My Atari Console is not Working I think? Help!
These trouble shooting techniques also apply other Atari products that connect up to TV's!
(Get the printed Best Rev. 10 All Atari Catalog for more than 30+ other helpful Best Atari Information Tips)
Over the years we have had thousands and thousands of questions from Atari Owners and former owners who are trying to connect up their old Atari 2600 / 2600A / 2600Jr system or other Atari Console they dug out of their parents house (or a used Atari system they just picked up) back up to their Cable Ready TV, LCD / LED Display.
Now to clarify a couple of points and to give us a good starting point, Atari Made many many different Atari products over the years. One of the most popular (and one we get a lot of requests for information on) was the Atari 2600 Video Computer System (VCS), second generation Atari 2600A and third Generation slim line Atari 2600Jr models. You can tell which Atari model product you have by the label on the bottom of the Atari Product. If this label is missing (Some of the 2600/2600A models are getting close to 20 years old now and the Product labels have just simply fallen off) another quick way you can tell if you have an Atari 2600 or 2600A model is, they all have a brown wood grain trim on the front of the console, with a sliver Atari logo on the right hand side (a few of the last Atari 2600A models made had an all black front panel with the silver Atari Logo on the left hand side (Atari 2600 Collectors call this the ďDark VaderĒ 2600A Collector Model).
2600 2600A 2600A
(2600 and 2600A photos are examples of Best Electronics Reconditioned consoles)
Another way you can tell the Atari 2600/2600A models apart from other Atari products made is the Atari 2600 model had three silver slide switches on either side of the Game Cartridge port in the middle of the console (6 total), the Atari 2600A models had two Slide Switches on either side of the Game Cartridge port (4 total). The Atari 2600Jr Model had a far left On / Off Slide switch and a RED On LED light below the On /Off Slide switch on the Large Metal Silver Atari 2600 label.
Also for your information Atari also made the Atari 2600 Model for Sears under the brand name of Video Arcade, model # 637.99743. The Sears Video Arcade l is the same Atari 2600 Model with slightly different color slide switches (usually Chrome Plated vs Brushed Aluminum for Atari 2600/2600A models), a white / silver bezel label with the name TELE-GAMES on it and brown wall paper type of color front console trim.
The follow Best Information Tips may also
you connect up other Atari products made to your Cable
Ready Color TV. But if you still have problems, please Call us or
us at email@example.com
us at firstname.lastname@example.org the exact Atari Product Model you have and the problems you are having.
Q. We dug out the old Atari 2600 / 2600A / 2600Jr console or other Atari product out of my parents house and want to connect it up to our Cable ready TV and get it running. What is required to do this?
A. Here is a quick check list of items required:
Atari OEM Power supply
Cable Ready Universal Mechanical TV switch Box (or the Stock OEM Atari TV Switch box with Coax Cable adapters (2))
Detachable RF cable for the 2600Jr Model and Atari 8 bit and ST Computers (the Atari 2600/2600A have a RF cable attached to the console)
Atari Joysticks or Paddles and Atari Game Cartridges
If your Atari 2600 / Atari Console does not have a Power supply, it is best to use the Atari Original Equipment Manufacture (OEM) 2600 Power supply. Usually they have the Atari Model numbers CO16353 / CA014034 / CO10472 / CX261 printed on the Power Supply Label (for all US Atari Power adapter Models). You can also use some of the universal power adapters with multiple voltages and universal adapters ends, but it is very easy for a child to change the voltage setting on the Power adapter and blow up your Classic Atari 2600 System. We have tried to repair many many Atari 2600 Consoles over the years that have been completely burned out (every electronic component on the motherboard was damaged) because somebody used the wrong voltage power supply. If you are having troubles getting your old Atari 2600 system going and you think the Power adapter (what ever brand came with it) is bad, you can have somebody with a Volt / Ohm Meter check it out. Sometimes your local US Radio Shack will Check out your Power adapter to see if it is working.
The Atari OEM TV Switch box (the little box that attaches to the back of 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 TVís (US / NTSC TVís). If your US 2600 Console did come with this Twin lead TV switch box, you will need some adapters (CO19783 and CO18994) to connect it up to the Newer Cable (single Coax input) ready Color TVís (see Atari 2600 Part listing below). If your old Atari 2600 system did not come with a TV switch box, then get the US Universal Cable ready TV Switch Box at the end of this article. For more in depth information on the Atari Cable Ready TV Switch box click on this line.
