$12 ‘Broken’ Atari VCS Tear-Down & Restoration: 40-Year-Old “Atari Juice”

by birtanpublished on October 5, 2020

because the Atari VCS is definitely something that's coming out we need to do a teardown on one to get some perspective and Atari if you don't know it's yes it's the same one as the very well-known hotel company so the Atari video computer system has come into our possession but it's it's not that one this is a twelve dollar for parts only Atari VCS that I just happened to walk by by pure chance in a new toy store like a collectibles toy store called ogo toys and they just happened to have this on the top of it it had a sticker that said four parts needs chip I asked the

Guy I said so what does it really need and he said well there's one chip that commonly fails on these and it's not too hard to replace but it's twelve bucks and you just need the power supply and you know controller and these chips and so we bought all that stuff the goal for today is to do a teardown on the VCS because Atari is taking so damn long on its actual new VCS that we'll be able to get this fixed and we could probably even build our own VCS inside of this before there's ever comes out so that's kind of the plan for this content we might have some

Follow-ups with doing a mini ITX build depending on the interest but today we're gonna clean this thing because it's nasty it's got a couple decades worth of Filth on it and then we're gonna see if we can get it to actually turn off before that this video is brought to you by us and our patreon page aside from the G n store one of the best ways to support our high expenditure on testing quality and equipment is to join our patreon page we've been posting weekly behind-the-scenes videos lately to update our backers on developments at G

N you can gain access to our patreon discord videos featuring other team members and patrons ask G n videos at patreon.com slash gamers and access the funding has been going straight into maintaining our testing quality learn more at the link in the description below okay so for the VCS we have this as I understand it this was originally the video computer system later it was rebranded to the Atari 2600 there might be some minutiae there so feel free to leave it in the comments if so but I think we've pinpointed this we've carbon-dated this one to about 1982 1982

It sounds like pre 1980 I guess the differences were the switches here these physical hardware switches which control things like game selection game reset power and TV type black and white or color these there were six on the original there's four on this model and I think that pinpoints us to the early 80s and then also the wood veneer has changed over time as well so you'll see those differences between the models so this is not the first but it's one of the earlier units and on the backside also if you're not familiar with these which I was not I've never owned one of

These working or not working before so I got it for 12 bucks broken in theory and on the back we've got left controller right controller we have a channel select over here and then we've got a difficulty switch for each player so this goes from expert to novice and that's it's a physical Hardware switch for difficulty which is pretty cool and then also power and I'm sure a lot of people in the comments are gonna be like I can't believe he's never had or seen one of these before but I think I've seen them in stores but never actually thought to purchase one and it seems

Like a fun repair project so that's what we're gonna work on today I'm going to recruit Patrick for that so we'll get Patrick over here and we can start the cleaning and disassembly process I see you've come prepared ready yeah the the main issue we had here is I mean we kind of knew this is too old to have just a normal composite RCA jack on it so this is a this would go into the RF like like coax Jack on a TV but obviously this is not a normal coax plug like you would see like a like a cable plug so that's what happened the first thing we bought is one of these adapters from just like

A normal RCA style jack to like a cable coax jack that you would get on a normal TV of a certain age yeah so we can adapt it you've got one of those TVs you have a tube TV you brought in there so we'll be able to test it we also needed controllers so all this I bought it just on eBay we got the system for $12 I guess marked down because it didn't have anything with it or working internals apparently I bought the replacement chips we didn't know which one we needed I'm impatient I'm making this for a video anyway so you have to

Remember we're making money off the content it's not like we're doing this just to play the games but if you're doing this as a hobbyist was trying to restore you can spend less money than I was I think the riot chip is the one that's apparently the most common to break it's called the it's like they called it a riot chip I don't know so that was about $9 and I got the other two for maybe combined five or something like that so I think we spent about $15 on these three could have done a cheaper but they're on the cassette they did throw

On look it's that Holder yeah which I'm planning to use we have some cassette overflow we have them mix the gamers nexus mix yeah and free drop-in @gn mixtape with only Atari video game music on so speaking of video game music and Atari we also picked up I think I don't know first 12 games I bought something haven't arrived yet but yeah we picked up a bunch of games it was the pricing after shipping was about the same once I could buy one game and spend like $15 to get it here so I just bought a bunch of woman spent a little more we got two controllers and

