DIY Atari 2600 Power Supply




Introduction: DIY Atari 2600 Power Supply

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The kids found my old Atari 2600 in the basement and have been bugging me to set it up. I figured I'd just pull it out and plug it in. Mind you, I bought this thing almost 20 years ago and I think I have used it once. Needless to say I couldn't find the power adapter. To make it worse the power supply actually uses a 3.5 mm headphone jack at 9v 500ma. You don't see that a lot today. So.....MacGyver time!!!

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Step 1: Step1: Materials

For this quick mashup I used:

  1. 9v 1000ma power supply
  2. Mono headphone jack that laying around (you can get from Radio Shack)
  3. Fingernail clippers (best wire strippers ever!)
  4. Hot glue gun (who needs expensive silicone!)

Optionally (if you want to go full MacGyver)

  1. Pair of headphones (for the audio jack)
  2. Multimeter to verify polarity

Yes, I know that's not a 500ma supply but that's what I had laying around. The Atari will only pull the current it needs. Plus, this is a MacGyver style hookup

Step 2: Step2: Prep

Safety first! Make sure you know the polarity of the power supply you are using and the connector!!! The Atari needs positive power on the tip of the adapter. This is what we use the multimeter to check.

First take your power supply plug it in an validate which end is positive and negative using the multimeters voltage function. If the red lead is on positive and black is on negative you should NOT have a minus (-) symbol on the screen. If you do reverse the leads and you should remove the minus. That will show you the correct polarity.

Next, cut the adapter off of the chord. This will leave you with two wires. Strip the insulation about an inch off each wire using the fingernail clippers. If you want to double check which wire is which polarity you can use the multimeter diode check on the connector you just cut. Check the continuity between each wire and the connector plug to double check.

If you are using a ready made 3.5mm jack, just remember the positive goes to the tip. Ground goes on the other connector.

If you are using a pair of headphones you will need to cut the connector off. Then strip the wires same as above. Use the multimeter to determine which wire connects to the tip. Then verify which wire connects to the shaft. That will be the ground. You only need to connect these two wires to the power supply.

Step 3: Step 3: Connections

Now its time to put it together.

For the 3.5mm connector first slide the back up the wire. If you don't you wont be able to screw it on after you connect the wires. Then run the wires into the correct polarity holes. The positive will likely be shorter. The ground will be longer. Just make double sure you connect the positive to the tip.

Since we are going MacGyver style I used a hot glue gun to put plastic (insulator) between the connections. After that screw the cap on. Should be good to go.

For the headphones you will need to splice the positive wire from the power supply to the headphone connector. Do the same for the negative. Make sure to cover the slices with electrical tape or heat shrink.

Plug in the adapter and use the multimeter to verify correct voltage, polarity and current.

Step 4: Step 4: Fire Up the Atari

With your new adapter plug it in a fire up the Atari!!!!

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    2 years ago

    I have one as well and been contemplating getting it up and running. It is disassembled presently, but I know electronics so no biggie. We have tons of cartridges (games) for it and I used to enjoy the more simplistic type games on that thing. Nice project post!