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intvsteve

New to Astrocade - Any hope to repair?

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Got an Astrocade without having any guarantees about it working and … wouldn't you know … no worky. :( It teases. It taunts. Sometimes on boot I get garbled but mostly visible screen, other times a screen like figure 3 here, which then does various strange things. I've attached image and video here.

20191102_190919414_iOS.thumb.jpg.6de86a5fe19010f9b287288f22c47ca1.jpg

Is it a doorstop? Or is there hope? I haven't gone through the service docs yet or opened it up - it's totally new to me. It came with two extra controllers as well as a nice selection of games, the box, and several game manuals.

 

Thanks for any tips / advice!

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Welcome to the Astrocade community.  Your Astrocade is doing something, so it ain't dead yet.  Don't give up on it!  There are some people who might be able to help you out if you're hardware savvy.

 

The Bally Alley Yahoo group is in transition to Groups.io, so no one (except for the moderators) can post there now.  However, everyone can still read the posts, so I directed folks to come and take a look at this thread.  Hopefully someone can help you out.

 

I wasn't aware that we can post videos to the AtariAge forums.  That's very cool.  It might be useful to post it to YouTube so that people can understand issues that can happen with the Astrocade.  Maybe you can hold off until you figure out what the issue is with your unit.  A video with a before and after would be nice to see.  With some help, I bet this story has a happy ending.

 

Adam

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Thanks, Adam!

 

I'm not too terrified to fire up the soldering iron to bring this baby back to health. It came with 15 cartridges and I'm really looking forward to playing a good number of them.  I  haven't opened it up and looked inside yet.

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16 hours ago, intvsteve said:

I'm not too terrified to fire up the soldering iron to bring this baby back to health. It came with 15 cartridges and I'm really looking forward to playing a good number of them.  I  haven't opened it up and looked inside yet.

 

Getting fifteen cartridges is a great start to an Astrocade collection!

 

I'm going to email some people directly and point them in this direction.

 

Adam

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Thank you so much! With some vacation days coming at the end of the year, I might even be able to work on it when not exhausted! :P

 

The carts are loose, but it appears all the manuals are included. Gave them a 91% isopropyl + Q*tip rubdown - the connectors were pretty clean. One label flaked off, but has been reattached.

 

Given that Gunfight, et. al. won't boot, it's clear the issues are internal. With luck, I'll have some time tonight to do some general cleanup on the unit itself.

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42 minutes ago, intvsteve said:

The carts are loose, but it appears all the manuals are included. Gave them a 91% isopropyl + Q*tip rubdown - the connectors were pretty clean. One label flaked off, but has been reattached.

 

Given that Gunfight, et. al. won't boot, it's clear the issues are internal. With luck, I'll have some time tonight to do some general cleanup on the unit itself.

 

The Astrocade cartridge connector has a lot in common with the NES method: sometimes when inserting carts into older Astrocade units (and they're all old now), the cartridge don't make a good connection.  This is especially true of third-party cartridges.  My simple "fix" for this is to fold a small piece of paper a few times and then push it in front of the cartridge to make the connection tighter.  This seems to fix the problem every time.  Of course, this isn't an issue that your Astrocade is having now, for (as you stated) your internal software doesn't boot properly.

 

I have a pile of Atari 2600 carts that were kept in a hot barn. Pretty-much all of the labels look great, but they've all fallen off, or are in the process of falling off, the cartridges.  What method/glue did you use to reapply your labels to the Astrocade carts?  I've never found one that doesn't seem to damage the label in some way.

 

Adam

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Ken Lill mentioned that he can only hear the sound of the video with your Astrocade troubles.  I see what he means about it being sound-only, for I can't download or see the video today.  It was 40MB, so maybe it's only online for a short time in the AtariAge forums?  

 

"Intvstev," could you please upload the video to YouTube with a short description (maybe with what you posted in your first post in the thread)?  Then you can link to the video in this thread.

 

Your Astrocade's output, while kind-of-usual, is also somewhat specific and it's (sadly) a great example of the issues that can lead to an Astrocade's breakdown.

 

Adam

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I'll see what I can do. I realize it's also kind of "tilty". I'll see about re-recording it. I'll post a YouTube link when it's ready.

 

To your earlier question about the label: well, it was already "actiplaqued" so I used a very thin coat of rubber cement. I'll see if I can even figure out which cart it was now! :P

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You know, I may be able to 'two birds, one stone' it!

