Introduction: How to Run Homebrew on Your Nintendo DS!

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

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?

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..

'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

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!

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