I buy my fair share of Atari Lynx consoles at the Dutch Marktplaats. It’s an free-format eBay, without the hashle (nor guarantees) that eBay gives and imposes. A great place to pick up the Lynx consoles that people want to sell. The Dutch market was pretty good for Atari. At least, so it seems based on the number of Lynx consoles that are sold by individuals.
The Atari Lynxes that I find are usually in great shape, give or take the odd scratch that is on the screen. Still, on a number of occasions, a dead console arrives. Usually I knew about it beforehand, but wanted to give it a try to fix it. That succeeds about half the time. From the ones that were dead beyond repair I always took the spare parts (outer casing, battery cover, LCD panels), whatever was salvageable. That included the motherboards.
A while back I noticed that the two Lynx models have different hardware revisions each. Yeah, yeah, I know they are different from model I and II, but I mean that there are model II consoles that have different hardware, and so does model I.
I am going to focus on the model II revisions for now. I found at least 4 different types:
- C104129-001 Rev. 2
- C104342-001 Rev. 1
- C104424-001 Rev. 1
- C104471-001 Rev. A
The numbers of the revisions seem to be increasing in the part numbers that all start with C104XXX, where the XXX is the most significant reference. The revision numbers 2, 1 and A probably have a meaning, but I am not sure whether this is related to the particular part number or the revisions in general.
Revision C104471-001 Rev. A
This is the model II board that I come across most often. Around 80-90% of the Lynx II has this 471 revision.
This revision has a small copper covering at the back. The front shows a shield that covers about 2/3 of the board. Underneath are the most important chips, Suzy, Mikey and the 2 RAM modules.
Revision C104424-001 Rev. 1
This revision has a darker green motherboard, but is remarkably similar to the 471 revision. Some of the visible chips at the left are different and bigger. It also has a marking in the top left corner that the 471 does not have.
The backside shows a copper plate that covers the entire board. It has some holes and slots to facilitate the mounting of the board and to expose the connectors at the top. The soldering seems coarse and messy.
Revision C104342-001 Rev. 1
Another board that looks a lot like the previous ones. Notice that I removed a single HC74A chip at the bottom left. It used to be there though. I’ll try to get a picture of a complete board.
The backside has the smaller copper cover and the Atari logo on the cartridge slot.
Revision C104129-001 Rev. 2
Now here is the odd-one-out board. The 129 revision is different in a lot of ways. Some differences that I discovered:
- First, it doesn’t have the shielding at the front nor back. It shows the chips in plain sight. At least, I cannot remember desoldering the cover from this board. Someone else might have done it before I got it. The holes for the shield are present, but there is no residue-solder at them.
- Mikey and Suzy are the VLSI chips instead of the ones from Atari. These still show the names of Mikey and Suzy and have no reference to Atari. They seem to be the same as the chips in the Lynx model I, having numbers VC5138-0002 Mikey Rev 2 and VC5139-0002 Suzy Rev 2 in both models (I and this II).
- It has simple straight wires in between the connectors at the top, where the other revisions have copper coils.
- The layout of the board is significantly different along the top right edge and right corner.
- The left connector for the controls does not have the closing lid. Instead you simply push in the flat wire and it is stuck.
- The cartridge slot has the Atari logo in it. The model I had the Foxconn logo and later revisions had only the part number on it.
- The back of the board does not have the protective dark green plastic on it. It shows the wiring more prominently.
- The board only has single set of holes in it. Where the other board have two holes close to each other at the right side, all holes are single for this board.
- The potentiometers for volume and brightness are different, more flat.
- The chips used for the RAM are smaller NEC chips D41464L-80 instead of the D41464C-10 used on the other boards.
- The connectors at the top do not have the usual dots of glue to keep them down.
Another interesting thing is that the board only works with the LCD panel that came with it. The LCD panel (or the flat wire) had some issues which made 5-10 screen lines turn black. I tried replacing the panel, but any other working LCD panel wouldn’t come to life with this board. Reversely, the LCD panel from this board did not work with another board. I have no clue as to what the reason is. Timing or cable pin layout maybe?
What else is out there?
The different revisions appear to be telling a story of how Atari improved the design of the hardware. From the outside nothing really changed. You cannot see from the console which revision of the hardware it has inside. But surely there are reasons for the updates.
I do wonder quite a few things at this point:
- What the reason for the changes?
- Did the revisions without covers and shields have lesser performance?
- Which ones are newer and which ones are older?
- Are the other hardware revisions out there for the Lynx II model?
Should you have any ideas or explanations, feel free to drop a comment.
Since the boards are broken anyway, I will desolder the shield plates and take additional pictures, then update this post. Also, I am going to take some pictures of the various Lynx I models that I have laying around and do a similar post on the Lynx I model revisions.