UPDATE – these days I would probably look for the ‘obey’ mod, a ready made board with a really smart install solution.
There’s already a great guide on making your PC Engine (or Turbo Grafx 16 multi region). It’s not worth me trying to re-write it, just use your favourite webpage translation service if needed.
Here’s some extra info, photos and notes I made whilst performing this excellent mod. Don’t forget you’ll need a 4.5mm Gamebit to open the PCE up.
I had already performed an RGB mod, which meant I had removed the RF unit – this gave me a bit of room to work with. I found that switch FF77 from Maplin (Single Pole, Sub Miniature) is great fit. If you bend one of the ends over and file down the other end of the switch you can wedge it in the hole where the channel select switch from the removed RF unit was. It starts off a little too long, but a bit of filing and test fitting will give a nice snug fit, add a bit of superglue and it should be stuck in there permanently.
Remember, if you’re performing this on a Japanese console, you also have to disable the region checking, easily done by lifting Leg 29 of chip HuC6280 and attaching it to Ground, the legs are clearly labelled. I used a scalpel to lever the leg up whilst heating the solder up, be careful and take your time (practice on something broken first if you need to). You can see I put some insulation tape under the leg after I lifted it, then soldered a small piece of Kynar to the leg and the negative side of a nearby Capacitor (there’s a lot of them around this area, and usually have the positive side marked). Add some tape or glue to the wire afterwards to strengthen it (I also tested the console as soon as I done this, just to make sure it still worked!).
Seeing as the original guide used Matrix board instead of Vero Board I decided to give it a go (I’ve never used it before). Due to the number of cuts that would be necessary to make on Vero Board for this little circuit, Matrix Board is a lot easier (I’d use it again for other mods, especially small boards like the N64 amp)
Print out the original diagram, it’s a great diagram with very clear labelling. This is the Matrix Board I used. I soldered the 4551 chips on first, then the links in Blue, followed by the links in Green (the dotted line links are left until soldering the wires on). I found it easiest to do the links on the underside by holding the soldering iron in-between the points, then adding solder to the iron, put enough on and it bridges the gap.
Here’s a few photos of the board being soldered up.
I didn’t like doing this bit, carefully counting the legs along, and double checking it! I cut them on the corner bend and then bent the vertical part of the legs outwards. Pay attention and remember not to cut Leg 18 (Ground).
I decided to use an old IDE ribbon cable, there’s a photo below of me starting it, because I’m right handed I found it easier to start from the left and work towards the right. You can see I put a piece of heat shrink on each wire so that I can heat them all up at the end to insulate each leg.
Once the connector wires were in place, I carefully double checked every wire and the board before soldering the wires into the board. Remember to link the wires to the chips (the grey dotted line links in the diagram), if you forget just one then it obviously won’t work and you’ll end up with just a white screen when you switch the console on (I did this, and it took me ages to notice my mistake).
When wiring the switch up, if a Ground Signal is sent down the wire to the 4551 chips then the machine operates in it’s normal mode, with a +5v Signal, it swaps it over and the console operates in it’s alternative region.
When I finished, I attached the wires from the cartridge port to the existing ribbon cable to stop them getting caught up. I gently filed the rough ends of the soldering on the underside of the board so that they wouldn’t stick through the double-sided foam that I use to hold it in place (I did this after double checking every connecting wire, making sure that I had the links in the correct place and then finally switching it on and testing each region).
Finally, I carefully tucked away the switch wire and re-assembled the console. I made sure I wired the switch so that the machines Primary region is labelled as I, and the Secondary region is labelled as II.
I wouldn’t have attempted this mod unless I had seen the brilliant original guide. I’m sure I’ve seen ready made boards for sale (probably at pcenginefx), professionally made and using surface mount chips, great for saving space and squeezing this into a handheld version of the console.
Summary of Components
- 1 x Suitable switch (I used Maplins FF77)
- 2 x MC14551B chips (or HEF4551B/CD4551)
- Matrix Board
- Some wire (I used an old IDE Cable)