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Atari RGB Light Sixer Repair

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17 hours ago, D Train said:

I think you owe it to Nathan (and Darcy) to do that...

So very true, I'll have to set aside some time to put that together. 🙂

 

- James

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To this casual observer, two amazing things stand out -- (1) Nathan's technical skills, passion, and ability to document the repair, (2) the fact that you can get component output from the venerable 2600. I previously heard about RGB and Scart with regards to the 2600 but never heard anything about component output #moreyouknow

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4 hours ago, socrates63 said:

To this casual observer, two amazing things stand out -- (1) Nathan's technical skills, passion, and ability to document the repair, (2) the fact that you can get component output from the venerable 2600. I previously heard about RGB and Scart with regards to the 2600 but never heard anything about component output #moreyouknow

Thanks! Although I'd charitably rate my technical skills as "adequate". :)  I won't even attempt soldering surface-mount components, for example. But I did repair one by using glue once. :D

 

And with that, here's another mini-chapter! Number 8, if you're keeping track.

 

Actually, it's number 8 even if you aren't keeping track.

 

I've been pretty wiped out after work the last couple of days, so I haven't felt like getting back to soldering just yet. But that doesn't mean I'm not making progress.

 

One problem James' 2600 had was that Uno carts just didn't want to work with it. And I seem to recall that he had problems with the Harmony Encore, too. Not as sure about that. But I know his 2600 was fussy.

 

My own recently ordered Uno cart arrived today, and since I already have a Harmony and Harmony Encore, I thought I'd check them all out and see if they worked in James' 2600, while it was still in its mostly-stock configuration.

 

And by mostly-stock, I mean that it still has the switching voltage regulator installed from the previous RGB mod.

 

(And no... I didn't test my Krokodile Cartridge.)

 

The Uno cart uses a 3D printed case, which is a bit... texture-y.

 

uno-cart.thumb.jpg.a9c561185dc5fb8f1d29b1bc68308343.jpg

 

The 3D printing process also left some fuzzy pieces behind. So I cleaned those off, since I didn't want them coming loose in the cartridge slot and gumming things up.

 

uno-cart-fuzz.thumb.jpg.cd7ecf5fbe912345fe2dd2d3c19f6cfa.jpg

 

The Uno cart didn't want to fit in the 2600 slot at first, but after some cajoling, it was fine.

 

So I first tested the carts on my donor 2600 (which is completely stock), to make sure they worked there. And they did.

 

Then, I plugged each cart into James' 2600 and fired 'em up. First, the Uno cart, which loaded up with no issues:

 

uno-cortexcam.thumb.jpg.595c664c83da92b9c9f53d826f4d1904.jpg

 

Then, the Harmony. Again, no issues here:

 

harmony-cortexcam.thumb.jpg.7148e334f76bebaeaabf19176ae4cf06.jpg

 

And finally, the Harmony Encore:

 

harmony-encore.thumb.jpg.7e7649e66aaf916d3621f3ddd80cb354.jpg

 

They all worked. First time. No problems.

 

So from this point forward, if they stop working, it will be the mod's fault.

 

Up next: Wiring! This time for sure!

 

 

Free bonus content:

 

To take the above photos, I used a nifty iOS app called Cortex Camera. It combines multiple exposures into one, allowing you to take low-exposure shots, or in this case, pictures of interlaced video.

 

Without it, I would've ended up with these:

 

uno-half-scanlines.thumb.jpg.b6cc93ad0a6df09bda1866cb5a3e2d40.jpg

 

harmony-half-scanlines.thumb.jpg.ec34237c1424bcc342bebe911b0d7d17.jpg

 

Cortex Camera would work better if I had a tripod or some other mount to hold my iPhone steady. The exposures are quite long, and can get a little blurry if you move. But for this, I just tried not to move.

 

And, of course, deleted all of the ones which were too blurry to use. :roll: 

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6 hours ago, Nathan Strum said:

Then, I plugged each cart into James' 2600 and fired 'em up. First, the Uno cart, which loaded up with no issues:Then, the Harmony. Again, no issues here:

And finally, the Harmony Encore:

They all worked. First time. No problems.

So from this point forward, if they stop working, it will be the mod's fault.

 

Every chapter I'm on the edge of my seat just waiting for something to go horribly wrong and having huge relief when you make it through each step successfully! Hooray!

 

- James

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Chapter 9! Will this be the final chapter?!

 

Nope. But we're getting pretty close. Maybe one or two more to go.

 

For now, it's time to solder all the wires onto the mod and connectors. But first, I noticed something else amiss on James' 2600.

 

This mangled little transistor near the TIA socket. It looks like it got stepped on, and is bent over pretty good. This isn't unusual for 2600 components. Many of them get knocked askew, but this one was so bent over, that the lead in the right foreground was almost touching the pad for the back lead.

