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Section 8. CD-i Mysteries

8.1 Can I connect a CD-i player to a terminal display or computer?
Yes. Every CD-i player from Philips is equipped with a serial port, either as mini-DIN connector at the back of the player, or it can be made available by connecting a port splitter to the input port of CD-i players with only one input port (like CDI 450, CDI 550 and FW380i). On players with only one port for input devices at the front and one at the back, this port at the back can also be used as a serial port. To connect the player to a computer with a USB port, you need a standard serial (RS232) to USB adapter.

The serial port can be used to hook up all kinds of devices to the CD-i player, like a modem, a touchscreen, a serial printer or a display terminal. You can connect a 'real' hardware display terminal that was common in the past, like a DEC VT220, or you can use terminal emulation on the PC). A detailed description on the layout of the null modem cable that should be used can be found at the CD-i Technical Documentation download section on this website. Set the port speed to 9600 baud, 8 databits, 1 stopbits, no parity and the terminal emulation to standard ANSI.

What can you use this terminal display for? Well, not that much. Some CD-i players (most notably professional players) display a copyright message and ROM version indication on the terminal when the player is switched on, but most don't. Some CD-i titles show information on the terminal during the execution of the program. Mainly the CD-i applications developed by CapDisc (such as CD-i Pinball) are known to display status information, probably used for debugging during the development stage.

You cannot give commands to the CD-i player using the terminal, unless you have access to a command shell prompt (this is covered in full detail in the next question: How can I access a CD-RTOS/OS-9 prompt using a CD-i player?). Otherwise, it's entirely up to the application whether or not it supports the terminal display. Most consumer titles don't.

You can also use this serial connection to transfer files stored in NV-RAM to a PC, or place NV-RAM files from the PC back into a CD-i player. Refer to Can I transfer data from the CD-i to my PC? for more information.

8.1.1 How can I access a CD-RTOS/OS-9 prompt using a CD-i player?
CD-i's operating system is called CD-RTOS. It is based on version 2.4 of Microware's OS-9. Every CD-i player stores the kernel of this operating system in ROM, together with other critical system components such as drivers and the player and CD-Audio shell. Usually this ROM is 512 KB in size (some professional players that contain additional tools have double that size).

To access the root of the operating system you should use a command prompt shell. OS-9 supports such a shell, which is very Unix-like, but since a consumer CD-i player is not intended to be used in conjunction with a display terminal, this shell is not included in the ROM of consumer CD-i players. If you want to access a shell using a consumer player, you need a CD-i disc that includes such a shell which it should execute during the startup of the disc, or after providing such an option in the CD-i application (since you have no other means of starting the shell on a consumer player - some professional CD-i players allow you to open a command interface using a button in the player shell).

One of the well known CD-i discs that contains the command shell and its associated commands is the MediaMogul CD, but if you have any other CD that starts up a shell the following description would be the same. Some other discs containing the command shell, all the OS-9 commands and other command line tools are known to exist. Most of these discs were created by CD-i developers for internal usage, and were rarely distributed outside of the development studio (party because of legal issues).

MediaMogul is an authoring tool that is intended for authoring players, but it can also be started on any other CD-i system. When the disc is started, select 'CD-RTOS' from the main menu. Now you will see a shell on your normal TV-monitor. To start up a shell on the terminal display, type this: ex shell<>>>/t1 (the name /t1 for the terminal descriptor might be different from player to player, use mdir -t=desc to check this out - other common descriptors are /term and /t0). First load some modules (programs) that might be useful from the CD, so you can use them after the CD has been removed. Do this with the load command, for example load dir eject. Now you can kill all other programs that are running on the CD-i player. Check which programs are running and what their process IDs are with procs. Then kill the running apps, using for example kill 3 . Now you can remove the CD with the eject command. Make sure not to press the eject-button on the player, since it will then reset and the running applications (including the shell on the terminal) will be terminated.

The things you can do next depend on the commands you have loaded in memory or which are available in ROM. Use the command mdir -t=prog to see which ones are available. You can startup the player shell, load another CD-i disc and execute it. You still have full control of the system on the terminal. For example, it is possible at all times to check which modules a particular CD-i application is running using procs. Some CD-i discs contain extra applications that cannot be accessed using the regular CD-i program that is executed when the disc is played in a regular way. Refer to What hidden information is available on some CD-i titles?.

