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BIGHMW

Why don't a/v-modded 5200 units work with the VCS adapter?

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I had to sell my beautiful- a/v-modded version of Big Sexy here a few months back that I picked up as an upgrade from my very first 5200, a USA-made 4-port, serial no. 141101, in which has since gone to Goodwill, because I found out the a/v-modded 5200 units will not work with the VCS cartridge adapter, and so I broke down and bought a beat-up import 2-port unit that atari-dna brought back to life for me, thanks bro! :) that had the regular channel 2/3 RF cord so I could use my adapter with her.

 

She just isn't the same as having the a/v-modded unit I had before, but I didn't want to have to put up with TWO separate units (the a/v-modded 5200 and also a non-modded 2600 Jr., each using its own power supply, along with my Insignia TV, which would make three), although I have it more convenient with my current setup of the 2-port unit and the TV, and the VCS adapter works great too, and everything looks good for both the Atarimax 5200 SD Multicart, and the Harmony Encore 2600 SD Multicart, in which are why I'm currently selling my cartridge lineup right here: http://atariage.com/forums/topic/283972-fs-atari-5200-cbs-activision-sega-and-more-cartridges-for-sale-soon/

 

But all that aside, why do a/v-modded units not work with the VCS adapter? WTF were Raymond Kassar (and later Jack Tramiel) thinking here??? It would make more sense and be SO MUCH easier AND SO MUCH more beautiful-looking, both aesthetics-wise and picture-quality-wise if it DID work the same, I mean even a composite video let alone S-video output with stereo audio looks (and sounds since there would be no "rf buzzing") so much better, the only thing that would beat it is obviously HDMI but we're taking about something from almost 40 years ago here. Imagine what the a/v-modded 5200 would've been like as part of a home-theater with the unit hooked up to my Sony a/v receiver (or if I knew about a/v-modding back in the late-80s-early 90s my old Pioneer VSX-5000 receiver I bought before I moved to Port Townsend, WA from LA in 1987, I bought her brand new at Leo's Stereo just a short walk away from my old studio apartment at Haskall Towers in Sepulveda nearby World-Famous Tommy's!!!), cranked up on it, the SOUND from the stereo output would've been OUTTA SIGHT!!!

Edited by BIGHMW

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The AV mods typically pick up video signals directly from the GTIA chip, whereas the VCS adapter has its own internal video generation logic that supplies composite down to the 5200.

 

The VCS adapter seems to pretty much be a whole VCS stuck on top of the 5200. It's not a very elegant or very integrated design. It's a pity Atari didn't build backward compatibility directly into the console, it would have improved marketability to have the entire existing library of 2600 games available.As to why they did what they did, my understanding from reading history is that they didn't expect the lifespan of these consoles and game collections to be as long as it was. People really liked their 2600s.

 

Scott

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Life expectancy was 3-years for consoles back then. And you can't blame the engineers or bosses either, A/V modding wasn't a thing.

Edited by Keatah

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The AV mods typically pick up video signals directly from the GTIA chip, whereas the VCS adapter has its own internal video generation logic that supplies composite down to the 5200.

 

The VCS adapter seems to pretty much be a whole VCS stuck on top of the 5200. It's not a very elegant or very integrated design. It's a pity Atari didn't build backward compatibility directly into the console, it would have improved marketability to have the entire existing library of 2600 games available.As to why they did what they did, my understanding from reading history is that they didn't expect the lifespan of these consoles and game collections to be as long as it was. People really liked their 2600s.

 

Scott

 

 

Atari Inc didn't build backwards-compatibility into the 5200 because marketing and the executives thought people wouldn't want to play their older obsolete games on the new advanced system. It wasn't about shelf-life. Atari Inc's own engineers pleaded for 2600 compatibility to be built-in. It came down to a single Warner-installed product manager who nixed backwards-compatibility over the wishes of his engineers. Warner later concluded the 5200 was a "failure" because of the lack of backwards-compatibility, that and GCC told them as much and promised to design a more advanced and cheaper system which would include backwards-compatibility. That became the 7800.

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So has the Sophia been tested with this? I just ordered one and am curious. Also, I always wondered why the 5200 got a VCS adapter, but the 8bit computers did not. Granted I always thought it weird that the 5200 didn't also support the A8 cartridges that were already out there..

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There comes a point when making all systems compatible with each other defeats the purpose of having those multiple systems in the first place. You loose product differentiation & separation. Not only that, but some products would need extra modification - not something the mom-n-pop consumer would be interested in.

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So has the Sophia been tested with this? I just ordered one and am curious. Also, I always wondered why the 5200 got a VCS adapter, but the 8bit computers did not. Granted I always thought it weird that the 5200 didn't also support the A8 cartridges that were already out there..

I've installed the Sophia mod with RGB output. Without doubt Sophia provides better clarity and more vibrant colors than svideo. Big but though. To use the Sophia rgb output you will need an rgb capable CRT or a device such as OSSC or Framemeister RGB mini to go to a modern flat panel.

