Introduction: How to Run Homebrew on Your Nintendo DS!

Picture of How to Run Homebrew on Your Nintendo DS!

Update: 9/7/08, added in a FAQ Section.

Ever felt your DS could do more? A lot more? It can do more, and it can be activated through DS Homebrew. This Part by Part guide will help you learn about what is Homebrew, how to run it, where to buy items, recommended downloads and more.

And ideas, suggestions, questions, feel free to either PM me or just leave a comment here as long as you read the FAQ. ;)
Stumble It!

Step 1: What Is Homebrew?

Homebrew is basically an independent developer, (whether it be one person or a team of programmers not working for any specific Major Name Developer, such as EA, Activision, Nintendo etc.

Homebrew run on the DS is either named:
- NAME.nds.gba
- NAME.nds

E.g DSorganize.nds.gba or DSorganize.nds
I will be explaining each filetype later.

Step 2: Readme: FAQ

Occasionally I get questions like this:
Hello there, I just read your instructable on "How to run Homebrew on your Nintendo DS!" and had a question about the actual R4 device itself. I have looked everywhere regarding it's legal status and still have yet to find a reliable answer. So please forgive me for asking, but is the R4 cartridge legal to buy and own in the U.S? Thank you if you read this.
" Yes, I'm always happy to answer a question! The R4, like many things in life can do two things, legal things or illegal things. It can play homebrew (free and legal!) or commercial games they are still free on the internet, but they are the ones you buy in the stores. They are illegal to download them and put them on your R4 or play them in any way, regardless of whether you own the game or not.

In the US, you'd be lucky if you found them in any stores, companies like Gamestop and others wouldn't want to be seen selling objects that can do something illegal, it could get them into strife. Go to a store and ask for them and they'll tell you they're illegal. They are not! They are completely 100% legal but you can usually only get them off the internet. I have bought four products on two different occasions from and they are very very reliable.

So a summary:
Legal to buy in U.S.: You won't find them.
Legal to own in U.S.: Yes, as long as you are using them for homebrew only, they are legal. "

Q. Can I run commerical roms, such as ones you buy in the store?
A: Yes you can. But I, in no way endorse that act and cannot be held responsible for any wrong doings your par-take in. I will not respond to any messages or comments regarding commercial roms, or where to download roms. If you repeatedly do this, I will email the Instructables Staff. It is illegal and we do not need to discuss it. Period.

Q. Is it safe to purchase these online?
A: I have purchased 4 products on two seperate occasions from, and they have been fast, effective and have a great customer support centre. They also have a forum if you would like to ask more questions.

Q. Can I PM you?
A: Yes only if you've read every section of the FAQ.

Step 3: So How Do I Run Homebrew?

Picture of So How Do I Run Homebrew?

To run Homebrew, you need either:
-Slot 1 Flash Card (Image 1)
-Slot 2 Flash Cart and a PassKey. (Image 2 & 3 )

I, and many others recommend Slot 1 Flash Cards because of their compatibility rate. Most Flash Card/Cart runs off Removable Storage such as micro or miniSD (Image 4), with the exclusion of the G6 which has built in memory.
If you have an R4, M3 or other Slot 1 cards, the executable you want to run is .nds.
If you have a Supercard, you run .sc.nds.
If you have other Slot-2 cards, you usually run nds.gba.

Slot 2 Flash Carts are GBA cartridges that have Removable Storage inputs, such as micro or miniSD (Image 3). But if you boot it from the main DS menu, it will boot as a GBA game. So you need a PassKey, which makes your DS think it's a DS game but really just boots from the GBA Cartridge.

Again, Slot 1 Flash Cards are recommended.

Where do I buy these from?

You can buy a Games'n'Music from Datel and some chains in America, but these are not great for Homebrew compatibility. You should really be buying from an online store.

I use an R4, pretty much identical to M3 DS Simply, however, it appears the companies are stopping production of these. Look for DSTT's and iTouch DS. They all seem to have pretty good rates (usually 99%-100%) for ROM Support and Homebrew Support.

For purchasing I recommend: Modariffic. They seem to have competitive prices for Australia.

Beware when purchasing microSD cards, make sure to note whether they're SDHC or standard SD, because not all flash carts work with SDHC (4gb+).

