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Atari
October 29th, 2005, 10:15 AM
Hi I just bought an Atari 400. I found it in a thrift shop in a box with 4 controllers, the switch box, and the power supply.

It was not priced and the lady was not sure what is was (most don't know much about these anyway) so she asked the manager who looked at it and said no more than 5 dollars. I was not sure if $5 bucks was too much given there is no way to test it, but I had heard Atari video games were collectible, so what the heck?

I took the filthy thing home. I have cleaned it but that is it.

Now there are somethings I can see need to get fixed, first the RF cable has been cut off, how do I reattach it to the computer? Also, it has the old 2 wires coming out of the switch box like you screw on the terminals of an old TV, but how do you convert this to an RCA plug like on my newer TV?

If it works, how do you operate it? In the slot there is a cartridge that says Atari Basic Language?! Is this a game cartridge? Will the computer operate with no cartridge inserted? Or do I have to buy more cartidges if I want to play games?

Terry Yager
October 29th, 2005, 11:23 AM
You won't be able to jack it into the direct-video (RCA) jack on the TV from the RF modulator (switch-box). You need to go to the F-jack that your antenna or cable normally goes to. Adaptors for this purpose are readily available (RatShack, etc).

BASIC is a programming language, so you'll probably want to find more carts with games on them. The Atari will only run BASIC as it is now, but you can get many old books to teach programming in BASIC. There are also books available with pre-written programs that you can type-in (copy) to the computer, so yes, it should be usable.

Other options for the 400 include tape drives and floppy disk drives. Many game and other programs are distributed on cassette tape and disk.

--T

Atari
October 29th, 2005, 03:09 PM
Thanks, I was finally able to get it hooked up and it does work. You're right about the program, all I got was a blue screen saying READY with a cursor. Without the cart, I get the same screen that says ATARI MEMOPAD.

Guess I'll have to look for some more carts.

Also, is the picture usually supposed to be shaky? The letters are clear, but it looks like alot of interference, even though nothing else is hooked up. The beeps are sounding clear though.

Is there any websites with BASIC 'basics' for example how to execute, and get the upper characters on the top row of keys: ( ! @ # $, etc? I held the shift key and pressed them but it still typed numbers.


Thanks again.

Terry Yager
October 29th, 2005, 03:33 PM
Is there any websites with BASIC 'basics' for example how to execute, and get the upper characters on the top row of keys: ( ! @ # $, etc? I held the shift key and pressed them but it still typed numbers.

You don't have to swear at it...

You can browse around here for a bit, it's always a good place to start:

http://www.atariarchives.org/

You might even have a look at Curt's page:

http://www.atarimuseum.com/

The "shaky" screen is probably a bad connection or a dirty or corroded modulator switch. Try a little tuner cleaner.

--T

Atari
November 1st, 2005, 05:18 PM
Well I have it hooked into one of those VHS/UHF to coax boxes to convert it, so maybe that is why it is so shaky. But I might try some cleaner as you said.

I guess I'll have to keep an eye out for carts. I haven't seen any locally, but who knows.

BTW, in BASIC or notepad mode, is the shift key supposed to be working? I tried to put in some BASIC programs, but they require " $ # etc and I held down shift to type them, but it still types numbers. Am I doing something wrong?

Terry Yager
November 1st, 2005, 05:41 PM
Probably a dirty shift key.

--T

vic user
November 2nd, 2005, 06:32 AM
don't forget to check out Atari age too:

http://www.atariage.com/

they have links to the 8 bits there, and generally is loaded with info!

chris

carlsson
November 2nd, 2005, 11:26 AM
Does Atari 400 support both upper and lower case letters, so it would be possible to determine if the shift key is malfunctioning for both?

Atari
November 4th, 2005, 02:35 PM
Does Atari 400 support both upper and lower case letters, so it would be possible to determine if the shift key is malfunctioning for both?

Yes it does, but I have to press caps lock to get lowercase letters.

The keyboard has two Shift keys, but neither seem to be working. You would think at least one of the keys would work. All other keys seem to function.

Atari
November 20th, 2005, 06:18 AM
Well I took it all apart and vacuumed all the dust and whatever else out of it (it was DIRTY).

Also I unhooked the keyboard connector and plugged it back in firmly...

After I tried it out, it still works, but the shift and control keys still won't function? The keyboard and circuit boards looked fine, so I can't figure this out.

Any ideas?

carlsson
November 20th, 2005, 11:25 AM
It could be anything from a bad keyboard contact, via bad wiring to a malfunctioning chip. I believe someone on AtariAge might be able to help you diagnose what is wrong. Maybe you will end up disassembling the keyboard, cleaning it from the inside and renewing conductive layers if that is the problem.