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7.0) Repair tips and information:

Most of the information provided here has been taken from the book "Repairing Your Home Video Game: How To Save A Buck While Your Kids Drive You Insane", by Gordon Jennings, or has come from personal experience. Excerpts taken from the book are enclosed in quotes.

7.1 - Hand Controllers

Let's face it, I don't know a single person would could say that they prefer the Intellivision hand controllers over a standard joystick with a straight face, but you're stuck with them if you own an INTV I or III, as they are hard-wired into the unit. There WILL come a time when they will fail. Fortunately, there are some simple steps short of totally disassembling the main console you can take to fix controllers.

"Inside the controller is a plastic sheet with a circuit painted (or silk- screened) on it. This is call the Membrane Printed Circuit Board, or MPCB for short. Often, pieces of the circuit chip off and cause the controller to short out. This can be repaired by opening the controller and cleaning out the MPCB with a soft cloth"

"To gain access to the MPCB, loosen and remove the four small screws on the back of the controller. With the controller facing up, lift off the top cover. Remove the round control button and the spring beneath it. There should also be a white plastic spacer, sandwiched between two sections of the MPCB directly beneath the spring (Note its position. It must be placed back between these two sections when you put the controller back together)."

"Slide out the black side buttons (When reassembling the controller, these are useful in holding down the MPCB, which tends to pop out). Remove the gold numeric pad and the clear sheet (static shield) beneath it."

"Remove the MPCB. Visually inspect it to see if it's still in good condition. Hold it up to the light; if you see any holes or breaks in it, it should be replaced."

To reassemble the hand controller, follow the above instructions in reverse order. "Note that the MPCB, static shield, and numeric pad have two small holes in each of them. These holes interlock with the two pins protruding from the bottom cover of the hand controller, making it easier to align and adjust the MPCB into its proper position."

If your MPCBs require replacement, a great source of spare parts are those totally trashed, $2 INTV consoles you pass up at the flea market. Not only are the hand controllers usually in working order, but you get a whole slew of other spare parts, such as logic boards, transformer assemblies, power supplies and switches.

(If anyone knows of a source for new spare parts, please let me know so I can include the information in the FAQ.)

7.2 - Cartridge Problems

Help!! I've turned on my console and all I get is a black screen!! What do I do??

First off, follow the teachings of one of my favorite sci-fi authors, Douglas Adams: "Don't Panic!"

Secondly, ensure that the cartridge is properly inserted. Not inserting the cartridge far enough, or even inserting the cartridge too far can cause the console not the read the game.

Dirty contacts on the cartridge itself may also cause a problem; use a cotton swab and some denatured alcohol to remove any corrosion from the gold contacts (the swabs used for cleaning VCR heads work best, as they are lint-free). I STRONGLY recommend against using a pencil eraser, as is so popular in many PC repair circles. Not only does the rubber build up a static charge in the cart, potentially damaging the ROM's, it also removes some of the gold plating on the PC board. Too many treatments of this manner could result in a useless game.

If you know the problem is not with the cart, all is not lost. If you're handy with a volt-ohm meter, you can usually pinpoint the problem to one of the major components inside the console.

7.3 - Console Disassembly

For those of you who have seen the inside of an Intellivision before, skip to the next section. What follows is a basic description of all of the Intellivision's major components.

The system is comprised of four major components. "First is the transformer assembly. The assembly itself is made up of smaller component; the AC Power Cord, the ON/OFF switch, and a small plastic connector."

"The next major component is the power supply board. It receives AC power from the transformer assembly, and transforms it into several different DC values. Not only does it convert the voltages, but it also stabilizes them for the logic board."

The third set of components are the hand controllers.

"The final unit is called the logic board. This board is the brains of the Intellivision."

Okay, so with Phillips screwdriver in hand, you're ready to rip apart your Intellivision. First off, as with any electronic repair work, be sure that your work area is free of static electricity. I personally use a wrist grounding strap clipped to some metal portion of your work area.

"Unplug the unit from the wall and from the television. Remove any cartridge from the machine. Turn the power switch to the ON position to drain any stored up voltage. Place a soft cloth on your work area. Turn the console upside down and place it on the cloth. Using a Phillips screwdriver (some units may require a nut driver), remove the six cover retaining screws."

"Turn the unit back over and gently lift off the top cover. The small brown cover for the ON/OFF switch will come off at this point. Weave the hand controllers through the holes in the top cover."

