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Mef

My (PAL) Light Sixer restoration and S-video mod.

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Just before the New Year, I got my very first Sixer. So far, I've only owned 2 Juniors (older 84' Short Rainbow and newer 91' Long Rainbow), a Junior-like clone and a Vader-style clone, but never even saw a "Woody" with my own eyes before.

 

This one came from a local auction site, at the price of $22 with P&P included. I knew it's going to need some work, because it was being sold as "TV can't detect it" (and it wasn't the original owner, but a re-seller who specialises in grabbing retro stuff from a german flea market - so typical in Poland, we just never had any market for consoles till 90's), but hey! it was the only way for me to get one below $60-100 in here.

 

When it's arrived, it was dirty on the outside and literally full of filth inside. It didn't have any of the original 6 screws, but instead some random 3 to just barely hold it all in one piece.

 

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The reason for it not working quickly became apparent... some idiot has replaced the original cable with an antenna one, breaking off the plastic tab in the opening for the cable, to be able to push the bigger plug thru. And sice the antenna plug is bigger than the RCA-type socket on the switchboard, he's squashed it with pliers or something, to hold it in place. Of course it has broken loose, and since the cable was a total shit anyway, I've temporarily replaced it with one of mine to test the picture.

 

But the TV still didn't detect anything... I touched the volage regulator and it was cold - sure sign of nothing going thru. Fortunately it didn't require any detective work, as I've quickly found a broken solder joint on the power adapter socket. Cleaned it up and secured with huge blobs of solder.

 

In the meantime, the case took a bath. I've cleaned the black residue (oxidation) on the switches with CIF cleaning cream and a dense sponge, worked quite well. Everything was ready for the final test.

 

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Then came a nasty surprise. I plugged in the first cart around - Outlaw and... the second cowboy kept firing contantly. At first I panicked that it's a dead TIA and I will have to either desolder it from the younger Junior, or simply take it out of the socket on the older one, but I didn't want to sacrifice that one! Luckily, the Sixers differ a bit and it wasn't a TIA issue, but damaged hexbuffer chip (4050), as described in this topic .

 

For starters, I bridged the pins 6 and 7 to see if that helps, and it worked like a charm. Since I'm just learning how to solder/desolder, I couldn't pass on the opportunity and decided to put in a socketed replacement. I've managed to find a perfect match (CD4050BCN) in my usual electronics store.

 

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Since I've already tampered with the motherboard, why not install a small inductor-bypass mod so that I don't run into trouble trying certain games.

 

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Now that the VCS was in perfect working order, it was time for S-vide mod. I did identical one on my older Junior and it was very happy with it, no need to disable the modulator, no cut traces, no soldering components to the motherboard like some crap AV mods. Just a wire-ribbon going from TIA socket to the mod board. Later secured it with hot-glue, before closing the metal box.

 

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I already had a bunch of RCA sockets attached to pieces of wire, from my attempts with the Junior, to quickly test if everything works ok.:

 

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Not to drill thru the metal, I've let the ribbon out using the opening meant for trimpot access, and closed the box. At the top of the picture, you can see the large blobs of solder that hold the power socket I mentioned earlier.

 

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All that was left was finding a nice spot for the mod board to sit at and secure it in place with hot-glue. The cable going outside is detachable (using a standard 2.54mm raster "gold-pin" connector), so that I can replace it with another one, or a bunch of standard sockets installed at the back of the console without touching the mod board itself. Right now, I'm using a cable that splits into 4 RCA jacks, to connect to my Commodore 1084S monitor.

 

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Having all the bits inside, it was the time to close the case, but the foam dust-protector discs were missing. I cut out my own from a piece of 2mm PVC craft foam. They were a bitt too large, so I needed to snip off the excess on the sides, so that they don't collide with the "support pillars" where the case screws go. Good that I chose to cut square openings in them, so that they won't turn sideways!

 

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I've put in new (sheet metal) screws and voila!

The unit plays great and I've stress-tested it for hours now. Doesn't glitch, likes all carts, works perfectly with joys, paddles and driving controllers. Definately worth all the effort, considering the initial price. Last step will be repainting the decorative orange strip around the switches' panel, I'll post the results here once done.

 

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Comments and questions more than welcome.

:)

Edited by Mef
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Awesome!

Recently I've found and purchased a Sony PVM 2130QM so I will need a similar mod for my Junior... can you tell me more? I have no experience with soldering skills... it is easy?

Thanks

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Everything is easy, once you get some experience.

;)

 

To be honest, this doesn't require much skill, provided you can follow instructions and don't assume it's some kind of a voodoo. These times it's so much easier as you don't even need the ability to read simple schematics or recognize parts. An illustrated/video tutorial can guide you thru everything.

There's one thing however the tutorial won't do for you - soldering.

 

So either get someone with a bit of experience to do it for you, or start practicing right away. Proper tools make a whole lot of a difference. If you really want to get into it and will have other uses for soldering, then start off by getting a simple "soldering station" or a soldering iron with temperature regulation plus the special sponge to wipe off extra solder and oxidation deposit from the soldering iron, a tube of solder with resin core, some flux (dissolving a bit of resin in pure alcohol works too). If you can cleanly solder a couple wires, resistors, or a DIP socket (good cheap materials for the training) to a universal perforated board, without "cold" or overheated, burnt joints, then you're good to go. There's a lot of tutorials available on the web, just a matter of motivation.

 

Either way, good luck. Don't hesitate to ask anything. Btw, is it PAL out NTSC?

Edited by Mef

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Mel, when you got some time could you explain details for the S-Video mod on a PAL VCS ??!

I always knew an S-Video output is not possible on PAL TIAs, only CVBS...

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Who said that an SVideo mod isn't possible on a PAL machine? I just did one myself.

