Jump to content
AlecRob

Is the Bally Astrocade worth getting, or is it just a novelty?

Recommended Posts

I have been a MAME'er since release 1.   I have the Mister, and I also have an Astrocade with the UltiMulti Cart.  I also have the BlissBox to connect real controllers to each.   MAME and MISTer are both pretty much flawless.   I do not use the real hardware much any more, but still hanging on to it.   You can not go wrong with whichever path you choose.

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, scotty said:

I have been a MAME'er since release 1.   I have the Mister, and I also have an Astrocade with the UltiMulti Cart.  I also have the BlissBox to connect real controllers to each.   MAME and MISTer are both pretty much flawless.

 

The MISTer doesn't support the Astrocade's 24-keypad, right?

 

MAME supports, kind of, the 2000-baud tape interface in the AstroBASIC cartridge, but it doesn't support the 300-baud interface at all.  Nor does MAME support the Blue Ram tape interface.   MAME also doesn't have any support for cartridge swapping, which can be done on real hardware and is required for more cartridge-based software than you might imagine.

 

Does MISTer support either the 300 or 2000-baud tape interface?  Does it support the extra RAM, and, if it does support RAM, can you choose which type of RAM is being used?

 

Adam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I took the Astrocade "plunge" around the beginning of the pandemic (just a coincidence). Luckily secured a functioning one with the Ulti Multi and all the controllers working for it.

 

The controllers are godly. The arcade sound really brings me back to my days of being a yout', especially the Pac Man clone one. I haven't delved into all the games yet, the ones that have gotten a lot of recognition here I totally agree, WAR, Incredible Wizard, Crazy Climber, etc.

 

It's been fun to find some of the games that aren't real technically a marvel, but still fun, especially with multiplayer. My young daughters really enjoy War and Old Bent Nose. There isn't a TON of depth in my humble opinion, but it was definitely worth a splash. Would love to get it modded eventually to output something better than RF.

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you want to collect something different and like games of that era, it might be worth it.   Prices are stupid crazy now though and the console can be finicky.   I have a fairly large collection of astrocades and games.   My grails would be owning a home library computer and two white Montgomery Ward ones.   

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, swlovinist said:

If you want to collect something different and like games of that era, it might be worth it.   Prices are stupid crazy now though and the console can be finicky.   I have a fairly large collection of astrocades and games.   My grails would be owning a home library computer and two white Montgomery Ward ones.   

Seems they're not so finicky as we thought - people used to think it was the custom chips that were burned out/fried/died, but Allen Schweitzer pointed out the majority of his repairs are not the custom chips being bad.  So this is a good thing actually as it means a good deal of the systems with issues most likely can be repaired (Allen if you read this and I am incorrect on what you stated, please correct me 😁).

 

Owning a Home Library Computer and both White and "Standard" Bally Professional Arcade models from Montgomery Ward, I can say they are a great part of any collection (although I just display only the HLC and White BPA models myself).  Of course no collection is complete without and actual Astrocade branded model in it.  

 

While I have taken a back seat to collecting for a while now, my holy grail is the Astrocade Kiosk.  I'd pay good money for one of those in good condition.  Oh, to be able to time travel when these were let go for $100 ... 
 

HLC_BPA_AST_small.jpeg

Edited by 128Kgames
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What are the chances of a Bally Astrocade being broken if I were to buy an untested unit on ebay? I've been meaning to either pick up a Bally Aatrocade or an Atari Jaguar but might go with an Astrocade because it sells for less on average. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Sonaru said:

What are the chances of a Bally Astrocade being broken if I were to buy an untested unit on ebay? I've been meaning to either pick up a Bally Aatrocade or an Atari Jaguar but might go with an Astrocade because it sells for less on average. 

 

As one might expect, "untested" usually means dead.  This is especially true with the Astrocade.

 

Adam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Sonaru said:

What are the chances of a Bally Astrocade being broken if I were to buy an untested unit on ebay? I've been meaning to either pick up a Bally Aatrocade or an Atari Jaguar but might go with an Astrocade because it sells for less on average. 

As Adam said, 1000% chance it doesn't work.  I've been saying for almost 20 years untested=not working.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah chances are definitely higher than 90% it is broken, but there are folks who have gotten good at repair. @Allen Schweitzer is your guy.  He might actually have a working one for sale if you contact him directly.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sometimes it's tempting to get a cheap unit when one is available below $200. I replace capacitors and other components but the ram and cpu chips are a different story. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, Sonaru said:

I replace capacitors and other components but the ram and cpu chips are a different story. 

I know nothing about the internals of Bally as thankfully I've never had to open mine up yet. But the scariest part for me of any vintage sets are the proprietary ICs that may go bad, some of which are near impossible to find anymore and don't have any drop-in replacements.

