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Fairchild Channel F stopped working

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My first generation Fairchild Channel F VES stopped working after I took it apart to spray contact cleaner on some non-working button switches. At first it would still play the built in game but not read the cartridges. After I checked to make sure the cartridge assembly ribbon was firmly in the socket I powered it up again. Now it just displays the non-moving screen pictured below. Any ideas as to what I can do to fix my system?


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Check the ribbon again. If it's the same than in European model, this ribbon conenctor is a POS; it's made of copper ribbons glued on a paper, and over time it dried. it's possible that by removing and resetting in, if the paper bits didn't let them all go off, one of the copper ribbons went ajar and is touching other ribbons, making shorts in the cartride circuitry.

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OK, thanks for the replies. I finally got back into the Fairchild and I did find out how to fix part of the problem. It turned out that the power cord white wire on the plastic connector that connects to the pins on the shielding had been pulled out and reattached incorrectly (by myself) and so I put it back in the correct slot (see the pictures below). After I did this I was able to get the built-in game to work but the system is sending a static noise through to the TV for some reason (this is the channel F model with the speaker built into the system); I don't believe this noise was there before. Also, it still will not read the cartridges; I get a screen similar to the one posted above with some cartridges and with others it just goes back to the built in game. I tested the continuity between the ribbon leads and the contact pins on the cartridge assembly and it was OK. I also tested to see if there were any shorts between the ribbon leads and there were no shorts. I also tested under the board to see if the ribbon sockets had continuity and if there were any shorts on the ribbon socket pins; it tested fine.


I am wondering if the power wires running from the cord into the board are connected properly or if there is some other problem.






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Analog TV use FM for RF sound (except French L standard). If left on a blank channel, you hear statics. Since the Channel F model 1 doesn't emit sound, the FM decoder of the TV can only give you a blank noise.

Modern TV can't cut the sound out, because as it detect a video signal it's goign to assuem that there has to have sound.

Edited by CatPix
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I finally got back to working on this unit and decided to try to clean the ribbon contacts and the ribbon sockets on the board. I used an old toothbrush and some alcohol. After that it started reading the cartridges again. :thumbsup: Easy repair. The ribbon connection is very finicky though so you need to insert it just right to get it to work.


As for the sound I guess I just didn't notice it the first time I powered the unit up but from what I gather from the forum people here it is normal.


I'm so glad I have a working Fairchild again and thanks again for the comments and advice.

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  • 3 years later...

Sorry about hijacking such an old thread, but I found the screenshot above and wondered how it came about, since there are colors in there which the Channel F normally can't produce. There are even lines with, seemingly, more than 4 colors in them, which should also be a no-no. So I'm wondering if there's a way to create these pallette variations on purpose.


The variations I spotted are the following ones:

Most of the lines are black / white, which is one of the normal pallettes, nothing special there. But then there's a line showing white on orange, with one green spot in between. This reminds me a bit of one of the Apple II pallettes. It would surely be nice if there actually was a pallette showing black, white, green and orange on the Channel F, which would expand the normal black / white pallette. There's also another line showing mostly white on green, which could be the same pallette. Or could it be just a slight variation on the normal red / green / blue / grey pallette?


Below the green/white line we have one showing green / red / blue with one pixel in black, which is not a normal background color for this pallette.

Further down below we have the line showing more than 4 colors... it alternates white with green and yellow, then with orange and purple.Out of those, only green and white are colors the Channel F is normally able to produce. What's even more interesting is that all those colors occur on the same line. The colors are, however, grouped... the pallette seems to be white/green/yellow for 18 pixels, then white/purple/orange for 10 pixels, then white/green/yellow for 18 or 19 more pixels, then white/purple/orange for 18 pixels, then white/green/yellow for 28 pixels, then white/orange/purple for 4 pixels.


Then further down we have a line alternating white with magenta, which clearly is a different shade than the purple above. One of those lines has a green pixel thrown in though.


Finally, near the bottom we have one more variation on white / purple / orange / green which some dirty-looking pixels thrown in.


Now the question is if there is a way to achieve such variations on the normal pallette on purpose without hacking the hardware.

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