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Atari 2600 - console power


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The standard cheap, unregulated power units output about 12-14 off load dropping to 9 Volts on load however, I would expect the output of a SMPS to be regulated (constantly 12V).

Although this should not damage the 2600 (assuming the polarity is correct) as it has an internal 5V regulator it does mean the regulator will be dissipating around 7 Watts assuming the 2600 draws 1A of current which is quite a lot considering the only heatsink is part of the ground plain and is 3 Watts more than with a 9V input. Consequently you may find that the excess power dissipation results in the regulator going into thermal shutdown periodically in which case you will have to turn the unit off and wait for it to cool before you can continue playing.


If it is a SMPS then depending on how well it is made it is possible you may encounter some form of noise/interference on the audio/video output of the VCS if harmonics from the high frequency switching is radiated down the power cable.

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2600 consumes around half an amp on average which puts it somewhere in the 3.5watt range, 12 is usually fine unless you have every accessory on the planet plugged in with a SD card, then I would suggest 7.5 volt input

Edited by Osgeld
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