**Intense Tech with Defense Mech -- So You Want a Cartridge Family?** - Posted May 21st, 2020 by [DEFENSE MECHANISM](https://defensemech.com) *Note: [traducción al Español por Pixel Guy encontrado aquí.](../es/16-asi-que-quieres-hablar-de-cartuchos.md.html)* Welcome back to Intense Tech! Although I usually discuss techniques within LSDj, I get a lot of questions about what kind of cartridges I recommend. The Game Boy flash cartridge market tends to change every few years, so I hope to add more information as it becomes relevant. Today, I'm going to cover 3 different kinds of flash cartridges and how to use them if you want to write music in LSDj on Game Boy hardware (my preferred working method). Let's dive in! ------------------------------------------------------------------------ !!! WARNING **Update for 2024** Unfortunately, I can no longer recommend the EZ Flash Jr. due to numerous quality issues that prevent it from being a good choice for LSDJ. I still recommend insideGadgets cartridges, as well as Everdrive cartridges from krikzz, as the best choices for LSDJ at this time. First, A Warning ---------------- You might be tempted to search sites like eBay for "LSDJ Cartridge", but buyer beware! There is no such thing as an "official LSDJ cartridge", and any cartridges labeled this way are likely to be scams. The LSDJ software license specifically disallows the sale of LSDJ cartridges, so if you see an item labeled "LSDJ Cartridge for Nintendo Game Boy" or something similar, such a cartridge violates the LSDJ software license and is an unofficial bootleg. Additionally, these cartridges are usually very low quality. They don't feature the ability to customize or upgrade the LSDJ rom or the ability to back up your save files. You should only purchase cartridges from a trusted source. Below, I'll provide good examples of cartridges that are robust and reliable. SD-card-based flash cartridges ------------------------------ For SD-card-based flash cartridges, the LSDj rom and save are stored on a microSD card that loads into the flash cartridge itself. Examples of these cartridges, which have gained popularity over the last several years, are the Krikzz Everdrive GB (X3/X5/X7), ~~the BennVenn El Cheapo SD, and the EZ Flash Junior.~~ As these carts are no longer available, I recommend the Everdrive X5 which has the best balance of compatibility, reliability, and price. The [Everdrive GB X5](https://krikzz.com/store/home/47-everdrive-gb.html) is a perfectly reasonable and functional choice of cartridge as it supports the necessary 128kb SRAM that is required for LSDj to function. ~~A much cheaper alternative is the EZ Flash Jr, which can be purchased for around $50 on Amazon](https://www.amazon.com/s?k=ez+flash+jr) as well as Game Boy modding shops (*Note: prices may have risen since this article's publication depending on availability so it may be worthwhile to check different vendor websites*).~~ ~~If you plan to use an EZ Flash Jr, you will need to download the firmware from the website [ezflash.cn](https://ezflash.cn) and load the "[ezgb.dat](https://penzeys.com)" file onto the root folder of the microSD card. You can also copy the LSDj rom onto the root of the microSD card. When you boot the cartridge up, a menu appears with the options to select the LSDj rom. After loading the save file into memory, LSDj will start (save files go into the "SAVER" folder on the microSD card).~~ ~~When you're done working in LSDj and turn the Game Boy off, a battery keeps the save in memory. The next time you turn on the cartridge, the menu will prompt you to back up your save onto the microSD card. If you say no, all your work will be lost. You can load as many LSDj roms and saves onto the cartridge as you can fit onto the microSD card. As long as your save file shares the same filename as the corresponding LSDj rom, it will be loaded with the respective rom of your choosing. If there is no save file found, a new one will be created.~~ ~~The EZ Flash Jr. also has a soft reset button that you can use to take you back to the main menu, removing the need to turn the Game Boy off and on again. The button is slightly hidden within the cartridge: pressing the middle of the cartridge inwards will trigger it. This might be a word of warning to those using Game Boy Color or SP, as setting it down on a table and pushing on it could activate the reset button.~~ USB-based flash cartridges -------------------------- *Important update!