ElCheapoSD FAQ

I've decided to write a little bit of a guide here, pleese feel free to add to it by emailing me your contributions.

SPLASH screen:

  • A,B,up,down,left,right will start the currently flashed ROM
  • Select will invoke the SRAM Load/Save menu
  • Start will invoke the ROM Load menu


ROM load menu:

  • B will return to the splash screen
  • A will enter a directory if the cursor is against a directory, or will initiate ROM flashing of the selected file.
  • Selecting a directory “..” will return to the previous directory. “.” Will refresh the current directory. These are remnants from the old DOS file system


SRAM menu:

  • The same navigation applies for the SRAM as it did for the ROM menu.
  • When selecting a save file, it will prompt you to press:
  • UP to Save from the ElCheapoSD cart to the SD card or
  • DOWN to load from the SD card to the ElCheapoSD Cart


SD Card preparation:

  • Wide support for 2gb-32gb SD Cards
  • If using firmware below 1.63, Format your SD card to FAT32 & 4K clusters
  • If using firmware 1.63 or above, Format you SD to FAT32, any cluster size is fine however larger clusters result in a faster cart and more files are accessible though the menu.
  • It is suggested to build your folders/files on your desktop first, then when you are happy transfer the whole lot to a freshly formatted SD card. This helps to avoid fragmented files. You are free to add/delete files to the SD. If weird things happen (Due to fragmenting the file system) just run defrag.
  • Short file names (8.3) are suggested but not essential.
  • As of V1.65, Long file&folder names are supported


Working with Save files:

  • The ElCheapoSD as of v1.63 cannot generate new save files via the gameboy. You will need to prepare these on your PC first and make them available on the SD card. I have a download available of blank save files which you can rename and transfer to your SD card. You can then write to them via the SRAM menu.
  • 32kbyte and 128kbyte saves supported.


Updating Firmware:

  • This is the only way you can potentially brick your cart. Before attempting to update your firmware, FORMAT YOUR SD TO FAT32 & 4K CLUSTERS!
  • Copy Tetris to the SD and flash that ROM. If Tetris doesn’t boot, don’t attempt to update the firmware. If it does boot then proceed.
  • Download the latest firmware pack from bennvenn.com. In it you will find UPDATE.GB and a firmware file, like FW163GBC.BEN
  • Copy both of these to the SD card (the one you just tested Tetris on)
  • Select the UPDATE.GB ROM and run it. It will look for a .BEN file. Choose the firmware you wish to flash. After a second or two, it will have updated and say DONE. Restart your gameboy and flash Tetris again to be sure everything went fine. It should say the current bootloader version in the ROM menu.



What is with the numbers after the ROM name?

            These are the way FAT32 truncates a long file name to an 8.3 filename. With only 8 characters available for a file name, if the first 8 letters of a file are identical, it will label them as FILENA~1, FILENA~2 etc… You can rename your files to have no more than 8 capital letters/numbers with a caps extension, like SMB1.GB. This helps the gameboy out by conserving memory.


My cart is stuck at ‘Initialising’…

            The ElCheapoSD will attempt to initialise your SD card in accordance with the spec laid down by the SD Developers community. There are many steps to initialising an SD and the firmware will wait a finite time for a valid response from the SD card. If no response is heard, or a response other than expected is returned, the initialisation process is restarted. All ElCheapoSD carts sold through my store include a fully compatible SD card. 99% of all new SD cards will be compatible. Either contact your seller for a compatible SD card or grab a cheap $2 one of eBay, Aliexpress etc… There is a very good chance it’ll work.


I’ve bricked my Cart…

            Your cart can be restored by anyone with access to my Joey. You can contact me and I can put you in touch with one of my distributors or a customer close to you which can do the update for you.


How many ROM’s will it hold?

            All of them! If your card is big enough, and you adhere to the 128 files per folder principal, you can store the complete game library on one SD card.


The colours on game X are wrong!?!

            This is due to the game being started in GBC mode when it is expecting the greyscale palette to be pre-set. You can flash the DMG variant of the firmware to fix this, or future updates will include a palette set mode where using the D-pad you can pre-set the in game palettes. Update: This is all automatic in v1.9+


My ROM doesn’t start up!

            ElCheapoSD reads the header information of the ROM before it boots it. It sets the mapper to the one specified in the ROM then begins execution. Some games fail to boot due to using non-standard mapper addresses when attempting to change banks. This is almost exclusive to certain MBC1 ROM’s. Good news is it takes only a few minutes for me to patch these ROM’s to be compatible. Contact me with the ROM and I’ll have it back to you patched ASAP. I’ll also release a series of patch files for the trouble ROM’s. ROM's that need patching: Gargoyles quest, Kid Icarus.


I have a early MBC5 only ElCheapoSD, how do I update to multi mapper support?

            Unfortunately the mapper update is not possible though firmware alone, it needs to come back to me or an authorised distributor with the correct hardware for the update procedure. Contact me for details.