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About patroclus99

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    Star Raider
  • Birthday 04/02/1973

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    Cooking, Hiking, Minor electronics repair, remedial computer programming, PC/Console-gaming.
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    Ancestors-THO, Qix, Horizon-Zero Dawn, Disco Elysium, Trine Anthology, Planeshift
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    Torchlight III

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  1. I'm really sorry to hear about you Jag; that's really heart-sinking. However, this could be an excellent opportunity to avail yourself some electronics repair-tech education, should you not already possess it. This is one of these cliche lemonade-from-lemons situations. The really good news here, is that the console wasn't powered-on upon water-exposure. I'd take everything apart which I could (console, power-supply, controllers, CD-ROM, etc.) , and dry everything out as much as possible: Gently wipe/swab all visible moisture out, blow-dry, spray components down with isopropyl alcohol to extract additional moisture (especially minuscule spaces like controller ports, etc.), let components dry for a couple of days, then spray all conductive surfaces down with electronics-cleaner (I like Chemtronics), let components dry for another couple of days, put everything back together, and see what happens. Looks like it has one of those cheap-ass RF-shields like on the 5200. . . so annoying. I really wish these consoles preserved the RF-shield mounting specs like on the Heavy-sixer. If capacitors have maintained a good seal, they should function properly. I've never repaired a Jag, but I watched a decent repair-video on YouTube; it looks like all the logic and memory chips are soldered-in. If any of these need to be replaced, you'll get to learn some very delicate soldering techniques because some of these chips are incredibly super-fidgety small. . . looks like Console5.com sells a lot of these chips. That Jag board looks like a really nicely designed board conducive to making repairs a little easier. . . stuff isn't all mashed together; I was surprised, really clean design. . . as far as I can tell. Although, I can't for the life of me figure out how game-developers for that system drove the game-logic with that strange processor scheme. Anyway, I'm sure you can probably find some cheap 'parts'/'as is' consoles with intact boards on Ebay or some other e-bazaar too. You can find some nice game-cases at retrogamecases.com for Atari sytems; I think they are reasonably priced. They are actually better than the original boxes in my opinion. . . at least for the older systems.
  2. patroclus99

    Atari DNA

    Well, he was logged on a couple of days ago, didn't he PM/e-mail you or anything?
  3. I actually think that I wouldn't have sold Atari if I had just taken a vacation. . . all the sudden someone comes along and offers you more money than you thought you'd ever be worth, and you say, "Eh, why not?" --Nolan Bushnell In my opinion, Atari's decline began with its rise; Bushnell was an incredibly talented innovator in electronics; but he preferred an RV-like career itinerary in which he traveled from one pursuit to another. He had business savvy: he understood how to market his product; he knew how to corner supply lines to get the best price and maintain a successful presence in the console-market; to a certain extent, he understood the relationship between incentive and productivity; and he had a primal/archetype understanding of the gaming demographic. . . in a time in which there were no "gamers". I believe if he really wanted to, he could've attracted investors, collaborative arrangements, and partnerships to launch an IPO; Pong had been an incredible success for over 3 years, during which time I'm sure he had established himself predominantly in the budding arcade-electronics industry. But, I really don't think he had a passion, or really an interest, for VCS development or distribution; it wasn't fun anymore. This is someone who always wanted to work at Disneyland, who liked setting up his coin-ops in bars, pool-halls, restaurants, and whatnot. And really, I think he was far more interested in robotics than electrical engineering. I think he liked the three-dimensional relationship of electronics and entertainment, hence Pizza Time. Designing a machine to execute very rudimentary programs to bounce things around on a TV screen just bored him; couple this with having to run a division of electronics and software development for a corporation who didn't know shit from Shinola about computing. And so, you have a brilliant innovator, who is whimsical about his commitments, leaves a company who doesn't really have a clue. This leaves a vacuum of leadership and managerial technical competency replaced by operations-officers, managers, or other insignificant MBA minutiae, during which time I think most of the game-developers, artists, etc. there were just doing their thing, clock-punching the day away until the next memo. . . or until they took some initiative of their own. The Atari that I remember, the heavy-sixer on which my grandfather and I played played Video Bowling and Golf. . . by myself, Yar's Revenge, Video Pinball, Adventure, Night Driver, etc. . . Bushnell is still there, I think, but he's also, presumably, deeply preoccupied with Pizza Time in which Warner wasn't interested. Was he even actively engaged in game-development at Warner? Was he even at work most days? I remember reading an article where he maneuvered Jobs and 'Woz' to finish Breakout (CX2622) expeditiously; but the VCS was released in '77-'78, Bushnell left in '78. He was out of the picture when we were actually playing these games. Ostensibly, Atari floundered because Nolan didn't take a vacation. . . zzz. As far as the 5200, 7800, 400/800, XE/XEGS, Lynx, Jag, 520/1040 ST. . . I'm sure I left out something. . . these devices were doomed before they were even conceived. If you think about it, the whole damn thing was just a big fluke.
