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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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  1. Went to the dentist today. Someone poking your gums with pointy metal things still counts as human contact. I'm calling that a win.

    1. Show previous comments  3 more
    2. _The Doctor__

      _The Doctor__

      Have UV sterilizer and it travels... no big thing...

    3. johnnywc


      ...and 3,000 miles away, John also had a dentist appointment at the same time, but it's passed off merely as a coincidence... ;) :lol: 


      I had my rescheduled dentist appointment yesterday too, what are the odds? :D  


    4. _The Doctor__

      _The Doctor__

      both should come up with some lottery numbers together, and run a random number generator based/running on the same cpu as your states use for their games of chance.


      You might hit it big spending just 3 to 7 dollars each!


      I normally don't like any of that kind of stuff unless the odds are known and changing in my favor!

  2. Well, it would make for an interesting mental challenge having to keep track of your pieces like that.
  3. I'm digging the black and white look. Could that be option?
  4. The first one is colors3.bin by batari: The other is colors2.bin, but I don't know where that one came from. An earlier (?) version without the text was posted by Thomas here:
  5. This is mostly for Thomas. But it shows what (I think) is the timing issue of the RGB mod in a different light. One thing I didn't do after getting everything back together, was take pictures of the color test ROM. I'd taken one earlier, after I had component output working on my donor system, but none of the final system. This was that earlier picture: Looks good, right? But look closer at the red row (4), and the third column from the left. There's a single lighter pixel there, that shouldn't be. So, is it still there? Well, that depends. Sometimes, no. Sometimes, it's there, in the column next to it. Sometimes, it's joined by a few others. Look at row C in the third column, and also row 4 in the second column from the right. Sometimes, there's a lot of them. The first, third, fifth and seventh columns, in most of the rows. And they aren't static either - they dance and change. Increasing or decreasing over time. It looks almost like interference. But no other ROM (so far) exhibits this behavior that I've seen. And as shown above, even this ROM doesn't do it all of the time. It's usually better when the console is first powered up after being off for awhile. Although if you look at the first picture again carefully, along the left edge of the first column, there's a faint column of dark pixels there. Those aren't in Stella. Also, the spots never happen in the other color test binary I have. No matter how long I left it or how many times I reloaded it. And if you look closely, you'll notice it also has that faint column of pixels along the left edge too. Those are also not in Stella. So what's the difference? Well, the first one uses the background to draw the colors: The other one uses the playfield: Here's a video showing the spots evolving over time: And close-ups of the fewer spots doing their thing. Again, I haven't seen this on other ROMs, although I have seen the color timing issue elsewhere (the Quick Step pictures previously posted, and also the Champ Games' logo). Hopefully this will give some insight into exactly what the issue is, what may be causing it, and how future video mods can possibly avoid it.
  6. If a power strip says "Power Tap" on it, it's not a surge suppressor. As for the Atari power adapter, I'd stick with actual Atari ones, rather than a generic one. Check it with a multimeter to make sure it's spitting out the correct voltage. If in doubt, test it on Albert's console.
  7. I'm surprised nobody called me out on this. It was one of the RF shield screws - but it already had five in there, so I didn't think it was an issue. Anyway, I found the screw, and put it back. So James' 2600 is completely screwed up. Well, you know what I mean.
  8. Addendum! I know everyone is dying to know if I fixed my own 2600. Right?! No? Whatever. I decided to fix it anyway. A recap of the problem. With an AtariVox plugged in, my Sears 2600 works just fine. But if I try to run it without the AtariVox, I usually get next-to-nothing. Occasionally I get a glitchy screen that rolls and morphs and flips out. So I opened up my console today to try and suss out this weirdness. I replaced the hex buffer, and that didn't fix it. Next I tried replacing the RIOT. Still no luck. Yes... I know. It's not nearly as tidy as James' console in there. Maybe someday I'll clean it up. Anyway, I finally tried removing the mod. Suddenly, the 2600 worked. So, was it the mod? Well, I then transplanted the mod into the donor, and it worked fine there. I then put it back into my 2600, and... For some reason, it worked. I'm not sure why... but I'll take it as a win. One thing to note (and I've seen this before while working on consoles) - when I first powered up my console after restoring it back to RF, it just showed static for a few seconds before the signal popped up on screen. I'm not sure what causes that. Maybe a capacitor? Something to do with the voltage regulator? Weather balloons? Probably related to that, is that if you unplug the 2600's power adapter, then turn on the console with a cartridge in it, you'll see it attempt to load the cartridge briefly, right before the screen goes dark. Because