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New power supplies for the ColecoVision?


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#276 Ikrananka OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 8, 2019 9:03 AM

The Colecovision is probably the worst built game system ever.  If they could save a penny in production, they did it.

 

While it is only a guess, I am guessing they had some cheap chips that used weird voltages  (IIRC, the video RAM uses 9V)

 

I was having endless problems until I put a new power switch in it.  I have no idea why these switches are so bad. The 2600 use the same exact type of switches.

A couple of years ago I removed the switch, took it apart and cleaned it thoroughly and within a few days the graphics glitches came back. Even when it was working, the screen was never good and was always fuzzy.  After I replaced that goofy switch with a single switch double throw switch from radio-shack, it was fine. It's a shame you can't get them anymore with radioshack being gone.

 

Transformers pretty much never go, though. There are radios from the 30s and 40s whose transformers are still fine despite many thousands of hours of use. Everything else in that power brick should be just standard stuff you can order from mouser.

 

Sorry, but I have to call this out for the bullshit that it is.  Just because you have had issues with ColecoVision consoles that you have been unable to reliably fix does not provide factual evidence that it was the "worst built game system ever".  The ColecoVision that I bought way back in July 1983 still works flawlessly.  Does this mean that I think that the ColecoVision is the best built game system ever?  No it doesn't.  I'm sure it wasn't the best built, but it most certainly is far from being the worst built.  It's two weaknesses are the power switch and the video ram going bad.  But, what do you expect from consoles that were made 35 years ago with a design life much less than that?

 

With regard to the power switch, of the two switches that I have had a need to refurbish they have worked perfectly ever since (5+ years later).  You also comment that the switches are goofy - well they are of the same design as those used in the Intellivision and I suspect many other devices.

 

And no, you do not remember correctly, the 4116 video ram chips require three voltages, +5V, -5V and +12V.  The 4116 was also used in TI 99/4A computers and some Williams arcade PCB's like - Defender, Joust, Robotron.  So, Coleco's choice to use these chips was not some crazy ultra low cost precedent.

 

BTW - transformers do fail.  Just ask anyone in the Commodore 64 community who fried their computer with old Commodore power supplies!  Fortunately, the failure mode of the ColecoVision brick isn't so deadly - and many ColecoVision power supplies have failed in more recent years.



#277 ColecoJoe OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 8, 2019 9:40 AM

The Colecovision is probably the worst built game system ever.  If they could save a penny in production, they did it.

 

While it is only a guess, I am guessing they had some cheap chips that used weird voltages  (IIRC, the video RAM uses 9V)

 

I was having endless problems until I put a new power switch in it.  I have no idea why these switches are so bad. The 2600 use the same exact type of switches.

A couple of years ago I removed the switch, took it apart and cleaned it thoroughly and within a few days the graphics glitches came back. Even when it was working, the screen was never good and was always fuzzy.  After I replaced that goofy switch with a single switch double throw switch from radio-shack, it was fine. It's a shame you can't get them anymore with radioshack being gone.

 

Transformers pretty much never go, though. There are radios from the 30s and 40s whose transformers are still fine despite many thousands of hours of use. Everything else in that power brick should be just standard stuff you can order from mouser.

You're talking about 30 plus year old equipment. The fact that it even turns on is a win :)



#278 christo930 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 8, 2019 1:40 PM

 

Sorry, but I have to call this out for the bullshit that it is.  Just because you have had issues with ColecoVision consoles that you have been unable to reliably fix does not provide factual evidence that it was the "worst built game system ever".  The ColecoVision that I bought way back in July 1983 still works flawlessly.  Does this mean that I think that the ColecoVision is the best built game system ever?  No it doesn't.  I'm sure it wasn't the best built, but it most certainly is far from being the worst built.  It's two weaknesses are the power switch and the video ram going bad.  But, what do you expect from consoles that were made 35 years ago with a design life much less than that?

 

With regard to the power switch, of the two switches that I have had a need to refurbish they have worked perfectly ever since (5+ years later).  You also comment that the switches are goofy - well they are of the same design as those used in the Intellivision and I suspect many other devices.

 

And no, you do not remember correctly, the 4116 video ram chips require three voltages, +5V, -5V and +12V.  The 4116 was also used in TI 99/4A computers and some Williams arcade PCB's like - Defender, Joust, Robotron.  So, Coleco's choice to use these chips was not some crazy ultra low cost precedent.

 

BTW - transformers do fail.  Just ask anyone in the Commodore 64 community who fried their computer with old Commodore power supplies!  Fortunately, the failure mode of the ColecoVision brick isn't so deadly - and many ColecoVision power supplies have failed in more recent years.

