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the official Channel F thread!


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#1 atari2600land OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:59 AM

We need this. I'll start things off with this ad.

Cartridges only $20? Boy how things have changed.



#2 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:35 AM

And I'll keep it going by noting that just yesterday I finally received my long-coveted copy of Videocart 20--Video Whizball. :) I paid relatively dearly for it, but that's just what it takes these days. "No regerts," though.  :-D 

I'm four Videocarts away from a complete set; still missing 6, 19, 22, and 25. As much as these things cost nowadays, I may just have to live with that.

 

As far as actually playing the Channel F, I appreciate the variety of games it had. I think most of them are pretty fun in small doses. Alien Invasion is probably the best, but I'm also partial to Video Pinball, Bowling, Galactic Space Wars, Torpedo Alley, Maze, Desert Fox, Spitfire, Sonar Search, and Dodge It. I haven't fired it up yet, but I expect to add Video Whizball to those ranks as well.  :-D 

Even the ones that aren't quite as engaging seem like they're only a minor tweak or two away from being pretty decent games. For instance, Space War should have dispensed with the starbases, or at least limited their use. Robot War should have had solid borders instead of screen wrapping so you can't just run forever. But they're still not bad for a few rounds anyway, IMO.



#3 atari2600land OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:40 AM

@ BassGuitari: Here's a nice CIB copy of #6:

eBay Auction -- Item Number: 112747176267



#4 mbd30 ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:43 AM

When you factor in inflation, those $20 cartridges were at least as expensive as today's games. Games were always expensive.

 

I like how the cartridges resemble 8-track tapes.

 

 

EDIT: According to the CPI Inflation Calculator, $20 in November 1976 (when Channel F was released) was worth the same as $85 today. Holy crap.


Edited by mbd30, Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:48 AM.


#5 fdr4prez OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:11 PM

Here are a few links that I've collected

Fairchild Channel F Dust Covers

Disassembly Video

Fairchild VES Service Manual on Archive.org

FND Collectables - CHANNEL F INFO

Channel F Composite video mod discussion here on AA

Sean Riddle's Channel F Info site

The Channel F Files - Podcast site

e5frog's VES Wiki

#6 HoshiChiri OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 18, 2018 8:53 AM

And I'll keep it going by noting that just yesterday I finally received my long-coveted copy of Videocart 20--Video Whizball. :) I paid relatively dearly for it, but that's just what it takes these days. "No regerts," though.  :-D 

I'm four Videocarts away from a complete set; still missing 6, 19, 22, and 25. As much as these things cost nowadays, I may just have to live with that.

 

As far as actually playing the Channel F, I appreciate the variety of games it had. I think most of them are pretty fun in small doses. Alien Invasion is probably the best, but I'm also partial to Video Pinball, Bowling, Galactic Space Wars, Torpedo Alley, Maze, Desert Fox, Spitfire, Sonar Search, and Dodge It. I haven't fired it up yet, but I expect to add Video Whizball to those ranks as well.  :-D 
 

Warning: As I discovered when I got Video Whizball, it screams like a Banshee & has some picture garble when first turned on. Give it a few seconds to get going. I seriously thought my cart was busted at first!

 

Just kinda keep an eye out for those carts... by my experience, Channel F pricing is all over the place. I was eyeing out for Video Whizball for a year-ish before I got mine, and the Ebay spread ranged from $5 (lucky bastard) to $200+. There's no consensus, just be vigilant & jump on good deals. Except for 19- Checkers is always expensive. Despite what anyone says, I think it's the rarest one to get.



#7 ubersaurus OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:38 AM

I used to look out for Channel F games, but since getting the mutlicart I've been content to just play on that and pick up whatever comes my way cheap. This has given me an opportunity to mess with the full library of games (and some homebrews), and Video Whizball is definitely a favorite. The recent game Videoball reminds me of a spiritual successor, even though the creator insists he was unaware of Fairchild's game beforehand. Dodge It is pretty darn fun, and I actually dig Spitfire quite a bit too - the AI opponent isn't too bad in it, which is impressive for a 1977 game.

 

Are any Channel F enthusiasts up in Rochester? Would be cool to see scans of some of Jerry Lawson's materials from the Strong, help fill in the historical record for the console a bit.



