Vintage & Retro Computer Project
Rescue, Repair & Relive Yesterdays Technology

Todays Date: April 23, 2024

RETRO DATE: Late 80’s Early 90’s

Commodore 64

The Commodore 64, also known as the C64, was a home computer released by Commodore International in 1982. It was one of the first computers to be sold in retail stores and was a popular choice for households and small businesses in the 1980s.

The C64 was known for its advanced graphics and sound capabilities for the time, and it was widely used for gaming, education, and productivity. It featured a MOS Technology 6510 microprocessor and had 64 kilobytes of RAM, which was a significant amount for a home computer at the time. The C64 was also notable for its large software library, with over 10,000 commercial software titles available.

History

The Commodore 64 was my second home computer that was purchased by my Father as a christmas present.

So not to disapoint me on Christmas day, he purchased a Commodore 64 around November and as he had no clue how to use it, we set it up to test it to know all would be well on the big day.

I was very excited to see a 64 in person, but that excitement soon changed to disapointment as this 64 was indeed faulty, and my dad took it back to Kays warehouse to get a replacement.

This process went on 2 or 3 times over the next several weeks, christmas came and went and I remember getting a working 64 sometime in February. Back in those days, there was no internet, no ebay and our only resource for getting hold of second hand today’s tech at an affordable price was Kays.

Kays in Droitwich offered a warehouse opened to the public where customers had purchased items from their Kays catalogue and returned them for one reason or another. Alot of the times, these goods were working perfectly but were rejected by the customer, and then placed in this store for members of the public to browse and purchase at a reduced cost.

My Mother had already got me a Commodore 16 for Christmas, and I believe a conversation went along the lines of asking my Dad to contribute to the cost (as they were divorced). Instead of sharing the cost, my Dad wanted to one-up my Mom so went for the better Commodore 64 to win the competition.

It’s ironic, but in trying to beat my mom’s offering, I ended up waiting a few months before getting the C64 what worked.

From then it was plain sailing, and I did spend many many hours learning all about the Commodore 64, playing games and programming.

Software for the Commodore 64 was only available to me on tape as it was still very expensive to purchase disc drives etc, so I then discovered the pirate software market. Many of the games for the C64 had no copy protection, so it was not long before I used my tape to tape player to copy cassettes. As time went on, I also discovered computer carboot sale type events that were held regularly, and this opened my eyes to the hardware being developed for the C64 where I could add an adapter to the tape port of the computer to copy a game while it loaded.

I ended up with a lot of software, and also a vital life skill. The downside of copying games is that you do not get any instructions. So, this helped me develop my problem solving skills by trying all sorts of things to get the games to play. Imagine trying to play Gunship on the C64 without any instructions. How do you start the engine? how do you operate the selection of weapons?

This provided me the skills of trying things and thinking outside the box when aproaching problems which I still utilise today.

Rambo II

Pitstop 2

Mission Impossible

Spy vs Spy

EBAY LISTING:

Commodore 64 computer. Condition is Good.
Dispatched with Royal Mail 2nd Class.

Commodore 64
Data Cassette
Atari Controller
Scart Cable
Power Cable

Manual’s
Boxed

Good list of games

Cardbored covers

After my Ebay purchase arrived, I took the computer apart to check the components and clean the case as much as possible.

As described in the listing, the item was in overall good condition and was clean and look in original condition in terms of colour.

ACCESSORIES & UPGRADES

Commodore 64 DIAGNOSIC PACKAGE

Commodore 64 Dual Test cartridge Diagnostic 324528-02 / DEAD TEST Rev 781220+ Harness

A full test harness is included to test Keyboard port, Serial Port, User port, Tape Port and Joystick ports.

Also a Dual test diagnostic cartridge with 2 ROMS:

C-64 DIAGNOSTIC 324528-02 REV 324518
C-64 DEAD TEST REV 781220
You can choose the cartridge with just a switch, very easy.

The first test checks all the RAM, ROM and ports of your C64 using the included harness.

The second one is the DEAD TEST very useful if your C64 wont boot. No harness needed for this.

This is the basic and cheap kit to start troubleshooting your C-64.

