Guides to jumpstart your Retrogaming lifestyle
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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Portable Game Guide - ColecoVision Flashback Updated Rev

by BoneSnapDeez Thu Jan 29, 2015 2:06 pm

Epic thread.

I've been enjoying my Coleco Flashback quite a bit. The addition of the homebrews was a nice touch.
Tanooki
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Re: Portable Game Guide - ColecoVision Flashback Updated Rev

by Tanooki Thu Jan 29, 2015 3:03 pm

CRTGAMER wrote:Added more info a few posts above on the SNES SupaBoy. Expanded the Review on an exclusive as SFC cart import and only to the SNES console, the obscure game series Super Gussen Oyoyo 1 and 2. Any SNES owner should really try these games out.



Hey were you willing to update that Supaboy review at all. I see how you noted other people talking lack of response. They're wrong, but sadly so are you. :) The response isn't the problem, it's a design flaw internally that causes it not to work right in many games. The inside of the d-pad has 4 pegs (each direction) about a centimeter long or so. Problem is there's no restriction in the middle like a legit d-pad so it will mostly click in more than one direction at a time. Fighting games, anything that has free movement (gradius, secret of mana, pocky and rocky) end up going all over the place. Even Super Mario World will keep running or squatting when it shouldn't if you're not precise. I had to fix mine tearing it down and making a restriction peg in the center so my unit uniquely plays correctly. I used to have pictures and text describing the fix, but simply I found an electrical wire twist cap that fit between the pins snuggly and then sanded the tip to the right height.

Another sticking point, your compatibility list is lacking. All FX chip games do not work right. Stunt Race FX(and similar boards including the bootleg starfox 2 using it) will reset after 5min to the title screen, I wish I knew why. FX2 DOOM works perfect, Yoshi's Island is distorted then locks, it's unusable. SDD1 (Star Ocean, SF Alpha 2) just don't work. SA1 games 1/10 times will work, otherwise they fail. UNLESS...you do what I figured out, you can put a normal game in, turn on, HOLD reset(blue screen), swap in a SA1 game, release reset -- it works. CX4 games (mega man x2/x3) work fine.
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CRTGAMER
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Re: Portable Game Guide - ColecoVision Flashback Updated Rev

by CRTGAMER Fri Jan 30, 2015 8:21 pm

BoneSnapDeez wrote:Epic thread.

I've been enjoying my Coleco Flashback quite a bit. The addition of the homebrews was a nice touch.

Thanks! The Flashback series are not perfect, but more then adequate for discovering the older consoles without investing too much money and the easy Composite hookup for a quick try.

Tanooki wrote:
CRTGAMER wrote:Added more info a few posts above on the SNES SupaBoy. Expanded the Review on an exclusive as SFC cart import and only to the SNES console, the obscure game series Super Gussen Oyoyo 1 and 2. Any SNES owner should really try these games out.
Hey were you willing to update that Supaboy review at all.

Thanks for the info, I added your Quote split to the two related sections. I remember you mentioning that Modification for the DPad and saw that Wire Nut picture, but can't find it. I'll add the picture to your Quote if you still have it.
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Gunstar Green
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Re: Portable Game Guide - ColecoVision Flashback Updated Rev

by Gunstar Green Thu Feb 12, 2015 3:14 pm

BoneSnapDeez wrote:Epic thread.

I've been enjoying my Coleco Flashback quite a bit. The addition of the homebrews was a nice touch.


I'm liking it so far. Thanks for the recommendation in the other thread. Colecovision was something I missed out on and always wanted a taste of since everyone I've known who grew up with it have always treated it with reverence. I can see why, it's such a step up from the likes of the Atari 2600 and the Intellivision.

A lot of people seemed bothered by the controllers and the lack of Donkey Kong but I'm the kind of person who would rather have some more obscure stuff instead of yet another version of Donkey Kong. Jumpman Jr. (super great game) and Miner 2049er scratch the DK itch pretty well anyway. There's definitely a lot of filler titles, but that's to be expected in these Plug 'n Play units. There's still a lot of value in it since there's quite a few uncommon titles.

