Add Pause Button To The Atari 2600

We’re sure that if there had been a pause button on the Atari 2600 people would never have moved on to next-generation systems. Now you can dig the gaming relic out of the closet and pause your Atari games for some good old om nom nom.This hack is from the same person who pulled off the Atari 2600 jukebox. By reverse engineering the signals used on the Onyx Jr., which has a pause button, the halt method became clear.

The problem is that the Onyx Jr. uses a different processor than the 2600. A different processor means a different pin-out, and now the clock signal needed to synchronize the pause cycle was missing. But eureka, an abstract source was found. The ready signal from another chip can be used to judge the state of the processor. The small PCB above now interfaces with the Atari 2600 in order to patch in the pause circuit.

[Thanks again Yuppicide, keep ’em coming!]

21 thoughts on “Add Pause Button To The Atari 2600

  1. @Chris: If memory serves me, the 2600 just uses a mono headphone connector for power, and the wall wart produces 9v AC.

    The power input on the back dumps straight into a 7805, anyway.

  2. Can somebody just confirm something for me as Im having a special moment…

    The circuit basically operates as a latch that only holds the output low when the TIA output falls and the switch is currently pressed (output low). If the switch is high then the TIA output is just passed to the CPU?

    Im clearly struggling with my logic simplifications since I just cannot seem to spot the combination of gates that make the flip-flop style circuit required for this logic… Time for some revision I fear!

  3. I can see where you are coming from however I meant that the gates operate as a latch in so far as they hold the CPU signal low when the TIA first goes low (synchronising).

    Given that is how they operate do you think there will be any noticable delay in gameplay from this device? It is essentially delaying signals all the time and occasionally holding it (for the pause). Though I guess if these signals only change a few times a second then it doesnt matter with a few CMOS delays inserted.

  4. @Chris: The 2600 builds each scanline of the frame via software. If there was any significant delay to TIA writes the artifacts would be totally obvious.

    Remember we’re talking about a console that operates at 1.19 MHz.

  5. Hiya,
    Love your work, and what you have done! Amazing job….
    Do you think you could possibly help me out on a current project I am working on? It invovles Python…and force sensors, and basically wiring it all up (using rs232) so that i can simulate around blender?

  6. 1st you should know 9vDC is used not ac its a pcb.
    anyway I like to be an ass at 1st then become nice..
    A couple of tips for Atari 2600 and other pcb users.
    1st the pcb uses 5vDC after the dioed and the CApacitor aftet the switch the capacitor is filtered for less ripple on scope reading so aftet the switch you can get 5v DC the 7805 or 5v regulator produces 5v DC for the 2600 anyway you can just solder 5v into the capacitor before the switch if you want I suggest just using a 9v DC power pack but make shure it has a good capacitor and 4 diodes cause any AC will mostly always F up a pcb running on DC Ie Arcade pacman pcb uses DC voltages but they ran Ac into it cause they were cheap and transformers were cheap in 197X bad design in todays standards! EVEN A ARCADE
    Power suppply in todays standards even if its a switching arcade power supply its crap unless its a Golden Tee type witch is just a ATX 20 pin connector power supply with the connectors removed and replaced w only whats needed in Game pcb.
    SO for a Atari 2600 power supply a great power supply is taken from a crap compaq pentuim II or
    5×86 motherboard keep chip for youre collection and harddrive memmory cd rom and pci cards then steal the power supply compaq spare power supply.
    to turn on most atx power supplys w out power on switch witch switches the outlet input and has no way of turning on exept the motherboard signal then VIOLA a easy way to power most power supplys is to short the 4th wire to ground you can just use a switch to short wire to ground and use it to turn power supply on and off at will if you short a power wire to gnd or short 2 lines together it will