  4. Oh gosh, those crazy adds, and even crazier network line-ups. . . remember Battle of the Network Stars? But yah, the commercial with Pac-Man comparison on each system. . . really clever, but incredibly dodgy lolz.
  5. I was in the 7800 forum recently, and there was a thread about the 7800/5200. Even though I didn't mention the 5200 homebrew scene, I was later mindful of some the really impressive titles that have been released. . . could-have-been 5200 classic arcade ports like Tempest and Scramble (these two gobbled many rolls of quarters), augmented arcade titles like Pac-Man Arcade, Zaxxon 32K, and other titles such as Adventure II, Castle Crisis, Koffi Yellow Copter, and Xari Arena. We have enjoyed Xari Arena very much, that's a really classy title. . . like IMAGIC classy. . . solid, smooth, non-maniacal sprites, nice color contrasts on black matte, and very fluid CX52/CX53 input, great audio, steady difficulty ramp, and great nice arcade polish, although it was never an arcade release. Anyway, that's some incredible talent, and it's not taken for granted. A big long overdue thank you!
  6. Typical reseller nonsense. I think I saw some time ago someone selling it for 250.00 USD, which is why I never buy any homebrew "Oh, uh, I'm'a just a gonna' make a limited number of these. . . get'um while yu' can!" merch., because I'm pretty sure that it's usually some reseller ploy. Whatever. To each their own. . . not my thing.
  7. Oh hey, thanks bud! As an addendum, I thought I'd add this tidbit, as this was some of the TV/movie sound tech. when the VCS debuted circa '78 (part 1 of 4): Pretty cool, huh? And to make this submission tangently remotely related to this topic. . . No, I don't think the Cylons had POKEY, not even the high-end models like Lucifer!
  8. Re. the OP: I really think it's merely a matter of preference and feel. Preference: type of games you enjoy playing/type of interface you prefer. Feel: this is kind of an abstract concept, and I couldn't think of another word to describe it. . . impressions and effects from playing games at particular moments in your life in certain environments. These are very arbitrary things. For me, I psychologically lean toward the 5200. Preference: I actually like the controllers (as far as design goes, implementation was sheer rubbish). . . once I became proficient toward maintaining and refurbishing them; pause is right there on the controller. . . everything is right there on the controller except POWER. The non-centering aspect of the controllers forced me to be more involved with whatever game I was playing; it added a layer complexity and challenge that I actually enjoyed. I felt like a 'serious' gamer (I wasn't really). I actually liked the switch-box setup. . nice, just one cable to trip over. Feel: The keypad overlays gave you that feeling of gaming luxury; silly, I know, but that's how it felt. Also, at the time the trak-ball was just friggin' cool. . . playing Centipede with that was a real novel experience. Playing Star Raiders with those keypad controllers had that starship-bridge aspect. And let's face it, chrome-on-black is always classy; none of that cheesy wood-grain stuff. I never had one in my youth, but one of my best friends did, and for me, it was a wow-ing experience playing Ms. Pac-Man and Defender with those peculiar, sophisticated controllers. . . with PAUSE at the touch of a finger. It was an incredible step up from my VCS gaming experience at the time. For me, there was a true arcade-quality to it; and when you lived out in Pentecostal nowhere, that meant something, because going to the arcades was often an all too infrequent opportunity. I promised myself that one day, I was going to have one of these things, even in the age of PS2-PS3. It takes me back to going to the arcades, thick with cigarette and pot smog, neon everywhere, stepping on chewing gum, sticky/greasy joysticks and buttons, Def Leppard, high-tops, Sony Walkmans, vector-graphics, gaming machines scarred with cigarette burns, meeting cool people, and, of course, playing the games themselves. The 7800 didn't affect me that way; I got it for my birthday I think, or maybe one of those 'just because' occasions, I don't remember. I think I was a junior in high-school by this time, and the arcade phenomenon at this time was becoming. . . something else. So, I actually started collecting titles for the 7800 first. I wasn't much on Ikari Warriors or Commando. Xevious was okay. . . so was Double Dragon and Rampage, but I felt like these last two titles were not very good ports at all. I did however like playing Xenophobe at the arcade because it was multiplayer, and you got to meet new people that way. The classics like Joust and Centipede looked better, but sounded the same, and no trak-ball for Centipede. . . didn't have the same. . . feel. But, contemporary arcade titles like Ikari Warriors, Commando, Xevious, and Xenophobe actually play and look really good; I seem to remember that sprites on the 7800 didn't flicker at all, that the games had a solid presentation, like on the Colecovision. I played Ikari Warriors on the NES, and I remember it not looking as good. Now that I think about it, the NES had crazy sprite-flicker, which is weird. Anyway, there are some really good arcade-ports for this console, it's just that, for me, the arcade experience became something else, and I didn't enjoy arcade titles contemporary with the 7800 as much, except Xenophobe. . . I really liked playing that. The 7800 didn't wow