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Atari Heavy Sixer Ribbon Problem


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#1 Atarileaf

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Posted 13 January 2018 - 07:19 PM

I was given this heavy sixer which I was told was dead and noticed the ribbon cable is in very poor condition. I get a black screen when it's powered on and am thinking there's a good chance it's this ribbon cable. It seems to be separating which would lead me to believe there's poor or no communication between the two boards. Any advice on this and possible replacements?

 

 

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#2 dgrubb

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Posted 13 January 2018 - 09:58 PM

I was given this heavy sixer which I was told was dead and noticed the ribbon cable is in very poor condition. I get a black screen when it's powered on and am thinking there's a good chance it's this ribbon cable. It seems to be separating which would lead me to believe there's poor or no communication between the two boards. Any advice on this and possible replacements?

 

You can verify the ribbon cable with the continuity check setting on a multimeter and test each line in turn while giving the cable a bit of a wiggle. While you're at it you should then test continuity between power and ground rails, to ensure there are no shorts present, and then power it on and check your voltages on power rails and on pin at various chips.


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#3 Atarileaf

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Posted 13 January 2018 - 10:26 PM

Thanks for the reply. I'll check continuity on these tomorrow. In the event it's toast, is something like this repairable and if not, are there replacements for these without cannibalizing another machine? This is the first one I've seen with a mylar style ribbon, my other heavy/light sixers use a regular wire cable. These mylar ribbons seem problematic at best and a generally poor design.


Edited by Atarileaf, 13 January 2018 - 10:28 PM.

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#4 RickR

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Posted 13 January 2018 - 11:02 PM

If it is the ribbon, replacing it with wires is going to be your best bet.  You should be able to find connectors for the end of each wire that fit into the slot for each wire. 

But my guess is that it isn't the ribbon...if it was, how would the unit even turn on?



#5 Atarileaf

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Posted 14 January 2018 - 06:49 AM

good point. I thought the ribbon would be an issue since it's separating in two places.



#6 Atarileaf

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Posted 14 January 2018 - 11:56 AM

So I seem to be getting continuity with all the pins where the ribbon cable is soldered in place to the various spots on the board each pin leads to and they all seem to check out. I'm getting the beeps. So it's possible the ribbon cable itself is fine and the plastic on both sides is simply separating?

 

As for power to ground rails, I'm not sure what that means. The power jack where the psu plugs into? What are the ground rails. Sorry I'm still fairly new to this and I'm not overly familiar with the terminology. The power jack itself seems to get continuity to those same points on the board to that ribbon cable so I think it's alright.

 

BTW I checked the voltage regulator again with the machine powered on and I'm getting 8.5v in and 6.3 out and the heat shield around it is pretty hot to the touch. That sounds out of spec that should be replaced?


Edited by Atarileaf, 14 January 2018 - 12:05 PM.

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#7 dgrubb

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Posted 14 January 2018 - 01:01 PM

So I seem to be getting continuity with all the pins where the ribbon cable is soldered in place to the various spots on the board each pin leads to and they all seem to check out. I'm getting the beeps. So it's possible the ribbon cable itself is fine and the plastic on both sides is simply separating?

 

Yeah, that's what it's sounding like. Although if you're feeling brave it may not be a bad idea to follow up on RiskR's suggestion to swap it out for something a little more durable.

 

As for power to ground rails, I'm not sure what that means. The power jack where the psu plugs into? What are the ground rails. Sorry I'm still fairly new to this and I'm not overly familiar with the terminology. The power jack itself seems to get continuity to those same points on the board to that ribbon cable so I think it's alright.

 

No worries. :) Ground on the Stella just means the 0v pin on the regulator. Ordinarily, you shouldn't see any continuity between the 5v and GND, unless ...

 

 

BTW I checked the voltage regulator again with the machine powered on and I'm getting 8.5v in and 6.3 out and the heat shield around it is pretty hot to the touch. That sounds out of spec that should be replaced?

 

... there's some kind of short between them? It may not be the regulator is failing, but a failing capacitor on the board somewhere which is causing a mild short. That's pretty typical in older electronics and would explain the regulator's behaviour. Whatever the cause, you're right, those are very suspect readings!



#8 RickR

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Posted 14 January 2018 - 01:10 PM

That voltage regulator is the most common failure point that I've found.  It should be putting out 5V.  The good news is that it's a cheap part and pretty easy to replace. 



#9 Atarileaf

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Posted 14 January 2018 - 01:11 PM

Thanks for the help I really appreciate it :)

 

So I'll try to find a suspect capacitor. Should I just follow the board traces between the power jack and the regulator and see if I find any suspect readings on the various caps along that path?

