This tutorial has been written by SoraK05, Global Moderator at the official Team Cyclops forums. Original thread.
PLEASE READ THIS FIRST - GUIDE FOR NEWCOMERS AND TROUBLESHOOTING
TeamCyclops CycloDS Evolution Slot-1 (DS Slot) Flash Cart for Nintendo DS and Nintendo DS Lite
CycloDS Evolution is a multi-functional Micro SD adapter for NDS and NDS Lite (Slot 1) which allows you to play games, listen to MP3's, view images, read e-books and enjoy the vast collection of homebrew applications for NDS. You can also take advantage of the inbuilt cheat code system to enjoy more freedom with your favourite games.
CycloDS Evolution is the world’s most advanced Media Enhancer for NDS Lite and NDS. Boasting superior functionality, European design and quality components, CycloDS Evolution is unparalleled in its field.
The unique enhanced mode offers powerful, unique features during game play which are activated through an in-game menu. These features include in-game LCD brightness adjustment, SlowMotion mode and in-game reset. The cheat code engine is directly compatible with Action Replay codes and CycloDS Evolution comes bundled with cheat codes for over 300 games so you can get started right away without any fuss.
CycloDS Evolution’s inbuilt OS can run commercial ROM’s and homebrew software without the need for any patching on the users part. ROM loading is fast and trouble free, simply browse to the game you want to play and tap to execute. You don’t even need to apply DLDI patches to your homebrew software; CycloDS Evolution takes care of this for you with its automatic DLDI patching feature.
Evolution loads media from MicroSD cards, which means you’re free to buy more memory at any time, never constrained by the boundaries of onboard flash memory. Transferring games and homebrew software is simple using the supplied MicroSD USB reader. Simply connect to your PC and drag & drop the desired files onto your MicroSD card.
Listen to MP3’s, watch videos or even read e-books via Moonshell. The Moonshell multimedia application will maximize the versatility of your handheld console.
The CycloDS Evolution GUI was designed with user friendliness in mind and can be operated exclusively with the stylus if desired. Skinning is supported which means you’ll always have a fresh view of our product at your fingertips. The user interface is multi-lingual, currently supporting the following languages: English, French, German, Italian, Korean, Spanish, Latin American Spanish and Portuguese.
Game sharing is painless with CycloDS Evolution. Unlike most other devices on the market, CycloDS Evolution supports single card download play even with trouble games such as Mario Kart DS and New Super Mario Bros.
CycloDS Evolution comes from the creators of the world renowned CycloWiz - the first ever upgradeable Wii modchip. We surprised many by doing things the critics thought impossible, now we’re back on DS for more firsts.
Contents of Guide:
1. Features of the Flash Cart and Extra Features of the CycloDS Evolution v1.5 Firmware Upgrade
2. General Overview on Functions and Features
3. CycloDS Evolution Flash Cart Troubleshooting
4. Best MicroSD/HC To Use
- Completely plug & play - no FlashMe, PassMe or PC software required
- 100% game compatibility, supports clean ROM's - works on any OS
- Full NDS download play support, including problem games such as Mario Kart DS
- Action Replay compatible cheat code engine, comes bundled with cheat codes for over 300 games!
- Uses MicroSD card, both FAT16 and FAT32 supported
- Supports the MicroSDHC specification, allowing for high capacity memory cards
- Save type is automatically detected, no need for a save type database
- Save directly to MicroSD rather than onboard flash
- User friendly, easily skinnable interface. Both touch screen and button operation supported
- Multi-lingual user interface
- "Enhanced Mode" which provides powerful, unique features during game play. Enhanced features are activated through an in-game menu. Enhanced mode features include:
- Adjust LCD brightness during game play (NDSLite only)
- SlowMotion mode which can be used to slow down game play to make fast paced action sequences easier to master
- Return to CycloDS Evolution Menu (aka soft reset)
- More features to come!
- Excellent homebrew compatibility thanks to the DLDI auto-patcher
- 2 megabytes of onboard flash memory which contains the CycloDS Evolution OS and will be utilised in the future to add exciting new features. A recovery mode is also included.
- Autoboot mode which when activated will directly boot into the last ROM or homebrew application executed
- Moonshell included to provide media playing functionality
- PassMe function (boot from slot 2)
- Supports rumble and memory expansions
Extra Features up to the CycloDS Evolution v1.3 Firmware Upgrade (3/3/2008)
- Custom cheat code support added (PC-side cheat editor application included)
- PC-side cheat editor can automatically retrieve up-to-date codes from the internet
- Fixed Wii connectivity (Pokemon Diamond/Pearl and Pokemon Battle Revolution)
- Several game compatibility fixes
- DSLinux is now supported
- Moonshell soft reset is now supported
- RAM pack for Opera (clean rom) supported via CycloDS Mini/Micro and EZ3in1
- Rumble for EZ3in1 supported
- Completely new translations: Dutch, Greek, Indonesian, Malaysian, Russian, Tagalog
- All text is now completely translated (GUI, ingame menu and the updater)
- Updated DLDI driver, will now allow 3rd party loaders such as DSOrganise and DSChannels to load .NDS files
- Date and time are now set properly for .sav files
- Hold SELECT while launching homebrew software to disable DLDI auto-patching
- Fixed cheat core bug
- Will now try to execute ROM's even when auto-patching fails
- Ingame menu changes:
- Time is shown on the bottom left
- Multi-lingual (uses same language as you have set for main menu)
- SlowMotion adjustable between 3 different speed settings
- Realtime cheat enable/disable
- Separated "Return to Game" and "Return to Main Menu" in the in-game menu to help avoid accidentally executing a soft reset
- Improved stability
- Supported for more games
- Menu GUI changes:
- Multiple skins are supported, selectable in the settings menu
- Added new file view mode, "list view"
- NDS sleep mode is now supported
- Improved menu file list sorting method
- Folders starting with '.' are now hidden
- Buttons for various dialog boxes
- Press B to exit settings screen
- Stopped game list from displaying invalid items
- Many other miscellaneous fixes and addition
- Compatibility fixes
- Fixed intermittent problem with random skin selection
- Miniaturized game icons are shown in list view
- Random skin selection
- Allow unlimited number of skins
- Fixed GBA linking with 3in1 (disable Rumble)
- Compatibility fixes
- RealTime Save feature added, allowing you to save and resume game play at any time!