of this, I've gotten in the habit of always flipping on the console's power switch after unplugging its power adapter, but before I do any work on it. Then anything that might be left gets discharged. Anyway, after putting it back together, it still worked just fine - with or without the AtariVox. I left the new RIOT and hex buffer in place since it was working and I didn't want to rock the boat. I'm guessing the RIOT was probably the culprit. I may just be slightly wonky enough to have caused that issue in my 2600. The problem only emerged after I put that RIOT in during a previous repair. Someday I'll probably rewire the whole mod and make it tidier and easier to disassemble. I also have some stripped screw holes to repair, because of how many times this thing has been apart. But for now it functions just fine, so I'm not inclined to do that. But I will fix one little thing. The trim around the Sears bezel was originally chrome. Not orange, like the Atari's. As with any well-used 2600, it's mostly worn-off now. And since I went to all the trouble of restoring the chrome-capped switches, I thought I'd go ahead and fix this, too. Nice! (In case you're wondering. I used one of these. The chrome effect they achieve is really impressive. Wish I'd had those back when I was building plastic model kits as a kid.) Okay, done playing with hardware. Back to working on homebrew manuals.
  9. Unfortunately, the Cybertech mod hasn't been made/sold in years. Atari2600.com used to carry them.
  10. I use a Cybertech S-Video modded heavy sixer. My TV is old enough to have an S-Video input, fortunately. When I use RF, I go through a demodulator (a tuner, basically). A Sony TU-1041U. They're great. They show up on eBay pretty frequently. There are at least a dozen on there right now, some pretty cheap.
  11. Yep, but I guess that's to be expected with 40-year-old hardware that was built to last a couple of years and then be replaced. The 2600 has an amazing life span. I need to open my own 2600 back up now too, and see about fixing it's odd problem. I'm hoping a simple chip swap will fix its issue. Everything is socketed, so it shouldn't take long to find out. I've had a few others inquiring if I'd be able to fix/mod their consoles. Sorry - but this was a one-off to help out James and the ZPH show, as a thank-you for their support of the homebrewing community. I'm happy to answer questions, but I really don't have the time to get into the console fixing/modding business. And besides, nobody would want to pay what I'd want to charge. You're welcome! I hope this one lasts, as we never did find out what caused the original mod to fail, and the mod's designer hasn't responded to inquiries yet. I've been using a fresh 2600 power adapter from Best Electronics. I'd suggest if you don't already have one, you might want to order one. And plug it into a really good surge suppressor (not a power strip). Tripp-Lite makes excellent ones I've been using at work (and home) for years. I've also been meaning to point out that Darcy did a really good job at soldering the original RGB mod. Whatever caused the mod to fail, it wasn't that.
  12. Nope. The PVM is actually one I'm borrowing from my office at work. Once things resume more normally there it'll go back (it's still in use as a production monitor, from time-to-time). I wouldn't mind having one here permanently, because the picture on it is excellent. But it's hard to justify the space it takes up. Plus, you have to be pretty close to it to see anything, so I can't kick back on the couch to play games on it. I play most of the time on a 46" Sony Bravia LCD HDTV.
  13. THE END!! Did it work? Did it blow up? Did I fake its death and keep it for myself? Well, why not click the thing below and go read it or whatever.
  14. Let's do this! Chapter 14: THE END! (Except for boxing it up and shipping it back to Canada. And James hooking it up and using it. But otherwise, it's The End!) We left off with Molex connectors, and so we pick back up with... Molex connectors! This time, the ones that get connected to the 2600's guts. Same process, except now we're adding the other side of the connectors. I'm not going to get into the whole male/female naming convention of connectors because it's just... weird. Who came up with that idea, anyway? Must've been some really lonely engineer. Anyway... I started with the component video and audio connector, just because there are fewer wires. Here they are, all terminated and ready to be... um... inserted. And the completed connector, next to its... uh... mate. You'll note the one red wire is a little short. I had to re-do that terminator, so I lost a little wire in the process. I added some more heat shrink tubing to the wire bundles before installing the connectors, but didn't shrink it in place. I just wanted it there as a way of keeping the cables together, but with enough flexibility to move things around. (Handy tip #27. But who's counting? I'm not. 27 is a guess.) Next up, the 8-pin Framemeister and "Extra" Palette button wires. You'll note there are only seven wires for the Framemeister though. I never hooked up the +5v output from the mod, since it isn't used by the Framemeister. I'd occasionally hold the two connectors together as I was working, so I could double-check that the wire colors matched. I didn't snap them together at this point though. The less wear and tear, the better. And done! This finally completes all of the 2600's wiring! I'm going to have a glass of milk and some Junior Mints to celebrate. Be back in