I haven't had a problem with diagonals which seems to be the major complaint, maybe I got lucky with my unit or maybe it's just because I'm not familiar with the authentic controllers.

Some of the homebrews are fantastic. Mecha-8 is really impressive and Princess Quest is awesome. It makes me wonder where the console might have gone if it became the next big thing and wasn't a victim of the crash.

Choplifter is loads of fun even though I prefer the Sega version. My biggest reason for getting it was Frenzy since there's soooo feeeew modern ports of Berzerk and Frenzy (lack of Berzerk is one of the reasons I stay away from the Atari Flashbacks. If they'd just add that I'd get one and box up my 2600 forever).

I've also discovered a few games I never knew about like Nova Blast which is a neat spin on Defender and Pepper II which is one of the coolest maze games I've played.

I'd like to see some of the other big names like Spy Hunter and Defender and some Konami games (I got the Dollar General version which includes Antarctic Adventure) but I understand licensing is a bitch (and there will probably never be any Nintendo titles, ever). Maybe next time, if this sold well enough for a sequel.
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Portable PlugPlay - Atari 7800 Video Cart Slot Mod Audio Fix

by CRTGAMER Mon Jan 16, 2017 8:23 pm

Atari 7800 - Under Ten Dollar Composite Mod
Newer Atari Consoles Cart Slot Tightness Fix
Audio Fix Low Level Amp Upgrade


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A post for improving the Atari 7800 RF converting to Composite output and a fix to the cart slot binding connection. The fix to the low volume attenuation is towards the bottom of this post.

7800 Robotron Twinstick Coupler - http://www.racketboy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=1123340#p1123340


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https://atariage.com/7800/history.html

Atari 7800 History

The Atari 7800 is Atari's most overlooked and under-appreciated console. The console was announced on May 21st, 1984, and was to carry a price tag of $140. The new custom CPU that would power the system was capable of moving 100 objects on-screen at the same and time and displaying a 256 color palette. The system would also be 100% compatible with the huge existing 2600 library. Twelve 7800 titles were announced for launch, as well as a special High-Score cartridge that would allow console gamers to save their high scores for the first time ever. The public was excited, and the 7800 was poised to take over the gaming world. But it didn't quite happen that way.

In July of 1984, the home videogame division of Atari was purchased by Jack Tramiel. Although the Atari 7800 had been released in limited numbers in test markets of New York and California, the Tramiels quickly pulled the plug on the 7800, halting sales. Licensing negotiations had to begin again because the Tramiels did not agree with some of the existing arrangements negotiated by Ray Kassar. It was around this time that the videogame market crashed, and retailers cut orders for videogames across the board. By the end of 1984, the industry was left with only Atari, Coleco, and Mattel turning out new product for their old systems, with no new console on the horizon. Atari spent the next two years working out the details, and the 7800 was finally ready to go in 1986.

1986 is also the year Nintendo decided to bring their successful Famicom console over to the United States, even though the videogame market is shaky. It's a smash hit. The NES sells like hotcakes wherever it is available, and Atari takes notice. Tramiel and Atari continue with the release of the 7800, but it was a very sloppy effort. Only three games were initially released with the console, and it received very poor distribution. Retailers were wary of Atari making announcements and not following through. True to form, Atari announced a number of additional titles that never made it to stores. The Atari 7800 was barely a blip on the video game market.

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Exclusive Simultaneous Two Player on Arcade ports
This is where the Atari 7800 shines, it has games from the 80s Arcade Cabinets accurately duplicating the graphics and sounds while adding the exclusive simultaneous two player mode! Asteroids can be placed like Space Wars and Centipede Team Play adds a new dimension in clearing the bugs. In addition, many 7800 games need only one fire button; this allows use of a huge selection of 2600 controllers including the Genesis gamepad.

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Due to a two year hold delay to place in stores, the console only has an RF output. This Guide shows an easy upgrade from the standard RF output of the Atari 7800. There are conversion kits for Composite, SVideo and even Component and RGB. I wanted to go the inexpensive PlugNPlay route for durability. Composite also the better choice for newer TVs that no longer support SVideo. Instead of the Longhorn Engineer conversion board, discovered a different inexpensive version.

