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#1 sparkdrummer OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 15, 2016 7:53 AM

I've got 4 Astrocades - 2 work fine and 2 didn't. This last weekend I decided to see I I could get the dead ones to work. Without going into details - I've got one of them to work. Note to anyone that might use checkmate set to zero players to check to see if the machine is going to glitch - Be sure to remember that the Astrocade has a built in screen saver (goes to black) and it cuts the sound! I didn't realize this until it had done this to me about 5-6 times. What a dope! This console is interesting also because it does not have a label underneath - and no residue that one was ever in place. 

 

Anyway - the one I have working does not get happy until it warms up a bit - once warmed up it seems to run fine. Any idea why?

 

The other one will show a colorful screen full of garbage now where it had a black screen before. Gotta keep fooling with it. - Any ideas on this one?

 

Finally - what is the best way to clean the chip legs - the one that is still wonky has tarnished legs.

 

 

And - is there any source for a replacement wall wart for these? - I discovered one of them is bad. 



#2 Rob Mitchell OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Mar 16, 2016 7:36 AM

Congratulations getting it working ...

I have three working Astrocades .. One has a data display issue .. I plan to desolder various chips until I can isolate the offending memory chip and replace .. Not easy work ..I have several spare motherboards from which to swap parts ..

#3 sparkdrummer OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Mar 16, 2016 8:43 AM

Shit.
The wall wart for the working one took a dump this morning. I wish there was a source for these or a workable substitute.

#4 Rob Mitchell OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Mar 16, 2016 8:45 PM

I wish there was a source for these or a workable substitute.


Me too.

#5 sparkdrummer OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 17, 2016 1:31 AM

Well, I have tried something probably pretty screwy. After the wallwart died on the machine I got working I looked around my piles of stuff for something I might be able to substitute.

I am an avid TI-99'er first and foremost so I checked out one of the wall warts that TI's use. Hmmm - voltages are 18.7 ac and 8.7 ac - higher than what comes with the Astrocade but what the hell, I'll try it on the unfixed unit in case the smoke leaks. It didn't leak any smoke and still happily showed the colorful garbled screen. I'm testing it on the "fixed" console right now and it's on it's second 99 game checkmate test. Fingers crossed.



#6 nd2003grad OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 17, 2016 9:41 AM

Way to go with your Bally!  Might want to try posting a separate topic with the wall wart issue, either here or on the Bally Alley yahoo group.  I do know some users have extras, but I'm not sure who may be willing to part with them/how much, etc.



#7 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 17, 2016 1:35 PM

I am an avid TI-99'er first and foremost so I checked out one of the wall warts that TI's use. Hmmm - voltages are 18.7 ac and 8.7 ac - higher than what comes with the Astrocade but what the hell, [...] I'm testing it on the "fixed" console right now and it's on it's second 99 game checkmate test.

 

It's awesome that you revived an Astrocade... although I don't get why it would need to "warm up a bit" before it works correctly.  Maybe the caps need to be replaced (just a guess here-- fixing Astrocades isn't my thing).

 

You may have already run across this information on how to replace the Bally's power supply in the "Bally/Astrocade FAQ," but just in case you haven't seen it yet, I've included it here:

"If you have electronics knowledge, then you might consider building a substitution.  Michael C. Matte wrote an article in Arcadian (vol.7 pg.91-93) called, "Experimenting with your Astrocade: A Power Transformer Substitution."

The PS transformer information is in the last issue of the newsletter, ARCADIAN 7, no. 4 (Aug. 15, 1986): 91-93.  Here is a direct link to page 91 of the newsletter:

http://www.ballyalle...e_4.pdf#Page=35

Bob Fabris, the "Arcadian's" editor, alludes to Michael Matte's work on the PS project is because he was upgrading his Astrocade.  Upgrading it?  To what?  Well, as it turns out from exploring Bob Fabris's collection of paperwork (much of which is in my personal collection), Michael upgraded his Astrocade to be able to use hi-res mode.  In 1986, he wrote documentation on how it could be done in five in-depth packages (documents).  You can read all about that here:

http://www.ballyalle...s_packages.html

Page four of the "Hi-Res Package 1" includes Matte's information on building an improved power supply for the Bally Arcade.  This may have more information than is in the article in the "Arcadian:"

http://www.ballyalle...ge_1.pdf#Page=4

 

Since you fixed your Astrocade already, I presume that you already know about the "Bally Service Manual:"

 

http://www.ballyalle...vice_manual.pdf

I hope this helps-- and long live the Astrocade!

Adam



#8 Rob Mitchell OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 18, 2016 1:44 AM

the wall warts that TI's use. Hmmm - voltages are 18.7 ac and 8.7 ac - .


Great solution ! I hope to work on my broken Astrocade when I have some spare time ..

