Composite Modding an Atari 2600 Jr

Mar 26, 2020 | Retro Gaming

I received a few Atari 2600’s as gifts or as part of another bundle I purchased and since I had more than one, I felt fine with keeping one stock and modding the other one for composite video and audio instead of the RF signal out. The RF out was absolutely awful and wasn’t even worth hooking up, not even the old CRT tv would hide its bad signal.

Because I wanted the mod to the reversible ( even though that is unlikely ) I decided not to drill any holes in the case but to find a 4 pin 3.5mm jack socket that could break out to 3 composite plugs. I had seen this same port of a portable SNES I had purchased a while back. A quick look and order on AliExpress and I was most of the way there. Once the order arrived I desoldered the original RF socket, broke out the connector to some hookup wire and hot glued the new plug in place of the old one. You would never know the difference once it was closed back up.

The Mod

Finding a mod that actually worked was the hardest part for the Jr. I started off with a passive mod that tapped off the video and audio signals, which then went through some caps and resistors and out to the jack. This version produced very sub-par results and was still very fuzzy and had bad colours. I ended up going back to the drawing board.

After some hunting around, I found some links to active mods for the larger Atari 2600’s. These used a transistor to boost the signal before outputting it and the audio was pretty much unchanged. A good starting point for the mod would be something like these posts of The Future was 8 Bit and This one as well. I ended up just making up a little stripboard version and hooked it up to the right spots.

The final output from the system was remarkably better than before, you can even see the pixels on the CRT! And from the outside, the mod looks clean and almost factory.

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