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2600 Was A Little Under The Weather


Atari 5200 Guy

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Hey Atari.IO Members!

 

Well...I have to say that my 2600 adventures so far have been full of not-so-pleasant surprises.  After replacing the four switches with shiny new ones, and replacing the difficulty switch that was broken, the system started showing that something else was wrong.  I believe that StormSurge might want to read this because I discovered something interesting.

 

After a few minutes of game play (Radar Lock, Solaris, Enduro were the games used) the system would create this rather weird color interference and then go black and white.  Absolutely no color and a bit of static in the picture.  Turning the system off and back on almost instantly would work for a while but this issue would come back.  

 

So I started with a few capacitors, the electrolytic type that act like a battery...look like them, too.  Tested the system out.  Now the time before the issue showed itself had shortened.  It didn't take nearly as long as before.  So I give a heavy sigh and do the only thing I know to do.  I googled and downloaded a 2600 Field Service Manual.  Even then my chances of actually finding what was wrong was slim.  

 

post-870-0-36053200-1462271981_thumb.jpg

 

post-870-0-52217400-1462272026_thumb.jpg

 

Using the manual's troubleshooting area it said to replace a bunch of capacitors and gave their numbers.  I did those one at a time and only after testing would I move on to the next capacitor.  I finally took a break from the machine and did something I should have done in the first place.  The service manual has the schematic diagrams on how each component relates to the system.  Knowing that something is keeping the color from working properly I finally decided to check the schematic for the color line leaving the TIA processor.  I had already tried another TIA out of my Junior model and got the same effect so I knew it wasn't the TIA.

 

On the schematic it shows a couple of capacitors placed in-line with the color signal to the RF modulator (the metal box on the lower-right corner of the board if you've ever seen the 2600's insides).  There's a ceramic cap and fuse placed in-line, and another cap acting as an interference blocker, located right above the RF Modulator.  The one cap acting as that blocker was noticed that one of it's pins connects to a ground.  If the cap is failing there could be a short causing the color to fade out.  So I replace this cap with one of a similar rating.  So far it's been 3 hours and the system has not been going back to black and white if I don't use the TV Type switch.

 

I'm not 100% certain yet but I may have finally fixed this system's issues.  So not only does it have shiny new switches it also has a few new caps along with a new voltage regulator.  I changed that, too, just in case the old one was not up to its old job any more.  I kept all the old parts should I need them again because there may have been nothing wrong with them other than that last cap.  I hope this console is fixed now...if not I will try again.

 

For the record...fixing this console has actually been interesting to me so I am having fun fixing it and enjoying solving the problem it is having.  

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So do you think my system may suffer from the same ailment?

 

It's hard to say.  While it was here it was on for a full day, 24 hours, and not once did it do anything like what my system is doing.  I would believe that performing an A/V modification might have fixed this on your system.

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Well crap.  My dreams have been shattered.  Still on the hunt for what is wrong with it.  It's weird and acts like its batteries are dying.  The picture gets wavy and then it goes black and white.  No color.  Processors are running cool to the touch and I've already tried extras I have on hand.  Those are fine.  Looks like I will be looking up and locating a few parts.  At the moment this 2600 is still under the weather.

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I'm still trying to resolve this issue by reading the service manual all the way through.  But I also noticed Atari made a few mistakes in their parts list.  One of the resistors is not correct and if you go by the paper the 2600 will not work at all.  Stick with what is on the board, a 56 Ohm 1/4-watt resistor, R203 is not a 220k Ohm resistor.  

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I know the pain of a 2600 with a mysterious ailment.

My poor Light Sixer has a very serious RF interference issue that I tried for weeks to fix... But sadly, I had to eventually admit defeat.

I've read the VCS is a beast, very hard to break one. But I think a caveat should be that they are finicky as heck. FINICKY. Some more finicky than others.

"I'd buy that for a dollar!" -Smash T.V.

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I figured it out!!  HA!  Take THAT Atari!!  You're not dying on me, yet!

 

post-870-0-10798500-1463605803_thumb.jpg

 

Looking at that motherboard above you can see the Power Jack at the top, dead-center.  See that little ceramic cap just to the left of that jack?  And then if focus our attention to the only capacitor that looks more like a battery on the left you should see a smaller green capacitor under that and positioned to the left side of our "battery" cap.  Yea.  Replacing both of those solved the issue.  My 2600 is now ready to go for a few more years, maybe even decades.  

 

I will admit that all the research I had to do on this 2600 has increased my knowledge, and respect, for the 2600 in any form.  I did not know that they made so many revisions to the motherboards so much that one revision even has a timer chip on it.  I'm just happy to get this one going again and now I can continue to enjoy my library of games.

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I know the pain of a 2600 with a mysterious ailment.

My poor Light Sixer has a very serious RF interference issue that I tried for weeks to fix... But sadly, I had to eventually admit defeat.

I've read the VCS is a beast, very hard to break one. But I think a caveat should be that they are finicky as heck. FINICKY. Some more finicky than others.

 

Have you tried cleaning the switches (the ones used for channel select/difficulty)?  And by that I mean with a spray cleaner that can get inside the switches and remove any build-up?  You might try that and work the switches while they are still "wet".  Sometimes just a faulty switch can cause interference on game machines.  I don't really know but from past experiences too much interference was caused by worn channel select switches.  

 

I will post the service manual I found online here in hopes that it will help others out with their 2600 issues.  This was the most up-to-date revision I could find and covers all known 2600 revisions.  

 

atari_2600_vcs_domestic_field_service_manual.pdf

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I'll try that. I made a post here on the forums way back when I got it in an effort to figure out the problem, but nothing I ever tried worked.

A real shame, too, because I've heard that six-switch models are slightly better quality than the later four-switchers.

"I'd buy that for a dollar!" -Smash T.V.

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