 

I've had my Colecovision since the early-mid 90s (94, I think) and these switches were a problem even then, when they were much newer. That switch is a very cheap design. I sprayed mine down with contact cleaner in the 90s and it helped for a while. In the early 2000s, I took it out and gave it a good cleaning and that worked for a few years, then I did it again and it did not help. At first, I though maybe the brick was weak, but it was measuring fine. I even replaced the 2 little springs in the switch and it still didn't work. So I replaced the switch with a proper switch and it has worked fine since.

 

Coleco was known, even outside of the electronics business to be a poor manufacturer with cheaply made products.  Poor quality killed the Adam computer. There was probably other reasons, but poor quality was a major reason.

 

4116 is not a specific chip. It simply denotes that the chip is 1 bit wide 16k.  I'm sure price played a role. But honestly, it's all guess work.

 

Obviously transformers do sometimes fail, but it really isn't that common.

 

I'm sure there were cheaper ones, but not the major ones.  The controllers are very well made, I must say. WAY better than Intellivision or the later 2600 sticks.

 

I wish Atari would have stuck with their initial controller design. In all of my years of collecting I have only ever come across one or two. I still have one and it is so much easier on my hands.  What sucks is that they look exactly like the ones everyone is familiar with. But they have so much more movement as does the fire button. It makes all the difference, at least for me.



#279 jblenkle OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 8, 2019 2:00 PM

Yes, the ADAM was a very poor quality machine. I've owned five and only had a problem with the first one I bought which had a glitch in the word processor. The three I have now work perfectly even after 35 years...very poor quality.

 

People who say the ADAM was poor quality have read too many press clippings from the early days when some ADAMs were shipped with problems. Once it got a bad reputation, it was pretty much "game over" for the machine.

 

 

Coleco was known, even outside of the electronics business to be a poor manufacturer with cheaply made products.  Poor quality killed the Adam computer. There was probably other reasons, but poor quality was a major reason.

 


 

 



#280 christo930 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 8, 2019 3:57 PM

Yes, the ADAM was a very poor quality machine. I've owned five and only had a problem with the first one I bought which had a glitch in the word processor. The three I have now work perfectly even after 35 years...very poor quality.

 

People who say the ADAM was poor quality have read too many press clippings from the early days when some ADAMs were shipped with problems. Once it got a bad reputation, it was pretty much "game over" for the machine.

 

 

So I guess the tape-drive and printer still work? 

The tape drives were absolutely awful. I had several Adams (and Colecovisions) back when they were still relatively common in the wild and they all had problems, particularly the tape drives. I have no idea why they didn't just use a disk drive.

 

Does the Adam use a standard head in the tape mechanism? By standard, I mean only using either 1/2 or 14 of the tape.

I always wondered why Commodore didn't just use the entire tape and maybe a bit faster in order to be able to speed up loading and saving times. Presumably it would be much more reliable to use the full width of the tape.



#281 jblenkle OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 8, 2019 5:22 PM

I have two fully functional printers and two tape drives in each of my three consoles. None have ever given me any problems. I also have two disk drives that have never given me a single problem, although one was upgraded to being 320k double sided. The other is a stock 160k drive.

 

Not 100% sure about the tape head, although it is my understanding that it is bi-directional and can read/write data going either direction.

 

I was never into the technical aspects of the machine, but I maintain most of the perceived problems were due to bad PR early on. Once all the haters in the press decided it was an inferior machine, they weren't about to give it a second chance.

 

I don't know...maybe I'm just lucky or take care of my equipment better than most. I also have Atari 8-bit computers, disk drives and other equipment that have never given me problems. Most of my old video game systems - NES, Genesis, etc. are still going strong too after 30+ years.

 

Going back on topic...does anyone know if Console 5 will continue to sell the ColecoVision USB power supplies? A few weeks ago when I looked, there was still no price listed for them and then a few days ago it looked like they'd come and gone already. There is a $40.95 price listed for them and they are marked OUT OF STOCK.

 

 

So I guess the tape-drive and printer still work? 

The tape drives were absolutely awful. I had several Adams (and Colecovisions) back when they were still relatively common in the wild and they all had problems, particularly the tape drives. I have no idea why they didn't just use a disk drive.

 

Does the Adam use a standard head in the tape mechanism? By standard, I mean only using either 1/2 or 14 of the tape.

I always wondered why Commodore didn't just use the entire tape and maybe a bit faster in order to be able to speed up loading and saving times. Presumably it would be much more reliable to use the full width of the tape.



