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Player 3 troubleshooting

Bucket Brigadier

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Hello all,


I'm writing to ask if anyone has any guidance on troubleshooting player 3 (first paddle on the right player port). I'm running a heavy six which has been functioning flawlessly, but about two days ago I had some friends over and we tried playing a few four-player games. Players 1, 2, and 4 worked fine, but player 3 wouldn't budge (we tried Medieval Mayhem and Warlords). I tried swapping paddle sets with the same result, and also tried swapping the paddles that were working for 1 & 2 (left player) with 3 & 4, and 3 came up dead every time. To continue troubleshooting, earlier today I tested the paddles again, and player 3 read for a brief moment (maybe a half a second), then stopped. I also tried the second player joystick to see if there were any issues that had arisen with the system's ability to read a joystick vice paddles. After testing Space Invaders, Defender, Defender II and Combat, the right player joystick is fully functional.


This was a little strange to me, since the system has apparently stopped reading paddle 3, but has no issues otherwise. Do the paddles use a different circuit within the motherboard? Is there a way to fix this? Has anyone else run into a similar problem?


Thank you very much for any replies.




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Yes, paddles use different circuitry than the joysticks. See the pinout for the controller port


Open up your Atari and look at where the controller port is soldered to the motherboard. Its possible that the solder has cracked due to flexing caused by the connecting/disconnecting controllers over the years. It's an easy fix, just reflow the cracked solder using a soldering iron - basically heat up the iron then touch it to the cracked solder just long enough to melt it.


It's also possible that the chips have worked their way loose due to flexing caused by inserting cartridges. There's 3 socketed chips under the metal RF shield. Push down firmly on them to reseat them.

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  • 4 weeks later...

OK, got it fixed! In this case, however, it wasn't either the port or the chips, though I did re-flow the solder to pin #9 and ensured proper seating of the chips first. After neither of these worked, I took a closer look at all of the components within the "primary" motherboard, and as I was moving the board in my hand, I noticed a green capacitor right beneath the cartridge reader was loose. With how the labeling is printed on the board, it didn't look like it was part of pin #9's path (C228), but I suck at reading schematics and it was the only component loose on the board and needed to be re-soldered anyhow. So, with that capacitor soldered back into place and nothing else appearing out of place, I re-assembled the Atari, tested Warlords and whatho! It works! The only part that kind of sucks is that I couldn't get much of the "foot" of the capacitor through the opening on the board, so I don't know how well it'll hold, and based on where that capacitor is (right beneath the right-hand plastic mount of the cart reader), it has to deal with some flex every time a cart is inserted. If Player 3 suddenly stops working again, I know my primary culprit.


Thanks again for the help.

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