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CZroe

Uh-oh! I think I just broke my new-to-me 800XL. :(

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I was jostling between my Atari 800 and my Atari 800XL to do some troubleshooting after finding dead key issues with both. I didn't realize that the 800XL's power switch got bumped and the system was powered on when I inserted Pitfall II. The screen went blank. I switched it off and on but only got a black screen. I get a blue screen when the cart is out but Memo Pad doesn't load. This happens repeatedly and with other carts (black screen with cart, blue screen with no cart).

 

I confirmed that it worked repeatedly before having this accident so it appears to be a direct result of having inserted the cart while the power was on. Is this a known result of doing that? Is there a known fix?

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No that is not common. I would open it up.. See if you can re-seat anything that's socketed and make sure your keyboard ribbon cable is clean and back in correctly.

Is this a Hong Kong machine?

James

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No that is not common. I would open it up.. See if you can re-seat anything that's socketed and make sure your keyboard ribbon cable is clean and back in correctly.

Is this a Hong Kong machine?

James

I opened it up and found that the keyboard ribbon had two burned traces and the cart slot was mangled. Activision carts don't have all the same flaps and alignment bits so I'm going to guess that it was the cause of my problem and not inserting the cart while on. :( The two burned traces probably account for the keys that don't work.

 

How do I tell if it's a Hong Kong machine?

 

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Edited by CZroe

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I don't think those traces are "burned" - they look like they are just discolored or corroded from exposure from the edges of the plastic...

 

It may or may not be related to keys not working. Check continuity with a meter...

 

Now your cart slot is in fact mangled. You might be able to work it back into shape...

Edited by R.Cade

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I don't think those traces are "burned" - they look like they are just discolored or corroded from exposure from the edges of the plastic...

 

It may or may not be related to keys not working. Check continuity with a meter...

 

Now your cart slot is in fact mangled. You might be able to work it back into shape...

It definitely looks like it's burned but corrosion does sound more likely considering that I don't see anything that looks burned on the PCB. I see talk of a bad "ingot" PSU. Mine is the big one with the whit cover, so I assume mine is the more reliable variety?

 

I've been trying to probe the cart slot but one pin is shoved under the other. The only thing I can get under it is a stripped twist tie and I can't make a hook that won't simply straighten and slip out. I think I'm going to have to unsolder it and eject pins. Even then, I don't see those pins coming out easily so I will need to eject all the surrounding pins to access them from the side without mangling more.

 

I really don't know how that happened. I was never forceful and the Pitfall II cartridge is in great shape. Strange that it never happened to the previous owner yet it happened within minutes for me. :( It worked with a few different insertions and removals as I moved it back and forth between the 800 and 800XL to determine that I had issues with the keys on both units, but the one time I did something strange (removed/inserted with the power on) it just mangled it. Are Activision carts known for mangling pins? They definitely don't have all the complexity of an Atari-made cartridge and I feel that the articulating dust shield probably help maintain proper alignment as well.

 

If I can't salvage the original connector, think the right slot connector from the original 800 will work? Not like I'll ever use it. ;)

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The majority of my 800XL keyboard mylars look like that and work fine. Non working keys could be mylar continuity issues or the keyboard multiplexor chips. I might have a spare cart socket if you can't fix the pin. 

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I've been trying to probe the cart slot but one pin is shoved under the other. The only thing I can get under it is a stripped twist tie and I can't make a hook that won't simply straighten and slip out. I think I'm going to have to unsolder it and eject pins. Even then, I don't see those pins coming out easily so I will need to eject all the surrounding pins to access them from the side without mangling more.

 

A cheap dental pick from the drug store will probably do the trick.  Very useful tool and very cheap.  I keep a dental pick and pointed tweezers in my toolkit at all times.  And a couple guitar picks and plastic spudgers for prying open laptop and tablet cases. 

 
 
 

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A wooden toothpick will work on cart pins as well. More to the point, I cannot imagine how inserting or removing a cart would bend pins like that unless one was bent already at least a little bit. Edited by DrVenkman

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A good magnifying glass also would help here, if pins have been moved / shorted it may be hard to see it in the cart slot..

 

Oh and a lot of light...But that is a given...

Edited by Mclaneinc

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I have never had a console fail from inserting/removing carts with the power on. They are more resilient than that.