All of the Atari 2600 consoles made, REQUIRE this type of 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 newer Auto Switching (no slide Switch on top, the older Atari consoles do not have the internal electronic newer circuits to properly trip / switch on the newer auto switching solid state TV switchboxes) TV Switch boxes with built in RF cables supplied with the Newer Game Systems. If you use only a newer auto switching TV switch box with your older Atari console, in most cases you will get a fuzzy or no TV display which can not be corrected. 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 (goes in to the TV / Display first) the Auto Switching TV switch box RF chain. Using an old 20+ year well 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. A lot of these well used TV switch boxes have broken contacts within the TV switch box or wires (breaks within or inside of the outer black cable plastic housing which you can not see) inside and outside of TV very old switch boxes
Q. We connected up the Atari 2600 Console / product up to our TV and we get nothing on the TV screen?
A. There are many reasons why you can not see a 2600 / product display on your TV here are a couple of things to check out:
Be sure you are plugging the 2600 black RF cable with the Male end on it, into the female RCA jack on the Atari Mechanical TV Switch box attached to your Coax Cable or Roof Antenna Wire. DO NOT plug in this 2600 RF Male connector into your Cable Ready TV Composite Video (Yellow) or Audio (White or Red) (VCR type) female receptacles that might be on your TV ,VCR, DVD or Blue Ray player. The Atari 2600 RF male cable will also fit into this Composite Video or Audio RCA female Receptacles, but they are a different / newer type of Video / Audio Standard inputs (invented about 5 to 10 years after the 2600 consoles were 1st made) and will NOT accept the RF Signals from the Atari 2600 Systems. Atari 8 bit computers like the Atari 800 / 800XL / 65XE / 130XE, 1200XL do have a Composite Video and Audio 5 pin female connectors or Separate Composite Video and Audio RCA female connectors (XE Game consoles). The Atari 2600 / 5200 and 7800 Consoles MUST be connected to the older Twin lead (2 Screw) (very old US TVs) Antenna input (VHF) or modern Cable ready single Coax TV / Display input with a Mechanical type of TV switch box. Make sure the mechanical TV switch box slide lever is set (little black slide switch on top) for TV - Game or TV - Computer setting and not TV Antenna to TV position. Newer Auto Switching Game Console TV Switch boxes will also not work with the older 1st Generation Atari 2600 consoles. They simply do not have the newer Electronics circuits to drive the newer Auto Switching (no switch lever on the top of the swtich box)
Try both channel 2 and 3 (which the US / NTSC Atari 2600ís Broadcast at) on your TV. The different channel outputs is changeable on the 2600 consoles via the small slide switch.
Check that the Atari 2600 Wall adapter is plugged in and that Wall Power socket Is working (some wall sockets have a wall switch that turns On / Off the power to that wall socket)
Make sure the Atari 2600 game in fully seated into the 2600 Console and the 2600 Power switch is in the On position. Always turn off the 2600 Console before removing any 2600 Game cartridges from the Atari 2600 Console.
Make sure the Atari 2600 Male power connector is fully seated into the Atari 2600 Power Jack. If the Male Atari 2600 power supply connector feels loose or will not lock into the Atari 2600 Internal Power Jack, the 2600 Power Jack maybe damaged.
Q. We have tried all of the Above and still can not see any Atari 2600 / Product display on the TV or we see a poor / fuzzy picture with or without sounds?
A. Basically what is happening is your State of the Art Cable ready TV CPU is Not looking at all for the Channel 2 or 3 (Atari US 2600 signal outputs) unless it was set up for (scanned) them when it was new.
