What to look for when buying a Used or third party Reconditioned Atari 2600 / 2600A / 2600Jr console, A Best Atari Tech Tip.

 (Get the printed Best Rev. 10 all Atari Catalog for more than 55+ other helpful Best Atari Tech tips)

If you have been searching eBay / Auction sites, Swap Meets, Garage Sales, and Flea Markets looking for a used Atari 2600 Console, the following Best Tech Tips are helpful in finding a Working / Good 2600 Console, based on 18+ years in the Atari Business, Reconditioning and Repairing Thousands and Thousands of Atari 2600 / 2600 / 2600Jr Consoles back up to Atari Factory Spec’s and answering thousands of questions from Atari 2600 owners and former owners who are looking for another 2600 console.

Well it is kind of hard to use the following Visual Atari Tech Tips when buying Atari Consoles on line (eBay / Auction sites)(it is another matter if you have it in your hand) but at least when you receive / find your Atari 2600 system, you can give it a quick check, using the following Best 2600 Tech Tips to see if you got a Real Bargain in “Perfect Working Order” as listed or something that is going to need some work on or replacement Atari 2600 parts for it to reliably run.

The Following Atari Tests and Points to check are Real World Simple Tests you can do on an Atari 2600 /2600A / 2600Jr Console without have the Atari Field Service Diagnostic Hardware (Atari MA017600 2600 /2600A /2600Jr Diagnostic Cartridge and the Atari MA017602 Test plugs).

With the Atari 2600 / 2600A / 2600JR in hand check the following:

1.  Check the Black RF cord that comes from under the Atari 2600 / 2600A console to the TV Switch box for any Cuts, Breaks, Crushed sections or bad sharp bends in the outer black wire jacket, especially on the ends of the cable (Male Plug) or where it goes into the 2600 Console.  One of the most common problems is a break in this outer black housing exposing the Copper RF shield Braid around the male plug.  If this copper braid is broken (sometimes under the black housing without being exposed, from over flexing) when you connect up your Atari 2600 System to your TV you get a Poor fuzzy picture or a picture with a lot of RF interference on the TV display.  You can also check for breaks under the Black RF cable housing by slightly flexing the RF cable when the 2600 Console is running / connected to your TV.  If the 2600 Display on the TV goes from perfectly clear display to Fuzzy when you flex the RF cable between the Atari 2600 Console and TV switch box it is time to replace the 2600 / 2600A RF cable.  The same Tests can be run on the Separate Detachable RF cable that comes with the Atari 2600Jr.

2.    The Atari Original Equipment Manufacture (OEM) TV Switch box (the little box that attaches to your TV) that came with the Atari 2600 / 2600A / 2600Jr consoles was set up to go to the Twin Screw VHF input on older color and black white TV’s (US / NTSC TV’s).  If your 2600 Console did come with above Old Style Atari TV Switch box, you are going to need some adapters to connect it up to the Newer Cable (single Coax input) ready Color TV’s or the Atari Upgraded Universal Cable Ready TV switch box.   If it did not come with a TV switch box, order an Atari Cable Ready Universal TV switch box at the end of this article. All of the Atari 2600 consoles ever made, REQUIRE the Mechanical type of TV Switch box (the one with the little slide lever on top, Computer – TV or Game - TV) and will NOT properly work with any of the Auto Switching (no slide Switch on top) TV Switch boxes supplied with the Newer Game Systems.  If you do have an Auto switching TV Switch box connected to your TV already, just add the Atari 2600 Mechanical TV Switch box in series before or after the Auto Switching TV switch box.  Using an old used TV Switch box on your Atari 2600 console and you get a poor or fuzzy display on your TV, check the connections between the TV switch box and Twin lead flat wire and the Coax adapter.  We have seen Used Atari TV switch boxes where the Copper wire(s) under the twin lead black plastic wire housing/covering, have broken (because of over flexing of this cable) right next to the “U” shaped metal contacts (X 2).  The connections looks good on the outside (the outer black wire covering is intact), but when you flex the TV switch twin lead wire connections, the display on the TV goes from Clear to Fuzzy.

