Atari and Cars Overlap

One of the things mentioned in my profile was being a Geek Generalist with at least a casual interest in automobiles in addition to the usual technology associated with being a geek.  This week I found myself in a discussion that really felt like two areas had crossed over.

One of my weaknesses is a total inability to work with small components without breaking them.  Particularly if soldering is involved.  So since I had no tested good Atari 5200 controllers available to check against with my recently acquired 5200 system, I asked JFerio to have a look to see if I had gotten more horribly ripped off on the purchase than I feared*.

When JFerio was looking it over, he discovered while the console was healthy, none of the three controllers I had acquired were in working order.  With some serious cleaning, he did manage to get all three working.  However what he told me sounded just like any number of articles on cars I’ve read.  The original manufacturer used inexpensive and thus lower quality components in some key areas which adversely affected the longevity of the product.  Fortunately the aftermarket has resulted in replacements that when installed will actually out perform the originals.

I’ll need JFerio to leave a comment to detail what parts sucked the most on those controllers and why, but in terms of where you will see it on cars, I can  help.  It’s very predictable.  On mass market vehicles, you’ll see it on expected wear items first and foremost.  This includes but is not limited to tires, battery, brake pads and spark plugs.  This is true for most any car that isn’t a performance car, and some of those are this way too.

If there’s a lesson to takeaway from this, it’s that whenever someone says they only deal in OEM** parts, don’t take it as a sign of quality.  That just means it’s going to fit.  That’s true for both cars and electronics.

* I admit, I paid too much for it.  Especially since it didn’t come with controllers.  Caveat Emptor.  But hey, included 11 games!

**  Original Equipment Manufacturer

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About geekgoban

Who is Goban? Goban takes his name from a minor character from a TurboGrafx-16 CD game. Why? Why not? A technical support staffer by day and ne'er do well by night, Goban radiates geek on several frequencies. He's best described of a geek generalist with at least a casual interest in automobiles, music, video games, science fiction, fantasy, comic books, computers and more.
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One Response to Atari and Cars Overlap

  1. jferio says:

    I’ll agree that you paid too much for it when it turned out to not have any controllers with it, working or not. Although it was a respectable haul of games, and the system itself runs pretty well, albeit with a little bit of corrosion on the power connector.

    As for the controllers themselves, I had to clean oxidation off the plastic membrane for all the buttons. Some of the contacts were green, and all of them were dull looking. I also cleaned to the best of my ability the carbon dots on the rubber pads, which turn out to have a rather low conduction compared to the ones on a Sega Genesis controller I had that I was willing to open for testing.

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