It just bypasses / locks out those Atari 2600 channel 2 or 3 broadcasts / inputs until you put them / lock them into Cable Ready TVís channels scan memory. You may have to use the channel Auto Scan / Detect feature or add channels feature on your TV internal set up display menu. You most likely used this feature on your State of the Art Cable ready Color TV / display when you first set it up (Some new TV / Displays automatically do this scan when first turned on for the 1st time). What this scan feature does when you start it on your Cable Ready TV / Display, it scans your Coax Cable input (or Roof mounted TV Antenna input) for as many local TV or Cable channels it can detect and then puts / stores them in itís TV / Display channel memory chip. Make sure you have your Atari 2600 turned on and your TV switch box is set to Game / Computer position when you run this auto detect feature on your cable ready TV / display. Usually at the end Scanning Process, your Cable ready TV / display will usually display all of the Channels it has detected in a channel matrix display. Make sure that it does display that is has detected Channel 2 or 3 (US 2600 models). If it does not show it detected channel 2 or 3 inputs from the Atari 2600 console, then double check all of your 2600 and TV switch box (a bad (Internal wiring problems) switch box can cause this problem) connections and settings. If it does display channels 2 or 3, now you should see the 2600 game display on your Cable ready TV. But this will not help you view your normal cable channels (unless you used the Add Channel feature instead of a brand new Channel scan) since your TV only detected channel 2 or 3 only the last scan and now only has this single channel in it memory only, the TV Switch box (in the TV - Game or TV - Computer setting) locked out your Cable input or Roof Antenna normal channels / signals so they were not detected. What you are going to have to do, is set up the TV switch box back to normal (TV Antenna to TV position) rescan or use the add new channels feature (keeps the old channels found and then adds ones found), for the Cable or Roof antenna channels like when you first set up your Color TV. After it has displayed all of the channels you had before, go into the Manual Scan Mode on your Cable Ready TV (turn on the Atari 2600 and switch the TV Switch box back to Game - TV) and now manually scan (add a new single TV channel to your Cable Ready Channel Matrix) for Channel 2 or 3 which ever one you saw the 2600 Display on the first scan. Now add this channel 2 or 3 to the other channels you had before. If you have problems consulate your TV owners set up manual on Manual or add new channels Scanning mode for TV channels features.
Q. We have connected up our old Atari 2600 to our Cable Ready display (via a Cable Ready TV Switch box or direct connect Coax adapter) and only get a 2600 game sound or get a 2600 fuzzy display but no sound.
A. The Radio Frequency (RF) Modulated TV signal that the average Atari Console outputs thru it RF out RF RCA male single cable is like an old TV Station broadcast signal. It is an RF Modulated Signal (Combined Video and Audio Signals in to a singe TV Broadcast RF signal) which once received by your TV / Display (RF Coax in connector) and has to be demodulated into a separate Video and Audio Signals within your TV display electronics before you can see a display on your TV / Display. That is the reason why when you try to connect up your old Atari console single RF Broadcast signal cable up to the Modern Composite Video (Yellow) Female RCA connector standard you do not see any display. The newer Composite Video and Audio Standards were invented and started to be used on most electronic devices about 10 to 15 years after most of the 1st Atari Game consoles were invented. When you get a weak, no Video or Sound on your modern TV / Display, one of the reasons is because one or more of the old Atari consoles separate / different RF Modulated Video and separate Audio signals are not broadcasting on the Original Atari Factory set RF TV standards and have electronically drifted their original factory TV RF broadcast settings set a the Atari Factory. A lot of modern Cable Ready TVs / Displays will not automatically electronically lock onto a off frequency RF TV broadcast Video or off frequency Audio RF signals, hence why you get a first poor Video, Audio or both. By doing a new channel scan on your Modern TV / Video display, you force your TV / Display to lock onto the exact RF Video and separate Audio frequencies your Atari Console is broadcasting at and put store that new channel frequency information into its TV Channel Information memory chip.
Q. We have tried all of the Above cable ready TV tuning / manual scanning and still can not see any Atari 2600 display on the TV?
A. At worst case to verify that your Atari 2600 is working, try it on an older / another Color TV (without the Auto Scan Mode / CPU with channel memory feature).
First try one of those old color TVís with the round channel selector knob with the outer fine tuning ring. Set the TV for Channel 2 or 3, turn on the 2600 (double check the TV switch box setting) and turn the outer fine tuning ring to tune in your Atari 2600 channel 2 or 3 broadcast signals. If you do not have this type of Older color TV, then try a Color TV with individual TV Station Channel buttons. Each channel button has it own tuning button or knob to manually turn in a clear TV station.