3.  All Atari 2600 / 2600A Consoles Atari made over the years have a little round black foam dust cover over each slide switch on the inside of the console (none on the 2600Jr model).  If you look thru the 2600 front bezel around each Sliver Slide Switch (6 on the 2600 and 4 on the 2600A model) and Do Not see this black foam dust cover (if you see silver metal), then somebody has been on the inside of the 2600 console and consider this a Red Flag that the 2600 Console is NOT Stock as shipped from the Factory and something maybe wrong or bad with the 2600 Console!! 

4.    Also look at the condition of the Atari 2600 / 2600A Silver Slide Switches.  In about 95% of the cases over the last 15 to 20 years, the levers should be made out of a brushed Aluminum material.  In the Best case they should be Bright and Shinny, at worst case they will be Dark / Black or Corroded White!  Avoid the used Atari 2600 Consoles with Black and Corroded slide switches.  Usually this indicates the 2600 Console has had VERY heavy use over the years!  See #5 for a 2600 Slide Switch test.

5.    The Atari Slide Switches on the 2600 / 2600A consoles do Wear out (the most common are the On/Off and Reset Switches)(on / off on the 2600Jr model).  Try the following tests to check the condition of your 2600 console Slide Switches.  With the 2600 / 2600A On/Off Slide Switch in the On / Top position, slightly move the top of switch slightly Left and Right.  If the 2600 game cartridge Display on your TV Glitches, Resets or Turns off the display, it is a bad switch and it is time to replace this On/Off switch.  On the 2600 / 2600A Monetary Slide Switches (Select and Reset) Move the brushed metal lever up and down.  The Level should move smoothly up and down with No binding or sticking.  When you are moving the Monetary Switches, if you see excess Static Interference on the TV Screen with a 2600 game cartridge running or no action on the 2600 Game cartridge functions (for left or right player or starting the 2600 game), it is time to replace/solder in some replacement Atari Monetary switches.  On the Atari 2600 / 2600A consoles, the Color slide switch is very easy to test to see if it is properly operating on a Color TV.  To test for proper operation of the original Atari 2600 model Left and Right Difficulty player options slide Switches, insert an Atari 2600 Space Invaders, Breakout or Super Breakout Atari Game Cartridge.  Select a 2 player game.  Then start the game, and notice the size of the Cannon (Space Invaders) or Cursor size on the bottom of the screen.  When you move the left or right Difficulty switches Up and Down, the size of the Cannon or Cursor should get larger or smaller as you move the slide switch.  If you see no change at all on both version games (for left or right player), then the slide switches are bad.  You will have to do this test for each different 1st and 2nd player versions of the 2600 game to properly test both the Left and Right Difficulty switches.  The same Difficulty switch Tests can be run on the Atari 2600A model (back side of the Console angled part of the cases) and Atari 2600Jr (back side of the console) black slide Difficulty switches.  These 2600A / 2600Jr Difficulty and Channel 2 / 3 TV channel selector switches are many times missing or damaged on used 2600A / 2600Jr Consoles.  On the Original Atari 2600 model, you may or may not have a channel 2 / 3 selector switch on the under side of the console.

6.  Atari 2600 / 2600A /2600Jr Video/Color Test.  Insert an Atari 2600 Space Invaders, Missile Command, Pac Man or Casino Game Cartridge into your 2600 and turn it on.  If your Atari 2600 console video is set to factory 2600 video standards, when you start the Atari 2600 Game Cartridge, you should see a green color on the bottom of the Space Invaders Screen, Orange on the bottom of the Missile Command Screen, off Green bottom Strip on Pac Man Screen, or full screen bright Green on the Casino screen (based on US/NTSC 2600 Game cartridges, colors may vary Slightly on International 2600 Atari Game cartridge versions).  Another quick 2600 video test, is to turn on your Atari 2600 with a Game cartridge installed.   After about 3 to 5 minutes of no use / play on the Atari 2600 consoles, it should go into What’s called “Video Attack” Mode.  You should see the Color TV display keep changing colors every so many seconds.  This was designed into the Atari 2600 consoles to prevent them from burning a permanent Image (like you see on some well used / old ATM cash machine screens) on your TV Screen, if left on for Hours / Days.   This Video test can also used to test (burn in / Heat up) the Atari 2600 chip sets and motherboard inside.  We have seen many Atari 2600 consoles go bad (Glitch, Reset or Turns off the 2600 display) when the internal Atari 2600 Chip set or motherboard heats up from use or the above easy test.

