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About this blog

Ramblings and documenting of various experiences, ideas...etc. from the Ivory Tower Collections.

Entries in this blog

We all make mistakes... Keep better track of the screws!

Won't got into too many details on this other than to state up front, that I try to be as transparent as possible with the work and services I provide. As a consequence of this, mistakes can and will happen. It is just a matter of when. One such big mistake happen to me this week while installing a very expensive DCDigital setup into a clients Dreamcast. I actually had the main installation done and was ready to test. However, in order for a DC to boot up, it requires that the cooling fan and GD

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Get those Game Gears Recapped!!!

I know...I know... you hear it everywhere that everything in excess of so many years needs new capacitors and that will fix everything. Well, that isn't always the case as there are many electronics that date from much longer than 40 years ago whose caps while not perhaps quite within their original spec, are still working and doing their job. However, in the 90s there was an issue where most capacitor manufactures essentially had to start over with the formulas they had been using and as a resu

Atari 5200 BackBit PRO 4-port Soft Reset notes and modification

The BackBit Pro multi-system flash cartridge is quite amazing in all the systems it supports and the Atari 5200 is one of the newest systems to recently be added over the past few months. One cool thing that the BBPro cart has for the 5200 side of things that other similar devices do not have, is the ability to reset the console and go back to the game folder browser without having to power cycle the console. This feature works out of the box on the 2-port model 5200s by having a selector switch

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The Ivory Tower 5200 got some TLC

I originally did most of the work on this 5200 about 8 years ago. It was also one of the first projects I did and to be honest, the wiring work inside wasn't that great. For some time I had wanted to redo it all similar to how I redid my 7800 about a year ago but just never got around to it. Well, now that I have a new BackBit Pro flash cartridge and it was designed to allow resets back to the game menu, I felt it was time to perform a small modification to allow this function of my BackBit Pro

5200 with very odd keypad / fire button issues

I've done a video on something similar to this but here is a rundown on what I was encountering: A 5200 sent in for services had a note stating that top fire button wouldn't work on the console. This is an issue I've run into before and in fact have created a video on it. It can be due to the controller having a broken trace of course on the flex circuit inside it. But... it can also very well be due to a faulty 4052 MUX chip inside the console located at U13 or A13 depending on the age of

Not all consoles are stock that I work on...

As part of a large project I've been working on for over a month now, one of the situations I encounter is when a console is sent in for services that has already had another tech's hands inside it. In most cases, it might be simple repairs like replacing an IC chip or some capacitors. But now and again, I get a console sent to me that I don't always know what to expect. In those cases, there can be undesired surprises waiting for me. Here is a 2600 that I would like to show as an example of wha

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A 7800 that would only play 7800 games...?

I'm not going to provide a ton of pics on this one because it just isn't needed. But I had been fighting with a 7800 that I've been servicing for a total of just over 12 hours in trying to figure out why it would only play 7800 games? If you put in a 2600 game, it would only give a black screen and not much else. If I put in my Plus+ cart, I could barely make out the plus cart logo on the screen as it would flicker all over. This told me that the 7800 was in fact switching over to 2600

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Quick update on the ITC

Just wanted to give those that might be curious, an idea on part of what my project has been lately that has taken up much of my time as of late. These photos show 13 different 2600s that I recently serviced and installed UAVs into along with all the needed AV jacks installed as required by the client. An no...these do NOT have two sets of audio outputs. The red/white on the left rear next to the 4-pin s-video mini din, is actually separate chroma/luma connections. This is handy for co

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Installing a UAV into a heavy sixer

The process to install the UAV into a heavy or light sixer is pretty well known and documented. In summary you basically set the jumpers on the UAV for the 2600 setup and then solder a socket ontop of the 4050 IC chip and header pins into the UAV and plug it into the socket. Job done...  However, there is a caveat to this method that doesn't become apparently until you find yourself moving consoles around a lot. And when I mean moving the consoles, I mean as in them being packed up, stacked

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Gamebox Systems GBHD consolizer kit:- Playing Gameboy - Gameboy Advance games on a big screen!

I bought this kit a few months back as a pre-order and had to wait since I wanted a different colored shell. But the kit allows you to use a donor GBA mainboard from a standard GBA and essentially turn it into a small console to play your games on a modern big screen display using an SNES controller. Here are thoughts on this: The small ribbon cable that has to be soldered to the GBA CPU is tricky and requires a lot of patience to get soldered into place. The pitch of the soldering is quite

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ITC Temporarily Suspending Services to the Public

So as the title states, I'm temporarily suspending my console services for repairs, refurbs, and upgrades until about the fall timeframe. This is to ensure I have plenty of time to work on a large project that has a strict timeline. Anyone that has already sent their systems to me will still receive their service requests and will take priority to get them done quickly. But for others, I'd rather hold off and have them wait because I'm not comfortable with my client's systems sitting at the ITC

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ITC Temporarily Suspending Services to the Public

So as the title states, I'm temporarily suspending my console services for repairs, refurbs, and upgrades until about the fall timeframe. This is to ensure I have plenty of time to work on a large project that has a strict timeline. Anyone that has already sent their systems to me will still receive their service requests and will take priority to get them done quickly. But for others, I'd rather hold off and have them wait because I'm not comfortable with my client's systems sitting at the ITC

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ITC Services Temporarily Suspended

So as the title states, I'm temporarily suspending my console services for repairs, refurbs, and upgrades until about the fall timeframe. This is to ensure I have plenty of time to work on a large project that has a strict timeline. Anyone that has already sent their systems to me will still receive their service requests and will take priority to get them done quickly. But for others, I'd rather hold off and have them wait because I'm not comfortable with my client's systems sitting at the ITC

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7800 UAV Mount Board

So these arrived in the mail yesterday and so I was super stoked to build one up and try installing it onto my test bed stock 7800 I use in the lab. If you saw my earlier blog post, you might have already figured it out, but yes... I designed some mount PCBs for slight ease on installing UAVs into 7800s. These mount boards have the chroma fix already on them in addition to the extra resistors and cap for audio mixing to external RCA jacks etc. However, this is a dual mono audio solution and not

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A new 7800 project... nothing major...