- Fixed numerous compatibility issues
- Improved overall reliability
- NDS file extensions are no longer displayed in the GUI
- Added the ability to exit the in-game menu by pressing the B button
- Revised controls for the settings menu: A/RIGHT cycle item forwards, Y/LEFT cycle item backwards
- SlowMotion is now shown as a percentage rather than an arbitrary number
- Fixed homebrew that use DLDI on ARM7 (DSVideo)
Extra Features of the CycloDS Evolution v1.31 Firmware Upgrade (Default Firmware On Newer CycloDS Evolution Carts) (5/4/2008)
- Game compatibility fixes (2203, 2110, ingame menu + 2107)
- Fixed a problem preventing RTS from functioning if the game filename contains unicode characters
Extra Features of the CycloDS Evolution v1.4 Firmware Upgrade (19/6/2008)
- Homebrew soft reset added, allowing you to reset back to the CycloDS Evolution GUI from almost any homebrew software with a simple button combination
- BETA GBA support added, allowing you to launch GBA games directly from the CycloDS GUI. ROMs are automatically patched when necessary, and save files are managed automatically by CycloDS (which are compatible with GBA ExpLoader). Either CycloDS Mini/Micro or EZ3in1 is required for GBA support
- Both NOR and PSRAM mode supported for GBA ROMs via EZ3in1
- NDS Pokemon <-> Wii Pokemon Battle Revolution connection fixed for all regions
- Added option of booting from slot 2 in either NDS or GBA mode
- Added support for new 3in1 cards
- 16-bit bitmaps now supported (skins + GBA frame)
- Increased the number of allowed fragments, which should reduce the "filesystem too fragmented" error
- Random skin selection has been made more random
- When using EZ3in1, NDS Browser auto-patching now works after soft-resetting from a rumble enabled game
- Game compatibility fix (2343)
- Miscellaneous reliability and user-friendliness improvements
Extra Features of the CycloDS Evolution v1.41 Firmware Upgrade (1/7/2008)
- Fixed "My Pokemon Ranch" Wii connectivity
- Optimised and fixed cheat code engine
- Increased the number of allowed fragments, which should reduce the "filesystem too fragmented" error
- Game compatibility fixes (2385 + ingame menu for some games)
- Added some advanced options to the XML configuration
- Miscellaneous other improvements
Extra Features of the CycloDS Evolution v1.5 Firmware Upgrade (22/11/2008)
- Added the in-game text reader feature
- Battery saver mode added
- An alternative folder layout for game saves and RTS files is now supported
- Configurable rumble strength though settings menu
- Fixes to the cheat code engine
- GBA support dramatically improved and moved out of BETA. Saving problems should now be resolved and the 1MBit save type is now supported without the need to manually patch games
- Classic NES Series GBA games are now supported
- Added "cycle skin" feature which is similar to the random skin feature, except that skins are cycled in order and are not chosen at random
- Game compatibility fixes (2906, 2949, 2436, 2472)
- Various other bug fixes and improvements
Extra Features of the CycloDS Evolution v1.51 Firmware Upgrade (27/11/2008)
- Game compatibility fixes (2796, 2838, 3049, 3054)
Extra Features of the CycloDS Evolution v1.53 Firmware Upgrade (11/1/2009)
- Linking between NDS and GBA pokemon games via EZ3in1 NOR supported
- Game compatibility fixes (2746, 3191)
Extra Features of the CycloDS Evolution v1.54 Firmware Upgrade (16/3/2009)
- Added automatic patcher for protected games
- Partial support for EZ3in1+ (unfortunately, limitations with the new hardware prevent full support)
- Problems with some kiosk demos resolved
- Fixed bug causing skin cycling to freeze in some cases
- Game compatibility fixes (3070, 3151, 3211, 3223, 3268, 3332, 3369, 3396, 3517)
Extra Features of the CycloDS Evolution v1.55 Firmware Upgrade (11/9/2009)
- DSL/DSi hybrid games are now supported (3938, 3949)
- New view mode: sort by last played
- "argv" information passed to homebrew software
- Added the ability to customise the enhanced menu button trigger via config.xml
- After an in-game reset, the last game played will be selected in the game list
- Fixed Wii connectivity for Pokemon Platinum
- While traversing directories, the position of the selection in parent directories is remembered (instead of the selection being reset to the first entry each time you return to a parent directory)
- New config.xml options for setting the root directory for the game list, and customising the executable launched when "Media" is selected from the main menu (so you can select between Moonshell 1, Moonshell 2 etc)
- Soft reset is now supported under Moonshell 2, and Moonshell 2 has been made the default media player
- Fixed intermittent freezing issue with GTA:CTW
- Game compatibility fixes (3538, 3607, 3812, 3872, 3874, 3960, 3966, 4125)
Extra Features of the CycloDS Evolution v1.56 Firmware Upgrade (18/1/2010)
- Added Stealth Mode feature for anti-tamper protected games
- Updated automatic game protection patcher
- Many internal improvements and bugfixes
- Game compatibility fixes (DSi 0010, DSi 0015, DSi 0021, DSi 0025, 3212, 3499, 3541, 4159, 4160, 4162, 4177, 4207, 4262, 4280, 4323, 4362, 4417, 4447, 4472, 4482, 4492, 4506, 4513, 4522, 4550, 4565, 4571, 4581, 4587, 4622 and more)