 

mangled-transistor.thumb.jpg.2abbcec1bc2dfee59b60ff2328f0aea2.jpg

 

So before doing anything else, I desoldered it, carefully straightened the leads, and put it back.

 

536516358_fixedtransistor.thumb.jpg.dc5acadc0c09ec36c28a96606884208b.jpg

 

Right. So on with the wiring.

 

I'm not going over every step, but again, just a few highlights and some maybe-helpful pointers. I'm right-handed, so it works best for me to solder from left-to-right. That way I don't risk dragging a hot soldering iron over something I'm already done with.

 

left-to-right.thumb.jpg.a3c2c8eb89e13b0c862b79b1ce558e2e.jpg

 

Here I'm attaching the blue wire for the component board. I set the wire into the hole on the board, and hold it down with something (in this case, the handle of some pliers) so it doesn't move while I solder it.

 

component-board-wiring.thumb.jpg.65a762dbede143705ead6eac1af499e8.jpg

 

I had to make sure these wires didn't stick too far through, since there's very little clearance to the circuitry beneath it. One ended up being a bit too long, so I desoldered it and did it over.

 

And here's the soldering on the mod all done! Well... almost done. I missed something. Any guesses?

 

all-done-almost.thumb.jpg.2e045d412ef555b81ea9faa0643091bd.jpg

 

You may be wondering why I used the colors of wire that I did. For example, why aren't the wires for RGB actually red, green and blue?

 

Normally, I would've done that. And in fact, I did make the component wires red, green and blue (for Pr, Y, Pb).

 

But the reason I chose the other colors I did, is so the prewired 8-pin jack that I'm using will match up correctly with these colors. In the long run, it will make things easier.

 

To get audio output for both the 8-pin Framemeister RGB and component video connection, I had to split the audio.


Since there's no room on the pads to solder on two wires, I just made a 'Y' cable for each wire by twisting together three wires, soldering them, and adding some heat-shrink tubing.

 

audio-splitter.thumb.jpg.0b613e00ee4eb9d69c734e832c1ebabf.jpg

 

Now, you might be saying, "But if you split the audio to two devices at the same time, won't it blah, blah, blah?"

 

To which I'd say, "Yes! If you were driving two devices at the same time. But I'm going to operate under the assumption that James will only be driving one audio/video device at a time."

 

Right, James? :ponder: 

 

Left is white, right is red, ground is black. This is standard for audio connections. The reason the red and black ones split to different colors is because those are going to the 8-pin connector. It just so happened that the white wire was already on the correct pin. There's another mistake here though - I didn't need to split the audio ground, since there's already another ground wire going to the 8-pin connector. So I'll remove that later.

 

audio-splitter-shrunk.thumb.jpg.acbda5cd620f7cbb3fbf1ae45a91ed41.jpg

 

Less straight-forward are the audio jacks. For some reason, this company opted to leave out a solder terminal for ground. Maybe they're expecting it to connect to ground some other way? I don't know, but about 30 seconds into this video, they demonstrate soldering a ground wire to a similarly terminal-less connector. So how hard can it be?

 

It wasn't as easy as the video looks.

 

I used a file to flatten the connector a little bit, and held everything in place with tape for the ordeal about to begin.

 

audio-jack.thumb.jpg.6bf545bc0f03572ee3a7e3dce644b40d.jpg

 

After a few messy attempts, and cranking the temperature of my soldering iron way up, I managed to get a good bond. But not without melting some plastic on the end of the jack.

 

audio-jack-welded.thumb.jpg.406815ac7622c4310aaeddff09ac4184.jpg

 

Fortunately, I didn't damage the jack internally, and everything works fine. I had to do this for both the audio and component jacks. Bothersome. But now they're all done. I used some very tiny P-Touch labels to note what the terminals were. I tested everything using a multimeter, and I threw some heat shrink tubing on there just to be sure nothing would short.

 

audio-and-component.thumb.jpg.569f6d44c04f4a0535776478b966b1dd.jpg

 

And before you ask - no, I didn't do this out-of-order. I can still get the jacks into the console with the wires on them. :) 

 

I also wired up the "Extra" button.

 

extra.thumb.jpg.319e3afe4b9bb43437813de57fbb0f25.jpg

 

I was thinking of using a different button. Something a little more befitting an Atari. Like one of these:

 

dueling-volcanoes.thumb.jpg.1c54345a520bdc93af56d954f3c30759.jpg

 

These are not mine - I don't have any here. Now, you can get reproduction "volcano" switches and bezels online. But they're a little pricey, and I would've had to drill a pretty huge hole in the back of the console. So... maybe I'll save that idea for something else.

 

Anyway, with all of the soldering finally done (but not really) it was time to finally start hooking stuff up!

 

I decided to test the mod out in my donor 2600 first. This was so that if I had really messed something up, James' 2600 wouldn't get damaged again.

 

You can tell this is my 2600, since it has the nifty holographic sticker on the TIA.

