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I have half a dozen or more "desktop" games from the early 80's, which are single-title LED based battery powered games from Tomy and CGL. I've got Frogger, Caveman, PacMan and others:

Caveman Game Frogger Game

(stock images, not my own :) )

They're currently stored in a box in the back of my garage: not the ideal environment, but it's relatively dry and the games themselves are wrapped in bubble wrap.

They haven't been powered on for probably 30+ years. They've no great monetary value, but I'd like to "boot them up" again just for nostalgia. I have a voltage-selectable PSU (most of the games are 6v or 9v): are there any precautions I should take to avoid damaging them before powering them up? Or will three decades of inactivity likely have rendered them unplayable anyway?

  • You're safe; that probably couldn't happen. If the (small, non-volatile) battery does explode, the worst you'd get is a lump of plastic in the face. – wizzwizz4 Jul 30 '16 at 17:37
  • You have to double-check the DC polarity. (I'm assuming these games want DC, not low-voltage AC.) At best if you get it wrong they won't power up, but it might be more likely that something breaks. Also, as always, make sure the power supply can provide adequate amounts of power. – a CVn Jul 31 '16 at 14:21
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Old games like these don't have much that can go wrong with them just from powering them up.

The biggest problem with old electronics in general is that any electrolytic capacitors will dry out in storage, then explode when re-powered. However, electrolytics are usually only used for power-handling circuitry, and your games had external power supplies, so that risk is pretty much gone.

Assuming your power supply is a switch-mode supply (most modern power supplies are; distinguishing characteristic: it feels lighter than it should), you should check the following:

  1. Make sure you've got the voltage correct.
  2. Make sure you've got the polarity (center-positive or center-negative) correct.
  3. Make sure the power supply has a wattage rating at least as high as the game calls for. Going too low won't damage the game, but it can cause the power supply to burn out, sometimes in spectacular fashion.

Additionally, if your power supply is of the older transformer+rectifier construction (distinguishing characteristic: it feels like you're holding a solid block of metal), check the following:

  1. Make sure the power supply's wattage rating isn't much higher than what the game calls for. Unregulated power supplies like this only provide their design voltage near full load; at a partial load, they'll deliver a higher voltage.
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  • 1
    Thanks. I bit the bullet at the weekend, powered them up and .... success! I'd forgotten how loud and bright those games were, and still surprisingly playable. – KenD Aug 1 '16 at 10:29
4

As already answered by Mark, your first checks should be the PSU.

To add another note: If the device hasn't been used for a while, you may find dust or minor corrosion has got into the case which will mean the buttons and joysticks will be temperamental.

Given that you've had them well protected, this too should be a minor issue. It will not cause damage unless something is causing a short circuit. It is worth giving these a check.

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