Atari 520STE : Very, very dark display

A section to cover all the different problems encountered by running game x on system y! Whether it's as simple as a non-STE compatible game through to h/drive installable games. Discuss them all in here.

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Atari 520STE : Very, very dark display

Postby M0zArT » Fri Jul 22, 2011 1:17 pm

Hi all,

I recently took my Atari 520STE out of the attic to check if it was always working fine (It worked fine for more than 20 years).
I plugged-in the Scart and the power supply cable. The power supply works fine, the floppy disk reader too (green and orange DEL on).
When I put a floppy inside (Bad Cats), it launchs the game and it works (sounds, and movement. I can see the character mooving on screen).
But here is the problem. I do have a very, very dark screen, and it looks like it's in black & white (I only had my Nokia N8 under the hand, sorry for the quality) :

Image

I tried to turn the luminosity, color balance and contrast to the maximum and minimum, but it doesn't change anything.
It looks like it comes from the Scart cable or the video chipset inside the Atari (if there is one ?).
I also tried another Scart cable I bought on eBay, and I do have the exact same result : very drak, and black & white display.
Except that very annoying issue, the 520STE works really fine !
Any thoughts ?

Cheers !

PS : btw, I discovered this board through DrCoolZic's website ;)
Atari 520STE + 2 Atari mices + 2 Konix SpeedKing pads + ~200 games

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Re: Atari 520STE : Very, very dark display

Postby simonsunnyboy » Fri Jul 22, 2011 3:42 pm

Welcome aboard!

How is the picture of your STE if you boot without any floppy in until the green desktop appears?
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Re: Atari 520STE : Very, very dark display

Postby Stefan jL » Fri Jul 22, 2011 3:54 pm

Are you sure your TV supports RGB?
Image

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Re: Atari 520STE : Very, very dark display

Postby M0zArT » Fri Jul 22, 2011 5:26 pm

Thanks for answering guys !

Actually I played on this TV 5 years ago and everything was fine, I'll try to put a hand on the remote asap.
I tried to plug my Atari on a CRT 17" screen and it works fine (with the VGA cable I bought on eBay), but still in black & white (it doesn't really matter), with correct balance, contrast and lumonisity.
Problem is : I don't have games which support 640x480 resolution which is the lowest resolution supported by my CRT screen.
The picture on load without any floppy is totally black on my TV, and totally white on my CRT screen.
I still believe it comes from my TV or the graphic chip in the Atari, if only I could switch to RGB or something like that, it could make me going forward.
All the rest is fine on the machine, I tested it on Bad Cats, and I hear sounds, I can moove the character, the mouse works fine, and the image is well displayed on the TV except that it's very, very, very dark and changing the setting on my TV doesn't change anything so far...

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Re: Atari 520STE : Very, very dark display

Postby Dal » Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:33 pm

Do you get the same result using an RF cable plugged into the TV out on your STE?
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Re: Atari 520STE : Very, very dark display

Postby M0zArT » Fri Jul 22, 2011 11:03 pm

Good question ! Will test it right now :)

EDIT : I thought you were saying antenna cable, but that didn't change anything..
I don't have any RF cable, and there is no RF plug on my TV :(
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Re: Atari 520STE : Very, very dark display

Postby wongck » Sat Jul 23, 2011 4:15 am

At least you know your Atari is still working..... even if only on monochrome.
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Re: Atari 520STE : Very, very dark display

Postby Desty » Sat Jul 23, 2011 5:09 pm

It sounds like the TV? Do you have anything else you could test on the TV, like its aerial/tuner?

I haven't used my Ataris for a long time, mostly because the Polaroid LCD TV I bought died after one year due to some bad caps. Couldn't believe it, but it's possible... 8O
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Re: Atari 520STE : Very, very dark display

Postby Dal » Sun Jul 24, 2011 10:40 am

It does sound like the tv to me too. Plug it into another tv.
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Re: Atari 520STE : Very, very dark display

