A closer look: 3 generations of Konami DDR hardware

DDR PCBs from my collection | Left to right: System 573 Digital, Python 2, BEMANI PC Type-4 (For me, they worth more than a dozen RTX-3090s)

Fifteen years and a few hundred AAAs later, never in my life have I thought that someday I would own (nearly) complete set of DDR arcade computers (up to SD cabinet) capable of running any mix any time. It all started from a privatization, a yearn for nostalgia, some luck, and courage$$$. Personally, some mix stole my heart and by having the chance to re-play them in their legitimate state would bestow incomparable experience to anything an open-source platform could offer.

Here they are:

> Gen #1 – System 573 Digital (est 1998) = DDR 3rdMIX >> DDR EXTREME
> Gen #2 – Python 2 (est 2004) = DDR SuperNOVA >> DDR SuperNOVA2
> Gen #3 – Bemani PC Type-4 (est 2008) = DDR X >> DDR A20 PLUS

A closer look: System 573 Digital

All DDR games supported by System 573 Digital hardware

This is the grandfather who ran so many classic mix for a great number of years. Mine is a digital variant of 573 that supports these following series:

> Dance Dance Revolution 3rd Mix
> Dance Dance Revolution 3rd Mix+
> Dance Dance Revolution 3rd Mix Asian
> Dance Dance Revolution 3rd Mix Korea
> Dance Dance Revolution 3rd Mix Korea Ver.2
> Dance Dance Revolution 4th Mix
> Dance Dance Revolution 4th Mix+
> Dance Dance Revolution 5th Mix
> Dance Dance Revolution 6th Mix / DDRMAX
> Dance Dance Revolution 7th Mix / DDRMAX 2
> Dance Dance Revolution Extreme
> Dance Dance Revolution Solo 2000
> Dance Dance Revolution Solo 4th Mix
> Dance Dance Revolution Solo 4th Mix+
> Dance Dance Revolution Solo Bass Mix
> Dancing Stage Euromix
> Dancing Stage Euromix 2
> Dancing Stage Featuring Disney’s Rave
> Dancing Stage Featuring Dreams Come True

System 573 digital PCB unit at a glance

Nostalgia would suffice as an ultimate reason for getting this unit (aside from ‘unfinished black flags‘), which I purchased from a friendly fella in Spain. On arrival, it didn’t weigh as much as his juniors (around 4 kg; certainly no HDD), but still felt firm enough on my hands. It also has smaller dimension compared to newer hardware: 300 x 300x 92 mm.

System 573 Digital: connectors/ plugs [side A]

List of connectors/ plugs according to my current knowledge:

> Optical drive (CD/ DVD-ROM) = Running install/ play disc
> JAMMA socket = Handles cabinet inputs + power supply
> Test = Unused
> Dip switches (x4) = Specifies whether the 573 should load from onboard memory or CD/ DVD drive
> USB = Unused
> RGB = Video output (15KHz)
> Line Out 1 (RCA) = Audio output (stereo) – to cab’s amplifier
> Small plug (bottom right) = Unused
> 1P plug (white) = Handles P1 inputs
> 2P plug (orange) = Handles P2 inputs
> Red plug = Handles cabinet lights
> White plug = Handles bass neon lights

System 573 Digital: slots [side B]

> Security cassette = Legitimacy verification
> Flash card = Data storage

Main PCB with 32MB flash card (left) + digital PCB (top) + boot ROM (DDR-EX) + IDE socket

System 573 specs is based on original PlayStation hardware with some modifications. I haven’t researched much about this relic but here’s some components that I think worth noticing:

> GX700 board = The mainboard of course
> Boot/ EEPROM = Required for system boot
> RTC RAM = Required to save settings
> IDE socket = To connect an optical drive
> Digital I/O = Decoding digital audio + handles lights & pad I/O
> 32MB flash card = Required to play 3rdMIX >> EXTREME (for DDR games, it needs to be in SLOT 2)

There are several types of known EEPROM:

1. Konami boot ROM = A single IC chip not mounted on a PCB (it has KONAMI 700A01/ 700B01 printed on it)
2. Universal modboard = A PCB with 3 ICs on it, usually accompanied by a few resistors
3. Single mix modboard = A PCB with more than 3 ICs on it
4. Betson boot ROM = A single IC chip with pale sticker in the center, does not say KONAMI on it.

