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Atari 2600 “Kluge” Cart

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A few weeks back I had an opportunity to buy a 5200 diagnostic cartridge and was sent a picture of the other items that were purchased by the seller from what appeared to either be a technician’s collection or a store owners old stuff. This “kluge” cart was in the picture so I jumped on it, but opening it did not help answer any of my questions lol. Curious if anyone would know any reasons for all resistors or if the guy just did it to seeE4892A82-4EFD-4DEF-B2DD-F886310D6DC9.thumb.jpeg.74d293ef0c228b59db4e852c692e3851.jpeg05B3CC38-B157-4C74-8EAC-78F6C8B8C856.thumb.jpeg.9c1b250a53701f496d372481979c363e.jpeg

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Check out the service manual for the 2600 for more info about it. 



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In short, it's a diagnostic cart used for broken consoles. What it does is throw $EA on the data bus (opcode for NOP, or no operation) so the 6507 will just cycle through all of the addresses then wrap around. The intent is to then use a scope on the individual address lines and see if any are not working as expected.


The problem is that the $EA being forced on the data bus is that the cart introduces bus contention across the entire usable address space of the RIOT and TIA chips. While these chips are pretty robust and should be fine with some bus contention, the amount of contention this cart introduces is extreme.


If the console is bad anyway, and the tech likely had extra chips on hand that at the time were of minimal cost to Atari, I suppose this wasn't a big deal back in the day if a chip was fried in the process. But today I would not recommend using this cart except as a last resort on an otherwise hopelessly broken console, when all other attempts at repair have failed, and only with the RIOT chip removed from the system (the TIA chip needs to be installed as it generates the clock for the 6507.)


That all said, the Kluge most likely won't fry a chip right away and there is a reasonable chance the chips will all survive for long enough to scope the address lines. But, at least one user here has reported frying chips in his console after only a few minutes of using a Kluge.

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