 

Some of the chips in 70s-80s computers have given me a lot of grief for this very reason. Most other things including RAM, CPU and generic electrical components are replaceable, but the combined circuit chips can be agonizing if they go bad.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/26/2014 at 2:37 PM, AlecRob said:

Is the Bally Astrocade worth getting, or is it just a novelty?

We had one in to restore (re-cap, video mod, service), and despite it's fragility, I really want one. But it's not worth getting because of that fragility and what they cost to buy these days sadly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We had one in to restore (re-cap, video mod, service), and despite it's fragility, I really want one. But it's not worth getting because of that fragility and what they cost to buy these days sadly.

Has anyone made an FPGA core for the Astrocade? Along with some kind of controller adapter, I think this would be great to have on the Mister or Analogue consoles.

 

Edit:

 

With a little bit of googling it looks like the Mister does have a core and that there is an Astro-Adapter made by 2600-daptor.com.

I wonder how well it works?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's a core for it on mister. Might be able to map a Xbox controller or somthing to give all the functionality of the controller. Otherwise it'd need some sort of snac adapter and I doubt anyone's done one that supports the astrocade. Infact there's stuff on setting up the controller here: https://misterfpga.org/viewtopic.php?t=234

Edited by juansolo
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will get a Mister eventually. It's nice to own original consoles at least for its aesthetic and to help understand the type of games that were released on the original systems back in the day. I find it easy to lose interest when I try playing Atari games on an emulator with my laptop because I also have modern PC games on it.

 

But when I play on a original console like the Atari, it helps me appreciate the type of games made for the system given its limitations. It places me in the mindset of enjoying the games for what they are instead of drawing comparisons to newer games when I use a emulator on a phone or PC. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, juansolo said:

We had one in to restore (re-cap, video mod, service), and despite it's fragility, I really want one. But it's not worth getting because of that fragility and what they cost to buy these days sadly.

I think their "fragility" is overrated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Sonaru said:

I will get a Mister eventually. It's nice to own original consoles at least for its aesthetic and to help understand the type of games that were released on the original systems back in the day. I find it easy to lose interest when I try playing Atari games on an emulator with my laptop because I also have modern PC games on it.

As someone with a Mister and a load of old consoles, computers, and CRTs I tend to use both... What I use the Mister for is to get the old console experience on a panel. Now had I not had a load of kit and the Mister was already around, I'm not sure I'd have actually got them and I'd probably just plug the Mister into a CRT. But there is something tactile about using the old machines that it can't do... It's mostly a nostalgia thing, but functionally, the Mister is easily the best non-original kit experience I've had with a lot of this stuff.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As someone with a Mister and a load of old consoles, computers, and CRTs I tend to use both... What I use the Mister for is to get the old console experience on a panel. Now had I not had a load of kit and the Mister was already around, I'm not sure I'd have actually got them and I'd probably just plug the Mister into a CRT. But there is something tactile about using the old machines that it can't do... It's mostly a nostalgia thing, but functionally, the Mister is easily the best non-original kit experience I've had with a lot of this stuff.

I use an Analogue NT Mini Noir for many of the old consoles. I’m thinking about getting a mister as well. Somehow the Noir feels like a super version of all the consoles it has cores for instead of an emulation mini pc. I think it’s the cartridge slots for the NES and Famicom.

I also own many retro consoles but I have wanted to play them on HDMI panels or in RGB on my CRTs for a long time. I’ve gotten tired of having to mod my old consoles. It’s great to just have it one and done. The only thing I would have liked on the Noir is a D sub 9 pin connector. It seems like a huge miss given all of the cores it supports use this style of port for their controllers, well mostly anyway.
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How fragile are the controllers? The Channel F controller is one of my favorite experiences in all of gaming and it sounds like the Astrocade controller is similarly great. I have no appetite for adding another expensive system to the roster, though, so I would want to use it with a MISTer eventually or an emulator for now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, jgkspsx said:

How fragile are the controllers? The Channel F controller is one of my favorite experiences in all of gaming and it sounds like the Astrocade controller is similarly great. I have no appetite for adding another expensive system to the roster, though, so I would want to use it with a MISTer eventually or an emulator for now.

Astrocade controllers not only stand the test of time (40+ years) but they are hands down the most ergonomic, most versatile design of any of that eras controllers.  It may take a minute to get used to but the pistol grip and trigger fire button makes for some amazing play.  The joystick is smooth as can be and the built in paddle was a brilliant idea.  That (paddle) is the only part that can get sketchy over time, but a few drops of alcohol and some twisting usually do the trick.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know a lot of people think that Bally's are very expensive, and the truth is - THEY ARE.  I'm not a fan of that.  This post got me ruminating some old thoughts I've had for a while, now, and I decided to just put them here so maybe they'll be off my mind.  (FAT CHANCE)

It agitates me that people are listing consoles at the same price I try to sell mine for.  It shouldn't, but it does....  Most of these consoles are untested, and yes, I'm sure some of them don't work.  These people pick them up somewhere for probably very cheap, and try to make a quick few hundred bucks with a quick flip on e-bay.  Many of them sit there for a very long time "untested".  That doesn't really affect my feelings of disdain.  What irks me, is that so many sellers price their items at or above what I try to sell mine for.  Lately, I've just decided to raise my prices to meet theirs.  And why not?  Why would I spend $400 on an untested Bally (or even a working one, for that matter) to put my time into it and break even or lose money?