 

test-install.thumb.jpg.6088ef56ec7823978ea283860bebb682.jpg

 

And it doesn't have all of that... what is that... Coke? I don't know what's all over the edge of James' 2600. Sure is nasty looking though.

 

tia-restored.thumb.jpg.cd3ba93331661e09d4ba0f10d9ddc3cc.jpg

 

When I finally install this in James' 2600, the mod wires and jack wires will snap together using Molex connectors. That's how I can solder everything now, and still put the jacks in later - none of the wires are connected at the other end yet. :) The Molex connectors will be the last things installed. But for now, since I don't have any spare Molex connectors, I just temporarily soldered all of the wires together, and wrapped some electrical tape around them.

 

super-twisty-closeup.thumb.jpg.983bc096db5de3e39db899a55d8e5ce0.jpg 

 

I just threw that picture in there because I really like taking these extreme close-up pics. No other reason. :D 

 

Anyway, with all of the wires neatly connected, and everything all tidied up, we're ready to test! Yep, all neat and tidy!

 

all-neat-and-ready.thumb.jpg.46214e4f53ef240cb9f2677b847736a5.jpg

 

Just don't look slightly to the left. I said DON'T! Nnnnnoooooooo...!!!

 

panned-slightly-left.thumb.jpg.1b3afa1c063960768743a122b09b1dcd.jpg

 

Well, so much for the illusion of organization.

 

Anyway, it was at this point that I found the wire that I had missed earlier. It was the composite sync line to the 8-pin connector. So I got that sorted out.

 

Can't imagine how I missed that. Everything's so neat and tidy.

 

Neat. And. Tidy.

 

For testing, I connected James' switch board to my 2600. His still has the switching voltage regulator on it (which has been working fine, with his 2600 in un-modded configuration), and I figured I'd better use the one intended for the mod.

 

I plugged in the audio and video, and the 2600's power adapter. Switched the monitor input to component, and flipped the Atari's power switch...

 

wakka-wakka.thumb.jpg.380d10c68fb61aa837883c9aa3c99ded.jpg

 

And it actually worked!! I was genuinely startled when the picture came up! Probably because I'd been so used to noisy static while testing RF, and with component, there's nothing but a blank screen before the 2600 turns on.

 

Also, I don't think I really expected it to work the first time. ;)

 

There was just one little problem.

 

No audio.

 

But after a couple of minutes of panicky troubleshooting, and after that a quick look at the manual, I realized I needed to plug the audio into a different input on the monitor. Whoops. :roll: 

 

Then I had audio.

 

And the Harmony Cart worked, too!

 

harmony-component.thumb.jpg.82c58ea19b70c76d0ad3026ffdd25b55.jpg

 

As did the Uno Cart.

 

uno-component.thumb.jpg.a5d0388535cbf8fa02780327d89bd8b4.jpg

 

Here's a close-up of the color test binary:

 

color-test-component.thumb.jpg.a3f82aa002e32761fed3d6afcce7a1af.jpg

 

So what's left?

 

Well, next I have to make an 8-pin Framemeister to RGBS BNC cable so I can test the RGB output of the mod.

 

Then I have to remove the mod from my donor 2600, and install it into James' console. Once I'm sure it works there as-is, then I have to cut the wires apart, figure out where to route everything, install the jacks and "Extra" button, and finally crimp on the Molex connectors. Then hope it still works. :roll: 

 

So, there will still be a couple more chapters.

 

One of which will involve drilling holes. 27/64" ones.

 

Can't wait!! :D 

 

 

 

Bonus content:

 

Here's Pac-Man taken with Cortex Camera. So... many... ghosts...

 

so-many-ghosts.thumb.jpg.1c12305a4fccb00d00dc72e1211d4ee7.jpg

 

And for Thomas:

 

quick-component.thumb.jpg.c8e9478820a9c7286298aadca0b1030f.jpg

 

pescomponent.thumb.jpg.09763cb61707dcbd020bfe66c5500428.jpg

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Posted (edited)
53 minutes ago, Nathan Strum said:

And for Thomas:

Thanks! That's your donor console, right?

 

It shows the color glitch but not the PF glitch. Now I wonder what it displays without the mod, so if the mod creates the glitches or not.

Edited by Thomas Jentzsch

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12 hours ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

Thanks! That's your donor console, right?

 

It shows the color glitch but not the PF glitch. Now I wonder what it displays without the mod, so if the mod creates the glitches or not.

That's correct - it's (mostly) my donor console. As for the second part... that will have to wait until after:

 

Chapter 10: Now we're gettin' somewhere

 

I thought these should have titles. Now that we're almost done with this.

 

So, we're still on the donor console. But that will change very soon.

 

Meanwhile, I still had the RGB part of the RGB mod to test.

 

But first, I had to make a cable to go from the Framemeister RGB connector to the 4x BNC inputs of my monitor. (I keep wanting to type "Framekeister" for some reason.)

