R4 SDHC Install Guide: Step By Step

The R4 Revolution was a popular brand of linker cartridge used to run homebrew software on the Nintendo DS. We say “was”, because the original R4 is no longer in production. A series of other companies have taken the R4 design and produced knockoff clones.

Many of these clones are sold with packaging that closely resembles that of the original, authentic R4. Many users have reported huge problems with the R4 SDHC clones, and that is why we no longer advise that people buy these cards in our R4 review.

Just about every single new R4 card being sold since 2008 is a clone card, but you can also tell if you have one by looking on the front of the package it came in. If the box has the SD HC logo anywhere, it is a clone.

The original R4 cards never supported the micro SD HC (high-capacity) format. If you have purchased an R4 clone and you can’t get it to work, the following install guide may be helpful.

Problem: Nintendo DS Stuck on Black Loading Screen

The biggest problem that people face with the R4 SDCH clones is that the DS fails to load to the R4 menu on bootup. Instead, users are stuck on a black screen that says “Loading”. Here is how to get your R4 SDCH clone card to work

Step 1: Download the appropriate firmware for your card. Do NOT download the official firmware from r4ds.cn. Your card is not an official card and that firmware will not work. There are lots of different clone cards out there, so you need to find out which one you have by looking at the front of the box.

There should be a little white text box near the bottom of the front of the box with a web address that is also the unofficial name of your particular clone (see picture below). Once you have a good idea of what card you’ve got, got to the following website and download the newest firmware for your card: Linfox Domain

Step 2: Format your micro SD card properly. You have to format your micro SD card, and this can be tricky on windows machines. The best bet is to download the Panasonic Micro SD format utility located here. Put your card in the USB attachment and fully format it.

Step 3: Put the appropriate files on your card. Extract the .rar file you downloaded with your clone card firmware. Inside you should find several folders as well as moonshell.nds file. Copy all of these to the ROOT of your Micro SD card. You can also create a new folder called “games” and copy over any game files you may have.

Step 4: Try the micro SD in the R4 clone card and see if it works. Hopefully if you found the right firmware, it should get past the black loading screen. If it doesn’t work, you can try other firmwares for the same card, or double-check to find out which clone card you have.

Photo of an R4 SDCH clone card. Notice the SD HC logo and alternative website address on the front of the packaging.

On top of all the problems that are firmware related, some people have reported problems with the build quality of the R4 SDCH cards. For example, many people have found that inserting a thin piece of cardboard above the Micro SD card to push the pins down onto the connectors inside the unit sometimes works. If you are absolutely certain that you have the correct firmware for your card, this is something to try.

We wish you luck getting your R4 SDHC card to work. Just a word of advice however. We ordered an R4 clone card and we were unable to get ours to function, even using all of the pointers contained here. We recommend that people steer clear of these cards, and go for something more user friendly like the Cyclo DS.