- ITC - Just how much work is sometimes required when working on previously upgraded consoles...
Here at the Ivory Tower, I get quite a few requests for console services. It might be an actual repair to get a console working back to full factory function or refurbishment of a working condole to ensure it works for another 40+ years into the future. But by and large most of my requests are to enhance a console in some way. Usually through audio/video upgrades etc. But on more rare occasions, I will be sent a system that has already had work done to it either by the original owner or from another and requested to further enhance.
Because of just how I am... In such requests I usually undo most of what has been done before when it requires it. Sometimes I will use existing wiring and just trim it up or tighten loose AV jacks that have been installed. But in this particular instance, I had a Sears Intellivision console sent that had been prior upgraded with a composite video output and had an earlier RGB board installed into it. It was requested to give the entire system a once over and correct any wrongs found while also upgrading the current RGB with one of the newer offerings.
I'm writing this blog because some might feel that with a console already having been prior worked on before and semi working already, that the amount of work required to upgrade what has been done before might be less work than doing it on a console that hasn't been touched or modified in the past. In most cases... this is far from the truth as you will see with this particular Intellivision.
First let me show you some pics of what it looked like inside when I first opened it up. I do not know exactly who did the original work, but it is pretty representative of the kinds of work I find in these systems sent to me to fixed and upgraded further.
This is a picture of the power supply board when I first opened up the system. Nothing horribly an issue here, but it would seem that whomever was in this before did apply new thermal paste on the VRs, but they used too much as you can even see it on the legs of the VRs below. They also didn't replace out the high wattage 12Ω resistor that is the grey tube thing near the center. You can see on the left hand side it is starting to show signs of breaking down as it is starting to flake. To be fair, it might not have been this way when it was last worked on.
This is the original composite video upgrade that was done in the past. My only issue here is that the wires these older kits from the guy in Turkey used, are a bit thin and break easy. The wiring was also not tided up and left long. Likely so the main board could still be removed in the future but some tidying would have been nice to see.
Here are the original RCA jacks that were installed as part of this kit. Again, the wiring is left long and not secured in any way. Also, the RCAs had worked loose and were free spinning. This results in dimming picture output because the ground connection is off those metal tabs. If they jack is free spinning, that means the ground tab isn't very secure and is barely making contact.
This is what I found when I removed the controller tray. That PCB is the older 'Fred' RGB board. It was not attached at all and was loose inside this section of the Intellivision. First, this area is NOT for installing boards like this. This area is empty because it was thought you would store the power cord inside this section when the console wasn't in use. So if someone had done that here, they very likely would have pulled something loose off this RGB board or started to fray the AC cord. Either way... this is NOT acceptable in any situation and should have been installed elsewhere in the system.
Because of the board laying in here loose, it stands to reason that the RGB output jack is here as well and yes it is. This isn't too much an issue but again not idea. For starters, it is a bad idea to route any AV outputs near power sources and we have that large AC transformer just a few inches away. But mainly bad because as you can see, the wiring is again loose here and would have separated easily over time. The RGB jack was epoxied into place and I do not have any issues with that since that is really the only option you have for these type of panel mount jacks and is something I do myself.
The RGB board gets its signals from the U10 color IC chips, the same way the current RGB boards do. But in this install a separate breakout PCB was used where the original IC was removed and installed into a single wipe socket on the breakout PCB. The PCB was then stuck into the original single wipe socket that the IC chip was originally in. This seems overly complicated since it is just as easy and provides a better connection to just solder to the bottom of the PCB to the pins where this chip is located. My main issue here is the cheap single wipe sockets of the original not being replaced out with higher quality, and the use of single wipe on the PCB breakout board.
Now for what I has been corrected and redone... First is the power supply board was recapped and new high wattage 12Ω resistor installed. I also cleaned up the VRs and redid the thermal compound with higher grade stuff.
The older composite only board was completely removed as composite output was being replaced by the new all in one board combo that I installed. This is Crayon King's older v5 RGB board with one of his separate expansion boards on top. This provides not only RGB that is of much better quality and compatibility to the older board, but provides the best composite I've seen from an Intellivision, plus a really excellent s-video output as well! Here is the new RGB board combo installed on the main PCB with all the new wiring in place.
I installed a new AMP brand dual wipe socket for the U10 color IC chip and attached it back onto the mainboard. As a result, the wiring needed for the new RGB now attaches at the bottom of the PCB to the pins that are connected to the U10 color IC chip. The scorching in the lower right is quite normal and is a result of the stupid amount of heat that the two 3906 transistors in that part of the board experience. It gets hot enough to discolor the PCB. I always replace these transistors as part of any Intellivision model 1 refurb because the originals are ticking on their last lives at this point. Can't do anything about the heat, but at least with new ones, they should last as long as the originals have to this point. The other wires from cartridge port are for a power LED that is being added to the console at the owners request. That is actually the exact same method INTV used when they added the power LEDs to the Super Pro System and INTV III consoles.
The RCA jacks were redone using star lock washers to hold them in place more securely. I also added in an additional Red colored RCA for dual mono output so the owner of this console doesn't have to keep using an audio splitter. This also allows for a future stereo upgrade later should a nice kit come along that provides that. You can also see the new s-video panel jack that has been added since that is available, why not add it? A switch was also installed to allow for palette switching on the new RGB board since it comes with 2 different palette options.
Since the original RGB output jack ended up having bad internal pin connections anyway and was giving video drop outs, I had to crack out the original and replaced it with a new matching type. To help with keeping things more tidy, I used a breakout board for the jack and secured the wiring more.
Here is what the entire rear of the console looks like at this point. Have to keep in mind that the Red RCA, the s-video jack to the right of that, and the RGB on the far right have been replaced. You can see the toggle switch used for the palette change here as well. I have it facing downwards as there is plenty of room for it, it makes it easy to find and flip and doesn't protrude beyond the normal width of the casing. I add colored boots to the switches so they don't seem quite as obvious.
And that is all I have at the moment as I'm still finalizing this console. But everything is tested and as you can see in these pics, I use connectors for all wiring that is attached to the case shell so that it is easier in the future to remove the mainboard for servicing completely from the shells. The point here is that just as much work and maybe more goes into working on a system that has already had work done in the past and it shouldn't be assumed that because some of this stuff was already in place, that it results in less labor being needed to upgrade further.