[GUIDE] Homebrew on the DS (Updated: 16/07/08)
[GUIDE] Homebrew on the DS
This guide covers both the DS and DS Lite
Suggestions for questions are welcome and appreciated
IntroductionSo you have decided to enter the world of Nintendo handheld consoles, good choice. Unfortunately for me I sold my DS a while back, but don't worry, I have had my experience in running homebrew on the DS and I want to share it with you. In this guide you will discover how simple running homebrew on the DS is, and that there is no need to be confused by the plethora of different flashcarts, whether you need a pass card or not, etc.! So let's start, shall we?
NOTE: The numbering system used in no way indicates relations between each question, it is simply a method of navigation so that I can direct you between questions.
Q&A [1.0] What is a flashcart?
A flashcart is the hardware used to run homebrew and backups on the DS console. It usually consists of a DS Slot 1 card (older cards may be Slot 2) and an integrated slot for additional memory (usually SD Micro or Mini). Older flashcarts may not have an additional memory slot and so have a fixed memory boundary. Without a flashcart you will not be able to run homebrew on your DS (or game backups). Slot 2 flashcarts will be accompanied by (these are usually bought separately) a PassCard [1.1] of some sort.
[1.1] What is a PassCard?
A PassCard bypasses the consoles security features, making it think it is loading a normal game cartridge. Once the security has been breached it continues to load the Slot 2 cartridge which contains your media/files. Most flashcarts now-a-days are Slot 1 and so have integrated passcard technology.
[1.2] What is the GUI like on a flashcart?
The GUI of a flashcart depends on it's model and/or make. Most flashcart GUI's consist of a multi-screen interface, one for browsing files/folders and the other is used for the selection of features [1.4]. Most, if not all, flashcarts require no user input on the functionality or look of the interface, but many incorporate the ability to use themes that can be downloaded from the internet.
[1.3] What is the DS homebrew community like?
The DS homebrew community is quite small, although there are regular releases of games and applications (and updates for your flashcart). Depending on where you visit you will find a different user base. For example, QJ is much more PSP orientated than the DS, but still offers a very good DS section. A quick Google search will reveal the many large DS homebrew communities.
[1.4] What features does a flashcart have?
To my knowledge, all flashcarts have the ability to load game backups and homebrew. Some flashcarts can run movies and view pictures, this will be stated in the manual and/or in the specifications before you buy it. Apart from the general and obvious features, there isn't much more to tell you. The features become much more individual (apart from the expandable memory) when you start talking about hardware (and also software, kinda). Anyway, to sum it up, features simply depend on the make and model of your flashcart.
[1.5] Is it true that homebrew on the DS is better than the PSP?
This is user opinionated. There is a lot less DS homebrew than on the PSP, but that doesn't mean it isn't good, because in some ways less means better. Most DS homebrew has had much more time put into it, etc. as there aren't many developers that develop on the DS... but those who do take it pretty seriously.
[1.6] Where should I buy my flashcart and/or PassCard?
There are many modification (modding) sites that sell the DS flashcarts and PassCards, but be careful which site you choose to buy from. A list of sites that have been recommended by others can be found here. I got mine from gamersection.ca, and I would definitely recommend them.
[1.7] How do I update my flashcart to the latest version?
You can usually obtain a new 'firmware' (not to be confused with the firmware of a PSP, they are nothing alike) for your DS flashcart via the manufacturers website. For example, if you have a Supercard, visit the Supercard website and you will find they have a page dedicated to the flashcart version downloads.
[1.8] How do I update my PassCard?
PassCard's do not need to be updated as they serve only one purpose. As far as I am aware they use Read Only Memory (ROM) so there is no way to update them.
[1.9] Is there any flashcart that I should buy?
It is best to ask around rather than be told which flashcart to buy by one person. Create a thread on some forums and ask for some advice on the best and latest flashcarts that are worth purchasing.
[2.0] How do I run homebrew on my DS flashcart?
The process of running downloaded content on your DS with a flashcart is usually quite simple. It probably consists of copying and pasting a file between folders on your PC. Usually you will need a removable media reader (to read the SD Mini or Micro). If however your flashcart uses irremovable memory storage, you may have to open the flashcart via a screw driver and plug it in with a USB cable (like I did). If that is the case, opening the flashcart is relatively easy depending on the make and model.
Most flashcarts will be accompanied by a manual that will mention the running of homebrew. If it doesn't and you cannot manage to find out yourself, take a look online, do a Google search and I am sure you will find the information you need.
[2.1] How can I run game backups on my DS?
Unfortunately we cannot help you with this problem/question. For more information take a look at our forum policies.
[2.2] How do I view videos, music or photos on my DS?
You probably find that all you have to do is place the chosen file in a folder that corresponds to the media type. For example, a video named video.mp4 would probably be placed in 'X:/VIDEO/'. If you have used a PSP before this will probably ring a bell. X, by the way, is the letter assigned to the SD card or flashcart memory (it could be J, F, L, Z, etc.). As said above in [2.0], the manual should provide more information on this question.