#9 moondelight61 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 3, 2016 4:58 AM

Hi. Well i also have 4 astrocades.. 2 work..
3rd powers onto a black screen.. (this is an early units cpu in this one is socketed! Has plastic rf shield. And gray reset button and red cart holder.Swapped all custom chips..still black screen.
Swapped power brick..still black screen
..and yes chips and brick was swapped from a working unit.
4th, used to power up and play..then power switch does nothing..screen stays static.. No power at all..also swapped power brick with a goodone and chips with a good one...nothing..any idea's?

#10 sparkdrummer OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 3, 2016 7:02 AM

Did you try swapping the rf modulator with a known good one?

#11 sparkdrummer OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 11, 2016 1:11 PM

Well, Here is a couple of images of the Astrocade I got working. It would run fine with the top cover off but when re-installed it seemed to start glitching after awhile - I assume from heat. Probably the TI power supply adding higher voltage is adding to heat from the voltage regulators? - I dunno.

 

Anyway - Since this was a unit I thought was dead and now is alive I decided I was going to make it my main unit for playing.

 

So I decided to cut the case on top and add a fan powered by ac and cut out a port for the TI power supply plug. I have the fan flow directing air into the console - right on top of where the hot chips and regulators are - I also plugged the vent holes on the top so the incoming air would be forced to exit thru the bottom ones.

 

I have had this Astrocade running for 6 hours straight with Random Art III playing on it - which utilizes graphics and sound and it never missed a lick. You can put your hand on the top to the left of the keyboard and it's just as cool as it can be - sure wasn't that way before I installed the fan.

 

DSC09901.JPG

 

DSC09902.JPG

 

 

 

 



#12 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 12, 2016 8:20 AM

I decided to cut the case on top and add a fan powered by ac and cut out a port for the TI power supply plug. I have the fan flow directing air into the console - right on top of where the hot chips and regulators are

 

You've done a neat job installing the fan.  How loud is it now?

 

My Astrocade has the RF shielding removed from it, which helps to keep it cool-- but not as much you you'd expect.  Partially, I think, that's because the RF shield is used as a heat sink.  Although, in practice, the data chip (the chip which tends to get the hottest) isn't usually connected to the RF shielding, so the heat sink doesn't work.  This situation is made worse because the data chip in the Astrocade units (but not the Bally Arcade units) has a piece of metal glued to it which is suppose to be connected to the RF shield.  I think that this hunk of metal makes the units overheat quicker.  I've tried removing the piece of metal before without success.  The 5V voltage regulator also runs extremely hot (this is normal), but since the regulator is right next to the data chip, it doesn't help the heat situation.  It seems to becoming a semi-common practice to replace voltage regulators in classic gaming systems with switching regulators.

 

When my Astrocade is hooked up, the top isn't screwed onto it (it just lays on top of the base unit).  When I use the system, I simply remove the top to allow the console to breathe.  When I use it for long periods of time (for instance, when I've typed in a BASIC program for archiving purposes), I actually use a small 6" fan that blows across the PCB.  This keeps the system rather cool.
 

I have had this Astrocade running for 6 hours straight with Random Art III playing on it - which utilizes graphics and sound and it never missed a lick. You can put your hand on the top to the left of the keyboard and it's just as cool as it can be - sure wasn't that way before I installed the fan.

 

It's too bad that this needs to be done at all, but I'm glad that you found a solution that works for you.

 

Adam


Edited by ballyalley, Tue Apr 12, 2016 9:16 AM.


#13 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 12, 2016 8:39 AM

Did you try swapping the rf modulator with a known good one?

 

This RF modulator, which I found for sale online, looks like a direct replacement for what's inside the Astrocade:

 

3282-1.JPG 3282-2.JPG

3282-3.JPG

 

I have not bought one of these myself, so I can't tell if it's the right one for sure.  However, Ken Lill noted yesterday (on the Bally Alley discussion group) that "Yes, that is a the correct RF modulator. I have one in front of me with a sticker that says 'UM1291-1' on it."  The cost of this replacement is only $5, so it might be worth the small investment to find out if it would work.  The RF modulator can be bought here:

http://www.electroni...-1-rf-modulator

 

Here is a link to the datasheet for this unit:

 

http://console5.com/...c_UM-1291-1.pdf

 

If anyone buys this, then let me know if this does end up being a direct replacement part for the Bally Arcade's own RF modulator.

 

Adam



#14 sparkdrummer OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 12, 2016 9:05 AM

I forgot to note that I removed all rf shielding from this console and added my own homemade heat sinks. The fan is equipped with ball bearings and is very quiet. Mine had the metal lug on the main chip and I decided it had to go so I carefully removed it and added the heat sinks of my own.




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