The Official Blog of Benjamin J Heckendorn

Atari 7800 Portable

I thought about doing one of these years ago, right after my first Atari 2600 portable actually, but after taking a look at the motherboard (which is a lot more complex than the Atari 2600′s) I got cold feet.

My feet are much warmer now and thus here is an Atari 7800 portable I’ve done by request. For some reason I am just not that intimidated by “complex looking” electronics anymore, I don’t know why! The 7800 motherboard is a bit larger than the 2600, thus the unit is larger, but I slapped on a bigger 7″ widescreen to make up for it. (Kind of like the iPhone ads that allegedly use giant hands) Quick specs:

  • Rechargeable batteries built-in
  • Combination driving / paddle controller
  • Weighs less than a gallon of milk
  • A/V output jack, like all my old portables used to have
  • Black paint

For the making-of story and more pics than I usually post, click below. There’s also a video where I describe the functions. Now that this is done I can allot more of my time to “Possumus Man 2: Possumus Woman!” (Working title)


Unfortunately the flashback scene in Possumus Man 2 now takes place in the 60′s, rendering my bumper sticker props useless.

Ben Heckendorn’s Atari 7800 Photos and Making Of

Let’s take a look inside this bad boy, shall we? It starts with a fairly typical laser-cut case, which I painted with several layers and rounded the corners.

A blank canvas on which to paint!

Next up was the driving controller. Originally it looks like just a paddle but the insides are different – instead of a potentiometer there’s a gray box which contains a simple encoder wheel, attached to the up and down signals to the joystick. And it was made in America! (30 years ago)

I wonder if this company is still around?

I rounded one corner, took out the original shaft, and stuck a 1 meg-ohm potentiometer through it. Having this control increased the total depth of the unit but it’s what the customer wanted so, so be it!

Before the wiring mess begins...

Inside of the top of the case. The screen is a 7″ model from AEI components. You can also see the volume control potentiometer near the base.

Hot glue will outlive us all!

A close-up of the potentiometer/driving controller combo. Oh yeah, it’s hot glue again. Just imagine how much I’ll use on the Possumus Woman costume!

The main parts – rear of case, with battery slots, motherboard with cartridge connector, and front of case with screen.

I wish I would have used DRV instead of DRIV... argh!

A close-up of the controller switch. This is a 3 position multiple pole switch from Digi-Key, which gave me enough configuration options to do the switching manually, rather than use an electronic bus switch.

Far from the messiest wiring I've done

The top of the unit insides. There is a simple LM386 audio amp over on the right, and lots of wiring throughout. As is my current fashion, I try to group as many signals as possible into a single ribbon cable cluster with header plugs, so it’s easy to take the unit apart.

This side looks nice and clean

Insides of the rear, with motherboard. I discovered that the 7800 has a color tint adjustment pot for both the TIA (2600) and Mario (7800) graphics.

Opens easily for public viewing

Overview of the insides.

The unit when slightly opened.

Gran Turismo Prologue Beta 0.0001

Unit running Indy 500 (at which point Harrison Ford will be 1200 years old)

Unless you're Flava Flav

You can never have enough giant clocks.

Unit sitting around in OFF mode. As with the original Atari 7800 this uses the “soft” on/off switch, which was about 16 years ahead of its time for a games console.

 

44 Responses to “Atari 7800 Portable”

  1. Eric Says:

    It looks great, as always Ben.

    But why would you put a wide display on it, when the Atari is only outputting at 4:3? I understand that the handheld looks better as a wide device, but I cannot bear warped images.

  2. nixontech2071 Says:

    You are stretching the realm of possibilty ben!

  3. Paul Says:

    Haha, “Possumus Man 2: Possumus Woman!” great sounding sequel! :-D
    I like the 7″, looking forward to the making of.

  4. Eric Says:

    Cool part is, this one doubtless controls better than the original console. Those 7800 joysticks were tough to use.

  5. VIPER! Says:

    Very nice. Love you comment about the made in America we don’t see many of those do we. All your projects show real talent.

  6. Craig Says:

    I’ve always wondered how do you make the enclosures/cases… If you don’t mind my asking: Are you milling them from a large piece of solid plastic, are they painted SLAs, molded (e.g., you make the case out of clay first, then create a plaster mold, then pour a liquid acrylic/resin into the mold). Some other technique?

    Inquiring minds want to know…

    Thanks,

    Craig

  7. ++Vitoco Says:

    I had to watch the video to realize where the cartridge slot was. Nice…

  8. News » Ben Heck Mods Atari 7800 into Portable Retro-Gaming Wonder [Modding] Says:

    [...] interested. Now, if you excuse me… I’m off to reminisce about playing Pole Position. [Ben Heck via [...]