I modded my Atari 7800 that I have owned since bought brand new back in 1986. I pulled pictures of the Atari 7800 Video Mod Instructions from the Vintage Gaming and More site. Edited here for more clarity.

Vintage Gaming Atari 7800 Video Mod Installation Instructions
http://www.vintagegamingandmore.com/installation-guide-7800/

Tools

Small Slotted Screwdriver
1/4" Drill Bit and Drill
Pencil Soldering Iron
Phillips Screwdriver
Needle Nose Pliers
Wire Stripper
Wire Cutter
Solder Sucker (Optional)
Desolder Braid (Optional)

7800 Console fix for tight Atari carts
Ever notice how tight Atari carts are to insert and remove on the newer consoles compared to the original 2600 woodys and vaders? A problem in the newer consoles of the cart slot guide too tight for the cart to be inserted all the way in. This also causes issues of some games not working due to connection not fully made.

After disassembly from the console case, remove the cart plastic guide from the PCB. There are two phillips screws under the PCB hidden by thin double sided tape inside the cutout. Scrape the tape away, remove the two screws then lift out the plastic cart guide assembly by squeezing the tips.

Do not grind the openings with the cart guide mounted on the PCB, too close to the traces!
The cart guide is needed especially for 2600 carts to open the cart dust covers upon insertion. Test run insert a 7800 cart to see the binding at the corners. Use a Dremel tool, cut out an opening to each OUTER corner leaving the entire top plastic ring intact. After holes are notched out at each upper corner, verify clearance by test inserting game cart then insert back on the PCB reassembly by slightly squeezing clips. Start both screws and then snug down

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The 7800 carts will still be a snug fit, but now much easier. The real surprise will be 2600 carts that slip in and out as if plugged into a woody console! Note the the 2600 Jr cart guide cannot be removed, has to be notched out in place. Have care not to damage the PCB traces! Okay now onto the video mod.

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Parts
RCA Video and Stereo Cable
Atari 2600/7800 Video Mod Kit

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If the two Resistors and one Transistor are not mounted on the Video Mod PCB, go ahead and solder them on. Note the direction of the transistor and the color stripes painted on the resistors. Solder in just the four input wires. Do no cut the wires until the final mounting to determine the correct length.

Left Side Input
1. Audio Input from 7800 PCB
2. Video Input from 7800 PCB
3. 5v Power Lead from 7800 PCB
4. Ground Lead from 7800 PCB

Right Side Output
1. Video Positive Output RCA Jack
2. Audio Positive Output RCA Jack
3. Audio Video Ground Output RCA Jack


CRTGAMER wrote:Do not cut excess wire off the resistors or transistor that come in the kit until after they are soldered in. Mount the three parts and the wires to just the input side of the Video Mod PCB. After soldering in the parts, cut the excess wires off the resistors and transistor sticking out the bottom. Save that excess stiff wire off the resistors; perfect for use as jumper wires on the RCA jacks.

Atari Video Adapter PCB.jpg
Atari Video Adapter PCB.jpg (74.79 KiB) Viewed 5937 times

Disassembly
Turn the Atari over and remove the 5 screws. Remove the main board out of the console. Using the needle nose pliers, twist the tabs located all the way around the metal case so they are all straight. Gently pry the metal casing halves away from the PCB using a small slotted screwdriver. Take your time as not to damage the PCB. Since the metal shielding is for RF, it will no longer be needed due to the video upgrade.

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Drill three 1/4" holes at the bottom left of the console case, be sure the holes are near the bottom to clear the PCB. Mount the RCA Jacks and solder in wires. It is easier to solder the wires onto the jacks BEFORE connecting the wires to the output side of the video conversion board. The audio is mono so run a jumper wire to the other audio jack. Only one ground wire is needed for all three jacks; use a couple of jumper wires.