Q. We have tried all of the above suggestions and several different TVís and still can not get any 2600 Display?
A. Your Atari 2600 console, Power supply, RF Cable or TV switch box maybe bad.
Based on Thousands and Thousands of Atari 2600 Console repairs over the last 28+ years, it is Very Rare that even a Bad 2600 console will not display something on the TV screen if all of the Connections, TV settings and TV switch boxes are set up right. In most cases when a bad Atari 2600 console is turned on (with a good 2600 game cartridge installed), the TV screen will usually go from displaying White TV Snow and Normal static sounds on the TV screen to a completely Black, Gray or other color screen with no sounds or funny sounds. That shows that the Atari 2600 is broadcasting a TV signal but there is no 2600 Game Display / Signal because of a 2600 motherboard problem.
If you still get nothing out of your used Atari 2600 console then most likely you have a Bad power supply, Bad 2600 Power Jack, Bad 2600 On/Off switch, Bad RF cable or TV switch box.
Q. Do they make adapters for a model 2600 to be plugged directly into newer TVís, DVD players or VHS players that are located on the front of the unit?
A. There are a lot of Composite to RF adapters on the market, but there is no cost effective way (simple adapter) to change the Atari 2600 RF TV Broadcast signal to Composite Video and Audio Signals (RCA Female jacks) that are on the most newer cable ready TVís / DVD Players / Blue Ray Players or VHS players. There some newer Hackers project type of circuit boards you can solder into your 2600 to get Composite Video and or S-Video out of the older Atari 2600 consoles. These type of Hackers type of 2600 internal upgrade boards should only be installed by a very experienced Electronic Tech. Another option is you can run in your Atari 2600 RF TV Signal into and older VCR Coax TV cable input (using a mechanical Universal Cable ready TV Switch box) and then use VCRís Composite Video and Audio Out RCA Jacks to get these Signals to your cable ready TV Composite Video and Audio female input RCA Jacks/
Q. We start to play our 2600 Game and after a little while / time the 2600 game TV screen freezes up, glitches or the TV screen goes black.
A. This can be caused by a Bad 2600 Game cartridge (try other 2600 Game cartridges), Bad 2600 Power supply or one going bad, or a bad 2600 console. Try Cleaning the Gold edges of the 2600 Game cartridge with Alcohol. Click here for the Best Electronics Extensive Article on Cleaning Atari Game Cartridges. Try a Second 2600 Power supply or have your old one checked out (by somebody like Radio Shack) with a Volt Ohm met
Q. We can see a 2600 Game Display on the TV but it is very Faint with no sounds, lots of snow with sounds, lots of RF interference or 2600 Game sounds only.
A. This can be caused by a Bad / Damaged TV Switch box, using an Auto Switching TV switch box, Bad RF cable, TV channel 2 or 3 not properly tuned in. Also see the Answer to Question 2 above. Try switching between channel 2 and 3 on the TV to see if the display gets any better. Next wiggle the TV switch box connections and then wiggle the RF cable (next to the TV Switch box and next to where the RF cable goes into the 2600 console) to see if you can get the TV Display to clear up. On some older (25 - 28 year old Atari 2600 consoles) that have a perfect video display but lack of sound can be caused by a internal sound component or components problem which is a known problem with known cures with the proper replacement Atari 2600 OEM components from Best Electronics.
Q. We get a clear 2600 Game display on the TV but we get RF interference on the TV screen which varies from Good to Bad interference depending on the time of day or location we place the 2600 console?
A. The bulk of the Atari 2600ís made we manufactured about 12 to 22 years ago, when RF interference was not a big problem.
Now a days just about every electrical / electronic device in your house (surrounding area Power Poles, Cell towers, Airports towers, Radio Stations, Ham Radio Stations and the list goes on and on,) puts out some RF interference to a degree or it could also be a total collection of RF Interferences from a combination of some or all of these RF Interference sources, you can expect some degree of interference on your Atari 2600. You can lessen it to some degree by upgrading the Old Stock 2600 RF cable to one of the newer Atari RF cables with the RF suppressing Coil built in. Also try turning off different pieces of Electrical / Electronic equipment in the room (like fluorescent lights) in the area you have the 2600 console in. Sometimes just moving the Atari 2600 Console away from your Color TV will help. Also a 2600 Power supply going bad can also cause RF interference on your TV screen. A damaged or broken Copper internal Copper wire Shield / Braid (under the Black RF cable outside covering) inside the 2600 RF cable can also cause RF interference. If you do have an RF interference problem in your area, contact Best Electronics for our free Atari Tech tips article to help you minimize this Atari RF interference problem.