I'm willing to bet that most of the Bally's that sell on e-bay have not been full taken apart and cleaned.  I clean the keyboard, EJECT and RESET buttons, console top and bottom in warm water with Dawn dish soap and a hard bristled toothbrush, or a nylon brush.  I don't wash the outside of the bottom of the console case, as water and serial number stickers don't get along with each other, but I do use water and a brush inside to get out the dust.  Do these other people take over their wives' kitchen sink to do this?  Do they let all of the components air dry for 24 hours under a ceiling fan on their family's dining room table sitting on fresh paper towels?  Do they clean the keypad with a q-tip and Everclear to get 40 years of dead skin cells and dirt scrubbed off?  Do they blow air on the motherboard to remove dust particles?  Do the replace all the old capacitors in the board to help keep it running another 40 years?  Do they glue a monster heat sink onto almost every data chip to help prevent it from failing?  Do they wipe the RF cable and power supply cord with warm water and a paper towel?

Or do they just throw everything in a box, and pass it on to the next guy?  Too many times, I've seen a power supply with the plugs bent after it gouged the console top and/or scratched or broke the plastic top that sits over the cart storage area during it's joyful, bouncy trip to my doorstep.

Do they use an 18K Gold Krylon leafing pen to touch up the gold trim on the console?  RESET button?  EJECT button?  Keyboard?  Controller badges?

Do they make sure every game has a decent label on it, or even attempt to test the games?

And how about the controllers?  Do they take the controllers apart, and use a nylon brush on them to get the gunk out of the texture on the handles?  Do they test the functions of the controllers?  Do they repair issues with broken wires?  Probably not.  That's a 30-40 minute job, if you do it right.  Do they use electronic contact cleaner on the shaft to free up the pots?  Do they take every pot apart CORRECTLY, and clean the resistor plates with Everclear and Goo Gone, and put just the right amount of a 50-50 mix of white lithium and di-electric grease on the pots to keep them working correctly for years to come?

I put a TON of time into every unit I refurbish and sell.  I probably average 5 hours per console (and all the components)...maybe more.  The sad part is, I probably put more time into the cosmetically deficient ones than I have to the nice ones, and they don't bring as much.  I try to get them as close to what they were new, and as clean inside and out as I can.  I kind of feel sorry for the buyer when I see some Bally's sell for a lot of money.  It's fine if someone doesn't buy one from me, but I try to give every one of my buyers as close to a "new Bally out of the box on Christmas morning" experience as I can.  I want them to know what the Bally was to me when I was a kid.  I've bought "working" Bally's that arrived at my house with broken pieces, or not working.  Try finding a listing on a Bally that offers returns.  Even I don't do that.  BUT if you have any problems with a Bally or controller, game, UM, LWR... whatever you buy from me, you will have my attention until I can get the situation resolved to your satisfaction.  No, I do not accept returns, but I have occasionally had items shipped back to me if something was damaged during shipping, or some other issue arose.  And so far, I've never charged to look at or fix anything for anybody I've sold to.  Good luck getting that level of service out of the "Estate Find" sellers.  I did replace a bad chip on a unit I sold once...2 years after the guy bought it from me, and it failed.

I'm not sure I'll feel any better about submitting this after I do, but I do wish the best of luck to every Bally buyer out there, whether they buy from me or not.  Earlier this year, I started a collection of items removed from consoles.  I wish I would have started doing this long ago.  There are no guarantees in life, but I would like to think I can guarantee I won't be shipping someone a Bally with 1/2 of a bean, a random loose screw, a fake fingernail, a Monopoly house or any other piece of junk inside of it.

p.s.  If the Monopoly house is your, p.m. me.  :D

IMG_0991.JPG

  • Like 4
  • Thanks 1
  • Haha 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Allen Schweitzer said:

I know a lot of people think that Bally's are very expensive, and the truth is - THEY ARE.  I'm not a fan of that.  This post got me ruminating some old thoughts I've had for a while, now, and I decided to just put them here so maybe they'll be off my mind.  (FAT CHANCE)

It agitates me that people are listing consoles at the same price I try to sell mine for.  It shouldn't, but it does....  Most of these consoles are untested, and yes, I'm sure some of them don't work.  These people pick them up somewhere for probably very cheap, and try to make a quick few hundred bucks with a quick flip on e-bay.  Many of them sit there for a very long time "untested".  That doesn't really affect my feelings of disdain.  What irks me, is that so many sellers price their items at or above what I try to sell mine for.  Lately, I've just decided to raise my prices to meet theirs.  And why not?  Why would I spend $400 on an untested Bally (or even a working one, for that matter) to put my time into it and break even or lose money?

