Hardware Hacking
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Colecovision Console

Having successfully modified my Intellivision to bypass the stupid RF modulator and provide direct audio & composite-video outputs suitable for a modern TV set, the next logical step was to do the same thing to the rest of my classic 8-bit systems.   I decided that the Colecovision would be the next patient scheduled for surgery, mostly because I'd been planning to open it up anyway to see why it wouldn't turn on any more.  (Cracked solder joint on the power switch, as it turned out.  No big deal; I'd kind of suspected as much.  I'm just glad it wasn't the power supply; the Colecovision's wall-wart-from-hell supplies +5V, -5V, and +12V via a peculiar 4-pin connector that's not easy to match, so repairing or replacing the PSU would be a project in and of itself!)

Front of Console

Now – once again, let me put this disclaimer right up front before we proceed any further:


If you decide to attempt this modification to your own console, you do so strictly at your own risk!  While there's nothing intrinsically dangerous inside a Colecovision (especially since, unlike an Intellivision, the DC power supply is a separate unit and there's no live 110VAC connections inside), and the needed modifications aren't terribly complicated for anyone with a basic grasp of electronics, it is still possible to damage your console (or yourself!) if you don't know what you're doing!  Please do not attempt this modification if you don't at least have some component-level electronics experience, and/or are not willing to assume the risk of damaging your Colecovision if you make a mistake along the way.


It turns out that this modification is only partially compatible with "Expansion Module #1", which permits the Colecovision to play Atari 2600 cartridges.  Due to the way EM#1 works, the Atari 2600 audio gets into the RF modulator via a different route than the Colecovision's audio; therefore, Atari 2600 games will have video, but no audio, with this modification.  An enhanced modification that will work with EM#1 is in the works.

Front of Console
Bottom of Console

The first thing I discovered is that getting a Colecovision apart is somewhat more complicated than an Intellivision!  Not only are there eight screws holding the top and bottom together, but the case actually consists of three pieces, not two – the front piece, including the Expansion Module door, comes off separately, and it has to be removed to get the top and bottom apart.  Unfortunately, that means you have to peel off that black-and-silver sticker to get to the three screws hiding behind it.  (Well, unless you want to punch holes in it and have it look like hell afterwards, anyway.)  Fortunately, it's not too hard to remove intact, with a little careful work and patience.  Of course, the fact that the adhesive is over 20 years old by now probably helps a bit, too.

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