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Rebuilding the Atari Flashback 2


iKarith
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Hey all, I picked up a couple Atari Flashback 2s earlier in the year, and of course that's the machine that can have a cart slot installed because it's actually a VCS on a chip, with a flash chip you can bypass. Nifty.

 

Of course I learned these consoles have several hardware bugs that make several real VCS carts, some of which are actually worth playing, not work right or not work at all. :(

 

But the VCS when you get right down to it is TTL-level power supply, three chips, and video and sound hardware. People have replaced the flash chip with a real cart slot, but has anyone replaced the VCSoaC with a board that has the three chips on it? Searching for this, I found BenHeck's hand-soldering job push anything else that might be relevant into such obscurity I couldn't find it, but the mere fact that he did hand-solder the chips shows that it could be done.

 

If I were to try it at some point, I'd want an actual board to solder to.

 

Am I cra—er, is this something that's realistically doable, and has anyone else tried? :)

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A couple of reasons, really. First, if the ROM from the FB2 can be kept, it'd have the advantage of having a number of nice games included just by turning it on. Granted, you could wire up the flash chip to a cartridge connector or better yet get a "real" multicart to do the same, but it'd retain the flavor of the device while giving it a lot more compatibility under the hood.

 

Second, it'd make just about the smallest, lightest VCS you could get, and with the number of vintage parts being somewhat reduced, it's likely to last a lot longer. Closest alternative would be a Jr, and I'm seeing these at $100-150 on eBait before I find out if the insides are all rusted, it doesn't work half as well as claimed, the thing was just tossed in a box without padding, or any of the other common ails of dealing with America's favorite scalping site for ***RARE*** @@@LOOK@@@ stuff. I've priced the chips, I know what they cost. And a DIY blank board is a known quantity from OSH Park if someone's designed one. Else I need to learn a little more about the software used for doing that.

 

And third, why do anything? Because its there, and I haven't seen many (any?) other system do the same. That's a good reason to do a lot of things IMO. ;)

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A couple of reasons, really. First, if the ROM from the FB2 can be kept, it'd have the advantage of having a number of nice games included just by turning it on. Granted, you could wire up the flash chip to a cartridge connector or better yet get a "real" multicart to do the same, but it'd retain the flavor of the device while giving it a lot more compatibility under the hood.

 

Second, it'd make just about the smallest, lightest VCS you could get, and with the number of vintage parts being somewhat reduced, it's likely to last a lot longer. Closest alternative would be a Jr, and I'm seeing these at $100-150 on eBait before I find out if the insides are all rusted, it doesn't work half as well as claimed, the thing was just tossed in a box without padding, or any of the other common ails of dealing with America's favorite scalping site for ***RARE*** @@@LOOK@@@ stuff. I've priced the chips, I know what they cost. And a DIY blank board is a known quantity from OSH Park if someone's designed one. Else I need to learn a little more about the software used for doing that.

 

And third, why do anything? Because its there, and I haven't seen many (any?) other system do the same. That's a good reason to do a lot of things IMO. ;)

 

 

To address these points in order:

 

1. A Harmony Cart and SD card is the best money any Atari collector can spend these days, period. If you like playing on original systems and controllers, get a Harmony. Yes, the FB2 exclusives are a neat thing, but they don't outweigh the other benefits of a Harmony in general. Your opinion may vary on that point, which is fine. But most people would probably agree with me, especially given that all the other work involved in your proposed project.

 

2. The size/weight thing I can grant you. If that is your SOLE consideration, then your project makes a little sense, but honestly, even a classic VCS isn't THAT big or heavy. Are you gonna balance this thing on top of a 90's era CD tower? And if so, duplicate Ben Heck's project or else order one of Lenore's (AA user Dropcheck) custom builds. They're spendy but small!

 

3. Price: If you're seeing Jr's for $100-150, you're not looking hard. And check locally - there are nice Woody and Vader bundles all over the place around here for well under a hundred. Hell, in the last 15 months I've personally bought:

 

Light Sixer - eBay, $30 (needed a switch replaced - no biggie).

4-Switch Woody - eBay $15 (including shipping!). Ended up needing a RIOT, which I got on eBay for under $3.

4-Switch Woody bundle with about 17 carts, all original manuals and catalogs, controllers, and power supply - locally, $75

Vader - local retro store, $20. It needed a new RIOT too, which was a pain with the soldered Rev 16 board, but it was a fun little project

Telegames Heavy Sixer - eBay, $65. Needed a thorough cleaning but mechanically and electronically perfect and all original. Cosmetically about a 9, as these things go.

 

So the cost thing is really not valid or accurate unless you're the impatient type. And heck, even today - right this very minute - there are plenty of bundles on the 'bay, all different models, with all manner of prices and bids, plus Buy It Now. Just gotta pick and strike. Patience, grasshopper! If you WANT to find a cheap VCS/2600, you can find one.

 

And now the biggie:

 

4. If you WANT to do it because it's cool, just do it! Take bunches of pics along the way, post a new thread and draw the praises of the masses! Just don't try to justify it as making any kind of logical sense. Because you said it yourself - it's there and no one else has done it. :)

 

Very much looking forward to seeing your project.

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It wouldn't work. The fb2/fb2+ has an extra chip (in addition to the Atari-on-a-chip) called "gizmo" which is a stripped down nes-on-achip. This chip executes the menu at startup (did you noticed that the menu has nes gfx?), then select the game from the flashchip before giving control to the Atari-on-a-chip. You cannot just connect the fb2 flash chip to a standard VCS and expect it to work.

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/70550-flashback-2s-flashy-menu-sneak-peak/?do=findComment&comment=866303
http://atariage.com/forums/topic/80539-add-games-to-flashback-2/?do=findComment&comment=983082

The only thing you can use is the case.

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