An Atari 2600 In Your Pocket

If there’s one console that holds a special place in the hearts of console gamers of a certain age, it’s the Atari 2600. A 6502 based system with a cartridge slot and a couple of joysticks, it plugged into your home TV and if you had one for Christmas in the late ’70s you were suddenly the coolest kid in the neighbourhood.

The last new 2600s were sold in the early 1990s, but all was not lost for 2600 fans. In the last decade the format was revived as the Atari Flashback, an all-in-one console containing a selection of games and no cartridge slot. The Flashback had a flaw though, it stayed true to the original in that it needed a TV set. Rather a pity in a world of hand-held consoles.

[Lovablechevy] set out to release the Flashback from the TV set, and created a very tidy hand held Atari 2600 console with sound and a screen, all in the casing of an original 2600 cartridge.

There isn’t a lot of room in a 2600 cartridge, so as her worklog shows, she had to cut up the PCB and be very careful with her wiring to ensure it all fits. She’s using the Flashback 2 as her source console, and she tells us it has 42 games to choose from.

If the worklog pictures weren’t enough she’s posted a video of the device in action, and it shows a very neat and playable hand-held console. We would have done anything to get our hands on one of those had it been available in 1980!

As you might imagine, we’ve featured quite a lot of Atari 2600-related posts here at Hackaday. There is Pitfall developer [David Crane]’s story of the game’s development, a very small 2600 clone, a 2600 on an FPGA, and fixing that infamous E.T. game, among many others. [Lovablechevy]’s custom consoles have also featured here before, here’s her take on a Sega Nomad, a tiny NES system, and a system combining both a NES and a SNES.

20 thoughts on “An Atari 2600 In Your Pocket

  1. I’ve looked a little bit around, but where the heck are the pics of the guts of the handheld she made? all i see is the same water marked glamour shots of the finished unit. links please?

  2. Holy moley that is some neat and tidy assembly work. It’s a good demonstration that measurement and planning is the difference between a professional looking finished unit and a hack job.

    1. Yup. The other models can’t cos they’re not actually 2600 hardware. Just shitty NES-on-a-chip with re-written 2600 look-alike games. Bit of a disappointment really. But FB2 is actual 2600-compatible hardware. Designed by Curt Vendel who’s been on the scene for decades.

  3. Very nice but I have to say I don’t like the nintendo style control, it’s a 2600, it has to have a joystick! Also why not make it really retro and use a CRT screen? Ah, forget my complaints, it’s great!

        1. Sorry Genji but the Watchman guts are much too big to squeeze into a cartridge. Also you only got 3 hours viewing time from 4 AA batteries. You might be able to squeeze the FB2 into the Watchman however…….

        2. While they weren’t small enough to cram into a 2600 cart there were miniaturized CRTs for videocamera viewfinders. They were insanely small in the final generation but like all CRTs they were power hogs and fragile thanks to their vacuum-tube-like construction.

          As for using the Sony Watchman for a 2600 monitor I don’t think it would have enough resolution – much litle the viewfinder CRTs. The Mega Watchman might be good enough to play Pacman but not many other games IMHO.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.