1. Not old. Vintage. :)

Black Screen Problems [XL/XE] Fix Checklist

The old Black Screen of Death. Can be quite common amongst 8-bits

{From a defunct Atari board}

The old Black Screen of Death. Can be quite common amongst 8-bits - they are over 30yrs old tho' there's a couple of questions
to ask yourself BEFORE destroying/throwing out/ripping the *XBox* out of your antique:

Has it been in storage for a long time?
Has it been in transit much?

If yes to the above, then it's likely to be recoverable.
Note - this is ALL standard stuff - but collated in one thread. Read on.


Obviously, if you've a socketed motherboard - almost ALL below is much easier. If your board is soldered, then you'll need good soldering/de-vac/resoldering skills

1] easiest thing to try first - leave machine on for ten minutes....are any ram chips "overheating"? - swap these

2] if the board is socketed, rather than soldered you may have some "unseated" ICs.
look at the picture below (from old AAge thread) and
check to see if ram, OS Rom, Antic, MMU, PIA, CPU are fully in their sockets.
they can look "seated" but may not be. and oxidation/dirt/dust can cause faulty contacts. if your comfortable with doing so, you can remove them and reinsert.

3] if still a black screen try this (turn TV volume up):
power up using OPTION key, wait five seconds, press SELECT key once, press START
do you hear the musical notes? if so your computer is working
now press HELP, then SELECT, the START
press different keys randomly....do you hear the keyboard BEEPS?
these are good signs that atari is fundamentally ok.

4] power supply may be a problem - it may not be supplying 5v. try another PSU.

5] RF or monitor output? if RF, does machine have a channel switch next to the RF output socket? try repeatedly moving it back and forth - it can get dirt inside and cause bad contact.
try a monitor cable - these are fairly standard these days and usually come in the form of monitor to scart, monitor to S-video and monitor to RCA varieties.

6] try booting with a Star Raiders cartridge in the slot -
If Star Raiders works then ALL three should be good.
this should narrow your fault down to PIA, OS Rom, MMU or Ram
Jon Halliday [FJC] has also mentioned that the OS Rom should be good too if Star Raiders runs from cart.
"This signifies that the cart should be run before the OS is fully initialised. The OS ROM still has to operate well enough to jump through $BFFE, and if the CPU manages to get this far then it's working anyway."
thanks Jon - always good to add vital info.


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