A Line at a Time: The Atari 2600, Now with S-Video


78 points | by zdw 10 days ago


  • plasticbugs 10 days ago
    I have RGB modded my Atari 2600 with the Tim Worthington mod mentioned in the article. It’s one of the easier RGB mods in the retro games hobby scene. If this kind of thing sparks your interest, check out retrorgb.com where they’ve cataloged the video modding options for most older game consoles.
    • MenhirMike 10 days ago
      Somewhat OT, but I think that it's really unfortunate that North America got a 60 Hz TV standard, but didn't get the SCART Connector that makes RGB or even S-Video just natural. Composite video is one of those unfortunate mistakes in history, even though it might've been perfectly reasonable back in the day :( And even S-Video seems like a rarity in the US.
      • tredre3 10 days ago
        SCART was pretty great but not perfect.

        I lived part of the 90s in Europe and you really had to know where to buy your cables if you wanted the best quality. It was essentially a prequel to what we have now with USB-C. Not all cables had all pins wired up, you often ended up with composite quality. S-VIDEO support was very poor, you had to manually select it and not all equipment would accept it. Not all cables were shielded. Some equipment really hated hotplugging so you had to be careful with that too.

        • MenhirMike 10 days ago
          > Not all cables were shielded

          Oh, yeah, that brings back unpleasant memories. Also, if the SCART-end was cheaply made and you pull it out at an angle, the metal part could separate from the plastic part and got stuck in the socket.

          Okay, it's not a good connector really, but it was the standard way to get proper RGB in Europe, so I love it for that :)

          • toast0 10 days ago
            Having a RGB connection is pretty awesome. A better connector would have been nice, but the US never really got RGB for SDTV. Component video is more or less equivalent, but that didn't really appear until around the time of DVDs as I recall. Lots of DVD players supported it, including the PS2; but we had no mainstream way to get RGB from SNES or n64. Some other sixth generation systems also had component video; xbox, gamecube (early models only, there was digital video out and nintendo sold an encoder). Dreamcast could play most games with VGA out, but that's 480p, not 240p/480i.
            • plasticbugs 10 days ago
              Some older consoles can output RGB natively if you have the correct cable: including most SNES models (not the ‘mini’), every Sega console, Atari Jaguar and the Neo Geo home system. Interestingly, the SNES mini has the cleanest video signal of any SNES model directly out of the GPU but requires a mod to get RGB out of it.
    • lapetitejort 10 days ago
      I recently acquired a CRT with component and S-video in and went on a minor bender snatching up cables to improve video quality. I've only considered 90's consoles and beyond, but I may have to step backward to fill out a few older consoles. I may focus on the Colecovision, which has a module that plays Atari 2600 games (quite controversial at the time). There's also a USB-C power adapter to replace the giant fragile power brick.
  • the_third_wave 10 days ago
    OT: there is a comment [1] by one NonNefarious which seems to have been killed instantly (dead 7 minutes after posting). The comment itself seems to be relevant, free from the sort of claims and/or language which tend to get comments killed on this site but is was still killed. Checking this user's comment history [2] it becomes clear that all his comments in the last 11 months have been killed. The user has positive 'karma' so this is not the cause of his comments' untimely demise. What is the mechanism behind this killing spree? Is this an example of shadowbanning (which this site is not supposed to employ according to Dang), does someone have it out against this user and put a flag/downvote bot on his account?

    [1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=37571450

    [2] https://news.ycombinator.com/threads?id=NonNefarious

    • CommieBobDole 10 days ago
      Looking at the profile, the user was banned by dang on 2022-10-07 for "repeatedly breaking the site guidelines" in the comments for the submission "JetBrains Ring UI". It looks like what precipitated this was the user made a bunch of user-flagged comments starting with the evergreen "why is this on HN" and then arguing with the people who replied, eventually calling them 'shills' and 'children', at which point dang replied indicating that the account was now banned.
      • the_third_wave 10 days ago
        Well, the account is clearly not banned given that it still actively posts messages. It may be that the account is shadowbanned but I have been told by a reliable source - Dang - that HN does not employ shadowbanning. This is why I am surprised to see how anything posted by this user seems to be dead on or close to arrival.

        I can only assume that HN does indeed employ shadowbanning and that my information on that front is incorrect.

        • CommieBobDole 9 days ago
          Posts from banned users show up as 'dead', which means you have to turn 'showdead' on in your settings to see them; they are invisible to users who have not activated this setting. Maybe there's another kind of ban that prevents posting entirely, I don't know.

          I don't think that dang claims that there is no shadowbanning on HN, or at least he no longer does if he has in the past; the post from him below details who gets shadowbanned and who doesn't. Basically, users with a posting history get the same ban as spammers, but they're told that they've been banned, while spammers are not.


    • ShadowBanThis01 4 days ago
      Thanks for bringing this up.

      I was told that there's no "shadow banning," which is obviously not true.

      There's also no excuse for letting people type out a lengthy comment or question and THEN rejecting it with a throttling response. If we can't reply, the Reply button should be disabled. It's deliberately and monumentally rude.

    • mixmastamyk 10 days ago
      It happens pretty often, a lot of accounts are penalized for not being sufficiently devout to HN guidelines. You'll find most of their comments are fine, even helpful. But, have a bad day, an unpopular opinion, or be rude once in a while and your account will be penalized, whether by automated rules or targeted by moderator.

      Another example: One day dang didn't like one of my comments and my account has been saddled ever since... I can't post more than three times per three hours or so. Otherwise it says "slow down!" If it told me ahead of time it would be OK, but it waits until I've written a lengthy post, only to lose it on submit. :D :-/

      • phone8675309 10 days ago
        I get hit by this as well, so I just comment less, which is probably the intended result.
      • NonNefarious 4 days ago
      • helf 10 days ago
    • helf 10 days ago
  • musicale 9 days ago
    > F-1 Race is attributed to programming genius Satoru Iwata, who’s appeared on this blog before.

    I still have his gold pants Mii on my 3DS. ;-)

  • joemi 9 days ago
    I'm thrilled this was posted, because now I've discovered a great blog to read. This level of writing about these topics are totally what I'm into. I opened most of the links in the post in new tabs, and now I've got a lot of reading to do.

    I'm surprised I haven't come across Nicole's blog before now.

  • Aldipower 10 days ago
    I really can suggest the Atari 2600 CleanComp. It is a PCB directly soldered at the pins of the TIA chip. No internal wiring needed! You get composite AND s-video from it and the video quality is just superb. I am not related to the Atari 2600 CleanComp guys. Just a happy user. :)
  • onewheeltom 9 days ago
    I ordered some s-video conversion PCBs from Parker Dillman back in 2010. Worked great.
  • NonNefarious 10 days ago
    The Atari computers (except the 400) had S-video from the very beginning, and the JVC-made Commodore 1702 is a great match for them because it has separate luma & chroma inputs.

    Interestingly, LaserDisc players, the best consumer video medium until the late '90s, mostly didn't have S-video outputs because the luma & chroma signals were mixed on the disc; providing a separate output for each wouldn't have gained you anything.

    • nicole_express 9 days ago
      I believe the Atari 8-bit computers' CTIA/GTIA chips generate their video output through pins in much the same way as the TIA, with digital luminance and a color output, so it makes sense that S-Video (or I guess I should say "some sort of separated luminance/chrominance", since the S-Video standard didn't exist yet) would be the way to go for a higher-quality picture there.