Extra Features of the CycloDS Evolution v1.57 Firmware Upgrade (2/3/2010)
- Fixed 'date modified' file issue, allowing last played file view to function properly
- Fix for CAS:POR (credit to yellow wood goblin)
- Resolved a RTC related bug which should fix issues involving real-time events in some games
- Added 24-hour clock setting to config.xml
- Fixed NOR bugs with 3in1+
- Game compatibility fixes (DSi 0025 wifi, 4252, 4340, 4510, 4644, 4646, 4663, 4666, 4702, 4708)
Extra Features of the CycloDS Evolution v1.58 Firmware Upgrade (22/3/2010)
- Fixed Wii connectivity with recent Pokemon games
- Fix for file time stamp issue
- Fix for "argv" information passed to homebrew software
- Fixed save size for 4323, 4568
- Game compatibility fixes (DSi 0040, 4356, 4747, 4748, 4769)
AN OFFICIAL MANUAL CAN BE FOUND HERE, AS WELL AS OTHER SOFTWARE, INCLUDING NEWEST FIRMWARE VERSION UPGRADES AND PC TOOLS:
Official CycloDS Support Page
PLEASE READ THE INSTRUCTION MANUAL THOROUGHLY, AS ALL FUNCTIONS OF THE CART ARE OUTLINED IN MUCH HIGHER DETAIL IN THE MANUAL, AND INCLUDES FULL INSTRUCTIONS ON THE OPERATIONS OF THE FLASH CART.
THIS IS SIMPLY A GENERAL OVERVIEW
Insert a MicroSD into your CycloDS Evolution (MicroSD and MicroSDHC are fully supported, and supports FAT and FAT32 <however MicroSDHC only supports FAT32 by nature>)
When you boot into the CycloDS Evolution, you will be greeted with three buttons - GAMES/HOMEBREW, MEDIA, and SETTINGS/MISC.
The GAMES/HOMEBREW button:
Allows you to run any NDS ROMS or Homebrew with the .NDS extension which are unpatched - simply drag and drop.
You can also use a ROM Trimmer on your NDS ROMS in order to remove redundant data from the NDS ROMS and make more space on your MicroSD, however older ROM Trimmers break WiFi connectivity - the CycloDS ROM Trimmer in the Evolution Tools Software will work perfectly fine, retaining all WiFi connectivity and not damaging the ROM in any way, and only removing unnecessary space (Available at the "Official CycloDS Support Page", see above for a link).
It is still recommended to keep an original copy of your ROM, untrimmed when it is for archival purposes, since you cannot perfectly untrim a ROM.
The folder your ROMS are in does not matter - the GAMES/HOMEBREW screen acts like a file browser, so you can access any folder on the MicroSD within the browser.
The MEDIA button:
Automatically boots into the MoonShell Media NDS Homebrew Application.
Download the latest MoonShell version for the CycloDS Evolution and extract the contents directly to the root of your MicroSD, so the folder appears as so:
"/moonshl" (Available at the "Official CycloDS Support Page", see above for a link).
When you press the MEDIA button, it will automatically boot "/moonshl/moonshell.nds" and launch the media homebrew capable of playing MP3s, Videos, and processing JPG pictures, among other things.
To view videos, they will need to be converted to the native MoonShell format - DPG. In order to do that, you will need to convert the video you want to watch into a DPG. The recommended programs to use are called "BatchDPG" and "DPGTools", with the former being recommended.
There is also another homebrew player called "DSMPlay" which is a stand-alone video player of much higher quality but a much much larger file size too.
On a side note, you can make any .NDS file you want to boot when pressing the MEDIA button possible by renaming the file to 'moonshl.nds' and putting it in the "/moonshl/" directory on your MicroSD.
The SETTINGS/MISC button:
From here you can manipulate the various settings associated with CycloDS Evolution as well as booting from a device inserted in Slot 2. You can select the display language for the GUI, toggle enhanced mode, cheat codes and rumble on or off, change the LCD brightness (NDS Lite only) and select the skin you wish to use. You can also set the skin to "Random" which means a different skin will be chosen from your collection each time you load CycloDS Evolution.
NOTE: If you wish to use the DS->GBA linkage function in conjunction with a EZ3in1 device then you must disable Rumble. In general its best to leave Rumble disabled unless you wish to enjoy Rumble with one of the few games which support this feature.
The settings are saved to the "/CycloDS/" folder on your MicroSD, which you can make hidden in Windows if you wish and will still function perfectly. The settings saved here have NOTHING to do with the Firmware Version installed, which is embedded in the CycloDS Evolution Flash Cart.
- Using Skins:
Make a folder in your "/CycloDS/" folder called "/CycloDS/Skins/". Place the contents of the skin in that folder if you have one skin, and if you have more than one skin, make subfolders (which you can name whatever you want) and put the contents of the skin in the individual subfolders,
e.g. "/CycloDS/Skins/DownloadedSkin1/", "/CycloDS/Skins/DownloadedSkin2/", etc.
In the SETTINGS/MISC screen, you can choose which skin you would like to view depending on what you have put in that folder, or set the CycloDS Evolution to randomly pick a skin each time it boots.