7.     One of the most common failures on the Atari 2600 / 2600A / 2600Jr consoles is the rear Right Angle Power Jack on the inside of the 2600 Console.  There is a simple test for this.  Insert your Male 2600 plug of your Atari OEM 2600 Power Supply into your Atari 2600 Console and the wall adapter in the Power outlet.  With a Game cartridge inserted and running, wiggle the Male plug slightly back and forth and up and down.  If the Atari 2600 console Glitches, Resets or Turns off the 2600 display, the internal Power Jack it bad.  Please note this same symptom can also be caused by a Bad Atari 2600 Power supply wire too.  Check where the wires going into the male plug, to see if there are broken or exposed copper wires.  Sometimes the Power cord wires will break under the plastic wire covering or right next to where the wires go into the 2600 wall adapter and the only way to test for this is to wiggle the wire connections while the 2600 is running.  Another high failure rates on the Atari 2600 Consoles are the Wall adapters!  This is usually caused by not removing the Wall adapter from the Power Outlet when you are finished playing.  You may turn off the 2600 console, but the Atari 2600 Wall adapter is still running (sometimes for years) if it is plugged in.

8.    Another very simple test on the Atari 2600 /2600A /2600Jr consoles, is to check the DB-9 Male Joystick ports.  Looking at both of the 2600 Consoles DB-9 connectors, you should see two rows of 5 and 4 Male Pins in each connector.  Look for bent pins, Missing or broken pins, or pushed in pins.  Just one bad male pin on these connectors can cause the Atari Joysticks or Paddle controllers to Not work properly!  If you have a known good Atari Joystick (or a couple of unknown Joysticks, the chances of having the exact same problem on two unknown Atari Joysticks in a row are slight), plug it in the left side DB-9 Connector (most, but not all, Atari 2600 Games use the left DB-9 connector for #1 Player).  Put in an Atari 2600 Joystick game like Missile Command, start the Game and check to see if you can get the Cursor on the screen to go in 8 different directions, up, down, left right and at 4 angles.  Next check to make sure the Fire button is properly working.   If you are using an known working Atari Joystick and the DB-9 Connectors look good, and you still have Joystick direction or Fire button problems, then the I/O Chip (CO10750 that handles the Joystick / Paddle functions) on the inside of the 2600 console is bad or going bad.

9. On the Atari 2600 / 2600A /2600Jr Consoles, double check that the two Left and Right black Cartridge guide tabs that are on the 2600 console mating Cartridge connector are present.  These two extended plastic tabs (right next to the two left and right short rectangular openings) on the 2600 black console Cartridge connector, opens up the dust cover mechanism on the older Atari Game Cartridges (the ones you can not see the printed circuit board on the end of the 2600 cartridge) as you insert the game cartridge into the 2600 console.  If one or both of these tabs are missing, you will find it difficult or impossible to insert the older version Atari 2600 Game cartridges into the 2600 Console.

10. Looking inside the Atari 2600 /2600A /2600Jr Cartridge tiny 1 3/8 inch rectangular slot opening (the place where the 2600 cartridge PCB board plugs into the 2600 console).  You should see two rows of 12 each gold plated contacts top and bottom.  If you see, Bent, Greasy, Corroded, Green, one or two contacts out of place or Dirty contacts, you will have problems with your Atari 2600 Games not working properly.  With your Atari 2600 running with a game cartridge installed, slightly or lightly tap the 2600 Game cartridge on the top side (label side), if you see the 2600 game glitch or crash the 2600 game, then it is time to either clean or replace the worn out 2600 Game cartridge connector.