Postby M0zArT » Tue Sep 06, 2011 6:44 am

Hey all,

Sorry for the late answer but I already tried on at least 2 other cathode/tube TV (sorry I don't know the exact word) and I still have the same issue : very, very dark image.
Unfortunately I lost all the remote for these TV so it's pretty hard to modify the brightness or contrast on these screens.
I also tried on my old 19" LCD display screen, and the image is very clear, but in black and white, and I can only access the desktop menu of my 520 STE.
It looks like the desktop can be displayed with 640x480 resolution. But when I launch a game, my LCD displays an error message : "Unsupported resolution".
I guess it's because most games are launched with 480x360 resolution or maybe something lower, which is not supported by my LCD...
I'm still wondering why my 520 STE which worked for many years in colors is now only able to display in black and white :'(
When I tried it on my first TV, even if I saw a very few of the images displayed, I was able to hear the sound, and move the character with the joystick, so it looks like, apart the b&w display issue, that everything is fine in this stunning machine !

M0zArT.
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Re: Atari 520STE : Very, very dark display

Postby Desty » Tue Sep 06, 2011 2:00 pm

M0zArT wrote:I also tried on my old 19" LCD display screen, and the image is very clear, but in black and white, and I can only access the desktop menu of my 520 STE.
It looks like the desktop can be displayed with 640x480 resolution. But when I launch a game, my LCD displays an error message : "Unsupported resolution".
I guess it's because most games are launched with 480x360 resolution or maybe something lower, which is not supported by my LCD...
I'm still wondering why my 520 STE which worked for many years in colors is now only able to display in black and white :'(

That's right - there are three built-in resolutions supported by the ST (although the screen is bigger than this with the borders which can be removed with individual programming hacks - I'm not sure what the real screen resolution including the borders is):
Low: 320x200, 16 colours
Medium: 640x200, 4 colours
High: 640x400, 2 colours

As you suspect, almost all games expect colour resolutions - almost overwhelmingly low resolution, since it's hard to make a game look good in medium res with 4 colours (and nonsquare pixels :D).

It definitely sounds like a hardware issue with the colour output... is this with an RF cable, or using the RGB (13 pin) port with an RGB-Scart cable or something?
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Re: Atari 520STE : Very, very dark display

Postby AtariLikerMan0 » Sat Sep 29, 2012 12:44 pm

Sounds like either a dry joint on the ST motherboard or a faulty video cable causing a connection problem. Maybe the colour or ground lines aren't connecting right at the video out socket as the system seems fine in hi-res black and white.

An easy option is to buy a spare SCART cable and see if that clears things up. Very often it's only a lead. If you still get the same problem, despite different TVs being used, then I'd say it's a computer problem. If you can't service, you may need to look at Ebay to get a replacement.


But I would say it's bound to be the cable.


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Re: Atari 520STE : Very, very dark display

Postby Stefan jL » Sat Sep 29, 2012 4:26 pm

I have gotten similar picture on my arcade games when only sync and ground is connected... maybe R,G and B is missing?
Image

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Re: Atari 520STE : Very, very dark display

Postby jvas » Tue Oct 02, 2012 12:13 pm

I'm very curious, since I have the very same problem with one of my ST. The same cable and monitor produces clear and sharp picture when connected to another ST.
In ST-HIGH the picture is OK, only ST-LOW and ST-MID has this problem.

Edit: The PSU is checked, the Shifter/MMU is replaced. No change.

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Re: Atari 520STE : Very, very dark display

Postby exxos » Tue Oct 02, 2012 2:33 pm

I would see if u can check the wires in your scart cable first and make sure they are all connected.

I did have a odd problem when using a TV last week, though the TV itself had many "scart" settings which seemed to conflict with the built in freeview, it seemed like the freeview used the scart 1 input which the ST was connected too and gave very odd results in the picture. Though you say you tried 2 TVs already and the ST worked clear on a LCD but only in mono ? I would investigate the cable first before looking for more drastic measures.

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Re: Atari 520STE : Very, very dark display

Postby Hippy Dave » Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:17 pm

I took a look at some schematics, suspecting bad capacitors.

ST
C3 C4 C5 (10 uF) connected to MC1377 in modulator section.
C92 (0.47 uF ?) connected to inductor near some DAC resistors and transistors.
check voltages with oscilloscope if possible.

STE
C420 C424 C428 (15 uF) connected to MC1377 in modulator section.
C411 (0.47 uF ?) connected to inductor near some DAC resistors and transistors.

Do a visual inspection; measure whatever continuity, voltages and waveforms you can.


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