FAQs / Walkthroughs

Fairchild Channel F FAQ
larsoncc , 12/1/2002 4:54:09 AM
Rec.games.video.classic
Fairchild Channel F FAQ
cdyer@best.com
&
cwebb@earthlink.net

Version 2, May 25, 1997

Copyright (c) 1997 Clinton R. Dyer & Chris Webb

All right reserved. This document may be copied, in whole or in part, by
any means provided the copyright and contributors sections remain intact
and no fee is charged for the information. Contributors retain the
copyright to their individual contributions.

The data herein is provided for informational purposes only. No warranty
is made with regards to the accuracy of this information.

These people knowingly (or unknowingly) helped with the information
contained in this FAQ.

Dave Ross (z956832@oats.farm.niu.edu)
Jay Tilton (tiltonj@erols.com)
Russ Perry (slapdash@execpc.com)
Sascha (imueller@student.uni-kl.de)

Needs and such: Well, pretty much everything and everything!
-Game Ratings. I'd like to get 3 or 4 numbers to average out, because the
numbers contained here are only my opinions. Keep in mind when rating
games that most of these games were early, so try and rate them to games on
the Fairchild system, and not against later systems.
-Information on the Fairchild Newsletter
-System specs
-Timeline information
-Repair information
-Anything anyone would like to see. This FAQ is for you, so if there's
something you want to see, let me know!

1. Introduction
2. Timeline
3. System specs
3a. System information - Original Channel F
3b. System information - Zircon Channel F System II
3c. System information - Luxor Video Entertainment Channel F
3d. System information - Grandstand
3e. System information - Saba Videoplay
3f. System information - ITT Tele-Match Processor
4. Game list/etc.
4a. Cartridge Summary
4b. Box/Cartridge variations
4c. Fairchild newsletter
4d. TV show appearance - "POW!"
4e. Catalogs and other paraphernalia
4f. Rumors and other myths
5. Repair information
5a. The base unit
5b. Controllers
5c. Why won't my games work?

1. Introduction

Why did I decide to do a Fairchild Channel F system FAQ?

Good question! I can't say this system is the most popular system of all
time or has the best games of all time, but it's always held a special
place in my heart. It was my first cart based video game system, and
really the only gaming system I've ever had that everyone in my family
could play and compete at (even my mom wasn't bad at Bowling).

I've heard it said before: "this system's horrible", "these games stink",
"the 2600 did that so much better", etc. and I just have to say one thing
to those people: It was the first programmable cartridge system -- what do
you want? All that had ever been seen at the Fairchild's release was Pong,
and this was a big step up. It actually contained different cartridges,
instead of flipping a switch to change the game options. The graphics,
which consist primarily of large blocks, were groundbreaking at the
beginning, but when better systems were released, failed to compare.

Towards the end, Zircon Intl. bought the system rights from Fairchild,
released a new system, called strangely enough Channel F System 2, and a
total of 5 games before the system passed away.

2. Timeline

1976 - Fairchild releases the Channel F cart based video game system
1976-1978/9? - Fairchild releases 21 different carts for their Channel F
system
1978/79? - Zircon buys the rights to the Channel F system
1978/79? - Zircon releases Channel F System 2
1978/79? - The last cartridge for the system is produced (#26 Alien
Invasion)

3. System Specs

3a. Channel F system 1 - Catalog #FVE-100 (Fairchild), #FR800 (Zircon)

Very 70's look to it. Power supply and controllers are hard-wired to the
console. There was a smoked plastic lid that hid the controllers and a
dust cloth inside. On top of the lid, there was a silver aluminum sticker
that read Fairchild Channel F across the sticker. The RF cord was hard
wired into the unit and the speaker was built into the unit.

Channel F system pin-outs:

Female connector
----------------
5 4 3 2 1
9 8 7 6

Pin Function
--- --------
1 Twist left
2 Twist right
3 Pull up
4 Push down
5 Right
6 Up
7 Down
8 Left
9 Common

3b. Channel F System 2 - Catalog #FN808, #FVE300

Same chip set/etc., with removable controllers, sound on the TV and
controller holders attached to the back of the unit instead of being
contained in a compartment inside it.

Uses all cartridges made for the Channel F system. (The factory
refurbished unit was catalog #FR800).

