Neo Geo NEO CD SD Loader (installation, firmware, loading times…)

Pssst… if you can read Spanish, better visit my original post, my English is not the most adequate for a technical talk: https://4lexei.com/neo-geo-cd-sd-loader-furrtek-guia-instalacion-pruebas/

Everything you need to know about Furrtek Neo CD SD Loader for Neo Geo CD: kit installation, firmware upgrade, how to copy games, compatibility list…

The most awaited piece of hardware for the hatred CD version (I LOVE YOU GURL) of NEO GEO, a meticulous piece of engineering and research carried out by Furrtek.

Imagen del kit, fotografía de Furrtek

What is the NEO CD SD Loader for Neo Geo CD?

The NEO CD SD Loader is a kit (requires installation) to boot games onto NEO GEO CD from an SD card, minimizing the biggest flaw of this home system: the infamous and super slow loading times of its single speed CD-ROM drive.

Of course there are many other advantages, like the preservation of all those still functional CD-ROM units, the ability to boot all your games from a single card, never have to burn a CD again to test or play games that you can’t afford, resurrect old machines with laser issues… it is wonderful!

Are you interested? Join the waiting list at http://furrtek.free.fr/sdloader/

Features

As described on its website:

  • Compatible with TOP-LOADER system (Front-Loader is planned | CD-Z maybe in the future)
  • Load games from an SD or microSD card
  • Loading times up to 4 times shorter than compact discs
  • You can keep your CD-ROM drive operational
  • Menu with DIP-switches and region
  • Copying and restoring saved games on the SD
  • Easily upgradeable firmware
  • Are you a programmer? Debug your code without having to burn and waste a lot of CDs

What you will need…

  • NEO CD SD Loader Kit
  • Philips screwdriver
  • Common soldering tools: soldering iron, a good soldering tip (1mm), tin, solder paste or flux …
  • Needle to lift a pin

Warning

Due to an error in the production of some units (mine was received in August 2020), the adapter/socket that fits into the CPU might not make good contact.

Solution? Contact Furrtek, return the faulty kit and have a little more patience. Any other solution? Well, if you are skilled enough, very patient and you are aware that the process will take hours, in addition to the dangers that it entails… you can solder the SD Loader directly to the CPU. This solution is not really a solution, it is something I did because I wanted to, it was never suggested by Furrtek and it is preferable that you don’t do it.

The kit is designed to fit and to function with very little work (lifting a very roomy pin and just 5 easy solders), don’t do this nonsense.

QUICK TEST comparing SD vs CD load times

Quick test showing loading times from SD card versus CD-ROM with Cyber-Lip, The King of Fighters 95 and Last Resort.

In the firmware that I used while capturing the video above, reading speed was reduced to avoid unknown errors. Speed might be improved in future firmwares.

Neo CD SD Loader: installation (Kit rev. E) and comparison of loading times:

Sorry, my video is in Spanish but if you are an English speaker don’t hesitate to leave a comment on YouTube, you’re very welcome.

In this video:

  • Neo CD SD Loader installation keeping the CD-ROM drive
  • Footage of my alternative MANIAC installation
  • SD card preparation (FAT32 on Windows and Mac)
  • Copying games to the card
  • Most common ISO types I have encountered
  • Boot Loader settings
  • Comparison of loading times SD vs CD and my opinion about Neo Geo CD

In the video I point to pin 12 but I wrongly mention pin 21. You must lift pin 12, ok. I did record the audio weeks after the video, there were some disturbance in my neighborhood and my head was in another place, sorry.

There will never be anything easier and more convenient than a website with text and photos, which you can edit if necessary. Damn videos! Original instructions here: http://furrtek.free.fr/sdloader/support/top_e_en.htm

Formatting the SD card is done from Disk Utility on MacOs, while on Windows you can download this program (well, it’s a GUI) by clicking on the image (the screenshot is the link to the download): http://www.ridgecrop.demon.co.uk/index.htm?guiformat.htm

Do you want to know how to repair the Neo Geo CD controller? https://4lexei.com/neo-geo-cd-reparar-mandos-clic-clic -click/ (Spanish)

Installation summary keeping operational the CD-ROM drive

As a complement to the video I will add some images and a reference summary. Please, be patient.

