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Commodore 64C: An Introduction

I've had a hankering for an Amiga for a while now... I don't know why.. I think it has something to do with the accelerator that was made for the Amiga 600 that made it go faster than ever thought possible... sure they emulate the entire core in a much faster CPU and high-jack the motherboard... but it's still an awesome feat!

I also have a feeling that I missed out on a whole realm of computing in my childhood by following the Nintendo/IBM route. I'm pretty sure there was a-whole-nother world out there... Sega, Amiga, Atari, TI, etc... that I never got to sample. Actually, I lie... my neighbour had a TI-99/4A, followed by a Sega Master System... but I only ever got to play them briefly. Hunt the Wumpus was random, but fun at the time!

My first Commodore

Officially, this is my second. The first was purchased in the mid-90s at a fair at high school, but didn't work. It was the original breadbox style and was stone dead. Should've left it in the garage!

Anyway, this past weekend I spied a box of junk at the local Trash and Treasure and actually thought I saw an Amiga 500/1200. Instead it turned out to be the 'newer' C64. I was hooked.

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The guy wanted $100 for the box. It contained:

  • C64C (missing 3 keys) + Power Supply
  • Composite Video Cable with Stereo Audio
  • Two quickshot joysticks
  • One control pad (looks like a NES clone)
  • 3 odd cartridges
  • Another odd console named 'Tempest'
  • 1571 External Floppy Drive

Now that I list it, it could well be worth the AUD$100. I offered $50. He haggled back to $60... knew I had him. Asked if it worked... he had no idea... so I pulled change from my pocket and made a deal at AUD$52.

Bargain.

Does it work?

Worked first time... plugged it in and switched to A/V input... blue screen of dea... BASIC!

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Random 4s and 8s on the screen... and the cursor was stuck hard-left. This directly mapped to the keys that were missing. 4, 8 and HOME. Turns out that there is no spring when the keys are off, so these were all 'pressed'.

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Got some tape, placed along the shaft of the missing keys to hold them in the air. Restarted... it works! Quick search on eBay on my phone, from the couch, in front of the LCD TV that was happily displaying technology from 1987. Found replacement keys... ordered them on the spot.

Next google to a sample BASIC app... found a tone generator. Tedious data-entry thanks to taped-keys... but it worked beautifully through the surround system. Hah.

How much more powerful is my phone than this? No idea.

1541-II Floppy Disk Drive

This is external and has its own brick of a power supply. Turns on and hums away when I attempt to access a disk... so I assume it's in working order. There's disks on their way via eBay, so I'll test it out shortly.

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The innards

See below for the case opened. I was curious as to why it had a green LED. Turns out Commodore could never work out what colour the LED should be. The warranty seal was also very well voided. Seems to be some newish solder around the PAL/NTSC circuitry... maybe this was a conversion?!

Turns out I have an Assy 250469 Rev. B. Built in 1990 (assumed by the scratched out '91' on the RF Modulator.) This model was still being built in the '92, so I seem to have acquired one of the final models.

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What's next?

  1. Yes, that's a model railway under the C64C... I will control it. Turns out I bought a book when I was young that was all about robots and the Commodore 64. I need a VIC-REL or equivalent. Bugger that... let's find the header for the user port and make my own!
  2. Buy floppies (thanks eBay) and test out the drive.
  3. Buy some form of flash disk and play all the games I missed out on. I chose the SD2IEC... waiting for it to arrive.
  4. Serial port? Modem? Ethernet?
  5. What else?

This is fun!

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About stevenh

Trains... trains... trains... + Electronics + Japan.
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