PCBs are designed, created, and already shipped headed my way as are a few components for me to populate the boards. I will go into more details once I have my PCBs and have been able to test and check out if my idea works the way I've planned or not. In the meantime, here is a pic of the PCB. If you are familiar with the UAV layout and install process needed for the 7800, then this should be obvious on what it is. While what you see here is rather large, in reality it is only about th

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A new 7800 project... nothing major...

PCBs are designed, created, and already shipped headed my way as are a few components for me to populate the boards. I will go into more details once I have my PCBs and have been able to test and check out if my idea works the way I've planned or not. In the meantime, here is a pic of the PCB. If you are familiar with the UAV layout and install process needed for the 7800, then this should be obvious on what it is. While what you see here is rather large, in reality it is only about th

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7800 Power woes... And it isn't because of the switch?

A 7800 I worked on over a week ago was sent to me for a 'No Power On' condition. There are many reasons for this and I have found over the years two main issues. First is simply a faulty power supply adapter. Given these things are nearly 40 years old it isn't unreasonable to think that the PSUs are nearing their end of life. In fact I've had another client send back their 7800 when it started to develop power on/off issues and found nothing wrong when they were sent back. Sure enough, it was du

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7800 Power woes... And it isn't because of the switch?

A 7800 I worked on over a week ago was sent to me for a 'No Power On' condition. There are many reasons for this and I have found over the years two main issues. First is simply a faulty power supply adapter. Given these things are nearly 40 years old it isn't unreasonable to think that the PSUs are nearing their end of life. In fact I've had another client send back their 7800 when it started to develop power on/off issues and found nothing wrong when they were sent back. Sure enough, it was du

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More 2600 Technical Fun - Player 2 shoots constantly

Here is an issue that I've seen before in one form or another and I thought I would talk about it here while working on a earlier era 2600 heavy sixer last night. The system was sent in for refurbishment. In this case that is all the original electrolytic capacitors being replaced out, new DC power jack, new voltage regulator etc. But a problem was reported and confirmed during testing of the console. What was the issue? In this case it was an issue with the player 2 controls. Specifically,

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More 2600 Technical Fun - Player 2 shoots constantly

Here is an issue that I've seen before in one form or another and I thought I would talk about it here while working on a earlier era 2600 heavy sixer last night. The system was sent in for refurbishment. In this case that is all the original electrolytic capacitors being replaced out, new DC power jack, new voltage regulator etc. But a problem was reported and confirmed during testing of the console. What was the issue? In this case it was an issue with the player 2 controls. Specifically,

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The curse of the Saturn horizontal lines!

This story starts a few years ago when I powered on my model 1 Sega Saturn and played a game for a bit and then powered the console off and back on to switch to a different game. But to my horror I discovered some strange horizontal white lines scrolling upwards on the screen? I powered the console off/on again and the lines were still there only now there were a lot more of them and they were scrolling much faster. Additional power off/on cycles would only cause the lines to change thickness an

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The curse of the Saturn horizontal lines!

This story starts a few years ago when I powered on my model 1 Sega Saturn and played a game for a bit and then powered the console off and back on to switch to a different game. But to my horror I discovered some strange horizontal white lines scrolling upwards on the screen? I powered the console off/on again and the lines were still there only now there were a lot more of them and they were scrolling much faster. Additional power off/on cycles would only cause the lines to change thickness an

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The strange case of the 2600 that wouldn't power on properly

This one was quite tricky and I'm still not 100% convinced this was the full cause. However, grab a snack and a drink cause here we go... An older 2600 heavy sixer was sent for just a refurbishment and no upgrades. Basically just replacing out the components that come in a standard console5 refurb kit. But I immediately knew someone was off about this console before I even opened it up due the bulging I could see in the front facia switch section near the left side of the cartridge port?

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The strange case of the 2600 that wouldn't power on properly

This one was quite tricky and I'm still not 100% convinced this was the full cause. However, grab a snack and a drink cause here we go... An older 2600 heavy sixer was sent for just a refurbishment and no upgrades. Basically just replacing out the components that come in a standard console5 refurb kit. But I immediately knew something was off about this console before I even opened it up due the bulging I could see in the front facia switch section near the left side of the cartridge port?

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- ITC - Just how much work is sometimes required when working on previously upgraded consoles...

Here at the Ivory Tower, I get quite a few requests for console services. It might be an actual repair to get a console working back to full factory function or refurbishment of a working condole to ensure it works for another 40+ years into the future. But by and large most of my requests are to enhance a console in some way. Usually through audio/video upgrades etc. But on more rare occasions, I will be sent a system that has already had work done to it either by the original owner or from ano

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