3 in 1 Expansion Pack for EZ-Flash V
AKA: 3-in-1, 3 in 1, EZ Expansion Pack, EZ-Flash 3-in-1, EZ-Flash 3 in 1, Expansion Pack
Manufactured by: EZ-Flash
- 1 Variants
- 2 General
- 3 Hardware Features
- 4 Software
- 5 Compatibility
- 6 Review
- 7 Initial Setup
- 8 Frequently asked questions
- 9 See Also
- 10 Useful links
- 3 in 1 Expansion Pack for EZ-Flash V for DS Lite (White or Black)
- 3 in 1 Expansion Pack for EZ-Flash V for DS (AKA DS "Phat" Version or GBA Size)
Note: There are two chip set variations, where one chip set has succeeded the first.
The 3 in 1 Expansion Pack is a NDS Slot-2 Cart that works in conjunction with NDS Slot-1 Carts. The device officially attempts to integrate three distinct solutions. First, the device is capable of loading GBA games stored in slot-1 devices in a manner similar to previous slot-2 solutions created by the EZ-flash team. Secondly, the 3 in 1 is a memory expansion pack. Finally, the device is a competing rumble pak expansion for games that support official DS rumble pack. Furthermore, open third-party access to the hardware features have expanded the capability of the Expansion Pack.
The 3 in 1 Expansion Pack for EZ-Flash V can be officially purchased as a bundle with the EZ-Flash V or separately. The product was specifically designed for EZ-Flash V, but users of other slot-1 cards are able to utilize the Expansion Pack.
- 256 Mb (32 MB) of NOR Flash Memory. This type of memory is able to retain data without requiring uninterrupted power. Depending on data size, writing may take up to several minutes. One typical use includes copying over a GBA ROM, thereby allowing the 3-in-1 to act like a real GBA cartridge.
- 128 Mb (16 MB) of PSRAM. This memory does not retain data when the power is turned off. However it can be written at speeds much faster than NOR memory.
- 4 Mb (512 KB) of battery backed SRAM for save data. The battery is necessary to retain data.
- Programmable embedded "rumble pak" (haptic feedback) device
- GBA Loader:
- GBA ROMs and save data are stored long-term in the Slot-1 device memory
- 128 Mb (16 MB) PSRAM Expansion:
- Extra RAM necessary for programs like DS Opera Web Browser loaded from Slot-1 device.
- Rumble function:
- Works with all official rumble enabled NDS games and homebrew loaded from Slot-1 device.
- Rumble can be set to three levels of intensity.
The source code necessary to utilize the key hardware features of the expansion pack is readily available to developers. There have already been many successful solutions for third-party slot-1 carts. Currently, the most popular homebrew software utilize the hardware features for their officially intended uses. Additionally, due to the relatively unspecialized nature of the hardware, many creative uses have already started by homebrew developers.
- Standalone Browser Patch by Triforce, Cory1492 - Patches the DS Browser allowing automatic detection of the 3 in 1 PSRAM
- Standalone Rumble Patch by anonYmous - Patching tool for DS ROMS that support rumble. This allows automatic detection of the rumble hardware, therefore not requiring any tool to turn on the rumble feature. This is a manual version of the automated patching done by the EZ-Flash V.
- GBALdr by Cory1492 - A homebrew application run from the DS that will load games directly to NOR memory, load/save .sav files, and can auto-backup the save data currently on the cart when loading a new game. Due to the fact that it only loads games into NOR memory, it can be painfully slow, taking up to 5 minutes in some cases. Cory1492 has recently updated the GBALdr program to fix the problems detecting and running GBA games with newer 3in1 cards which have different hardware components to earlier versions. Full details of the updated GBALdr can be found here.
- 3in1 ExpPack Tool by Rudolph (Succeeded by GBA ExpLoader) - Another homebrew application that runs from the DS. This is by far one of the best loaders available. Just as with GBALdr, it can load games to the 3 in 1. What makes it different than GBALdr is the fact that it can load all ROMS under 16MB directly to the PSRAM on the 3 in 1, making copy time less than a minute in nearly all cases. Additionally, it can load games to NOR memory if they exceed 16MB. Two other features that I find to be unique to this tool is the ability to turn the Rumble Pack on and off (for supported DS games) and the ability to switch the cart over to an Expansion Pack for use with the Opera Browser. Rudolph recently updated the 3in1 ExpPack software and renamed it to GBA ExpLoader. Compatible with the first chip set. The latest version can be downloaded from here
- GBA ExpLoader by Rudolph (Successor to 3in1 ExpPack Tool by Rudolph) - Rewrite of the 3in1 ExpPack Tool allowing expanded compatibility with not only the succeeding 3in1 chip set, but also other slot-2 carts. Differences from 3in1 ExpPack Tool: automatic GBA ROM file patching, multiple save mechanism, and extended compatibility with specific save types (for example, ROM 1386 - Famicom Mini Vol 5 Zelda no Densetsu, save type EEPROM_124).
