Atari VCS

The second console I ever had as a kid was an Atari VCS (it got called a 2600 later). Sadly, as we tend to do here, at some point it was sold on to create space. So when the mid-life nostalgia wave hit, I knew I would end up with one. I went through a pair of 2600jr consoles before the above ebay auction picture caught my eye.

As you've probably gathered by now, I tend not to buy sparkly pristine restored stuff, as making something sparkly and pristine is a large part of the fun for me. So this was a 'spares or repair' loft find special. You may wonder how we choose these... This one I chose because if you ignore the dust, it doesn't actually look bad, and the advert wasn't great. The guy obviously wanted shot of it and didn't have the means to test it. I made an offer and with delivery I picked it up for 18UKP. There is a price where things are worth a punt and if they don't work they just become parts, that was nicely there (it's a little more for an 8-Bit Atari computer depending on the model).

The first thing we did was test it, and though difficult to tune in, there was picture and sound. This is great as we'll sort all that anyhow. Also there was a distinct lack of corrosion, which is a good sign it was kept somewhere dry. The usual fun stuff then happened: a strip and clean, cap swap, re-solder the PSU jack and joystick ports because they get stressed and if there are going to be any breaks it'll be there. The joints on the ribbon that connects the two boards looked a bit suspect so I did them too.

It cleaned up nice, really nice, and seemed to be a nice solid running machine. So finally having a nice six swtich for buttons, I thought I'd spend some cash on it and make it the best six switch and my main VCS. To do so I sourced Tim Worthington's magnificent RGB mod locally. Sadly the guy who did/does this has had quite a few people botch it and he's pulled them from sale. We managed to talk him into selling us one more to do Cleggy's even better VCS, but it took effort and reassurance that we'd not fuck it up. As of now you might just have to source them from Tim direct in Oz.

...and it was good. A glorious side effect of the RGB mod is that not only does it give it a perfect picture, it makes the console region free, so NTSC carts will now run and you can switch it to the correct colour palette (the PAL, NTSC and SECAM palettes are very different from one another).

Because I don't have a picture from the original install of the RGB mod, you will also see the toggle switch I added with some ribbon that connects to an internal controller 2 port.

This was part 2 of my cunning plan. I had always wondered why the VCS had speaker grilles but was never fitted with speakers. No longer! Mine has now fitted an internal Atari Vox +. Which adds speech and high score saving to games that support it.

If you want to play two player games you just flick the switch to turn off the Atarvox as you can't run both at the same time. There is a 2-4 player multiplexer that goes into port one to work with games that support both devices like Wizard of Wor Arcade. Otherwise, as it stands, it's one or the other.

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