C64 Kickstarter Cases – With pictures!

July 17, 2015

Commodore 64 C Kickstarter cases

The Kickstarter campaign for new C64 C cases using the original molds happened, and a lot of people have been very excited about that. Despite some ridiculous occurrences by Kickstarter (can’t show renders of the cases) and dimwits owning some rights to Commodore brand (can’t even mention Commodore in the campaign), the campaign was a real funding success.

Also the production phase faced an unfortunate incident, as the plastic molding company that produced the cases suffered a fire in the factory. The fire destroyed the transparent cases which had been the first ones pressed. Despite these shortcomings and delays the cases got pressed and sent out in the last couple of weeks. Related forums and social media groups have been filled with photos of these new cases and nice C64 setups installed in them.

I got mine last week, and guess what I’m going to do? Post some pictures of course!  Read the rest of this entry »


C64 Reloaded – first impressions

May 24, 2015

I mentioned about C64 Reloaded in my previous post. Let’s talk a bit more about it.

C64 reloaded

Because here it is!

The C64 Reloaded is a new C64 motherboard. It is recreated according to the schematics of C64B3 model, ASSY NO 250466, and is designed to use the original C64 chipset. A good description you’ll find on the announcement on Individual Computers’ website. Basically, it’s a real Commodore 64, only manufactured with today’s standards.

I haven’t had enough time to spend with this machine to call this a review yet. Instead I’ll share a pictorial overview of the board and some of the nice details on it. Read the rest of this entry »


1541 – Why so complicated

May 14, 2014

1541YUNO

The Commodore 64 has a disk drive that is unique in many ways. Not only is the Commodore 1541 said to be the world’s slowest disk drive, but it’s also big, bulky, noisy and has a reputation of being unreliable. Also, it works in an unusual way. In many ways it’s the disk drive that has defined our experience with the C64.

In addition to the original model 1541 there were also the updated models 1541C and 1541-II from Commodore. The drives have different looks, differences in hardware and in ROM versions, but the basic functionality and features are principally identical.

Some later models in Commodore’s 8-bit serial disk drive range were improved in some ways, but those have less importance today. For a C64 as a retro system, the 1541 is the de facto standard. Still, in this time of emulators and hardware add-ons, compatibility with the original 1541 disk drive is regarded as a must.

And today, for someone who doesn’t want to resort to emulators only, the large and unconventional disk drive brings some practical challenges. So understanding the 1541 helps us to understand the options we have for replacing it! Read the rest of this entry »


C64 A/V cable – theory and practice

March 30, 2012

A while ago I made a proper SCART cable for Amiga, so why not for C64 as well? So what I did was a C64 SCART cable with selectable composite/S-Video mode, including a ‘chroma fix’ and audio noise reduction ‘mod’ plus a preparation for possible stereo audio use. But let’s start with the theory.

Cable making principle

Building an A/V cable for C64 is not very difficult. In the simplest form, what is needed are plug for the C64 Video port, a cable with enough wires for the desired operation and the output connector(s).

C64 Video port

The C64 Video port is an 8-pin DIN connector, which is a standard multi purpose connector. It means that the required DIN plugs are easy to find and cheap. However, there are two different versions of the 8-pin DIN plug. The two versions differ in the shape of the arc that the pins form. Best shown as a picture:

The two pins marked in grey in the wrong type DIN plug will prevent the plug from being inserted into C64 A/V jack. But not to worry in case you’re holding the wrong type of plug in your hand, these two pins can be cut off or pulled out from the connector plug. In any ordinary A/V cable they are not needed anyway. Here is the Video port pinout:

Some early C64s had a 5-pin Video port that are missing the pins 6-8. It means there’s not separate chroma signal available there. In other words: no S-Video, only composite available via the video port.

Make note on the pin 8. It is either directly wired to the +5V DC line from the PSU (after the power switch) or not connected. According to my first hand research, the +5V DC line is present in the C64 Video port in all but the earliest two models. The +5V line is present starting from model C64B, or motherboard ASSY-NO. 250425. That means machines manufactured starting from 1984. Read the rest of this entry »


Stuff from Retro-Donald

January 21, 2012

Just a quick heads-up, I recently ordered some stuff from Retro-Donald’s Sinchai-Shop. Finally the goods arrived, and above you can see the loot I got.