The 573 doesn’t need a cooling fan because old tech won’t get hot like newer ones (mine came with no fan), but if you insist to have one then a 2-pin 12v mini fan should fit in (find the pin near IDE socket).

Breaking and fixing boot ROM PCB

Be extra careful when cleaning up/ removing any components because some of them are very delicate and prone to damage (yep, I broke a modboard pin on my first try – thank God I fixed it a couple of days later). Use small & soft brush to get rid of big particles and use isopropyl alcohol as needed on a soft cloth to GENTLY wipe any board.

Someday, if your RTC RAM ever get sick/ dead (it will show ‘RTC BAD/ Error Note 605’ during boot), it’s not game over yet for the 573. First thing in the morning: look for a replacement M48T58Y-70PC1 chip somewhere on the internet, some expert said that it’s safer to buy several of them from different sellers, in case some of them already died by the time they arrive (expected from discontinued old stocks). Second, you will have these two options:

1. Call a seasoned technician to replace the RTC chip for you
2. Do it yourself cautiously with proper tools (don’t forget to use flux when soldering)

Cleaning 573 PCB metal: before VS after

It is more likely that your 573 has been stored for years/ decades with minimum maintenance before you finally get it, usually the unit will suffer from deteriorated metal cover surface with some nasty oxidation. I used metal polish on a clean cloth to get rid of the ugly wounds by wiping them in circular motion while giving slight pressure until the paste gets dark (duration will vary depend on the damage). After that, wipe it clean and you will be surprised at how ‘brand new’ it can be.

Mounting an optical drive properly

The CD/ DVD drive needs to be mounted properly just beneath top metal sheet (x4 small screws; tighten from the top) so they won’t squash and cause damage to PCB components below it. Here’s some list of compatible drives for the 573:

> Compaq 179137-701
> LG GCR-8523B
> LG GDR-8164B (confirmed great for analog mixes and super discs)
> LG GH22NP20 Multi DVD Rewriter
> Lite-On LH-18A1H (confirmed working for analog mixes and super discs)
> Lite-On LTD-163
> Lite-On LTR-40125S
> Lite-On XJ-HD166S
> Toshiba XM-5702B
> Matsushita CR589B (this is the stock drive; works with analog mixes)
> Matsushita SR8589B
> MITSUMI CRMC-FX4830T
> NEC CDR-1900A
> Panasonic CR594C
> SONY DRU-510A
> SONY DRU-810A
> LG GDR-8163B (confirmed working with analog mixes)
> TEAC CD-W552E

Make sure you have the jumper on these drives set to master. Also, the following are eBay searches for two of the best drives found to work:
> GDR-8164B
> Lite-On LTD-163

If $245+ feels reasonable, you can also consider an IDE simulator to replace conventional drive. It has no moving parts and offer faster loading times, making it more reliable than optical drives.

Left: mounting 573 on a wooden plate

I got my wooden plate from a spare cab, so it automatically fit inside my main J-cab PCB slot without additional resizing. After that, use a cordless drill to make proper holes for 4 screws to hold the PCB in place.

Installing System 573 Digital on upgraded SD cabinet

My SuperNOVA2 red cabinet came with EXT-I/O wirings by default, therefore I need to re-route some plugs from it to the 573. You won’t need additional power plug because the 573 gets them directly from JAMMA connector (IIRC the 5v & 12v lines), don’t forget to provide correct voltage to the power supply (110v for Japan/ USA/ Korea – 220v for Europe).

