Dead tech: Atari 2600
Paddle control (1972)
Purchased on or about 2002
For this project we had to repurpose a dead tech. Our deadline changed and I decided to do a hack that I could tackle. I don’t have much of a background on electronics, other than building very simple circuits, so hacking these two devices was a new adventure.
First, I searched for dead tech at home. I found a Dell trackball mouse, and an old telephone. I kept searching for more and at my town’s E-waste dumpster I found a karaoke machine, but later we found out that it was full of mites. At the Scrapyard Challenge MIDI workshop a couple of Atari paddles were left over and I thought perhaps I could do something with it. One thing I was clear. I wanted to do something that was not game related. So, I thought: What could inform an Atari controller that is not a game?
Considering the main interactions on the control, a simple non-continous switch and a potentiometer, the closest interaction I could think of was to playing back a movie (play, pause, rewind, fast forward).
But, our deadline shrank to one week instead of two. So, I went back to some of the examples that Jonah and Katherine showed us in class for inspiration. One of them was game remote controls controlling home appliances including a blender. Given the time constraint, I move on to see if I could make the pictures I saw work in real life.
I have a blender I rarely use, so I decided to hook up my blender to the Atari paddle control. I have never done any of this before. I opened up my blender and saw all the components that make it work, and how the motor enclosure and casing are designed so they don’t get tangled and so the energy generated by the motor does not make the blender base move on the table while is being operated.
I also figured out how the circuit board works, how the motor and the different speeds are connected to the main switch board. I did a search online to find out the specs, but I was only able to find consumer specs.
I connected the power cord to the Atari switch to turn the blender on and off. Then I figured out the wire motor’s highest speed and I connected it to the potentiometer. I was able to control the motor speed using the Atari paddle momentarily until it burned. Katherine explained the use of relays to regulate the electricity flow from the 110V on the wall. We tried using a relay a friend gave me, but it turned out to be for house alarms. We then tried to use a triac and battery power but the current was probably not enough, and the blender did not work.
I went back to the initial wiring connecting the Atari to the blender and it worked again.
|Scrapyard Challege Dead Tech|