Step 4: I've Recieved My Package..

Picture of I've Recieved My Package..

'I've received my package, what now?'

Your package may come with a disc with firmware you need to drop onto the microSD card, but it's best that you go to the manufacturers website and download the latest release. Unzip/rar the file and just dump it all on the microSD card. Remove the card from your computer, insert it into the Flash Card and fire it up to see if it works. If it works, power down an insert back into the computer.

Initially, developers had to program for specific Flash Cards, but after the invention of DLDI, developers program for one and you can DLDI patch it for almost any card. So most homebrew you need to patch with DLDI, which is easily done with Chism's DLDI Patcher (Dynamically Linked Device Interface).

You need to download the patcher here (I recommend Win32 GUI for Windows users) and the suitable patch for your card here. All you then have to do is run dlditool32.exe, select the patch and then select the binary/binaries (.nds/sc.nds/nds.gba is the same as 'binaries').

Step 5: Suggested Downloads

Picture of Suggested Downloads

There's is a great list of homebrew out there, but not all will work with your card, so check here before wasting time/bandwidth/money downloading something that won't work.

On the Applications side of things, I recommend. (Everything can be found with this thing and downloads area.)

-DScratch - DJ Program NEW VERSION OUT NOW
-NitroTracker - Music Maker
-DSorganize - Organizer, er nuff said
-OKIWI - Web browser.
-Mini vMac - vMac emulator
-DSLinux -Linux on DS
-LMP-NG (iPod clone seen on front page)
-Colors - Drawing program
-DSAim - AIM on DS
-DSLiveWeather - Weather Checker.
-DSFTP <-- Download :D
-Moonshell - Multimedia player.

On the Games side of things I can only really recommend: (I haven't played a lot of Homebrew Games)
-A Touch Of War (Brilliant)

You can also run emulators on your DS too, so you can run classic systems too.

Step 6: Last Words.

If you have a newer DSlite, you may encounter some problems with WiFi Applications, even if it works on Commercial WiFi games. Simply change the channel on your Wireless Router to 10 for Homebrew and 1 for Commercial.

From here the world is your seafood cocktail, and if it tickles your fancy you can begin programming if you wish.

If you already have knowledge of programming, mainly C/C++, you may want to look into devkitPro
.I don't really know much about it devkitPro, so I can't give you much help there. But if you do not have a lot of knowledge/expertise in programming, a good start is DSLua. Lua is a fairly basic language and can be easily learned, especially with the aid of Jeremysr's Tutorials for DSLua. Hit the DSLua forums for any questions.

Have fun and enjoy the homebrew!


Ruby Laser (author)2017-12-16

I have a couple of questions, some of which are totally unrelated to one another.

First off, could someone please describe how the R4 card works internally? I'm interested in the original R4, not the R4i (or any other version). I heard some terms thrown around like ROM (not the .nds ROM, but a ROM chip on the pcb). Basically I want to know how they work. That's all. Please try to include terms such as ROM chip, Address pins, pcb, etc.

Second off, I recently installed Luma and Rosalina on my 3ds using my R4 card. I managed to brick my card in the process, which was okay since I have Luma3ds instead. However, I still want to know how to restore my flash cartridge. Upon bootup on a Ds-Lite it freezes before even going to the menu. On the 3ds it doesn't show that a card is inserted. However, if I take it out and put it back in it blinks the card slot on the menu (if that makes any sense), which leads me to believe that the 3ds is simply blocking it. However, how would the DS block it?


MartinS401 (author)2017-10-10

My Nintendo can do booting

But cant see any thing in folder games/Homebrew

Please help me

engej3 (author)2017-01-09

Wait, so can I use any software to program? Or is it specific? If its specific, plz gimme download links, THX!

MichiL (author)2016-06-28

Here I can use this thing, if i legally own the games. So i could always buy the game, download the rom, and put it on there.

Because you bought the game, you are allowed to have the rom. And you do not need to carry lots of cartridges around.

2GB fit on the R4, Most games are less than 50 MB, so you fit a lot of games on it. And if they don't fit, bring a exta MicroSD. I really want it to support SDHC, but it does not.

