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Moonpig

PAL vs. NTSC Atari 2600 console Questions

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Got some Noob questions, I live in the UK and am thinking of getting a NTSC console and a Harmony cartridge.

 

Are NTSC consoles better because they play games 20% faster and they will be in full screen if my TV supports 60 Hertz?

 

Can i buy a NTSC console and then use a UK PAL power supply? Or would I have to use a NTSC power supply with an adapter plug and some sort of step down converter?

 

Would UK joystick and paddles controller work in a NTSC console?

 

Would a PAL console have problems playing some NTSC roms through the Harmony?

 

Would modding the Atari to composite produce a better picture and sound over the RF cable or is the mod only useful if your modern tv does not have a RF plug?

 

Thanks

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It's not the consoles which make the difference regarding speed, its the games. So a NTSC console won't help at all.

 

Also the TV colour signal created by a NTSC console is not PAL compatible, so everything will be in black and white.

 

I suppose that makes all other questions irrelevant.

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Thanks for fast reply , sorry for noob questions i thought it just might work like a NTSC N64 which i use in the UK with no problems.

 

Also

 

Would modding the Atari to composite produce a better picture and sound over the RF cable or is the mod only useful if your modern tv does not have a RF plug?

 

Thanks

Edited by Moonpig

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I modded my 2600 and play it on a regular tv and i can tell a big diffrence from the old rf video.

It is well worth it my friend.

 

 

Scott

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If you want NTSC console you have 2 choices:

 

1. multi standard TV that has a NTSC tuner

2. modify the console for composite video output so that you do not need any NTSC tuner

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If your TV supports NTSC then it will work. If your NTSC N64 works then the 2600 should work.

 

You can play PAL or NTSC roms from the Harmony cart. You will just get the wrong colours but you can still play them.

 

Joysticks and paddles are the same everywhere so they will work.

 

The power supply will be different due to US using 110 volts but you can use a power supply from a PAL 2600 with a NTSC 2600.

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PAL is the better format as it is used by superior nations (Australia, UK, Europe) . Don't waste your time with NTSC, with the imminent collapse of the US, the format will fade into oblivion.

Edited by Matthew

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I would say that both NTSC and PAL are fading out.. because analogue TV broadcast is pretty much dead now, and the new TV sets do not support them anymore.

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Living in the UK take it from me, the only way an NTSC 2600 will display in the UK is over composite, so it would need to be composite modded, an NTSC system won't tune in on RF.

 

Ignore anyone saying the ntsc system won't display on a PAL tv, most tv sets since the early 90s can accept NTSC signals

 

The PSU you can just use a uk one

 

Prab

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Do NTSC consoles in the USA use the VHF waveband?

My German VCS didn't work in the UK because the UK TVs don't have VHF, only UHF. In Germany all older consoles used the VHF waveband.

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They used to tune down in the VHF in the past, but yes, in the UK, TVs are UHF only on RF now, they start around channel 13.

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Sorry if I missed it, but I am a little in the same boat with the original question.

 

I live in the UK, and am considering buying both an NTSC 7800 and 2600 (yes I know the 7800 will play 2600 games, but I am a completist ha ha).  The reason being, is to have the 2600 RGB modded, and the 7800 SVideo modded.  My thinking being that they would play the 20% faster and have larger screen real estate (something that us in the UK have missed out on).  So I guess my question remains, if I do so, will I (as with other NTSC consoles on a CRT) have a faster machine, with more screen to view (not a letter box screen as is usual with PAL machines)?

 

Cheers all.

 

 

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34 minutes ago, GDT2019 said:

Sorry if I missed it, but I am a little in the same boat with the original question.

 

I live in the UK, and am considering buying both an NTSC 7800 and 2600 (yes I know the 7800 will play 2600 games, but I am a completist ha ha).  The reason being, is to have the 2600 RGB modded, and the 7800 SVideo modded.  My thinking being that they would play the 20% faster and have larger screen real estate (something that us in the UK have missed out on).  So I guess my question remains, if I do so, will I (as with other NTSC consoles on a CRT) have a faster machine, with more screen to view (not a letter box screen as is usual with PAL machines)?

 

Cheers all.

 

 

It is NOT the Atari 2600 that is making NTSC faster. It is the game on the cartridge.

To get the full benefit of the extra speed, so to speak, you need to play a NTSC game cartridge -- and because the colours are different between PAL/NTSC, you will also need to play that NTSC game cartridge on a NTSC machine. It will work on a PAL machine (at the faster speed), but will have the wrong colours. To top it all off -- if you are playing on a NTSC console you need a TV that's capable of displaying NTSC.