- Using Cheat Codes:
First, enable Cheat Codes in the SETTINGS/MISC screen. When you launch a game, CycloDS Evolution will check to see if any cheat codes exist for the game you have launched inside the cheat code database. If cheat codes are found then you will be asked if you wish to enable cheats or not. If you select NO then the game will launch with no cheats at all and function as it would normally. If you select YES then a list of the available cheat codes is displayed where you can enable the cheats you desire. Once you've finished selecting the desired cheat codes, press START to execute the game with codes enabled.
If you have Enhanced Mode Enabled, you can enter Enhanced Mode during a game and Enable/Disable the cheats which you toggled before entering the game. Please note that this is a master toggle and simply enables/disables all cheat codes which you selected before launching the game - you can not toggle individual cheat codes at the current time.
If you want to add your own codes, you can create a user made cheat database. Cheat codes in the user made database take priority over the default database, so if both databases have cheat codes available for the same game then only the codes from the user database will be used. You can create and edit user made database files using the Evolution Cheat Editor Software which is part of the Evolution Tools Software for PC by TeamCyclops (Available at the "Official CycloDS Support Page", see above for a link).
Simply create the file and save it as "user.evoCheats" in the "/CycloDS/" folder on your MicroSD card.
- Enhanced Mode:
If you have Enhanced Mode Enabled in the SETTINGS/MISC button, after launching an NDS ROM, you can press L+R+A+B+X+Y at the same time to bring up the Enhanced Mode Menu which will allow you to change the brightness level during a game, slow down the game speed to different speed settings, disable/enable toggle cheat codes (if enabled before launching the game), or go back to the main menu, among other features.
As of the CycloDS Evolution v1.55 Firmware, it is possible to customize the button combination to trigger the Enhanced Mode Menu. This can be done by manually editing the "config.xml" in the "/CycloDS/" with notepad for example, and inputting your own combination of buttons
- Button Shortcuts:
There are 2 types of hardware version of the CycloDS Evolution - HW v1.0 and HW v1.1.
The HW v1.0 cards have a small chip which makes the sticker protrude slightly, and has no effect on functionality at all.
The HW v1.1 cards are completely flat with no protruding chip.
The only main difference besides the design is that the HW v1.1 cards <all black cards, and future white cards> support the ability to run the FlashMe Recovery Mode due to the SELECT button being free as a boot button, as opposed to HW v1.0 cards where SELECT is used for the recovery mode for the CycloDS Evolution Recovery Firmware Installer.
Here are all the button shortcuts for the CycloDS Evolution Cards:
At Boot (Before booting into the card)
- Recovery Mode
- HW v1.0 = SELECT
- HW v1.1 = SELECT or DOWN + B
During the Loading Bar / Before the Loading Bar Completes:
- Load Last File = L + R
- Boot Slot 2 in NDS Mode = UP
- Disable Auto-Execute (autoload.nds) = X
- Reset Settings = SELECT + START
[I]GUI Hot Keys (Press Before Loading a File):[/I]
- RTS = SELECT
- Disable Auto DLDI Patching = SELECT
Newer CycloDS Evolution Units
New HW v1.1 CycloDS Evolution Units which are preloaded with the CycloDS Evolution v1.32 Firmware, use different Flash Chips to store the Firmware and Operating System. Due to this, older Firmwares than the CycloDS Evolution v1.32 (which is a patched version of the CycloDS Evolution v1.31 Firmware) are not compatible with the card. Newer Firmwares work on both the older and newer type of CycloDS Evolution Units, and there is no difference in performance between the older and newer CycloDS Evolutions.
If your CycloDS Evolution stops functioning correctly, then it is likely that you have a defective unit. If this is the case, then please see this thread for more information regarding defective units and what can be done about them.
Symptoms of a defective card would include:
- Not recognizing any MicroSD
- Not recognizing the CycloDS Evolution in the main DS menu, or not booting directly to the card
- Randomly crashing the NDS at any point while running the CycloDS Evolution
Q: How to update the firmware of the CycloDS Evolution:
A: Simply drag and drop the 'update.evo' file to the root of the MicroSD, insert it into your CycloDS Evolution, turn on the NDS and boot to slot-1.
You will have a prompt asking whether you want to update or not.
If you press A, it will begin the updating process. If you press B, it will cancel the process. Once the process completes, you can turn off your NDS by pressing A or holding the power button. Keep in mind, if you complete the process, it will erase the 'update.evo' file from the MicroSD, however it will not erase the 'update.evo' file if you cancel the update.
If your CycloDS Evolution does not allow the upgrade process to complete or if you receive an "Integrity error" message then your copy of 'update.evo' is probably corrupt. Please try re-downloading the firmware from the official support page.
Q: What to do when ROMS aren't recognized:
A: Check the integrity of your MicroSD, ROMS or Homebrew, and check to see that the NDS ROMS/Homebrew have the ".NDS" file extension.
If your ROMS or Homebrew do not have the ".NDS" file extension, they will not be recognized by the CycloDS Evolution - it can only recognize this file format, and not ROMS which are compressed with WinZip or WinRAR for example. Further, if an "NDS" file is incompatible or damaged, it will most likely not show in the file list either.
If your MicroSD is somehow corrupt, you can try putting it in your computer and running a scan on the MicroSD. If you don't know how to do this, or have tried with no apparent issues, you can copy/move all the contents of the MicroSD to your hard disk, and FORMAT the MicroSD (FAT32 mode recommended for higher compatibility with homebrew applications, with no effect on NDS ROMS), then copy/mode all the contents back to the MicroSD again.