3c. Luxor Video Entertainment system (Sweden) ---------+
|
?? |
|--------------
3d. Grandstand [Great Britain] | To Be
| Determined
?? | Later
---------+
3e. Saba Videoplay [Germany]

According to the description of the US unit, it seems to be a combination
of the Channel F System 1 and System 2. It is quite big, all black, and it
features the storage compartment for the controllers. The controllers are
hardwired into the unit (they may be removable from the inside, however).
There is a gigantic shield casing around the board (same as the US model).
Sound is played through the TV and it has a cartridge eject button. There
is a sticker on the back of the unit and another one inside. The one on
inside says "Saba Videoplay 2" whereas one on the top just says "Saba
Videoplay". The unit has a built-in auto-switchbox (again like the US
model).

Some of the carts (e.g. Schach) feature german text onscreen.

3f. ITT Tele-Match Processor [Germany]

ITT put it out as the "ITT Tele-Match Processor". It has a totally
different design than the Saba. It is much smaller (no storage
compartment), made of black plastic with an aluminium front. Its overall
look reminds me a little of a small VCR. Sound on TV. No controller
holders, no cartridge eject button (you just pull them out). Built-in Pong
games, built-in automatic switchbox. The controllers are removable, but you
have to open the system and plug them off the board. In contrary to the
70's design of the Saba, the ITT version has more of an early 80's product,
so I assume it had been released after the Saba (this is a little vague, I
know). But I think the Saba Videoplay is
more common.

4. Game list/etc.

Key:
# of Players:
1 a 1 player game only,
1/2 a 1 or 2 player game,
2 a 2 player simultaneous game,

Rating:
Game play rating from 1 to 5. 1 being the worst, 5 being the best.
Rarity:
C Common
UC Uncommon
R Rare
ER Extremely Rare
IR Incredibly Rare

In the ratings column, the first score is Clint's, the second is Chris'.

4a. Cartridge Summary

Fairchild Channel F (American)
Luxor (Sweden; Swedish labels over American carts)
Saba (Germany)

# Name of Game; # Players; Game Type; Rating; Rarity
1; Tic-Tac-Toe / Shooting Gallery / Doodle / Quadra-Doodle; 1/2; Misc; 1/1;
C
1; Lerduveskytte / Luffarschack / Kaleidoskop / Rita Själv (Luxor)
1; Muehle / Tontauben-Schiessen / Kreatives Malspiel / Videoscope (Saba)
2; Desert Fox/Shooting Gallery; 1/2; Shooter; 2/2; UC
2; Lerduveskytte / Ökenkrig (Luxor)
2; Wuestenfuchs / Tontaubenschiessen (Saba)
3; Video Blackjack; 1/2; Casino Game; 2/4; UC
3; "21" 1 Eller 2 Spelare (Luxor)
3; Blackjack (Saba)
4; Spitfire; 1/2; Shooter; 4/5; UC
4; Luftkampf (Saba)
5; Space War; 1/2; Shooter; 3/3; UC
5; Rymdkrig (Luxor)
5; Kampf Im Weltraum (Saba)
6; Math Quiz 1 (Addition/Subtraction); 1; Educational; 2/1; R
6; Matematik (Luxor)
6; Magische Zahlen (Saba)
7; Math Quiz 2 (Multiplication/Division); 1; Educational; 2/1; R
7; Matematik (Luxor)
7; Autorennen (Saba)
8; Magic Numbers/Mind reader/Nim; 1; Puzzle; 4/1; UC
8; Master Mind (Magiska Tal) (Luxor)
8; Labyrinth (Saba)
9; Drag Race; 1/2; Driving; 4/4; UC
9; Backgammon / Acey Deucy (Saba)
10; Maze / Jailbreak / Blind Man's Bluff / Trailblazer; 2; Puzzle; 5/5; UC
10; Labyrint / Rymning / Blindbock / Stigfinnare (Luxor)
10; Baseball (Saba)
11; Backgammon / Acey-Deucey; 1/2; Board Game; 5/5; C
11; Brädspel / Dus-Ess (Luxor)
11; Robot-Jagd / Torpedo (Saba)
12; Baseball; 2; Sports; 3/3; C
12; Baseball (Luxor)
12; Sonar-Peilung (Saba)
13; Robot War / Torpedo Alley; 2; Shooter; 4/4; UC
13; Robotjakt / Torpedskjutning (Luxor)
13; Memory (Symbole) / Memory (Ziffern) (Saba)
14; Sonar Search; 1/2; Puzzle; 3/2; R
14; Voelkerball (Saba)
15; Memory Match; 1/2; Puzzle; 2/2; UC
15; Barriere (Saba)
16; Dodge It; 1/2; Driving; 4/5; UC
16; Rymmare-Fasttagare (Luxor)
16; Rat' Mal (Saba)
17; Pinball Challenge; 2; Sports; 5/4; ER
17; Kickball (Saba)
18; Hangman; 2; Puzzle; 4/3; R
18; Ordtavling (Luxor)
18; Bowling (Saba)
19;* Checkers; 2; Board Game; ?/3; IR
19; Odyssee Im Weltraum (Saba)
20; Video Whizball; 1/2; Sports; 4/5; R
20;*1 Schach (Saba)
21; Bowling; 1/2; Sports; 5/5; ER
22;* Slot Machine; 1/2; Casino Game; ?/2; IR
23;* Galactic Space Wars/Lunar Lander; 2; Shooter; 3/3; R
24;* Pro Football; 2; Sports; 3/5; ER
25;* Casino Poker; 1/2; Casino Game; ?/3; ER
26;* Alien Invasion; 1/2; Shooter; 4/5; IR
N/A Democart; N/A; Demo; ?/?; IR
N/A Democart 2; N/A; Demo; ?/?; IR
KB-1 Keyboard Cartridge + Keypad; N/A; ??; ??; NR

