Your #1 source for Atari Lynx news and information!
Atari GamerAtari GamerAtari Gamer

We are moving all Atari Lynx related content over to Atari Lynx Vault and all our shop content over to K-Retro Gaming. Please update your bookmarks!

As a result of this change, the following will no longer be available: Online Lynx Emulator, Collection Tracker, Game Ratings, News. If you are interested in contributing content to Atari Lynx Vault, we are seeking editors and maintainers.

Why is this happening? First - the Atari Gamer branding is changing to K-Retro Gaming to allow us to expand to providing games, replacement parts, and mod services to other game consoles. And second - The content management system running Atari Gamer is out of date and Google AppEngine (where the website runs) will no longer allow it to run after the 30th January 2024, so in order to preserve all content we switched to a new and modern content management system and chose a website domain that better suits the subject matter. Since we are operating this website in our spare time, on top of full time family and job committments, some features had to be dropped.

  1. Home >
  2. Pages >
  3. Bypassing The Atari Lynx 9V circuit for a quick dead or alive test

The 9V power circuit in an Atari Lynx can be problematic and we recommend that you replace the MOSFET and zener diodes in your Lynx, and in some cases you may also need to replace the 3906 transistors too. However your first step before doing any of this should be to check if your Lynx is actually still OK. This is the dead or alive test for the Atari Lynx.

No Solder Method🕸

You can check whether a Lynx is dead or alive without having to take it apart. All you need is one of these cables that we sell in our store.

The cable plugs into the ComLynx port, which is the middle port on the top of the Lynx. Plug it in and then follow the instructions in the "Power up your Lynx" section below.

Solder Method🕸

If you have the Lynx already taken apart or want to make your own USB dead/alive test cable, follow these steps.


WARNING: If you use this method with something other than a USB cable (e.g. a bench power supply) and you feed the Lynx more than 5V, you will fry the CPU and maybe other components. Make sure that the voltage is 5V for this test!

Prepare a spare USB cable🕸

Please refer to the Lynx 2 disassembly steps and Screw size chart or if you own an earlier model - Lynx 1 disassembly steps and Screw size chart.

Since the 9V power circuit is prone to failure, we simply want to bypass it. Doing this will let us know if the Lynx still works, if it does, then the 9V power circuit with its MOSFET and zener and the 3906 transistors, can be fixed. If your Lynx has a bad 9V circuit and you try to power it on using batteries or a wall adapter, it can (and probably will) destroy your Lynx.

So the first step is to get a USB cable. Any cheap USB power cable will do because you'll need to cut it anyway. Here we used a USB to mini-USB cable. The mini-USB end was then cut off.

We only want the bigger side of the USB cable for this. So where you cut the other end off, remove the outer (black) insulation and strip back the two wires. If you have four wires in your cable, you only want to use the RED and BLACK wires. If you have two wires, you will want to use RED and WHITE (sometimes the WHITE is BLACK, but you only have two choices here anyway).

Strip both of the wires back about 5mm and tin them with a soldering iron.

Solder USB cable to your Lynx motherboard🕸

You need to find a specific capacitor on the Lynx motherboard -

  • Lynx 1 - capacitor is C39
  • Lynx 2 - capacitor is C41

    You can use our Atari Lynx Capacitor Maps to find these. The photos below show what it looks like on a Lynx 2 motherboard.

    Pay attention to where the +ve side of the capacitor is, it should be marked on the motherboard. If it is not, look at the capacitor and find a vertical stripe along its side - that is the -ve side, so the +ve side is opposite. The red wire from the USB cable has to be soldered to the +ve pin of the capacitor (on the bottom side of the motherboard). The black/white wire is then soldered to the -ve ping (the other pin) of the capacitor.

    Power up your Lynx🕸

    It is recommended to insert a working cartridge in the cart slot, however this is not required and you should get the text "INSERT GAME" appear on the screen without a cartridge inserted. Then simply plug the USB cable into a USB power bank or wall adapter, doesn't matter which, as long as it can provide 1A (at least 5W) of power. The Lynx should power on and play the game you have in the cart slot straight away. You will not need to press the On button. Note: typically a Lynx will not power up without a cartridge, but when the 9V circuit is bypassed, it will attempt to boot.

    If the Lynx powers on OK with this procedure, it's still alive and working well. If you get a black screen or a completely white screen or some other glitchy behaviour, it's likely your Lynx is no longer working and has died. If you get the INSERT GAME message on the screen, your Lynx is likely working fine and you need to either clean the cartridge contacts or try a different cartridge.

    This page is part of the Atari Lynx Repair and Troubleshooting Guides series.

  • Did we get something wrong or you have something to contribute? Please tell us about it!
    You can find Atari Gamer on...
    Be sure to follow for the latest Atari Lynx news, updates, stories and photos!
    [ Don't show again ][ Dismiss ]
    We have an online shop that has lots of Atari Lynx related goodies - including LCD mod kits, flash carts, display stands and other fun things for your Lynx! Check it out here.

    If your download doesn't start automatically after 10 seconds, please click here.
    Cookie Consent
    By continuing to browse or by clicking ‘Accept’, you agree to storing of cookies on your device to enhance your site experience and for analytical purposes. To learn more about how we use cookies, please see our privacy policy.
    Accept and Close