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Prep the 7800 Main Board PCB
Cut the four metal prongs right at the corner of each prong going into RF Modulator. No need to remove RF Modulator, just bend each prong away after snipping off the PCB. Use needle nose pliers, gently pull each snipped prong (one at a time) while heating the solder pad underneath. Remove two resistors (R3, R5) off the 7800 main board. These can be removed by heating the pad underneath while prying the resistor slotted screwdriver off the PCB. When one leg is free, use Needle Nose Pliers to pull the remaining leg while melting the solder on the pad underneath.

CRTGAMER wrote:Take your time when desoldering and removing parts. The solder trace on the PCB is fragile and might get damaged from pulling or excess heat. Best to first remove solder with desolder braid or desolder suction tool.

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Use the Desolder Braid or Suction Tool to open up the hole for each wire at each solder pad in the PCB. Another trick is to heat the pad underneath, remove the solder iron, purse your lips and quickly blow off the melted solder.

Optional Pokey Chip Connection
This connection is needed only if you own Ball Blazer or Alien Brigade, the two carts that have on board improved Pokey sound chip. Remove the Channel Switch using desolder braid or the same pry method while melting solder underneath. Remove the C10 Capacitor located just below the location of the channel switch. Blow off solder or use suction tool as described earlier. Solder in a jumper wire (white white in picture)at the top pad. This allows POKEY Audio Chip game carts to work of which there are only two official 7800 titles

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Audio Pokey Chip inside Lucas Arts Ball Blazer and Atari Alien Brigade game carts

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CRTGAMER wrote:Turn volume down before playing Ballblazer
The 7800 needs a louder then normal volume adjustment on the TV, this on the first edition Revision A PCB. I confirmed audio volume does not change with both the Pokey connected and removed. I also bypassed the add on board; connected the regular audio connection from the PCB directly to the RCA output jack again with no difference in volume level. The Atari 7800 and 2600 carts are not as loud as Pokey Chip Ball Blazer; the volume attenuation did not change with regular carts with the pokey connection or disconnected. Though Alien Brigade has the Pokey Chip, it has a similar lower volume level as the non chip carts. Only Ball Blazer has full loud sound matched in the sound volume of a DVD player hooked up.

:idea: An MP3 or headphone low level line amp (RCA Jack in and out) will be the fix for proper attenuation. This would prevent having to turn the TV volume up too high causing background hum.

Scrutinize wire length before cutting excess, best to have a bit of slack for soldering and mounting the Video Mod PCB. Attach the input wires to the main board as shown in the picture below, note there are two WHITE Audio wires for the input side of the add on Video Mod PCB. The two wires can be spliced together to a single wire can be mounted in the tight quarters of the PCB. Another option is running the regular audio wire directly to the RCA audio output jack. Place each wire from the top of the 7800 PCB, thru each of the solder pad holes and solder from underneath. This keeps the heat off surrounding parts. In the picture below, the BLACK GROUND wire goes into pin 1 where the RF modulator pins were. The RED 5 VOLT Power wire goes into pin 2, and the GREEN VIDEO wire into pin 3. The kit might have different color wires, just follow the nomenclature off the Video Conversion PCB.

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Five Wires mounted on 7800 Main Board PCB
Make sure wires coming off the RCA Jacks are strung out to the left of the case, then place the 7800 main board into the case. Scrutinize the length of the wires off the RCA jacks, leaving a bit of slack for solder. Follow the layout listed earlier for each wire connection. After all soldering completed, mount the Video PCB on the left side of the console shell plastic away from the 7800 main board.

In the attached picture below of my 7800 console, the connections are circled with different wire colors.

Top yellow wire is Pokey audio
Left middle grouping is Video, 5 Volt and Ground
Bottom yellow wire regular audio


:arrow: Note the black cart connector at the far right with the cart plastic sleeve removed for the grinding mod mentioned at the top of this post. One of the screw holes showing with the brown double sided tape that hid the screw heads underneath.