"The insides of the Intellivision are now exposed. You should be able to identify he four major component groups. There is a brown plastic plate covering and securing the logic board, transformer and power supply board. Remove the six screws holding down the plate, and place them aside."

Be CERTAIN to see how the controllers are placed in this plastic plate, as they must be replaced in the exact same fashion in order for the top cover to fit securely.

7.4 - General Troubleshooting

Some of the procedures listed here will require the use of a volt-ohm meter (VOM). All of this material has been taken from the aforementioned reference.

Problem: When you turn the game on the screen clears, title comes on, but game will not play when hand controllers are pushed.

Repair: This normally indicates that on or both of the MPCBs must be cleaned or replaced. Sometime you can open up the hand controller, clean it off, put it back together and it will work. (see 7.1 for info.) If you have cleaned or replaced both MPCBs and the problem still exists, then you may need a couple of new hand controller cables or a new logic board.

Problem: When you turn the game on, the screen clears (turns dark), but game title does not appear on the screen.

Repair: With the power switch in the OFF position, take the cover off the unit. Unplug the transformer assembly from the power supply board. Place the power switch in the ON position. Using your VOM, test the following voltages:

  • The first readings you'll need to take are on the plastic connector of the transformer assembly. They are AC voltage readings. If the voltages do not read as follows, then replace the transformer assembly, it cannot be repaired.
                                                        ________ 
                        Yellow Lead --+   ------| |     | 
                          Blue Lead --+   ------| |     | 
                  Green/Yellow Lead --+   ------| |     | 
                         Green Lead --+   ------| |     | 
                         Green Lead --+   ------|_|_____| 
                        Yellow Lead to Blue Lead - 18 VAC 
                Green/Yellow lead to any Green - 9.25 VAC 
                      Green Lead to Green Lead - 18.5 VAC 
  • Turn the unit off. Reconnect the transformer assembly to the power supply board.
  • Turn the unit ON. The next set of voltages are DC voltages and should be read from the other end of the power supply board. They can be taken right off the cables leading to the logic board. There are two sets of leads; a small two prong lead near the top of the board, and a flat five prong lead near the bottom right corner. Place the black clip of your volt-ohm meter on the lead from the two prong clip farthest from you (if looking down, the is the lead closest to the upper right hand corner). Place the other lead of your meter into the holes for the 5 prong lead each in turn, and note the voltages. They should read as follows:
                                        _______ 
                        +  5 VDC --+    | |_| | 
                        + 12 VDC --+    | |_| | 
                        + 16 VDC --+    | |_| | 
                        +  0 VDC --+    | |_| | 
                        -  2 VDC --+    |_|_|_| 
  • If any of the voltages are not present, the power supply board should be replaced. If you want to attempt to repair the board, most of the problems are associated with the two voltage regulators, one being a 7805 and the other being a 7812, or the two larger capacitors.

7.5 - Pinouts for INTV Controller

The pinouts and information listed below are courtesy of Steve Roode, who in a fit of boredom decided to find out what happened when he pushed the 5 key on his Intellivision keypad...

In trying to build the ultimate Intellivision Controller, I thought that the hard part would be trying to figure out all of the pin assignment combinations for all of the buttons on the controller. It turns out I was wrong! That was the easy part... The hard part is finding components to make the controller with! I went to a couple of stores to look for a rugged, phone style type keypad, nice metal stick, and a couple of rugged arcade style fire buttons. Couldn't find any of them!

Oh well.... Maybe you can! The following will describe all of the pinouts combinations for all of the buttons on an Intellivision Controller (NOTE: I only spent time to figure 8 directions out on the disc. I figured it would be almost impossible to find a 16 direction joystick, and most games don't require that many directions anyway).

DISCLAIMER!!!!!


Hey, I'm just an average guy... I'm only doing this to help people on their way to building an Intellivision Controller that won't drive you nuts. I WILL NOT accept any responsibility for what these instructions will do to your Intellivision. I've tried it on mine, and it works fine. But please don't blame me for ANY problems these plans may cause. Experiment at your own risk!


OK, now that that's out of the way... Down to business!