The big thing here though is that this unit is just gross I mean it's been in deployment for decades and depending on how the previous owner kept it who knows what we're dealing with but we're gonna clean it out first and then we'll do the chip repair once we open it up get in there and and try and swap and see if we get its work I also bought this which is a chip puller you bought two more things but I see by the power supply see oh that's rich that's the high that's a good one you want to tell us story about this oh yeah well first off they have what is I'm assuming just a xeroxed

Sticker from the original charger and then it says same as on top in a different font so they just copied the sticker and wrote the same house and their manufacturer named it as a sticker say Atari and it does have the original crease mark and damage that the source copy had and it also has the same Jack on the end the original head which is just a 3.5 millimeter mono audio jack yeah for your power yep so that's a fun so a fun dangerous thing to have our hounds there we go can power our yeah plug that right in charge my phone with this that's how it works so

For those of us who still have 3.5 Jack's that is everybody in gamers Nexus yes still has because we bought my 5 millimeter audio check my real phones once every five years yeah and then that's our chip puller that we're gonna try out you can do it with a Phillips or a flathead screwdriver apparently but I wanted to just try that tool cuz it never had one before ok let's let's clean it alright see you later yeah so one thing I want to do with this obviously will restore it we're gonna get it working the repairs on these are supposed to be pretty easy

From what I saw in YouTube websites got videos on it and repairs looked easy so one of the other ideas I had was potentially doing a like stripping it later and maybe doing a build in it if we wanted to we'd have to cut hole somewhere right to route the cables but I think we could fit an ITX build in there if we wanted I just don't know if I want to destroy the shell you mean but there's I should say this there's like thousands of these on eBay they're in no short supply yeah if you're um if you begin to feel bad about how we treat this Atari at any point

Feel free to look at eBay because they are they are cheap and everyone's it they are extremely readily available with with accessories and so on if they regretted this design life like later they were like we shouldn't put grooves that stuff can get stuck well you can check because they've revised the design like a million times the I don't that was a quick pan Angier I don't know how accurate that says but the the Wikipedia page claims that they stopped making these in like 92 or something which is ok as a very long life way longer than

This deserves yeah you can people complain about like 10 year lifecycle of consoles now and you look at this thing around from late seventies through at least late eighties mmm-hmm maybe early 90s oh yes dirty all of this dirt was part of somebody at some point there are their pets yeah that's another common one there's still a lot of stuff in there yeah so I don't know how we really get that out I think at a certain point we just because this cover seems like it might be distinct from the rest of it and if we end up taking it apart and

This cover comes off then we can just get a the toothbrush and just yeah wipe it off okay good let's take it apart I guess all right so I would assume it's the two screws in there this is before this is before companies tried to prohibit anyone from ever doing anything to their electronics they bought yeah because it's a Phillips head instead of a game bit example would you ever need things screw out that's true why would you do that when you could just buy anything another phone this is already feeling loose and like at some point a ps5 is gonna come out

And there's a pretty good chance that we're gonna take it apart here and there's also a pretty good chance that we're gonna do flashbacks to us taking four screws out of an Atari and having come apart the Xbox one axe to its credit when we did that turn on it was incredibly easy to do maintenance song like they had all the parts numbered mm-hmm which I really liked but I suspect it's more for the RMA Department that's uh that's a very crispy sound it just yeah yeah some plastic snaps in there no easy okay pull up on the front so that Brazilian

Walnut we were talking about Mia Oh gross ooh juicy I'm gonna roll up my sleeves I'm gonna get into this I have gloves so it is a little bit crisps but honestly everything in here looks like like nothing's rusty manufacture date 1980 ruin 14 mm-hmm just gigantic fat traces all over the PCV that's pretty insane actually a little heat sinking right here and like we're grounding what I really like is like if we put this back roughly where it was I mean I guess it's told it up like this like this is how much of the internal area of the case is

Actually the console yeah and then this is how much of the console there is yeah just they could have made it smaller I think and they're not really you know thermal is not really concerned yeah in this box I bet they were making it like the width of a VCR or an amplifier or something you're like trying to like put it in a make it fit in with the console maybe yeah yeah it's pretty gross in that one spot figured out you know how there used to be six which is yeah they're just like something revision five marked right there oh really how these blinks on the I

