Instruction Manual on how to hack your Nintendo 3DS system

To: Prof Jason Ellis

From: Shemei John

Date: 11/17/2021

Subject: A Nintendo 3DS hack Guide

[1.0 Introduction]

This is a guide to modify your Nintendo 3DS system with custom firmware in order to personalize and customize the device. The perks of having a custom firmware are developer level and administrative level skills and access to a system, giving you more control of the devices potential capabilities, by unrestricting certain features, or accessing them otherwise. The then unrestricted firmware gives you access to custom software, applications and software themes created by others on the internet. This is for creative purposes, since you can create and install your own apps and features, as well. There are several methods to achieve this. I will be using the one most familiar to me.

[1.1 Purpose]

The purpose of this instruction manual is to practice and demonstrate administrative techniques that are familiar with Computer Information Systems. While there are a few methods to achieve this, this manual’s purpose is to also convey and explain what is being done. Popular uses for custom firmware include:

  • Bypassing the region lock, allowing you to play games from other regions
  • Home menu customization, using community-created themes and badges
  • Modification of games (“ROM hacks”) through LayeredFS
  • Save data editing, backup, and restore
  • Emulation of older consoles, as well as native playback of DS and GBA games
  • Installing your physical cartridges for digital use

[1.2 Intended Audience]

This manual is intended for anyone who own a Nintendo 3DS system or any student who declares a Computer Information Systems major, and are looking for practical experience learning about a computer system. It is similar to any computers system.

[1.3 Scope]

The scope of this mission is to download and install custom firmware on a stock or factory Nintendo 3DS system and proceed by performing specific functions to unlock and access restricted functions of the 3DS.

[1.4    Safety and Disclaimers]

Whenever performing any restricted tasks of any kind on any computing device there are always risks involve. It is imperative that you read and follow this manual correctly to minimize the chances of bricking.

“Bricking” is a terminology used by the computer community. Bricking means the device becomes unusable after a software, or more specifically, a firmware update was not successful. For example, the device powers on but the screen is blank and the Operating System doesn’t load. Now whenever you turn on the device the lights are on, but the screen is off forever! The risks of bricking your 3DS device has been reduced over the years significantly but there is still a chance of it happening even when you do everything correctly. This can be because of the custom firmware that was edited by others. Please be aware that you are attempting this at your own risk of bricking or voiding any warranty you may still have on your device by titivating with it. Also please be aware that since this gains restricted access to the system’s capabilities, if you attempt this method to download illegal games you could be banned from it’s network features or punished even worse.

[2.0 List of Materials and Equipment Needed]

  • Computer device [a laptop is fine]
  • Micro SD card reader for your computer device
  • Micro SD card with at least 8G [I recommend more if you’ll need space to install more data, like downloading soft copy games. I have a 32G]
  • Any unmodified Nintendo 3DS, 3DS XL, 3DS LL, 2DS system, with system firmware version of 1.0.0 – 11.3.0, anything higher will need a different method than the one in this instructional manual.
  • A #00 cross-head (+) should do for the Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 3DS XL, and Nintendo 2DS, to open up the back panel to retrieve Micro SD card.

[3.0 Directions]

[3.1] Prep devices. Check and make sure your device is compatible with this method before attempting. Make sure your devices are fully charged while performing tasks.

  • Turn off your Nintendo System device and expose the Micro SD card located inside by removing the back panel screws with the mini cross head screwdriver. The screws are attached to the panel itself so be careful not to break it.
  • Remove the Micro SD card and mount it to your computer
  • Open the root folder of the SD card on your computer. The root folder is the main folder, or first folder of the device.
  • Create a separate folder on your desktop and copy the root folder on your Micro SD card to the newly created folder on your desktop. Backing up your data before performing any kind of work on a computer is a Computer specialists’ bread and butter.
  • You will then need to format your SD card to FAT32/MBR

[3.2] Acquiring boot9strap via soundhax. This is the easiest way to hack the system. Download these files from the internet. You can find them anywhere, just make sure it is the latest version. I use Github since it’s a peer-peer sharing website by users like you and I.