Top: Micromys V3. Below, from left to right: EasyFlash 3, MMC2IEC + programmed AVR, Nano SwinSID, Super PLA.

Sinchai.de is an online shop that is specializing in Commodore 8 bit accessories and DIY kits. Unfortunately the site is in German only, as is all communication and support. Additionally the information and instructions for the products may be very slight, and most of the product support seems to be at the German C64 forum Forum-64. The shop supports the community there and vice versa it appears.

At least the product assortment is very interesting, and they ship worldwide. And Google Translate is your friend if you are like me and don’t speak nor read German.

Apart from the language barrier and almost three weeks’ delivery time I’m very pleased with the experience. Might be that Donald is busy putting the now-released EasyFlash 3 boards together! The pieces I finally got are of good quality, and the packaging was well done. Postage rates were reasonable, and generally, so are the prices at the shop. My recommendations.

Quick run-down of the stuff I ordered Read the rest of this entry »


New life of EasyFlash as a cartridge format standard

November 30, 2011

Since my hands-on review of EasyFlash cartridge things have been moving forward. EasyFlash has been gaining popularity in the Commodore community.

At the time of my overview there were only few EasyFlash tailored releases around, and I thought that the most prominent use of EasyFlash cartridge was the possibility to create EasyFlash multicart images from several single load programs using the Draco Cart Maker.

Since that, the EasyFlash tailored game releases kept on coming. These are usually some of the bigger games for C64, or even compilations of them, modified to run from EasyFlash without loading pauses, often including extra graphics, documents or other bonuses, incorporating bug fixes to the originals, and often with game or score saving feature writing directly to the flash memory. These features are sometimes found only in the EasyFlash patched versions.

At the moment there are quite a few EF releases already, and I’m sure new ones keep on appearing. Basically EasyFlash has become a new medium standard for C64.

And even more so with the phenomenal C64 port of Prince of Persia by Mr. SID. It’s a 1:1 port of the original Apple II game and graphically almost on par with the PC and Amiga versions. The famous fluid animation is there and the gameplay is identical to the original game. Not to mention it’s a great game and a classic, now for the first time ever available on C64 and C128. And it’s available only for the EasyFlash cartridge. Read the rest of this entry »


New C64 hardware rolls out

February 28, 2011

New hardware just keeps on coming for the C64. Now, a new device called Alien Flash Cartridge and the long-awaited Chameleon cartridge are available.

The Alien Flash Cartridge was revealed at Lemon 64 Forums only two weeks ago. It is 16 megabyte Flash memory cartridge that has EasyFlash support and Action Replay compatibility. It also features USB connection that can be used for flashing the cartridge and also to download programs directly to C64 memory. Basically the cartridge has 16 one megabyte memory banks and each of them act like EasyFlash cartridge – except those can be flashed over USB connection. This alone is awesome, plus add the Action Replay mode and the ability to push single load programs to C64’s memory over the USB connection. Certainly a very interesting piece of kit!

If this sounds like must thing to have better act fast. These cartridges can be preordered now and the preordering is open only until 6th March! The developer Stingray sells the cartridges over at his website Multimeter Calibrations Australia. Check the link to Lemon discussion for more info. Find also the few demonstrative YouTube videos.

If I didn’t have EasyFlash and several Action Replay compatible devices already I would be placing order right now!

The Chameleon, in turn, has been in development for a long time. It started out as a “VGA box for C64” but bloated out to become something much greater.

Since the C64 does not provide any higher spec video signal than S-video, the starting point idea for Chameleon was to replicate the VIC-II video chip using a powerful FPGA core and have it generate the VGA video signal to have high quality picture for today’s monitors and televisions. Since there’s some serious processing power available, why not use it also for something else? Well, they did. Read the rest of this entry »


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