PeriwinkleS (author)2015-01-18

Is it ok to use fan-made games (like pokemon hacks) That technically aren't commercial games?

patbking (author)PeriwinkleS2016-04-03

The law about emulators are still a bit sketchy, I just say if you can't buy an offical version of the game without going to ebay ect. then it should be fine to play the game as it is not avalible for purchase anymore meaning they gave up on making profits off of that game

CodyB28 (author)2016-03-01

can you do this on a 3DS

popinloopy (author)CodyB282016-03-26

Yes-ish. You CAN homebrew a 3DS, but the problem is Nintendo still actively supports the 3DS and anything that is used to homebrew it ends up being patched not long later. This can be avoided by simply waiting for a while and not updating so you have an out-of-date version that people have an exploit for, or finding a way to downgrade your system (which would require a different exploit) to a version that has known ways of homebrewing. You can check out (3DS Hacks, not 3D Shacks) for some more details. Oh, and if/when you DO homebrew your 3DS, look into to have some fun. Also, if you're a pokemon fan, you can use a homebrew'd 3DS to transfer pokemon from the original red/blue/yellow cartridges to the 3DS virtual console and Pokemon Bank in order for your favorites from the originals to be transfered to your current games.

whatevers (author)2009-08-02

Can i use just any SD card?

Noodle93 (author)whatevers2009-08-05

First you need a flashcard. Once you have a flash card, you can then use whatever SD format they use. R4 for example uses Standard MicroSD, which basically means non "SDHC" (secure digital high capacity, only exists for >8gb). Others can use SDHC, but then you'll have to refer to their manual.

smilesintahoe (author)Noodle932015-01-03

Ok so I just got my daughter a dsi xl used and it came with an R4 card and had to micro sd cards tgat went inside of it and it played over hundred plus games well I did something and the ds said to update something so I did now I can't get her games to work there must have been some special software can you help me please I feel so bad because this was her Christmas present

Ryan DoesG (author)smilesintahoe2015-10-15

What was the name of the updated version? I think the newest (and final) update for the nintendo dsi fixed the whole R4 thing. So if I were you, just buy her a Nintendo DS Lite, because those have full R4 support. :D

alba.steve (author)smilesintahoe2015-01-08

i had similar problem. I downloaded new r4 files.

think it was the 1.8 version for my R4 card. download zip. open zip. copy new files to microsd card.

robbiehayden926 (author)Noodle932011-11-02

HERE you can find many information useful and help u more about nds games m3 carte and other

whatevers (author)Noodle932009-08-10

OK thanks

ejferguson (author)2015-06-07

Cool! I just ordered an r4

dcrout (author)2013-03-15

thanks for the great guide, very informative. i just ordered my r4i gold rts card for my new 3ds xl from, everything works fine, but i'm wondering if i need to buy an ezflash 3in1 to run the gba games.

donnen (author)2012-09-02

r4i gold 3ds, linker r4i sdhc 3ds and ace3ds plus are the top card r4 in this moment, they can support all Nintendo consoles and also the 3DS XL(4.3..0-10), and can play the ds games recently!!!

crown3DS (author)2012-04-24

Now,many cards can work well on 3ds v4.0.0-7 as well as dsi v1.44,i have tested my ak2i on my v4.0.0-7 and my sister's dsi v1.44,works well.

uoflcardsfan150 (author)2009-06-25

Hello there, I just read your instructable on "How to run Homebrew on your Nintendo DS!" and had a question about the actual R4 device itself. I have looked everywhere regarding it's legal status and still have yet to find a reliable answer. So please forgive me for asking, but is the R4 cartridge legal to buy and own in the U.S? Thank you if you read this

jackyang (author)uoflcardsfan1502011-07-10

If you have any questions, please contact our customer service!,learn about R4DS

Noodle93 (author)uoflcardsfan1502009-06-25

Yes certainly. The R4 is indeed legal. The device itself does not break any U.S. laws (I believe). Where the biggest problem is, is that the R4, and all the other flashcarts are primarily used to download DS roms. THIS is illegal. No matter what people tell you that if you own it you can download it legally, you can't. Unless you own the game yourself, then you dump the ROM yourself from the Game Card (a very difficult process), then it is not legal. This is how I have interpreted the U.S. copyright laws and yes, there are many unreliable answers. Using one goes against Nintendo's usage policy, but purchasing and using one is perfectly legal.

