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Nathan Strum

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Nathan Strum last won the day on May 15 2019

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About Nathan Strum

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    Enjoying a sandwich
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    Newhall, CA
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    Scrabble, Solitaire

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  1. He probably offered Fred some money. Atari likes it when people offer them money. I'd bet that almost anyone could "exclusively license" games from Atari for a rival, speculative console for a few bucks. Let's bring back the RetroVGS!! Who's with me? (Mike Kennedy) "I've got a Jaguar shell!" (John Carlsen) "I've got some electrical tape!" (Steve Woita) "I've got an old Super NES!" (Chris Cardillo) "I've got a brand!" C'mon gang - let's put on a console!! And every single one of them have created more games than "Atari" itself has.
  2. In a tragic COVID-19-related turn of events, my barber of 15 years... moved to Utah.

    Okay... it's not all that tragic, relatively speaking. Besides, he's been planning it for years. But now I have to get a new barber.

    Although my hair looks so bad right now, I could have the neighbor kid cut it with a weed-whacker and it would only improve it.

    1. Show previous comments  2 more
    2. Nathan Strum

      Nathan Strum

      I don't have the 'stache to be rockin' the Flowbee like that.

    3. KaeruYojimbo
    4. GoldLeader


      Oh I'm sorry.

  3. Well how else are they going to mine your personal data?
  4. Silly... hammers aren't used for drilling! Hammers are used for fitting things together. That comes after the drilling.
  5. Atari apparently didn't know that. https://flyers.arcade-museum.com/?page=flyer&db=videodb&id=87&image=1 Or those are just really dirty snowballs.
  6. Actually, I was thinking "keister" because its non-standard video connector is a pain-in-the-butt. Here's his contact info. I don't know enough about what's going on to actually tell him what to fix. Maybe a test binary would help clarify it for him.
  7. James' 2600 isn't out of the woods, yet. Or is it? Time for Chapter 11! (No, not that one.)
  8. Well, let's just rip off the Band-Aid™ then and find out! Chapter 11: Probably the penultimate chapter, or not Well, with all of the donor testing and wiring and stuff done, all that was left to do was pop the mod out of the donor, pop the donor's TIA out of the mod, pop the ZPH 2600's TIA back out, install that in the mod, and then pop the mod into the ZPH 2600! (This is literally just a few minutes' work. There was no way I was going to not do this today. Wait... there was no way I was... hmmm. I think that works. Anyway...) But first! The Bonus Content! Because all of this started around the time James was trying to figure out what was causing the timing issue on his 2600 in the first place. Plus, there's absolutely nothing wrong with eating dessert before dinner. Also, I'm trying to build up the tension more, because otherwise this would be the shortest chapter of this whole thing. Oh - I just thought of something funny! This is Chapter 11! And it's about Atari! Remember that time Atari filed for Chapter 11 because they'd been run into the ground by idiots? Yeah. They're still being run by idiots. Now I'm a little sad. But the real Atari lives on in the hearts and minds of the homebrew community! CAVEAT EMPTOR! (Sorry - that's the only Latin phrase I could think of.). So let's take one last look at RF. This is what the donor 2600's RF looks like right now, after the mod was removed, and its own switch board was reinstalled. Sorry about the reflections. It's a big, curved, shiny piece of glass. Here is the ZPH 2600's RF, right before re-installing the mod: Okay, that's our baseline. Now, let's get back to the Band-Aid™ ripping-off of. Here's one last look at the ZPH 2600 guts in mostly-stock configuration. (It still has the switching voltage regulator, which I'm not inclined to change. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it.") Then, just re-read what I wrote above about moving stuff around, and... rrriiippp! Yep. It worked. First time. (This is getting kind of anticlimactic. But you know, I'll take stuff working any day of the week.) Oh, and just to prove (for whatever reason) this is RGB, here's what my monitor shows when a game is first loaded: And yes, it says "COMPONENT" and "NTSC" for the other inputs. It also has S-Video, so you can bet I'm going to hook up my modded console to it, and try to suss out its own weird problem. Anyway, back to this 2600's color timing issue. Here's the restored ZPH console with the RGB mod. I'd say this is pretty definitive: yes, the mod is causing the issue. So it's a "live with it" thing, I suppose. I don't think it's affected any gameplay. Just the odd appearance artifact. So that's it - the mod works! Now I'll just wad up all of the cables, stuff everything into a box and ship it back to... What? Oh, alright. I suppose I should put it back together. Up next: Stuffing everything back inside the case, and drilling holes in it!
