Atari 2800 / Sears Video Arcade II Ultimate Atari video (UAV) Mod HOWTO - Cover Photo

Atari 2800 / Sears Video Arcade II Ultimate Atari video (UAV) Mod HOWTO


Work In Progress! Last Update: 2022-11-21

This is where I’ll be adding instructions on how to install The Brewing Academy’s UAV mod to add composite and s-video output to your Atari 2800 (sold in the US as the Sears Video Arcade II). This guide will give you sharp and crispy composite and - optionally, if you want to drill the extra hole in the case - s-video output.

As with anything else with a TIA chip, these rare NTSC-only consoles can be vastly improved with the addition of a UAV. But how to actually hook the thing up differs slightly from Atari’s other consoles.

Close up of the UAV mod board

Due to tightness of space inside the 2800 we’ll be mounting the UAV board on top of the motherboard, taking the LUM0, LUM1, LUM2, SYNC, and COL outputs from the bank of resistors immediately to the right of the TIA chip itself. Power will come from 2 resistors at the top left corner of the motherboard. This way all connections will be made on top of the board and wire run length will be kept to a minimum.

We’ll also hook up the audio output and remove some unnecessary components to clean up the signal further.

Here are some screen grabs comparing the various options, taken via a RetroTink 5X upscaler and Elgato Camlink (click to embiggen):

Screen capture of Frogger using basic ebay composite mod on Atari 2800
Cheap ebay composite mod (see here for instructions).

Screen capture of Frogger using UAV composite output on Atari 2800
UAV composite output.

Screen capture of Frogger using UAV s-video output on Atari 2800
UAV s-video output.

Which To Go For - Cheap Ebay Mod or UAV?

…and if UAV, is the s-video output worth wiring up?

Well, that depends on your requirements. I find that, while useful on other systems, the UAV’s s-video output on the 2600 consoles is perhaps too sharp, showing “jailbars” and other imperfections inherent in those consoles’ designs that are hidden by the slight blurring of composite. In fact, on a CRT, I find little to no visual difference between the two outputs. That said, perhaps the slight extra sharpness and saturation is useful to you if you’re doing video capture, or you’d like to wire it up as you paid for it so you may as well make use of it. That’s entirely your decision. :)

As for the cheap ebay mods? They have their place, but the visual difference between these and the UAV is pretty striking, making the UAV well worth the extra investment in my opinion, even if only using composite. I guess you’ve reached the same conclusion if you’ve found yourself here!

To Be Continued…

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