Jump to content
djsky717

Activision and Parker Brothers Cartridge Fix

Recommended Posts

Have you guys noticed some games by Activision and Parker Brothers wouldn't play despite cleaning the metal contacts?

 

In my collection I had about 10 of these third party games that wouldn't play. Then I noticed they would play if I pulled the cart slightly out of the console. Which led me to believe that these third party cartridges were manufactured slightly off from Atari's design parameters/standards. Essentially the metal contacts of these third party carts were just a hair too low for the reader.

 

So I raised the metal contacts by performing the following (see attached photos):

 

1. Heat up the cart label with a hair dryer to loosen the adhesive.

2. Carefully peel back the label until screws are exposed.

3. Unscrew, then open the cart and remove the PCB.

4. Scrape off about 2-3 mm of the green conformal coating to expose more of the metal contacts (clean the contacts while you're at it).

5. Put everything back in reverse order. (Tip: reheat the label to reactivate the adhesive).

 

Now 10 out of 10 work! Hope this helps.

 

 

 

 

IMG-9931.jpg

IMG-9932.jpg

IMG-9933.jpg

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow. Nice job! I was literally just complaining that it seems like nearly every Pitfall 2 I get has this very issue. I was told that the boards Activision used were slightly thinner which also adds to the problem.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks! I also noticed Activision boards appeared a tad thinner than Atari boards, however they now play beautifully after my above fix.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Neotokeo, I'm currently at my electronic workshop tonight and luckily I have some opened consoles and stuff to take photos.

 

In the photo on the left is one of the cart readers in situ, where the outer curve is designed to touch the metal contact of the game cart when inserted.

 

In the photo on the right is a mock up of the scenario where I previously mentioned that the metal contacts of some third party carts were just a hair too low for the reader.

 

Notice the curve of the reader is trying to read the very top of the metal contact, and if you push the cart too far into the console, the reader will miss the contact by just a hair and then goes into the conformal coating area which is a non-conductive dielectric substance. This is why scraping away this coating will fix this issue.

 

Sorry I probably put in too much info, but hopefully this will help clarify any confusion. Let me know if you have any more questions!

 

 

IMG-9702-2.jpg

Edited by djsky717
  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@djsky717 are you suggesting these particular carts were already problematic at manufacture? Or is this the result of some general misalignment over time, either of the cartridge port or the PCB in the game itself?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It appears there may be 3 factors.

 

First is due to the design/etching of the PCB from the beginning. They made the length of the metal contacts just a hair too short (not sure why, maybe they were basing it off an early reader design spec before it got changed? See my second factor for details). Hence my solution to lengthen them by scrapping off some the coating to expose more of the metal contacts. I literally had more than 10 of these 3rd party carts that wouldn't play, and they happened to be all Activision and Parker Brother carts. They wouldn't play when pushed all the way into the console, but they played after I slightly pulled them out...a dead giveaway of a mismatched height/length between the reader and the cart's metal contacts. That's how I came up with the fix. After doing this, every one of those affected carts starting playing perfectly again.

 

Second is I noticed it might depend on the console. I have more than 15 consoles (my avatar pic is my collection). As you probably know, not all consoles have the same reader designs/manufacturer. There were several different suppliers of the reader used in the production of the consoles across different plants in Sunnyvale and overseas, and my guess is either some suppliers made their readers slightly off from Atari's design specs, or there were more than 1 design spec floating around and Activision/Parker Bros. may have referenced only one of them when designing the PCB.

 

Lastly, over time after years of wear and tear, the metal would get worn down just a tiny bit, but enough to cross over the failure threshold when combined with the other 2 factors.

Edited by djsky717
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, djsky717 said:

Neotokeo, I'm currently at my electronic workshop tonight and luckily I have some opened consoles and stuff to take photos.

 

In the photo on the left is one of the cart readers in situ, where the outer curve is designed to touch the metal contact of the game cart when inserted.

 

In the photo on the right is a mock up of the scenario where I previously mentioned that the metal contacts of some third party carts were just a hair too low for the reader.

 

Notice the curve of the reader is trying to read the very top of the metal contact, and if you push the cart too far into the console, the reader will miss the contact by just a hair and then goes into the conformal coating area which is a non-conductive dielectric substance. This is why scraping away this coating will fix this issue.

 

Sorry I probably put in too much info, but hopefully this will help clarify any confusion. Let me know if you have any more questions!

 

 

IMG-9702-2.jpg

Answered my question. I didn't realize what you were saying until you showed the new photos. Great detective work!!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/12/2020 at 2:12 AM, djsky717 said:

Second is I noticed it might depend on the console.

Probably. It's supposed to be a bigger issue on Heavy Sixers, isn't it? I know mine has issues with Barnstorming and Keystone Kapers.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Asaki said:

Probably. It's supposed to be a bigger issue on Heavy Sixers, isn't it? I know mine has issues with Barnstorming and Keystone Kapers.

You're probably right. I didn't get a chance to test Barnstorming and Keystone Kapers on my Heavy Sixer, but those 2 titles were among the games exhibiting this issue on my Taiwan 4-switch Woody and Vader while it played fine on my Sunnyvale 4-switch and my Hong Kong Light Sixer. I already did the scrapping fix on my 3rd party carts so there's no way to go back to test for failure on my Heavy Sixer. Anyway thanks for your input. Are you planning on addressing the issue on those games?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, djsky717 said:

Are you planning on addressing the issue on those games?

Oh, I don't know about that :) I'm too scared. I just pull the game out a little bit.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Makes sense, you can see on the initial cart post where your scraping the green layer off, and the remaining green layer is scuffed by the systems contact.

 

Some of the original Parker and Activision carts had a sponge to substitute the carts dust cover, and I imagine that kept the carts pushed out a bit, though those sponges have long since deteriorated. Originally with the sponge, I imagine they met system requirements, but their just slightly off when it goes missing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a similar issue with telegames carts only to find the solder points were globbed all over the place. You would think this sort of thibg would have rendered the game useless from day one as sometimes these blobs cross pins touching eachother. Yet the cart worked in the past and it is not like the temperature in my house can heat solder. I still have no idea how this is possible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...