Atari 2600 power supply specs

Atari 2600 power supply specs

The Atari 2600 power supply wasn’t as durable as the rest of the Atari 2600, which is nearly bulletproof. By far the most common issue with the Atari 2600 is a dead AC adapter. Fortunately, a suitable Atari 2600 AC adapter isn’t hard to find, even today.

After you replace it with something new, or at least newer, a dead Atari console usually springs right back to life.

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All about the Lionel ZW

All about the Lionel ZW

The Lionel ZW is Lionel’s most iconic transformer of the 1950s and 1960s, and perhaps one of its most iconic products, period. Everyone wanted the two-handled, football-shaped, 275-watt powerhouse that was the ZW. It was one of Lionel’s more venerable postwar products, lasting on the market for 18 years from 1948 to 1966. It replaced Lionel’s former top-of-the-line transformer, the Z.

Finding original ZW instructions or an original ZW manual online is a bit difficult, but there’s plenty the original instructions don’t mention.

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The common post on the Lionel 1025 transformer

Lionel produced several 35- and 45-watt transformers through the years, including the 1010, 1025, 1015, and 1016. Lionel MPC produced a similar 4045 transformer in the 1970s. They’re small, but cheap when you can find them, and can be useful when you string them together with other transformers. The problem is the markings don’t tell you what you need to know in order to do that.

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How to replace an AC power cord

How to replace an AC power cord

A damaged power cord doesn’t have to mean the end of life for a tool or appliance. Power cords are usually replaceable with simple tools and minimal expense. Here’s how to replace an AC power cord.

If you can open up the device, do this. Open it up, snip the bad cord off, tie a knot in the replacement cord and splice it onto the remainder of the old cord.

If you can’t open the device, do this instead. Snip the cord off above the defect, splice the replacement cord onto what’s left and insulate it well with heat-shrink tubing.

Here’s how.

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Using a computer power cord on a garbage disposal

Using a computer power cord on a garbage disposal

When I replace garbage disposals, I prefer to use a power cord rather than hardwire them straight into the wall. The thing is, I don’t like paying $12 for the official power cord, which is chintzy looking and, frankly, looks under spec’ed. Instead, I prefer to use a computer power cord on a garbage disposal.

The label on a 1/3 HP Insinkerator Badger says it’s rated for 5.8 amps at 125 volts. I found a computer power cord in my stash that was rated for 10 amps at 125 volts. It’s overkill, but when it comes to electricity, overkill is good. Best of all, it let me repurpose something I’d already paid for and was probably never going to use.

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Why you need a voltmeter on your train layout

I’ve advocated voltmeters on train layouts before, but I realized something, after checking out a new-to-me Lionel KW transformer: It’s very easy for a vintage transformer to deliver more voltage than you intend, and through no fault of its own.

The “problem” is that transformers step the voltage down on a percentage basis. In the 1950s when they were designed, household voltage was 110 volts. So a transformer designed to deliver a maximum of 20 volts stepped down to 20 from 110. Today, however, it’s not uncommon for the voltage at the outlet to be 115, 120, or even 125 volts. So that maximum throttle of 20 volts is now closer to 22 volts in this day and age, because you can safely assume the source voltage is 10% higher. And the voltage markers on your transformer, which never were all that accurate to begin with, will be even less accurate.

Most postwar Lionel trains are designed to run at 18-20 volts, so if you turn the throttle to the max, you’ll probably overvolt them. The situation gets worse with other makes of trains.

Marx and American Flyer trains run fine off a Lionel transformer, except that they’re designed for a maximum of around 14 volts. So it’s very easy to unintentionally overvolt those trains to 22 volts if you turn a Lionel transformer to the max. They’ll run, but they’ll soon overheat and the windings on the motor armature will burn and short out.

While one venue I won’t mention by name might advocate only using modern transformers, a more practical and sensible approach is to add a $6 AC voltmeter to your setup, to make sure you’re never delivering more than 14 volts to your trains. While you’re at it, you might add a similarly priced AC ammeter to make sure you’re not overloading your transformer either. See my earlier post for instructions on wiring them in.

Measuring the voltage and amperage of your train transformer’s output

Sometimes you want to know how many volts your train transformer is feeding your trains, in order to avoid damaging the motors. And it’s also helpful to know how many amps you’re pulling from your electric train transformer, so you don’t damage the transformer.

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What you need to know to safely replace or substitute AC adapters

AC adapters inevitably break or get lost. That means you have to replace them to get your devices working again. But a lot of people don’t know how to do that safely. Here’s what you need to know when you need to substitute AC adapters.

This is important. Getting it wrong can damage your equipment, the adapter, or both. The damage can be immediate, or it can appear over time.

The specifications for your AC adapter (also not affectionately known as wall warts or power bricks) should be printed on the old one, and hopefully on the device too. If you lost the adapter and the specs aren’t on the device, try a web search on “ac adapter specifications” and the name of the product.

It used to be you could take the device to Radio Shack, and $25 and five minutes later you had a good replacement. Today you might try Batteries Plus for a similar experience. But if you’re willing to do the legwork yourself, often you can find a close-enough match for closer to $10.

So, with all that said, here are the handful of things you need to know when you’re shopping for an AC adapter. The specifications don’t have to match exactly, but you have to know when you can cheat and when you can’t. Read more

The 2wire 1701HG and its dodgy power supply

I picked up a 2wire 1701HG DSL modem/router/WAP this weekend cheap. The power supply (or AC adapter) was missing. Google indicates the factory power supply is really dodgy. A replacement 2wire 1701HG power supply costs anywhere from $13 to $25.

But it turns out the Sony PSP’s AC adapter works fine with the 2wire. Sony’s power supply is common and dirt cheap. Normally I prefer to get higher amperage when buying replacement power supplies, but the connector is a little weird. The PSP box is readily available, so I’ll go with that, at least for a while.

Now I just have to configure the 2wire in such a way that I don’t have to redesign my whole home network… That’s a project for another day. The main thing is getting a quality replacement 2wire 1701HG power supply, so the unit itself will be reliable.

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