If you have access to a professional CD-i player, things are usually less complicated. The CDI 601, CDI 602 and CDI 605 have the command shell built in ROM, and best of all, you can access it in the Settings screen of the player shell. Just connect a terminal display and select the System option in the Settings. A prompt will be displayed on the terminal. To use any commands beside the very few that are internal shell commands, you still need an external source to load them. If the player has a floppy disk drive (CDI 602 and CDI 605) you can load the commands from a floppy disk, otherwise you need a CD with the commands such as MediaMogul. If you have a CDI 180/181/182 system you can load the command prompt from the player shell, but you need a floppy which contains it since it is not available in ROM. It allows you the choice of terminating the player shell or leave it running (the difference between the Chain and Fork options). The professional players CDI 615, CDI 660 and CDI 670 have no command prompt access built in the player shell, the procedure for a consumer player as described above applies.

For an overview of OS-9 command shell commands and their (more well-known) Unix counterparts, please refer to OS-9 and Unix commands on this web site.

8.1.2 What hidden applications are stored in the CD-i player's system ROM?
Most CD-i players have additional programs and other modules stored in ROM that you can check out using a terminal connection. If a Digital Video cartridge is installed, which contains its own ROM, even more modules will be available.

On early CD-i players based on the Mini-MMC board (CDI 910, CDI 205 and CDI 220/00) a service maintenance tool is available in ROM. Just start it by typing sv at the prompt (make sure the player shell and other applications have been terminated, since this program needs the CD-i's video display). A screen will show up with a nice cursor in the form of an open end fork! You can check system functions and audio and video features. This program is probably used in the factory to test a player.

Other things that are known to be available in the ROM of some versions of the Digital Video cartridge are tools to play a Video-CD using a command prompt and some diagnostic tools. Please note that the availability of modules in ROM varies between the various CD-i players and Digital Video cartridges.

8.1.3 What hidden information is available on some CD-i titles?
Some CD-i discs contain extra applications that cannot be accessed using the regular CD-i program that is executed when the disc is played. You can check for other executables by entering the dir -e command at the shell. Every module that has the latest attribute set to x (execute) can be run. Make sure to change the active program directory to the appropriate directory on the CD using chx /cd/xxx, where xxx is the name of the directory. Remember that OS-9 makes a distinction between upper and lower case letters on a CD medium.

For example on the game Escape from Cybercity, there is a version on the disc that allows for unlimited lives.

CD-BGM (CD-Background Music, see What is CD-BGM?) titles that were published by Philips contain ASCII text files that include a lot of additional details of the songs on the disc, such as composer/writer, year of publication, etc. This is useful, since the CD-i application only shows the song's title.

8.1.4 Can I transfer data from the CD-i to my PC?
Yes. You can use the CD-i application CD-i'nterlink (which is available for free download as a CD-i Disc Image at the CD-i Disc Images section on this website) to transfer files that are stored in the player's NV-RAM to a PC. Make sure that your terminal emulator can receive files using the X-Modem or Z-Modem protocol. Just load the CD-i'nterlink disc in the CD-i player and follow the instructions on screen. The CD-i'nterlink application can even display a shell prompt on the terminal display, but this is not the standard OS-9 command prompt shell. Only a very limited set of instructions is provided (use the command cmds to get an overview of the available commands).

Another way of transferring files from a CD-i player’s NV-RAM to a PC is by using the CD-i Link program on a Windows PC. On a Philips player this program uses a download protocol built into the player ROMS, on other players you might need to use the accompanying CD-i Stub disc. Both CD-i Link and the CD-i Stub disc were developed by 'CD-i Fan' based on the download protocol documentation in the CDI 605 player Technical Manual. Apart from reading, inspecting and writing files in NV-RAM, the program allows you to transfer the system ROMs from the CD-i player to the computer for usage with the CD-i emulator, display information about the CD-i player and inspect the contents of a CD-i disc. The tools are available from the PC/Windows Downloads - Communication Tools and CD-i Disc Images pages.

8.2 How can I enable/disable the open/close function of the drawer?
Some CD-i players equiped with the first generation player shell (refer to the CD-i Players comparison overview on this site for more information) can disable the open/close function of the disc tray. When this function is active, the open/close button at the front of the player will not work, and the Open function is not displayed on the player shell's screen. But beware: the open/close function is still working in the player shell when you point the cursor at the usual location of the button! Besides this, the lock mode is not very suitable in critical situations, because the tray can still be "pulled" out of the player. To set or disable the lock function, turn the player on while holding the Stop-button at the front.