    CROW BAR and shut down to reset just unplug till you hear a hiss noise DIE usually 4 seconds then when you replug ac line it will come back on most times unless you toasted it OS DONT SHORT 5v to ground the 5v line can exceede 20 amps in good power supplys and NO you can not over run the current to an input but a crappy NON switching arcade power supply w crappy ripple protection and ac leakage on the output can FUCK up any pcb running on Dc Cause it leaks ac .. I tested the power supply witch came w my arcade cabinet and found out the arcade power supply ” blue color ” even though it was a switching power supply it could not maintain 5v it swang all over the place and also leaked AC on the line I looked at it w a scope and found all kinds of static on the line and when i turned the bathroom flourecent lights on the started in the bathroom light made a SPIKE on the power supply witch never showed up on the compaq ATX power supply so my point is if you want t power supply for 5v or 12v or even 3.3v use a computer power supply and yes you can use the 24 pin ones you just dont use the pins UNLESS ITS A computer motherboard like a trivia Merit pcb then its just a computer running a special dos! anyway back to the power supply here is the pin.
    its pin 16 look here.

    anyway I have used computer power supplys for years now I discovered pin 16 witch i still call pin 4 cause i never looked at the actuall pin number till i looked on wiki and found out the pins are actually numbered on the connectors sometimes and pin 4 is actually pin 16 so i was wrong anyway ..
    hook up pin 16 to gnd or a switch then hook the black any black wire I usually rip apart a computer fan bender gender bender adaptor for computer fan supply and snip off the output and just take up one drive connector and use that one incase i want to reuse the power supply i just butt connector or scotch lock it back and use on computer . mostly i never use power supplies i butchared for computer again ..
    they are great and put out 5v 3.3v and 12v all at the same time and the bigger the wattage the bigger the 12v rail and the 5v rail is.
    you dont neeed more than a 100w power supply for Atari even a 90w power supply for a mini pcb will work.
    the cool thing about using a ATX power supply is if you short any wire out it shuts off w out blowing a chip up most of the time it has saved me from ruining many things testing them before soldering power..