#8 atari2600land OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:49 AM

I am close to releasing Kevin Vs. Tomatoes for the Channel F soon!



#9 atari2600land OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 18, 2018 1:36 PM

 The recent game Videoball reminds me of a spiritual successor, even though the creator insists he was unaware of Fairchild's game beforehand.

Link? Google is not my friend.



#10 Atari_Bill OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:45 PM

And I'll keep it going by noting that just yesterday I finally received my long-coveted copy of Videocart 20--Video Whizball. :) I paid relatively dearly for it, but that's just what it takes these days. "No regerts," though.  :-D 

I'm four Videocarts away from a complete set; still missing 6, 19, 22, and 25. As much as these things cost nowadays, I may just have to live with that.
 
As far as actually playing the Channel F, I appreciate the variety of games it had. I think most of them are pretty fun in small doses. Alien Invasion is probably the best, but I'm also partial to Video Pinball, Bowling, Galactic Space Wars, Torpedo Alley, Maze, Desert Fox, Spitfire, Sonar Search, and Dodge It. I haven't fired it up yet, but I expect to add Video Whizball to those ranks as well.  :-D 

Even the ones that aren't quite as engaging seem like they're only a minor tweak or two away from being pretty decent games. For instance, Space War should have dispensed with the starbases, or at least limited their use. Robot War should have had solid borders instead of screen wrapping so you can't just run forever. But they're still not bad for a few rounds anyway, IMO.


whizball is the last I need to finish my Channel F. I thought about picking up the loose copy on eBay recently for 100 but I really want a boxed one. Not sure if that was the one you bought or not. I'll find it at some point.

#11 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jan 20, 2018 11:03 AM

Warning: As I discovered when I got Video Whizball, it screams like a Banshee & has some picture garble when first turned on. Give it a few seconds to get going. I seriously thought my cart was busted at first!

 

Just kinda keep an eye out for those carts... by my experience, Channel F pricing is all over the place. I was eyeing out for Video Whizball for a year-ish before I got mine, and the Ebay spread ranged from $5 (lucky bastard) to $200+. There's no consensus, just be vigilant & jump on good deals. Except for 19- Checkers is always expensive. Despite what anyone says, I think it's the rarest one to get.

Ha, thanks for the tip! I might have thought the same thing.

I agree--Videocart 19 is definitely the rarest, IMO. IIRC it was released sort of "out of sequence" and didn't actually come out until Zircon had a couple of small production runs in the early '80s, by which point it would have been essentially mail-order only. And who wanted Checkers when they could have Galactic Space Wars or Alien Invasion? Alien Invasion is like Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt compared to Checkers. And even rarer carts than 26 (IMO) like 22 and 25 still seem to be turning up fairly regularly.

On a related note, even Zircon versions of the older Fairchild carts (mainly 1-17) seem to be awfully hard to track down. These are the ones that look like regular Fairchild "text-label" carts except monochromatic, either B/W or B/W/Orange. Pretty bland-looking. You seen them from time to time, but definitely not often. Fortunately, I've resolved that I don't need to go down that rabbit hole. :-D :P 

 

whizball is the last I need to finish my Channel F. I thought about picking up the loose copy on eBay recently for 100 but I really want a boxed one. Not sure if that was the one you bought or not. I'll find it at some point.

 

Yep, that was me. I honestly hemmed and hawed for a little while before I pulled the trigger on it. $100 for a loose copy felt a little on the steep side, but OTOH I know the days of seeing it for $50-85 are probably pretty well over. And if I didn't grab it, somebody else would, and I'd have to wait who-knows-how-long before I'd get another shot at one.

But, I've wanted Whizball for years, and the moment was right to strike (or at least as good it was likely to ever be in the near future), so I bit the bullet, and now I don't have to worry about it anymore. :-D



#12 Atari_Bill OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jan 20, 2018 5:49 PM

Probably a mistake for me not grabbing it when I saw it. I'd love to finish my Channel F to mark another set off. I've been very selective in my purchases lately and thought I'd wait. Who knows when I'll see another?

#13 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jan 21, 2018 12:14 PM

...Except for 19- Checkers is always expensive. Despite what anyone says, I think it's the rarest one to get.

