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Is the 2600 console able to be modded for better video output?


orrimarrko
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Hey Guys,

 

I was wondering if the Atari 2600 system was able to be modded for better video output, and if so, what would be the maximum upgrade?

 

Composite? S-Video? (I'm assuming RGB isn't possible.)

 

Assuming that it is possible, does anyone know who is generally regarded as the best (or one of the best) in modding 2600 consoles?

 

I'm also looking for the same info for the 5200, if anyone knows that as well.

 

Thanks!

 

Orri~

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Well, it's good to know what can be done...but I'm not that guy. Me attempting to do any of this will at a minimum result in needing a new 2600, and most likely a house fire. ;)

 

Anyone do really good work with this stuff? (Solid recommendations from long-time board members?)

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You can also use an RF trap or RF frequency filter to block static and give you the best possible picture without modding. These are cheap and retain the classic parts.

 

On a side note, the Heavy Sixer we just fixed had a spoiled ribbon (old green, split, crappy one) so we used higher quality wires and soldiered directly to the board. We also replaced the voltage regulator with one from an NES. This took care of all of the problems it was having and the picture looks very good.

 

You can also adjust the color on many systems from the bottom (a small hole is on a few models that accesses the color knob) or by opening it and this can improve color by correcting an off-color picture.

 

Finally, by using the RF in on a VCR you can often correct fuzzy pictures or get rid of subtle lines.

 

None of this has the punch of an AV mod (I've seen super clean pictures with filters, though. Possibly as good looking.) when modern televisions may not deliver with RF.

 

I've also noticed that the small, brief gap of televisions with Progressive Scan (before HD) can cause artifacts, screen jumping, and jittering with games that have no problems at all on HD or older RCA jack televisions.

 

I will be modding a 4 switcher soon (NOT my Sunnyvale one) as I need to be able to test my programs on as many variations as possible. I generally try to maintain my systems in an original state for as long as possible.

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You can also use an RF trap or RF frequency filter to block static and give you the best possible picture without modding. These are cheap and retain the classic parts.

 

On a side note, the Heavy Sixer we just fixed had a spoiled ribbon (old green, split, crappy one) so we used higher quality wires and soldiered directly to the board. We also replaced the voltage regulator with one from an NES. This took care of all of the problems it was having and the picture looks very good.

 

You can also adjust the color on many systems from the bottom (a small hole is on a few models that accesses the color knob) or by opening it and this can improve color by correcting an off-color picture.

 

Finally, by using the RF in on a VCR you can often correct fuzzy pictures or get rid of subtle lines.

 

None of this has the punch of an AV mod (I've seen super clean pictures with filters, though. Possibly as good looking.) when modern televisions may not deliver with RF.

 

I've also noticed that the small, brief gap of televisions with Progressive Scan (before HD) can cause artifacts, screen jumping, and jittering with games that have no problems at all on HD or older RCA jack televisions.

 

I will be modding a 4 switcher soon (NOT my Sunnyvale one) as I need to be able to test my programs on as many variations as possible. I generally try to maintain my systems in an original state for as long as possible.

Papa, I try to tell people here the same thing, about using an RF filter and the fact that modding is basically unnecessary, it just falls on deaf ears until they botch the mod and something goes wrong and then because they wanted to take the more COMPLICATED route they are now out a console.

 

I have seen it many times and dealt more than a THOUSAND "I told you so"'s and the vicious cycle just keeps repeating with the next, and the next, and the next. People ALWAYS opt for the more complicated solution and not the painfully simple and least expensive and MOST cost effective one, which is what you and I KNOW is a tried and true method

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Papa, I try to tell people here the same thing, about using an RF filter and the fact that modding is basically unnecessary, it just falls on deaf ears until they botch the mod and something goes wrong and then because they wanted to take the more COMPLICATED route they are now out a console.

 

I have seen it many times and dealt more than a THOUSAND "I told you so"'s and the vicious cycle just keeps repeating with the next, and the next, and the next. People ALWAYS opt for the more complicated solution and not the painfully simple and least expensive and MOST cost effective one, which is what you and I KNOW is a tried and true method

 

Yeah, I have compared the best RF set-up with a good S-video mod. I'll take the S-video mod any day. I like how there is a lot less smearing between colors.

 

Is a mod complicated? Sure. Is it for everyone? Of course not. But if it really wasn't such an improvement, I guarantee there wouldn't be as many interested parties as there are. Plus, what's wrong with encouranging people to tinker and learn how the hardware works? Omelet, eggs, etc.

 

Also, I second (third? fourth?) the recommendation for Electronic Sentimentalities. I've employed his services a couple of times now, and I've been happy every time. He does great work and he follows it up with excellent customer support.

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Yeah, I have compared the best RF set-up with a good S-video mod. I'll take the S-video mod any day. I like how there is a lot less smearing between colors.

 

Is a mod complicated? Sure. Is it for everyone? Of course not. But if it really wasn't such an improvement, I guarantee there wouldn't be as many interested parties as there are. Plus, what's wrong with encouranging people to tinker and learn how the hardware works? Omelet, eggs, etc.

 

Also, I second (third? fourth?) the recommendation for Electronic Sentimentalities. I've employed his services a couple of times now, and I've been happy every time. He does great work and he follows it up with excellent customer support.

