The Curious Nerd

My experience installing homebrew on the Nintendo 3ds

Let me begin by saying that I have a personal belief that if you own a piece of hardware you should be allowed to run whatever code you want on it since you own the device and are not renting it. So when it came time for me to buy a new handheld console I knew that I would ideally want to have homebrew app access on it. I ended up buy a golden Legend of Zelda triforce n3ds online knowing that since it is a limited run item it would naturally have a lower firmware as a result, which was 9.2 in my case.

Thankfully because it was below version 11 I could gain permanent homebrew access through only software and not via a hard mod. I then began the fairly convoluted process of gaining homebrew through the game Cubic Ninja (I bought a game even though I could just use a browser exploit in case for future use).

I then made my way with the downgrade to 2.1.0 which is a lower firmware version than the new 3ds. This is done to get the otp file to help ensure that you can keep homebrew access. You then go back up in firmware and end up with a finished system. Despite the various stressful moments which were fairly simply solved by going about the process carefully, I carefully successfully gained permanent homebrew.


A photo posted by Alex (@alex_orid) on

Later on I ended up offering it to a very close friend during the conversation we discussed the risks and that I would offer to replace it should it go wrong. Ultimately after discussing the loss of data would be highly unlikely we decided to go for it. I then did extra research to solidify my existing knowledge of how to hardmod a 3ds to gain homebrew. The process went along fine until I tried to flash it. It seemed to successfully work but I could not get the homebrew launcher to start. After struggling with it for a month I gave in and bought my friend a new ds but one with a lower firmware to do a software only process.

This time the process was a complete and quick success thanks the massive simplification effort the fine 3ds hacking community put in. To top it all off one of my friends favorite games saves was able to be transfered as well, despite the layers of encryption on the save files of eshop games. However a day later after getting the 3ds all set I try to get the homebrew launcher working again and to my surprise it worked, which meant I could complete the downgrade.

Though after further analysis it turned out the firmware did not completely downgrade, and that in order to fix I would just have to run it one more time to catch the remaining files it missed. In other words I ended up stopping the process for no reason, other than that I could not figure out why the homebrew launcher was not working. At the end of the day I will have acces to 3 modified 3ds systems. Though the one system with the hard mod I may setup a capture card with it so I can stream with it.

Overall despite the minor stress the project gave me, in my mine it was worth it in the end. It is quite an exhilarating feeling once you unlock a particular device, which ultimately leads you to wanting to unlock other devices. This allows for highly tuned setups can support the users exact needs.