me, nor did the Jag, and neither did the NES or any of its successors. I wasn't really moved to buy another console until the PS1 was released, which had a similar effect on me as the 5200; I liked the interface very much, all functions were on the controller, nice presentation, and an eclectic and entertaining library of titles, including some fantastic arcade ports. But, hey, if you like playing the 7800 titles, go for it. It has some very interesting titles, like Crossbow, Fatal Run, and Midnight Mutants. I played Tower Toppler very often; that was an incredibly nice looking and fun-to-play game. I liked Impossible Mission, but was annoyed by the fact that it actually is. . . impossible due to some bug. Ace of Aces is also pretty good. The console itself is also seemed sturdy and well-built; it doesn't groan and creak like its predecessor which was a gangster bloat-mobile. The stock controllers are pretty decent, and it appears they're easy to maintain; I never had to repair them, the left trigger button was becoming less springy. It's a nice looking console. . . backwards compatibility for 2600 titles, except some oddballs like Space Shuttle. I seem to remember that the cartridge slot was a little overly snug with some 2600 cartridges. . . really had to shove them in there. . . was it those Imagic games. . . I don't remember. Sound. . . eh, not so hot, no Gumby chip, but Ballblazer and Commando were modded with Pokey. . . kinda cool. Commando actually has some really impressive sound and music in it. I also played Commando on my best friend's NES; he had rented it from Movie Warehouse or something. . . really bad port, looked awful (LOTS of flicker), amazingly bad. There are some cool light-gun games like Crossbow and Meltdown; Meltdown was probably one of the best light-gun games ever made. F-18 Hornet was a really impressive flight-sim game for the time. Also, like I said, the contemporary arcade ports for this system are very good; and if you liked these titles, the 7800 is really nice to have. And to be honest, for a product that was held in marketing/inventory purgatory for over two years, there were some signature titles produced for this system.
  9. Thank you for posting this! Conan comes up with the best quips. . . gave me some really good laughs.
  10. If cost is a high consideration, like it is for most of us, I would prioritize basic functionality of your console before opting for various video upgrades for your 5200 boards. . . get the controllers working and achieving good graphical and audial output. The reason for this is that when most of these old 80s electronics sit around dormant for extended periods of time, all sorts of things can go wrong, especially with this one. . . logic-chips fail, capacitors deteriorate, etc. The only thing I've had to replace on them are some logic-chips, and these are relatively easy to procure. . . so far. But, really, it's sad that these chips fail as often as they do. Anyway, the stock controllers were complete junk from the get-go, due basically to the carbon-dot contacts on the button-overlays. Unless the controllers have suffered a lot of abuse, the flex-circuit beneath the buttons should be okay. Gently, and I do mean gently, very gently, clean the contacts on the flex-circuit with Deoxit or something. Make sure whatever cleaning solvent you use is safe on polymers. It doesn't have to be perfect, if you get OCD with cleaning these contacts, they'll tear up, and they do tear up easily. Next, you'll want to either A. adhere conductive copper foil over the carbon contacts beneath the keypad overlays and trigger-buttons or B. purchase some modded keypads/buttons from your favorite supplier. Either way, as long as there is good contact between the buttons and the flex-circuit, you're good-to-go. I should interject at this point that a copy of the 5200 Field Service Manual is very useful. . . I would actually say necessary. I think it's still available in a stickied post on this forum. It's pretty easy to read, and fairly well organized. It also has some incredibly useful troubleshooting flowcharts. Test your handiwork with the Missile Command cartridge. If the buttons are responsive, and the cursor moves fluidly and smoothly, everything's probably good. If cursor-movement is erratic or completely unresponsive in one direction or the other, use the diagnostic troubleshooting flowcharts and schematics in the field manual. If the controllers have been subjected to moderate, normal use chances are that the logic-chip on the system-board has went kaput, and probably needs to be swapped out. But also, just to be sure, check the wires on the controller, run some traces, use an ohm-meter to gauge potentiometer output, etc. However, before going through all this, leave your unit plugged in and turned on for several hours or longer. . . you'd be amazed how many problems this can fix, especially issues of an intermittent nature. If you don't want to go through all this, there are folks who rebuild 5200 controllers and sell them; I remember a long time ago an Ebay merchant, rolccone, did this; my spouse bought them for me for birthday or Christmas or something: He did a really good job, and was honest about his technical proficiency. $65.00 bucks/controller, which at the time I thought was reasonable. The system and controllers bought from him still work fine today, although I had to replace a chip for one of the controllers in the PCB last year I think. Best Electronics used to also do this, and may be a