 

So bring out the victims!

 

soon-to-be-victims.thumb.jpg.41409f2f6c98791543d786e41d98c9cd.jpg

 

I bought these cables from Amazon specifically to chop them up for this purpose. One is a VGA cable, the other is a serial cable (yes - you did recognize the mini-DIN 8 from somewhere, probably an old dial-up modem).

 

victims.thumb.jpg.2baa663bb167f85253932e09320045c8.jpg

 

This will all make sense in a minute. Or if you don't want to wait a minute, just look at the next picture now.

 

a-cable-ish.thumb.jpg.73b6a449c9d4dc83f67caefcaa62b40d.jpg

 

Instead of soldering everything together, I used an old terminal block I had sitting around (which just happened to have eight lugs). This way I could simply move wires around as I was checking everything, in case I got some the pinouts mixed up. Which I did. More than once. :roll: 

 

Speaking of mixed up, remember in the last chapter, when I forgot to hookup the composite sync wire?

 

Ah, good times. Good times...

 

Anyway, it was still in the wrong place. I'd hooked it up to the composite video pad on the mod. Not the composite sync pad.

 

I found that out when I was going through and doing an end-to-end continuity test with the Frankencable. But now it's fixed. Finally.

 

one-more-mistake-for-the-road.thumb.jpg.64d839465ed1d0ff8ad9e2ce699b8eb9.jpg

 

This is why I check everything when doing this stuff.

 

Right. So all of the wires were finally going where they were supposed to. Would it work? I plugged everything in, switched the monitor to RGB and external sync, fired up the 2600 and...

 

pac-rgb.thumb.jpg.1ce21a62b1dda7db09e308ed3bdc72e9.jpg

 

It worked! With sound this time, too!

 

Pac-Man has never seen so much time in one of my 2600s, I'll tell ya' that.

 

Somewhere in that rat's nest, is a single cable coming out of the 8-pin panel-mount jack (it's just above the 2600's power switch, if you squint). That's driving the RGB and audio.

 

So both RGB and component work, and James can use a single cable on his Framemeister now.

 

Assuming, that is, this all works on his 2600.

 

That's next!

 

(Can you stand the excitement?)

 

 

Underwhelming Bonus Content (sort of like what you get on digital downloads now... they used to at least put some effort into Blu-rays)

 

The same timing issue happens on RGB. Shouldn't be a surprise, since the component output is just an offshoot of that. But I thought I should be thorough. (Still on the donor here.)

 

quick-rgb.thumb.jpg.341dae62a01f9d37aeb841632db0c43d.jpg

 

pescrgb.thumb.jpg.ca831b2040b94a6b0451fad533c1a463.jpg

 

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Episode 10, the saga continues!!

 

Oh man, I miss that crisp RGB output, looking good Nathan!

 

Can't wait for the next installment of 2600 mod installation. The tension is mounting... Will the transplant of the RGB mod go successful? Will the patient make it through the operation to the other side intact??

 

- James

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19 hours ago, ZeroPage Homebrew said:

Can't wait for the next installment of 2600 mod installation. The tension is mounting... Will the transplant of the RGB mod go successful? Will the patient make it through the operation to the other side intact??

Well, let's just rip off the Band-Aid™ then and find out!

 

Chapter 11: Probably the penultimate chapter, or not

 

Well, with all of the donor testing and wiring and stuff done, all that was left to do was pop the mod out of the donor, pop the donor's TIA out of the mod, pop the ZPH 2600's TIA back out, install that in the mod, and then pop the mod into the ZPH 2600! (This is literally just a few minutes' work. There was no way I was going to not do this today. Wait... there was no way I was... hmmm. I think that works. Anyway...)

 

But first! The Bonus Content! Because all of this started around the time James was trying to figure out what was causing the timing issue on his 2600 in the first place. Plus, there's absolutely nothing wrong with eating dessert before dinner.

 

Also, I'm trying to build up the tension more, because otherwise this would be the shortest chapter of this whole thing.

 

Oh - I just thought of something funny! This is Chapter 11! And it's about Atari! Remember that time Atari filed for Chapter 11 because they'd been run into the ground by idiots?

 

Yeah. They're still being run by idiots.

 

Now I'm a little sad.

 

But the real Atari lives on in the hearts and minds of the homebrew community! CAVEAT EMPTOR! (Sorry - that's the only Latin phrase I could think of.).

 

So let's take one last look at RF.

 

This is what the donor 2600's RF looks like right now, after the mod was removed, and its own switch board was reinstalled.

 

quick-donor-rf.thumb.jpg.74303434ef81d2e82c522236ccb84964.jpg

 

pesco-donor-rf.thumb.jpg.5d3a2c0cdcc20de97ba89078cf3d0ece.jpg

 

Sorry about the reflections. It's a big, curved, shiny piece of glass.