Think that's what these are like well I think it's like where they would have cut the hole if it had one so I mean I feel like if I read my house or something I would just spray this with like with a garden hose and yeah I feel like that's the most effective way to clean it you got a scrubber D on it I was thinking displace it with force of water well let me grab a toothbrush since write that I don't want to go outside I don't know why he doesn't want to come out here this is one used to clean water coin stuff so it might be kind of dirty

Already and if we just kept this under water it would look great that's how that always works we clean something that's it looks great in the water then it dries off and it just looks yeah like there's dried gross stuff everywhere your depth perception is not gonna work thank you for these two drops and soap so I remember everyone wash your Atari every six months this is an interesting approach they have here where the the video cable has these like I mean there's like a string relief cutout right here but then it's also just soldered directly to the motherboard so

You know if you gave this video cable a good yank you could just I guess pull it straight off the board this is the port I think Steve's okay with missing when we clean the bottom half didn't seem like he was super excited about this I guess you know when you have a console where like 80% of the Interior is empty air then your odds are pretty good when you spill liquid on to it that it's not gonna hit anything important all right this is going in the parking lot removing the patina Willers the value the patina of cat hair in dirt it's uh

40 year old QC marks yeah that person is probably retired now yeah if there are any uh 30 70 year old QC former QC Atari yeah doesn't know that to you okay so I walked away for a minute Patrick cleaned the rest of it and left the QC marks on there yeah so what is the health of the cleaning we just scrubbed out some of these channels here and I mean that's really a it seems a lot cleaner now we'd maybe have some dust residue in the corners now that just try it out but in the future this faceplate pops out okay you could maybe pop this off and then do more aggressive cleaning on the black

Part but right for right now this seems like and then the part one was part with the Atari juice is that yes the Atari juice is fully gone okay you can put somewhere it we need a place the Jews don't need more Atari juice listens on rats on 30 years of gross so yeah it looks pretty good now this is out we've test booted this and actually so it was twelve dollars because it said needs chip or missing chip or something like that hmm but it appears to work fine yeah like without any issues at all as fine as an Atari ever works yeah so initially you

Were a bit confused cuz the game why'd you start with it I started with the Phoenix which is this one right here which has a demo mode which is a weird yeah I would not think that yeah a cartridge that can barely hold any game at all would have space dedicated to demo mode yeah but it flashes through like a series of rainbow colors and I haven't looked at a let's play but it seems like that's just what the game does does yeah so at first we thought maybe it was a problem with the console and maybe that's what needed to be replaced

Maybe that also the game art on this looks awesome and I would hit one for it oh I would fall for all of these I would fall for the baseball game yeah but yeah I wouldn't fall for a real baseball game yeah then you you plug it in though and I mean it looks like you would expect yeah so it's definitely very much a suspenseful heat but anyway it works and that kind of puts a damper I plan for a video so I was like let's buy this thing and refurbish it that'll be a lot of fun it's got VCS in the title that's a hot topic because Atari doesn't know how to make one mm-hmm and but we got one

Quoting The Verge on it and then the whole like let's replace the chip and see if we can fix it it doesn't apply anymore but I want to replace it anyway or some of them all of them I don't know just to get experience with trying it and see and it gives us a bit more to try out we bought the parts anyway so play around with that and then I guess we'll just have newer chips in there we could always swap them back out afterwards I just kind of try it out so my understanding is there under this metal plate mm-hmm and did you look at is that held in with just tabs here yeah

ABS we're assuming this hasn't been done before this oh yeah I wonder which three chip supporting in her place yeah that we gotta be careful of that that's a little close but I think this works just like this oh yeah that socket sitting pretty nicely I was messing with it earlier it looks like when you when you apply pressure once those are hooked end it should like if you push your hands together now and squeeze it should pull up yeah nice that's pretty cool works very well definitely could do that with like a flat but that's a lot safer

Way to do it this one okay cool all right let's do one at a time I'll put it back down the same way I picked it up just in case okay so case this should be the way this goes in these just push well we have two of them okay cool well I don't know to what end we are replacing it members worked fine but we have the experience of doing it if anything we may end up with something that works worse now or not at all cuz I don't know if he's even work yeah they might they probably just Salvage them out of a dead board and sold them separately I bet although actually they

Were marked as new so they might be still being made I kind of scared of this one there's that small piece right there mm-hmm yeah about that it's hard to get a grip with the pieces on either side of it mm-hmm kind of afraid of ripping them off say can we leave those alone for now yeah sounds not moving that scratch is superficial so just stop there a little worried about pushing too hard and snapping that or pulling it out and snapping that well what we can do is take the bottom part off and see what's under here as well while we're at it ton