 

I agree--Videocart 19 is definitely the rarest, IMO. IIRC it was released sort of "out of sequence" and didn't actually come out until Zircon had a couple of small production runs in the early '80s, by which point it would have been essentially mail-order only.

 

Following up on this, I was just perusing FND's site, and he has a note in his Channel F timeline which states that Videocart 19 was only available for 30 days after Zircon's first production run in 1980 before it sold out--along with #22, 23, and 24--and then again for maybe a couple of months in 1981 (and was gone by the end of the year).

So yeah, with a grand total of only a few months' availability, we're talking very limited distribution here, assuming Zircon can't have produced very many copies in the first place*. It would fascinating to know how many cartridges Zircon actually manufactured, though.

(*I base that assumption on a couple things: 1 - Zircon's original plan was to just liquidate old Fairchild stock. 2 - The Channel F was pretty niche even by 1980. 3 - Zircon was still a relatively small company at the time.)



#14 lazzeri OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jan 21, 2018 5:03 PM

Im currently missing #19 only. But Im getting depressed about it. Last complete copies on ebay costed a kidney.

Heck, even the loose copy that sold last month went for quite some cash.

#15 Atari_Bill OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jan 21, 2018 5:14 PM

Im currently missing #19 only. But Im getting depressed about it. Last complete copies on ebay costed a kidney.

Heck, even the loose copy that sold last month went for quite some cash.


Yeah, I'm so very glad I managed to find a reasonably priced copy of Checkers. Even loose I'm fine. I'll eventually find a copy of Whizball I can afford, but will likely never see another affordable Checkers.

#16 Blazing Lazers ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:42 AM

I am close to releasing Kevin Vs. Tomatoes for the Channel F soon!

 

And you'll of course be coordinating with our resident Multicart maker to have a physical release with box and manual of Videocart 28: Killer Tomatoes/Kevin Vs. Tomatoes? Keep up the great work you've been doing on this, and please do try to get a few full editions out to us- you know we'll gobble them up :)

Ha, thanks for the tip! I might have thought the same thing.

I agree--Videocart 19 is definitely the rarest, IMO. IIRC it was released sort of "out of sequence" and didn't actually come out until Zircon had a couple of small production runs in the early '80s, by which point it would have been essentially mail-order only. And who wanted Checkers when they could have Galactic Space Wars or Alien Invasion? Alien Invasion is like Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt compared to Checkers. And even rarer carts than 26 (IMO) like 22 and 25 still seem to be turning up fairly regularly.

On a related note, even Zircon versions of the older Fairchild carts (mainly 1-17) seem to be awfully hard to track down. These are the ones that look like regular Fairchild "text-label" carts except monochromatic, either B/W or B/W/Orange. Pretty bland-looking. You seen them from time to time, but definitely not often. Fortunately, I've resolved that I don't need to go down that rabbit hole. :-D :P

 

 

Yep, that was me. I honestly hemmed and hawed for a little while before I pulled the trigger on it. $100 for a loose copy felt a little on the steep side, but OTOH I know the days of seeing it for $50-85 are probably pretty well over. And if I didn't grab it, somebody else would, and I'd have to wait who-knows-how-long before I'd get another shot at one.

But, I've wanted Whizball for years, and the moment was right to strike (or at least as good it was likely to ever be in the near future), so I bit the bullet, and now I don't have to worry about it anymore. :-D

Second rarest. Democart 1 is the rarest release, and counts as an official release, as it too was sold to the public, if only by mail order (bizarrely, it was called "Videocart 51"). Zircon obviously had enough copies available to have done that. It does not seem to have been sold at retail, though- even Checkers may have been sold in a few stores by dealers still stocking Channel F items.

 

You're right about the "white-box" releases. None seem to have turned up for the first 4 Videocarts (or may have never been made), only one copy is known for a white-box Democart 1 (but surely more had to have been made), the only known box for Democart 2 is just a plain white box without a label (though it could have fallen off), the last two Videocarts are only known in white-box form, and the rest of the games have varying rarity when it comes to box versions. #23: Galactic Space Wars, seems more common in the white-box format, but #19: Checkers, is a lot rarer in white-box. I considered going for a full white-box set after I completed the full regular set, only to realize there would be no endpoint certainty.