The EEPROM (W27C512) is in socket so you can change the programs on it if you have an EPROM Programmer.

History

The Commodore 64 was my second home computer that was purchased by my Father as a christmas present.

So not to disapoint me on Christmas day, he purchased a Commodore 64 around November and as he had no clue how to use it, we set it up to test it to know all would be well on the big day.

I was very excited to see a 64 in person, but that excitement soon changed to disapointment as this 64 was indeed faulty, and my dad took it back to Kays warehouse to get a replacement.

This process went on 2 or 3 times over the next several weeks, christmas came and went and I remember getting a working 64 sometime in February. Back in those days, there was no internet, no ebay and our only resource for getting hold of second hand today’s tech at an affordable price was Kays.

Kays in Droitwich offered a warehouse opened to the public where customers had purchased items from their Kays catalogue and returned them for one reason or another. Alot of the times, these goods were working perfectly but were rejected by the customer, and then placed in this store for members of the public to browse and purchase at a reduced cost.

My Mother had already got me a Commodore 16 for Christmas, and I believe a conversation went along the lines of asking my Dad to contribute to the cost (as they were divorced). Instead of sharing the cost, my Dad wanted to one-up my Mom so went for the better Commodore 64 to win the competition.

It’s ironic, but in trying to beat my mom’s offering, I ended up waiting a few months before getting the C64 what worked.

From then it was plain sailing, and I did spend many many hours learning all about the Commodore 64, playing games and programming.

Software for the Commodore 64 was only available to me on tape as it was still very expensive to purchase disc drives etc, so I then discovered the pirate software market. Many of the games for the C64 had no copy protection, so it was not long before I used my tape to tape player to copy cassettes. As time went on, I also discovered computer carboot sale type events that were held regularly, and this opened my eyes to the hardware being developed for the C64 where I could add an adapter to the tape port of the computer to copy a game while it loaded.

I ended up with a lot of software, and also a vital life skill. The downside of copying games is that you do not get any instructions. So, this helped me develop my problem solving skills by trying all sorts of things to get the games to play. Imagine trying to play Gunship on the C64 without any instructions. How do you start the engine? how do you operate the selection of weapons?

This provided me the skills of trying things and thinking outside the box when aproaching problems which I still utilise today.

EBAY LISTING:

Commodore 64 computer. Condition is Good.
Dispatched with Royal Mail 2nd Class.

Commodore 64
Data Cassette
Atari Controller
Scart Cable
Power Cable

Manual’s
Boxed

Good list of games

Cardbored covers

After my Ebay purchase arrived, I took the computer apart to check the components and clean the case as much as possible.

As described in the listing, the item was in overall good condition and was clean and look in original condition in terms of colour.

REPLACEMENT MODERN PSU

C64 PSU OLED Digital Gray UK – Replacement Commodore 64 Power Supply, UK Plug

High-quality Commodore 64 replacement power supply unit (PSU). Designed specifically for C64 to preserve them in a pristine condition for years to come. Stabilized and filtered +5V/2.0A DC along with 9V/1.1A AC ensure continued error-free operation of your C64. Robust and sturdy chassis with an OLED digital display, touch sensor, and different styles and colors to chose from. Fully fused and electrically protected, with round DIN7 plug matching the original C64 PSU pinout.

Features

C64 PSU OLED Digital Gray UK
Stabilized 5V/2.0A DC output with anti-ripple filter
OLED display with digital voltage and time readout
Touch sensor for toggling OLED display screens
Transformer-generated 9V/1.1A AC output
Over-voltage and over-current protection
Fused on AC and DC side and fully isolated
High quality chassis with digital OLED display
Durable and thick cables on both sides
Runs cold
Weight only 0.6 kg (1.3 lb)
Compact enclosure with modern shape
125 mm x 59 mm x 42 mm (5.0″ x 2.3″ x 1.6″)
Round DIN7 plug with 5V DC and 9V AC

The original Commodore 64 was tested for voltages and at time of testing, all the correct voltages were displayed. The downside is that the PSU is over 30 years old and they are known to cause issues without warning and sending over voltages in to the Commodore 64.