 

Sophia mod is easy to install

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So has the Sophia been tested with this? I just ordered one and am curious. Also, I always wondered why the 5200 got a VCS adapter, but the 8bit computers did not. Granted I always thought it weird that the 5200 didn't also support the A8 cartridges that were already out there..

 

The Atari Home Computer Division and the Home Video Game Division within Atari Inc Consumer [Division] were kept separate with their own distinct product lines. That's why the Home Computer Division requested their own Trak-Ball Controller [CX80] instead of just relying upon the already-existing CX22. They weren't combined under one roof - so to speak - until a few months before Warner sold off the Consumer Division's assets to Jack Tramiel's TTL company which renamed itself Atari Corporation in July 1984.

 

As for the 400/800 retaining compatibility with the 2600, Joe Decuir has lamented about that in various Atari Facebook groups. Adding the lines to the cartridge port would've only cost a few cents per unit. He didn't indicate whether it would've required an onboard TIA to be also included [i suspect as such though]. Mr. Decuir usually refers to the 2600 as the "VCS" [its original name] and the 400/800 as the "PCS" [personal computer system] although the PCS was originally meant to be the replacement for the VCS. Atari was using the "PC" term before IBM made it their own.

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I've installed the Sophia mod with RGB output. Without doubt Sophia provides better clarity and more vibrant colors than svideo. Big but though. To use the Sophia rgb output you will need an rgb capable CRT or a device such as OSSC or Framemeister RGB mini to go to a modern flat panel.

 

Sophia mod is easy to install

 

That would make for a great YouTube video...

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To answer the original OP on this. The current mods we had/have in place for S-video, require you to intercept the video signals off the GTIA through a different video buffer circuit. As a result, you essentially kill the video signal to the RF modulator in the process. And because of that, there isn't anywhere for the VCS adapters video to go in order to be usable. It isn't that the video isn't working, it is that the video from the VCS isn't passing through the AV mod that has been installed.

 

At least that is how I understand it.

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I've installed the Sophia mod with RGB output. Without doubt Sophia provides better clarity and more vibrant colors than svideo. Big but though. To use the Sophia rgb output you will need an rgb capable CRT or a device such as OSSC or Framemeister RGB mini to go to a modern flat panel.

Sophia mod is easy to install

I do have an OSSC which is what I was planning to use via Component output. Just waiting for all the things to arrive.

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To answer the original OP on this. The current mods we had/have in place for S-video, require you to intercept the video signals off the GTIA through a different video buffer circuit. As a result, you essentially kill the video signal to the RF modulator in the process. And because of that, there isn't anywhere for the VCS adapters video to go in order to be usable. It isn't that the video isn't working, it is that the video from the VCS isn't passing through the AV mod that has been installed.

 

At least that is how I understand it.

What if you installed a DPDT switch to select what feeds into the S-Video output jack?

Choose either your Mod's output or the VCS output?

Not an elegant fix though!

Edited by spetragl

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You would need more than that because there are about 4 or 5 lines off the GTIA that are used for the video mods. So such a switch would requires all of those pins to be attached to the mainboard circuit again. It ins't just a single wire we are talking about here. At least not with the s-video and above type mods it isn't. I've not done just a composite mod on a 5200 as I've only been commissioned to install kits for s-video and composite and all of those actually required having to lift about 4 or 5 pins off the GTIA to attach to the AV mod board. It is basically all the LUM signals off the GTIA.

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I've thought about getting a VCS adapter (I don't own one now) and installing a separate s-video/composite mod into it. Then use a conventional composite or s-video switch to switch between the two devices.

 

But every time I go down that route, I ask myself why I'm pretending the VCS adapter is anything other than a 2600 sitting on top of a 5200, and why I don't just buy a separate 2600..

 

Scott

Edited by smbaker
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You would need more than that because there are about 4 or 5 lines off the GTIA that are used for the video mods. So such a switch would requires all of those pins to be attached to the mainboard circuit again. It ins't just a single wire we are talking about here. At least not with the s-video and above type mods it isn't. I've not done just a composite mod on a 5200 as I've only been commissioned to install kits for s-video and composite and all of those actually required having to lift about 4 or 5 pins off the GTIA to attach to the AV mod board. It is basically all the LUM signals off the GTIA.

Then the only other way to restore the VCS functionality on a Modded system would be to (don't shoot me for saying this) run a separate line from the VCS composite output (that would have gone to the RF modulator) to a new composite output jack. Again, not very graceful.

Edited by spetragl

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Then the only other way to restore the VCS functionality on a Modded system would be to (don't shoot me for saying this) run a separate line from the VCS composite output (that would have gone to the RF modulator) to a new composite output jack. Again, not very graceful.

 

All decent ideas to be sure. For me I already have a fully compatible (Thus far) 7800 for all my 2600 and 7800 needs. So I've never desired to have the VCS adapter for my 5200 and in fact don't even own one. So for myself personally, and for those whose consoles I've modded, there wasn't a need or want for the 5200 adapter.