- NDS Backup Tool 3in1 by Rudolph - Utilizes the NOR Flash Memory and SRAM. This homebrew application can send or backup save information stored an original DS game cartridge. Furthermore, NDS Backup Tool 3in1 can backup original carts as ROMs. DS cartridges that contain more than 256 Mb (32MB) of data are compatible with this tool. The software is sophisticated enough to copy data in 256 Mb chunks and then rejoin them later in the slot-1 cartridge memory. Compatible with both chip sets.
- NDStation by chuckstudios - A very interesting approach to loading ROMs on the 3 in 1. Rather than having a homebrew running on the DS transfer the ROM to the 3 in 1, chuckstudios developed a Windows program (later ported to Linux by dg10050) that packaged the GBA ROM in an .NDS file. This packaged file, when launched from a Slot 1 card, would backup any existing save on the 3 in 1 and load the ROM onto it. The aim of the project is to give things a more integrated and unified feel with your Slot 1 cart. Additionally, one can customize the icon of the .nds file, alternatively load the game into the PSRAM, compress the ROM, and include a custom GBA border.
- CycloDS Evolution Firmware v1.2 and up - The CycloDS Evolution officially integrates rumble for Nintendo DS games, memory expansion for Opera Browser without any additional ROM patching, and GBA-NDS linking.
The current compatibility of the 3 in 1 with official games is practically complete. The official EZ-Flash V kernel software is capable of integrating all hardware featured in the 3 in 1 Expansion Pack. The EZ-Flash team does not ensure hardware compatibility with other slot-1 devices. Compatibility with third-party slot-1 carts appear to be just as good.
The 3 in 1 is compatible with GBA ROMs properly patched. Optional ROM trimming is also available. GBA ROMs can be written to the PSRAM unless the ROM is larger than the 128 Mbit capacity and/or has a save type of 1 Mbit or larger. All GBA ROMs can be written into the 256 Mbit NOR flash memory. The NDS Browser requires additional patching and/or tools for unofficial slot-1 carts in order to recognize the PSRAM. The rumble feature is for NDS games and can be easily coded into homebrew. Lameboy, a slot-1 Game Boy / Game Boy Color emulator, is an example of homebrew that is compatible with 3 in 1 rumble when properly enabled by either official or third-party software.
Homebrew applications can use the Expansion Pack as a memory expansion. For example, DSLinux-DLDI uses it to provide extra RAM for their linux port. SNEmulDS utilizes the extra RAM to improve large Nintendo SNES ROM emulation.
Official GBAtemp Review
- Overall: "The build quality is great, it feels very sturdy and the black brushed finish was a good choice. The cart is held together with a single screw on the back. It fits firmly in the GBA slot however it does seem to stick out ever so slightly, so slight it’s hardly worth mentioning. You’ll notice it if you brush your finger over it though."
- GBA: "You can start a GBA game by either hitting the ‘Start GBA game’ button on the DS firmware menu or by pressing R+A when selecting the game in the EZ-V menu. There is no EZ-V GBA loader menu meaning that you can only have one game on the cart at one time. It would be nice if in the future you were allowed to write multiple games to the 256mbit of space. But as it stands it's a simple and effective GBA solution for a slot-1 flash card. The EZTeam come highly recommended with all their GBA ventures and the Expansion Pack is no exception, GBA games run fine and are easy to write and use."
- RAM: "When the Opera DS Browser was released it came with a separate RAM pack which gave the DS that little extra boost to run the application. The Expansion Pack simulates this RAM pack when you use the DS Browser ROM. There is no patching required, just simple drag & drop and the Opera Browser will work fine. Strangely though the Expansion Pack will not work if you use the original DS Browser DS card with it, only the ROM version will work. That being the case there shouldn’t be many people out there that would want to use the original card with the Expansion Pack if they have an EZ-V."
- Rumble: "Rumble is loud, very loud. On full rumble the Expansion Pack is frighteningly loud and completely distracts from the gaming experience. This is in line with the official rumble pack. However you have the ability to select between three different strengths of rumble. Pressing R+L on the EZ-V loader will take you to the menu where you can select between low, medium or high. On low the rumble emits hardly any noise and still has a pleasant sensation when playing games like Elite Beat Agents. Games do not have to be patched for rumble support, that information is stored in the updated savelist file. Only official rumble supported games will use the Expansion Pack as it works just like the official pack."
The following are basic instructions on how to use the Expansion Pack. The open source nature of the 3 in 1 provides users many alternative methods.
