Atari Jaguar - the Portable System


   Your first thought about this project is probably "Why?" Mine too. But a very good customer of mine requested this so I couldn't say no. (Heck, throw enough money at me and I'll build anything) Anyway, I thought it would be fun, strange and just plain kooky in general so that influenced my decision as well. Let's take a look at this sucker, shall we?

These tabs will stop all but the most determined hacker

   Imagine the thrill I had to find classic Atari RF shielding tab-bends in the Jaguar. Ah, some things never change. Strangely enough, the Atari Jaguar in the RF shielding kind of resembled a prop from Deep Space Nine. I forgot to snap a picture of it, so just take my word for it, OK?

Not even Mark Wahlberg or Charlize Theron could break into this thing

  Below you can see the Atari Jaguar motherboard. Upon checking the cartridge slot I learned the main bus is only 32 bits wide. Sorry Atari, the gig is up.

7 Processor Power Without the Price

  And here's the Atari Jaguar controller. I am a firm believer in a wanky controller hurting a console's sales and this was probably no exception. It was just kind of chunky and primitive compared to the SNES, PS1, Saturn, etc. Shoulder buttons would have been nice too. Atari was usually pretty innovative so this was kind of a let-down.

Keypad overlays are SO 1982.

  Inside the controller was interesting - it's like a cross between a Coleco controller and one of those NES joystick ROM things from Asia. The plug that goes into the Jag is the same as a SVGA monitor. Really weird.

  With the system dismantled and thoroughly critiqued I could move on with the modding and assembly...

   First off the cartridge slot had to be moved. There's been several projects like this where I haven't bothered to change the cartridge slot (SNES portable, Neo Geo) but this I swore I would. Using solder braid for the first time (hard to believe but it's true) I managed to remove the connector and rewire it with only minimal damage to the small pins. The cartridge slot on the Jag is fairly similar to a computer's PCI slot. I noticed the cartridge itself only used about half the pins, but I wired them all up anyway. Why not?

One of the more annoying cartridge rewirings I've ever done
The cartridge slot, wired parallel to the motherboard.

   After designing the case (a process I'm tired of describing so go check out one of my other articles if you want the details) I cut it and started installing components, beginning with the Amazing Diode Controller.

The amazing diode controller, keypad portion, is slapped into the case.

  I will give the Jag points for one thing though - the keypad was much easier to work with than the one in the Colecovision. So we're Jaguar 1 - Coleco 0.

For some reason I shot this at an angle, must have forgotten to drink my V8.

  Next I slapped in the versatile PS1 screen. I know I rave about this thing but it deserves it - it's a pretty nice screen and you can usually find them for $50 or less on eBay. One its coolest features is the ability to take an RGB signal which is handy because the Jaguar outputs this (along with composite and S-video, but RGB kicks those to the curb and steals their lunch money to boot)

Final assembly and more photos