Rewiring connectors to System 573 | Left: cabinet light | Middle: P1 & P2 input | Right: bass neon light

Here are some plugs you will need to re-connect from the EXT-I/O + PORT 1 to the 573 if you are running an upgraded SD cabinet:

> Cabinet light = XMR-10V female red connector (previously ‘PORT 1’)
> P1 input = XMR-10V female white connector
> P2 input = XMR-10V female orange connector (both of them should be obvious)
> Bass neon light = XMR-06V female white connector (from ExNL on the right end of EXT-I/O)

Then finish the job with these guys: JAMMA + RCA + VGA (make sure to properly connect them with no broken wire).

My 573 came with DDR Extreme Pro v2 installed (awesome!) with ‘super disc’ support (even more awesome!). It actually pretty simple to prepare the disc if you have the ISO data. I recommend using imgburn software with slowest burning speed as possible (I am using 4x for my Verbatim DVD-R without issue). For ‘liberated’ 573s, there is no need to insert a security cassette prior boot.

Left: boot check | Right: installing a DDR mix

Run installed mix: I assume your EEPROM is OK as it will take you pass the boot check. Be patience and wait until it gives you white screen before showing the loading progress. You should enter the game mode soon after.

Entering game mode

Install new mix: To change mix, you will need to swap the disc manually while the cab is powered off. To do that, use a long needle and plug it in one small hole you can find in front of the optical drive to eject the disc tray. Put the new disc in, flip the DIP #4 to OFF position (up) and boot the cab to install new DDR mix (it took me 8 minutes on average). After installation has been completed, flip the DIP #4 ON (down) and restart the cabinet. Hold the test button while re-booting (to reset RTC memory) until it tell you to stop, then the game will load normally.

Instructions to follow after successfully installed a new DDR mix

Expect less on the visuals in terms of crispness compared to modern series. Menu/ demo/ result screens will render on 480i while it’s 240p for gameplay. For true lovers, it will still give you fulfillment even without 0.5x/ 0.25x speed modifier (aside from 1.5), note arrow, and screen filters.

Several games (5th >> EXTREME) will have some contents locked by default (except Ex Pro) and you will need to apply unlock code to release them. If you are a super disc user, there is a dedicated unlock code menu (unhidden) inside test menu. Follow the on-screen instruction to enter the code (if success, you will be brought back to another screen), after that choose ‘exit’ (NOT ‘Append’) and enter game mode to enjoy a fully-unlocked classic DDR.

A closer look: Python 2

All DDR games supported by Python 2 hardware

The second-gen hardware which first introduced support for higher resolution rendering and e-Amusement play. There were just two DDR titles released on this platform:

> Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA
> Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA2

Python 2 System PCB unit at a glance

A legit Python 2 running final J-SN2 was included as part of my first acquisition of DDR cab. It has a dimension of: 395 x 305 x 80 mm (excluding metal mount) and weigh around 5-6 kg (a bit heavier than BEMANI PC) if combined with its default wooden plate.

Python 2: connectors/ plugs [side A]

List of connectors according to my current knowledge:

> JAMMA socket = Handles cabinet inputs
> PWR = Power supply
> Analog = Unused
> PORT 1 = Handles cabinet lights
> LAN = For internet connection (online play ONLY)
> COM1 = Handles P1+P2 inputs and bass neon lights (from EXT-I/O)
> COM2 = Handles card readers (if any)
> RGB = Video output (15/31KHz)
> Line Out 2 (RCA; yes it’s ‘2’) = Audio output (stereo) #1 – to cab’s amplifier
> Line Out 1 (RCA) = Audio output (stereo) #2 – to external speakers; e.g when at public DDR event)

Python 2: connectors/ plugs [side B]

> Dip switches (x4) = Unused (except to bypass EXT-I/O to boot the game)
> Security plugs (x2) = Legitimacy verification; black (on plug 1) for booting game; white (on plug 2) for e-Amuse play

Inside: a PlayStation2 + P2IO board

Python 2 is pretty much a retail PlayStation2 console (NTSC J-SCPH-5000 series) connected to a dedicated I/O board called P2IO. Some important components we should be careful to play with:

> PS2 unit = The computer
> P2IO = Connects PS2 to the cab
> PATA HDD = OS + game data
> USB socket (x2) = 1 for data + 1 for electrical grounding
> MCIF board = Unused on DDR (this was used on other Python 2-based games)

One key aspect of this hardware: Konami ‘married’ the PS2 with its HDD (it will check for HDD serial numbers upon boot for decrypting data – it won’t do anything good if we switch the HDD and vice versa). One critical warning: never attempt to clone the HDD by yourself without proper ‘know-how’ (it can brick the HDD and will render it useless for future use). Alternatively, you can seek help from an ‘expert’ if you are full of doubt. Even so, it won’t boot into the game officially (except in the midnight). However, even if the PS2 and/ or HDD isn’t working anymore, you can still make use of the P2IO for Stepmania conversion.

Left: installing Python 2 on SD cabinet | Right: EXT-I/O board installed

To properly install Python 2, an EXT-I/O is required to be present (this board was introduced from 1st SuperNOVA) so that the machine can read individual foot panel sensors and light them up. Technically, you can bypass this requirement by jumping pins (1 & 6) on the stage light connectors for both players and flipping DIP #2 on the P2IO (positioned beside the PLUGs) to put the game into MANUFACTURER mode. This way, the game will show a foot panel error upon boot but will continue anyway. However, the stage I/O check and foot panel lights will be non-functional in this configuration.

You can use this guide if your cab runs system 573 natively prior conversion. If not (e.g already SuperNOVA’ed or X’ed), finish the job with these guys: JAMMA + RCA + VGA (supports 15 or 31khz output) + PORT 1 + COM1 + COM2 (if both card readers are present) + power + security plug(s). Ignore MCIF & ANALOG port because they have no use for DDR. Again, don’t forget to provide correct voltage to the power supply (110v for Japan/ USA/ Korea – 220v for Europe).

< Boot sequence: Konami BIOS > hardware check
Entering game mode

Ensure that the PS2 power switch is flipped ON (it’s in the back) before turning the cabinet ON. If the HDD is working, it will boot into Konami BIOS before the hardware check screen (approximately 3 minutes in total to enter game mode), and if it isn’t working, you will see a PS2 home screen looping till the end of time instead. Just in case you have a locked SuperNOVA2, you can apply these codes to unseal more contents: songs, courses, and more.

A closer look: BEMANI PC Type-4 (Dragon)

< All DDR games supported by BEMANI PC Type-4 hardware >

This is the latest last hardware designed to work with an Standard Definition (SD; Gen 1 & 2) cab (aside from 2008-X HD cab), bestowing capability to run all modern DDR versions by the time this article is written:

> Dance Dance Revolution X
> Dance Dance Revolution X2
> Dance Dance Revolution X3 vs 2ndMIX
> Dance Dance Revolution (2013)
> Dance Dance Revolution (2014)
> Dance Dance Revolution A
> Dance Dance Revolution A20
> Dance Dance Revolution A20 PLUS
~ and hopefully there will be more mix ahead ~

BEMANI PC Type-4 (DDR 2008 version) PCB unit at a glance

To get my hands on this super-rare breed, I had to buy another set of DDR cabinet (yup, that’s right – better than get robbed by some weirdo). My unit is a legit one running final X and has a dimension of: 395 x 305 x 80 mm (excluding metal mount) and weigh around 5 kg (slightly lighter than Python 2) if combined with its default wooden plate.

Dragon unit: connectors/ plugs

List of connectors according to my current knowledge:

> JAMMA socket = Handles cabinet inputs
> PWR = Power supply
> PORT 1 = Handles cabinet lights
> LAN = For internet connection (online play ONLY)
> COM1 = Handles P1+P2 inputs and bass neon lights (from EXT-I/O)
> COM2 = No longer used for card readers
> COM3-4 = Handles card readers (if any)
> RGB = Video output (15/31KHz)
> Line Out 1 (RCA) = Audio output (stereo) #1 – to cab’s amplifier
> Line Out 2 (RCA) = Audio output (stereo) #2 – to external speakers; e.g when at public DDR event)
> HDD Bay = Removable HDD tray (hot swap)
> PLUG = Legitimacy verification; should be connected to a plug adapter: black for booting game; white for e-Amuse play
> Dip switches (x4) = Unused