 

 

 

Following up on this, I was just perusing FND's site, and he has a note in his Channel F timeline which states that Videocart 19 was only available for 30 days after Zircon's first production run in 1980 before it sold out--along with #22, 23, and 24--and then again for maybe a couple of months in 1981 (and was gone by the end of the year).

So yeah, with a grand total of only a few months' availability, we're talking very limited distribution here, assuming Zircon can't have produced very many copies in the first place*. It would fascinating to know how many cartridges Zircon actually manufactured, though.

(*I base that assumption on a couple things: 1 - Zircon's original plan was to just liquidate old Fairchild stock. 2 - The Channel F was pretty niche even by 1980. 3 - Zircon was still a relatively small company at the time.)

 

Agreed fully. I've come to the same conclusions. Checkers had to have had at least a few hundred copies made, but I'd be surprised if it was in the thousands. More would turn up if that were so, unless most copies went unsold and were simply discarded or are (hopefully) still NOS in some warehouse. What I do wonder is if the first release of Checkers was the source for the illustrated box version, and the much less common white-box variant was from the second period of availability?

 

What really amazes me is that they had enough copies of Democart 1/Videocart 51 on hand to offer it in multiple different system bundles- that would suggest that at least a few hundred were made. Fairchild sure didn't ever sell that one in stores, but they still had to have made at least a few hundred.



#17 atari2600land OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:50 PM

Well, I decided not to go with a box for Kevin Vs. Tomatoes, to lower the price on it. There's still a few kinks yet to be worked out on the program, but as soon as it's ready, e5frog will begin production, then he'll ship the boards to me and I'll put them in the cartridges.



#18 Blazing Lazers ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:47 PM

Well, I decided not to go with a box for Kevin Vs. Tomatoes, to lower the price on it. There's still a few kinks yet to be worked out on the program, but as soon as it's ready, e5frog will begin production, then he'll ship the boards to me and I'll put them in the cartridges.


Please do put me down for a copy!:)

Will the cart label say Videocart 28? Just so it fits in with the other games in sequence?

Would you mind if somebody else made a manual and box, or if e5frog did? Just for us collectors here?

#19 atari2600land OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:54 PM

If someone else wants to make a box, I say go for it.

 

The cart label will look somewhat like my current avatar:

kevinvstomatoeslogo.png

I wanted to make the label be different in design than the others, to make it stand out more.

I will include a manual, so no need to make one.


Edited by atari2600land, Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:54 PM.


#20 atari2600land OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jan 22, 2018 3:19 PM

I found a Channel F cart #5 with a Zircon label on the back showing Zircon's address. Are these rare or can I make a Kevin Vs. Tomato cart out of it?



#21 Blazing Lazers ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Jan 22, 2018 4:07 PM

I found a Channel F cart #5 with a Zircon label on the back showing Zircon's address. Are these rare or can I make a Kevin Vs. Tomato cart out of it?

Could we see an image of it? And yes, that might be rare. At the very least, FND's site does not have a Zircon rear label for #5. You could probably still use it as a shell, but definitely document that front and back. Is it a complete copy, white=box or regular? Does it match any of the variants posted here:

 

http://www.fndcollec...5/1_thru_5.html


Edited by Blazing Lazers, Mon Jan 22, 2018 4:08 PM.


#22 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jan 22, 2018 4:22 PM

I found a Channel F cart #5 with a Zircon label on the back showing Zircon's address. Are these rare or can I make a Kevin Vs. Tomato cart out of it?

I wouldn't.



#23 atari2600land OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jan 22, 2018 4:22 PM

Here are some pics. My hands shake a lot so I can't take steady pictures for some reason.

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • 20180122_141804.jpg
  • 20180122_141818.jpg


#24 Cdstahlman OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:27 PM

Any source for system 1 joystick repair instructions etc.?

Also, my system is working, but the video displayed on screen is semi fuzzy. I replaced the cord with a new one, and that helped a lot, but not 100 percent.

Thanks,
Chris

#25 ubersaurus OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:46 AM

Any source for system 1 joystick repair instructions etc.?

Also, my system is working, but the video displayed on screen is semi fuzzy. I replaced the cord with a new one, and that helped a lot, but not 100 percent.

Thanks,
Chris


I have the same fuzziness thing going on with my system 1, so I am interested as well.




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