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The Atari 2600 or Atari Video Computer System (VCS) is a video game console released in September 1977. The 2600 runs a MOS Technology 6507 CPU and uses ROM cartridges for storing games.

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Cannot tune in my Atari 2600 to LCD or CRT...


I recently bought an untested Atari 2600 Vader unit. The unit looks in pristine condition, has the original box, insert and manuals which all look untouched. So I’m thinking that this unit had long been tucked away in a loft somewhere.

Anyhow, this made me quite hopeful that I could get the thing running but I’ve had absolutely no joy. I connected it to my LCD TV via the RF/Aerial, turned the Atari on and did an auto-tune which found something around channel 36/37. By something I mean a black screen. I tried fine tuning and found a few wavy lines but that’s as far as I could get.

I then took the Atari to someone who has a Sony Trinitron CRT. Connected it, tuned in and after fine tuning actually found some colour! Though this was just large blue and red columns.

So, I’m thinking that the unit is no good. I’ve looked at the board and it all seems fine, the RF cable looks in good nick too. Any ideas? Don’t want to start buying new cables and this and that if it’s not going to get the thing working.

Thanks in advance.

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This Atari didn’t come with a switch box, just an RF cable that runs from the modulator to the TV.

I’ll have a look for a new cable and failing that, contemplate installing a composite mod…possibly.


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Here’s how to tune it:

Tuning a pre-SCART console/computer

  1. Use a cartridge that you know works and make sure your console is switched on.
  2. Make sure your RF co-axial aerial cable is connected to both the console and TV.
  3. If the RF cable has a built in switch box make sure it is switched to ‘game‘ (or equivalent)
  4. Make sure your TV is set to analogue mode (consult your TV instruction manual if not sure how to achieve this)
  5. Pick a channel (nowadays most people are watching digital channels so just pick any)
  6. If it gives you the option to manually input a signal channel choose Ch. 36.
  7. If you can’t, try an auto tune.
  8. If this hasn’t worked and your TV will let you, try manually tuning the signal.
  9. If that doesn’t work buy a Commodore Pet and play old games on that. (last resort)
  10. On your Atari there is a switch that says channel 3 or 4. Put it on ch. 3 and put your Atari switch to ch. 3.

It could possibly be a bad switch box. Might want to test it with another system of some kind and make sure it is in working order. Also, make sure that you are using one of the manual setting switch boxes: the old kind with the "TV / Game" selector. Auto switch boxes sometimes don't want to work that well with older game consoles.

Anyways, if you are getting a signal, but it isn't that good, there's a nice place to start. Might not hurt to try another video cable too. In any case, good luck.

  1. hope this helped.

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Ross Colburn zal eeuwig dankbaar zijn.

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