Q: What to do when a game doesn't save:
A: Ensure there is enough space on the MicroSD
Each save file takes up 512KB, or 0.5MB or space. Each time you run an NDS ROM, it will automatically create a .SAV for you. If there is not enough space on the MicroSD, it will not make the file, and you can't save. When this happens you will be presented with an error screen, usually "save memory related error -1". If you receive this error then simply freeing up some space on your MicroSD card is usually enough to remedy the situation.
If there is already a .SAV for that particular ROM, and is named accordingly to the exact same name as the ROM, then make sure the .SAV file itself is NOT SET TO 'READ-ONLY' and that it can be modified.
Q: What to do when a game is not working, has bugs, or crashes:
A: Install the latest CycloDS Evolution Firmware and make sure your MicroSD is clean and verified so by a scan or by a fresh FORMAT (FAT32 recommended for higher compatibility with homebrew applications, with no effect on NDS ROMS), and verify you are using a perfect NDS ROM dump
If you have installed the latest CycloDS Evolution Firmware, and a game is still not working, please verify that the NDS ROM in question is a good dump. Get a different/new dump of the ROM in question and test that one.
If it still doesn't work, then kindly post the bug on the "CycloDS Evolution Bug Section" with regards to the bug you are experiencing, and if the game doesn't work on the current firmware, a fix will be worked on for a future firmware release.
Also check the integrity of the MicroSD to see it isn't corrupt in any way, and format the card if you have to, backing up the data first (if possible) then putting it back on.
The issue could also be the speed of the MicroSD itself causing the freezing in a very very small amount of games - one known as of now: CastleVania: Portrait of Ruin. If this is the game that is freezing, or suspect it is of the same reason, then please see the section titled "4. Best MicroSD/HC To Use" below.
Q: I'm having a problem with the features/functions of the card, like skins, cheats, enhanced mode, moonshell, and others:
A: Please check the above section: 2. General Overview on Functions and Features for the answers pertaining to those questions.
Q: How to get the Opera Web Browser to work on the CycloDS Evolution without the need for the Official RAM Expansion Pack:
A: Have an CycloDS Micro/MiniSD Slot-2 Flash Cart or EZ-Flash 3-in-1 Slot-2 Flash Cart with the CycloDS Evolution v1.2 Firmware or higher installed.
As of the CycloDS Evolution v1.2 Firmware, you can run the Opera Web Browser with a CycloDS Micro/Mini Slot-2 Flash Cart, or EZ-Flash 3-in-1 Flash Cart inside Slot-2 without the need to patch the Opera Web Browser ROM beforehand.
Any other Slot-2 Flash Cart or prior firmwares will require you to apply a patch to the Opera Web Browser ROM beforehand, corresponding to the Slot-2 Flash Cart in question. Not all Slot-2 Flash Carts are supported for the patching method.
General Troubleshooting: Which MicroSD/HC Works Best
As of the CycloDS Evolution v1.57 Firmware, a fix for CastleVania: Portrait of Ruin was implemented which should stop the problem causing the game to freeze when using different MicroSD/HC cards. There shouldn't necessarily be a problem running this game on any MicroSD/HC as of this Firmware.
The CycloDS Evolution supports any MicroSD (up to 2GB) and any MicroSDHC (theoretically up to 32GB).
That said, there isn't necessarily a 'best' MicroSD to use.
It DOES NOT support SD/HC cards, and ONLY MicroSD/HC cards.
However, MicroSDs vary with speed depending on where they are manufactured, and with MicroSDHC, the CLASS of the MicroSDHC defines its internal speed as well.
The CycloDS Evolution works perfectly regardless of which MicroSD you use, whether it is the slowest or fastest MicroSD you can get.
ONE issue arises when using slower MicroSD however with a very very select amount of games, with CastleVania: Portrait of Ruin being the ONLY ONE AS OF YET, and with the possiblity of a very unknown select few in the future.
If the MicroSD is internally of a slower build, the particular game will freeze or lock up during game play.
THIS IS AN ISSUE THAT OCCURS ON ANY NDS FLASH CART USING MICRO SD/HC MEDIA, AND IS NOT ISOLATED SOLELY TO THE CYCLODS EVOLUTION FLASH CART.
The reason is that the internal speed of the MicroSD, and NOT the speed it takes to read/write data to and from a computer, is too slow for the loading requirements of the particular game, and will result in random freezing - depending on the MicroSD, the game will be more prone to random freezing.
MicroSD and MicroSDHC cards are manufactured in 3 places: Japan, US, and Taiwan.
The Japanese Cards are designed differently than US and Taiwan cards, which are both one and the same.
These have a very fast internal speed, and retain the speed regardless of the amount of data on the MicroSD.
The game CastleVania: Portrait of Ruin requires a "Random Access Time", being the internal speed of the MicroSD, or 0.7ms or below.
Generally Japanese MicroSDs of 1GB or below will have a Random Access Time like this, but Japanese 1GB cards vary and can sometimes have a time of 0.8ms, which is just a little too slow to ensure the game never locks up.
Most Japanese MicroSDHCs, regardless of class or size have a Random Access Time of 0.7ms or below, but then again, if the class is of a low number, it may vary and may be slightly higher than 0.7ms.
TOSHIBA is the only company to manufacture Japanese MicroSD/HC cards, and any other company distributing Japanese Made cards are rebranded TOSHIBA MicroSDs.
Examples are Kingston and A-Data.
These cards have a good internal speed, but becomes slower as more data is filled on the MicroSD. Sometimes the card has to be formatted in order to reset the speed to its best, even when all the data is off the MicroSD.
Taiwan/US cards generally have either the same or slightly higher Random Access Time as Japanese cards. Very few can play CastleVania: Portrait of Ruin with a guarantee that it will never lock up or freeze.