 

I've even stupidly inserted NES<->Famicom adapters backwards and everything still worked afterwords. Ditto for testing bare cart PCB on various systems with the occasional dumbass reverse insertion. And why are Atari PCBs not keyed to fit only one way in the cart shell??? :dunce:

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I have to say its the first time I've heard of an Atari fail from inserting a cart while on but I have seen slightly mangled pins (very rarely).

 

Back in the old days that was part of the technique of The Pill and worked very well.

Edited by Mclaneinc

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The majority of my 800XL keyboard mylars look like that and work fine. Non working keys could be mylar continuity issues or the keyboard multiplexor chips. I might have a spare cart socket if you can't fix the pin. 

Thanks, but I'll be making an order from Best Electronics anyway and replacements are only $2.50. :)

 

A wooden toothpick will work on cart pins as well. More to the point, I cannot imagine how inserting or removing a cart would bend pins like that unless one was bent already at least a little bit.

No clue what it looked like before. All I know is that I had inserted and removed carts several times before it coincidentally quit working during the unintentional hot-swap. :( I had already tested other carts several times too (Choplifter, dead Atari BASIC cart, etc).

 

 

 

 

I have never had a console fail from inserting/removing carts with the power on. They are more resilient than that.

 

I've even stupidly inserted NES<->Famicom adapters backwards and everything still worked afterwords. Ditto for testing bare cart PCB on various systems with the occasional dumbass reverse insertion. And why are Atari PCBs not keyed to fit only one way in the cart shell??? :dunce:

Yeah, doesn't look that's what caused the mangled pins. :) The cart throat is supposed to make sure they only go in one way but it is possible to force it the wrong way (at least on the 800 non-XL). Inserting backwards is definitely not what happened here though.

 

I have to say its the first time I've heard of an Atari fail from inserting a cart while on but I have seen slightly mangled pins (very rarely).

 

Back in the old days that was part of the technique of The Pill and worked very well.

Yeah, pretty sure it was coincidental that the pins mangled during that insertion, so forget you heard it. :) Luckily, only one pin appears bent right now. One just looks like it's under tension and should return to the original position when I remove the other. Going to take a while before I set up a workspace at the new place (just moved) and i have other stuff to do first (Hi-Def NES!) but I'll definitely report back after I've taken a crack at it. :P

 

Thanks guys!

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Well, even though the pin connectors are only $2.50, I thought I'd see if I could refurb them first to break in my bed desoldering station. It worked great!

As I suspected, only one pin was bent and the other pin was just slightly compressed by it (sprung back in place after removing the other). I considered leaving it out and moving an NC pin there (believe I saw a few) but I put it back where it came from instead. I tested a few game carts back to back and everything worked great (except, of course, the bad keys on the keyboard).

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The bad keys should be easy enough to fix.  Probably just some oxidation if it's the older style keyboard.  Fixed mine with careful use of a pencil eraser on certain spots on the mylar and connector on the "cable".  I dumped all the springs everywhere like a retard though.  Took me a few minutes to gather them all back up and figure out which fell out and which didn't.

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The bad keys should be easy enough to fix.  Probably just some oxidation if it's the older style keyboard.  Fixed mine with careful use of a pencil eraser on certain spots on the mylar and connector on the "cable".  I dumped all the springs everywhere like a retard though.  Took me a few minutes to gather them all back up and figure out which fell out and which didn't.

I did the same and they ended up in every recess of the couch. :( Amazingly, my twin brother and I recovered them all without damage.

I haven't taken a look back at the keyboard yet. I want to wait until I have dielectric grease for the exposed edges so that oxidation will not continue to spread. I'll be sure to try the eraser!

I also have a couple DIN connectors on the way so I can make some monitor cables for the 800 and 800XL. Can't wait!

About the cartridge connector: I definitely found a few pins with no visible traces to/from on the top or bottom, but all the pinouts I see online say that they are all used. Only way that's possible is if the board has more layers than just top and bottom, but I can see light straight through! My brother even called it a "transparent PCB" when he saw me shining light from the other side! So, am I wrong or are the pinouts incorrectly labeling NC pins something else? I already noted that they don't use the same numbering: they have a row of letters and a row of numbers while the connector itself has a row of sequential odd numbers and a row of sequential even numbers. IIRC, the marking on the board matched up with the marking on the component because I referenced them when reinstalling it. Edited by CZroe

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