* = Zircon releases
*1 = This one is definitely chess, NOT checkers. On the side where the
small label is, the cartridge has a red LED that lights when the computer
is thinking about his next move. On the circuit board (filling the entire
cartridge) it says: "Fairchild Memory Systems (c) 1979". So we might have
a European- (Germany-) only release here?

4b. Box/Cartridge variations

I used to be a heavy variation collector, and although I don't collect them
anymore, I thought there might be some people out there who do. So, what
I'm going to do is list all the boxes I have (or have had), and you can
check yours to make sure they match.
Here's the key:

Box types:
R = Standard rainbow (From the box end, Blue, Green, Yellow and Red)
RF = Standard rainbow with a big F instead of the "Fairchild" logo
BR = Standard rainbow with a black stripe added before the blue stripe
BRF = Standard rainbow with a black stripe added before the blue stripe,
and a big F instead of the "Fairchild" logo (I haven't found one of these,
but figure they probably exist, so I'd throw it in)
NR = No Rainbow
W = White box (Zircon released all the white boxes)
Zircon = Zircon version of the game. Most Zircon versions have a sticker
on the back of the cartridge, whereas the Fairchild carts don't.

# NAME; BOX TYPES
1 Tic-Tac-Toe/Etc; BR, RF, (Zircon)
2 Desert Fox/Shooting Gallery; BR
3 Video Blackjack; BR
4 Spitfire; BR
5 Space War; BR
6 Math Quiz 1; BR
7 Math Quiz 2; BR
8 Magic Numbers/Mind reader/Nim; BR
9 Drag Strip; BR
10 Maze; RF
11 Backgammon/Acey-Deucey; RF
12 Baseball; RF
13 Robot War/Torpedo Alley; RF
14 Sonar Search; RF
15 Memory Match 1 & 2; RF
16 Dodge It; RF
17 Pinball Challenge; RF
18 Hangman; NR
19 Checkers; ?
20 Video Whizball; NR
21 Bowling; NR
22 Slot Machine; NR, (Zircon)
23 Galactic Space Wars/Lunar Lander; W (Zircon)
24 Pro Football; W (Zircon)
25 Casino Royale; ?
26 Alien Invasion; W (Zircon)
Built-in games (US only?) - Hockey, Tennis and 2 drawing programs
Demo Demonstration Cartridge; ?
Demo 2 Demonstration Cartridge 2; ?

4c. Fairchild newsletter

First and only known newsletter, featured descriptions of carts 1-9, with
preview descriptions of carts 10-12. Dated October 1977. Mentions that
Carts 10-12 should be out by November 1977.