The first you know about it is when your Commodore 64 starts behaving odly and this may be a damaged chip. Due to the shortage of spares and the cost of the ones that are available, the cost of a replacement PSU is cheaper than fixing any potential damage that may be caused by an old original PSU.

Even though my Commodore 64 included a datasette drive and tapes, these are mechanical in nature and will continue to require maintenance and degrade over time. To counter this issue which would stop my enjoyment of my Commodore 64, I purchased the SD2IEC so that I could load software onto SD Cards and play games ets that would last longer and load much quicker that from tape.

SD2IEC

Even though my Commodore 64 included a datasette drive and tapes, these are mechanical in nature and will continue to require maintenance and degrade over time.

To counter this issue which would stop my enjoyment of my Commodore 64, I purchased the SD2IEC so that I could load software onto SD Cards and play games ets that would last longer and load much quicker that from tape. 

SD2IEC DRIVE

TFW8b SD2IEC is the world’s most popular SD Card reader for Commodore 8bit Computers #FACT
High quality VIC20/C64c/C128 Cream, SD2IEC v4 Basic Floppy Drive Emulation

* PCB fully enclosed to protect your computer from STATIC electricity (ESD) *

Next Disk, Previous Disk and Root/Reset Buttons
Supports Auto Generation of AUTOSWAP file
Compatible with Commodore Vic20/64/128 Computers

TFW8b SD2IEC – The SD2IEC emulates the basic functions of a real disk drive

Simply copy D64, D71, D81,M2I or Prg files to an SD card, put it into the SD2IEC and you’re ready to go.

REPLACEMENT SID CHIP 

Commodore 64 C64 C128 – SID Chip – 6581 R3

After using my Commodore 64 for a short while, I noticed that the sound was not quite right.

I went to an emulator to load games and tested that it was an issue and not that I remembered it being different to what it was.

This was confirmed, so I purchased a replacement SID chip and once installed the sound was restored to its full glory.

TAPE HEAD ALIGNER

Azimuth Head Alignment Cartridge

If you are having trouble loading your tapes,read head might be out of alignment.
You can easily realign it with this cartridge.

BACKBIT CARTRIDGE

The BackBit cartridge connects to the expansion port of the C64.

It provides instant loading and a thorough implementation of disk commands through KERNAL vector override, including PRG, SEQ, and REL loading and saving, and user block reading/writing for D64, D71, and D81 file formats.

Programs are stored on a Micro-SD card inserted into the cartridge, storing up to 32GB of data in FAT32 format.

Summary

This Commodore 64 from Ebay was in great condition, so apart from replacing the PSU there was nothing else to do to ensure this computer will survive for a while to come.

The only fault detected was an issue with some of the SID channels, and although it produced sound, it was not perfect, so I got a replacement SID to provide authentic sound.

Replacement PSU

Atari Joystick

SD2IEC Drive

RGB Scart Lead

Diagnostic Harness

BackBit Cartridge

ACCESSORIES
&
UPGRADES

Commodore 64 DIAGNOSIC PACKAGE

Commodore 64 Dual Test cartridge Diagnostic 324528-02 / DEAD TEST Rev 781220+ Harness

A full test harness is included to test Keyboard port, Serial Port, User port, Tape Port and Joystick ports.

Also a Dual test diagnostic cartridge with 2 ROMS:

C-64 DIAGNOSTIC 324528-02 REV 324518
C-64 DEAD TEST REV 781220
You can choose the cartridge with just a switch, very easy.

The first test checks all the RAM, ROM and ports of your C64 using the included harness.

The second one is the DEAD TEST very useful if your C64 wont boot. No harness needed for this.

This is the basic and cheap kit to start troubleshooting your C-64.

The EEPROM (W27C512) is in socket so you can change the programs on it if you have an EPROM Programmer.

REPLACEMENT MODERN PSU

C64 PSU OLED Digital Gray UK – Replacement Commodore 64 Power Supply, UK Plug

High-quality Commodore 64 replacement power supply unit (PSU). Designed specifically for C64 to preserve them in a pristine condition for years to come. Stabilized and filtered +5V/2.0A DC along with 9V/1.1A AC ensure continued error-free operation of your C64. Robust and sturdy chassis with an OLED digital display, touch sensor, and different styles and colors to chose from. Fully fused and electrically protected, with round DIN7 plug matching the original C64 PSU pinout. 

