Sega Saturn system conversion guide v1.2 by EastmanQuickly let me explain why you should internally convert your Saturn to play import games instead of buying a convertor. The convertor would occupy your cartridge slot, which should be empty so you can use a RAM or back-up RAM cart. Also, I found it annoying to have to insert a cart every time I wanted to play a Japanese game. Adding a country switch is the best method for playing imports I’ve seen. Though there may be other FAQs telling you how to convert your Saturn, I think mine makes it easiest.

What to get:

1 Sega Saturn, version 1, 1.1, or white Saturn
1 soldering iron
1 solder
2 DPDT switches or better yet, a suitable replacement switch (and a couple of screws for mounting)
1 phillips screwdriver
1 drill
8 wires, about 5 inches long, each a different color
1 person who knows how to use this equipment and won’t charge you too much to help

First, disassemble your system. Initially that means turning it over and removing all screws and the battery cover on back. Be sure the Saturn is totally disconnected, and press the power button in and out about 8 times to be sure there’s no power left in it. Turn it back over and remove the shell. Now you will have to disconnect a couple of plugs, including the one leading to the power supply. Remove every gold screw and take off the CD drive. Be gentle when you do all this, because a screw up could cost you your system. You need to end up taking the board out and turning it over. Now you’re ready!

Second, you must locate the jumper panel, which is next to the controller ports. Jumpers are tiny silver things, and they are labelled Jp6-Jp13. Here’s what to do with an American Saturn. Cut the tracing on Jp7 and Jp10. Now, solder wires to both sides of Jp6, 7, 10, and 11.

On a Japanese Saturn, you would have cut the tracing on Jp6 and 11 instead of 7 and 10, but still added wires to the same jumpers.

Now you will need to use either a switch that can toggle between having 4 wires on and 4 wires off, or 2 DPDT switches, which really doesn’t look as good. You need to connect the switch(es) to the wires so that Jp7 and 10 are on in the default position (activating American mode) and Jp6 and 11 are on in the other position (activating Japanese mode). Reverse that for import Saturns if you want, but it’ll work either way. Drill a hole in the side of your Saturn, and mount the switch there. Reassemble everything, putting all gold screws back and making sure that the wires aren’t positioned too close to the power supply. Now test it. If you get both modes to work, reinsert the silver screws and you’re done.

That should do it! Only toggle the switch when the power’s off, otherwise you’ll hurt your system. Oh, and kiss your warranty good-bye, but it’s probably expired by now anyway. Only do this if you know you can handle it, and it will cost you less than $35. For that amount, you could get it converted for you from www.ncsx.com. Please let me know how this works out for you and ask if you need help… eastman@mastnet.net

Note: There is a 6 wire method of converting, but it’s different for each of the various Saturn motherboards, so I suggest the universal method I describe here. And I’ll try to have the PAL conversion info, for our European friends, soon.