#282 Ikrananka OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 8, 2019 6:18 PM

 

Going back on topic...does anyone know if Console 5 will continue to sell the ColecoVision USB power supplies? A few weeks ago when I looked, there was still no price listed for them and then a few days ago it looked like they'd come and gone already. There is a $40.95 price listed for them and they are marked OUT OF STOCK.

 

 

I was wondering this too.



#283 nick3092 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 8, 2019 7:28 PM

 
I was wondering this too.


Email Luke and ask. He's usually pretty quick to respond. And probably the only one who knows the answer for sure.

#284 wongojack OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 8, 2019 7:38 PM

I also checked Console5 today and noticed they were out of stock.  Ordered from DragonBox instead. . .



#285 EvilDragon17 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 8, 2019 8:35 PM

Yes, console5 will receive more units.

#286 christo930 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 9, 2019 1:43 PM

So this power supply does not come with the wall wart or USB 3 cable?  Seems rather steep at over $40 without those parts.



#287 ColecoJoe OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 9, 2019 1:45 PM

So this power supply does not come with the wall wart or USB 3 cable?  Seems rather steep at over $40 without those parts.

Try finding an original power supply for less.



#288 MSuomi OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 9, 2019 1:57 PM

Try finding an original power supply for less.

Well, nobody in their right mind would buy an original PSU anymore... Well, I would not, anyway ;)

But to that price, I also would liked to have a whole PSU. And I know it's difficult to make small patches cheap.

I will most probably buy a small PSU from something like Mouser and install it inside my Colecovision. Don't exactly remember the price, but I think it was cheaper than this adapter...

And no need to get angry ;) It's just my opinion as I can modify and install it myself ;D

Edited by MSuomi, Wed Jan 9, 2019 2:00 PM.


#289 ColecoJoe OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 9, 2019 2:08 PM


And no need to get angry ;) It's just my opinion as I can modify and install it myself ;D

I'm not angry at all, just gave you my opinion back :)



#290 EvilDragon17 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 9, 2019 2:08 PM

Well, you're welcome to design, develop, prototype and betatest your own power supply. Then get all the certifications (costs a few thousand as well), create and produce the case, packaging and manual... and try getting it cheaper.

if I sell 500, the profit is exactly 0. Selling more would make profit, but so far, I don't make any with it.

The parts alone are over 14 EUR of the costs, add production and assembly on top of that...

It's not cheap producing something in small QTYs.

Including a power supply wouldn't make sense. It would need to have international certifications and different plugs (US, UK, AU, EU), so it would easily add 10 EUR costs.
Unneeded costs if you already have USB power supplies at home (like many have).

#291 MSuomi OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 9, 2019 2:36 PM

Well, you're welcome to design, develop, prototype and betatest your own power supply. Then get all the certifications (costs a few thousand as well), create and produce the case, packaging and manual... and try getting it cheaper.

if I sell 500, the profit is exactly 0. Selling more would make profit, but so far, I don't make any with it.

The parts alone are over 14 EUR of the costs, add production and assembly on top of that...

It's not cheap producing something in small QTYs.

Including a power supply wouldn't make sense. It would need to have international certifications and different plugs (US, UK, AU, EU), so it would easily add 10 EUR costs.
Unneeded costs if you already have USB power supplies at home (like many have).

Oh, boy... As I was writing with my phone, I though mentioning that I know it's not cheap making small patches, would have been enough...

But it clearly wasn't.

 

It's wonderful, that there is an option like this now and I completely understand, what it takes to produce such a thing. I'm not an designer myself, but I have been an service technician my whole life (Nokia Display Products, Nokia Mobile phones etc.etc.)

Many people are ready to pay money for a clean and easy to use product. And because of the things you mentioned (and the small patches, as I said earlier), the way you did it is of course much more sensible cost wise for you.

 

So don't take it personally, if it came out like that, that wasn't the point I wanted to make.

I just wanted to say, that for people who are ready to open their systems and tinker with it themselves, there are cheaper ways by using some mass produced cheap PSU's. It surely isn't for everyone, that's granted...

 

I hope that this explanation eased the pain my earlier post has seem to have caused?


Edited by MSuomi, Wed Jan 9, 2019 2:49 PM.


#292 ChildOfCv OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 9, 2019 2:41 PM

4116 is not a specific chip. It simply denotes that the chip is 1 bit wide 16k.  I'm sure price played a role.

