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Old 11-29-2007, 03:48 PM   #1
pentium
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Question Sega Saturn is always loading the cd player

Well I FINALLY found a video cable for my saturn after nearly a year of owning the system. After I hook it up and pop in a game I turn it on, and it dumps me directly to the cd player. I tried all my saturn games but each time it will just drop me to the cd player with the thing thinking the game is a cd.
first thing that comes to mind is a modchip is installed that I don't know of and it's not installed properly so I open the case and get greeted with one of the PSU pins soldered in place with a bit of trimmed wire but no sign of the modchip and what's weirder is the cd drive (the place where more soldering is done) has no signs of modifications at all.
I completely strip the system down (at the same time discovering that the main fuse has blown and been bypassed by a piece of thin wire) but find nothing else that looks modified. I can't seem to figure out what's causing the problem as this problem is usually associated with the modchip being installed.

Any ideas you guys?
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Old 11-29-2007, 06:24 PM   #2
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Default Re: Sega Saturn is always loading the cd player

Won't it do that if it can't read any discs? Try a music CD and see if it plays. If it does, then the player is probably ok.
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Old 11-29-2007, 08:36 PM   #3
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Default Re: Sega Saturn is always loading the cd player

It will play an audio cd fine (In fact if you play one of the game cd's you hear someone tell you that it is a game cd) but a Sega Saturn game with no scratches will just dump you to the cd player.
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Old 12-14-2007, 05:32 PM   #4
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Default Re: Sega Saturn is always loading the cd player

Each official Saturn disc contains text printed around the rim of the disc, saying "PRODUCED BY OR UNDER LICENSE FROM SEGA". When the Saturn boots up, the drive laser moves to the outer edge of the disc and it actually scans that text in line by line. If it can't read the text, or if the scanned text is substantially different from what it's expecting, the Saturn will refuse to boot the game. (similar to the Nintendo logo check on Game Boy).

You can hear if this is happening on startup. Mute the TV so that you don't hear the startup animation noise, and instead listen carefully to the CD drive. You'll hear a big whirr as it moves the laser out to scan in the text, then another big whirr as it moves back to the centre and boots the game.

If you hear the whirring but it's still dropping you back to the CD player, this means the Saturn can't read the text on the edge of the CD. This can be caused by the laser lens being out of alignment or it can't move far enough to scan in all the text.

If you don't hear the whirring, the Saturn's not recognising the disc as a Saturn game in the first place - i.e. it's not seeing the Saturn ident in the boot sector. This seems to suggest a more serious problem, as if the Saturn itself is expecting something different to what your games have.
Are you trying to run games from a different region on your Saturn without a modchip?
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Old 12-14-2007, 08:09 PM   #5
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Default Re: Sega Saturn is always loading the cd player

I hear a whirr.

Nope. All the games tested, and the console itself were made to work here in north america.
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Old 12-22-2007, 12:51 PM   #6
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Default Re: Sega Saturn is always loading the cd player

I wanted to watch it try to load again so after another observation, I caouls see this happen in order.

-After power is applied, laser looks for reflective surface.
-After finding the reflective surface it spins the disc and reads the barcode on the inner edge.
-After barcode is read, the laser is moved out over the actual data section of the disc where it moves back and fourth about one or two millimeters as it reads.
-Disc stops spinning (by this time I am at the cd player screen) and the laser returns to it's home position.

The laser is fine and I assume the speed the speed is too but is there a possibility that this could be just like there older PS2 systems where you had to adjust a gear to change the height of the laser and fix read problems?
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Old 12-24-2007, 06:36 PM   #7
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Default Re: Sega Saturn is always loading the cd player

Quote:
Originally Posted by pentium
I completely strip the system down (at the same time discovering that the main fuse has blown and been bypassed by a piece of thin wire) but find nothing else that looks modified.
I can't believe I didn't pick up on this before
Bridging the fuse with a piece of wire is a BAD idea. The person who owned the Saturn before must have had the fuse blow, been unable to find a replacement and just put a wire in. This is just as bad as putting too large a fuse in the circuit. While easily supporting the normal load, it won't fail when the current reaches a dangerous level - instead some other part of the circuit fails. This could well be a fire hazard!

The fact that the fuse has blown already might be a sign that something else has blown. While fuse failures can be caused by an isolated incident such as a mains power surge, it is usually a sign of a short or other serious problem in the circuit. If a power surge has occurred while the fuse is 'bridged' like this, chances are another component will have been damaged. This could cause problems with reading the edge of the disc.

To me, it sounds as if the Saturn is having trouble reading the text on the outer edge of the disc, and is therefore refusing to boot the game. The lens might be going out of focus near the end of the track, or there could be something stopping the laser from moving out as far as it needs to.
If the lens is moving back and forth at the outer edge of the disc, it sounds as if it's trying again and again to read the text. A working Saturn (such as mine) should move the lens slowly over the text and then return to centre as it boots the game.