Features

C64 PSU OLED Digital Gray UK
Replacement power supply for Commodore 64 and VIC-20
Stabilized 5V/2.0A DC output with anti-ripple filter
OLED display with digital voltage and time readout
Touch sensor for toggling OLED display screens
Transformer-generated 9V/1.1A AC output
Over-voltage and over-current protection
Fused on AC and DC side and fully isolated
High quality chassis with digital OLED display
Durable and thick cables on both sides
Runs cold
Weight only 0.6 kg (1.3 lb)
Compact enclosure with modern shape 125 mm x 59 mm x 42 mm (5.0″ x 2.3″ x 1.6″)
Round DIN7 plug with 5V DC and 9V AC
UK-standard 230V AC power plug 

The original Commodore 64 was tested for voltages and at time of testing, all the correct voltages were displayed. The downside is that the PSU is over 30 years old and they are known to cause issues without warning and sending over voltages in to the Commodore 64.

The first you know about it is when your Commodore 64 starts behaving odly and this may be a damaged chip. Due to the shortage of spares and the cost of the ones that are available, the cost of a replacement PSU is cheaper than fixing any potential damage that may be caused by an old original PSU.

Even though my Commodore 64 included a datasette drive and tapes, these are mechanical in nature and will continue to require maintenance and degrade over time. To counter this issue which would stop my enjoyment of my Commodore 64, I purchased the SD2IEC so that I could load software onto SD Cards and play games ets that would last longer and load much quicker that from tape.

SD2IEC

Even though my Commodore 64 included a datasette drive and tapes, these are mechanical in nature and will continue to require maintenance and degrade over time. To counter this issue which would stop my enjoyment of my Commodore 64, I purchased the SD2IEC so that I could load software onto SD Cards and play games ets that would last longer and load much quicker that from tape. 

SD2IEC DRIVE

TFW8b SD2IEC is the world’s most popular SD Card reader for Commodore 8bit Computers #FACT
High quality VIC20/C64c/C128 Cream, SD2IEC v4 Basic Floppy Drive Emulation

* PCB fully enclosed to protect your computer from STATIC electricity (ESD) *

Next Disk, Previous Disk and Root/Reset Buttons
Supports Auto Generation of AUTOSWAP file
Compatible with Commodore Vic20/64/128 Computers

TFW8b SD2IEC – The SD2IEC emulates the basic functions of a real disk drive

Simply copy D64, D71, D81,M2I or Prg files to an SD card, put it into the SD2IEC and you’re ready to go.

REPLACEMENT SID CHIP 

Commodore 64 C64 C128 – SID Chip – 6581 R3

After using my Commodore 64 for a short while, I noticed that the sound was not quite right.

I went to an emulator to load games and tested that it was an issue and not that I remembered it being different to what it was.

This was confirmed, so I purchased a replacement SID chip and once installed the sound was restored to its full glory.

TAPE HEAD ALIGNER

Azimuth Head Alignment Cartridge

If you are having trouble loading your tapes,read head might be out of alignment.
You can easily realign it with this cartridge.

BACKBIT CARTRIDGE

The BackBit cartridge connects to the expansion port of the C64.

It provides instant loading and a thorough implementation of disk commands through KERNAL vector override, including PRG, SEQ, and REL loading and saving, and user block reading/writing for D64, D71, and D81 file formats.

Programs are stored on a Micro-SD card inserted into the cartridge, storing up to 32GB of data in FAT32 format.

Summary

This Commodore 64 from Ebay was in great condition, so apart from replacing the PSU there was nothing else to do to ensure this computer will survive for a while to come.

The only fault detected was an issue with some of the SID channels, and although it produced sound, it was not perfect, so I got a replacement SID to provide authentic sound.

Replacement PSU

Atari Joystick

SD2IEC Drive

RGB Scart Lead

Diagnostic Harness

BackBit Cartridge