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Here’s how-to run emulators, games and homebrew applications on your USA PlayStation Portable PSP. I cooked up a quick how-to, pictures, screenshots as well as video to watch on how to do all this. This is really a big deal, we’re all going to be able to play thousands of games, run hundreds of cool applications all for free and all from the community of tinkerers out there looking to do more with their PSP and here’s how….Editors note: this has been republished as a special MAKE Extra How-To

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For the multimedia folks- here’s a video (QuickTime MOV) of how to do all this.

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And of course, here’s a PSP version (MP4) to download and watch on your PSP.

Now on to the how-to, text and images.
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You’ll need 2 memory stick for this how-to and a PSP with USA firmware 1.50 (Settings > System Settings System Information). A little tip, never update any device ever again, really. If you just got a Sony PSP or never updated, you’re set. I won’t buy a UMD game until there’s a 1.51, 1.52 patch to run homebrew games. If Sony let people develop applications from the start there wouldn’t be the army of tinkerers figuring all this out, but hey- it’s a lot of fun and now we have homebrew games.
First thing you’ll need to do is download the wonderful tool MSwapTool from here. There’s a readme/PDF included, or keep reading on how to get homebrew applications on the PSP. The application is Spanish, but it doesn’t matter- it’s really simple.

Now, download a PSP game, I downloaded PSP chess from here- it’s a neat app, now my wife and I can play chess against each other. What else is there out there? tons- Gameboy, MAM, MSX, Neo Geo, NES, PC Engine, Sega, SNES and Wonderswan emulators. That’s right, you can now play thousands of games on your PSP (there are tons of freeware / homebrew ROMs). Homebrew games- Doom, PSP chess, Pong, Pocothin, Higher or lower, HTML game, PSP GO, Maze, Arkanoid and Puyo. The emulators can run at a full 333Mhz, just be careful- it could damage your PSP.

If you want to make your own, here’s what Clayton from PSPHacker.com told me (this was before PSP Launcher was released, but is likely still applicable). there are programs like Yamasan’s ELF to PBP converter which convert ELF files to PSP readable PBP files. You then copy the file to PSP/GAME on your memory stick. Currently for 1.0 PSPs, this is one of the ways homebrew programs can be created.”

Back to the installing of the homebrew.
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Once you unzip the file and install, run MSwapTool (Start > Program Files > MSwapTool). Click the first dotted box and choose a EBOOT.PBP file to “convert”. The form area is called “Fichero PBP”.

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Now, click “Directorio” this is the directory of the output of the MSwapTool.

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Flicke Generar ficheros (Generate files). It will give you a message in Spanish once it is complete.

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Outputted files

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Once converted you’ll need to put the files on 2 memory sticks. Make a new folder called PSP-DEV on the memory stick (PSP > GAME > PSP-DEV). Make sure you keep track of which one is #1 and #2.

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Pop the #1 memory stick go games > memory stick and you should now see a lovely new icon PSP Launcher (and the name of the game/app you made).

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Get the 2nd stick ready, then select PSP Launcher, quickly swap out memory stick #1 with memory stick #2 and viola! You’re now running an application someone made. Most of the applications and games come with source code, so expect some amazing new things to do with your PSP. Just don’t update the PSP, ever, ever again.

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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