7800 Composite Mod.jpg
7800 Composite Mod.jpg (247.66 KiB) Viewed 5104 times

Atari 7800 History - Two year delay release date
I picked up a second 7800 console and also modded it to composite. Interesting that even though the sticker date shows 1986, the PCB inside is revision A. I have an older 7800 1985 sticker console that has revision B PCB inside owned since bough brand new in 1986. The 7800 made an initial showing in 1984 in one state (Southern California) and the were shelved until 1986. My guess is when the 7800 were finally released nation wide in 1986 the PCB and console shells were assembled from a back stock at the factory warehouse.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_7800

The 7800 was initially released in southern California in June 1984, following an announcement on May 21, 1984 at the Summer Consumer Electronics Show. Thirteen games were announced for the system's launch: Ms. Pac-Man, Pole Position II, Centipede, Joust, Dig Dug, Desert Falcon, Robotron: 2084, Galaga, Food Fight, Ballblazer, Rescue on Fractalus!, Track & Field, and Xevious. Atari was a sponsor of the 1984 Summer Olympics and planned to push the 7800 aggressively in time for Christmas that year.

On July 2, 1984, Warner Communications sold Atari's Consumer Division to Jack Tramiel. All projects were halted during an initial evaluation period. Modern publications have often incorrectly asserted that Jack Tramiel mothballed the Atari 7800, feeling video games were a past fad, and subsequently asserted that he dusted off the Atari 7800 once the NES became successful.

The reality was that a contractual issue arose in that GCC had not been paid for their development of the 7800. Warner and Tramiel battled back and forth over who was accountable, with Tramiel believing that the 7800 should have been covered as part of his acquisition deal. In May 1985, Jack relented and paid GCC the overdue payment. This led to additional negotiations regarding the initial launch titles that GCC had developed and then an effort to find someone to lead their new video game division, which was completed in November 1985.

The original production run of the Atari 7800 languished on warehouse shelves until it was re-introduced in January 1986, after strong 2600 sales the previous Christmas. The console was released nationwide in May 1986 for $79.95.

A comparison of the fuzzy RF on the left and Composite on the right.

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Line Amp vs Headphone Amp vs Phono Preamp
Each amp is different! The Atari 7800 audio attenuation output is a bit low requiring the volume on the TV kicked way up for a decent sound level resulting in sound hum. An amp can kick up the audio signal coming out of a game console or a laptop, but it must be matched to speakers. A headphone amp can be used for boosting headphone level and a dedicated line amp for boosting low level input to low level output.

Dedicated low level line amp an obscurity
I ordered a Behringer HA400 headphone amp and then realized it could blow out my TV amp if adapted to the RCA audio input of the TV. I then ordered the correct low level line amp TCC TC-780LC Stereo Line Level Amp that allows 20db boost and keeping to the low level of the RCA jacks. Note that a phonograph preamp is a completely different beast and cannot be used a line level booster for anything but a dedicated Magnetic cartridge record player.

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Behringer HA400 headphone amp
The Behringer Amp works out well as an inline headphone amp boosting the signal if headphone attenuation too low.
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Technolink TC-880LC retails at $49.00
This is one of the very few brands on the market that specifically takes a low level RCA audio output and amplifies the signal with an output also a low level RCA connection. Also sold with a rebranded name iBoost 800 at a higher price. This is perfect for the Atari 7800 low attenuation audio issue. Available in Black or Silver, bought a black case at a lower used price.

Does RF 7800 require louder volume then a DVD Player or TV Channel?

The TC-880LC amp works very well kicking the sound signal attenuation up to a similar level as a DVD player. The result is the TV volume no longer has to be cranked up, the hum now gone. For Pokey Chip Ball Blazer, the volume needs to now be turned down lower compared to a DVD player of TV channel. This can all be easily controlled right at the line amp volume; the volume knob also turns off the amp power and cuts the audio signal from the Atari. A solid "sound" solution!