    ok rant over back to Atari now

    on the 2600 if you make a 2600 witch has a blown chip into a flashback II mod it works great just leave the whole pcb on place and remove the rf modulator and the rf cover and the chips or you can keep them there if you want for storage anyway you wont need any of the parts EXEPT the power section leave that there remove the rf cable and use it in youre stereo for a long run! yea a free cable!! anyway/
    flashback I used the b/w switch for built in and cart mode i seperated the foil from the motherboard on the black and white color selecti ion switch cause jumper on cart jumper off on cart and jumper on for built in so having 2 selections on a dual switch single pole one moving part and double pole single moving part single throw double pole means it has two switchis lines on the left i used up to turn on middle conneciton on left side
    common not touching right common not connected on foil either so it was isolated from the pcb.
    i hooked the left common to A10 on the cart ridge connector the cartridge slot and the cart slot i used ide ribbon cable to connect to flashback II rev the one w the easy to find jumpers the other flashback ii i trashed getting mad and the fact that i could not find the connections anyway who cares i got it cheap I now have a extra flashback case .. ok the common on the left goes to A10 on cart slot and the top line on the left side goes to flashback where it said to go on mod instructions then the right side common goes to memmory on a10 output from built in memmory from flashback jumper point solder piont to middle wire common on right side of b/w switch then the top wire on right b/w switch goes where the built in memmory a10 line goes on solder point so in other words you turn on built in memmory wilst turn ing off the cart a10 line so you unhook one line and hook a nother thats why you need a double pole double throw switch but what they didnt know is
    ATARI 2600
    switches like to slip and connect both lines before actually sliding into one or a nother postition so in a sence you can have both the built in memmory and the cart on at the same time this is caused by the fact that the built in memmory is still connected when the cart gets connected and is still running on the built in memmory when you slide down to get built in memmory the cart is still connected.
    you have to turn on unit in the built in flashback memmory mode 1st then start a game like ADV then switch to cart mode or it locks up before starting cause NES on chip has to load 1st before it can load a 2600 rom..
    weird how they used a nes on chip for a menu selection and NINTENDO HAS NOT gon after JACKS PICIFIC OR BASIC FUN for using a nes on chip on the Flashback OR DID THEY DO IT ON PURPOSE JUST TO PISS US OFF..
    hmm who cares i already have a flashback w cart mod..
    a fun thing to do w a modded flashback that takes carts is to start asteroids then flash to cart real asteroids and watch the only thing that changes it the rocks shapes..
    a nother fun thing to do is swap betewwn built in adv and REAL ATARI CART missile command it does weird things like missiles smart bombs go UP and score keeps going up automaticly the smart bombs get scary LOUD!!
    a nother cool thing to do is start caverns of mars then swap to snoopy cart..
    Also a cool thing i found is PLANET PATROL a
    APALLO cart has a 7400 and a 2732 in it ! this is the way to make youre own homebrew carts I got lucky and was at pawn shop and i said have any atari and they said not all the time but from time to time and cause of pawn stars sometimes we get some Atari collections pawned and sell carts off till there gone i said whell what you got now they said come over here by the jewelry cabinets and look under neeth the diamonds and watches there was long big drawrers with NES 8bit carts galore cool and sega 8bits too and super nintendo too then whooly crap my eyes lit up a whole drawer of ATARI 2600 carts loose filling the whole drawer I said ok how mutch for that that that and how mutch is that she said hmm my carts I was like crap price just went up cause she saw how exited i got when i saw drawer full of atari games she saw $$$ I saw fresh pcb to chop into homebrew anyway the cart looked easy to ram a 2732 into cause it had those spring door open things for the cart door dust cover lock witch i liked cause making a homebrew always screws up that door lock thing and to remove the dust lock requires unslodering the whole connector and removing the screws from the ceramic connector not worth it ..
    anyway when i got home the game sucked so i ripped it apart cause it was worth $4 on ebay exact price i payed actally i paid TAX so it was more anyway I decided to ripp it apart to see what kind of chip it had and to my exitement it was using a 2732 and a 7404 a 74ls04 forget the ls crap its just a number the 7404 part is the important number..