 

BTW I do have an old intellivision parts machine with a voltage regulator that's giving me 12.5v in and 5.1 out. It's a standard 7805. If I don't find any bad caps I suppose I could swap out the regulator on the atari for this one? I may also order a dozen or so from console5. That's a great site with very helpful people.

 

Also would a bad voltage regulator cause black screen issues?


Edited by Atarileaf, 14 January 2018 - 01:12 PM.


#10 RickR

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Posted 14 January 2018 - 01:17 PM

You could swap it out.  But I'd buy a new one.  They are super cheap.  Look on ebay.

 

It would cause black screen issues.  Unfortunately, the higher voltage *may" have taken a chip or two out with it.  But try changing the regulator out and see if it works.  In many cases, it does. 



#11 Atarileaf

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Posted 14 January 2018 - 05:20 PM

You could swap it out.  But I'd buy a new one.  They are super cheap.  Look on ebay.

 

It would cause black screen issues.  Unfortunately, the higher voltage *may" have taken a chip or two out with it.  But try changing the regulator out and see if it works.  In many cases, it does. 

 

Will do thanks Rick.  I'll put that order in at console 5. Yes my concern is that some chips went too but fingers crossed. I'll post again when the voltage regulators arrive and I swap them out. Maybe I'll grab a refresh kit while I'm at it.


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#12 CrossBow

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Posted 16 January 2018 - 02:29 PM

Will do thanks Rick.  I'll put that order in at console 5. Yes my concern is that some chips went too but fingers crossed. I'll post again when the voltage regulators arrive and I swap them out. Maybe I'll grab a refresh kit while I'm at it.

I would just grab the refresh kit and replace everything from the kit. Comes with a new 7805 of higher quality over the original, new caps, and a new switchcraft powerjack if I remember correctly. Those refresh kits are great and I've used them on just about all of my 2600s I have on hand and always on ones that I give away to friends and relatives or sell. For $10 it is cheap insurance in a plastic baggie!


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#13 Atarileaf

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Posted 16 January 2018 - 06:27 PM

I did actually. I went on a bit of a shopping spree - got a 2600 refresh kit, a 7800 refresh kit, 10 7805 voltage regulators, a couple of ferrite chokes, a couple tubes of thermal paste, and some 7800 console buttons. I like the idea of keeping a lot of the common parts around for various projects. I'm thinking of placing an order with Best as well for a couple each of the TIA, Riot and 6507. I wonder if he sells the appropriate sockets as well. I may need to replace the actual sockets on this machine too.



#14 CrossBow

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Posted 18 January 2018 - 02:12 AM

I actually purchase my sockets locally here in town. Only things I really get from Best is just 5200 parts...lol. The rest I find online from other vendors or usually console5.


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#15 Atarileaf

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Posted 05 February 2018 - 07:43 AM

I have a question about sockets. In looking online to purchase some, there seems to be different widths. I'm pretty sure I need the wider ones but some list things about having round pins as opposed to not. The only thing I know for sure is that I need 40 pin and 24 pin sockets for the 2600. Other than that I need a little guidance. For instance this listing on amazon canada

 

https://www.amazon.c... pin ic sockets

 

shows round pins but this listing for 24 pin sockets doesn't

 

https://www.amazon.c... pin ic sockets

 

A close up of both shows small round bases on each pin underneath the 40 pin listing and the top where you insert the chip is round but the 24 pin listing shows the pin without this little base and a different top where you insert the chip. The second one looks more like the ones I've seen in atari's before. Is one better than the other or does it even matter?

 

Thanks


Edited by Atarileaf, 05 February 2018 - 07:45 AM.

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#16 CrossBow

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Posted 05 February 2018 - 02:28 PM

I have a question about sockets. In looking online to purchase some, there seems to be different widths. I'm pretty sure I need the wider ones but some list things about having round pins as opposed to not. The only thing I know for sure is that I need 40 pin and 24 pin sockets for the 2600. Other than that I need a little guidance. For instance this listing on amazon canada

 

https://www.amazon.c... pin ic sockets

 

shows round pins but this listing for 24 pin sockets doesn't

 

https://www.amazon.c... pin ic sockets

 

A close up of both shows small round bases on each pin underneath the 40 pin listing and the top where you insert the chip is round but the 24 pin listing shows the pin without this little base and a different top where you insert the chip. The second one looks more like the ones I've seen in atari's before. Is one better than the other or does it even matter?