4d. TV show appearance - "POW!"

Chris:
A long time ago there was a local independent TV station (Ch. 11 in Los
Angeles) that had a contest where kids would call in and try to win prizes.
The game featured "Shooting Gallery" on the TV screen, and the contestant
would shout "Pow!" when they wanted the gun to fire. If they could hit 10
ducks in 30 seconds, they won a $100 prize or some other small prize. The
unique thing is that this was the only time a video game system was used on
TV as part of a game show. This "show" may have aired in other states as
well.

Clint:
I remember this also! I don't remember the name of the actual show, but
this was a feature of the show (callers calling in and playing the game for
minimal prizes). The show was an hour long variety show, and if it sounds
semi-familiar, then Charlie and Humphry should also sound familiar. They
(dogs) did skits to teach kids the difference between right and wrong (the
skit I remember most was "1001 stupid things to do -- borrowing without
asking" -- yes, you had to see it). The show ran on channel 2 in the Bay
Area, and Pat McCormick was both the voice of the two dogs and the real
host.

4e. Catalogs and other paraphernalia

"Channel F has a lot more fun in store for you." Catalog includes carts #1
- 17. Also of note is that the cart labels on the front are different from
anything I've seen before. They have a big picture with a small amount of
text, the Video cart # and the Fairchild logo at the bottom. Weird!

Version A: "Now playing on Fairchild's Channel F System II". This pamphlet
includes the 1979 lineup. It show screen shots of carts 1-25, not
including carts 4, 7, 19, 22. The back of the pamphlet lists carts 1-24.
The pamphlet ID# is CI 202520.

Version B: "Now playing on Fairchild's Channel F System II". This pamphlet
looks exactly like the above mentioned, except it lists iron on the back
panel instead of Fairchild. The carts also have changed Catalog #'s which
are now numbered C0XX (XX meaning Cart #).

Zircon sales flyer: featured an order form and sales descriptions on brand
new carts # 19, 22, 23, 24. On the back they offered a special Holiday
Package that included System 2 Console, and Carts 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8.
This flyer was one page typed front and back, and was dated October 1980.

Zircon Service flyer: a 1/3 page flyer that pitched buying or upgrading
your console for $99.95 new or $59.95 refurbished. On the back it featured
a $47.00 service offer, but does not specify what they do to the unit other
than replacing lost or broken parts.

Microtronix Sales Flyer - This company was located in Philadelphia, PA.
They offered refurbished and new units, as well as some carts.

4f. Rumors and other Myths

According to the System 2 Box, there was a black cartridge and a numeric
Keypad. According to the picture the cart is called "Casino Royal" (same
as cart 25?) and numbered K-1.

5. Repair Information

5a. Base unit

It is doubtful that the console would develop a problem. We have not found
any schematics yet for the unit. One good hint to keep in mind, if you
drag out your system from storage to play with it, be sure to let it sit at
room temperature for at least 2 days before you turn it on for the first
time. This will allow the unit to "warm up" to room temperature. I you
don't do this, when you turn on a cold unit directly out of storage, you
may pop a chip!

5b. Controllers

If you have ever seen one of the controllers, you know that they are unique
in their design. They kind of resemble a dynamite detonator, with a
control knob that had 8 basic movements: up/down/left/right/twist
left/twist right/pull up/pull down. The controller worked on contacts,
somewhat like the Atari 2600. The inside of the controller featured a
metal ring that surrounded the stick that accomplished movement on the
screen.

The downside to these controllers is that they had very cheap wiring, along
the lines of 22 gauge or smaller. If the controllers were not carefully
handled, a wire would break either inside the controller or in the wire
leading to the console. I have not been successful yet in finding a way to
repair these units.

In a future update, I'll try to provide a pin-out of the 9 pin plug so a
replacement cord can be possibly wired to the controller.

5c. Why won't my cartridges work?

The system as a whole has never given me trouble. If you insert the
cartridges firmly into the console, they should work. A little
preventative maintenance also helps, such as cleaning the gold edge of a
cartridge with Denatured alcohol. Also keeping the console and carts free
of lint and dust helps ensure good performance.

--EOF--