    so i saw that they only used 4 lines on the 7404 so i got a 7404 from the arcade pcb pile and chopped the unused pins off then took a old atari pacman pcb witch the chip was blown and i unsoldered the chip snipping most of the pins off in haste to get my homebrew hackomatic III modded cart to run on real hardware and added a socket to the unmodified atari 2600 pacman cart pcb then I scratched the nessacary lines off the foil on the pacman pcb (2600) version and ran jumperes to match the pinouts of the apallo cart to the 7404 then hooked the 7404 up exactly like the apallo cart had it then i eeprom burned the 2732 using my
    william parralell $15 ebay eeprom burner i just sent the file a1.bin to the atari cart as a bin file the trick to the william burner is to use a power pack not a usb cable for power to the pcb the usb does nothing but supply power so thats dumb and i used a 24v DC power supply and it worked in the 12v jumper mode anyway the eeprom programed and worked fine then i hooked the socket to the pcb in the connected to the 7404 like the apallo cart had it hooked and beeped the pins out using volt meter ohm beep mode and checked that the lines going into the atari went to the 7404 and the 2732 like the apallo cart had it hooked and ran the jumpers scratched lines on foil to make it same its actually easy once you have a working model to use ..
    the 1st attempt worked i just took the apallo cart and swaped the original game chip w my eeprom burned one w a1.bin my hacked version of asteroids witch i changed the look of the rocks and the (c) page on the begining of game useing hackomatic III a program where you load a 2600 rom then click on boxes to changed graphics then save the rom as a differnt name . then burned to 2732 w william .97j
    burner and put my rom into 2732 and into apallo cart swapping out the apallo game witch sucked then I kept the game I dont know why i could use the 2732 for a nothe homebrew but have lot of blank chips from bking II ..
    it worked in the flasdhback II any 8k rom will work on a 2732!!!! this is good news cause hackem
    is a 8k rom so i took the other homebrew cart witch i bought online witch uses a 7404 but a longer eeprom 2764 chip i subpose i could use a 2732 but dont have any longer chips w that many pins and I dont care anyway i burned asteroids my version snoopy was already on one 2764 cause thats the game i bought the modded cart for then i burned combat rock cause sometimes i just like that song also i made some custom indy 500x maps and a vareint of cx tank modded remodded maps and i burned the new gun fight .. and they all booted into the flashback II also the pacman pcb 8k chips
    on 2732’s worked too I tried the 4k rom on a 2732 and it worked too .
    i guess the 7404 HEXINVERTER chip bank switches to fake the atari the a10 line in the corect order like a atari custom chip oututs the a10 line..
    so if you want homebrew eeprom help see atariage and look up eeprom and homebrew i have a lot of infomation there and pictures of crockrocks..
    as far as the pause chip design i like it is there a silk screen pdf somewhere cause i know someone who makes there own pcbs… I wouuld like to incorperate that into my 2600 flashback..
    I also fixed 4 atari’s from ebay .
    one had a 7405 voltage regulator and another had a totally shorted power input jack someone was using a huge woodburner soldering iron and blobed the whole connector to gnd. I fixed all 4 ataries
    one had a blown rf mod a pal version shorted on all pins on the rf chip so i took rf mod from my blown arcade II case yes ill fix it later..
    and the other one was a 6 switcher yellow graphics on sticker and was pal version I swaped out us mod ulator and viola it worked the other one needed cleaned and switches were toast had to rebuild them and luckally that week my muffler blowed out so i had some tinfoil ducktape on hand to gnd the switches panel like NEW.. still have 2 or 3 real 2600’s not modded to flashback II but one is modded to rca outs not as good as ben heck’s good mod but works good enough for me..
    flashback I Iplays Pitfall II but graphics look like chunks and you get stuck swiming all over the place its like playing atari threw a SSAVI zenith box scrambled its hard and unplayable whell not enjoyable anyway.. enogh with the anyway..
    I did however get the flashback II fully wired inside a 2600 case and the b/w switch is cart built in so the b/w says BM and up postition says cart I snipped up a old non working case sticker to say BM swithed the w upside down to look like a m and then somehow made cart out of the left over sticker chunks.. I ALSO used the ch 3 switch since non needed on flashback II for the B/w switch on flashback II … so all the inputs work.
    built in cart switch is black and white switch
    ch3 ch4 switch is b.w switch for flashback and difficulty switches are hooked to gnd when on and off when off and reset select work and the power is same always taking power from power pack as to load it and when you turn it off the power to the flashback goes off so it still takes power from power pack weird cause when you turn it off the cap stays on for a while about as long as it takes you to read this extra line of crap i wrote here to get you to .. its off now .. then you sometimes have to remove phono plug to completely kill the capacitor and reset to ADV BLUE HOUSE SCREEN ON flashback II.
    also dont forget