  9. GEARFUSE » Ben Heck’s Portable Atari 7800 Says:

    [...] Link (via) Read More Atari Flashback Portable prototype gets spyed onBen Heck Returns: Atari 2600 PortableOut Of The Sewers and Into The Gaming DenOne-handed Xbox 360 ControllerPortable Dreamcast: Play Again TAGS: 7800, atari, console, game, portable, system SHARE: Stumble Upon, Digg, del.icio.us, Reddit this, SlashdotSend to a FriendPermalink [...]

  10. Cool Mods - The Atari 7800 Portable From Ben Heck | Geeky Gadgets Says:

    [...] 19 Jun. 2008 in Mods by Fatgadget Here’s another cool mod from the amazing moder Ben Heck, this time its an Atari  7800 [...]

  11. Ben Heck logra meter la Atari 7800 en una portátil » Pixfans Says:

    [...] Ben Heck es todo un fenómeno del modding, capaz de convertir en portátil una XBOX360, de crear mandos para jugar con una sóla mano a las consolas de nueva generación o de integrar una NES y una Atari 2600 en una pequeña consola. Su última creación es una Atari 7800 portátil, que llama la atención desde el primer momento por su gran tamaño, que no parece propio de alguien con tanta experiencia en meter el máximo de componentes en el mínimo espacio. Pero si seguís leyendo, comprobaréis que la enorme placa base ha tenido la culpa de todo. [...]

  12. Noticias de tecnología » Blog Archive » Ben Heck se desquita ahora con una Atari 7800 Says:

    [...] a tus clásicos favoritos. Como siempre, marcando el camino.[Artículo en inglés]Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments Posted by Alberto [...]

  13. Ben Heck se desquita ahora con una Atari 7800 | macevangelismo.com Says:

    [...] a tus clásicos favoritos. Como siempre, marcando el camino.[Artículo en inglés]Read | Permalink | Email [...]

  14. Miles Says:

    Second on the Widescreen, at least tell me it has a pillarbox mode. Or, if not, that the A/V is inputs as well as outputs, so that it would be conceivably possible to watch a widescreen movie on this.

    I am not complaining so much as asking, you are already OK in my book for using an actual 1280x720p display in the portable xbox360, the only one I know of in existence, the Gateway FPD1775W (besides the eMachines clone, sadly vga only without DVI/HDMI or HDCP)

  15. Quer ter um Atari Portable? - Mundo Tecno Says:

    [...] Fácil! É só ter um Atari de verdade, ir lá no site do Ben Heck e seguir o passo-a-passo. [...]

  16. Ben Heck se desquita ahora con una Atari 7800 at Valverde a Tope Says:

    [...] 7800 By Pablo Pino Categories: Noticias and Tecnología Filed under: Juegos, Handhelds Ahora que ya tiene su propia línea de periféricos comerciales Ben Heck no necesita seguir creando [...]

  17. benheck Says:

    The stretching really isn’t noticeable… these are 20 year old videogames, not news shows shot in 4:3 that make everyone look fat when they’re plopped on 16:9.

  18. the.golden.ax Says:

    As always outstanding. Unless I missed it somewhere, this is the first one of your items that I want, that doesn’t say “…and don’t ask because it’s sold and I’m not making more”.

    e-mail me :)

  19. JohnBJuice Says:

    OMG!

    I loved the Little Shop of Horrors reference! And here I thought I was the only theater-loving geek here!

  20. Jette D. Says:

    #JohnBJuice
    I think most people know “Little Shop of Horrors” from the movie of the same name, which is kind of kult… even in Denmark where I live.

  21. Technology » Atari 7800 System Says:

    [...] [via Benheck] [...]

  22. zockerseele.com | the ultimate games weblog » archiv » modding: atari 7800 portable Says:

    [...] modding: ben heck’s atari 7800 portable. [via] [...]

  23. Ted Marchibroda Says:

    The only thing left to make this perfect is a Cuttle Cart 2 with RS-MMC card.

  24. Atari 7800 Portable by Ben Heck Says:

    [...] those of you who do not have cold feet and are up for the challenge, you can see Ben’s detailed instructions on how to make it your self. I wont be one of those trying as I would mess it up right at the [...]

  25. Atari 7800 Portable | Dion Blogad - Information Says:

    [...] jack. For those of you who do not have cold feet and are up for the challenge, you can see Ben’s detailed instructions on how to make it your self. I wont be one of those trying as I would mess it up right at the [...]

  26. Americano cria Atari Portable « Vítor Imenes Says:

    [...] site de Heck, ele mostra passo a passo como foi a montagem do videogame. [...]