On the CDI 660 and CDI 670, a lock mode is available when you hold the Play and Open buttons while turning the player on. The same conditions apply with respect to the functionality of the open/close on-screen button as described above.

8.3 How can I enter the features of the CDI 660/670 key-disc?
The CDI 660 and 670 can be customized in several ways using a dedicated 'Key Disc' that was developed for these players. When you have this Key Disc (which is available for free download as a CD-i Disc Image at the CD-i Disc Images section on this website), use the following PIN-codes to access the player's special features (the codes apply to version 1.3 of the Key Disc):

  • 2410
    Delay the start up time of the player, so that pointing devices that require a longer initialization time (such as touch screens) work correctly.
  • 8252
    Set the player to lock out the playback of CD-Audio discs or just allow for the playback of certain CD-i titles that are mastered in a special way. Refer to the Technical Manual for more information about this feature.
  • 3094
    Disable or enable the start up animation of the player shell, set it to neutral (remove the 'Philips' logo) or enter a customized message that should appear each time the player is turned on.

    8.4 How can I access an X-rated CD-i title?
    Some CD-i titles with X-rated or adult material are protected from unauthorized usage of children by means of an access code. You need to enter this code, which is usually described in the booklet, to access the disc. In some circumstances you can change this code which is then stored in NV-RAM.

    Just in case you hid the booklet of a particular title too well, these are the access codes for some of the adult CD-i titles that have been produced:

  • Loving for a Lifetime (Dutch: Sex, je lust en je leven)
  • Girls - Serge Jacques
  • Strip Poker Live
  • Uncover featuring Tatjana
    1492 - Hereafter you must enter your own code. If you forgot this, just erase the appropriate entry from the Memory or Storage screens in the player shell.
  • Voyeur
    3333 - Hereafter you have the option to enter your own code. If you forgot this, just erase the appropriate entry from the Memory or Storage screens in the player shell.
  • Vegas Girls

    8.5 What hidden features are there in other CD-i titles?
    Some CD-i titles have hidden features build in. Sometimes they were used for testing, for example for a tester not having to play the whole game to reach a certain point. It's beyond the scope of this FAQ to mention all cheats and hidden options in CD-i titles (especially the ones which give you unlimited lives and the like in games), but some of them are useful for demonstrating a certain title.

  • Hotel Mario
    Start a new game and make sure you lose all lives in hotel 1, level 1. Then save as 'B_ ' (bee, underscore, space). When you load this game, you can access all hotels, including the spectacular end-level.
  • Dark Castle
    Start a new games, and perform the following movements with the remote in the 'Great Hall': down, down, down, up, up, up, down, down. Now you can access all levels. The numbers at the bottom of the screen mean: 0-2 'Trouble'-levels, 3-6 'Fireball'-levels, 7-10 'Shield'-levels, 11-13 'Black Knight'-levels.
  • The Seventh Guest
    When you save a game under the name 'badger', you can select the chattering teeth in one of the corners of the screen. Press an action button to see an overview of all scenes of the game to which you can jump instantaneously.
  • Burn:Cycle
    Save a game under the name 'JOHN_WHO'. Immediately after you stored this name, all video sequences from the game will be shown.
  • Lucky Luke
    Pause the game, then press the following keys exactly in this order: up, right, down, left. Now you can select which level to play.
  • Space Ace
    At the continue-screen at the end of all levels, move the cursor in the upper left corner and press action button 2 four times. Then move the cursor in the upper right corner and press button 2 three times. Finally, move the cursor in the upper left corner and press button 1 once. Now you can select a level to play.

  • 8.6 Can I use a standard PC or PS/2 mouse with a CD-i player?
    In general: no. CD-i uses a specific protocol for input devices, and a specific mini-DIN connector, and neither of these are supported by a standard mouse from other platforms.

    However, a homebrew project exists that allows you to modify a serial or PS/2 type mouse to be used with a Philips (based) CD-i player. Refer to the CD-i Homebrew Downloads page for more information and to download the necessary schematics and files.

    8.7 Can I use a SNES/Super Nintendo or PC game controller with a CD-i player?
    In general: no. CD-i uses a specific protocol for input devices, and a specific mini-DIN connector, and neither of these are supported by a standard mouse from other platforms.

    However, homebrew projects exists that allow you to connect a SNES/Super Nintendo controller or a standard PC joystick/gamepad to a Philips (based) CD-i player.

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