I'm willing to bet that most of the Bally's that sell on e-bay have not been full taken apart and cleaned.  I clean the keyboard, EJECT and RESET buttons, console top and bottom in warm water with Dawn dish soap and a hard bristled toothbrush, or a nylon brush.  I don't wash the outside of the bottom of the console case, as water and serial number stickers don't get along with each other, but I do use water and a brush inside to get out the dust.  Do these other people take over their wives' kitchen sink to do this?  Do they let all of the components air dry for 24 hours under a ceiling fan on their family's dining room table sitting on fresh paper towels?  Do they clean the keypad with a q-tip and Everclear to get 40 years of dead skin cells and dirt scrubbed off?  Do they blow air on the motherboard to remove dust particles?  Do the replace all the old capacitors in the board to help keep it running another 40 years?  Do they glue a monster heat sink onto almost every data chip to help prevent it from failing?  Do they wipe the RF cable and power supply cord with warm water and a paper towel?

Or do they just throw everything in a box, and pass it on to the next guy?  Too many times, I've seen a power supply with the plugs bent after it gouged the console top and/or scratched or broke the plastic top that sits over the cart storage area during it's joyful, bouncy trip to my doorstep.

Do they use an 18K Gold Krylon leafing pen to touch up the gold trim on the console?  RESET button?  EJECT button?  Keyboard?  Controller badges?

Do they make sure every game has a decent label on it, or even attempt to test the games?

And how about the controllers?  Do they take the controllers apart, and use a nylon brush on them to get the gunk out of the texture on the handles?  Do they test the functions of the controllers?  Do they repair issues with broken wires?  Probably not.  That's a 30-40 minute job, if you do it right.  Do they use electronic contact cleaner on the shaft to free up the pots?  Do they take every pot apart CORRECTLY, and clean the resistor plates with Everclear and Goo Gone, and put just the right amount of a 50-50 mix of white lithium and di-electric grease on the pots to keep them working correctly for years to come?

I put a TON of time into every unit I refurbish and sell.  I probably average 5 hours per console (and all the components)...maybe more.  The sad part is, I probably put more time into the cosmetically deficient ones than I have to the nice ones, and they don't bring as much.  I try to get them as close to what they were new, and as clean inside and out as I can.  I kind of feel sorry for the buyer when I see some Bally's sell for a lot of money.  It's fine if someone doesn't buy one from me, but I try to give every one of my buyers as close to a "new Bally out of the box on Christmas morning" experience as I can.  I want them to know what the Bally was to me when I was a kid.  I've bought "working" Bally's that arrived at my house with broken pieces, or not working.  Try finding a listing on a Bally that offers returns.  Even I don't do that.  BUT if you have any problems with a Bally or controller, game, UM, LWR... whatever you buy from me, you will have my attention until I can get the situation resolved to your satisfaction.  No, I do not accept returns, but I have occasionally had items shipped back to me if something was damaged during shipping, or some other issue arose.  And so far, I've never charged to look at or fix anything for anybody I've sold to.  Good luck getting that level of service out of the "Estate Find" sellers.  I did replace a bad chip on a unit I sold once...2 years after the guy bought it from me, and it failed.

I'm not sure I'll feel any better about submitting this after I do, but I do wish the best of luck to every Bally buyer out there, whether they buy from me or not.  Earlier this year, I started a collection of items removed from consoles.  I wish I would have started doing this long ago.  There are no guarantees in life, but I would like to think I can guarantee I won't be shipping someone a Bally with 1/2 of a bean, a random loose screw, a fake fingernail, a Monopoly house or any other piece of junk inside of it.

p.s.  If the Monopoly house is your, p.m. me.  :D

IMG_0991.JPG

Keep kicking A$$ Allen, we are lucky to have you in this hobby.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Allen Schweitzer said:

If the Monopoly house is your, p.m. me.  :D

 

 

Thanks for holding onto that monopoly house for me.  I have been looking for it everyone.  Please ship it back to me ASAP.

 

No, really, Allen, this is a great post.  I encourage you to repost it to the Bally Alley discussion group and then to link to it from your auctions.  I've always thought that you sell your Astrocade systems under the going rate.  I hate to encourage anyone to raise their prices for an Astrocade on any auction side, but, Allen, raise the price for which you sell your refurbished Astrocade system!

 

Adam

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...