  27. Mike Lovitt Says:

    great protable ben! hopefully it’ll open peoples eyes to the wonders of the 7800

  28. Ben Heck logra meter la Atari 7800 en una portátil | Teléfonos móviles, adsl, gadgets y juegos. Says:

    [...] Ben Heck es todo un fenómeno del modding, capaz de convertir en portátil una XBOX360, de crear mandos para jugar con una sóla mano a las consolas de nueva generación o de integrar una NES y una Atari 2600 en una pequeña consola. Su última creación es una Atari 7800 portátil, que llama la atención desde el primer momento por su gran tamaño, que no parece propio de alguien con tanta experiencia en meter el máximo de componentes en el mínimo espacio. Pero si seguís leyendo, comprobaréis que la enorme placa base ha tenido la culpa de todo. [...]

  29. Retro Consoles modified into Portable Devices by Ben Heck | Planet Surfer Says:

    [...] genius engineering and creative feat at each turn, Ben Heck latest project is his conversion of the atari 7800 into a handheld portable. More like a twohandheld portable, but still incredibly [...]

  30. Sparkfist Says:

    I thought it was impossible! I can’t believe that Ben was able to make a portable out of that enormous thing. Kodos Ben.

  31. Technology News » Blog Archive » Ben Heck’s Atari 7800 not so portable Says:

    [...] Source [...]

  32. Cool Mods - The Atari 7800 Portable From Ben Heck | Geek Catalog Says:

    [...] another cool mod from the amazing moder Ben Heck, this time its an Atari  7800 [...]

  33. Geek Porn: A Look at some awesome, awesome stuff « Pax’s Cavalcade of Awesome Says:

    [...] modder extraordinaire Ben Heck. This guy is a legend. He’s built crazy-ass gadgets like an Atari 7800 portable, an Atari/Playstation 2 combo unit, and an unbelievably small “NES Micro” device that [...]

  34. Life of Brian Says:

    Does it mean I’ve been a fan of your site long enough and learned enough if the electronics inside don’t seem too intimidating to me anymore? Awesome portable!

  35. TV's Mr. Neil Says:

    Well it’s about freakin’ time you made a 7800 portable! My favorite of ALL the classic Atari systems. Not that 7800 was a great platform or anything, but it’s kinda like having a 2600 that plays Food Fight! And really, Food Fight was the best reason to own that system!

  36. Joey the Lemur Says:

    Why waste the bumper stickers? Its not like people don’t leave bumperstickers on their cars for decades after whatever election. Just scuff ‘em up a bit and use them. :)

  37. Post Collection: Vídeo Games Portáteis | Deu Curto! Says:

    [...] Atari Portable Ben Heck conseguiu compactar o Atari7800, com baterias recarregáveis embutidas, controle de direção/ e manual, reduzindo também seu peso, que equivale a o peso de uma caixa de leite, saída para vídeo caso você queira voltar ao que era antes, conectando o atari a televisão. Veja o Making Of. [...]

  38. Post Collection: Vídeo Games Portáteis | Deu Curto! Says:

    [...] Atari Portable Ben Heck conseguiu compactar o Atari7800, com baterias recarregáveis embutidas, controle de direção/ e manual, reduzindo também seu peso, que equivale a o peso de uma caixa de leite, saída para vídeo caso você queira voltar ao que era antes, conectando o atari a televisão. Veja o Making Of. [...]

  39. An Atari 7800 on the go | New PSP | PSP Games News and Reviews | Playstation Says:

    [...] driving / paddle controller. See it over at Engadget and read a bit more on it at Joystiq. Oh, and here is a detailed presentation of the portable and how it was built by Mr. Heckendorn [...]

  40. cedric Says:

    how to fix this model????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  41. An Atari 7800 on the go | technology software gadget mobile blackberry Says:

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  42. AtariFan Says:

    That is awesome how much would you charge to build another one. I have a good size Atari 7800 collection and would die to have protable version, did you make it for yourself or a costumer, if it was for a customer how much would it cost and how long does it take to make.

  43. Nicht nur für Zocker mit körperlichen Einschränkungen geeignet: Bastler entwickelt Xbox-One-Controller zur Einhandbedienung | BASIC thinking Says:

    […] und interessante Spielekonsolen-Modifikationen wie beispielsweise einen Xbox 360 Laptop, einen Atari 7800 Handheld oder das “NEStari” (eine Mischung aus NES- und Atari-Konsole). Nun hat er sich erneut […]

  44. Nicht nur für Zocker mit körperlichen Einschränkungen geeignet: Bastler entwickelt Xbox-One-Controller zur Einhandbedienung | Meonik Says:

    […] und interessante Spielekonsolen-Modifikationen wie beispielsweise einen Xbox 360 Laptop, einen Atari 7800 Handheld oder das “NEStari” (eine Mischung aus NES- und Atari-Konsole). Nun hat er sich […]

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