UPDATE - 11th of January 2008
I've recently used this chip in a research paper about Wii DVD media compatibility. In that pdf file I test how well this chip compares to other chips when it comes to compatibility with DVD media (and I don't mean just + or - rw support) by using a scientific approach. As this chip is included it is an interesting read for those interested in this modchip. Naturally it is also just interesting to read the PDF even if you don't plan on using this chip ;).
To go to the download location of the research paper (pdf) click here:
UPDATE - 27th of March 2007
Recently an update has been released for the CycloWiz (as mentioned below). This update (talked about a very great deal) provides new features and fixes for old bugs (again, see below in the "using the CycloWiz" topic). The update does however ONLY work with DMS/D2A chipsets! If you have a D2B chipset you're out of luck. The CycloWiz team have announced that they will release an update for the D2B chipset soon but have not released any details as of yet and it might take a long time.
I've extracted the .dol file from the update DVD (PAL) and put it here for you to download. I'm not sure what you could use it for but I've uploaded it anyway. I do however take no responsibily for the file nor for what you do with it. See the readme for more details.
Sorry for not writing a review of this update earlier, but due to the fact that my CycloWiz unit broke down I had to wait for a replacement. As soon as I received my replacement sample I installed the update and I have to say I'm impressed!
The CycloWiz update disc is a GameCube homebrew DVD that contains the update dol. The update takes you through a few steps which check if your installation of the CycloWiz was done correctly, if the update switch was placed properly and if an update can be performed safely. Of course, if you really screwed up the install you would have noticed it already but this is just an extra safety measure. Something that I do find very disturbing is that the update switch is not provided by the CycloWiz team; you have to go out and buy it separately.
Once the system agrees that everything is in order you are ready to start the programming. This is the scariest part of updating. If anything goes wrong here you will have a bricked chip. The programming thankfully doesn't take very long. After programming the chip is even checked to see if the programming of the chip was indeed performed succesfully (nice!).
If the update was installed correctly rejoice! You are now the proud owner of a CycloWiz V3 ;). Remove the DVD and reboot your system. Now on with the tests to see if the update was real and did indeed give us new features!
Before I updated I made sure I got my hands on a version of Wario Ware to see if there was any change there. As I was unable to test Wario Ware last time I tested it before updating and I was shocked! I didn't know the problem was this bad! Also to be safe I tried DVD-RW, +RW, a different region game (Red Steel USA) and +R non-changed-booktype before the update which of course didn't work. After updating I was very happy to find that everything worked perfectly! No more stuttering with Wario Ware, +/-RW support, +R support (non-booktyped) and even region patching. The best thing however is that the region patching also works with rewritable media, something that doesn't work (for me) with any other chip available at this time.
As I can see why you might think I am doing a commercial for the CycloWiz here so let me say that I am not. I am truly impressed by the features the update for the CycloWiz offers. Of course this only fixes firmware problems. Problems like no proper packaging and a too thin (in my opinion) PCB still remain.
Here it is my second Wii Mod-chip review. First of all I want to thank both the Cyclops team and kicktrading.ca for sending me CycloWiz samples. I received two samples, but sadly both were from the first batch. As many of the first batch units one of my samples was plagued by the faulty solder points. Thankfully I was able to fix it by chipping away the bridges with my trusty leatherman (a very, very sharp knife). Although fixing a defective unit isn't very hard I highly suggest (if you have limited experience) you return it to your reseller in exchange for a new unit.
Second as my unit was a V1 unit I am not able to fully test the latest greatest version of the CycloWiz. The Cyclo team have promised to release an update soon that will pull both units to the same level and as soon as that update is here I will update my review accordingly (I was originally planning on waiting until the release of the update). Also, as I do not have every game available (I simply do not have the budget) I was unable to test the CycloWiz with every available title. I am however able to test it's general performance (as with the Wiinja V1). So let us see how the CycloWiz V1 holds up.
The official specs;
This is the worst type of packaging I have ever seen. Yes an ESD bag is very good indeed, but it does not provide any protection during shipping. Also, the bag isn't perfect. One of my samples got stuck through the packaging with the connector side and bent! Simply said this packaging is bad, especially considering you pay mainly for the code (the chip itself it fairly cheap) the packaging could have been a lot better. Please team Cyclops, put your product in a box or something.
As the CycloWiz is pretty much a chip on a bit of PCB I can't say a lot about the build quality. The chip is in a SOIC packaging and is placed on the PCB in a professional manner. The solder pads also allow (though the small ones could have been a bit larger) for a proper wire installation (I am not a fan of quick soldering). The PCB is however VERY thin which is good for quick soldering, but as I am not fond of quick soldering I do not like it being so thin. I was able to exert some pressure on the CycloWiz without it braking, but I still would have preferred a thicker PCB.