I've had similar problems with CD players playing the first few tracks of a CD fine, then refusing to play any subsequent tracks due to the mechanism being sticky.
Get an audio CD that's nearly full and play it in the Saturn. See if all the tracks are detected and start playing. Run the final track on fast forward all the way through. If the disc suddenly stops playing at a certain track, or starts to 'skip' as you're fast forwarding, there's your problem - either a mechanical fault or focusing error.
Maybe you could try forcing the lens to move back and forth on its track with your finger. Not the best method, but it did revive one of those CD players I mentioned!

Last edited by Tom41; 12-24-2007 at 06:41 PM..
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Old 12-25-2007, 02:01 PM   #8
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Default Re: Sega Saturn is always loading the cd player

Playback of a full cd gave no problems.
If I turn the control gear the laser moves fine with no resistance.
It's totally confusing to me.
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Old 12-25-2007, 02:13 PM   #9
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Default Re: Sega Saturn is always loading the cd player

One other thing.
It will also playback a burned music cd no problem also.
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Old 02-21-2008, 03:47 AM   #10
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Default Re: Sega Saturn is always loading the cd player

Sorry to bump the old topic, but MY Saturn has now started exhibiting a similar problem. Some discs like the original NiGHTS and Sonic Jam load perfectly every time. Other discs like Christmas NiGHTS and the 'Bootleg Sampler' that came with the Saturn seem to only work intermittently, as if it's having trouble reading the text on the outer edge of the CD.

I was trying to take a video of the laser moving out and in with the Saturn opened up, so I could show you how it's supposed to look - but my camera touched something on the Saturn PSU board and shorted it out!
I've read about surges destroying the Saturn's PSU, both blowing the fuse and causing a green disc component (something to absorb small power fluctuations, labelled VR1) to pop open. Thankfully in my case only the fuse blew; the VR1 device stayed intact. I replaced the fuse with a slightly larger fuse (2.6A instead of 1.2A) because that's all I had. Still, it's better than bridging the fuse connection with a piece of wire!

Now my Saturn is working again, except for this problem. If I do the swap trick with a 'good' disc to start up, it'll read the 'bad' disc as if nothing had happened. Could the laser be out of alignment? Could the discs have started to 'rot' at the edges?
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Old 02-21-2008, 05:59 AM   #11
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Default Re: Sega Saturn is always loading the cd player

well no idea ..with saturns laser
ps2 lasers do go bung and using burnt disks will shoten there life (so the story goes)
and sometime increasing the current by tweaking the pots (I think thats the story) will get a bit more life out of them but shorten it too, if you get the idea.

it might just be a bit out of alignment as you say
since you say its ok once boot up

No idea on how to check it thought

as for getting the laser dont know but,
probably the same situation as older ps2...no hope on getting new ones...there are refubs but mostly crap.

True too disks can go "bye byes" as well esp (burnt ones)

I have no idea but I suppose they work by switching read modes as they go across the disk so maybe only related to one mode ...hope that makes sense???

Any real saturn forums left in the world...some with gurus who "really know" what there talking about in regard to them...thats what Id be looking for.

sorry no real help I know

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Old 03-02-2008, 01:33 AM   #12
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Default Re: Sega Saturn is always loading the cd player

It's going from bad to worse! As the Saturn warms up, disc read errors become more frequent until it eventually resets to the CD player screen and then will not boot ANY disc.

Sometimes when I turn it on I hear a 'hissing' from the PSU area and the picture is badly distorted (lines of distortion moving around). Power-cycle it again and the problem's gone.

A friend of mine says that the Saturn's internal PSU may have been damaged when I shorted it out with the camera; more than the fuse blew. There are certainly no venting caps, but he says it's more likely I damaged a semiconductor. Severe ripple coming out of the PSU will definitely cause those distortion waves, and can also affect the stability of the laser beam - causing read errors.

I've found that if I tilt the Saturn upwards at a 45 degree angle, or if I put the Saturn on its side (standing vertical, PS2 style), it reads most discs. But if the PSU goes it might take out the whole Saturn in a ball of fire!

Try tilting your Saturn upwards and see if it boots anything then.
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Old 03-02-2008, 09:17 AM   #13
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Default Re: Sega Saturn is always loading the cd player

well if you got to tilt it or go vertical ,
to me its has to be some sort of focus, alignment or as I said laser dieing its self issue
I am no expert
but I know this is what happens with PS2 lasers
(one reason not to buy second hand old "mod" ps2's laser's probably passed its use by date)

if you go looking for a Saturn try and find one that hasn't been attacked with a screw driver
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