viable option. But here's the thing, even if a controller is rebuilt, it may not be reconditioned. And what I mean here is there are two parts in the controller that need to be reconditioned, and these are the X and Y potentiometers. Now, in the past you could just replace these if they went bad. But, as far as I know, I can't find replacement potentiometers of this sort; they are proprietary in their design. So, it's important to keep them in good condition. What happens is that the rotary contact of the pot slowly effaces the incredibly thin conductive carbon layer on the pot-wafer. There's no help in the field manual re. this, it simply recommends to swap them out, which isn't an option. It's not hard to recondition these. Use a jeweler's flat-head screwdriver and push out the four retaining clasps on the pot, lift out the arm-mechanism, and lubricate the wafer-surface with a conductive lubricant; I like the DeoxIT Fader Grease for something like this. And then reassemble. That's it. Make sure to notate which wires connect to the relevant terminals on the pot before taking apart the pot. Even if the controllers were working before, after these pots are greased, you'll notice a positive, marked difference in movement. Also add a little grease or lube to the small cup that holds the stick of the controller, as this area also handles a lot of action. Like I said, there's a lot that can go wrong with some legacy electronics; it's also important to not that manufacturing standards for these Atari consoles seemed to go downhill throughout the 80s. . . just plain shoddy, right down to the board-chips and other components. However, if you found a Heavy-sixer circa '78-'79 in a barn-loft today, and plugged it in, it'd probably work. So, even after the interface is working smoothly, you can have color, sound, sprite/character display, ROM, RAM, and other issues. And it's nickels and dimes all along the way. You can just replace the 5200 system boards, but these have probably been sitting around somewhere just as long as the ones you have, and I don't even know whether these replacement boards are still available. For example, I bought a 4-port SB from Best last year, and already I've had to replace a controller-chip in it. So, it's something to think about, especially when investing in modifications for it. Ok, well, good luck, and I hope things work out well!
  11. Yes, I too would like to to see a faithful arcade port of Reactor; I played it on the VCS religiously, and had an opportunity to play the coin-op version in some arcade in the Denver airport eons ago. . . those Gottlieb coin-op games were a class-act. I also thing track-ball support would really work well with this title.
  12. My last transaction with Best Electronics was disappointing; my suggestion would be just to charge-back your purchase if he shilly-shallies or botches your order. If you're given some lame-o, run-a-round song & dance. . . just charge it back. I wouldn't worry about being on his "list". . . who cares; he doesn't really offer any service or merchandise that you can't find from someone else these days. You might pay a little more, but to me that's a small consolation if the transaction is equitable and professional.
  13. Perhaps I'm being a tad skeptical, but I don't see a year on there. . . like guaranteed delivery before December 24, 2072?
  14. Oh right, remember Mega Force? I forgot all about it until you mentioned Fox games. Thanks!
  15. I believe the root culprit to these persnickety, third party 5200 cartridges is the PCB; the PCB in third party cartridges is thinner than the Atari cartridges, resulting in variable contact-gaps between the male/female connections. I also think the 5200 console cartridge-contacts were slightly farther apart than those in the 2600, so the thinner PCBs in some third party titles for the 2600 did not cause any issues. Basically, re. the 5200 third-party manufacturers had the incorrect design-specs or Activision et al. were not going to bother seeking another PCB supplier specifically for this console; I suspect the latter, because I think most third-party developers understood that the Super System already had one foot in the grave. Pampering this third-party crap helps somewhat. . . cleaning, dismantling, cleaning. . . zzz. . . but you'll inevitably encounter intermittent issues later on. Playing them as much as possible, or leaving them in the console for while is useful; almost all electronics at that time loved abuse and overuse, especially synthesizers and electronic organs. . . if they sat around unused, performance went down the tubes. The older solid-state Hammond organs were an exception. Anyway, what I've found to be most helpful is using two 3 X 5 notecards. Fold the notecards in half. Insert the notecard with the cartridge gently but firmly, the notecard can be on the front or on the back. Some games like the notecard on the front, some on the back. And, one, H.E.R.O likes the a notecard on the front and the back. . . zzz. If you play a title regularly, you can forgo using 2000-year-old technology to get these stupid things to work. I've considered applying some solder-beads to the base-contacts of some of these cartridges; but most third-party titles are mostly just sloppy ports, so I didn't bother. The third-party titles I really enjoy like Dreadnaught Factor and Zone Ranger, for whatever reason, have given me no troubles. At any rate, good luck, I hope this helps!
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