 

Here is the ZPH 2600's RF, right before re-installing the mod:

 

quick-zph-rf.thumb.jpg.ea054c4e21ccd090b9103efa6db805b1.jpg

 

pesco-zph-rf.thumb.jpg.168f3516210c88b77b2b19aa9ad83f10.jpg

 

Okay, that's our baseline.

 

Now, let's get back to the Band-Aid™ ripping-off of. Here's one last look at the ZPH 2600 guts in mostly-stock configuration. (It still has the switching voltage regulator, which I'm not inclined to change. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it.")

 

are-ya-ready-steve.thumb.jpg.f28455a71f26f5dba3c2b263cfdf3548.jpg

 

Then, just re-read what I wrote above about moving stuff around, and... rrriiippp!

 

zph-rgb.thumb.jpg.3cff18e9a8af81ea177d0096edc6b230.jpg

 

Yep. It worked. First time. (This is getting kind of anticlimactic. But you know, I'll take stuff working any day of the week.)

 

Oh, and just to prove (for whatever reason) this is RGB, here's what my monitor shows when a game is first loaded:

 

rgb-man.thumb.jpg.f3d34fa0089ff07d3c6640599ce0d6ef.jpg

 

And yes, it says "COMPONENT" and "NTSC" for the other inputs. It also has S-Video, so you can bet I'm going to hook up my modded console to it, and try to suss out its own weird problem.

 

Anyway, back to this 2600's color timing issue. Here's the restored ZPH console with the RGB mod.

 

quick-zph-rgb.thumb.jpg.d5859d822aa55bd46604674ce6716812.jpg

 

pesco-zph-rgb.thumb.jpg.114c4ec03313eb65faf326c711d91e38.jpg

 

I'd say this is pretty definitive: yes, the mod is causing the issue. So it's a "live with it" thing, I suppose. I don't think it's affected any gameplay. Just the odd appearance artifact.

 

So that's it - the mod works! Now I'll just wad up all of the cables, stuff everything into a box and ship it back to...

 

What?

 

Oh, alright. I suppose I should put it back together.

 

 

Up next: Stuffing everything back inside the case, and drilling holes in it!

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4 hours ago, Nathan Strum said:

I keep wanting to type "Framekeister" for some reason.

"Meister" is German and means "master". Maybe that helps you remembering the name. 

 

3 hours ago, Nathan Strum said:

I'd say this is pretty definitive: yes, the mod is causing the issue. 

Agreed. We should tell the designers of the mod about the timing issue their mod is creating. Maybe they can improve it.

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11 hours ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

"Meister" is German and means "master". Maybe that helps you remembering the name.

Actually, I was thinking "keister" because its non-standard video connector is a pain-in-the-butt. ;) 

11 hours ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

Agreed. We should tell the designers of the mod about the timing issue their mod is creating. Maybe they can improve it.

Here's his contact info. I don't know enough about what's going on to actually tell him what to fix.

 

Maybe a test binary would help clarify it for him.

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Just now, Nathan Strum said:

Oh yeah... time for some real fun! :D 

Where's the hammer? :) 

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1 minute ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

Where's the hammer? :) 

Silly... hammers aren't used for drilling!

 

Hammers are used for fitting things together.

 

That comes after the drilling.

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What number are we up to now? Oh, right:

 

Chapter 12: Figuring out where stuff goes

 

Well, time to put things together!

 

One tricky part of installing mods, is figuring out where to run the wires. More to the point - how to get them out of the shielding that surrounds the main circuit board.

 

For my own mod, I ran wires out through one of the holes in the top. But this makes disassembling it a pain. Plus there are a lot more wires in the RBG/component mod, and they're thicker, too.

 

my-mod.thumb.jpg.defc7efb1b02b14ec278a4693a9588f1.jpg

 

So I decided to run the wires over the front of the board and underneath it - which is how James' mod had been installed originally.

 

First, I had to tape the wires flat, into groups, so I could snake them through the narrow gap between the board and the RF shield.

 

flat-taped.thumb.jpg.4ec18791694e4960c2c6e3edd89515d1.jpg

 

Then I could carefully run them past the mod, around the edge and under the board. And no - there was no way I could take a picture of this in-progress. Not enough hands. But here's the end result.

 

wires-turned-corner.thumb.jpg.cd808d806026eba48dd777922bbb0131.jpg

 

The heat-shrink tubing is there to keep everything separated, so I don't mix up the wires.

 

Next, after some test fitting of the bottom shield, I flat-taped the wires again, and placed them where the gaps are that I wanted them to run through.

 

wires-run-first-time.thumb.jpg.8435f5b3adb20a285fa12cc0cdce4f19.jpg

 

And here it is with the lower half of the shield in place. I don't quite know why Atari put those gaps there (probably to prevent shorting), but they're sure handy. Thicker wire wouldn't have made it through.

