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An Atari 2600 Refurb?

Atari 2600 Motherboard

One of my favorite You Tube Channels is the 8-Bit Guy. He is a computer geek who has been at it since the days of Commodore 64’s, Amigas and TRS-80’s. Not only does he restore old computers but he goes into their history and what made them unique. I have no desire to explore it to the depths that he has taken upon himself but it did get me thinking about an Atari 2600 video console system that I picked up at a yard sale around 20 years ago in Medicine Hat. The console came with one joystick controller and some game cartridges among them Asteroids, Defender and Pole Position. Not bad for 2 dollars!

Over the years I have hooked it up a couple of times to the TV. The joystick is very hard to use and in no way conforms to present day ideas of ergonomics. The only game that seems to work well is Pole Position. Asteroids is okay. The games seem to start out ok but then tend to slow down or become unresponsive. Needless to say I play around with it for a little bit then put it away. It sits on a shelf for a couple of years and then I decide to mess around with it again.

On one of the recent episodes of the 8-Bit Guy he had been collaborating with another You Tuber who was into repairing and refurbing old gaming consoles. I looked again at the Atari and then got the great idea: “Hey why don’t I clean this one up and give it an update?” It looks like fun and mainly involved replacing a few capacitors.

A little research and I discovered the one I have is commonly referred to as the “Vader” model due to its shape. Speaking of shape, it looks as though the top of the case is warped due to heat, like it was left in the sun for too long or too close to the fire. Maybe there is some internal problems, though with my brief forays into gaming with it I don’t recall any major heating going on.

Anyway, I’ll post some updates here as I get to them and let you know how things progress! — Dave