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Category: Nintendo

SNES Super Wild Card Recap / Capacitor list

I recently got a Super Wild Card 3201 (hereafter called “SWC”) which is a Backup-device for SNES.

During the 90’s many companies produced backup-devices which can be compared to flash cartridges we use today. These devices were bulky and had an internal disk drive allowing cartridges to be backuped(written) onto floppy disks. It was also possible to send games to the backup-device from the PC via the parallel port. The backup-devices also allow to run homebrew software.

Compared to the flash carts, these are more cumbersome to use, but instead they hold a lots of nostalgia 🙂

A couple of factors that you had to take into consideration with the backup-devices:

1. RAM SIZE. The backup-device internal RAM has to be larger or equal to the game ROM size. Most of the SNES games are smaller than 32M with a couple of exceptions.

2. STORAGE SIZE. Games need to be split onto multiple disks if the ROM is larger than the current storage size(floppy).

(3. Different regions, protections, enhancement chips etc. are not in the main scope of this article)

Super Wild Card was produced by the Front Fareast Company(FFE). The also offered SWC-2, SWC DX and SWC DX2, where the last two are considered as the better ones with 96M(megabits) of memory and support for large capacity storage devices (HDD/CD/ZIP/2.88MB floppies).

Super Wild Card 3201
The SWC3201 was sold with 16, 24 or 32Mbit of memory. If you bought the device with less than 32M it was possible to upgrade it later through a trade-in program.

The floppy drive uses standard PC format supporting 720KB, 1.44MB and 1.68MB disk sizes. The 1.68MB uses 1.44MB disks with different format(DMF), which is supported by most internal PC disk drives but does not work with external USB-floppydrives.

Repairing the SWC
I inserted the SWC into my SNES, just to be greeted by a black(non-working) screen. After opening the unit, I could see that the main PCB and the memory-board were damaged from battery acid. One IC-socket was also badly corroded and had to be replaced. After cleaning up the PCB, traces, cartridge-connector and giving a full recap, it booted up.

Some troubleshooting notes on the way:
* The memory-board is not required to be installed for the SWC to start up. It will report having 0M of memory in the menu.
* The SWC will start up even if the floppy drive is disconnected.
* A cartridge is not required for the SWC to start up. (Possibly not true if there is no CIC-chip installed in the SWC, and the SWC configured as such).
* If the screen flickers on disk-access, the SNES powersupply may be bad or weak. Reconsider also recapping the SWC (should probably be done anyway).

Floppy upgrade
The floppy drive can be replaced with a Gotek USB floppy emulator. I reflashed the Gotek with HxC firmware and added an OLED-display. There are lots of guides how to do it. Most important to know is that everything works out of the box with the SWC.

HxC, in my opinion, is a good choice since it has comprehensive software, support for 1.68MB images and optional OLED/LCD-display which shows the currently mounted filename/imagename.

I modified an USB-controller to hold the OLED-display. Buttons are connected to next/previous diskimage. No original SNES controllers were harmed during the production.

Examples to convert/split/create diskimages with a script:

# convert ROM to SWC format:
ucon64.exe --nbak -swc "ROM_SOURCEDIR\ROM.SFC" -o "ROM_DESTDIR\ROM.SWC" > "ROM.log"

# split to 12M chunks if ROM is larger than 12M
ucon64.exe --nbak -s --ssize=12 "ROM_DESTDIR\ROM.SWC" -o "ROM_SPLITDIR" >> "ROM.log"

# insert first split into a 1.68MB image
hxcfe.exe -finput:"FLOPPY1680.hfe" -putfile:"ROM_SPLITDIR\ROM.1" >> "ROM.log"

# insert second split into a 720K image
hxcfe.exe -finput:"FLOPPY720.hfe" -putfile:"ROM_SPLITDIR\ROM.2" >> "ROM.log"

File and directory enumerating / loops / size compare etc. are omitted. I pre-created empty 720/1440/1680 diskimages for inserting the ROM-splits. There may be some more useful switches available for ucon64.

32M memory upgrade

There are two versions of the SWC main board, one with a Goldstar floppycontroller and one with a Motorola floppycontroller. The mod is identical to both versions except for the naming of the PEEL chips. In the picture above, the battery has been replaced by a CR2032 holder and a diode.

Steps needed to perform the upgrade:
1. Upgrade SWC Firmware/ROM to v2.8cc
2. Have a fully populated memory-board.
3. Reprogram/replace two PEEL chips.
4. Cut and reroute a trace on the PCB.
5. Test the final result

1. SWC firmware(BIOS/ROM) upgrade
The latest firmware is v2.8CC dated 06-28-94. There is no reason not to upgrade to this version even if you are not going to do the full 32M upgrade. Make sure you got the latest v2.8CC, there is a v2.8CC dated 06-08-94 which does not work properly with the 32M upgrade.

Burn the upgrade to a 27128 eprom and replace the ROM. It is an good idea to keep the original ROM if something goes wrong.

2. Add RAM to the memory-board
Solder in 514400 DRAM chips. Use at least as fast memory as the ones that are on the memory-board. 8 chips make 32 megabits of memory, don’t forget the capacitors (100nF).
I used HM514400BLTT7 from eBay. You can salvage memory from old SIMM-memory but it might create more problems than solutions.

Tip: You can verify the SWC reports 32M of memory after you have finished soldering (can also be done in steps of 8 megabits, 16 to 24 to 32). Do this before replacing the PEELs/cutting up the traces. Although the SWC will report 32M, it will not be able to use the memory (yet).

3. Replace two PEEL chips
Goldstar controller: replace U6 and U9
Motorola controller: replace U12 and U13

You can replace the PEEL chips with GAL16V8 chips which are supported by the common TL866 programmer. I used GAL16V8D-15LP chips from eBay. The .jed files were provided by users from the forum.

4. Cut and reroute a trace on the PCB.

PCB Top side.
Lift out pins 17,18,19 out of the socket.
Connect pin 19(gray wire) to pin 1 of the 74LS245(U7 Goldstar and Motorola).

PCB Bottom side.
Cut trace going to memory-board header pin 36.
Connect pin 17(green wire) to header pin 36
Connect pin 18(blue wire) to where pin 36 originally went.

Tip: Alternative way to connect the blue & green wires: Remove/cut pin 36 on the memory-board header. Solder the green wire directly to the memory-board and the blue wire to pin 36 position on the main PCB. This would leave the trace untouched and soldering a bit easier.

5. Testing the final result
Load a 32M game to verify it works.

I chose Donkey Kong Country(split the ROM into 3 disks) for testing. Before the upgrade it only presented a black screen, now the game boots.. almost.. but that’s another story :).

Check the SWC compatibility list at ucon64 homepage if anything seems out of the ordinary.

Most of this information was gathered from different places around the net and has been verified to work with my SWC. A good place to read up on the information is at