 

wires-under-shield-first-time.thumb.jpg.4b17f0257d6ff52baf9600f6bb312424.jpg

 

You'll notice that the wires are angled pretty steeply to the sides. This is because as I was progressing through the installation, test fitting things as I went, I discovered that there's a shelf on the back of the 2600 case that part of the circuit board sits on. This means the wires would be pinched between the board and the shelf, if they ran straight out.

 

shell-shelf.thumb.jpg.bf815f72551967d11a3be24b1f2083cc.jpg

 

So to avoid that, they had to bend rather sharply.

 

bunched-up.thumb.jpg.ce06e5f7276d92baba35ba717006e62d.jpg

 

It's a really tight fit. All of the audio and video wires are stuffed through on one side, and the "Extra" button is the only thing on the left. The only reason I'd planned to do this, was because that's where things were in James' original installation.

 

There was a problem with this though - the original RF passthrough hole was still there, and just about where I wanted to drill the hole to add the component video jack. Plus, the existing hole for the audio jack would need to be enlarged. So I was concerned that I'd be turning the right side of the 2600 into Swiss cheese. Besides, there's already that giant, honkin' hole that was cut out for the original 8-pin jack. More on that shortly.

 

holes.thumb.jpg.d03a070583b9e45a5d8a4708c558f051.jpg

 

At this point, I decided to change plans. I'd put the component and audio jacks on the left (enlarging the old switch hole), and move the "Extra" button to the old audio jack location, next to the 8-pin jack.

 

This meant re-running the wires under the shield. But that was okay, because I had another reason for taking the shield off again. There was some metal flashing sticking out on the inside of the top of the shield, and I wanted to file it down. It was around that disc next to the hole near the middle of the photo below. It had at least a good 1/16" of jagged aluminum sticking up around the edge of it. This is "after". Sorry, I didn't take a "before" pic.

 

flashing-removed.thumb.jpg.8c75bf94978f760a4f7903cb140e9b6b.jpg

 

So, why bother? Well, when I had it together the first time, I noticed there was effectively zero clearance between the shield and the top of the relocated TIA. If you look in the nearest hole in the photo below - that's the top TIA. Right up against the shield. So that's why I wanted to file that metal down - to keep it from gouging up the chip. (I don't know if the mod designer planned it to be that close, or ended up just being lucky. But that clearance is ridiculous.)

 

tia-clearance.thumb.jpg.8c422f7fa9bd63543bc6ce2de668b5c3.jpg

 

Right. So with that done, time to put it back together again, and run the wires in different directions.

 

wires-under-shield-again.thumb.jpg.8bb7a9e7244ccacd402f645dc223a964.jpg

 

This will address a few things. First, it makes the wires less bunched up.

 

less-bunched.thumb.jpg.09675c15d5dedbc1c0674391a8a2e276.jpg

 

It also gives me plenty of space on the left side to install the new component and audio jacks.

 

old-switch-hole.thumb.jpg.c3131b79bdc9f8f5eeeee70b6ff9b70b.jpg

 

And it will make adding the Molex connectors easier, too. I plan to use two connectors: an 8-pin and a 10-pin. I went with two to simplify things, and made them different sizes so they can't be mismatched.

 

So the 8-pin will have the component video and audio, and the 10-pin will have the 8-pin Framemeister connector and "Extra" button.

 

I added some more heat-shrink tubing to keep everything organized.

 

heat-shrinked-1.thumb.jpg.49723ad9224f860b659e1fe041187ea0.jpg

 

Neat and Tidy™.

 

heat-shrinked-2.thumb.jpg.c2e025ce4a3f3d841c448dc1fc37df8d.jpg

 

Now to fit the "Extra" button into the old audio jack hole. The hole was actually larger than needed, but it worked to my advantage. In the previous installation, the threads were only deep enough to barely catch. But the new hole is big enough so that the shoulder at the base of the switch actually fits inside the hole.

 

switch-shoulder.thumb.jpg.b4c48d929c5d1f9d73cb22516168d3ea.jpg

 

So now, there's plenty of thread protruding to securely mount the switch. With a lock washer.

 

new-switch-location.thumb.jpg.49eeab0d32c9b7a61c841a14c930213d.jpg

 

I didn't have to do anything to the hole for the 8-pin, because that already fit. Mostly.

 

8pin-clearance.thumb.jpg.4af60cc8fbbf110f421dd24e9294336f.jpg

 

The problem was, there was no space on the left to add the washer and nut. It was drilled right next to the plastic standoff that supports the top of the 2600.

 

So... time to get out the hammer!!

 

No wait, not the hammer. What's the other thing?


Right. The saw!!

 

xacto-saw.thumb.jpg.9e0c1c4d6d4740d82e1bf0cbc3dafa4c.jpg

 

This is an X-acto Razor Saw. If you do any hobby work with plastic, you need one. Anyway, on with the surgery!

