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Thread: Region modding the Columbus Circle Genesis Handheld (16Bit Pocket MD Plus)

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    Genesis Region modding the Columbus Circle Genesis Handheld (16Bit Pocket MD Plus)

    Hello all, I'm wondering if anyone knows how to go about region modding the Genesis clone handheld by Columbus Circle (called the "16Bit Pocket MD Plus")? I've seen a listing on ebay for modded ones, but can't seem to find instructions anywhere (and if I can save $50 and do it myself, why not).

    Thank you for your help!

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    Hedgehog-in-Training Hedgehog-in-TrainingSports Talker rideordie71's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billybob884 View Post
    Hello all, I'm wondering if anyone knows how to go about region modding the Genesis clone handheld by Columbus Circle (called the "16Bit Pocket MD Plus")? I've seen a listing on ebay for modded ones, but can't seem to find instructions anywhere (and if I can save $50 and do it myself, why not).

    Thank you for your help!
    I don't have one but I am willing to bet that inside there is a GOAC (Genesis On A Chip) and it is as simple as changing region jumper (removing or adding solder blob).
    See O/J switch on Retron3. O= Overseas; J= Japan
    Retron3 has had several motherboard revisions all the while changing the GOAC but the ability to change Genesis (Mega Drive) region stayed via the switch.

    IF it is using GOAC (and it probably is, unlike TecToy during the 90s) it is as simple as identifying the GOAC and changing the region configuration according to datasheet for said GOAC.
    It could be GOAC: TecToy-580G; SM801; SM801-A1; TCT-6705; TCT-6801

    The listing states the following:
    Out of the box this clone console has its region set to NTSC-J(Japan). This prevents it from working with any SG/MD games that are region locked to NTSC-U(North America) or PAL(Europe and Australia). The mod changes the region from NTSC-J(Japan) to NTSC-U(North America). This will allow most North American games to work on this system.

    Notes
    *This mod will cause any region locked Japanese games from working on this system.*
    *This system will still not work with region locked PAL games.*
    *Even with the mod there are a few games that are incompatible with the clone hardware regardless of the region setting*


    Makes sense because it changes region from NTSC-J(Japan) [refer to retron3 function J= Japan] to NTSC-U(North America) [retron3 function O= Overseas] and the "Notes" section states "will cause any region locked Japanese games from working on this system."

    If you do this ADD A SWITCH to change between regions.
    Last edited by rideordie71; 11-11-2021 at 03:16 PM. Reason: sounded too cocky

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    Cool, thanks for the help! Will post info/pics when I get it

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    So you were right, there's just a jumper labelled "O/J" hidden behind the cartridge slot:
    Attachment 16202
    Swap that and you're good to go:
    Attachment 16203

    I'm curious about the jumper next to this, however, labelled "N/P". Could this be an NTSC/PAL jumper? Will try it some time in the future (as well as adding a switch), does anyone know of a PAL-only region locked game I could use to test this?

    Overall this isn't a bad little unit for the price ($65USD+shipping brand new on eBay at time of writing). The screen is smaller than I expected (only 2.8", ~7cm) vs the Nomad's 3.5" (~9cm), and a little dark too (there's no brightness control). The controls are decent, though they're also a bit small if you have big fingers, also the D-pad is a tiny bit stiff but I feel like it'll loosen over time. The audio is actually pretty good, it's at the right pitch unlike the at-games consoles, and the filtering sounds good. Also noteworthy is that the Everdrive's save states don't seem to work when using this.
    Last edited by billybob884; 11-21-2021 at 08:57 PM.

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    @billybob884
    Attachments do not work (or at least reliably) on this site. So I cannot see your pictures. You'll have to host the pictures somewhere.
    When you are able to get the pictures sorted out will you take a full motherboard picture? Or at least a picture of the main processing chip?
    Thanks in advance.


    Edit...

    Reference- See this GOAC pinout for SM801-A1

    https://vfiuchcikicshuusrch.ddns.net...8222480836.jpg

    Pin 1 is your O/J jumper and Pin2 is your N/P jumper- So YES- N= NTSC, P= PAL
    Last edited by rideordie71; 11-22-2021 at 07:22 AM.

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    Apologies, was unaware attachments didn't work properly, posted images to imgur: https://imgur.com/a/MO8q5sP

    The GOAC is a TCT-6803. That's neat, so it should be possible to make a 3-way region switch for this unit then. I've got some old PIC controllers lying around, maybe I'll try to put something together controlled using the Mode button so I don't have to cut holes for switches...

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    Interesting, I didn't know that GOAC was still being used.
    Yes, on the switch.
    I'd love to see what you can make happen if you go the route of programmable IC. You mean PIC like what is used for ps1 modchip and SNES region free lockout chip right?

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    Not sure what's being used in those mods, but I meant a PIC12F675 (which I have a handful of lying around), got a simple circuit worked out, just need to find space to cram it inside. Going to replace the power LED with a 2-color LED to indicate region, too.

    This unit could probably be modded with a rechargeable battery pretty easily, too, but maybe some other time.

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    Worked! Had a tiny little PCB made and wrote a simple program for the microcontroller, and replaced the power LED with a 2-color LED to indicate region, and it works great. Ended up using the RESET button instead of MODE, so it wouldn't interfere with the handful of games that need MODE for 3-button compatibility

    Pics added at the end of this gallery:
    https://imgur.com/a/MO8q5sP
    Last edited by billybob884; 12-27-2021 at 09:21 PM.

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    That is sweet!
    What a convenience you've just made it to be able to easily switch settings.
    I applaud your ingenuity!

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