Atari 2600 4 Switch RGB Install

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This mod was a lot of fun and was considerably easier than the similar NESRGB mod. Results were stunning, and as always, Tim Worthington makes a good kit.

Overview

  1. Follow Tim’s instructions to install the board in a 4 switch Atari 2600.
  2. Install Tim’s component video board. I didn’t find these instructions until after the install was complete, which I’ll explain below.
  3. Connect the board to the controller port so a controller with an extra button can be used to control the system.
  4. Connect video and audio out ports and secure to case.

Test Setup

Before I started I wanted to have a baseline. I went out and got the cheapest game available at my local store, Pac Man for $2. I have a negative tip genesis-style 9V power supply that I wired up a converter for so that I could power the Atari (positive tip):

20180826_005443.jpgI didn’t have a handy way to connect RF to my main CRT, so I used a little LCD I had. The results were, well, terrible:

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Getting Started

I opened the system, careful not to lose the little foam discs around each of the switches. There is a lot of space in the system. The first thing I did was replace the caps and other parts that commonly fail using Console5.com’s excellent “Refresh Kit”. This includes a new power jack, all new caps, and other parts that commonly fail in this very old system. It also includes a new voltage regulator, but a switching regulator is included with Tim’s kit so we wont need this.

I was overjoyed to find out that the TIA chip that needed to be removed was already socketed. All I had to do then was remove the chip, solder pins onto the RGB board, and solder another socket onto the RGB board. Then I inserted the RGB board into the TIA socket and inserted the TIA into the new socket. I had to bend over a few of the components so that it would sit flush.

Component Video

The person I’m installing this for also purchased Tim’s component board. This tidy little board takes advantage of the fact that the RGB board generates S-Video. It then takes the luma from this for Y and generates Pb and Pr from the RGB signals. Tim places a little L shaped set of vias on this and the NESRGB board to make it easy to install these. I didn’t see this, so I just installed it with wires; works just the same, just took a little more time. You can see it at the top here. Not pictured is the switching regulator that replaces the 7805 at the bottom left. This has 3 right angle pins that go into the vias and then solder to pads on the switching regulator, which is stuck to the board with some double sided tape.

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Controller Time

This part isn’t strictly necessary, but it makes it much more convenient to play the system as you would normally need to sit next to it to reset the console and to select the game. I didn’t mod a controller to go along with this, but normally you would just add an extra small button that grounds left and right at the same time, then press other buttons to reset, change the game, or change the palette.

20180830_023009.jpgButtoning Up

Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the completed install inside the system. I’m getting better at taking pictures as I go. I wired up the 3 pole audio jack, 4 pole video jack, and momentary palette button. These were easy to install with just 3 holes at the back of the system:

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Final Test

I tested this on both the LCD so I would have a before and after comparison, and then on my PVM through my Garo (YPbPr–>RGB converter). For cables I used the included 4 pole 3.5mm to component female cable and a 3 pole 3.5mm to 2xRCA audio female in conjunction with HD Retrovision male to male component cables. The results were stunning:

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This was a lot of fun and turned out great. Things to watch out for is that this is a very old system (40 years at this point) so the solder resist was starting to flake off of the board in places. If you want your Atari modded, just let me know.