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A Tale of 600XL Refurbishment—Advice?


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After a string of lucky "Untested/As-Is" 8-bit hardware purchases where things just worked, my luck ran out with a recently acquired 600XL (the last of the common 8-bit Atari computers missing from my collection).

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I never knew that the 600XL was smaller than the 800XL both behind and in front of the keyboard. Here it is next to the first Atari my family ever owned (purchased in 1984):

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I plugged in the 600XL, tuned my TV to channel 3, turned on the computer, and...got a noisy black screen.

After disassembling everything (the 600XL seems to be built a little more solidly than my 800XL, with interlocking top and bottom RF shields), I reconnected the power, turned it on, and looked for hot chips. Finding none, I then started removing and reseating the socketed (whew!) ICs. GTIA, nothing. ANTIC...aha! We're in business!

Of course, the picture is pretty terrible. I'm guessing that replacing the RF shielding will help somewhat, but I have two questions:

Should I remove and reseat the rest of the ICs (or just some of them?)

Should I use some kind of cleaner on the chip pins and the sockets?

Atari computers with soldered ICs may be a pain to repair, but at least they don't suffer from the dreaded socket corrosion affliction (I have 3 socketed 2600s, none of which works—the only one I've had a chance to work on improved when I reseated the ICs).

stock.mov

ANTIC.mov

Edited by electronizer
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Couldn't hurt to clean and polish all the socketed chips. And you can use a tv tuner cleaner like DeOxit or similar. All these older systems can benefit from such PM. And check all the grounding and be sure the caps are good too.

 

Anything with contacts, screws, clips, springs, shielding should be cleaned and buffed (not debuffed) nicely.

Edited by Keatah
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Actually, the 64kb mod is about the easiest mod of the whole lot, especially because the 600xl seems to always be socketed.

When the new UAVs hit the AtariAge store, you should definitely look at them, because the picture is great after installation.

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Get a composite cable and see if its the RF unit at faulty, as said the resocketing may have heped but a proper clean may improve things more. In my day we did the infamous 1" (inch - hopefully) drop on to a hard counter to reseat stuff, sometimes going to the lofty heights of a 2 inch drop to be sure but after this amount of time a real clean may be better..

 

The fact you are getting a READY screen is very hopeful and it might just be the RF side (hence the mention of a composite lead to test)..

 

Congrats on having a run of luck and who knows, the run may still be on :)

 

Edit: Yes, always worth reseating all the reseat able stuff...

Edited by Mclaneinc
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US NTSC units do not have a monitor port so composite won't help if it's that type.

 

If it is you can either get the Jeff Popp kit (which literally adds the missing components), wait for the next run of Bryan's UAV boards or look at the other few mods available that will give you video out.

 

I've upgraded multiple 600s with memory and the Jeff Popp mod, once done it's identical to a 800xl in a small form factor. One of my favorite machines in fact

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