    1 9 7 2
    down 1 times
    up 9 times
    down seven timed
    up 2 times or is it the otherway around
    up once down 9 times..
    anyway you know when you get it right cause paddle menu comes up.
    sometimes when i swap between built in and cart it says
    this area is intentionaly left blamk
    or something like that but one word is spelled wrong!.
    I thought oh crap i toased it for some weird reason my freind WAS there and he said you did it now he said as usuall why do you always have to turn it on and off so fast ..
    LITTLE DID HE KNOW IT WAS DESIGNED TO FLASH BACK BETWEEN a10 and built in memmory and i told him
    I was NOT POWERING OFF AND ON AND SHOWED him the inside and said GET THE F out what the hell is that rats nest inside the atari I said watch this I unplugged the power pack to let it die put it back into built in mode and plugged it in w the TV off so he wouldnt see the flashback MENU then swapped to cart mode when he wasnt watching
    then said look atari he was slightly interested then is said watch this he said SO its a atari he said i had pong before you were born I said but watch this I swapped back to the flash back menu and he said WTF get the F_ck out what is that how did you make that he said i said I took that MINI plug play atari and modded it into the 2600 case to use the cart slot and power and all the switches he said WOW WOW ow wow YOU ACTUALLY MADE SOMETING that works I said I do that all the time but noone sees it cause its all inside stuff like reparing a power supply noone sees that..
    anyway he said youre lucky it didnt blow up when it said this area left blank intentionaly I said I know I thoght i ereased the built in games from the nes on chip.. luckally it went back to flashback menu then I holeded the reset and powered on once and viola a test menu cool then holded select and a differnt menu came up.
    also in
    THe FLASHBACK II version of ADV II you can
    play game and when you get to maze turn color to b.w mode cause you can now SEE its child mode like having unlimited match in haunted house but adv II is not same game..
    I appoligize for the rant..
    when you save the rom mak eshure you change the name of the .bin file not to match the original file youre modding or you might screw up youre original file and not have a back up to go back to to reverance what the original rom looked like.
    it took me 3 months to find Atari(r) Asteroids(r) 1 9 8 1 version w (c) at the start of game to compare to my crockrocks homebrew witch is not for sale and is for informational and educational purposes only…..
    ENJOY homebrew and enjoy HACKING away at
    Atari 2600(r) or any thing you hack or mod or homebrew..
    also you can play tank in stereo if you remove one pin and unjumper it from the other pin and then hook both pins to atenuated preamp and then run to stereo DONT HOOK DIRECTLY to chip pins w out resistor cause it might blow amp anway atari originally was going to put speakers in those holes under the case and make stereo tank but somany carts were made avalible by the time atari released the 2600 that they must have thoght witch was good cause it did tank wore off cause the fact was the fact that you could swap carts was what made the atari 2600 so popular more than the other titles cause the Atari corp knew what the they were doing when it came to us NTSC television scanlines and hmove and the pokey chip and antic chips and were geinus when it came to television blank lines and programing a video game that used the same telecaptions as an original TV program signal would so the tv just locked onto the signal as if it was a REAL tv program making the frame rate of the atari like 35 35 like asteroids in mame witch is 35/35 out of 35 lines not skipping any scanlines..
    this makes atari 5 more lines than REAL tv witch makes anyone watching atari who likes and liked video games and watching tv more interested in atari than tv cause 35 lines is more than the tv program witch only had 30 lines per second thats why every one loves the atari2600 and the color burst pokey and the 6502 proccessor was great at producing color burst on the tv like missile command had that infamus color burst rainbow of all the colors shifting threw every color the atari had like 256k color 254 colors are avalible on the atari in like setcolor x,x,x boarder inside the boarder and the font color witch makes the atari 2600 have the same colors as the atari800 but was accessed differntly than the setcolor but there is a demo cart rom emilation rom witch you can pick same amount of colors as atari800 you just cant get mode 8 you can get mode 4 3 and mabie mode 5 graphics on 2600 but certianly not mode 8 or 11 modes..