11. Insert any Atari Game Cartridge into your Atari 2600 console and turn it on and start the Game and listen for the normal game sounds.  It is a Very Common Problem on the older Atari 2600 and 2600A models to completely loose the sound function (but the 2600 game still displays on the TV fine) or have a weak sound output of the console.

  Based on 33+ years in the Atari parts business here is a list of the more common Atari 2600 / 2600A / 2600Jr OEM replacement parts we get requests for:

 

Atari US 2600 / 2600A / 2600Jr Power supply CO16353 / CA014034  $10.95

Atari German 2600 2 round pin Power supply CA017087 $12.00

Atari 2600 / 2600A / 2600JR Right angle Power Jack  FK100308  $1.50

Atari 2600 / 2600A / 2600JR, most Atari products DB-9 Male right angle connector.  FK100307 / CO19062 $1.50 each

Atari 2600 / 2600A On/Off, Color/BW Slide Switch CO10373  $2.50 each

Atari 2600 / 2600A Momentary  Reset / Select Switch CO10388  $2.50 each

Atari 2600 / 2600A Round black Foam Dust covers  CO10813  Sold Out

Atari 2600 complete US Switch board assembly CA012233   Sold Out

Atari 2600 / 2600A / 2600JR  2,200uF 16 V Japan made Axial Electrolytic Capacitor CO14373 $1.25

Atari 2600 / 2600A / 2600Jr 7805 Voltage Regulator CO14348  $.50

Atari 2600 Tech tip:  Some early version Atari 2600 6 switch models (and some 2600A models) used a 78M05 1/2 amp Voltage Regulator.  The 7805 Voltage Regulator is a beefier 1 amp version which is completely interchangeable with the 78M05 1/2 amp version on the Atari 2600 6 switch and 2600A 4 switch models.

Atari 2600 6 Switch 12 pin (Male to Male) Flat Mylar connecting cable.  Used to connect the angled 2600 switch board assembly to the 2600 motherboard.  CB103143 $8.95

Atari 2600 6 Switch NTSC/US Populated Motherboard CA010434 $39.95  (two versions used, E-Mail us at bestelec@concentric.net)

Atari 2600 6 Switch PAL Populated Motherboard CB102595 $35.00

Atari 2600 Joystick port Zener Diode / Cap assembly / wrap  CA018263  $1.00

Atari 2600Jr. Select and Reset Mylar Switch CB101198  $3.00

Atari 2600Jr Screw set (5) CB102809  $1.50

Atari 2600Jr US Motherboard CB103110 $39.95

Atari 2600Jr On/Off, Color Slide PC mount Switch CB101199  $1.50 each

  Atari 2600Jr. Top case Rainbow Silver label CB102263 $9.95

  Atari 2600Jr Top Case label, small rectangular red LED plastic Lens fits into small rectangular opening behind the 2600Jr silver metal label.  CB103158 $1.00

  Atari 2600Jr Snap in sliding black switch cover for the On/Off, Color functions  CB102556 $2.00

  Atari 2600Jr Snap in sliding Black Push button switch cover for Select / Reset functions.  Less black foam donut  CB102555 $2.00

  Atari 2600A Upgrade Switch Static Foil Strips CO17294 Sold Out    

Rick of Canada  Rick contacted Best via E-Mail.  He was having some problems with his Atari 2600 six switch light console and wanted to order some New replacement Atari 2600 parts from Best.  We told Rick to try some Best Atari 2600 trouble shooting tips before he placed an Atari order with us.  "In the future I wouldn’t be afraid to order parts from you ... I did as you suggested ... I took the consul apart and found the 3 soldered joints ...They looked fine ... But I moved the jack and noticed a bit of movement in the 3 prongs ... So I did a nice job re soldering them ... Reattached the system to the TV ... Put in a cartridge and turned it on ... And guess what ??? Looks like the system was made yesterday ... YAHOO...My 11 year old  grandson is very happy ... He says he would some day like to pass it on to his children ... Imagine an 11 year old today wanting to even bother with that old system ... Hope you have a great day ... You sure made mine ... Rick"

Frank V. of  PA.  Frank contacted Best looking for some Atari 2600 replacement parts (New DB-9 Joystick ports, New 2600 R/A Power jack and New in the box Atari 2600 US Power supply) for his 2600 console he was working on.  He placed his very 1st Atari order with Best.  "Received my parts today.....ordered two days ago. OUTSTANDING CUSTOMER SERVICE!  Thank You very much!  I could not be more pleased." 