Of traces so well yeah yeah not by today's standards yeah that is not a dance piece you that's like a couple layers on that PCB they're handmade these things what if it was made in the US oh yeah to match up the bun yeah okay do you feel like you're in a flight deck yes the guide I read online said that um you could tell whether your power adapter was working or not by whether it sparks when you plug in does that means it's good I mean it's working if it does spark yeah okay watch you unplug that and get the controller plugged in first I don't

I don't know if he needs a controller of it okay for safety of the device there's gonna be some people watching where when they played games they didn't have to set their TVs to a certain channel all right let's fix this ATAR he doesn't need the other chip back in it was it pull it up yeah all right well well we fixed the Atari Wow oh yeah it was broken well apparently she put et in there apparently if I wanted to have a video about fixing the Atari what we should have done is put the replacement chip we

Bought on eBay in there mmm but break it and then put the one that came with it back it's kind of incredible that every like every non-generic component in here is just a socketable chip that you can buy replacement and change it yourself yeah yeah it's pretty cool not that they wanted to do that or that they didn't want you to do I feel like I need to go back to gogo toys and offer to pay them the difference I don't know what we're feeling we're not counting like staff time we're probably into this maybe I don't know 50 70 dollars after all the shipping and stuff mm-hmm

Once those are the games come yeah so like four games the power cable the controllers the chips that we end up round eating 60 70 bucks subtract 10 15 for the chips which is not terrible really but it's not like we're doing this to try and make a profit and resell it to a store or anything it's a small well so that's our Atari video computer system it looks really nice we should finish assembling it so that we can get some shots of this mm Oh clean now so it looks really good it does work and super clean now there's some damage I

Didn't notice earlier down here in this corner on the previous owner but we're not gonna try and fix that overall I mean it looks basically new mm-hmm there's really not much wrong with it at this point we did swap back to the original chip that was in there so that that works now like it originally did and yeah I think at this point I think we're probably ready to just plug it in and try some games on it yeah and if it if it all works then we will have done what Atari has been unable to do for years which is get its old games running again on Hardware

Ships the authority VCS we have made an Atari VCS by which I mean we got one and then we cleaned it but yeah I think it'd be a fun project to maybe do our own Atari VCS in an Atari VCS box I don't particularly want to cut holes in this but I think we could do it in a really clean way and I mean honestly like you know it's cool to be able to play some old BCS games on this we're not gonna be pulling it out to do that a whole lot so it might be cool to build a VCS as Atari has been trying to do put it in this box and then we'll have to figure out how YouTube rules work for playing games on

It but the very least we could play actual license actually sold games on it mm-hmm so yeah it looks good I guess well we'll plug it in and try playing some games now and also very hard to play at a 110 degree angle oh I didn't know we were actually gonna fall okay I think here you go enjoy you play from a hey Jorge so that's the Atari VCS build we'll have some footage in here of Andrew and Pasha playing this thing while it was set up so we tried a couple games did baseball I think baseball was the favorite it's a

Two-player it's actually there's some mechanics to it and a little bit weird to control but Dad all works and it looks very very clean now so pretty good purchase for 12 bucks walking by it in a toy store that I didn't know was even the other day before and didn't even need the chips to repair it so yeah I I don't know I guess at some point we might do a build in this but for now I'm happy with leaving it as is and just taunting otário with it and saying when's the VCS happening because I want to do a teardown of the new one we need to buy three more broken Ataris and then

We can actually fix them with the chips yeah or two if that chip isn't working yes right and then we can start amassing them for four reasons nuclear research I guess if you have enough of them so that's it for this one thanks for watching subscribe for more good asteroid I Karen sexist on that that was not directly or patreon.com slash gamers Nexus so that you can help fund more a twelve dollar random purchases we'll see you all next time I got it this time I'm trying to get the ball back of the pictures that I could throw another pitch I'm throwing it to like

Outfielders oh yeah you can't find the ball anymore so you got a homerun well I all my inputs aren't doing anything I only have two it it's maybe you do not I did the right button hat you got it but okay I'm just wait for entry to run around the entire I feed go backwards I think it did first say hi Nana honey can take forever it's nice of the area

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