    the fact that the atari had sutch good grpahics and was capable of taking bank swithed carts was still better than the nes 8 bit and if you think about it who did nintendo copy when they made the 8bit nintendo home entertainment system they copied the atari800 they just used a midi chip and a differnt sound chip and made there own operating system but if you look at the nes the only differance between the 2600 800 and the nes 8bit is the FONT SET I bet they took a atari800 and changed the font charactor set 10k rom to change the fonts to look like super mario score fonts and then just changed the sound canvas to use a soundblaster type opl chip then went ape crap insane with there (r) (c) pattented lockout chip crap and there SEAL of Quality then price fixed TETRIS and fought Tengen Software witch they probably started in the 1st place just to sue them and settle price fixing Tetris and chomped it so we thought NINTENDO HAD come out with a new video game but really probably just chomped Atari800 os onto a chip and changed the sound chip and is probably running a variant of a atari 800 on a nes chip so who stole from who we will never know because jack T died with the secret that nintendo probably paid him off as whell as microsoft paid him off to run Atari and Commodore into the ground so Microsoft and Apple were the only computer companys and NIntendo was the Arcade company left if you look at the nintendo grpahics and atari graphics and how the nintendo memmory works think about it if nintendo took the 10k atari operating system ROM out of a atari800 and rewote it to use a differnt sound chip and a differnt grpahics chip w a differnt charactor chipset(TV TYPERATOR FONT) you would see the only differnce is the game runnig otheriwse every computer is the same all 256K chips are 256K at about 10 nano seconds..
    48k on the atari800 was probably max you can get 256k but what can you do w it its to mutch ..
    on the nintendo 8bit you can emulate the 2600 on a flashback II or even make a keychain w out the pokey chip sound chip and have crappy nes sound…..
    DO THE MATH NIntendo stole the 800 and rewrote the os then sold the NES 8bit Famicom w a crappy CART CONNECTOR witch atari should have suied nintendo for stealing the V C S Video CArtridge pattent system pattent witch they could have one but were busy having jack trimel f_ck(screw) the whole atari company into the ground just to sell out to bill gates who is now being fU_ED(screwed) up the ying yang(butt) cause he is going to regret making windows 7 and lieing about the date on xp install so that you have to upgrade to windows 7 witch you dont you can change the date in c-mos low level format and reinstall a fresh copy of xp in 2007 then change the date after it loads then upgrade to windows 7 after formating windows xp away to fresh partitions not formated then windows 7 loads its a LIE to get you to buy a bundled computer you dont even need you can upgrade any computer to any version of windows expet some cant do 64 bit and some can ONLY do 64bit ..
    anyway bill gates is being F_ed(screwd) as we speak not by APPLE(r) APPLE i_od i_ad and i_p_one
    cause guess what Motorola is making Google(r)
    phones witch are more fun and you can zoom the same way as apple(r) phones do you can not copyright a zoom feature a lcd manafacture came up w all you did was try to corner a zoom feature we already thought up before the iphone came out it was a sprint at&t t-mobile verizon next tell crock from the get go that phones would not zoom like iphone would cuse they had to make shure ipones didnt get viruses so they had to make an operating system failsafe from viruses so when it reboots it cold starts like an atari you know the cold start acronym came from the Atari manual for Atari800 from the factory notes a warm start is a reset that just reboots w out killing off memmory dumps but a cold start is like turning it off and on again cell phones do this when the tower gets overloaded from google cache i did this with my 3985i phone nokia in b/w text only mode browser google text only cache google cahce i ran the tower out of disk space!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    i was like awesome i finnaly used up the harddrive space on the cell tower looking up seagate harddrive settings using google cache text only searches and went past the goooogleplex of numbers google had on seagate drive information .
    then i called verzion and told them i locked up the sprint tower and they tried to say its a verizon tower and i told them crock its a uswest tower ! sticker to prove it anyway uswest now qwest used sprint for there cellphones so this tower had a uswest sticker on it cause they put it up that doesnt mean its not a sprint .pcs tower w .pcs 3g on it now it has 4g 4g must be cdma and gsm at the same time..
    3 g has is a nokia #data# mode site
    there are
    3 servers
    and 2ip’s per each server
    so if you use 1 server you get 2 ips at same time
    if you have two active phone numbers nam1 nam2
    automatic a being name2 and automatic B being nam1 pphone number you can use
    4 ip’s at same time! hmm thats why cell phones in 3g are fast and even faster in 4g cause 8 ip’s at the same time is like 1.5m x2 3megabytes per second thats fast up and down stream faster than a dsl in old mode..
    so google phones are better than the iphone cause the graphics are the same and ebay searching all you do is scroll scroll scroll and no activex crap adds to slow you down..
    its awesome.
    and you can now emulatie atari2600 on a phone ,,

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