Again, the letter-boxing is due to the #scanlines the cartridge delivers to the TV and how the TV handles that TV frame.

NOT NOT NOT the Atari 2600 itself.

So, if you're playing NTSC games on a PAL machine -- non-letterboxed, wrong colours, faster speed.

If you're playing NTSC games on a NTSC machine -- non-letterbox, correct colours, faster speed.

If you're playing NTSC machine on a PAL monitor -- probably B&W, as the colour signal is in a different spectrum area.

The colour "idea" comes from the cartridge (i.e., NTSC "red", represented by number 54) but if you plug that NTSC cartridge into a PAL Atari 2600, it's going to feed green to the TV because colour 54 on the PAL machines is green, not red.

It all gets very combinatorial :)

In short, it's not the PAL machines that letterbox -- it is the cartridge.  It's not the machine that runs faster/slower -- it's the cartridge.  But it IS the machine which is responsible for what colour you actually see (if any). And the "if any" is because you need a TV that is compatible with the NTSC/PAL format that your machine is set to. Enjoy.

 

Edited by Andrew Davie
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To try to explain that a bit better -- TV standards are 50 Hz for PAL, and 59.97 Hz for NTSC -- we use 60 Hz in the '2600 world. So games written to do "one thing ever frame" for example, are going to be 6/5 faster if they are NTSC games generating a frame at 60 Hz, than PAL games generating a frame at 50 Hz. A frame in NTSC-land is 262 scanlines, and in PAL-land it's 312 scanlines.  PAL is pretty close to 6/5 of the scanlines of NTSC. Another way of putting that is that if you count the total number of scanlines drawn per second it is very close to the same for either machine. But one does more frames/second and smaller # scanlines -- the other does less frames/second but more scanlines.

If you get yourself a multicart such as UnoCart, Harmony Cartridge, or PlusCart -- then you can put games on that (available as free downloads) and then you can play many of the games in the format you want, because modern homebrewers have done those speed conversions to make the PAL versions operate at the same speed as the NTSC versions. Then you won't need a NTSC '2600 at all.

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You live in the UK, like me. I've gone down this rabbit hole a bit.

 

I own a PAL woody. Not modded. I use it with my CRT and I get a decent picture with RF. Good enough for my purposes. I use RGB SCART for all my later retro consoles. I haven't bothered yet thinking about upgrading as I'm not sure it's worth it with the 2600.

I own a Harmony cart. Brilliant piece of kit. You can play NTSC games on your PAL 2600 but the colours will be wrong. You might get b&w OR you might get a unsteady jumping image. It all depends on the TV.Chances are though you will just get the wrong colours.

BUT this forum has a PAL60 ROM thread. I started it. It has a pile of games that have been changed to run full screen & speed with the right colours.

Most of the popular games have a PAL60 version now. Most homebrews have PAL60 options too.

So - you don't really need to get an NTSC 2600

 

By the way I highly recommend you use a CRT.

 

But. I also own an NTSC 2600. It is highly unlikely your TV will work with it unmodded. Your tuner will probably not pick it up. I tried on several TVs, projectors, through a VCR - nothing worked.

So I got it modded for composite. It works just fine. And it works with the PAL power supply. But did I really need to do that? Probably not because of the PAL60 ROMset that is available now.

 

7800 seems to be a different kettle of fish. I have a PAL one. Some games seem to be speed adjusted but there are borders and stuff like music in some games playing slower too. I get a decent picture with the RF. I don't play that many games on it. The PAL one has Asteroids built into it (no cart needed) and it's an excellent version. It's the main reason I own one as I'm an Asteroids fanboy. Food Fight, Joust and a few other games are solid too.

 

If I was starting down the 7800 road I would try and get an NTSC console and get it modded for RGB SCART.

 

Re CRTs and RF - I do get different image qualities with different CRTs. I have found that running the 2600/7800 through a VCR to convert the RF to composite may improve the picture (if the VCR tuner is better than the TV's) - but it depends on the VCR tuner and/or the CRT tuner.

Edited by davyK
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If you go with the eTim RGB mod (which isn't trivial so make sure you're up to it), you end up with as near as damnit a multi-region machine as you can switch palettes with it on a button. So getting an NTSC console is a little moot there, just grab a PAL six switch (the easiest to mod).

