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Displaying / leaving a 2600 powered on for a very long time


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#1 bjbest60 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 16, 2019 2:12 PM

Hello all,

 

I'm happy to share that my experimental game High Score Screen Burn Slow Burn will be exhibited as part of a gallery show this coming fall.  The game isn't necessary a game as much as an experience where you watch a square randomly traverse a screen and occasionally pick up an object for some points.  There are some hidden-ish uses for a joystick, but they're not necessary, and a joystick won't be included in the exhibit.

 

I plan to display the game with a real 2600 and CRT TV.  My question:  what sorts of problems might I encounter if I turn on the game / TV and leave them on for six weeks or so?  The game is meant to be "played" over a long stretch of time--something on the order of months rather than minutes--so I'd like to leave things run for as long as possible, and I'd also prefer to not have to go through the hassle of having everything turned on / off every day.  I'd also really like to avoid emulation or a new clone console.

 

Am I in danger of destroying the 2600?  Is something likely to catch fire?  Is some model more likely to be robust than the others? 

 

I'm willing to risk sacrificing a console, but I don't want to have to anticipate buying a new one off eBay every week, either.  Destroying the TV is fine (especially screen burn, as the title implies) as long as it doesn't destroy anything else.

 

I'd appreciate any advice anyone has about presenting a 2600 and TV in a museum-type setting with the intention of keeping the system and screen constantly on.

 

Thanks!



#2 john_q_atari OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 16, 2019 3:30 PM

I am not an expert, but if the electronics are otherwise sound then heat would be what you need to look out for. I am assuming that you aren't enclosing the tv and 2600 inside a display case that might not have good air circulation. If you are, it's important in general for the electronics to have some airflow so that the heat doesn't build up. Internally to the console, potentially you could open up the 2600 and install a new voltage regulator with a beefy heatsink and thermal compound. After 30+ years the heat transfer away from the 2600's voltage regulator is bound to be quite poor.

 

Not quite the same thing, but I have a 7800 with a recently replaced voltage regulator and recently replaced thermal grease and I have had it on continuously for the last 6+ weeks with no issues.



#3 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:04 PM

Who's to say how long a VCS would stand up to 24/7 usage these days. Some of them have parts that are 42 years old! So, go with a late model jr. or a recently made clone. Or better yet, emulation.

Edited by Keatah, Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:04 PM.


#4 Shawn OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:11 PM

When I was a kid I left my 2600 on for a day or two sometimes without issue. Mind you I didn't do it on purpose, I was just a kid not paying attention when left on that long. I'd turn off the TV and forget to turn off the Atari.



#5 Cambouis de l'Atari OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 17, 2019 7:28 AM

When I was a kid I left my 2600 on for a day or two sometimes without issue

 

Was needed to get that !!!!!! score at laser blast :grin:



#6 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 17, 2019 7:32 AM

Destroying the TV is fine (especially screen burn, as the title implies) as long as it doesn't destroy anything else.

I'm eager to learn how this goes. Please come back and update us when the exhibition closes! I suspect the Atari will be fine but you'll get some burn-in on the monitor, as you anticipate. 



#7 TwentySixHundred OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:30 AM

There is no guarantee with such old hardware and id say the 2600 would crap out before the CRT. I had wrote a very simple "screensaver" for kicks that actually kinda stresses the hardware. It's not overly intensive however it's always calculating and turning playfield pixels on and off every 60 frames. Was basically a novelty project

 

Attached File  screensaver.bin   32KB   10 downloads

 

scree.png



#8 bjbest60 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 18, 2019 8:24 AM

Thanks, all, for the thoughts.  I'd be willing to try a clone but I'd really like to keep the CRT.  And going from the HDMI of a Retron 77 to RF seems a bit silly.  Basically, I'd like the physical cart to be shown inside a functional system--any other recommendations for clones?  If not, I roll the dice with a fresh-looking Jr. off of eBay.  Thanks!



#9 KaeruYojimbo OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 18, 2019 6:38 PM

At least one 2600 has survived being left on for a month:

 

http://atariage.com/...el-7/?p=3524766



#10 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 18, 2019 7:13 PM

Most of the Atari Flashback systems prior to 2017 used standard definition connectors, meaning composite video which would work on a (newer) CRT or (older) LCD. No cartridge slot on them though, unless you solder your own onto a Flashback 2.