 

I did the Longhorn mod, info here.. http://longhornengineer.com/category/diy/atari-av-mods-diy/

 

BTW it is better to disconnect some components from the board than removing the TIA chip and bending out the pins.

 

I've got another 2600 junior PAL on the way and may try the Batari mod this time just to see what the differences are.

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Interesting !

 

... I always see only CVBS mods for our PAL VCS/2600s !

It goes against things I ever knew of PAL TIAs... :woozy:

 

Well, at this point the only "disadvantage" of a PAL respect to a NTSC mod is that it can't come out with two separate audio channels for stereo sound.

 

However, I'm happy I did the CVBS+S-Video+Stereo mod in my NTSC H6 (which I also "gave" an internal audio system) , while my Jr. has a Composite + Bi-Monaural Audio ouputs.

MY ( underlined !!! ...because it's mine since the '82 and I always and already didn't want to "touch" it inside... ;) ) L6 is still original in all its parts and so it is my '87 Jr."IrishBlack".

Edited by macdlsa

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Ah, I see you've got it sorted out already.

;)

 

All I can add is that this Longhorn guy should be hung by his balls and removed from Google search results for how he got around doing this mod.

Telling people to drill holes in the shielding when there are 2 already available, and to castrate the system by removing connections from the motherboard, for no real reason, great job there, "engineer"! In practice, I haven't experienced any interference from RF circuitry at all, and there's plenty of more elegant solutions.

Instructing to pull the chip out with a screwdriver, bend 30 years old legs, then solder directly to them is just pure idiocy. Especially when those needing the instructions would most likely be amateurs (lest they'd figure things out on their own) and he's just creating ways for them to mess up their consoles.

Edited by Mef

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Hey Mef, I've done before what You just did, which is get a bit annoyed about something then go on the Forum with a big unnecessary rant about it.

What I did after that was to delete the offending comments and offer an apology.

Would be nice if that happens here.

 

Sure the build instructions for the longhorn mod are unnecessarily messy and potentially destructive if You are careless, but the guy deserves tremendous

credit for His service to the community. This is likely why He doesn't do physical mod builds anymore.

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Thanks for taking time to put together your patronizing remark, but no thanks.

I have a absolutely no interest in commenting Longhorn's input for the Atari fans' society. This is exactly why I've said that he should be criticized for spreading a botched mod instructions and not for anything else.

The harm has all the more impact as his site is well known and frequently cited.

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It's really a matter of opinion whether to remove unneeded components and/or the RF modulator as well. As an electronics tech it's no big

deal to put the circuit back together as original if necessary, we are only talking about a few resistors and capacitors mostly.

 

I agree completely though that had Longhorn taken a closer look at the schematic He should have realised that it was unnecessary to remove

any IC's and go bending pins out risking destroying now rare Tia's.

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I'm about to do the BAtari mod to my PAL 4 switcher here. So as far as I got it... It will not be needed to bend the legs of the TIA and I can just solder the wires to the solderpoints of the TIA in the atari PCB? If not... What is the reasoning behind the tutorials bending them anyway? Would be great of I could do without that since I'm afraid to damage things... Hope someone can verify this. Thanks!

Edited by Unstablewarpfield

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What is the reasoning behind the tutorials bending them anyway?

 

That's to cut the traces going to the RF module and supposedly shut off the interference it might produce.

Frankly, I haven't noticed any interference coming from the modulator and contaminating the Luma/Chroma signals, so I simply skipped that unnecesarily risky part.

Retaining RF isn't too bad for me either, as I only have that one Commodore 1084S monitor capable of displaying separate Chroma/Luma or S-Video. So if I want to connect to a bigger screen = TV, it's via RF anyway (or composite, but with well shielded antenna cable there's almost no difference and my stupid piece of crap Samsung LED actually treats RF better than Composite, as in - less harsh artifacts/jagged lines).

If you don't want RF, you could just as well cut the connections just before the modulator box instead.

 

P.S.

 

I never got to post the pic(s) after I've restored the decorative orange trim on my sixer. Maybe tomorrow.

Edited by Mef

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Thanks!

 

And here's the part I always kept forgetting to post: the restored orange trim.

I've used a paint marker and it was prety easy to apply.

Unfortunately the surface is a bit coarse, with small dents here and there, and it shows - looks like the line is a bit uneven when seen up close.

 

post-32895-0-64823100-1433608488_thumb.jpg

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Thanks!

 

And here's the part I always kept forgetting to post: the restored orange trim.

I've used a paint marker and it was prety easy to apply.

Unfortunately the surface is a bit coarse, with small dents here and there, and it shows - looks like the line is a bit uneven when seen up close.

 

Well it looks great in the photos. I need to restore the bezel trim on my NTSC Light Sixer; do you have an idea of what color was original? I know it was a more yellow shade than the shade used in 4-switch models, which tended closer to pure orange.

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Wow that looks great!! I don't think the paint outline looks uneven. I used paint markers for my Heavy and Light Sixers. I thought Light Sixers are orangish and Heavy Sixers a yellowish color. My 4 switch woodys paint is still immaculate 33 years today.

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(... ) do you have an idea of what color was original?

 

Sorry, I don't really, it's the only non-Junior system I have seen with my own eyes - tough luck for VCS enthusiast in my country.

It's something you'd have to see yourself, unless you've got a really good RGB coverage on your monitor and proper pictures with known light/temperature (white balance) for reference.

On the picture I've posted above, my repaint looks dim-yellow and doesn't differ much from the lettering, but in reality its a lot more vibrant and almost pure orange.

From the remainders of the paint on my light sixer, it might have originally looked like some kind of slightly dirty orange/mustard mix, so that's a little off, but better that than nothing.

;)

Edited by Mef

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