 

sawing.thumb.jpg.d58a1096df84192249172d83becdeab3.jpg

 

A little careful cutting and filing later, and I now have the clearance I need. There's enough left of the standoff to support the 2600's top. As long as, you know, nobody repeatedly slams the Reset switch or something. ;) 

 

8pin-cleared.thumb.jpg.ad4a7482d3ae1c23c7470a865259d95a.jpg

 

BTW - I'm going to guess that the reason the original hole for the old 8-pin jack wraps over the corner like that, is that originally they wanted to install it on the underneath of the console. Then they realized they couldn't plug a cable into it and had to install it on the back. But that's just a guess. ;) 

 

But even after fitting the jack, there was a problem. So much plastic had been cut away for the old jack, there was almost no support underneath.

 

8pin-unsupported.thumb.jpg.313965631385d368fbdda98851e7b0d5.jpg

 

Now, I could just leave it. It'd probably hold up fine. But if you've been reading this whole thing, you'd know by now I don't roll that way.

 

So, first, a little bit of tape...

 

blue-tape.thumb.jpg.9fdd8afed5cecf383e3cf50ce05e7647.jpg

 

Then, a little more tape. And from the inside...

 

blue-tape-inside.thumb.jpg.c31831aac101e5168ca0ebd528876d94.jpg

 

We now have a mold! For this stuff:

 

jb-weld.thumb.jpg.e6e46297c78301d3673dc4e0b5357b4b.jpg

 

I'm going to replace the lost plastic with epoxy. How good is this stuff? Well, check out one of my favorite YouTube channels.

 

jb-welded.thumb.jpg.3c61131787a3012cc054ed450e0fb95f.jpg

 

It may not be pretty from the inside, but with a little filing I should have decent support for the jack.

 

But I've got about six hours before it cures, so I guess I'll go order a pizza, and we'll continue this in the next chapter.

 

Up next: Finally we get to drill holes in stuff!

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Posted (edited)

That is a scary looking saw you have there!

 

So far so good with the surgery the VCS is undergoing, it's looking great especially the new wiring! Glad you were able to patch up that nasty hole we had to make to fit the original RGB connector to the back, it looks so much better filled in.

 

Be gentle with the drill!!!!

 

- James

Edited by ZeroPage Homebrew

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So you did the nasty hole? And the old hole was only pointing down? How would that have ever worked?

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Not enough time to put together an entire chapter before the next show starts tonight... but there's always time for a teaser!

 

welded.thumb.jpg.a27a838ff42948f406aacc419d29e7f0.jpg

 

Why not... let's make it a two-for-one!

 

testing-molex.thumb.jpg.29ff5f8a0f4d9eec7c4dcc2fd301a892.jpg

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1 minute ago, Nathan Strum said:

Not enough time to put together an entire chapter before the next show starts tonight... but there's always time for a teaser!

 

Oooh! Nice patching job, very clean.

 

I have no idea what I'm look at in the second picture... a continuity test? But what's that connector?? It looks like it's from a modern computer power supply, TOO MUCH POWER for a poor old VCS!

 

- James

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8 minutes ago, ZeroPage Homebrew said:

I have no idea what I'm look at in the second picture... a continuity test? But what's that connector?? It looks like it's from a modern computer power supply, TOO MUCH POWER for a poor old VCS!

Well if I told you now, it wouldn't be a teaser, would it? ;)

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We're in the home stretch now! I actually did most of this part last night, but didn't have time to write it up until now.

 

Chapter 13: The Penultimate Chapter!*

 

When we last left the ZPH 2600, I had just globbed a whole bunch of epoxy into it, to try and patch up a hole left from the previous RGB mod installation.

 

It actually turned out pretty well. This is just as it looked after peeling the tape away. I'm not going to do anything else to it cosmetically. The epoxy is a nice dark gray, and anything I did to it (like paint) would just look like an attempt to hide a bad repair. This way, it's obviously a patch. It is what it is.

 

welded.thumb.jpg.62ed43188578e9d40635297772c83e50.jpg

 

That said, I needed to do some work to the hole, since I intentionally made it smaller than I needed. This way I could fit it to the 8-pin jack precisely.

 

So... more tools!

 

carving-tools.thumb.jpg.9f9a86834d9440e90b47e81c975d45a9.jpg

 

And after a little careful work, I have a perfect fit. Including one flat side on the hole, so the jack won't spin.

 

carved.thumb.jpg.d53b0c212f941ee072f212d7d9367b2d.jpg

 

Incidentally, the line running horizontally across the bottom of the hole isn't a crack. It's a line from where the pieces of tape overlapped.

 

The inside... not so pretty. But perfectly functional.

 

carved-interior.thumb.jpg.5824729522967668d53748cdb4e9ce4b.jpg

 

And with the jack and "Extra" button installed.

 

installed-8pin.thumb.jpg.2bf6be820df05d6128c7ad2db594d340.jpg

 

From the back, the patch is hardly noticeable.

