the Control Panels

the Control Panels

(trackball, LED, and graphics)

The game has 2 control panels.  Each is identical to the other.  Fortunately, just about everything is available to restore to control panels to mint condition.  The control panel includes:

(1) the metal panel
(2) the trackball assembly
(3) the play selection button
(4) the play selection panel

The Trackball Assembly
Atari Football uses a 4.5" trackball.  Some sites incorrectly state it is a 4-inch trackball.  ANy parts you need will need to accommodate the 4.5-inch trackball.

The illustration will show you the different parts of the trackball assembly. (Which I got from Bob Roberts)
(Click on the illustration for a bigger version)
(The Atari Football manual also has a different illustration, along with specific screw, nut and washer sizes.)

If the trackball has the original rollers, these need to be replaced.  The original rollers have probably been ground down by the ball.
New trackball rollers were purchased from RAM Controls (no longer in business).  There 2 rollers per trackball ( = 4 trackball rollers total).

Replacement bearings were purchased from McMaster-Carr (part #60355K14). The part number changes from time to time, but you need:

Steel Ball Bearing - ABEC 1 Open Bearing No. R6 for 3/8" shaft diameter, 7/8" outer diameter


Each trackball uses 5 bearing (2 on each roller, plus 1 on the supporting post) ( = 10 bearings total).

Be sure to clean all of the parts while you have it disassembled.  Take extra careful with the electronic optical-reader boards.
You can either clean up the ball or replace it.  If you are going to clean it up, several sites recommend using Novus 2, a fine scratch remover for plastic.
I purchased new trackballs from RAM Controls (no longer in business).  It meets the original game specs, and is even manufactured by the original manufacturer of the original part.

The Play Select Switch
Each control panel has a LED switch with a short aluminum cone.  If yours work and look fine, then great.  If not, you may want to consider replacing either or both parts.

The LED switch must work mechanically (to select the offensive and defensive plays), and it must light up.  On some well used switches, the red light is no longer very bright.

I was able to get both the switch and the cone from RAM Controls.

The Play Select Board Assembly
This assembly consists of (1) a PCB with 4 red LED lights and 6 bayonet lights, (2) sheet of plastic with a graphic.

The graphic is silkscreened onto the back of the plastic.  The paint comes off VERY easily...LEAVE it alone!  Clean the front side only, and don't let any thing leak around to the back.  Unfortunately, no one makes a replacement graphic for this.
The PCB uses #44 Bayonet bulbs.  But Tony (at Tony's Arcade) recommends using the #47 bayonet bulbs because it uses less wattage and doesn't get as hot (and I followed his recommendations).  You can get both the #44 and #47 bayonet bulb from Bob Roberts.

The Metal Control Panel
To restore the metal panel, you will need to strip it (to remove the paint), sand it (to remove any rust and paint residue), prime and paint it (black), then apply a new sticker for it.

To strip it, I used Citristrip Stripping Gel.  It worked great at removing the paint.
Next, I sanded the panel with a fine sand paper. I did this by hand, but you can always use a sander.  If you are going to use a sanded, use a rotary sander for best results.  Get the panel as smooth as possible so you don't feel any bumps through the sticker.

You need to paint the panel, because if any part shows around the sticker, black would allow it to blend.

There are some guys that recommend powder-coating instead of painting.  The results they got were very impressive.  Since the panel is really NOT going to be seen except for the edges around the sticker, I opted to just use paint.  A paint-sprayer is best.  However, I got good results with just the spray can.
Be sure to use a primer first, to protect the metal from future rusting.

For the finish, I used RustOleum Gloss Black Protective Enamel.  It gave the panel a really good shine.  I primed and painted BOTH sides of the panel to protect from future rusting.

The sticker for the control panel can be purchased from Phoenix Arcade. The graphic is silk-screened onto Lexan.  The result is incredible.  Every person that has seen and touched the game assumed what they were touching (the Lexan) was actually metal!

Miscellaneous Parts
Before painting, you will have to tear off the mounting panels from the inside of the control panels.  Mounting panels are small plastic parts that keep the wiring organized and out of the way of moving parts.
New ones are easy to install and cheap, cheap, CHEAP!  At Home Depot, I purchased a packet of 1-inch by 1-inch mounting panels for $1, and a packet of 4-inch cable ties for $1.
There are nine bolts that attach to the outside of the control panel and can be seen by the player.  I decided to use black bolts that blend better into the control panel, rather than silver ones (zinc). There are several web-sites that show you how to paint the zinc bolts black, but I decided to seek out some that are manufactured that way.
The bottom of the control panel attaches to the cabinet  using three (3) carriage bolts, 1/4"-20 x 1.25" long. You can purchase black ones (Black Oxide) from Blacksmith Bolt and Rivet Supply.  The cost (June, 2009) is $3.75 for 25. (You need 6 total for the panels)

The trackball assembly attaches to the control panel using three (3) carriage bolts, 1/4"-20 x .75" long. (I ended up using ones that are 1" long just fine). Again, you can get Black Oxide ones from Blacksmith Bolt and Rivet Supply. The cost (June, 2009) is $1.20 for 10. (You need 6 total for the panels).
Lastly, the top of the panel is screwed to the game using three (3) 1/4"-20 x 1" Button Head Socket Cap Screws. I found the Black Oxide ones at Fastenal.  Minimum order is 100 for $16.74 (June, 2009).

The End Result
Here is my control panel when I bought the game:
Here is the restored version: