Atari 2600 Portable Hand-built

Atari 2600 Portable, Hand-built
Chapter 16 of the book

Build a portable Atari 2600 system with a 3″ TFT display, built-in battery pack, new-style joypad and paddle controller.

This project can be constructed by hand using printed templates and hobby materials. You’ll also need a soldering iron, X-Acto knife, wire, screwdrivers and other common tools. Please note this is the most complex and time consuming project in the book.

Construction Resources

Once you’re ready to begin work on this project the links and information below will be of much help. All links open in a new window so you can easily come back here during your online part collection. This information is all contained in the book of course, but the book itself doesn’t have internet access 😉

Major Project Components

The two primary components of these projects are the original game systems, display and Sony Infolithium Type L battery. Below are the correct models to use, with a reference photo and easy-to-use automatic eBay search link.

Console model:
Atari 2600 4-switch
Automatic eBay search for this item (Atari 2600 4-switch)
Screen model:
Casio EV-680 Pocket TV
Automatic eBay search for this item (Casio EV-680 pocket TV)
Nintendo 8-bit standard controller (for buttons)
Automatic eBay search for this item (Standard NES controller)

Electronic Components Lists and Part Numbers

I’ve separated the electronics parts list into what you can get online from Mouser ( and what you’ll still need to find at Radio Shack. Therefore the two lists below are the same as the single list in the book. You’ll still need everything from both lists, but the more things you can get online from Mouser the cheaper it’ll be.

Unlike Digi-Key, Mouser’s website has no minimum order so it’s handy for the experimenter, plus they have good prices. Please note that the items for modding the Casio TV screen (10 ohm resistors and white LED’s) are also included on this list. Using this list you can easily copy/paste the part numbers into Mouser’s web site (or Radio Shack’s, below) to complete on online order. Sure beats typing!

You can get a good price on single Ni-MH batteries from Mouser, so they are listed below as well. You’ll need (6) AA’s total. Note the three choices available – the higher the mAh rating the longer they’ll last. Choose which fits your budget.

Atari 2600 hand built
Electronic Parts List from Mouser:

# Part Name Quantity Vendor Vendor Part #
1 4.5mm Tact Switch 8 Mouser, Inc. 688-SKHRAA
2 10 ohm resistor (screen mod) 1 Mouser, Inc. 660-CF1/4L100J
3 EPD Battery Holders 3XAA 2 Mouser, Inc. 12BH331-R
4 T1 size white LED (screen mod) 2 Mouser, Inc. 606-CMD204UWC
5 7805 regulator 1 Mouser, Inc. 512-KA7805AETU
Chose a type of Ni-MH rechargeable battery:
6 1300mAh Standard Series 6 Mouser, Inc. 573-GP130AA
6 1600mAh High Capacity (better, more $) 6 Mouser, Inc. 573-GP160AA
6 1800mAh High Capacity (even better, even more $) 6 Mouser, Inc. 573-GP180AAHC

Below are the Radio Shack electronics parts. Mostly the bigger, more mechanical stuff, plus the PC boards.

Atari 2600 hand built
Electronic Parts List from Radio Shack (stores or online):

# Part Name Quantity Vendor Vendor Part #
1 General-purpose PC board 1 Radio Shack 276-147
2 Phono jack 1 Radio Shack 274-246A
3 Chrome knob 1 Radio Shack 274-424
4 SPST submini Slide Switch 1 Radio Shack 275-406
5 1 meg ohm linear-taper potentiometer 1 Radio Shack 271-211

For remaining materials (screws, glues, plastics) please see the book.

Support Files

Contained in this single ZIP archive are all the files you need for this project. See book for more details. Includes templates, patterns and printable decal graphics.


Changes, Updates and Error Corrections

This section contains information on things that may have changed since the printing of the book, corrections to any errors found and better ways of building the projects, if applicable.

New and improved composite video mod for the Atari 2600

NOTE: Now includes update for different model Atari 2600 4-switch boards.

I came up with this as I was working on a new project. Gives a cleaner picture with less interference. Also isolates the sound circuit from the video. If you’re just modifying an Atari for use with a normal TV it also increases compatibility (with newer sets especially)

Click here to visit the “how to” page for it.

Easy way to bypass the “Stupid 8-DIP IC” found on some model Atari 2600 4-switch boards.

In the book I suggest hacking the 8-DIP IC off the board, or cutting a small section. That’s all well and good but since then I’ve found you can “remake” that circuit using only a capacitor and resistor. It’s a lot easier!

Click here to visit the “how to” page for it.

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