As I have already stated I did not quicksolder the CycloWiz. I can therefor not say how easy it would be for someone without much soldering experience would fare installing the unit. I do however think I have a fairly good impression on how easy it might be and I think that as long as you've tried something like this before you should be fine (try creating a nice small track on an experiment board). Personally I used my module system to install the CycloWiz (this includes the update switch, but not the temporary disable feature).
- Direct boot of NTSC Wii imports on NTSC consoles (no patch needed)
- Direct boot of PAL Wii imports on NTSC consoles (no patch needed, partial compatibility)
- Direct boot of NTSC Wii imports on PAL consoles (no patch needed, partial compatibility)
- Runs imported GC games (partially without swap)
- Perfect compatibility (100% of games are working) - Improved read (no more slowdowns)
- Compatible with DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW and DVD+RW (no bitsetting required)
As always just make sure you have the proper hardware for the job. You do not want to try soldering something as small as this with a 0.5cm soldering tip =). For specifics see my Wiinja review.
An advantage of the CycloWiz over the Wiinja (at least when doing a wired install) is the status LED. To see if you have properly installed the CycloWiz you simply need to reattach the drive to the Wii's mainboard and connect the power cable. Then, when you turn on the Wii, you can see if the installation was successful by the status LED (blinking or not going on at all being bad). Although during normal procedure (with the Wii closed or when not having used wires) this feature is rather useless this still gets a + in my book.
Using the CycloWiz
Things you should know; My Wii is a PAL system. At this time it is needed (with V1 CycloWiz units anyway) to change the booktype of DVD+R's to DVD-ROM for the CycloWiz to detect them, DVD-R's work perfectly fine by default.
I'm just going to state this once more to make sure everyone reads this, I have a V1 unit that is not (yet) upgraded (as the update has not been released yet)! Because of this no new features such as imports or etc. can be tested. Also because I have a limited selection of games I was not able to test everything.
I've tested the CycloWiz with all titles I own (Rayman Raving Rabbits, Super Monkey Ball, Red Steel, Zelda TP and Wii sports) which all ran fine (though I did get the occasional DRE), apart from Rayman. Whenever I tried to boot Rayman, 9 out of 10 times I would get a DRE at the start of the game. This however seems to have been fixed with V2 units and probably will be fixed via update (see below). So some titles that I own work better then with Wiinja V1, some less good. What is noticable however is that the drive spins slower then when using normal discs. As far as I have been able to gather this causes certain glitches in some games; this should however be fixed by an update or a new version.
The best part (and the part I am most interested in with these drive-chips) is that the CycloWiz allows you to start GameCube homebrew. As it allows you to start GCOS (or any other homebrew dol burned as a bootable GameCube DVD) you can use it to browse DVD's for content and even use it to start SDload. Currently the CycloWiz's performance is fairly standard. It removes the authenticity check and lets you boot your own DVD's. Some titles apparently still give it heavy problems though (such as Rayman and WarioWare, but I was unable to test all of this myself). The CycloWiz team have promised this should be fixed with the next update though;
As you can see they also claim that imports will work (something that is indeed possible when using a drive-chip), that any problem titles will be fixed, that DVD+R will be supported without bitsetting and even more important that DVD-RW/+RW will be supported! As soon as the update is released I will update my system and update this review, so stay tuned!
CycloWiz is one of the first products to be available. At some points this product is good, for example the fact that it has been placed on a PCB (with quicksolder, which I am not very fond of but is a feature non the less) and it is (or at least advertises to be) upgradeable. It does however also have lesser points; Some games are not supported and the PCB is verythin. Support up until now seems to have been fairly good. Incorrectly made units can be replaced and proper installation manuals are available. The team does however seem to announce things a bit too early. Also because of a certain marketing scheme many people seem to have lost faith in this product.
Personally I feel that if the update feature really works this product could be a very nice addition to your Wii. It allows for the use of GameCube homebrew which is, for me, the main goal. The only real critisism I have is the packaging being just an ESD bag and having a very thin PCB.
|Overall rating for the CycloWiz v1 Wii drive-chip|
(out of 10)
Boxart, manual and product appeal
Hardware design, durability and features
Overall Homebrew and NDS game
(if applies) compatibility score
What this products future looks like
|promising (get that update feature going!)|
(Built in) extra features of the unit
I hope you all enjoyed my review and found it useful.
-Simon van de Berg