EZ-Flash V owners may follow the Official EZ-Flash V Quickstart Guide. Other Slot-1 Carts will require a third-party solution.
Automatic Patching Method
Third-party applications have become more sophisticated allowing a more streamlined process of initial setup. This method of initial setup does not require manual patching of GBA ROMs.
- One will need a Third-Party Loader that supports automatic GBA ROM patching in order to load a GBA ROM from a DLDI compatible Slot 1 cart.
- GBA ROMs can be trimmed.
- Once the the GBA ROMs and the necessary files for the Third-Party Loader are copied over to the slot-1 memory card, follow the instructions of the homebrew loader accordingly. One typical step is DLDI patching of the loader, which is usually a file with a .nds extension.
The original method requires manual ROM patching. This can be used as a historical reference as third-party applications with automatic ROM patching become more mature.
- One will need a Third-Party Loader in order to load a GBA ROM from a DLDI compatible Slot 1 cart.
- GBA ROMs can be trimmed.
- GBA ROMs must be properly patched in order for the 3 in 1 to save to SRAM. Two popular tools are known to do this:
- GBATA - GBATA is the most widely accepted tool to use when SRAM patching GBA ROMs. All you need to do is load up the ROM (click the [...] button), click on the SRAM Patch tab, and click the Patch button. If the button is grayed out, then the ROM does not need to be patched.
- EZ4 Client - EZ4 Client is an alternative to GBATA. While it performs a similar function as GBATA, several users have reported lost save files with roms patched with this program. If you have a GBA ROM that uses a 1mbit save, you must use this program to patch it.
- Once the the GBA roms and the necessary files for the Third-Party Loader are copied over to the slot-1 memory card, follow the instructions of the homebrew loader accordingly. One typical step is DLDI patching of the loader, which is usually a file with a .nds extension.
Nintendo DS Browser
The EZ-Flash V can open a clean Nintendo DS Browser ROM without any additional setup. Other Slot-1 Carts will require a third-party solution in order for the ROM to recognize the 3 in 1 PSRAM.
- One working third-party solution that enables other slot-1 carts to use the 3 in 1 with the Nintendo DS Browser ROM would be the 3in1 ExpPack Tool by Rudolph.
- Patch the program DLDI accordingly.
- Switch to the Rumble selection menu.
- Select 'Expansion RAM'.
- Start-up the DS Browser.
According to the Quickstart Guide and Official GBAtemp review, an updated save list is necessary in order to identify NDS ROMs that support rumble when used in conjunction with the EZ-Flash V. Other Slot-1 Carts will require a third-party solution. Rumble is compatible with any NDS game or homebrew program that supports it.
- One working third-party solution that enables rumble in other slot-1 carts would be the 3in1 ExpPack Tool by Rudolph.
- Patch the program DLDI accordingly.
- Switch to the Rumble selection menu.
- Select the intensity of rumble, and the tool will soft-reset.
- Start-up a DS game or homebrew program.
Frequently asked questions
Where do I put my ROMs?
Unlike alot of Slot 2 solutions out there, the 3 in 1 does not have its own removable storage. This is due to the fact that it was initially designed for use with the EZ-Flash V. ROMs are stored on the removable media or internal storage of your Slot 1 device. Where they are put is determined by which solution you choose from the third-party solutions list.
Can the 3 in 1 only hold 1 GBA ROM at a time?
The 3 in 1 can only hold one ROM in its NOR. Any time you want to play a game 16MB or less, you copy it over to the PSRAM on the cartridge using your loader of choice. This is standard with all slot 2 cartridges. Most slot 2s that have firmware (the ones with removable or internal storage have the loader built-in). The only reason people think otherwise is because most Slot 2s have either removable or internal storage for ROMs, homebrew, etc, which the 3 in 1 does not. Please read the initial setup section, it will explain everything perfectly.
Whenever I load up a game, my save is gone! What do I do?
This kind of issue can only be resolved through troubleshooting. First off, make sure you are SRAM patching your games using one of the two tools listed in the initial setup section. If you are already doing this, make sure you are loading games in either PSRAM or NOR, not both. From what I have seen, most loaders want you to use one or the other for it to work correctly. Check the help files of your loader for more information (such as known bugs, proper ROM loading procedure, etc.).
When do I need to patch a GBA ROM in regards to the saving function?
You will need to patch the ROM if your loader does not feature automatic patching. Furthermore, patching is only necessary if the ROM does not use SRAM for saving. Anything already using up to 512kbit (64KiB) SRAM to begin with shouldn't need to be patched at all. GBA games that originally used EEPROM or FLASH, and/or has over 512Kbit, will need to be patched. 1024Kbit save types have to be patched with EZ4 client since GBATA has not implemented the concept of SRAM bankswitching. GBATA, for example, will not allow the file to be patched if unnecessary.