soldering efforts here but the main thing is that there’s no excess solder and nothing got melted or burned.
Double check to see if the battery is held in place securely.
When the solder has cooled it’s time to reassemble the Dreamcast, start by replacing the board that holds the battery. Plug in the ribbon cable and the cooling fan cable.
Replace the 4 screws that hold this circuit board in place, make sure the controller ports line up properly before tightening.
Now the second circuit board can go back in place, be careful here and ensure the contact pins that connect under this board line up. If the 2 locations where the screws go don’t line up then there’s something wrong, pull it apart and start again until it all lines up perfectly.
Replace the 4 screws holding the casing together and replace the extension port cover. That’s it you ready to fire it up.
If all is well then you should be greeted with our old friend the time and date settings screen. Enter the time and date then restart the system.
On your next restart you should go straight to the main menu screen with the correct time and date displayed in the top right hand corner of the screen.