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HELP Atari 2600 CRT output

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Hi all,

I'm trying to get my 2600 up and running with a CRT television. 

I have one of the old cable/gaming switches that I'm connecting into the TV antenna port. 

Tested that using a different console type of console (not Atari) and it works.


My Atari for some reason is a) giving a really bad signal in general and b) for some reason is displaying 3 "squashed" screens (so stretched horizontally across the TV tube, but reduced vertically so that 3 instances of the output are visible one on top of the other).


I've tried many things with the TV adjustments, and verified that the line in actually works with another console. 

So, wondering what suggestions the community has on what on earth is going on??


I have seen quite a few references to changing a capacitor and V regulator, but none of these refer to the output I am getting on my CRT TV.


Thanks a bunch! 

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You need to order an adapter that converts the  Atari RCA cable to coaxial. Then you can just screw it to the back of the tv without a switch box. I'm sure someone here can point you to a link for ordering it, I use one and if I remember right, they only cost a few dollars. Your other option is one of the old manual switch boxes. The automatic boxes, such as the ones that came with the NES, don't play nice with the Atari. If the box you have is a manual switch, it may need to be cleaned with contact cleaner, if it's not just worn out.

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Thanks for the response @RamrodHare

I have a manual switch box in this case which I have given a clean up with cleaner.

I think improving that connection will help the signal, but it doesn't explain the triplicate of my Atari screen being displayed on the TV.


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An image may help.


I'll assume the VCS display is the same without the switch box in place and that the VCS has been tuned to it's own channel (if the CRT can store separate channels).


Sounds like the VCS may need a tune up, however from the description it sounds like two possibilities, either the vertical sync on the CRT needs adjusting, (on newer CRT TV sets the vertical sync may be internal), or that the RF modulator needs adjusting, (the modulator requires gentle handling).


Good luck!

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Thanks for the help.


I actually have one of those connectors. It's definitely something internal to the Atari box itself.

I replaced the "green chicklet" capacitor (which was not actually a green chicklet in my Atari, but a brown radial0.22uf) and the adjacent large blue (2200uf) radial capacitor. This made a little bit of improvement, but still not functional. There is also no clear sound transmission .... I can hear only a faint sound.

The V regulator was tested and is producing a 5V signal.


I have tried tuning the RF box which enables me to improve the signal only marginally. 


Question: what should I tackle next? Should I open the box containing the chips? Are the other capacitors near the RF box potentially the cause?




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11 minutes ago, GoldLeader said:

This is probably a dumb question, but I see a CH 14.  What does it do on CH 3 or CH 4?

I've tuned it manually to the TV channel 14 initially, but now it's actually tuned to CH 1. ... It doesn't make any difference.

I think there are two issues going on:

1) bad signal coming out of the Atari (I've tested on a different television, and the double-screen problem does not replicate over, but the terrible signal and sound does)

2) on this television, there is a sync issue I believe... lower priority, I want to fix the Atari first, then the sync if that makes sense...

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