  1. Domestic bliss improvement: move the unit up to the disaster-area er... future-episode-of-hoarders-set er... office
  2. Use the TV capture board up in the office PC and get a cleaner recording that doesn't look like the person recording it was on a molasses-laden tilt-a-whirl sans whirl

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29 minutes ago, intvsteve said:

To your earlier question about the label: well, it was already "actiplaqued" so I used a very thin coat of rubber cement. I'll see if I can even figure out which cart it was now! :P

 

Would rubber cement make the reapplied label lumpy?

 

Adam

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26 minutes ago, intvsteve said:

[I'll] use the TV capture board up in the office PC and get a cleaner recording that doesn't look like the person recording it was on a molasses-laden tilt-a-whirl sans whirl

 

Any recording will do okay to give us a general idea of what's going on.  As I've learned, sometimes taking video with my camera or phone gives more-true-to-life colors and also it shows the way the overscan area actually looks like on a TV.  However, if you want to risk your life in your hoarders-den, then keep in mind that the Astrocade may run hot and catch any nearby debris on fire.  Well, I hope not.  🙄

 

Adam

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37 minutes ago, ballyalley said:

 

Would rubber cement make the reapplied label lumpy?

 

Adam

I'll check. The key is to apply a thin layer, then firmly and evenly apply pressure similar to putting a screen protector on a phone. I'll see if I can identify which one it is. I was worried about that, too. Recently I've had some practice, so perhaps was overconfident in the application of the cement. ;)

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35 minutes ago, ballyalley said:

 

Any recording will do okay to give us a general idea of what's going on.  As I've learned, sometimes taking video with my camera or phone gives more-true-to-life colors and also it shows the way the overscan area actually looks like on a TV.  However, if you want to risk your life in your hoarders-den, then keep in mind that the Astrocade may run hot and catch any nearby debris on fire.  Well, I hope not.  🙄

 

Adam

I'll need to be cautious, indeed! I do have some small CRTs, too. The tilty-cam video attached above is with the console attached to our old 32" tube TV. Presently the desk's free space has an Intellivision + PlayCable + extra stuff from a recent experiment... Time to clear that out!

 

If I don't ignite all the papers, then I just need to be sure I don't strangle myself on all the cords. :P

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there are some folks on the boards who will help with modifications.  There is a very common capacitor replacement that is said to prolong the life of the thing and of course 1 of the custom chips in particular (Data) benefits greatly from heat dissipation.  Contact member @Allen Schweitzer, but you need to be prepared to remove the motherboard yourself to make shipping easier.

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6 hours ago, ballyalley said:

 

Any recording will do okay to give us a general idea of what's going on.  As I've learned, sometimes taking video with my camera or phone gives more-true-to-life colors and also it shows the way the overscan area actually looks like on a TV.  However, if you want to risk your life in your hoarders-den, then keep in mind that the Astrocade may run hot and catch any nearby debris on fire.  Well, I hope not.  🙄

 

Adam

Uploaded a new video here:

 

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11 hours ago, intvsteve said:

Uploaded a new video here:

 

That looks good (the video, I mean, not the Astrocade).  Now that you've posted the video, I pointed this thread out to Ken and Allen again.

 

Adam

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4 minutes ago, ballyalley said:

 

That looks good (the video, I mean, not the Astrocade).  Now that you've posted the video, I pointed this thread out to Ken and Allen again.

 

Adam

Awesome! Thanks! I opened up the system last night to look around. It looks like you have to whip out the soldering iron to get a good look at the chips, eh? Much like the 'sarcophagus' around the old Intellivision systems I'm more familiar with.  I didn't take that plunge yet.

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7 hours ago, intvsteve said:

I opened up the system last night to look around. It looks like you have to whip out the soldering iron to get a good look at the chips, eh? Much like the 'sarcophagus' around the old Intellivision systems I'm more familiar with.  I didn't take that plunge yet.

 

Do you know which era that your Astrocade was made?  If it's the early pre-Astrovision Inc.-era, then there is a ton of shielding (and lots of solder; I've needed a solder gun, not pen, to remove the globs of solder on the shielding).  Later, there was less shielding and the shielding that was there was used as a sort of heat sink; some the shielding sits on top of the data chip and sometimes actually even has thermal grease on it.


I've never had any issues removing shielding, but I've heard from a few people that after they've done it that their systems have just been 100% dead.  I've always put this down to some sort of static discharge problems, but I'm not sure.