PCB layout from left to right: motherboard + P3IO + HDD bay
Mainboard components: Processor + RAM + graphic + SATA port + power supply + heatsink

This unit is pretty much a low-end compact PC even for 2008’s standard: a single core Intel Celeron + ATI Radeon HD2400 + 512 DDR2 667MHz SODIMM RAM, running on a 2008 Konami Windows XP Embedded. The mainboard is connected to a dedicated I/O board called P3IO (FYI, the one used for DDR is slightly different from GFDM’s). Some important components we should be careful to play with:

> Mainboard = The computer (945 chipset)
> P3IO = Connects mainboard to the cab
> SATA HDD = OS + game data

Left: a working DDR X original HDD | Right: backup process to new HDD

Generally, it is safe to clone the HDD for backup/ preservation purpose since it uses Windows OS (a whole different story for Python’s), choose one method:

1. Software-based = use either Norton Ghost or Macrium Reflect (or equivalent)
2. Hardware-based = use SATA HDD docking capable of cloning (e.g ORICO HDD Bay – no need for additional computer)

Left: installing BEMANI PC on SD cabinet | Right: EXT-I/O + plug adapter

It is mandatory to have an EXT-I/O installed or this will be a futile attempt, then finish the job with these guys: JAMMA + RCA + VGA (supports 15 or 31khz output) + PORT 1 + COM1 + COM3-4 (if both card readers present) + power + security plugs (either classic or USB type; if it’s the latter – connect them to the mainboard via USB extension cables) + LAN (if your setup has support for ‘online play’). To switch between versions, simply swap the HDD & security plugs then reboot. Don’t forget to provide correct voltage to the power supply (110v for Japan/ USA/ Korea – 220v for Europe)

Boot sequence #1: motherboard BIOS > Konami Windows XPe
Boot sequence #2: hardware check | Left: card + USB reader ERROR (not present) | Right: no ERROR for both (installed)

Before everything else, make sure all PC components (like SDRAM sticks) are properly plugged in (if not, the mainboard will beep continuously/ repeatedly), then turn ON the cab. If nothing is broken, you will be taken to a series of boot sequence: Windows XPe >> hardware check >> game mode (around 1.5-2 minutes in total). If you don’t have access to card readers and/ or USB readers, you will be stopped at ERROR screen upon hardware checking. To bypass it, push test button to enter test menu screen then proceed to game mode from there.

Entering game mode

DDR X-X3 supports offline play while DDR 2013 or later will require internet connection with e-Amuse support to boot into game mode. Just in case you have a locked X, you can apply these codes to unseal more contents: songs, courses, and more. One more thing, this PCB unit can also be utilized to run Stepmania or OpenITG (I haven’t try this one but you should be able to find help in the community).

You can switch between version with ease by swapping the HDD + security plugs

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way” they said – this same principle is applicable if you own a legit DDR PC HDD + dongle set (let’s say X series) but don’t have access to a Dragon unit. With lesser luck, you can still build a similar hardware using other BEMANI PC substrates (with equivalent specs) to assemble a ‘Chimera’ hardware. This will enable you to run post-SuperNOVA2 DDR with arcade-accurate timing. Be advised that it won’t recognize the card readers by default as it will show COM3-4 ERROR upon boot (but this won’t be a problem since you can run X series offline; although there is another ‘trick’). If you insist to go for this path and somehow still helpless, I might be able to offer some assistance (PM me).

It is personally fulfilling to have nearly every ‘official’ DDR mix within grasp. Additionally, can opt to install a high-quality JAMMA extender to make switching PCB task easier, because it can be difficult to remove a JAMMA harness from a PCB (plus we can lengthen the lifespan this way – it’s still an electronic). If playing DDR in official way doesn’t suit you best, Stepmania is a great alternative.

Thank you for reading, I hope you find this story useful.

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