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And if you have a 4-port original 5200 without the * on the serial number sticker, then you really don't have to worry about any of this... :)

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While I'm waiting for new UAV boards to be produced, I thought I might (temporarily) find an alternate way to hookup the 5200 to an HDTV.

After a lot of research, I found this Tuner/DeModulator from Contemporary Research:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Contemporary-Research-232-STS-Stereo-TV-Tuner-w-rackmount-AC-adapter/223032441239?hash=item33edc4f997

 

Now what's different about this one, is that in addition to it's Stereo output (yeah I know the 5200 doesn't output stereo), it has an S-Video output.

Most DeModulators I found have only Composite video out. Unless of course you want to buy somebody's used SA3100 Cable box with an NTSC tuner.

 

So I plan to connect the original Atari 5200 Switch box RF cable to the 232-STS (tuned to ch 3) and the S-Video to my TV's S-Video input. I'm curious how the video quality will be.

Has anybody done this before?

Edited by spetragl

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While I'm waiting for new UAV boards to be produced, I thought I might (temporarily) find an alternate way to hookup the 5200 to an HDTV.

After a lot of research, I found this Tuner/DeModulator from Contemporary Research:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Contemporary-Research-232-STS-Stereo-TV-Tuner-w-rackmount-AC-adapter/223032441239?hash=item33edc4f997

 

Now what's different about this one, is that in addition to it's Stereo output (yeah I know the 5200 doesn't output stereo), it has an S-Video output.

Most DeModulators I found have only Composite video out. Unless of course you want to buy somebody's used SA3100 Cable box with an NTSC tuner.

 

So I plan to connect the original Atari 5200 Switch box RF cable to the 232-STS (tuned to ch 3) and the S-Video to my TV's S-Video input. I'm curious how the video quality will be.

Has anybody done this before?

 

More or less yes. My older JVC s700 AV selector had an automatic Y/C separator built into. Meaning, it could technically provide an s-video output from both s-video and composite only input sources. I never used it because it would always produce color artifacts that resembled a sort of rainbow shimmering from bright colors. Namely...white. But also on Reds it produced a horrible checkerboard pattern. I'd heard of others experiencing the same or similar results with other devices in the day. So I had both a composite and s-video out cables connected off the monitor section of my AV selector to the CVBS/S-vid to HDMI adapter I was using at the time. Served me quite well until I upgraded everything about 2 months back or so.

 

So I guess the only way to answer your question is that I didn't like the results from something similar so YMMV....

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Then the only other way to restore the VCS functionality on a Modded system would be to (don't shoot me for saying this) run a separate line from the VCS composite output (that would have gone to the RF modulator) to a new composite output jack. Again, not very graceful.

 

 

What about installing the 2600 RGB Mod into the Adapter? The Adapter that was known in-house at Atari Inc Consumer Engineering Division as the "Piggyback Parasite"...

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And if you have a 4-port original 5200 without the * on the serial number sticker, then you really don't have to worry about any of this... :)

Ha, I'd read that after I'd ordered what I believe to be the 4 port 5200. Which still hasn't gotten here... but I have the VCS adapter already. Not that I currently have any 2600 games anyhow, just figured with the size of the 5200, it should play both.

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Ha, I'd read that after I'd ordered what I believe to be the 4 port 5200. Which still hasn't gotten here... but I have the VCS adapter already. Not that I currently have any 2600 games anyhow, just figured with the size of the 5200, it should play both.

 

Hey, plug a Harmony cart into the 2600 Adapter and then into the 5200! :)

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Hey, plug a Harmony cart into the 2600 Adapter and then into the 5200! :)

Nice. I will have it looking like the Genesis /32x/Sega CD monstrosity soon.

 

Ugh, I somehow had the 5200 marked as refused / return to sender.. pretty sure either my neighbors are all assholes, or my mail delivery person is. My neighbors keep parking in front of my mailbox and blocking it. I have had many times when packages are late because of it.

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More or less yes. My older JVC s700 AV selector had an automatic Y/C separator built into. Meaning, it could technically provide an s-video output from both s-video and composite only input sources. I never used it because it would always produce color artifacts that resembled a sort of rainbow shimmering from bright colors. Namely...white. But also on Reds it produced a horrible checkerboard pattern. I'd heard of others experiencing the same or similar results with other devices in the day. So I had both a composite and s-video out cables connected off the monitor section of my AV selector to the CVBS/S-vid to HDMI adapter I was using at the time. Served me quite well until I upgraded everything about 2 months back or so.

 

So I guess the only way to answer your question is that I didn't like the results from something similar so YMMV....

 

 

This weekend I finally got to hookup the Atari 5200 (RF Output) thru the 232-STS.

As you mentioned above, there were some artifacts expected. Interestingly enough when the ATARI boot image appears, it's crystal clear.

Alas when the game image appears, the dreaded moving "dots" appear.

 

I'm wondering, is there some sort of interference in the way this RF switch was designed?

Atari5200-Dots.JPG

Edited by spetragl

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