I used a Sears Intellivision Controller since I had an extra one and it was removable from the system. Remove the screws on the back of the controller and open it up. Next, remove the disc, the side buttons and keypad. What you should see in the controller is a terminal where the cable comes into the unit. It should look something like this (The numbers aren't really there; they are my own numbering system):

                           --------------- 
                         1 | -----       | 
                           |       ----- | 6 
                         2 | -----       | 
                           |       ----- | 7 
                         3 | -----       | 
                           |       ----- | 8 
                         4 | -----       | 
                           |       ----- | 9 
                         5 | -----       | 
                           --------------- 

Each pin on the terminal connects to a wire which connects into the Intellivision. The numbers DO NOT correspond to the connector pin numbers; They are my own numbering scheme. However, with a little effort, the interested experimenter can map them if desired.

OK, using the numbering scheme above I was able to figure out the pin combinations for each button on the controller. This took a lot of time tracing out the circuit on the plastic keypad, and verifying it with a Baseball cartridge plugged in! The following pins must be connected for each of the corresponding controller operations:

Connecting Pins            Makes the Controller Perform 
===============            ============================= 
1 and 4                    Up Disc 
1 and 2                    Down Disc 
1 and 5                    Left Disc 
1 and 3                    Right Disc 
1, 3, and 4                Diagonal Up/Right Disc 
1, 2, 3 and 9              Diagonal Down/Right Disc 
1, 2, and 5                Diagonal Down/Left Disc 
1, 4, 5 and 9              Diagonal Up/Left Disc 
1, 6, and 8                Upper Left and Upper Right Side Button 
(SAME!) 
1, 7, and 8                Lower Left Side Button 
1, 6, and 7                Lower Right Side Button 
1, 2, and 6                Keypad 1 
1, 2, and 7                Keypad 2 
1, 2, and 8                Keypad 3 
1, 3, and 6                Keypad 4 
1, 3, and 7                Keypad 5 
1, 3, and 8                Keypad 6 
1, 4, and 6                Keypad 7 
1, 4, and 7                Keypad 8 
1, 4, and 8                Keypad 9 
1, 5, and 6                Keypad CLEAR 
1, 5, and 7                Keypad 0 
1, 5, and 8                Keypad ENTER 

Whew! As you can see, pin 1 connects to every combination, so in building your controller it may be easier to connect this pin to a common strip and connect all controls to this strip.

In examining this circuit, you can see why pressing 1 and 9 at the same time is just as effective as pushing 3 and 7 if you want to pause a game. It connects the same pins either way (Pins 1, 2, 4, 6, and 8); You could even build a separate PAUSE button on your controller if you desire!

Many interesting features could be built into this controller. For example, if you are familiar with a 555 Timer IC, you could build an adjustable auto-fire button! But the most important thing in building it is FINDING the components. My initial idea was to use a push-button phone keypad. Although it would take a little getting used to (and you really couldn't use overlays), it would last a LONG time. Anyways, who actually USES the overlays! If a game requires them, just put one by the side of the controller.

As a side note... If anyone can find a place to get a nice keypad, a nice metal stick assembly, and nice arcade style fire buttons... All at reasonable prices... PLEASE let me know (ANA-NG@ix.netcom.com). I really want to build one of these suckers!

I hope this info gives you the start that you need so that one day you can throw those Intellivision Controllers where they belong... the trash!

7.6 - Fixing INTV II Controllers

(This little bit of hackery was provided courtesy of William Moeller):

I just finished refurbishing an Intellivision II unit so I would have a matching Master Component to go with my ECS. I have found quite a few units, and they all have the same problems. They are missing the power supply, and the hand controllers are inoperative. On the original unit, the mylar keypad is held onto the controller wires by pressure from two screws. When a hand controller on the original Master component stops working correctly, usually taking them apart, cleaning and putting them back together, making sure the screws are tight does the trick. On the Intellivision II controllers, there are no screws! I ended up breaking one apart to see how they worked (it was trashed already of course). The knowledge I gained allowed me to carefully take apart a few controllers to cobble two together to go with my II Master Component.

The first thing that needs to be done is the top piece has to be taken off. This is the piece that the disc is flush with. It is held on by little plastic "hooks". A crude drawing is shown.

                       I I 
                       I I 
                       I I  / 
                       I__/ 

These "hooks" are located in five spots. The first is in the centre at the bottom of the disc. The next two are located on both sides, right where the top of the disk ends, and the keypad begins. The other two are right at the top, where the overlay slides in. They are marked with an X on the diagram below.

