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Thread: Intellivision Black Screen Death

  1. #1
    Insert Coin (Level 0)
    Join Date
    Feb 2009

    Default Intellivision Black Screen Death

    So the 18 dollar as-is Intellivision I picked up has the Black Screen of Death.

    I cleaned the carts and blew out the cartridge slot. Still no love.

    I pulled it apart and went over the power supply with a multi-meter all of the voltages seem pretty good. I guess the next step is the logic board, but I'm not really sure where to start with that.

    Anyone have suggestions?


  2. #2
    Insert Coin (Level 0)
    Join Date
    Feb 2009

    Default Update: (The) Intellivision lives!'s working...I'll tell you why/how in a second, but first, a brief message to the Mattel hardware engineers:

    Listen up, you primitive screwheads. Look, I know it was the late seventies. I understand that your time was consumed with polishing disco balls, picking up your leisure suits from the laundry, applying ointments to the herpes you contracted during the earlier 'free love' era, and coming down off the quaaludes. But that's no excuse. FIVE extra minutes of design time would have allowed you to create an RF shield that used simple, easily removable screws instead of the solder based monstrosity you created for the Intellivision. My cat would also like to invite you to take a solder sucker and stick it where the sun don't shine, because as I was removing the RF shielding from the logic board, I had to use MY solder sucker A LOT. And it sounds amazingly similar to the VetJet injector they use to give the kittys their feline leukemia vaccines at the vet. The poor guy was reacting worse than a vet with PTSD at a fireworks show.

    Anyway, I removed the 2 pounds of solder that held the RF shielding around the logic board and took a look at the board. The only other electronics from this era I've worked on has been a 2600. The Atari guys back in the day seemed to have hired Tom Sawyer to trick his friends into hand painting a 1/4" layer of shellac over the logic board to prevent corrosion and protect the copper traces. Mattel instead decided to coat the copper traces with a thick layer of solder and leave the board without shellac. I'm not sure how common it is, but I have a pretty good indication of how it well it works. It doesn't.

    You know those big, impressive (usually government) buildings with the copper roofs? Usually capitol buildings? They're always greenish/blue looking because they develop a layer of patina over the copper after a few years. Yeah. That's the color the traces all around the second controller port were. Amazingly, the patina had even lept up off the copper traces on the board and onto the non-copper controller plug pins. I pulled the controller connector off, and after a half an hour of (gently) brushing/scrubbing/licking/yelling, I'd managed to get back down to the copper. I applied a fresh layer of solder over all of it (Hey, why not? If it's good enough for 1979, it's good enough for 2009!) and reconnected the controller port.

    I plugged the whole thing in, powered it up, and wouldn't you know it..! didn't work. Fed up, I decided to place the whole thing back in the box and deal with it later. having cleaned everything internally, I began piecing it back together exactly as it came out. This included wrapping the rf shielding back around the unit (but not soldering it, because I was waiting for you good folks on here to tell me exactly which part(s) I needed to replace to bring it back to life...). Once it was all back together, I thought, "What the hell, I'll try it one more time..." I plugged it in, hooked it up to the TV, stuck a cart in (Donkey Kong, the only cart that came with it, though I'd borrowed a couple of other games from a buddy of mine for testing purposes), and...SUCCESS! of course, I had to tear it back apart to solder the RF shielding back together. Bah.

    Anyway, it's back together, cleaned, shiny...the best that 1979 had to offer. I've also discovered that I have another gaming option when I'm feeling particularly masochistic. Coleco, not content with allowing Atari to keep the 'worst-console-port-ever' award they won with Pac-man, decided to one-up them with their Intellivision Donkey Kong port*. Awful, awful game.

    Anyway, it looks like it's good for another 30 years. (Fingers crossed...)

    * I actually didn't bother to check to see whether the Intellivision Donkey Kong port came out before or after the Atari 2600 Pac-man port....the point remains, they're both terrible ports.

  3. #3
    Pear (Level 6) OldSchoolGamer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Kelowna B.C. Canada


    ! Thanks for my daily laugh! Good reply!
    My DP Refs MaximumRD Classic Gaming and Computing Me in a Nutshell (NOT LITERALLY!)

  4. #4
    Pretzel (Level 4)
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Living in a Yellow Submarine


    the designing of the wrap around RF shielding and disco balls part made my day!...
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