In my experience, Neo Geo CD is prone to picking up interference. You can check it by yourself by moving your hand close to the system while is running and open.

As a recommendation, use very short cables and solder on the upper face; Although it is possible to do so, I cannot think of any good reason to solder the CN3 connector on the underside, thus lengthening the route of the cables.

Is very important to correctly reattach the shield screwed to the A/V board, on my console it is crucial to have good sound.


Lift pin 12 of the ROM where the BIOS is stored. This chip could be named TOP-SP1, TOP-SP1-2, or TOP-SP1-3 depending on the date of manufacturing date.

Place the flat flexible cable into the SD Loader and snap it (the SD Loader) onto the CPU. The notch on the processor should match the white arrow on the SD Loader.

Solder a wire from where the pin 12 was connected (motherboard) to point A of the SD Loader.

Solder a wire from the lifted pin to point B of the SD Loader.

Locate connector CN3. Solder a cable from Pin 1 to point Z of the SD Loader. Pin 2 to point X. Pin 3 to Y. I recommend soldering on the upper face of the board.

With the shield already mounted above the motherboard, the cable (three wires) that was connected to CN3 will be plugged to the SD Loader. In my console this maneuver was complicated due to the short length of the cable. I recommend tweezers and flashlight. If it were not possible to reach the SD Loader, longer cables would have to be soldered.

Screw the card reader to the side of the CD-ROM, bent it at a 45º angle so that it is accessible from the vent holes, and connect the other end of the flat cable. It is not mandatory to place the microSD reader there but very convenient if you want to reach the SD card easily.

Game compatibility

Games that I have been testing plus some contributions: https://www.elotrolado.net/hilo_hilo-oficial-neo-cd-sd-loader-compatibilidad_2393273

Andro Dunos: Unofficial conversion from MVS to CD. Fooling around the first level, nothing strange at first glance.

Breakers: SD Loader bug (while playing) that disappears after a few seconds (thanks to mcfly)

Brikinger: two levels without errors.

Cyber-Lip: completed with no apparent errors, but watching the ENDING, just before the credits, there was an SD Loader error on the screen that disappeared a few seconds later. The game was running (before, during and after the error) as if nothing strange happened.

Ghost Pilots: Weird flickering in the clouds when the boss of the first level comes out. It could be completely normal, I can’t test it on CD.

KOF (saga): tested several fights. The 97 edition does not boot up, it could be an issue with my ISO.

Last Resort: fooling around the first level with no apparent glitches.

NAM 1975: played several levels without any problem. During the demo, the right half of the background disappeared. It just happened once.

Overtop: finished with two different vehicles, no issues.

Pulstar: first level completed.

Raguy: I loaded it, started the first level and didn’t have any more time to check more.

Ryuuko No Ken: Two fights without issues (story mode).

Ryuuko No Ken 2: Quick load test until the first fight.

Ryuuko No Ken 3: Quick load test until the first fight.

Riding Hero: completed two circuits in Arcade mode and a whole hour in story mode without errors. Arcade mode finished with no issues. Story mode (RPG) finished with just one on screen error (very last section of the game, when someone lends you a bike) that disappears in few seconds.

Robo Army: anti-copy warning at the end of the third level (just when you arrive to the Police Station hahaha) and I had to leave it there. Completely normal, since the SD Loader does not patch this type of protections, it is the user who must remove them.

Samurai Spirits RPG: not working (thanks to mcfly).

Samurai Spirits IV: error in the second game mode, freezes after choosing character (thanks to mcfly).

Sengoku 2: Finished the first level without errors.

Tokuten Ou (Super Sidekicks saga) – Multiple matches without problems. I have to patch the third game to prevent the DISK I/O ERROR 0003.

Sonic Wings 2: Two levels completed without problems.

Sonic Wings 3: Two levels completed without problems.

Trash Rally: finished with no errors.

Viewpoint: tested the first level without noticing anything unusual.

Zedblade: Unofficial MVS to CD conversion. Unplayable, graphics and sound errors (thanks to mcfly).

Basic tools to modify or repair consoles: https://4lexei.com/herramdamientos-basicas-para-reparar-y-modificar-consolas-retro/

Was this article useful to you? If you buy on Amazon from the following link, you will help me maintain this without costing you anything that you did not plan to spend: https://www.amazon.es/?tag=lv481-21

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