I hear ya, and you may think that I am terribly hokey, but I prefer the ability to reach behind my TV and trip that little finger switch to play Atari, and even on a modern TV I get zero color bleed. But here's the thing, I set my TV according to a color bar test pattern like this one:

 

 

And here is the trick to doing it RIGHT. First set your COLOR setting of the TV so it is not at the default which has the colors set so bright they almost GLOW and look like they are gonna JUMP off the screen, second reduce the brightness and contrast until the 3 vertical lines in the lower right of this image in the large black rectangular area are adjusted so only ONE of the vertical lines can be seen (the lightest one). Then colors will not glow or bleed and the TV will be at proper adjustment. If need be I have an MPEG file for this purpose in both PA: and NTSC formats so the proper adjustments can be made to the TV picture controls

post-2131-0-91416300-1438782009_thumb.jpg

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I hear ya, and you may think that I am terribly hokey, but I prefer the ability to reach behind my TV and trip that little finger switch to play Atari, and even on a modern TV I get zero color bleed. But here's the thing, I set my TV according to a color bar test pattern like this one:

 

 

And here is the trick to doing it RIGHT. First set your COLOR setting of the TV so it is not at the default which has the colors set so bright they almost GLOW and look like they are gonna JUMP off the screen, second reduce the brightness and contrast until the 3 vertical lines in the lower right of this image in the large black rectangular area are adjusted so only ONE of the vertical lines can be seen (the lightest one). Then colors will not glow or bleed and the TV will be at proper adjustment. If need be I have an MPEG file for this purpose in both PA: and NTSC formats so the proper adjustments can be made to the TV picture controls

 

Ehh. There is some pretty serious artifacts in my image. There is also chroma delay on green. I'll take S-Video and RGB over RF any day. In fact it's a no-brainer. RF is absolutely garbage. While I don't want to perform the mod on my Light Sixer, I'll be happy to do it to a "Vader" 2600.

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Ehh. There is some pretty serious artifacts in my image. There is also chroma delay on green. I'll take S-Video and RGB over RF any day. In fact it's a no-brainer. RF is absolutely garbage. While I don't want to perform the mod on my Light Sixer, I'll be happy to do it to a "Vader" 2600.

Keep in mind too Grimakis, different people get different results, I have video posted on Youtube of one of my 2600's running off standard RF and the picture is flawless as is the sound

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I hear ya, and you may think that I am terribly hokey, but I prefer the ability to reach behind my TV and trip that little finger switch to play Atari, and even on a modern TV I get zero color bleed. But here's the thing, I set my TV according to a color bar test pattern like this one...

 

I've calibrated my tube TV using the SMPTE color bars as well. Blue filter and everything. I also frequently run my 2600 on a computer and LCD monitor for video capture projects. In both cases there is still a noticeable difference between RF and S-video. Heck, I even see the difference between composite and S-video coming from the same mod.

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Keep in mind too Grimakis, different people get different results, I have video posted on Youtube of one of my 2600's running off standard RF and the picture is flawless as is the sound

 

I meet that with a good deal of skepticism. At its 100% BEST it can only be as good as the source signals. You have Luma, Chroma and Audio being carried all by one signal. The signal needs to be demodulated by TV, and the color and luma need to be separated into their RGB components in order to drive the display.

 

So in order to get a "flawless" image, the modulation needs to be "flawless" by the Atari, the demodulation needs to be "flawless" by TV, the TV needs to reverse the multiplexing of the video... "flawlessly". There needs to be 0 crosstalk between the signals. In practice I would say this is actually impossible.

 

Post links to your videos, I'd like to take a look.

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I've calibrated my tube TV using the SMPTE color bars as well. Blue filter and everything. I also frequently run my 2600 on a computer and LCD monitor for video capture projects. In both cases there is still a noticeable difference between RF and S-video. Heck, I even see the difference between composite and S-video coming from the same mod.

Some people keep their Atari's stock for the same reason some people still prefer vinyl records over CD's, it's the memories behind it, to me on a mod the lines look too CRISP and emulated, unnatural, while going through RF gives them a softness that to me is easier on the eyes. If I wanted the graphics of the Atari to look like they were produced in Microsoft Paint I would use emulation for the effect, but it's just a matter of personal preference.....tomato, toe-mah-toe

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I meet that with a good deal of skepticism. At its 100% BEST it can only be as good as the source signals. You have Luma, Chroma and Audio being carried all by one signal. The signal needs to be demodulated by TV, and the color and luma need to be separated into their RGB components in order to drive the display.

 

So in order to get a "flawless" image, the modulation needs to be "flawless" by the Atari, the demodulation needs to be "flawless" by TV, the TV needs to reverse the multiplexing of the video... "flawlessly". There needs to be 0 crosstalk between the signals. In practice I would say this is actually impossible.

 

Post links to your videos, I'd like to take a look.

This is my stock 2600 Woodgrain playing Word Zapper, the reason the video has a horizontal line scrolling is because I used my webcam to film it, and there may also have been some condensation on the lens, and contrary to what the video shows of the ship the one side wasn't actually upturned like that it's my Logitech Quickcam doing that, its a few years old I got it in 2010

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No offense guys, but I really didn't want to get into a debate about what people's personal preferences are, when it comes to video output.

 

All I wanted to know is if it was possible to mod the 2600 and 5200 so I can get the best picture possible. Looks like the answer is yes, and possibly even RGB some day soon.

 

At a minimum, I could get them modded for S-Video and use a Framemeister to upscale the output to use on a LCD/LED TV.

 

That's what I'm looking for.

 

Thanks for the input guys.

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Some people keep their Atari's stock for the same reason some people still prefer vinyl records over CD's, it's the memories behind it, to me on a mod the lines look too CRISP and emulated, unnatural, while going through RF gives them a softness that to me is easier on the eyes.

 

I won't argue that, but that's also changing the subject. I responded to "a stock 2600's video signal can be made to look just like a modded 2600's video signal." I did not respond to "I prefer the way RF looks."

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