I'm sure the fact that it was paired up with the TMS9928A played a role. The chip was fricken designed around that exact memory chip, and its design manual calls the chips out 16K worth of those chips explicitly, with 4108 as an alternate. BTW, 4116 also denotes specific pinout and signal levels.  You can replace a TI 4116 with a Motorola 4116 or a Schnazzenfraufer 4116 or ... and it will play just fine.  The voltages aren't all that uncommon either.  The original IBM PC 5150 used +5, -5, +12, and -12V with its DRAM required the same selection of input voltages as the Coleco.  Modern memory usually only needs one voltage (supply), but then they typically incorporate a few charge pumps internally to get the rest of the desired internal voltages.

 

Colecovision could have been trimmed down A LOT if money was the goal.  They include a lot of electronics designed to let expansion slot devices take over as little or as much of the system as they want.  If it's just the video signal, then pull the external video enable line active and throw your own composite video on the video output bus.  If you want to take over the memory map, you can do that too.  Same for the I/O map.  Heck, you could just hold the BUSRQ line active and replace the entire processor if you wanted.  Then they were almost obsessive in placing bypass capacitors on every single IC's power supply.  Most of them could probably be removed and still have a working system.  In short, this system is more expandable than pretty much any home computer was at the time.  That's not the kind of thing you do when cost cutting.



#293 HDTV1080P OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 9, 2019 3:01 PM

Well, you're welcome to design, develop, prototype and betatest your own power supply. Then get all the certifications (costs a few thousand as well), create and produce the case, packaging and manual... and try getting it cheaper.

if I sell 500, the profit is exactly 0. Selling more would make profit, but so far, I don't make any with it.

The parts alone are over 14 EUR of the costs, add production and assembly on top of that...

It's not cheap producing something in small QTYs.

Including a power supply wouldn't make sense. It would need to have international certifications and different plugs (US, UK, AU, EU), so it would easily add 10 EUR costs.
Unneeded costs if you already have USB power supplies at home (like many have).

Getting a high-end Chinese power supply company to make a 100-240 volt 50/60Hz dedicated power supply for the ColecoVision would require a minimum run of 500 units (and with all the worldwide safety certifications). That would be the best solution, however if one only sales 250 power supplies, then the other 250 would sit on the shelf for years and the ColecoVision dealer that purchased the 500 power supplies would lose money.

 

The Coleco USB power converter is around $55 once one purchases a high-end 3.5 amp USB-C style power supply (And I am fine with that price since a ATX style power supply with Coleco cord costs more after the labor that is involved). It is sad to hear that EvilDragon17 is not even making a profit and well break even after selling 500 units. The price could be raised on the Coleco USB converter but then less people would purchase it.

 

I am interested in the Coleco USB power converter and its been mentioned that it costs a lot of money for the safety certifications. I am now seeing a CE Europe and FCC safety certifications logo on the pictures online, I might order a few of these in the future.

What is the official manufactories website to order these Coleco power converters in QTY? I am thinking about purchasing a few and testing it with a high-end 3.5 amp USB C power supply.  


Edited by HDTV1080P, Wed Jan 9, 2019 3:05 PM.


#294 Ikrananka OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 9, 2019 3:13 PM

I will most probably buy a small PSU from something like Mouser and install it inside my Colecovision. Don't exactly remember the price, but I think it was cheaper than this adapter...

 

The one I have used (as suggested by doubledown many years ago) is the Cincon CFM40T-01 but it comes in at $31.15 plus parts to mount it inside a CV.  What cheap PSU do you have in mind?  I'm genuinely interested.

 

That said, cost really isn't the issue here - it's whatever works best for you.  Installing an internal PSU isn't that easy and does require a number of additional parts to hook it all up.  Plus the CV case has to be cut to install a new power connection.  While I would have loved to have seen the Coleco USB unit be sold for less, I totally get why it is the cost that it is (as EvilDragon17 has explained above).  One advantage of using an internal PSU, such as the CFM40T-01, is that you can use a power cord of almost any length.  Based on one of EvilDragon17's earlier posts, the length of the supply cable may be limited with the Coleco USB due to voltage loss (although household 110/220V extension cables would be a simple way around this).



#295 christo930 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 9, 2019 6:50 PM

Well, you're welcome to design, develop, prototype and betatest your own power supply. Then get all the certifications (costs a few thousand as well), create and produce the case, packaging and manual... and try getting it cheaper.

if I sell 500, the profit is exactly 0. Selling more would make profit, but so far, I don't make any with it.

The parts alone are over 14 EUR of the costs, add production and assembly on top of that...

It's not cheap producing something in small QTYs.

Including a power supply wouldn't make sense. It would need to have international certifications and different plugs (US, UK, AU, EU), so it would easily add 10 EUR costs.
Unneeded costs if you already have USB power supplies at home (like many have).

