All posts by benheck

Research & D

A new section! “Research & D”. The “D” because ‘Development’ didn’t fit on the line. Anyway, the Research & D section has info on my quest to build mass amounts of portable Ataris. At the moment I’m very close to having an easy-to-produce Revision 3. The last design kink to be ironed out was the rechargeable battery holder, and I believe I have that ready now. That and other things are outlined in Research & D. So give it a look!

“You’ll be a Man, my Son.”

On Friday, I shipped out the first Atari VCSp to be sold. “ATARITRADER.COM”  bought the VCSp Revision 2 (described on the VCSp Models page). He ‘traded in’ an Atari 2600 4-swtich and received $40 of the price! He was also gracious enough to send me a Ghostbusters cartridge as a gift! I loved that game on my Atari 800, and the 2600 version is pretty decent as well. Thanks Richard! I will post his review / comments of the system as soon as I get them.

The proceeds of this sale are going straight into the next VCSp, the Revision 3 and I am getting close to having them ready. My increasing proficiency and speed with the routing tools allows me to run off ‘test cases’ as I design them, instead of designing everything first and THEN routing it. The new controller layout, the new cartridge slot configuration, and the board size and position are finished. The last thing for me to test is the rechargeable battery holder. (Due to overwhelming support of the idea, all future VCSp’s will use Sony Info lithium rechargeable camcorder batteries.)

The completion of this new VCSp should come within the next week or so. These ‘Rev 3’ units are the ones that I feel can be made the easiest so I can sell them for $300. Once the VCSp Rev 3 is done, and I am confident that the construction methods are simplified enough, there will probably be a new section on the FEATURES menu…


Isn’t that a lovely thought?

They’re not officially ‘For Sale’ yet!

I have received a number of emails from people wishing to be on a ‘pre-order’ list for Ataris. I have indeed put them on a list because I didn’t explicitly say I wouldn’t.

However, to avoid any problems, I request that any further people wishing to be listed for ‘pre-sale’ please wait until I have made a formal announcement. I should have explained that when I talked about the tentative pricing (below) but I didn’t and it’s my fault. The cheap Rev 3 unit isn’t even finished yet and I want to make sure it CAN be done for $300 before I start officially taking orders. I’m pretty sure it can, but I don’t want to disappoint a bunch of people if something goes wrong.

I hope this is fair and reasonable. When it is time to pre-order, I will post the news to, and it will spread through the internet so you will know about it. Or, simply check back here every couple weeks. I do update quite often.

Oh, and hopefully I will have an update for the Vagabond section soon. I’ve got the COOLEST idea! Something I’ve wanted to do all along, and now it might actually work!

VCSp (tentative) Pricing Announcement

I am working on a third revision VCSp, as you may know. The purpose of this unit is to simplify construction time, which means a lower price when I sell it.

Using the same TFT active matrix screen as the first 2 Atari portables, I believe I can get the price in at around $300.

I also might look into some cheapo pocket TV’s they have at Radio Shack. If those TV’s work, they would bring the price down to around $240, although it seems Radio Shack is phasing them out, so it’s up in the air.

Lastly, if people were to send me an Atari 2600 4-switch to gut, that would take an additional $40 off the price.

One reason I’m pushing using a rechargeable battery on these things is because doing hookups for ONE battery is a lot simpler than doing hookups for FOUR batteries. (especially that 9 volt, it’s a bugger) Again, that saves time and money.

These prices allow me to make a little profit off each unit. Not enough to become rich by any means, but enough to not go in the hole. I won’t know for certain until I complete VCSp Revision 3, but I thought I’d announce my cost estimates now to see what people think.

A question I pose: (regarding VCSp’s For Sale)

I have been trying to figure out what sort of power source would be best for the VCSp’s that I want to sell. They currently take (3) AA’s and (1) 9 volt. I was thinking that it might be better if they took rechargeable camcorder batteries. (like the Vagabond plans) These batteries would cost from $40 to $150, depending on how much power / time you wanted. Best of all, they’d be rechargeable. I’d probably just let the VCSp buyers purchase their own and stick them in.

I guess the only issue here really is cost. Course, run through about 7 or 8 sets of batteries and you’ve got the $40 cost of a rechargeable.

I’d like to know what people think, I’m too lazy to set up a poll so please drop me a line and give me your take on the whole rechargeables VS non-rechargeable thing. Thanks!

If you have info on small LCD displays, please read:

A major stumbling block in my quest to build Ataris is the cost of the screens. As far as screens go, there are two choices.

Pocket TV’s have 2.5 to 3 inch screens, which is a good size, but since they can also receive TV signals they have a lot of excess circuitry and that wastes space.

Modular screens usually just have video IN jacks, they can’t receive TV signals off the air. And that’s fine, because all these portables use are composite video signals. But most modular screens don’t come smaller than 4 inch, and a lot of them use 12 volt power. That screen size is too big and 12 volts is more power than a portable can manage.

So if anyone has info on modular type screens that can accept a composite video input and don’t have much excess circuitry, I’d be very grateful if they could drop me a line. Ideal screen size would be from 2.5 to 3 inches diagonal. Ideal power consumption would be 5 volts or less, but as close to 5 as possible. This is part of my effort to bring down the price of Atari portables, and any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

NOTE – Game Boy / Game Gear screens will not work without modifications. I’m looking for info on small television/monitor screens only.

January 25th, 2001

We’ve (sort of) got a new look! I thought the site’s home page needed to be updated somewhat to accommodate more for the ‘news’ aspect of things. Now, the news you need is right near the top! And check out those cool buttons to the right! I did them myself! (In my other life I’m a graphic artist you know) I think they look more professional than the old ones (and they load slightly faster as well).

I’ve created a new section “VCSp Models”. It discuss the current revisions of portables I’m working on. Revision 1 being the original VCSp, Rev 2 being the blue one I’m going to sell (see below), and Rev 3 being the next version, hopefully smaller, faster, cheaper. The super-entertaining story behind the first VCSp can be found there, as well as lots of details on the new models.

The Vagabond section is the same as before… I’m still working on it, but it has taken a backseat to (Not-so) Secret Project X, which is my plan to mass-produce VCSp’s. I think people will agree with my priorities on this one. The Vagabond will be cool, but it will only benefit me. If I can make lots of VCSp’s, that will benefit other Atari lovers. So for now that’s my main goal.

A word of clarification on the unit types. The Vagabond is a much smaller type of Atari portable. It has a bigger screen, however. Also, it uses the newer Atari 2600 Junior board inside. It runs off rechargeable batteries similar to a digital camera. It’s functioning but the casing is not finished yet.

‘VCSp’ refers to the original portable I built, and the newer ones that I am trying to mass-produce. These are easier to build since they aren’t as small and compact as the Vagabond.