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Bally Astrocade DOA


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I received a DOA Bally Astrocade recently. Either I get a blank black screen or if I'm especially lucky, screen full of garbled color graphics.

 

Is there anything special I can try to get this working? [...]

 

I took a look at the bottom of the console and it says "Astrovision", model "ABA-1000-2" serial 039166.

 

I'm sorry to hear that the Astrocade console doesn't work. Did you buy it "untested?"

 

The "Astrovision" model is the last model that shipped (beginning in 1981). These units had some changes that made them more reliable. For instance, there was a makeshift "heat sink" added to the system which supposedly made the system not overheat as easily. Also, I think all of them had the "kludge" board installed at the factory.

 

There are a number of "common" problems with the Astrocade. The most common issue that you'll read about is a dead data chip. The symptoms that you describe sound like this... but then again, so do many other issues. The data chip is a custom chip, which wasn't used on any other console (although they were used in the Bally Arcade games that used the Astrocade chipset, (i.e. Wizard of Wor, Gorf and a few others). The data chip is very hard to find. Even if you did find one, then there is no guarantee that it would fix your issue.

 

I don't have any experience with replacing the caps on an Astrocade, but if you find out anything more about this, then please post it here.

 

Carl, are you a member of the Bally Alley Yahoo Group? If not, then you should probably join:

 

https://beta.groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/ballyalley/info

 

If you're handy with hardware, then there are a few people on the Yahoo group who may be able to help you figure-out what the black-screen issue is by guiding you with some troubleshooting tips.

 

The Bally PA-1 Service Manual may prove helpful to you:

 

http://www.ballyalley.com/documentation/misc_hardware_docs/Bally/Bally.html#PA-1BallyServiceManual

 

Also, the rare Bally Check (aka Balcheck) hardware (which plugs into the 50-pin connector on the back of the Astrocade) might help you. However, there are only a few of them out there. They look like this:

 

http://www.ballyalley.com/pics/hardware_pics/BallyCheck/BallyCheck.html

 

Obtaining one of these units is probably near-impossible-- although your quest for this Astrocade diagnosis hardware isn't hopeless. If you're the sort of person who can role up your sleeves and attack hardware, then you could possibly build the Bally Check unit yourself. This hardware, originally designed by Bally, was released by Richard G Belton in the early 1980s.

 

Here is information about Ballycheck (AKA Home Video Game Burn-In Tester):

 

http://www.ballyalley.com/documentation/BallyCheck/pdf/ballycheck.pdf

 

The source code for the 2K EPROM in the BalCheck is here:

 

http://www.ballyalley.com/ml/ml_source/balcheck.asm

 

Rather than link you to the specific information on the BalCheck unit, here is a link to most of the documentation about it:

 

http://www.ballyalley.com/documentation/BallyCheck/BallyCheck.html

 

I actually have two Balcheck units... but I've never used them. This makes me want to get them out of the garage and try them out.

 

This post makes me sad because today I've been scanning in some Astrocade-related material from the Bob Fabris Collection. Specifically, I've been scanning in merchandise orders for items that The Arcadian newsletter sold from about 1984 to about 1986. The flyer that I've been scanning sold cartridges for between $4.95 and $19.95. Astrocade systems were available for $59.95, or $99.95 for a new Astrocade with 15 brand new cartridges (!). I sure wish that there was a way to take a trip back in time to pick up a few of these systems. While I was back in 1984, I probably would try to pick up some Atari 2600 items at close-out too! Where is a DeLorean equipped with a Flux Capacitor when you really need one?

 

Adam

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