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Project: Six switch 2600 composite mod


RickR
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I had a status update a few weeks ago about a broken six switch 2600 that was given to me by a friend.  I cleaned it up, replaced a joystick port and a difficulty switch and got it back up and running.  I mentioned that the next step would be a composite mod.  Well, tonight I had some spare time and got that DONE!  I'm sure many of you have done the mod before, so hopefully this isn't too boring.  It's not too difficult as long as you're comfortable de-soldering and soldering.  It took me about 90 minutes. 

Here are some pics I'd like to share:

The first step was to drill holes in the case for the composite plugs.  The only thing I want to mention here is to use a nice high quality drill and sharp bits.  Use a piece of tape to mark and align your spots, then drill small pilot holes, go to a slightly larger size, and then finally, hit it with the 1/4" bit.  Don't push!  Let the drill and bit do the work.  Remember, this is 40 year old plastic!  It can be very brittle.

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Edited by RickR
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I should mention at this point that I buy the composite board on eBay.  I know there are a lot of choices, and I'm sure there are better ones than what I picked.  However, this one is simple and works fine for me, and it comes pre-assembled (a huge time saver) and has all the parts you need.  Also, you'll find many step-by-step guides on-line.  Pick one that makes sense to you, has nice clear pictures, and GO FOR IT. 

My next step was to remove 3 components and the RF module.

Before the mod:

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The parts I removed:

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The cleared RF box area (where most of your wiring will go)

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And now, solder up 7 wires (4 on the board, 3 on the composite plugs).  Take your time.  I'm no expert, that's for sure.  But what I try to do is keep things nice and clean, with strong solder joints.  Getting the iron temp just right is what you need.  My work doesn't look great, but I think it's fine. 

Poke those wires through the front, and solder on the back. 

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Loop the plug wires through the holes first, then solder carefully. 

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Edited by RickR
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2 hours ago, RickR said:

I had a status update a few weeks ago about a broken six switch 2600 that was given to me by a friend.  I cleaned it up, replaced a joystick port and a difficulty switch and got it back up and running.  I mentioned that the next step would be a composite mod.  Well, tonight I had some spare time and got that DONE!  I'm sure many of you have done the mod before, so hopefully this isn't too boring.  It's not too difficult as long as you're comfortable de-soldering and soldering.  It took me about 90 minutes. 

I remember your status update about this and commenting on it, and have been hoping to see much more on this project. I think this is one of the coolest threads of the year. Thank you for sharing this here @RickR and for taking the time to document your project, I love seeing builds like this. So great to see this VCS ready to play for another 40 years.

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56 minutes ago, Justin said:

Rick bustin out that DeWalt is the greatest thing :wreck-it-ralph: Notice how THICK that plastic is too. You never see things built like that anymore. Even 2600 Juniors and 7800 are paper thin compared to that.

That drill is a beast!  It just plain works the best every time.  Coming soon will be a post full of my favorite project tools. 

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6 minutes ago, kamakazi20012 said:

7800 shells are brittle.

In my experience 2600 Jr. and 7800 shells are more brittle the later the manufacture date because they made them cheaper and cheaper and cheaper. Earlier 7800 shells are less brittle, particularly the 1984 builds.

Nothing is a big hunk of chunky plastic tank like that 2600 base though.

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5 hours ago, kamakazi20012 said:

The 5200 plastic isn't too bad.  Jaguars aren't too bad either.  I agree...the original 2600 models are extra thick.  Probably to add some weight to what would otherwise be a light console.  Not counting the heavy sixer.

Absolutely agree. The 5200 is pretty solid. Weakest point may be the little prongs that connect the clear plexiglass nose, flip-up lid, and the o-ring on the bottom for wrapping your RF cable around.

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3 hours ago, kamakazi20012 said:

Not sure which 5200 has the o-ring.  I know the 2-port has a different cable wrap than the 4-port.  I can't dog it.  I haven't had issues with mine.

It's been a while since I've held a "normal" 5200. It would've been the 4-port that has the cable wrap that is a different piece of plastic plugged onto the bottom. If you give it a tug it feels like it will snap and break off.

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On 6/9/2020 at 1:09 AM, Justin said:

It's been a while since I've held a "normal" 5200. It would've been the 4-port that has the cable wrap that is a different piece of plastic plugged onto the bottom. If you give it a tug it feels like it will snap and break off.

Those 4-port RF cable wrap guides aren't coming off easily. I've done it before when I received a 4-port missing one and wanted to swap over another to it. It took some doing to get that plastic popped off there. Now, having said that.. I've had more 5200s arrive to me for service work that ended up damaged in shipping than any other console. I've had 2 arrive that flat out came to me with their bottom shells shattered in multiple pieces or with the boss posts broken off internally.

The 7800 shells are brittle yes, but as I'm sure most of you know, I've upgraded a LOT of 7800s over the past 3 years and the success to drilling into that plastic is similar to what @RickR did with his 2600. You apply tape (i use blue painters tape) to the area you need to drill into. This serves 3 purposes honestly:

- it provides a surface you can write on to mark where you need to drill that can be removed easily

- it helps to keep the drill aligned since the tape isn't such a smooth slick surface like the plastic itself would be

- it also helps to add some structure to the plastic as you drill since the stresses of the drill cutting into it are spread out more and the tape applied to the surface helps with this as well.

Having said that, I use a 1/16 bit to drill in my pilot holes. I then have a set of forstner bits of the correct size to finish and make the actual holes in the plastic. Forstner bits are designed more for use with wood but soft plastic is fine. A forstner bit works by providing a larger surface area that is being drilled and again doesn't press so hard in one spot to do the task as a normal bit would. It takes a little longer using a forstner bit because of the way it cuts and they can move on you a bit if you aren't careful while drilling. They are designed for use in drill presses but I've not had any issues using a cordless hand drill with my work. Standard RCA jacks require a 1/4 inch bit and S-video will depend on which jacks you go with. If you use the gold plated ones that stick out from the back similar to an RCA jack, then you only need about a 1/2 inch. If you use the ones I normally use that are more flush mount with the plastic, then you use a 9/16 bit to do the job. I had to order a forstner of that size specifically since most kits won't include that size among them.

Although I've not tried it, I suppose a spade bit similar to what is used when making the bolt opening on doors for your deadbolt etc. could work but they have a wider center section that might put too much pressure on the plastic or make it more difficult to keep straight during the drilling.

 

Edited by CrossBow
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