  9. Agreed on all counts! Looking forward to Darrell's turn next time.
  10. That's correct - it's (mostly) my donor console. As for the second part... that will have to wait until after: Chapter 10: Now we're gettin' somewhere I thought these should have titles. Now that we're almost done with this. So, we're still on the donor console. But that will change very soon. Meanwhile, I still had the RGB part of the RGB mod to test. But first, I had to make a cable to go from the Framemeister RGB connector to the 4x BNC inputs of my monitor. (I keep wanting to type "Framekeister" for some reason.) So bring out the victims! I bought these cables from Amazon specifically to chop them up for this purpose. One is a VGA cable, the other is a serial cable (yes - you did recognize the mini-DIN 8 from somewhere, probably an old dial-up modem). This will all make sense in a minute. Or if you don't want to wait a minute, just look at the next picture now. Instead of soldering everything together, I used an old terminal block I had sitting around (which just happened to have eight lugs). This way I could simply move wires around as I was checking everything, in case I got some the pinouts mixed up. Which I did. More than once. Speaking of mixed up, remember in the last chapter, when I forgot to hookup the composite sync wire? Ah, good times. Good times... Anyway, it was still in the wrong place. I'd hooked it up to the composite video pad on the mod. Not the composite sync pad. I found that out when I was going through and doing an end-to-end continuity test with the Frankencable. But now it's fixed. Finally. This is why I check everything when doing this stuff. Right. So all of the wires were finally going where they were supposed to. Would it work? I plugged everything in, switched the monitor to RGB and external sync, fired up the 2600 and... It worked! With sound this time, too! Pac-Man has never seen so much time in one of my 2600s, I'll tell ya' that. Somewhere in that rat's nest, is a single cable coming out of the 8-pin panel-mount jack (it's just above the 2600's power switch, if you squint). That's driving the RGB and audio. So both RGB and component work, and James can use a single cable on his Framemeister now. Assuming, that is, this all works on his 2600. That's next! (Can you stand the excitement?) Underwhelming Bonus Content (sort of like what you get on digital downloads now... they used to at least put some effort into Blu-rays) The same timing issue happens on RGB. Shouldn't be a surprise, since the component output is just an offshoot of that. But I thought I should be thorough. (Still on the donor here.)
  11. Chapter 9! Will this be the final chapter?! Nope. But we're getting pretty close. Maybe one or two more to go. For now, it's time to solder all the wires onto the mod and connectors. But first, I noticed something else amiss on James' 2600. This mangled little transistor near the TIA socket. It looks like it got stepped on, and is bent over pretty good. This isn't unusual for 2600 components. Many of them get knocked askew, but this one was so bent over, that the lead in the right foreground was almost touching the pad for the back lead. So before doing anything else, I desoldered it, carefully straightened the leads, and put it back. Right. So on with the wiring. I'm not going over every step, but again, just a few highlights and some maybe-helpful pointers. I'm right-handed, so it works best for me to solder from left-to-right. That way I don't risk dragging a hot soldering iron over something I'm already done with. Here I'm attaching the blue wire for the component board. I set the wire into the hole on the board, and hold it down with something (in this case, the handle of some pliers) so it doesn't move while I solder it. I had to make sure these wires didn't stick too far through, since there's very little clearance to the circuitry beneath it. One ended up being a bit too long, so I desoldered it and did it over. And here's the soldering on the mod all done! Well... almost done. I missed something. Any guesses? You may be wondering why I used the colors of wire that I did. For example, why aren't the wires for RGB actually red, green and blue? Normally, I would've done that. And in fact, I did make the component wires red, green and blue (for Pr, Y, Pb). But the reason I chose the other colors I did, is so the prewired 8-pin jack that I'm using will match up correctly with these colors. In the long run, it will make things easier. To get audio output for both the 8-pin Framemeister RGB and component video connection, I had to split the audio. Since there's no room on the pads to solder on two wires, I just made a 'Y' cable for each wire by twisting together three wires, soldering them, and adding some heat-shrink tubing. Now, you might be saying, "But if you split the audio to two devices at the same time, won't it blah, blah, blah?" To which I'd say, "Yes! If you were driving two devices at the same time. But I'm going to operate under the assumption that James will only be driving one audio/video device at a time." Right, James? Left is white, right is red, ground is black. This