In this case, since the Random Access Time becomes slower with the more data on the card, play that one ROM if you want with nothing else on the MicroSD, to ensure the chances of having the game playable.
An example of a Taiwan/US ONLY card is SanDisk, who do not produce Japanese Made MicroSDs.
Addendum for MicroSDHC Cards
It seems that MicroSDHC cards with a Class 6 brand, regardless of where it is manufactured, will generally be fast enough to play CastleVania: Portrait of Ruin with no, or very little freezing at all.
It seems that having a Class 6 may sometimes not guarantee that you have a card which plays CastleVania: Portrait of Ruin without ever freezing. Some people reported success and others reported failure.
If you want the highest chances possible for playing the game without freezing, it's recommended to get a Made in Japan MicroSD(HC) (although 2GB is said to be JUST too slow, but anything smaller or anything from the MicroSDHCs should work)..
Random Access Time:
You can bench mark the Random Access Time of your MicroSD by running it with a PC program called "HDTach". This isn't accurate sometimes, and can show a higher figure than the true figure of the card at the time due to the USB drive being used or the speed of the computer at the time.
There is a NDS Homebrew called "speedtest for libfat" which can accurately benchmark the Random Access Time within the Flash Cart itself.
If the Random Access Time is 0.7ms or below, the game will never lock up at any point, ever.
If the Random Access Time is between 0.8ms and 1.2ms, the game will be playable, and sometimes freeze while going from one portal to another, or while pausing/unpausing. It is not very frequent though, making the game playable.
If the Random Access Time is above 1.2ms, especially higher than 2.0ms, then the chances of the ROM locking-up or freezing become increasingly high, and the game will randomly lock up at any point, regardless of what you are doing in the game - even while just running around in one spot.
General Troubleshooting: How to dump your game cartridges into ROM files with a CycloDS Evolution
The easiest method if you have a CycloDS Evolution is to use a particular NDS homebrew program. The NDS homebrew program mentioned can be found on the internet called "Rudolph's NDS Backup Tool" and can come in 3 variations:
- WiFi version, which you can use to transfer your Game Cartridge's ROM to your PC through a WiFi connection.
- Slot-2 version, which you can use to transfer your Game Cartridge's ROM to your Slot-2 Flash Cart IF IT USES EXPANDABLE MEMORY. You must patch the homebrew with the DLDI of your Slot-2 flash Cart to use it.
- EZ-Flash 3-in-1 version, which you can use to transfer your Game Cartridge's ROM to the NOR Memory on the EZ-Flash 3-in-1 (up to 32MB) and retrieve it to the CycloDS Evolution's MicroSD.
On top of transfering ROMs of your Game Cartridges, you can transfer the save files of your Game Cartridges through one of the above methods, AND import your own save file, from using your CycloDS Evolution to play the ROM for example.
The CycloDS Evolution uses a clean, generic 512KB save file, meaning a CycloDS Evolution save file will work on any DS cartidge, and can be easily transferred to another flash cart if you wish.
See this link for a guide on how to use the WiFi method dumping your Game Cartridges and Savegames, and to place Savegames onto the Game Cartridge as well:
General Troubleshooting: How and Why to Flash your Nintendo DS
IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO FLASH YOUR NINTENDO DS OR NINTENDO DS LITE IN ORDER TO USE THE CYCLODS EVOLUTION IN ANY WAY.
'Flashing the DS' refers to erasing the factory Nintendo DS/L firmware and replacing it with a custom homebrewed firmware.
The addition of the homebrewed firmware, also known as "FlashMe" is:
- Optional ability to skip the "Health and Safety Warning" screen
- Be able to boot to a Slot-2 Flash Cart in NDS MODE without the need of a Slot-1 PassCard/Flash Cart <like CycloDS Evolution's 'boot from slot 2' feature>
The only other reason to flash your DS with the homebrewed firmware is to 'protect against malware and viruses'.
2 viruses were made near the launch of the NDS and Flash Carts to see if it was possible to erase the firmware of the NDS. It seemed it was possible, however the custom homebrewed firmware had to be installed in order to do so, making the threat moot.
The custom firmware has an ability to forcefully boot to Slot-1 or Slot-2 in NDS MODE with the purpose of being able to re-run a version of 'FlashMe' to reinstall the firmware, as a RECOVERY FEATURE - something the original Nintendo DS Firmware doesn't have, nor need.
The risk of your DS getting its firmware erased by a virus is extremely close to 0%, and is virtually non-existant, so is no immediate threat in regards to running homebrew on a CycloDS Evolution Flash Cart.
There is a Side Effect to flashing your DS:
1. If you use the wrong version of "UnFlashMe" (the uninstaller to go back to the original firmware), it will break "WiFi connectivity), so ONLY USE THE CORRESPONDING UNFLASHME VERSION - There's an UnFlashMe version for the Nintendo DS Phat and an UnFlashMe version for the Nintendo DS Lite, so use that corresponding UnFlashMe.
2. If you use a custom FlashMe firmware, and not the original firmware, then if you play an NDS ROM using a slot-2 card with slot-1 being empty, the machine will not go into sleep mode properly when you close the lid, and will erratically switch on and off.
To cure this, have a card inside slot-1, or solder a connection inside the slot-1 connectors (requiring you to open up the NDS/L), which will have no damage on the functionality of the DS, and will cure this issue.
3. If you play any NDS ROMS on a Slot-2 Flash Cart with NO CARD IN SLOT-1, when you close the DS to go into sleep mode the DS will erratically turn sleep mode ON and OFF rapidly. To fix this, have a card inside slot-1, or alternatively, you can find a guide online which can instruct you on how to solder a connection within the DS to bridge 2 points in the Slot-1 contacts which has no adverse effect on the functioning of your DS and which will solve the problem of turning sleep mode ON and OFF rapidly without a card in Slot-1.