 

8pin-exterior.thumb.jpg.d45b404f531f7ec6cc31fffab388f756.jpg

 

And underneath.

 

8pin-exterior-underneath.thumb.jpg.63608fcd7a255ccce8c8b67e7dbe6fb6.jpg

 

Right - so with that done, time to wire this puppy up. My plan is to use Molex connectors so that the 2600 can be completely taken apart without having to remove any jacks or wiring.

 

This turned out to be the most difficult part of the entire project, because the connectors I'm using are really tiny and hard to work with (and I refuse to buy a $400 crimp tool). The preinstalled wires coming from the 8-pin connector are so thin, I had to double them over to be able to crimp the terminators onto them.

 

doubled-over-wire.thumb.jpg.a0084765772f86db2a004be5cbb9c9d1.jpg

 

There's no scale there... I suppose I should've put something in the photo next to it. But if you know your wire gauges, that's a 26 gauge wire, with the stripped end doubled back on itself. The rest of the wire that I used worked fine as-is (22 gauge), although I still had to use the smallest die on my not-$400 crimp tool.

 

After awhile though, I got the hang of it, and got the first Molex connector installed. This one carries all of the 8-pin signals, plus the wiring for the "Extra" button. The little silver dots on there are just reference makers I put on, so that I knew where I was putting wires as I was hooking things up.

 

installed-8pin-molex.thumb.jpg.b7e6abee046f12d9744ceaf30ccc4dde.jpg

 

Up next, it was time to do the component and audio jacks.

 

audio-and-component-ready.thumb.jpg.080d7b599b4caf21fd0b56b423d0adc7.jpg

 

And of course, this meant drilling! Here are the holes laid out, along with the parts for the Molex connectors.

 

audio-and-component-parts.thumb.jpg.a48646c3bf2f8290b07f954c7c34051f.jpg

 

And now... DRILLING!!

 

drilling-at-last.thumb.jpg.8ed880f040dccf69720dd91f19246cb7.jpg

 

And then it was over. It was only two holes y'know. And despite the ridiculously huge drill bit, I drilled very slowly and carefully. More carving than drilling.

 

I was pretty fussy about positioning, too. I made sure that the distance to the top of the case was as close as possible for both holes. I was within 1/64". Not too shabby.

 

precision.thumb.jpg.d9a6c102cd40247a8e02a727aa8f1de1.jpg

 

Sorry James... almost forgot. Here's metric.

 

precision-canadian.thumb.jpg.cf902f26565978b087a4869e097db0fc.jpg

 

Here they are from the outside. Nice, clean look.

 

av-jacks-installed.thumb.jpg.1a6d03170ca707ab72ae13e851cd36f0.jpg

 

And inside.

 

av-jacks-inside.thumb.jpg.b6777651f5203fb738fcfa3424560b7e.jpg

 

Since both jacks look identical from the outside, I guess James will just have to refer back to the pictures above when plugging stuff in. The component jack is on the right from the inside. From the outside, it's on the left. But that's only if you're looking at it from the back. If you're looking at it from the front of the console, it'll be on the right from the outside.

 

Look... I'll just label it, okay?

 

av-labeled.thumb.jpg.3c73ad3301cfe9c89c0b99b97b9c2bf0.jpg

 

And just in case he needs reminding...

 

8pin-labeled.thumb.jpg.691e159069e30eedb0ed753e732fc3ef.jpg

 

"Extra" doesn't make as much sense as "Palette/Pause", since that's the button's actual function.

 

So I had to add a Molex connector to the component and audio jacks next. So here are the wires with all of the terminators installed.

 

av-ready-for-molex.thumb.jpg.0fc433092cd6098822b2ee302047f390.jpg

 

Then they just press-fit into the plastic connector. And it's a one-way deal, too. Removing them trashes the connector, so at that point you just cut the wires and install a new connector.

 

av-molex.thumb.jpg.59f412e308f94ba0e47e59975bcba869.jpg

 

To test everything, I had to attach a tiny wire to my multimeter to fit into the connector. Then I'd plug in the appropriate cable (or connector) on the other end and check continuity.

 

testing-molex.thumb.jpg.dbfc9b9a71e4dae4a11406b2bf5e1d9e.jpg

 

I've done this throughout the whole installation. But I wouldn't be able to test after this. That will have to wait for the next chapter though.

 

But at this point, the wiring in the bottom half of the case was done! The jacks were installed and Molex connectors attached and tested. 

 

case-molex-finished.thumb.jpg.80e80993de4415a816ec3a2ace09917e.jpg

 

I'd also like to point out how clean the inside of the case is now. This would be my last chance to get rid of all of the dust, dirt, grime and revolting filth that had built up over the decades.

 

Okay... it was actually just a little dust. So I used a soft artist's paint brush to clean it out. Gotta use 'em for something since I went digital years ago.

 

Up next: The Final Chapter!*

 

 

 

 

 

*Unless there are more later.

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