Sanni’s Open Source Cartridge Reader

For the last few weeks, I’ve been using the Open Source Cartridge Reader, or OSCR, to back up my video game cartridge collection. This allows me to make my own ROM files, as well as back up my save games before replacing cartridge batteries.

It’s been a great experience so far, and I made a video about it over on Veronica Explains:

The cartridge reader is built on the Arduino Mega, and you can assemble one yourself, as well as order it preassembled (or from a kit) from a few different vendors on the internet.

(Note, I bought this myself, it’s not a sponsored post.)

What video game cartridges can OSCR back up?

As of right now, the current revision of the OSCR supports:

  • NES/Famicom
  • SNES/Super Famicom
  • Nintendo 64 (both from cartridge as well as controller pak saves)
  • Sega MegaDrive/Genesis
  • Sega Master System
  • Game Boy/Game Boy Color
  • Game Boy Advance

In addition, several other systems such as Atari and Commodore machines are supported through adapters, although I don’t have any adapters at the moment to try them out.

The OSCR interface- intuitive!

OSCR’s interface is really straightforward, in my opinion. You’ve got slots on the top for all of the systems (except the Game Boy family, which is on the back), and a large LCD screen in front with a combination push-button-slash-knob to work through the interface.

After assembly, you put a formatted SD card in, plug a single cartridge in, turn it on, and just walk through the menu and dump your cartridge data.

Sonic the Hedgehog (for Sega) is in a purple contraption which says "Open Source Cartridge Reader" and my thumb is pressing a large knob/button on it. A screen on the contraption says "MEGA DRIVE Reader" and the option "Read Rom" is selected.

The ROM or save data is stored right on the SD card, which I can then go plug into an emulator, or use later to restore save/SRAM data after battery replacements.

I won’t go too much into specifics for each cartridge type- I already did a lot of this in my video, and frankly I’d rather have you read the docs than read my blog post rehashing those docs. 🙂

Where can you get one?

I purchased my OSCR from, and I have been impressed with the build quality of the device.

In addition to this vendor (who I believe only sells prebuilt units), it looks like you can buy prebuilt units or kits from and It also looks like is selling prebuilt versions- no kits and it appears to me to be based on an older revision with fewer consoles. Could be a good deal if you don’t want all of the consoles of the more expensive version.

Of course, given that it’s an open source hardware project, you can literally build one yourself. I love that a dedicated community has coalesced around this project- the landscape of backing up cartridges and saves has been immeasurably improved thanks to the hard work of Sanni and the community that’s formed around this project.

Thanks for reading!

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