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Atari CTF-1 test rig page

last updated July 26, 2017

This is a rough page for now detailing my CTF-1 test rig and associated info.

I currently use one on my bench in the workshop, mainly just for its dual Variacs.


Sales Flyers for the CTF-1 :

Backstory of rig #1:
In December of 2008 i was lucky enough to finally get my hands on an Atari CTF-1 test rig.
I purchased it through eBay from Schwenksville, Pennsylvania, USA, it took a while to ship, but it landed just fine in the UK! I know eBay isn't exactly orignal detective work, but these things just aren't that common!
While the machine didn't look complete, I knew i had to have it, what with my Atari 1970's pcb collection as it was.. i took the chance to grab it while i had some money kicking around and i fealt like cheering myself up (as you do at christmas time). So, with my ridiculous impulse purchase secured, i sat and waited. I told some guys online about the new aquisition, one of whom said that he remembers actually talking with a guy who still had it in his workshop a few years back, and he said there was a big box of plugs that went with it.

So i asked the seller of my new CTF-1 if there was any chance he had picked up a box of plugs with it, but hadn't realised what they were... Sure enough he got back to me a few days later and said he found them, we negotiated a further payment and he wrapped them up with the machine and shipped it.

I could already see from the auction pictures that some weird- re-wiring had gone on, there was an AR1 hanging off of it for a start, and a little wooden panel marked 'Asteroids on/off' on the front. No doubt it got to the end of its useful life and became useful for asteroids only.. who knows.

December 20th 2008:
After having a few phone calls with the shipping company to sort out the obligatory customs import charges and related shenanigans, a big curtain-sided lorry turned up outside my house..

The driver was very good, and helped lift the damn thing off the 6ft high bed of the truck, and carry it into my house. I think it weighs in the region of 80 kgs

And there it sat... ready to be unpeeled...

Removing the layers off revealed a cardboard box full of plugs... inside the box with the plugs there lay half scrunched up - lots of sheets of paper which look like real Atari pinout information sheets, no doubt provided with the plugs themselves when you bought them..

Look in the table further down the page for photos of the plugs themselves.


An overall picture of the rig itself as i first got it.
The monitor.. Judging by the flyers i've seen, my rig is probably a slightly later version, with the re-styled monitor housing. Mine also has some added pots for volume. I have since added some machined silver knobs to tidy up the appearance of so many controls, and it make them easier to use.

The mulitmeter was missing, but this is just a fluke 8000A that i picked up in Aug 2012 and installed.

Above this panel is a big gap, this is where the choice of the Universal Expansion Module, a switch panel, or just a blank space should be. See below for more info on this area.

Here are the controls, very robust!






ATARI factory-made CTF-1 Program Plugs:
Game Name Paperwork? Datestamp? Photo Notes
4 Player Football Sep 17 1979
Avalanche   no pic yet  
(says 'Asteroid')
Oct 27 1979
Baseball   no pic yet  
Basketball   no pic yet  
Battlezone   no pic yet  
Breakout   no pic yet  
Canyon Bomber   no pic yet  
Centipede   no pic yet  
Drag Race   no pic yet  
Football   no pic yet  
Lemans   no pic yet  
Lunar Lander -
Missile Command   no pic yet  
Red Baron Mar 30 1981
Sky Diver   no pic yet  
Soccer Jan 7 1980 Does have 2 stamps, an earlier one from Sep 23 1979
Sprint I Mar 23 1978
Sprint II -
Super Breakout Aug 21 1978
Super Bug   no pic yet
Tempest   no pic yet
Video Pinball   no pic yet


ATARI factory-made CTF-1 other cables:
Game Name Photo Notes
main game harness A
(from rig #1)
main game harness B
(from rig #1)





Pics of other CTF's

Theres only a few of these around, and its taken many years to gather up photos of them all. It is obvious that the option panel area is quite varied amongst them all. As the paperwork suggests, this was an optional install, and Atari seems to have offered 3-4 different panels, or none at all depending on your preference when ordering.

some photos of an early CTF-1, this one has the 'universal expansion module' fitted. This even includes an 8-track tape player for testing Quiz Show! This one looks fairly original and unmodified. Most interesting of all, this has markings saying it is a CTS-1 'Computer Test System' unlike any others. Some people do refer to these rigs as CTS-1 but most of the paperwork does indeed have them marked as CTF-1. I'm not sure on the reasoning for this, the universal expansion module does look like it might have some sort of brain behind it. Maybe if you bought a CTF-1 with the expansion module, it became a CTS-1 ? its a mystery... Arc Arc Xmission
This photo was shown to me by someone in Jul 2017 who said they built it for Atari at Lassen in the 1970's? This shows an empty option slot, and no sign of the upgrade transformer brick behind it. This photo was taken at the time
This CTF-1 is apparently still in Daily use by John at! It uses the standard additional button/switch option panel. He's also replaced the monitor with a small (probably 5") RGB crt.

Here is a CTF-1 that i picked up in 2013 that i have decided to sell as i dont need two!

I had the optional button panel made to the atari factory engineering drawings to fill the blank space (its shown painted in Primer but not painted brown - its also upside down ;)

Click the image for more photos!

another CTF-1 with the middle section re-populated with another panel and modified to suit!

I believe this photo was gathered before it ended up with the new owner who is hawking it on ebay for 5 grand :)

See THIS FOLDER for more pics of it. This has a generic panel in the option area.



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These pages are (C) Andy Welburn 1996-2016. I cannot be held responsible if the information supplied herein results in a blown monitor/power supply/house fuse/mind. Oh yeah, have a nice day :)