I think the original, vintage systems will be more likely to run for ages without a reboot. My assumption: less code, fewer bugs.

#11 Mr SQL OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 18, 2019 7:40 PM

At least one 2600 has survived being left on for a month:

 

http://atariage.com/...el-7/?p=3524766

 

 

I've frequently left the Atari on for a few days at a time to finish a game of Video Chess on level 4 which still takes an hour or two to finish, can take a couple of  days to fit it in.

 

Sometimes I'll leave it on after playing Defender or another game because the display starts the color cycling and it looks cool - does anyone else do that?

 

The exhibit and the long-term game concepts sound really interesting - looking forward to hearing more about them.



#12 frankodragon OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 18, 2019 7:48 PM

The only thing I would be concerned is the power brick being plugged into the outlet for a long time.  



#13 nanochess OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 18, 2019 10:01 PM

To my understanding some Atari can burn because manufacturing bugs and lack of proper ventilation (like putting it over the carpet)

But as far as I can say only I've saw one (ONE) Atari damaged, while I've seen tons of Intellivision model 1 burnt. (The model 3 is more solid).

#14 Atariboy ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 18, 2019 10:07 PM

Atari 2600's don't burn and there's no concern if you were running one on a carpet.

 

It's an Atari 2600, not a Xbox One. I wouldn't worry about ventilation since it's not going to get hot, doesn't have a fan circulating air inside of it, doesn't have vents that I've ever noticed in the varieties that I own, etc. 

 

I believe if there's a weak spot in your plan, that frankodragon called it. 


Edited by Atariboy, Thu Apr 18, 2019 10:08 PM.


#15 AlecRob OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 19, 2019 12:30 PM

Makes me wonder how well a 7800 could last turned on, or other consoles like NES or TurboGrafx16.

#16 bjbest60 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 20, 2019 7:49 AM

The only thing I would be concerned is the power brick being plugged into the outlet for a long time.  

 

Is the concern that it would become too hot / melt something over time?  Or is it something else?

 

I have a new-in-package off-brand power supply (Gemini) that's from 1987.  But, as it notes on the back of the package, "It is recommended to unplug the adapter from wall outlet when not in use to prolong its life."

 

If heat is the issue, do you think somehow affixing a heat sink would help?

 

Thanks again.



#17 frankodragon OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 20, 2019 3:56 PM

 

Is the concern that it would become too hot / melt something over time?  Or is it something else?

 

I have a new-in-package off-brand power supply (Gemini) that's from 1987.  But, as it notes on the back of the package, "It is recommended to unplug the adapter from wall outlet when not in use to prolong its life."

 

If heat is the issue, do you think somehow affixing a heat sink would help?

 

Thanks again.

I've had several non-atari adapters fail by being plugged in for too long. Usually it's the smell of burning plastic, popping noise or both.  I would also recommend using a power bar with a surge protector and plug the brick into one of those than straight into the outlet.



#18 Shawn OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 20, 2019 4:00 PM

The only thing I would be concerned is the power brick being plugged into the outlet for a long time.  

 

I left both my Atari and NES power supplies plugged in for YEARS on end without cooking them.



#19 thetick1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 20, 2019 4:12 PM

 

I left both my Atari and NES power supplies plugged in for YEARS on end without cooking them.

 

Electronics have varying degrees of quality so consider yourself lucky.  So this is a complex question.  In the case of an original Atari 2600 the electronics are simple so more likely to last longer.  BUT the big elephant in the room is the power supply.  Old power supplies or any modern cheap power supply should NEVER be plugged in unsupervised and can go faulty and cause a fire.  Also older ones have a tendency to go bad and fry the electronics. For example the original C64 power supplies are notorious for just frying the computer.  Getting a modern C64 power supply is always recommended.

 

For the Atari 2600 I highly recommend getting a new power supply like the one below.  But these are generally poor quality so I also suggest like frankodragon..."using a power bar with a surge protector and plug the brick into one of those than straight into the outlet."

 

3rd Party AC Power Adapter (Atari 2600)

https://www.amazon.c...0/dp/B00469YOFI


Edited by thetick1, Sat Apr 20, 2019 4:19 PM.


#20 Trinity OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 20, 2019 11:53 PM

I forgot to turn mine off for a few weeks a few years ago. And it's still going strong. :)






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