https://www.phonopreamps.com/TC-780LCpp.html

Do you have a line level source (TV audio, MP3 player, video game etc) which simply isn't loud enough? One that forces you to crank up your receiver or amp volume control, simply to match your other sources? Or perhaps you need to run a long line between your TV audio line out and your receiver on the other side of the room, but find too much level is lost, or worse, interference from hum or a radio station is induced. This product is the fix. The TC-780LC provides up to 20dB of gain with any line level source, allowing longer cable runs or that "bump" you need to cure low volume issues. Or you can use it to add a volume control between a line level source and a power amp which has no level adjustment of its own. The 5-pin DIN in/out jacks match those found on older European brands including Bang & Olufsen, Tandberg and Revox, while the RCA jacks match virtually everything else. Connecting to the front panel miniplug jack automatically bypasses the rear inputs, allowing temporary hookup of iPods and MP3 players for listening or recording. Now available in both BLACK and SILVER! Click on the images to enlarge.

- freq response 20hz-20,000hz +/- 0.5dB, S/N ratio >80dB
- CE certified; LED power indicator
- gold plated jacks and black anodized metal casing
- 150mV input produces 2.0V output (at max volume setting)
- both RCA and DIN (5 pin) inputs and outputs
- Front panel stereo mini jack for connecting MP3s, iPods
- Power switch (on level control)
- 12 volt DC operation; will work anywhere in the world
- AC adaptor and one meter RCA patch cord are included
- Dimensions 180mm x 73mm x 37mm
- One year defective repair or exchange warranty

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http://www.technolink.com.tw/

Technolink TC-780LC Stereo Line Level Booster

This compact device is a stereo amplifier designed to boost the output of virtually any line level audio source (such as TV audio, video games,MP3 players, iPod etc) up to 20 dB Such a boost may be required to bump maximum output level so as to match other sources, or to allow the use of a longer than normal cable run between components.

- Offers high and stable performance with low noise and high gain.
- Accepts input from pre-amp output and boost to appropriate level suitable for power amplifier.
- Input gain adjustable.
- Input/output through paralleled DIN & RCA jacks
- 3.5mm stereo jack in front panel for mp3/Aux input (Mini-jack input override RCA input)
- Deluxe strong metal cabinet.
- Color available: Black or silver

- Frequency ․Response: 20 - 20 kHz, +/- 0.5 dB
- Audio Distortion: 0.06% Max
- Input Sensitivity: 150mV @ 2Volts Output
- Gain: 20 dB (Variable)
- Cross talk: 60 dB at any audio frequency
- S/N ratio: >80 dB
- Connectors: 3.5mm ,RCA and DIN sockets

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Links
Vintage Gaming and More! - http://www.vintagegamingandmore.com/
Video Game Critic 7800 Reviews - http://videogamecritic.com/7800.htm?ex=1
Atari Age 7800 Rarity Guide - http://atariage.com/software_search.php?SystemID=7800
Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_7800

Vintage Gaming and More! Store - http://www.vintagegamingandmore.com/store/
Ebay - http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R4 ... e&_sacat=0


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Atari 7800 RCA Output.jpg
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Right Click for larger view

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Last edited by CRTGAMER on Sun Feb 11, 2018 8:14 pm, edited 58 times in total.
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Jagosaurus
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Re: Portable Game Guide - Atari 7800 Easy Video Mod

by Jagosaurus Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:33 pm

Niceeee CRT. I was actually looking into buying one of these pre-modded from Best Electronics. I think he had them running $95ish. I just could justify it. Although 7800 emu is fine for now, bookmarking this.
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CRTGAMER
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Portable PlugPlay - Atari 7800 Video Cart Slot Mod Audio Fix

by CRTGAMER Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:52 pm

Another Bump Update to my 7800 mod above.

1. Included fix for the tight cart slot.
2. Included audio fix of sound attenuation on 7800.

Question: Does RF 7800 require louder volume then a DVD Player or TV Channel?

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Jagosaurus wrote:Niceeee CRT. I was actually looking into buying one of these pre-modded from Best Electronics. I think he had them running $95ish. I just could justify it. Although 7800 emu is fine for now, bookmarking this.

Thanks. Under a hundred bucks not bad for a premodded 7800 console. However, if you do find a 2600 or 7800 on the cheap, the video upgrade PCB is only ten bucks on EBay. So many games when you add in the vast 2600 library.
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