* The lovely folks at insideGadgets have developed a new USB-based flash cartridge, the [LinkNLoad32!](https://shop.insidegadgets.com/product/gameboy-linknload32-flash-cart-4mb-128kb-fram-with-usb/). Using the [GBxCart flasher software](https://www.gbxcart.com/), you are able to update and back up this cartridge with ease. I can vouch for the quality of insideGadgets cartridges and would recommend this cart if you are interested in a dedicated LSDJ flash cartridge. Possibly the most popular cartridge format are those with their own mini- or micro-USB port. The EMS 64M Smart Card and the Drag'n'Derp are arguably the two most popular cartridges of this kind. Sadly, Drag'n'Derps have not been produced for a number of years and, even more sadlier, production on EMS 64M cartridges has recently halted. While stock is still available, you may have luck getting them from either [retromodding.com](http://retromodding.com) or [store.kitsch-bent.com](http://store.kitsch-bent.com) (although prices are likely to rise as the supply dwindles). Despite their scarcity, I've included the EMS 64M cartridges in this post because they are extremely popular, and also because a very handy software called [ems-qart](https://github.com/rbino/ems-qart) makes this cart much easier to use on modern operating systems ( the software is written in Java and supports Windows, Mac, and Linux). Once you download the software, follow the instructions in the README to install the necessary USB drivers. At that point, you can use the software to manage any number of roms and save files (both reading and writing)*.* If you're comfortable at the command-line, [command-line tools are available](https://github.com/Drenn1/ems-flasher) as well that can make flashing and backup as simple as typing a command, giving more bang for the buck for scripting-savvy users. Flasher-based flash cartridges ------------------------------ When Game Boy flash cartridges started to become widely available to the public, dedicated flashers were often needed and could be finicky to use. Although many people find the ease of use of SD-card-based and USB-based cartridges to be superior, I find it important that this category isn't overlooked. The folks over at [insidegadgets.com](http://insidegadgets.com/) have been making some rock-solid cartridges and flashers for very reasonable prices. A 1MB cartridge with 128kb SRAM is completely sufficient to run LSDj, and [this cartridge runs only $29](https://shop.insidegadgets.com/product/gameboy-1mb-128kb-sram-flash-cart-ultra-low-power-great-for-lsdj/). The shop will flash the LSDj rom of your choice onto the cartridge before it ships, which means you can get straight to composing in LSDj on your Game Boy as soon as you get it. However, if you want to be able to upgrade LSDj, backup your save file, change the samples on your LSDj rom, or copy a new save onto the cartridge, you'll need the [GBxCart-mini flasher](https://shop.insidegadgets.com/product/gbxcart-rw/) in addition to the cartridge itself. Together, they cost $50, which is less than the EZ Flash Jr. (not including the cost of a microSD card). But if you're like me and you want to have two different cartridges (or even three or four), the cost will be cheaper for each additional cartridge than it would be to buy the same number of EZ Flash Jr's and microSD cards. The GBxCart-mini flasher itself is a tiny PCB with a micro-USB port and a cartridge slot. You have the choice of whether you want to use a command-line interface or a graphical interface to manage your roms and save files. All the programs are downloadable from [insidegadgets.com](http://insidegadgets.com), and all the source code is open and freely available. I've modified the code for my own needs so all I have to do is run one simple command which backs up my save file to a new file with a timestamp. My version even lets me drag a save or rom onto a command and flash it onto the cartridge. This won't be the most convenient option for everyone, and sometimes getting the computer to detect the cartridge takes some adjusting, but it's otherwise every bit as simple as using an EMS cartridge. I should also note: the [4MB ROM 128kb FRAM cartridge](https://shop.insidegadgets.com/product/gameboy-4mb-128kb-fram-flash-cart-low-power/) uses battery-less memory, meaning you will never have to worry about a lost save due to a dead cartridge battery. That's pretty great! (Assuming the cart is still available...) ------------------------------------------ I hope you enjoyed this tour through the world of Gameboy cartridges! Thanks to all my patrons for their support. If you'd like to offer support, please consider [joining me on Patreon](https://patreon.com/defensem3ch). It means a lot and it helps me continue to make and host this content, pay for translations, and get your input on what kinds of articles to write next!


Thanks again for reading, and until next time, this is [DEFENSE MECHANISM](https://defensemech.com), signing off! ----------------------------------------- Previous: [ <-- Let's Mix it Up and Down ](15-lets-mix-it-up-and-down.md.html) Next: [ Noise channel --> ](17-the-joys-of-noise.md.html) -----------------------------------------