Infamously and to its detriment, the Dreamcast could run normal CD-R's without any hardware or software modifications, so we can get custom or pirated software running on the Dreamcast without much work or cost. Either full sized disc burners or portable ones can be used.
You will need to use CD-R discs. There is some debate as to which brands are better or worse quality, but generally the go-to brand for cheap CD-R discs is Verbatim.
You will need to use CD burning software capable of writing .CDI images. The .CDI format is the full rip of the 1GB Dreamcast disc (.GDI) compressed to fit on a 700MB CD for burning. ImgBurn is one such program that is free and can run on any version of Windows, Windows 95 and later.
You will need an add-on to ImgBurn so that it can burn .CDI images, which can be installed with the instructions below.
- Download File:ImgBurn-22.214.171.124-DC.zip.
- Extract the files and run "SetupImgBurn_126.96.36.199.exe".
- Proceed through the install and note the "Destination Folder" that it installs to.
- Copy the three files inside the extracted "ImageBurnDC\Dreamcast CDI Plugin" folder into the ImgBurn install directory that you previously took note of.
- We now have ImgBurn installed and ready to burn .CDI's. Make sure you have a CD burner installed in your PC and a blank disc inserted.
- Open ImgBurn and click "write image file to disc".
- Click the folder icon in the top left and choose your desired .CDI file.
- Here you can set some optional settings.
- In the bottom right of the screen, you can change the burn speed. There is some debate as to whether it matters or not for getting successful burns. The general consensus is that the burn speed should be as slow as possible for older (pre-2010) drives.
- You may want to check the Verify checkbox so that when it finishes burning, it will read the entire CD again to ensure that the data on the disc matches th source file. This may save you some headache if you have a bad burn that is not immediately noticeable.
- Press the burn button in the bottom left (file pointing to disc) to begin the burn. When it finishes, the disc should boot in your Dreamcast.