RECOVERY MODE FOR FLASHME
There is a feature of installing a recovery mode into the firmware, which can force boot to Slot-1 or Slot-2 in NDS MODE, regardless of whether there is a firmware on the DS or not (if it was erased by malware, or during the flashing process, past 1%, the power turned off due to an electrical short).
Simply hold down X+Y+A+B+START+SELECT if your DS IS firmwareless and it will force boot to Slot-1 or Slot-2 in NDS MODE, depending on which slot has a card inside, in that order.
It is currently not possible to fix a bad FlashMe installation with CycloDS Evolution Flash Carts, as booting into the FlashMe Recovery Mode triggers the CycloDS Evolution Recovery Mode Firmware Installer.
Because of this, it is recommended to use Slot-2 Flash Carts with expandable memory that can boot to NDS MODE to run the FlashMe NDS Homebrew. Alternatively, if all you have is NOR memory (like the EZ-Flash 3-in-1, look below).
How to use use FlashMe on the NOR Memory of a Slot-2 card, as a backup in case your DS turns off during the flashing process
There is a risk of having the DS inoperable if the power turns off somehow. If the power somehow does go off from a bad short of some kind, after 1% of the installation, there is a recovery mode for FlashMe by holding down X+Y+A+B+START+SELECT. This will boot to Slot-1 or Slot-2 in NDS MODE in that order, and will boot to the first card it finds.
Because the CycloDS Evolution conflicts with holding the SELECT button, as it goes into its own recovery mode, it's currently impossible to run the FlashMe again with the CycloDS Evolution alone, in case something goes wrong.
You CAN however run FlashMe on a Slot-2 Flash Cart which supports expandable memory, or if you pre-flashed it to the NOR memory of a Slot-2 card supporting NOR memory.
You can flash it to the NOR first by downloading the "ndsloader.bin" file, then appending it to the "FlashMe.NDS" version of your choice, then saving the file as a ".NDS.GBA"
e.g. "copy /B ndsloader.bin+flashme.nds flashme.nds.gba"
From there, flash it to the NOR Memory on the Slot-2 Flash Cart, and if it's booted in NDS MODE, which is what the recover of the FlashMe Recovery does, then it will launch FlashMe, and you can reflash the DS again.
If your DS does become bricked during the flashing process, it will automatically boot to the NOR FlashMe in Slot-2 when you turn on the DS, without needing to press any button combination to boot to Slot-2 in NDS MODE.
For your convenience, in case you can't type in DOS mode, there is a "FlashMe_Append_For_NOR.BAT" file you can download. Put that file in the same folder as the 'ndsloader.bin' file and the FlashMe.NDS version you want to use. EDIT the "FlashMe_Append_For_NOR.BAT" by right-clicking on it, and selecting the "edit" button, and once you have opened the BAT to edit it, where it says "XXXXXXXXXX.NDS" change the XXXXs to the name of the FlashMe.NDS version you want to use exactly as it's shown, then save the file and double click on the BAT file to make the appended FlashMe file for you.
General Troubleshooting: How to play GBA ROMs on a CycloDS Evolution
It is IMPOSSIBLE to run GBA ROMS on any Slot-1 Flash Cart, CycloDS Evolution included.
It IS POSSIBLE, however, with some any Slot-2 Flash Cart designed with GBA ROM support.
The reason for this is that additional RAM is needed to play GBA ROMS, which is needed in the GBA Slot (Slot-2) at the time.
There are two kinds of Slot-2 Flash Cart:
- Ones with SLOW RAM
- Ones with FAST RAM
The ones with SLOW RAM will function with GBA ROMS, but will NOT play GBA ROMS at full speed - these flash carts will have GBA ROMS slow down and jerk during gameplay, and is not the optimal card to get if you want a Slot-2 Flash Cart especially for GBA ROM Support.
The ones with FAST RAM will function with GBA ROMS, and will play GBA ROMS at full speed - these flash carts will play all and any GBA ROMS at full speed without ever slowing down, and will function at the same speed as the Original GBA Cartridge.
Best Slot-2 Flash Cart for GBA ROM Support
The most recommended Third Party Slot-2 Flash Cart, which has its features 100% supported by the CycloDS Evolution as of the CycloDS Evolution v1.2 firmware, is the "EZ-Flash 3-in-1".
The newer EZ-Flash 3-in-1+ has its features better supported by the CycloDS Evolution as of the CycloDS Evolution v1.57 Firmware.
This card has FAST RAM to play GBA ROMS at full speed, it rumbles, and its additional RAM is supported for anything that requires it, like the Opera Web Browser, as well as some NDS homebrew applications.
It requires a Slot-1 Flash Cart to store the GBA ROMS, since it doesn't have its own MicroSD Slot.
It has 2 modes: PSRAM and NOR.
PSRAM mode is basically on-the-fly loading of ROMS, whereas NOR mode is an extra memory used to physically store a ROM on the cartridge, making it act like the original game cartridge as it would contain the ROM itself in its memory.
The PSRAM mode supports up to 16MB ROMS, and the NOR mode supports up to 32MB ROMS.
The largest GBA ROM is 32MB in size.
It does NOT have a Real Time Clock for games like Pokemon, however a workaround has been made for the Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire games.
The CycloDS Evolution v1.4 Firmware allows a clean, unpatched Opera Web Browser ROM to work directly on the CycloDS Evolution at launch when using the EZ-Flash 3-in-1 (or CycloDS Micro/MiniSD), and it will act like the original expansion pack for the web browser. Also, the rumble is natively supported by the CycloDS Evolution for the EZ-Flash 3-in-1, and does not require patching the ROMS beforehand, which is a hit-and-miss, and is what some other Slot-1 Flash Carts require to use the rumble of the EZ-Flash 3-in-1.
