However, the Dreamcast was also not very future-proofed as it was the only fifth-generation console not to use DVD format (even the "mini" discs of the GameCube stored more), and Sega's attempt to outrun Sony and Nintendo's new offerings with deep discounts only served to make the console unprofitable faster. Sega announced the discontinuation of the Dreamcast on March 31, 2001, and slashed the cost to $99. I'd heard good things about it, I'd played Crazy Taxi in the arcades, and there it was at Fry's (rest in peace) at a price I could afford as a starving student, so I picked one up. Games turned up in quantity at lower prices and I even managed to land a Broadband Adapter and a keyboard and a light gun and a mouse and the Seaman microphone and even the fishing reel controller. There's also an SD card reader plugged into the back expansion port I can play disk images off.
Although I've picked up a couple other Dreamcast and Dreamcast-adjacent systems since, I still have the original one in my office. Its internal battery used for storing settings had long since worn out, requiring me to enter the date and time every time I wanted to play a game, but then it wouldn't read any discs other than SoulCaliber. I mean, I like SoulCaliber, but this was ridiculous. No Crazy Taxi? It's time for ... a Refurb Weekend!
I should note before going further that this unit is an NTSC version 1, manufactured May 2000 (before Sega locked out MIL-CDs with a drive update). I have never worked on a PAL system. The NTSC version 2 is similar to the version 1, but the version 0 (earliest) has some differences in its cooling and internals. You can note the television standard and revision on the bottom; the circled number next to "PAL" or "NTSC" is the revision.
The settings battery is a small rechargeable 3V ML2020 (here with a lavender rim) that is permanently affixed to its holder, and the holder is soldered into the board.
If your DC suddenly doesn't power up after this, there are a couple possibilities, and the least likely is that you did the soldering work wrong. If the power light comes on at least, and/or you hear a beep from a connected VMU, odds are the controller board isn't the problem. Even if you're incredibly careless, as long as you're not doing something like laying the entire board on the soldering iron the worst you can do is wreck the lines going to controller port 1, and even that you'd have to work at.
If it powers up sometimes and then shuts off after a few seconds, either the ribbon cable or the fan connector are at fault. If the fan isn't spinning, the Dreamcast hardware will force a shutdown to prevent thermal damage after a few seconds. Assuming the fan is correctly connected you'll need to replace the fan and/or consider this modification. If the fan is spinning, next look at the ribbon cable. I managed to damage one by shorting pin 1 to pin 2, which connected the 3 volts from the battery into the controller line and freaked out the console. I repaired it by carefully bending the metal contact back and reseating the ribbon, and no harm was done. If the cable looks intact, however, you may need to consider that same modification as a test.
To compensate, you can adjust the potentiometer on the laser pickup that determines whether a pit or land is being detected by the photodiode. This is a fiddly adjustment, so before we go spinning our wheels on bad discs, let's get out one of my Dreamcast-adjacent systems, the Treamcast. Oh, Sega hated these. Basically a mod, the Treamcast took Dreamcast hardware and put it into a special case, here the high-end SE variant with a black case and 5" TFT LCD screen. All of these were ripoffs of the PSone. It still had the video connector and the screen could be turned off, but it also had a built-in speaker and an external power supply so you could play it in the car if you wanted to (mine has a 12V attachment and a matching black controller). What really riled Sega was the altered BIOS that would play pretty much any game without the need for hacks like MIL-CD or Utopia, and they played whack-a-mole with various Chinese and Hong Kong sellers for a good couple years. The only thing I don't like about the Treamcast is that nothing fits right on the expansion slot because the case is smaller; otherwise it's a fabulous portable console. In fact, it's my most powerful on-the-go SuperH system, even more than my HP Jornada 690 (a particular irony since some DC games are based on Windows CE).
You can see this Treamcast is pretty much mint, even with the plastic protector still on the screen, and that's on purpose: it's not just a collector's item, it's our comparison unit because its laser has hardly been used. If a disc doesn't work here then it won't work even after good adjustment on the other one. Crazy Taxi played (and SoulCaliber), but one of my homebrews was damaged (I later noticed a gouge in the disc), and a couple others behaved adversely, probably due to marginal burns at the time or bad media. Armed with a knowledge of what should work, let's start on the pickup.
What we'll be doing is adjust this tiny pot just enough by lowering its resistance so that more discs will read. No, this is not a permanent fix, yes, you'll have to do it again probably, and no, once it gets to zero there's nothing else you can do but try to replace the LED, but until then you can buy more time. Don't reduce it too much or you'll compound the issue, but at least you measured the initial resistance, so you can set it back, right?
As the pot faces you, turn it very, very slightly clockwise, no more than a couple degrees. I used a 5/64" jeweler's flathead screwdriver for this. If the pot doesn't want to turn, you may need to scrape some of the lacquer off with a small pin or another tiny flathead driver.
This is a tedious process of trial and error, but this is the first time I've had to do it on this 22-year-old unit, so hopefully it will be a few years before I have to do it again. My reward is seeing Crazy Taxi "NOW LOADING" (though I had to make a tiny tweak as its load times were still too long). For a turn of about 15 degrees, I ended up reducing the resistance to about 400Ω, so assuming the LED's loss of power is at all linear I should still have a decade and change yet on this pickup. :)