a minute... Ah... that's better. So, let's wrap this up! Assembling this should be a breeze now! First, I installed the main motherboard section of the 2600. Then I connected the Molex connectors. The component + audio... ...and the Framemeister + palette button. See? There is a method to the madness. This will make future disassembly dead-simple. The Molex connectors snap together. It's a pretty tight fit, which is the whole point - it's a solid electrical connection ("It isn't just for computer power anymore"). To get them apart, you press the release lever on the top, and (with some effort) can pull them back apart (pulling on the housings only - never the wires!). I wouldn't recommend doing this a lot though, because these aren't rated for a lot of plugging/unplugging. I then attached the switch circuit board. Since this board actually sits flush on the bottom of the 2600, I couldn't run the wires underneath it - they'd get pinched. I thought about running them along the sides, but found I didn't need to. They're behind it. I had to allow clearance for the wires under the main circuit board (see Chapter 12). This turned out to be a little tricky, because I had to install the black cardboard backer around the joystick and power ports, slide it under the circuit board, and over the wires. This picture doesn't show that, because it was precisely after I took this picture that I realized that I'd forgotten to do that. So I had to take this back out and do it over. There was plenty of room beneath the switches for the wires. This kept them out of the way, and also meant they wouldn't be rattling around in the 2600 case during shipping. Bonus! Same thing on the other side. I just had to make sure they didn't get pinched between the plastic standoffs (that the case screws go through) and the switch board. Okay - before the final button-up, one last chance to test! I mentioned in the previous chapter that I wouldn't be able to test continuity for the main motherboard's Molex connectors. The reason is that with the RF shield in place, I can't get to the other end of the wires anymore. So if this didn't work, I'd have a fair amount of backtracking to do. But since the case's connectors all tested out fine, I felt pretty confident that the ones coming from the motherboard were good to go. So, were they good? Or was this all for naught?? If it worked, should I just lie to James and tell him it blew up, and keep his 2600 for myself?? Yes, no and nah. In that order. Pretty sure I couldn't get away with that. I took these pics right after power up, so you can see the monitor displaying the input source. I'm nerdy like that. These only caught every other scanline (I didn't use Cortex Camera), but in the real world they all look perfectly fine. And yes, there's audio, too. First, RGB. Pac-Man: Harmony Cart: Harmony Encore: Uno Cart: And now, component. Pac-Man: Harmony Cart: Harmony Encore: Uno Cart: Everything worked! Although it could all just be Photoshopped. Just one final thing to fix. The adhesive on the foil static shielding (page 3-5, Atari 2600 Field Service Manual), was shot. It just wouldn't stick to anything, and the foil had also been torn. Nothing a little double-stick tape couldn't fix. Now, I don't know how important this actually is, but Atari says it should be there, so back it went. Then, I capped 'em off with the felt discs. It's the details that matter. So with that, it was time to put the lid back on (and I only lost one screw!). Here's the beauty shot: From the back: As an aside, the reason I labeled the 8-pin port "Framemeister" and not RGB, is because it's no longer carrying only RGB. It's now also carrying audio, using the Framemeister pinout. Here's a look at the Framemeister cable plugged in. Nice and neat. And component + audio. And yes - the Palette button works. Funny story... when I was first testing component video earlier in this chapter, the picture was way, way too bright. I couldn't figure out why, because in all previous tests it was fine. I thought maybe I'd bumped the Palette button while unplugging the Framemeister cable. So I pressed it a couple of times to change the palette (which it did). But that didn't fix the problem. The picture looked familiar though... like unterminated video (from back in my old analog video days). A quick check of the back of the monitor, and sure enough, I'd plugged a couple of the component cables into the output connectors by accident (to be fair - the monitor is right up against a wall). A quick replugging later, and all was well. Anyway, with that, James' 2600 is hereby fixed! And re-modded. And even a little upgraded. Just one little addendum - James mentioned that at one point he'd done this mod to his 2600 as well. But that wasn't present on the 2600 when I got it, so it's possible he removed it during earlier troubleshooting. We decided not to reinstall it, since when I tested my copy of Stay Frosty 2 on his 2600, it worked just fine. Besides, it's an easy-enough thing to add if he needs to do so later. Hopefully though, this will just keep working for many more episodes of ZeroPage Homebrew to come! Now... I guess I should find a box or something to mail this in. But in the meantime, there's no reason I can't put it to some good use.
  15. It's not the final chapter... but it's almost the final chapter! The final chapter will be posted later tonight!! Can you stand the suspense?? I can. I know how it ends. But I can experience it vicariously through others, I suppose.
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