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What's up with 400/800s and Defender cartridge on startup?


ACML
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I've owned a lot of Atari computers. I had 400s, 800s and the XLs and I know I played the Defender cartridge a lot in the 80's and never had this issue. I've now seen this on three 800s and a 400 I have recently been using. When you turn on the power with a Defender cartridge, it has trouble booting. It can be partial boot or no boot at all. If I run the XEX of Defender, it runs every time. If I put the same cartridge in a 1200XL, it runs every time. The problem is only with the original 400 and 800. When the cartridge boots, it runs it all day long. All other cartridges run fine in it every time. I've tried two different Defender cartridges and same result. What's up with this? Is there some special timing issue on boot that an old 400/800 with 35+ year old capacitors can't handle anymore? Anyone else experience this phenomenon?

Edited by ACML
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I've owned a lot of Atari computers. I had 400s, 800s and the XLs and I know I played the Defender cartridge a lot in the 80's and never had this issue. I've now seen this on three 800s and a 400 I have recently been using. When you turn on the power with a Defender cartridge, it has trouble booting. It can be partial boot or no boot at all. If I run the XEX of Defender, it runs every time. If I put the same cartridge in a 1200XL, it runs every time. The problem is only with the original 400 and 800. When the cartridge boots, it runs it all day long. All other cartridges run fine in it every time. I've tried two different Defender cartridges and same result. What's up with this? Is there some special timing issue on boot that an old 400/800 with 35+ year old capacitors can't handle anymore? Anyone else experience this phenomenon?

At least your memory is fine. Defender cart works fine in 800 here.

 

I had forgotten how bad I am at this game!

 

If you were having problems with just one 800 I'd say reseat all the chips starting with memory boards and the OS board. Also test one memory board in the 800 at a time.

 

Seeing you are having the problem on multiple systems I don't know what to tell you.

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I have the same problem on my Atari 800 with Defender cartridge. I have 3 Defenders copies and cleaned contact in cartridges and computer.

See, I'm not crazy. There is something going on here that must be age related as this phenomenon didn't exist back in the day. I'm guessing its a timing or delay issue that these aging components are changing their performance characteristics. Are there analog components that are critical to the timing at boot up?

Edited by ACML
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Makes sense. Capacitors are among the least long-term-stable components in electronics. Batteries not included.

 

I swear I never had a problem with hardware back in the day, or if I did it was because I messed something myself. And I beat that game to all hell, in 100` weather too.

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It doesn't mean that Defender is not working on Atari 800 just sometimes you have to shut cartridge flap or power on and off few times... Strange isn't it?

 

Defender was MADE for the 400/800. And nothing's strange about it. we're talking 40 year old hardware here - almost. And it's going to need some PM and TLC.

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My theory - possibly the circuit board used is a little bit thinner than most carts and doesn't make good contact.

One method for dodgy carts is insert all the way then pull out by the slightest amount.

 

Xex version running - only serves to verify that your Ram is probably OK. My theory is it's a mechanical or electrical issue.

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As systems get older the contact fingers get oxidized and also lose a bit of their springiness. So a slightly thinner PCB can have problems.

 

I've got probably near 20 carts and some of them are a lottery as to whether they'll work. Another problem is some carts use cheap-arsed material on the contact fingers.

Edited by Rybags
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Honestly, Defender cartridges are cheap enough that I'd probably consider just getting another to see if I could replicate the problem.

I tried two different cartridges and firestorm has tried it on three. So you you five different cartridges reproducing the same problem.

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