I have always loved retro gaming, however in the last few months I have been delving even deeper into this magical nostalgic world with the SEGA Saturn. Although up against the Sony PlayStation the Saturn often is treated as a second rate citizen, I can’t help but be drawn to the technology differences and be mesmerised by the resulting onscreen action. The SEGA Saturn released in 1995 within the UK packs a great selection of games especially when time, care and attention to specifically take advantage of the system’s strengths have been fulfilled. Exclusive titles in particular shine, including SEGA Rally Championship, Virtua Fighter 2, Panzer Dragoon 2, NiGHTS into Dreams and the list goes on and on.
That is until my SEGA Saturn started smoking from its side air vent and would no longer power on… Disaster!
A fear of dread filled my entire body as I wondered where the problem might be and how far it had impacted my beloved SEGA console. What followed was what can only be described as a frantic unscrewing of the Saturn to remove the top cover allowing me to review the damage inside and make sure nothing else dramatic was continuing to cause any more problems.
The smell was pretty bad, so after opening a few windows I delved further and could see that everything other than the smell looked absolutely fine. After removing the power unit, which on my VA0 unit sits underneath the top of the case, again nothing glaringly obvious. After peaking down at the board of the PSU though, there was a little sign of a black mark below one of the components and no doubt this was the culprit. The dreaded voltage regulator, a well-known failure point for the system.
The SEGA Saturn power unit is full of pretty juicy (as in large) capacitors and at this point I had lost faith in this now 25 years old PSU. It certainly looked repairable, but this is a console I wish to use on a regular basis and certainly not wishing to repeat this smokey episode I went hunting on the web for a more modern replacement.
Thankfully a website known as Rexus Nexus listed what looked to be an ideal solution. A truly modern alternative that was around a quarter of the size of the classic power supply unit, while looking far more friendly to the eye. In other words, it wasn’t filled with those juicy capacitors! Rexus Nexus don’t have an online store to order from, instead you fill in a contact form with your requirements to which a PayPal request for payment is sent to you. I would have preferred a true online store to see all the options and make payment there, but it was a pain-free experience and the communication very good.
The ReSaturn promises to be a 12v power supply for all of the SEGA Saturn models, from my VA0 revision right up to the VA15 with support for the Terraonion MODE should you have one fitted.
After a few years in the market our Saturns are growing older, and problems related to bad caps in the stock power supply, or problems with the infamous voltage regulator (prone to fail from the very beginning) are commonplace. This can affect the voltage of the CD lens and, of course, the voltage the chips in the mobo are in need of. Recapping or swapping the whole psu can obviously be a solution, but the variety of models existing makes it sometimes hard to find a match.
To solve all this, I designed the ReSaturn PSU, a 12v power supply that works with all Saturn revisions (from VA0 to VA15) either NTSC-J, NTSC-US, or PAL.. You just need a 12v AC/DC adapter with positive centre tip and you’re good to go.ReSaturn PSU website
Installation was simple, removing a few clipped on cables from the old PSU from the SEGA Saturn and then attaching to the new unit. My VA0 required a little 3D printed plate the ReSaturn PSU could sit on which again was straightforward enough to just screw into position, which was an optional extra due to the design of this revision Saturn.
The power connector socket itself that sits at the rear of the console is also replaced with a different type, however fits within the same space the old one occupies so no drilling, just one out and another one in.
There are a few jumpers to contend with, which you need to adjust depending on your revision of SEGA Saturn.
As mods go, this was a very simple one indeed. Next was of course was to switch back on my SEGA Saturn and cross my fingers the console would power on and show me the typical BIOS introduction. I am happy to report my SEGA Saturn is back to life, with no long lasting impact from the smelly episode. Everything is running great and again I am enjoying the delights of my personal favourite on the system, SEGA Rally Championship.
My experience with the ReSaturn has been a very positive one, with a super simple installation and a new found confidence in my SEGA Saturn longevity. I can certainly recommend the ReSaturn for those who need to replace their failed SEGA Saturn PSU or merely wish to ensure their console’s known failure point has been modernised.