  • Create an additional folder called boot9strap and download and extract files here
    • I suggest you create a folder for each to avoid any confusion of files
  •  Download the latest release of SafeB9SInstaller
  • Download the latest release of boot9strap
  • Download the latest release of Luma3DS
  • Download the latest release of universal-otherapp

[3.3] Open up your folder containing the boot9strap files and located each of the following:

  • Copy the Soundhax .m4a to the root of your SD card
  • Copy otherapp.bin to the root of your SD card
  • Copy boot.firm and boot.3dsx from the Luma3DS .zip to the root of your SD card

[3.4] Create a folder named boot9strap on the root of your SD card. The root of the SD card is the area that the root folder is located in. Basically, the SD card itself.

  • Copy boot9strap.firm and boot9strap.firm.sha from the boot9strap .zip to the /boot9strap/ folder on your SD card
  • Copy SafeB9SInstaller.bin from the SafeB9SInstaller .zip to the root of your SD card

[3.5] Reinsert your Micro SD card into your 3DS system and power it on

[3.6] After you power on your device, several applications should be visible in your library, install the boot9strap by:

  • Launch Nintendo 3DS Sound
  • Locate /SDCARD, then play “<3 nedwill 2016” This can take several tries to be patient. If the program freezes, soft reset but powering off your device using the power button and repeat. If your versions are 9.4.0, 9.5.0 or 9.6.0, and you experience this problem, you will need to sounhax using the homebrew launcher (Separate manual). Once successful, wait for all checks to complete then press the (A) button to reset device.

[3.7] After resetting the device should be in a Luma3DS configuration window. Configure Luma3DS by:

  • Using the (A) and (D-pad) to maneuver the menu, highlight “NAND or user string in System Settings” and press (START) to save and reboot if you receive an error just continue

The system will now boot to the custom firmware (Luma3DS) by default as long as the SD card is inserted. Luma3DS does not look any different from the normal HOME menu. This instruction manual is demonstrate how to apply custom firmware to the 3DS. The 3DS is now unlocked you can install additional applications that vastly simplify the loading system of the firmware. Your Device can now load the custom firmware but only from the SD card. Some additional applications essential to the firmware that will be useful can now be installed and used, such as:

  • FBI (installs CIA formatted games)
  • Themely (installs custom themes)
  • Luma3DS Updater (updates your CFW installation easily)
  • GodMode9 (multipurpose tool which can do NAND and Cartridge functions)

These are all user created programs and files shared by the community. For instance,  FBI can allows the user to install files directly to your SD card simply by scanning a QR code.

4.0    Glossary

Brick – The new or expensive device that no longer works turns into a simple paper weight. The computer community uses this term to describe the result of an action taken to cause a device to stop functioning, not physically, but by loss or corruption of firmware, that causes the device to stop working.

Emulation – A reproduction or function of computing program. Often used in the video game world for old video game consoles that are now considered so small they can be replicated on a computer laptop because they do not take up a lot of space.

Firmware – specialized software created specifically for a particular device. Firmware is similar to software, the only difference is that firmware is physically written into the hardware of the device. For this reason, firmware does not require the use of an operating system to function.

Boot9strap – This program installed on your SD card allows the system to run these applications free without the use of an emulation

NAND – A chip used to store the firmware of the system

Root – The SD card itself and not the folders that is already on it. When you open or mount your SD card, that visible area is the root. The root folder is the folder that is located in this area

Boot – A term that came from the term “bootstrap” or getting your first orders. Today it essentially means to turn on your device but to boot simply means to give your computer instructions to turn it on

Soundhax – This refers to the homebrew application. This exploit gives you entry to the homebrew application that this custom firmware is basically built on without any outside assistance.

7.0    Reference List

Leave a Reply