Atari 2600 / 5200 / 7800

The original Atari home consoles only outputted audio and video via an RF connection.  There are currently mods for each system that allow you to output a much higher quality signal.  Please read below for more information.


Installation Service – RetroFixes now offers installation of all the following 2600 mods. If you’d rather not try this yourself, click here to have your console professionally serviced with RGB, S-Video or Composite mods.


Atari 2600: RGB Mod
The Atari 2600 now has an RGB upgrade kit available, that also allows for composite and S-Video output! This is made by the same person who created the NESRGB and N64RGB mods, Tim Worthington.
 I chose the simplest installation options with only RGB (not a VGA connector), audio and the palette switch, but there are many other options available:


Atari 2600 / 7800 Composite Kit
If you’d just like a basic way to play your 2600, the above composite video kit is cheap and easy to install.  If you’re just playing on an old consuber-grade CRT, this will look fine…and if nothing else, better then RF!


Atari 2600 / 5200 / 7800 S-Video Kit
A better quality (but more expensive solution) is an S-Video kit.  If you’re using an RGB monitor or Upscaler (on a flat screen TV), this will be noticably better then composite.  It’s my opinion that you’d be better off just doing the full RGB mod, since that also includes S-Video as well.

You could also try following a schematic and building your own S-Video mod, but unless you’re experienced in building circuits, it will bit a bit complicated.


RGB vs S-Video
I tried to do a quick comparison of both mods, but I couldn’t seem to capture what my eyes were seeing on my Sony PVM monitor.  I’ll try my best to explain it and hopefully update this page soon with a better picture comparison.  Basically, each mod looked excellent and was much better then RF.  The RGB mod was a tiny bit sharper, but the colors seemed much more defined and accurate.  Also, video scrolling seemed much smoother with the RGB mod, with less artifacts on the screen.  Click on the link below for the full-sized picture.


Other Notes:
– Neither of the kits were
 hard to install, but both were time consuming, as there are lots of pins to install (especially if you’re using the RGB mod with the 6-switch 2600…the adapter board takes forever to solder together!). Also, keep in mind that when you’re dealing with a 35+ year old console, things are bound to go wrong; capacitors are easily broken (or already leaking) and the voltage regulator almost always needs to be changed (although Tim’s kit comes with a brand new one). It might be a good idea to “refurbish” your system before installing any mod at all and look for broken components that need replacing.

– Another thing to note is some kits come with left and right audio separated to “fake” stereo, much like the NES stereo mod. I loved the NES stereo mod and always leave my NES at 50% stereo, but I didn’t like the way it sounded with the 2600. If you want full mono, you can either use a Y adapter, or just combine both signals into one jack.

– As an FYI, the French version of the Atari 7800 outputted RGB, but it was via an S-Video-to-RGB converter and not native RGB-output. 


That’s it for now!  I’ll update this page as any new mods become available.

If you’d like info on mods for other systems, head to the Getting RGB From Each System page or check out the main page for more retro-awesomeness.