              __________________________ 
              ========================== 
              I    Intellivision II    I 
              I     Hand Controller    I 
              ========================== 
            X I                        I X 
              I   1        2       3   I 
              I                        I 
              I                        I 
              I   4        5       6   I 
              I                        I 
              I                        I 
              I   7        8       9   I 
              I                        I 
              I  Clear     0     Enter I 
           X  I========================I X 
              I          ___           I 
              I        /     \         I 
              I      /         \       I 
              I     (           )      I 
              I      \         /       I 
              I        \ ___ /         I 
              I                        I 
              I========================I 
                          X  

Use a small screw driver to press the plastic at the correct location, and pry each of the hooks out in an upward motion, being sure not to break them. This part is very important and cannot be broken. Be sure to look for the four teeth that slide into the hand controller and rest behind the four buttons. These cannot be broken. Their purpose is to press the mylar when the buttons are pressed against them. The buttons push on these plastic teeth, which in turn puts pressure on the mylar. Take the disc, disc spring, and plastic cover and put aside.

Now comes the tricky part. Getting the cover off of the base is difficult. Examine your controller and see if the bottom of the controller has a crack in it, or if the buttons are broken. If it is obvious the buttons are broken, try and save the cover.....if the bottom and buttons are good, CAREFULLY press the bottom part of the controller at the four "H" locations in the diagram below.

                              Intellivision II 
                         Hand Controller Bottom Piece 
                 =====================      ======== 
                 I                    I     I      I 
                 I H                  Iwire I    H I 
                 I H                  I     I    H I 
                  \                   I_____I      I 
                 _ I                              /_ 
                I  I                             I  I 
                I  I                             I  I 
                B  I                             I  B 
                   I                             I 
                   I                             I 
                B  I                             I  B 
                I  I                             I  I 
                I  I                             I  I 
                 --I                             I-- 
                  /                              \ 
                 I                                I 
                 I H                           H  I 
                 I H                           H  I 
                 I                                I 
                 I================================I 

Usually, I start on the right hand bottom side, and end up breaking the hooks there. Then getting the other hooks to let go is a little easier. Breaking one set of hooks is not that serious, because one can glue the controller closed on re-assembly. Make sure that the buttons do not get broken off when sliding the top cover off! Once this step is done, replace the wires/mylar pad/keypad numbers as required.

It is then time to reassemble. Make sure that you do not forget the circular plastic piece between the mylar. That is it! Put together the controller the exact opposite order. Happy repairs!

7.7 - You've really messed up and are wondering what to do....

(This information was provided by our friend Keith Robinson from the Blue Sky Rangers, inclusion of this info does not serve as an endorsement... Well, heck, unless someone else knows someone who officially repair Intellivision equipment, this HAS to be an endorsement =) )

One of the most asked questions we get at the Blue Sky Rangers is "Where can I get my Intellivision repaired?" Well, the official Intellivision repair service (i.e. the one Mattel still refers people to when they call) is:

J.H.C. Electronics Service
901 South Fremont Avenue #108
Alhambra, California 91803
phone: 818-308-1685
fax: 818-308-1548

J.H.C. is owned by James Hann, the guy who ran the repair service for INTV Corporation. While their primary business is special controllers for newer video game systems, they still have the equipment to test and repair Intellivisions and are (amazingly) still willing to do it.

They advertise: "J.H.C. Electronics will repair any Intellivision video game system, no matter where or when purchased, for one low price! Complete overhaul, thorough testing, no-charge return shipping to you -- only $49.95."

[Yes, we know used, working units sell for half that in the newsgroup, but that wasn't the question, was it?]

J.H.C. can also repair IntelliVoice and computer modules. Call for prices.

Note: They do NOT have Intellivision II power supplies. They get asked that all the time, and they looked into having some made, but the minimum order is 500. J.H.C. has 100 people on a list now, and if they get 400 more commitments they'll have a batch made up. We wouldn't hold our breath, unless someone wants to pay $3,000 for the first one to get the ball rolling. Still, if you want to be added to the list, e-mail us at makingit@netcom.com; we'll pass them along to James if a significant number of people write.

Finally, if you've visited the Blue Sky Rangers web site lately, you'll have noticed we posted the instructions on how to modify your Intellivision or INTV Master Component to work with the System Changer (only the Intellivision II works with the System Changer as is). For those of you who don't want to mess with doing this yourself, J.H.C. says they'll do the modification for $20. Cheap insurance not to destroy your Intellivision, your house, or yourself.

If you do contact J.H.C., please let them know the Blue Sky Rangers sent you!


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| Larry Anderson - insane@shellx.best.com               | 
| Classic Games Collector with a bug for information =) | 
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