is standard for audio connections. The reason the red and black ones split to different colors is because those are going to the 8-pin connector. It just so happened that the white wire was already on the correct pin. There's another mistake here though - I didn't need to split the audio ground, since there's already another ground wire going to the 8-pin connector. So I'll remove that later. Less straight-forward are the audio jacks. For some reason, this company opted to leave out a solder terminal for ground. Maybe they're expecting it to connect to ground some other way? I don't know, but about 30 seconds into this video, they demonstrate soldering a ground wire to a similarly terminal-less connector. So how hard can it be? It wasn't as easy as the video looks. I used a file to flatten the connector a little bit, and held everything in place with tape for the ordeal about to begin. After a few messy attempts, and cranking the temperature of my soldering iron way up, I managed to get a good bond. But not without melting some plastic on the end of the jack. Fortunately, I didn't damage the jack internally, and everything works fine. I had to do this for both the audio and component jacks. Bothersome. But now they're all done. I used some very tiny P-Touch labels to note what the terminals were. I tested everything using a multimeter, and I threw some heat shrink tubing on there just to be sure nothing would short. And before you ask - no, I didn't do this out-of-order. I can still get the jacks into the console with the wires on them. I also wired up the "Extra" button. I was thinking of using a different button. Something a little more befitting an Atari. Like one of these: These are not mine - I don't have any here. Now, you can get reproduction "volcano" switches and bezels online. But they're a little pricey, and I would've had to drill a pretty huge hole in the back of the console. So... maybe I'll save that idea for something else. Anyway, with all of the soldering finally done (but not really) it was time to finally start hooking stuff up! I decided to test the mod out in my donor 2600 first. This was so that if I had really messed something up, James' 2600 wouldn't get damaged again. You can tell this is my 2600, since it has the nifty holographic sticker on the TIA. And it doesn't have all of that... what is that... Coke? I don't know what's all over the edge of James' 2600. Sure is nasty looking though. When I finally install this in James' 2600, the mod wires and jack wires will snap together using Molex connectors. That's how I can solder everything now, and still put the jacks in later - none of the wires are connected at the other end yet. The Molex connectors will be the last things installed. But for now, since I don't have any spare Molex connectors, I just temporarily soldered all of the wires together, and wrapped some electrical tape around them. I just threw that picture in there because I really like taking these extreme close-up pics. No other reason. Anyway, with all of the wires neatly connected, and everything all tidied up, we're ready to test! Yep, all neat and tidy! Just don't look slightly to the left. I said DON'T! Nnnnnoooooooo...!!! Well, so much for the illusion of organization. Anyway, it was at this point that I found the wire that I had missed earlier. It was the composite sync line to the 8-pin connector. So I got that sorted out. Can't imagine how I missed that. Everything's so neat and tidy. Neat. And. Tidy. For testing, I connected James' switch board to my 2600. His still has the switching voltage regulator on it (which has been working fine, with his 2600 in un-modded configuration), and I figured I'd better use the one intended for the mod. I plugged in the audio and video, and the 2600's power adapter. Switched the monitor input to component, and flipped the Atari's power switch... And it actually worked!! I was genuinely startled when the picture came up! Probably because I'd been so used to noisy static while testing RF, and with component, there's nothing but a blank screen before the 2600 turns on. Also, I don't think I really expected it to work the first time. There was just one little problem. No audio. But after a couple of minutes of panicky troubleshooting, and after that a quick look at the manual, I realized I needed to plug the audio into a different input on the monitor. Whoops. Then I had audio. And the Harmony Cart worked, too! As did the Uno Cart. Here's a close-up of the color test binary: So what's left? Well, next I have to make an 8-pin Framemeister to RGBS BNC cable so I can test the RGB output of the mod. Then I have to remove the mod from my donor 2600, and install it into James' console. Once I'm sure it works there as-is, then I have to cut the wires apart, figure out where to route everything, install the jacks and "Extra" button, and finally crimp on the Molex connectors. Then hope it still works. So, there will still be a couple more chapters. One of which will involve drilling holes. 27/64" ones. Can't wait!! Bonus content: Here's Pac-Man taken with Cortex Camera. So... many... ghosts... And for Thomas:
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