Q. When we play a 2600 Joystick game like Combat or Space Invaders, we can only go left or up but not right or down and so on?
A. This can be caused by a Damaged (bent, missing or pushed in Male pins) BD-9 (5 male pins on top of 4 male pins below) Male Joystick / Paddle connector on the 2600. A bad Joystick or Joystick Cable and also a 2600 internal problem on the 2600 motherboard.
Click here for the Atari CX40 Joystick Rebuild Kits. If you get the same identical results using 2 to 4 different Atari Joysticks, you may have an Atari 2600 console problem.
Q. We can see a perfect Atari 2600 display on our TV, but there is no Sound or weak sound when we play the 2600 Games.
A. If you have properly scanned or tuned in your older TV for the Atari 2600 channel 2 or 3 broadcasts and still hear little or no sounds then mostly likely the Atari 2600 console is bad.
Q. When we use the Atari CX30 Paddles on the Atari 2600 Paddle Games the bottom cursor seems to wiggle a lot as we move it left to right. Basically it does not scroll right or left very smoothly.
A. This is not usually a problem with the 2600 Console but the Internal Atari CX30 Paddle Potentiometers (2) are going bad or are worn out.
You can solder in some new replacement Atari Paddle Potentiometers or replace the Atari CX30 Paddles. See the Best Article on How to replace Paddle Pots and our New Atari CX30 Super Lifetime Pots
Q. We have an Atari 2600 Console but no Joysticks or Paddles. What do you have in stock that will work on the Atari 2600 system and what do your recommend?
A. Click on this Best Atari Controller URL address: quickguide.htm
Any Atari Joystick controller in the first two rows will work on the Atari 2600 Consoles except the Atari 2800 controller. Also the Atari Jaguar Power Pad with the Best adapter cable, Atari CX30 Paddles, Atari CX80 Trackball, 2600 CX23 Kids controller, CX50 Keyboard controllers and Atari Track and Field controller will work on the Atari 2600 consoles. Some of these last 5 Atari controllers listed above only work with a specific or several of Atari 2600 Game Cartridge series made. Usually the price of the Joystick also indicates the quality of the Joystick.
Recommending a Joystick depends on what you grew up with and your personal tastes. If you grew up with the Atari CX40 Joystick, then consider the Atari CX40 Joystick, Super Stik, Atari CX24 Joystick or Pro-Stick. If you grew up with the Nintendo type of Thumb Controllers, then consider the CX78 Atari Joypad (also very good for children with small hands), the Jaguar Power pad with the Best adapter cable or the Best Sega controller to Atari Systems Adapter cable.
To see some more information on the Best Jaguar Power Pad adapter cable click on the Best URL Power Pad.
Q. My mother loveís her Atari 2600 Console and plays 2600 games every chance she gets, but she is getting up there in years and says the Atari CX40 Joystick is too stiff for her and her hands get tired easily.
A. I would recommend the Reconditioned Wico or Epyx Joysticks have a light feel / functions and Very Heavy Duty Internal Construction. The Atari CX78 Joypads are also good for people with small hands or children.
Based on 28+ years in the Atari parts business here is a short list of the more common requested Atari 2600 / 2600A / 2600Jr OEM items you might need to get your Atari 2600 System connected up and going again. For a more extensive list of Atari OEM 2600 parts Click here.
Atari US 2600 Power supply CO16353 / CA014034 $10.95
Atari 2600 / 2600A Stock RF cable CB101871 $5.00
Atari 2600Jr Stock short RF cable FK100310 $4.00
Atari 2600 / 2600A / 2600Jr Upgraded RF cable w/ RF suppressing Torrid CB101710 $6.50
Atari Standard US TV Switch box (OEM, not cable ready) CA014120 $4.00
Atari US Cable Ready Universal TV switch box CA010112C $9.95
Atari Coax adapter for above 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
Best Electronics in the Atari business since February 1, 1984.
Back to Best Index page