uoflcardsfan150 (author)Noodle932009-06-25

Hello there, I just read your instructable on "How to run Homebrew on your Nintendo DS!" and had a question about the actual R4 device itself. I have looked everywhere regarding it's legal status and still have yet to find a reliable answer. So please forgive me for asking, but is the R4 cartridge legal to buy and own in the U.S? Thank you if you read this

R4iCardz (author)uoflcardsfan1502011-02-03

You can get an assortment of R4 cards and the various types, which work with the Nintendo DS from various stores. The key is get a big micro sd card, which means that it can hold a lot of data.

mom123 (author)2011-06-01

how mutch did it cost

chrizw123 (author)2010-08-20

Hey everyone. Is there a way to put GBA ROMs on my r4i without any extra hardware? thnx:P

MK3424 (author)chrizw1232010-12-02

No, the R4i does not have enough ram and cpu for gba games but the dsiplayer can play gba games

skee ball (author)2010-11-19

does the thing you download on to your r4 have any virus's

FethrdWlf (author)2009-10-02

I own a DSi. What card supports them instead of the DS or DS Lite?

toygreen (author)FethrdWlf2010-05-16

r4ds,m3 ds real...  I Think the is good for .maybe you can have a look at it .

junits15 (author)toygreen2010-06-25

R4s are all fake, and even though the copies have become really close its not safe to use them. The CAN brick your console, the R4 team abandoned the project years ago. Now the best cart to use is either an acekart or a cyclods the cycl ds can cost twice as much as the acekard sometimes.

Noodle93 (author)junits152010-06-25

Sigh. This instructable is redundant due to the change of technology.

toogers (author)Noodle932010-09-06

it still applies to my situation, my DS got stolen but since i still have my R4 i don't want a DSi. i'm looking at used ds lites/originals.

junits15 (author)FethrdWlf2010-06-25

Most of the time a card supports ds/ds lite + dsi or only just ds/ds lite. There isnt many the only support the dsi

r4mania (author)FethrdWlf2010-04-06

If you have a DSi console, we recommend that you consult the category for DSi cards and select the R4i Gold card or the Red R4i card. You will be able to use the Gold card on both DSi and the DS Lite consoles (you will need to connect your DSi to the internet and download the 1.4 upgrade).

If you need more information about your issue , Please visit :

Noodle93 (author)FethrdWlf2009-10-02

I haven't used it, but seems to be the most popular atm.

Maxaxle (author)2010-08-11

Useful? Yes. But I think it could be a bit more extensive.

Doctor Freeman (author)2010-08-10

has anyone that hacks ever heard of an ar its not a ipod ect bu8t it is a cheat code organizer and u can put a game card into it to hack and play em

Shagglepuff (author)2008-07-29

You got ripped off by that store; the R4 costs $35, not $50!!!!!!!!!!

you guys really got ripped of i bought it for 17.00 here its on sale right now. I f you dont want it to come with the sd card its only 7.85 6.95 dollars shipping it comes with usb card reader and Its at

evanwehrer (author)shawntherobot2010-03-22

I bought mine for 9$

shawntherobot (author)evanwehrer2010-03-30

did you get an sd card with it cause the r4 only cost me 7.00 without sd card also i dont use r4 anymore  isold my ds and bought a psp

25 dollars including memory card and everything, freee shipping, and screen protectors.

Arbitror (author)Shagglepuff2009-09-03

You got ripped off! I bought a DSTT off of DealExtreme for $5, and it had free shipping and 1 year of limited warranty, and they would also replace the card if you received a cloned/fake DSTT card!

Noodle93 (author)Arbitror2009-09-04

Hey dude. I'm in Australia, that guy corrected me in USD. Also observe when the post was made. Last year. Yes, technology is getting cheaper, but this is no competition to who can find it the cheapest. This is merely a guide to homebrew.

Noodle93 (author)Shagglepuff2008-07-29

$50 AUD.

uk-memory-cards (author)2010-02-15

Well, best website for memory cards is the following....

Scytheon3 (author)2010-02-09

I've got a wiki about this but it hasn't got any users yet so there is barely any content :( If anyone wants to have a look it's here

About This Instructable




Bio: Ninty fanboy who plays music and likes to eat. Check out [ Skimboarder33's] Instructables
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