In order to have the CycloDS Evolution work with DS->GBA Linking through the NOR of the EZ-Flash 3-in-1, you must disable the Rumble feature in the Settings Tab.
As EZ-Flash 3-in-1 does not support MicroSD media, so it uses the storage media in the Slot-1 Flash Cart to store the ROMS and launch the GBA ROMS.
Because of this, a means of loading the ROMS into the PSRAM or NOR of the card is needed, and comes in the form of an NDS homebrew.
There are many different types, but the best is arguably known as "GBAExpLoader". This will allow you to play a game in PSRAM once launched, or manage the NOR memory. The CycloDS Evolution v1.4 Firmware also allows for loading GBA ROMs straight from the GUI if the 'GBA Support BETA' is ENABLED from the 'Settings Tab'.
Here are instructions on how to get the EZ-Flash 3-in-1 to work properly with the CycloDS Evolution:
For the CycloDS Evolution GUI:
Create a folder on the root of the MicroSD called '/GBA_SAVE/', or allow the CycloDS Evolution to create one for you, and make sure 'GBA Support' is ENABLED from the 'Settings Tab' to then launch any GBA ROM. 1Mbit save files are not supported as of yet.
With the EZ-Flash 3-in-1, you can select between PSRAM or NOR Modes by pressing SELECT on a GBA ROM in the CycloDS Evolution GUI.
The GBA ROMs are patched on-the-fly so no extra patching is required.
The CycloDS Evolution GUI will automatically backup the contents of the SRAM to the '/GBA_SAVE/' folder, which is the same folder that GBAExploader uses (by default, but customizable), so that the CycloDS Evolution GUI and GBAExploader can be used interchangeably, when the last booted ROM from the > CycloDS Evolution is a GBA ROM.
1) Download the GBAExpLoader 3-in-1 loader and extract the contents. Put the 'GBA_ExpLoader.nds' and 'GBA_ExpLoader.ini' files onto the root of your MicroSD.
2) Create 3 folders on the root directory of your MicroSD(HC) Card:
3) Copy clean GBA ROMS (unpatched and RAW) to the "GBA" folder. Copy any saves you want as well if you have any to the "GBA_SAVE" folder. Leave the "GBA_SIGN" folder as it is needed for the program to function properly.
4) Launch the 'GBA_ExpLoader.nds' file and then run whichever ROMS you want to use - it will apply a special patch to the ROM the first time you run it, if necessary, in order to prepare the ROM to be able to create a save file compatible with the loader.
You can optionally edit the "GBA_ExpLoader.ini" to change the default "GBA_SAVE" folder path to one that perhaps reflects a custom set path on the CycloDS Evolution "/CycloDS/config.xml" for loading GBA ROMs with the CycloDS Evolution GUI.
Note: If you are using the revised version of the EZ-Flash 3-in-1 (the 3-in-1+ version) you will need to use a different version of GBA_ExpLoader. More information about this version of the loader and a download link can be found here:
Generally speaking, you should always use a 3-in-1 loader (like the CycloDS Evolution GUI or GBAExploader) if you don't want any clashes with the PSRAM and NOR saves, and not just boot to the GBA Card within the DS Menu - especially for the NOR saves. This will create a clash with the saves, and if you want to restore the NOR save to the MicroSD(HC), you will need to 'dump SRAM to SAV' within GBAExploader's NOR section, otherwise the data will be lost if you run the ROM in PSRAM mode or flash a different rom to the NOR.
On a side note, if the sav is already loaded in the PSRAM section of GBAExploader, then the SRAM->SAV feature in the NOR section WILL NOT WORK.
On another side note, most PokeMon games will not work completely, functionality-wise on the EZ-Flash 3-in-1, since it does not have REAL TIME CLOCK support.
You can patch the Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire games with GBATA to add 'Real Time Clock Emulation' to the ROMS, but all other Pokemon Games, and other games dependant on the Real Time Clock will give you issues, unless the author of GBATA adds support to the rest of the games.
Alternative Best Slot-2 Flash Cart for GBA ROM Support
There is the EZ-Flash IV Lite Deluxe (MicroSD) which also has FAST RAM (not the 'Compact' counterpart, as this is designed for NDS support and has poor GBA support).
This card supports up to 32MB ROMS using on-the-fly loading PSRAM, and up to 48MB ROMS in its onboard NOR memory (not necessary for GBA support, since the largest official GBA ROM is 32MB).
It doesn't rumble, but supports MicroSD media, so can be used as a stand-alone card, without needing a Slot-1 Flash Cart at all.
This does not have a Real Time Clock either.
The other nice alternative is the eWin Expansion Pack, which has fast RAM like the EZ-Flash 3-in-1, but doesn't have the Opera Web Browser supported natively by the CycloDS Evolution Firmware, and has a NOR Memory which only lasts about 3-5 seconds.
General Troubleshooting: Which Homebrew Applications are Recommended
Generally speaking, there is no virtually essential homebrew to use.
However, the most popular homebrew applications would be:
- MoonShell for its versatile media capability
- DSOrganize for its wide variety of functions
- Licks MP3 Player and iPod Simulator (lmp-ng)
- PuzzleManiak, the homebrew puzzle game with an online scoreboard
• Using your CycloDS Evolution for the first time
• Installing Moonshell 2
• Updating CycloDS Evolution firmware
• Dump your DS/GBA games
• Which key shortcuts are supported by Cyclo DS Evolution when turning on the DS?