 

Thanks

 

I actually answered this just now in the Hardware forum at AA. But the top ones are called machine pin type sockets are are best used with IC or devices that have round peg like legs on them. While could use standard thin IC legs in the round sockets, they only make contact with just the thin edge of the legs of the IC doing so. Much better to go with the bottom ones you listed. Those are called dual wipe sockets and are designed for the standard thin legs that most ICs use. They have much better surface contact on both sides of the legs inside and out.


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#17 Atarileaf

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Posted 05 February 2018 - 07:40 PM

I actually answered this just now in the Hardware forum at AA. But the top ones are called machine pin type sockets are are best used with IC or devices that have round peg like legs on them. While could use standard thin IC legs in the round sockets, they only make contact with just the thin edge of the legs of the IC doing so. Much better to go with the bottom ones you listed. Those are called dual wipe sockets and are designed for the standard thin legs that most ICs use. They have much better surface contact on both sides of the legs inside and out.

 

Thanks very much. That makes sense I believe the ones in a 2600 are also the ones in the second link. I'll look for those thanks :)


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#18 Atarileaf

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 05:57 PM

Cross posted from Atariage for any hardware experts here

 

So I'm worried I destroyed this board. I have to desolder the sockets for all 3 of the main IC's since the sockets broke off trying to remove the chips with a chip puller. I use my iron and desoldering braid but I may have damaged the board in the process. I still can't get some of the legs out even though the solder is gone from each hole. I hope I didn't but fear I did. Break it to me gently.

 

My concern with the third pic is I stupidly used a screwdriver to pry up the chip when I originally couldn't find my chip puller and scratched some traces

 

 

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Edited by Atarileaf, 10 February 2018 - 06:11 PM.


#19 dgrubb

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 11:36 AM

Cross posted from Atariage for any hardware experts here

 

So I'm worried I destroyed this board. I have to desolder the sockets for all 3 of the main IC's since the sockets broke off trying to remove the chips with a chip puller. I use my iron and desoldering braid but I may have damaged the board in the process. I still can't get some of the legs out even though the solder is gone from each hole. I hope I didn't but fear I did. Break it to me gently.

 

My concern with the third pic is I stupidly used a screwdriver to pry up the chip when I originally couldn't find my chip puller and scratched some traces

 

Ouch, the poor board! ;) Don't worry though, nothing a little TLC won't take care of.

 

A few comments:

 

1) Despite the scratches on the soldermask I think the traces beneath are still intact, although it's hard to tell with some of the light glare. Do a continuity test to make sure. If you're feeling a bit brave there are compounds you can get for filling in soldermask pretty cheaply.

 

2) Do you have a temperature control on your soldering iron? A lot of the grunginess looks like burning from excess heat, possibly from the iron being applied for too long. Aside from the aesthetics this can be a bit of a concern because too much heat will remove the solder pads from the board, which is a very tricky thing to repair. Make sure you're using a solder tip which you're comfortable controlling the amount of heat transfer so you're not having to apply it for too long. On these older boards the solder alloy has a lower melting point than modern solder (more lead ;) ) so a soft touch is all you need.

 

3) When you remount the chips use a socket mount instead. That way if you do make a mistake you you're only risking a cheap 50c part and make repairs down the line easier when you need to swap ICs in and out.

 

4) You should probably clean those pads with a touch of alcohol, to get some of the burn smear off, and then re-tin each pad (make sure you're using flux!) before attempting to solder onto them again. Also, a touch of flux on your solder braid will work wonders too.

 

5) Regarding the holes with legs still stuck: there's still solder inside the hole which is just enough to keep it stuck. Don't force it! Turn the board on its side, apply heat gently from one side and just push through something like a resistor leg from the other side to eject the fragment.

 

6) As I think about the last point it also occurs that you may not have good lighting and magnification available? Both will save you a lot of hassle as you'll see things you wouldn't otherwise.


Edited by dgrubb, 12 February 2018 - 11:48 AM.

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#20 CrossBow

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 01:59 PM

What dgrubb said. Also if you aren't already, you need to actually add a bit of fresh solder to a joint before trying to remove it. This helps breakdown the corrosion on the old solder that can make it holds it shape a bit more than you want and not make it wet properly for removal. Also you will need to get a basic meter and check the continuity between those pins and where the traces look to go on the next nearest component. If any are broken, you can use speaker wire a.k.a. kynar wire to solder to the pad where the trace is suppose to go to and to the leg of the component that it came from. I've had to do this a few times when corrosion from old batteries or when a solder pad has come loose on me while working on stuff. 

 

I will say that a decent de-soldering station is a must for anyone that will be doing lots of this kind of work. I didn't use one of years and when I finally got one for father's day several years back, well...it has made a HUGE world of difference!


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