Finally, it would be of great benefit if you took some pictures of your shielding before you removed it.  I'd post them to BallyAlley.com.


Adam

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I took a few pictures when I opened up the unit - haven't removed shielding yet. It was purchased in 1983, based on the warranty card in the box. I'll hop over to BallyAlley.com....

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Uh... silly question... how to I post pictures to BallyAlley.com? Include links in the contact form?

 

Here's likely the most interesting one.

Bally-Opened.thumb.jpg.cc371b9c8657363fc2525960639cc60c.jpg

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1 hour ago, intvsteve said:

how to I post pictures to BallyAlley.com? Include links in the contact form?

 

Here's likely the most interesting one.

 

Oh, sadly there is no way for you to post pictures on BallyAllley.com.  My website is ancient and html-only.  I still do all the "design" by hand in a text editor (Bluefish).  The Yahoo groups is in the process of being moved to Groups.io, so you can't post there either.  I guess you can join and post to group.io, but there are no members there yet, as all 366 members of the Yahoo group will be invited en-mass when Group.io moves the Yahoo group (we're waiting in a long queue).  BallyAlley.com at Groups.io is here:

 

https://groups.io/g/ballyalley

 

I also have the BallyAlley.com blog and you might be able to post in the comments (I'm not sure about that though):

 

https://ballyalleyblog.com/

 

My thought was that you can ditch that strange website called "intvfunhouse," start your own website called BallyAstrocadefunhouse and then box up your PlayCable, Intellivision carts and games and send them to me (PM with my address sent).  I'll be checking my mailbox tomorrow looking for your no-longer-needed, old Mattel hardware and software.  Believe me, I'll be doing you a favor by taking that worthless junk off your hands.  You'll find that you'll be relieved to have all of that useless clutter gone.  Now you'll finally have room to store your collection of the colorful RCA Studio II games.

 

Adam

 

P.S.  I'm just kidding: I don't expect that boxes in the mail tomorrow; I won't start checking until the end of the week.

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8 minutes ago, ballyalley said:

I won't start checking until the end of the week

Whew! My wife's car is in the shop -- it's the one with the trailer hitch and extra horsepower. Without it I won't be able to get things over to the loading dock in less than two weeks.

 

I hear you on the website woes. I've got 15+ years of "TODO" piled up.... Say, if I repurpose it as you recommend that sweeps all that guilt away, doesn't it! Hmmmm…..

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17 minutes ago, intvsteve said:

I hear you on the website woes. I've got 15+ years of "TODO" piled up.... Say, if I repurpose it as you recommend that sweeps all that guilt away, doesn't it! Hmmmm…..

 

All kidding aside, I was able to easily "catch-up" with my backlog of updates for ballyalley.com by uploading my entire back catalog of data for my to-do lists (26.8GB) for the BallyAlley website to Archive.org.  I also decided to upload the entire website there too (23.34GB).  Here is a link to that information with a description:

 

https://ballyalley.com/documentation/Archives/Archives.html

 

At some point I realized that I could never catch up with my ideals for my Astrocade website and I settled on just getting that information out there is some way.  I still plan to slowly add it properly to BallyAlley.com, but until that happens (if it happens) people who are not afraid of digging into a huge selection of somewhat organized files can get to them.  If I kick the bucket tomorrow, then I did my best to preserve the small bit of history that the Bally Arcade plays in the creation of home consoles and even it's bit of play in the arcade scene of the late 1970s (first color arcade game: Sea Wolf II) and early 1980s (Wizard of Wor and ).

 

Oh, and just to let you know, I'm willing to wait two weeks for your wife's car to be fixed so that you can haul your stash to mail it all to me.  In the meantime, I'll start building that addition onto the back of my house for when the dozens of boxes from you start to arrive.  It's nice of you to pay all the shipping too.  It's people like you that make being part of the classic gaming community so much fun.

 

Adam

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On 11/5/2019 at 4:12 PM, intvsteve said:

I took a few pictures when I opened up the unit - haven't removed shielding yet. It was purchased in 1983, based on the warranty card in the box. I'll hop over to BallyAlley.com....

 

I posted your picture of the RF shielding to BallyAlley.com:

 

https://ballyalley.com/pics/hardware_pics/consoles_and_accessories/Bally_Professional_Arcade/Bally_Professional_Arcade.html#BallyAstrocadeRFShielding

 

Have you removed the shielding yet?

 

Adam

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