 

An NTSC 7800 with an S-Video mod will have to go into a TV/monitor that is properly multi-standard. A lot of old CRTs aren't. Many will happily play 60Hz RGB signals from other consoles, but might not handle NTSC over S-Video/Composite. If you're running a PVM you'll likely be ok, a BVM will have to have the right board in it to work. It all gets complicated. You could run it into something like an OSSC or RetroTink and that might get you something useable. But mainly the consideration will be what you're plugging into as to what will be the best option for you.

 

It's unlikely you'll get anything out of the RF on either console on a PAL TV.

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22 minutes ago, davyK said:

If I was starting down the 7800 road I would try and get an NTSC console and get it modded for RGB SCART.

Sadly no one has done this yet. Saint an Tim Worthington have both mentioned they're working on one, but as of today, there isn't a 7800 RGB mod.

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1 minute ago, davyK said:

Is there an s-video or composite mod?

Yes with some large caveats. From a picture output point of view, the NTSC 7800 is vastly superior to the PAL 7800. The PAL machine has some horrible design compromises. The UAV is the path of least resistance on the NTSC 7800 and will get you great results. The PAL machine has some options out there but there are some fundamental flaws that make them all a bit pants as nothing really addresses them. We tried and have a solution that for us gets the best output you can from a PAL 7800, but it's a fairly involved mod. Hence I've left it fully DIY as if you're comfortable making your own board, you should be comfortable doing the mod... It's here anyhow:

We start getting into it on page 2 and there's a doc on page 6 at the bottom that's the result of all our broddling and contains all the info on what we did and why.

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Hmmmmm.....might just stick with what I have!!

 

:)

 

Or just emulate.

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PAL 2600 is a good call, and stick a UAV in it. Easy enough to do and will get good results. The 7800 is the one that's a bit of a pain in the butt for us.

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Many thanks all for the replies - it always warms me how ready people are to help and chip in with advice.... 

 

Where I am at presently is I have a mix of a couple of SONY PVM and BVM's and run all my other consoles either over SCART RGB or Composite.

 

I think the thing I was trying to achieve, was basicly getting the best picture (count that as fullest picture, no borders) version of both the 2600 and 7800. 

 

Presently I have a PAL 6 switch 2600 which I was going to get RGB modded and run on the PVM or BVM - but didn't want to comit to a mod, if really what is wanted  / needed was an NTSC and get it modded for the best picture (including screen size).  Same with the 7800.  Presently I have a composite modded 7800, but was considering an NTSC with UAV mod - for the fullest screen (no borders) on my PVM or BVM.

 

I am kind of looking at the same with my Intellivision and ColecoVisions...... if although I have modded PAL machines, actualy NTSC is the way to go for the "fullest" screen estate on my BVM or PVM......

 

I think this site confused me further:

 

http://www.ataricompendium.com/faq/vcs_scanlines.html

 

At the moment, I am thinking it looks like I get my PAL 2600 RGB modded and run it on my monitors, and then follow the PAL60 thread and get a Harmony cart to get full screen games.

 

Re. the 7800, I am now thinking, I get an NTSC with UAV mod (and keep my PAL machine also).

 

As the Intellivision and Colecovision.... sigh..... thats another question LOL!

Edited by GDT2019
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I'd mod your PAL 6 switch with the RGB mod (it's what I run) it's the best you can get and it'll run everything via a Harmony cart.


As you've got a PVM an NTSC 7800 with a UAV mod is likely the path of least resistance for you to get a decent picture as most PVMs are properly multi-standard. The BVMs you have to be careful with it's likely just a PAL S-Video/Composite board. You can put an NTSC one in there, but the pic on the PVM will be just fine.

 

To be honest there's little to no difference in speed between PAL and NTSC machines, only odd games have an issue. Also if you want full screen, I've re-scaled my Underscan button on my PVMs to make most 7800 stuff fit correctly from a PAL 7800, I just hit that to get insta-stretch (you can do the same with the 16:9 button if you're not using it), I mention it on the thread I linked with some pic examples (page 4 post 90). Given how hard an NTSC 7800 is to get here, it's an option, if it wasn't for the complete shit picture out of a PAL 7800 without some jiggery pokery. Given the kit you've got though, if you want us to mod your PAL 7800, we could certainly do that.

 

Edited by juansolo

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I'm pleased to hear that the 7800 speed is more or less the same in PAL and NTSC.

 

PVM = nice. :)

 

Edited by davyK

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