Dusting off my Playstation 2

I've been meaning to do this earlier but real life(tm) occurred so it's been sitting in a corner for a few months. This was actually my first Playstation as I never got the PS1 or any other console from that generation. About 2 years in several games were released in US and Japan and having a EU console meant that I needed to mod my unit if I wanted from other regions. After working up my confidence of installing one by myself I got a DMS4 Lite EZI modchip. There were two versions in the EZI series, one with more flash memory (non Lite version) meaning that you could have HD Loader running directly off the modchip instead of having it on a memory card. One of the key selling points were that they didn't need any soldering at all, you still needed to disassemble your unit however, re-route a few flat cables and attach a PCB with a PLCC socket on top of another already attached IC. The latter being very fiddly as you more or less had to align the socket without being able to actually see anything since the top PCB would cover everything. It did however work out in the end and my unit was able to run imported games. While I did have a non slimline Playstation 2 I didn't see any need for a HDD at the time so I skimped out and got the Lite version. Around the same time I found a network adapter dirt cheap which I didn't know at the time being required to use a HDD internally in the PS2 although I was pleasantly surprised later on when I found out. I did eventually attach a HDD and started to copy over games to the HDD for the sake of convenience and that's where we are today.

  • Non slimline Playstation 2 with modchip
  • Official network adapter (PATA)
  • 250Gb (P)ATA 3.5” HDD

While the HDD appears to work fine I figured it would be a good idea to replace it with something newer as it will fail at some point and being rather old it was also rather noisy. First issue to tackle is that (P)ATA isn't really a thing in 2019, I guess you could get some kind of “new-old” stock but no warranty etc so I decided to look for another solution. So preferably I'd want an adapter converting PATA (which is the interface on the network adapter) to SATA. Doing some browsing it turns out you have these rather slim PCBs with connectors on each side. Looking at the measurements it turns out that these barely fit inside the drive bay in the horizontal position. Remembering some horror stories about similar adapters in the past I decided to look into what options were available in this form factor. It turns out that you have two choices, JMicron JM20330 and Marvell 88SA8052. From what I can tell looking at the datasheets both supports converting PATA to SATA and vice versa however most if not all seem to be hardwired into one direction. While neither are known for rock solid storage controllers Marvell does seem to have a better reputation so I ended up getting a Delock 62510 adapter with said chipset. While the adapter is pretty slim there are two issues, a 3.5” SATA HDD and the adapter wont fit in the drive bay and the (P)ATA connector doesn't align with the position of the connector on the network adapter. A 2.5” HDD will however and they're available more than enough storage for this application. You do need a very short (P)ATA/IDE extension cable to connect the adapter with the network adapter and in my case I also needed a short power cable adapter between the 4-pin Molex (male) and 4-pin floppy connector (female) to power the adapter and HDD. It's a snug fit without applying force and you'll have no way to secure the 2.5” HDD. It will however stay in place as long as you don't expose the unit for excessive vibration. As for the HDD I had a Toshiba L200 500Gb around which fit the project perfectly.

As for software, I wont go into detail as there are a lot of tutorials out there but I can save you a bit of time by telling what worked for me. I also wanted to be able to install games over network as lasers gets bad over time and at least on my model it's a known issue where the laser controller will fry itself due to overheating during excessive usage (ie reading a full disc in one go). Make sure to get recent builds of all software.

uLaunchELF is basically a File Manager which can launch executables (ELF files) and can also do a few other things such as formatting HDDs. PS2 Open Loader is a GUI where you can launch your installed games and you can also do a few hacks such as forcing HD output (component) and have virtual memory cards although I didn't have much luck forcing HD output without getting interlacing artifacts in games. HDLGameInstaller is very nice utility for installing games using a network connection although I think it also can read discs directly. PS2 Open Loader can in theory be used to install games using a network connection but it's very unreliable and very slow. Below are the steps I did to get it working:

  • Start uLaunchELF and format the HDD
  • Launch PS2 Open Loader to make it create configuration files (not sure if its needed)
  • Restart and launch HDLGameInstaller
  • Install games using the PC utility, it uses DHCP by default and the IP address is displayed in the top right corner. There's a statistics page however it doesn't seem to get refreshed properly.
  • Restart and launch PS2 Open Loader
  • Enable HDD module in settings and you'll be able to access the Game list.
  • Enjoy