 

I wasn't accusing you or anyone else "with" [EDIT: should be of] price gouging.  I am aware that such small scale manufacturing is expensive.  I'm sure it is well made and that nobody providing these parts for enthusiasts are getting rich.

 

One of the side benefits for me of not particularly caring for newer style games is that I tend to buy a lot of old games in the used market in down-scale locations like flea markets, yard sales and thrift stores. When I see new games going for $60 or a power supply for 40 plus dollars plus shipping, it's a bit of sticker shock. Not to mention I make much less money than I used to.   If I have $100 to spare for 1 new game and a power supply in a month, that's a pretty decent month for me.


Edited by christo930, Wed Jan 9, 2019 6:55 PM.


#296 HDTV1080P OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 9, 2019 7:05 PM

When surfing the Dragonbox website I am having troubles with the website navigation and changing the QTY in the cart. To change the QTY in the cart I have delete the cart and start over. Also getting slow response but that might be because I am in the USA trying to access a website in Germany.

 

I see you offer volume discounts on the website. Ordering in QTY of 1 for the Coleco USB adapter results in $47.98 after shipping. Maximum order size is a QTY of 19 since 20 is not allowed because of weight issues. If ordered in QTY of 19 the price is more expensive because of shipping. The cheapest price per unit is to order 6 at a time and then one can get the Coleco USB adapter for around $38.75 delivered. All the above prices change daily because of the currency conversion rate at the time that one places an order.

 

The BETA Coleco USB adapter could accept both micro USB and USB C connections. The final production Coleco USB adapter requires a USB C power supply so I well not be able to use the high-end 3.5 amp 5 volt micro USB adapter that I was going to try. Well instead test some USB C adapters on the Coleco USB product around the 2A-3.5Amp range to see if they are compatible.



#297 christo930 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 9, 2019 7:05 PM

I'm sure the fact that it was paired up with the TMS9928A played a role. The chip was fricken designed around that exact memory chip, and its design manual calls the chips out 16K worth of those chips explicitly, with 4108 as an alternate. BTW, 4116 also denotes specific pinout and signal levels.  You can replace a TI 4116 with a Motorola 4116 or a Schnazzenfraufer 4116 or ... and it will play just fine.  The voltages aren't all that uncommon either.  The original IBM PC 5150 used +5, -5, +12, and -12V with its DRAM required the same selection of input voltages as the Coleco.  Modern memory usually only needs one voltage (supply), but then they typically incorporate a few charge pumps internally to get the rest of the desired internal voltages.

 

Colecovision could have been trimmed down A LOT if money was the goal.  They include a lot of electronics designed to let expansion slot devices take over as little or as much of the system as they want.  If it's just the video signal, then pull the external video enable line active and throw your own composite video on the video output bus.  If you want to take over the memory map, you can do that too.  Same for the I/O map.  Heck, you could just hold the BUSRQ line active and replace the entire processor if you wanted.  Then they were almost obsessive in placing bypass capacitors on every single IC's power supply.  Most of them could probably be removed and still have a working system.  In short, this system is more expandable than pretty much any home computer was at the time.  That's not the kind of thing you do when cost cutting.

 

That's the thing. They seemed to have cheaped out in some areas, while doing an excellent job in other areas.  For example, the joystick. If you open it up, it has a large steel spring and two proper switches for the fire buttons and the whole thing feels solid. The directionals are a bit weird, but works well. 



#298 Zonie OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 9, 2019 7:13 PM

Radio Shack still exists. Online, and dealer stores in smaller markets.



#299 EvilDragon17 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 9, 2019 9:42 PM

Oh, boy... As I was writing with my phone, I though mentioning that I know it's not cheap making small patches, would have been enough...
But it clearly wasn't.


No harm done, my post was mostly aimed at christo930, who finds the price pretty high :)

Of course you are welcome to internally mod your Coleco... though I'm not sure you will find a suitable PSU these days, as 12V, -5V and +5V is not that easy to get (unless you buy a normal PC power supply, but these won't fit and are even more expensive).

#300 EvilDragon17 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 9, 2019 9:44 PM

I am interested in the Coleco USB power converter and its been mentioned that it costs a lot of money for the safety certifications. I am now seeing a CE Europe and FCC safety certifications logo on the pictures online, I might order a few of these in the future.
What is the official manufactories website to order these Coleco power converters in QTY? I am thinking about purchasing a few and testing it with a high-end 3.5 amp USB C power supply.  


On www.dragonbox.de, you can request a reseller account. If you just want to buy a few ones, there's already a QTY discount on our website anyways :)




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