Atari 2600A Black Cartridge guide and 24 pin cartridge connector CO15573A  $10.00   (Limit one)

Atari 2600 6 Switch angled new 24 pin female Cartridge Connector CO10806 $15.95  (Limit one)

Atari 2600 6 Switch angled new 24 pin female Cartridge Connector, solder pull off new defective 2600 motherboard.  CO10806SP $9.95

Atari 2600A 24 pin female Cartridge Connector, straight.  This new replacement 24 pin 2600A Cartridge connector is a slightly different version (but is fully compatible with the stock Atari OEM 24 pin straight connector) compared to the Atari OEM 24 pin 2600A Cartridge connector.  New 24 pin 2600A Cartridge connector is supplied with a quick reference Atari Tech install guide.   CO15902  $4.95

Atari 2600A NTSC/US Populated Motherboard CA015911 $49.95

Atari 2600A/2600JR Left, Right and channel 2/3 Slide switch CO12241 $1.00 each

Atari Coax adapters for TV Switch box, 300 Ohm twin lead barrel adapter to female Coax adapter CO19783  $1.00

Atari Twin Lead to Right Angle Male Coax adapter CO18994  $.75

Atari 2600 / 2600A Stock long RF cable CB101871  Sold Out

Atari 2600 / 2600A / 2600Jr long Upgraded RF cable w/ RF suppressing clamp on Torrid CB101710 Sold Out  

Atari Standard TV Switch box (OEM, not cable ready) CA014120  $4.00

Above Atari TV Switch box with Coax in and out adapters (cable ready) CA014120C  $6.95 

Atari 2600 / 2600A / 2600JR  820 pF Poly Sound caps  CO10821  $.25

 

Atari 2600 / 2600A 5 pin RF Modulator CA012174 $9.95

 

Atari 2600 3 pin RF Modulator  Call or E-Mail

 

Atari NTSC/US “TIA” Custom Chip CO10444D  $11.50

 

Atari PAL/Euro “TIA” Custom Chip CO11903  $8.00

 

Atari CPU Chip CO10745  $5.00

 

Atari I/O Chip CO10750  $8.00

 

Atari US / NTSC 2600 / 2600A / 2600JR Field Service Manual.  Sections covered,  Theory of Operation, Schematics and Silkscreens

Testing and Troubleshooting, 2600 Diagnostic Flowchart, Symptom Checklist, 2600A Diagnostic Flow Chart, Atari Game Controllers, Atari

2600/2600A Parts lists, Atari Field Service Bulletins 161 pages FD100133  $39.00

 

Atari PAL N 26000 / 2600A / 2600Jr Field Service Manual, Sections covered, Theory of Operation, Schematics and Silkscreens

Testing and Troubleshooting, 2600 Diagnostic Flowchart, Symptom Checklist, 2600A Diagnostic Flow Chart, Atari Game Controllers, Atari

2600/2600A Parts lists, Atari Field Service Bulletins 138 pages.  CB102554  $35.00

 

Atari NTSC / US 2600 / 2600A / 2600Jr Diagnostic Cartridge MA017600  $45.00

 

Atari PAL / Euro 2600 / 2600A / 2600Jr Diagnostic Cartridge CB102363  $45.00

 

Atari DB-9 Shorts plugs (2) for all above 2600 / 2600A / 2600Jr Diagnostic Cartridges MA017602  $12.00 pr.

 

Atari 2600 / 2600A / 2600JR Signal Tracing Diagnostic Cartridge.  Used with Atari 2600 Field Service Manual diagnostic flow charts, Multi meter or Oscilloscope required.  No Video display.  MA017601 $15.00


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