Commodore 64 restore

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade' started by badmofo, Apr 6, 2019.

  1. badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    I'm not sure if I should call this a restore, it's more of a contrived excuse to play around with C64 hardware again. About 5 years ago I picked up a couple of sad looking C64s with a view to a) having some spare parts around for my existing C64, and b) to restore one of their cases for a Raspberry Pi media center. The media center came and went, but recently I got a bee in my bonnet about C64 emulation so I set about looking into RetroPi / Combian64 and got as far as installing the hardware and software back into the empty C64 case. At some point I became aware of a terrible emptiness inside (of both me and the case) - emulation is a great option but I'm more interested in the hardware at the end of the day, so pulled out my box of spares, chose the best looking motherboard, and decided to simply put together a real C64 instead.

    The motherboard in question actually worked fine so I could have just chucked it into the case and been finished with this in 10 minutes, but that's no fun. So here comes the contrived list of fixes:

    • repair 1 busted motherboard mount
    • replace the rubber feet on the case
    • replace all electrolytic capacitors
    • JiffyDOS - either a physical replacement of the ROM or via the ROM overload functionality in my 1541 Ultimate
    • replace case badges with some nicer ones - need to work out how to get the existing ones off without trashing them (I think I glued them on)
    • socket the PLA chip; a likely source of failure in my limited experience
    • replace SID with an ARMSID (existing SID works fine but I've been meaning to try out a clone, and the ARMSID sounds like a good place to start)
    • put a heatsink on the VIC-II chip, they get quite hot. Heatsink the PLA if using an original too.
    • replace the red LED with a green one, just for fun.

    I'll update this thread as I go but here's what I'm starting with - an assembly 250425 board, rev. B. This seems to be the most common board in these parts - all 4 C64s I've come across locally have been this assembly. This one's pretty clean with no corrosion or significant rust. The tape port has some wear but I won't be using that, I use a 1541 Ultimate 2. The floppy drive port looks pristine, so I'm guessing this was a tape-only machine like most were in AU from what I understand.

    [​IMG]

    And here's the case getting some love ~5 years ago. I bought this lot for 60 bucks and didn't think I got a great deal at the time, but even untested machines are getting pricey these days. Both cases were yellowed and I ended up painting one of them - not ideal but I got lucky with the colour match and was happy with the end result.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2019
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  2. Vanne

    Vanne Member

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    Subbed for awesomeness!!
     
  3. adz

    adz Member

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    I've always wanted a breadbox, the C64C looks crap in comparison...
     
  4. Vanne

    Vanne Member

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    That's true, but the C types easier and is easier to live with if you ask me. Not as much rsi. ;)

    BM, what video option are you going to go with? Playing around the other month with my c model, through retrotink I wasn't overly impressed by the video out, it was ok, but no where near what an an emu puts out on a crisp Lcd screen.

    This is most of the time what makes me put the commodore stuff back on the back burner.

    On the upside , my c64 WiFi modem arrived. ;)
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2019
  5. qwertylesh

    qwertylesh Member

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    Awesome, they so difficult to get now days
     
  6. OP
    OP
    badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    Up until recently I was using a little 14" Triniton TV via composite and it was great, but I recently switched to a Retrotink to a HDMI->VGA converter with a 17" CRT and I'm happy with it. Initially I wasn't too impressed either but the svideo cable made a difference - this one worked best for me:

    https://www.protovision.games/shop/product_info.php?products_id=118

    Those HDMI->VGA adapters aren't made equal either and I tried about 5 before settling on one. I also had trouble with a couple of switches doing odd things to the image quality - lots of variables but I'm loving this setup now.

    [​IMG]

    EDIT: composite, not component. Big difference but I get them mixed up, often.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2019
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  7. OP
    OP
    badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    Some progress with this over the weekend, firstly I installed a socket for the PLA chip. This is the "Programmed Logic Array", which handles connections to the data bus for some other key chips. The one on this board was working just fine but it's a relatively common source of issues so being able to replace it going forward gives me some peace of mind.

    I've desoldered the occasional chip in the past but my tools match my skills - primitive. I got 90% of the way through this job - hunched over the board with poor lighting, wick in hand, smoke in eyes - and couldn't take it anymore, so I broke out the dremel and chopped the bloody thing out.

    I have a modern clone chip on the way but I had this NOS PLS100N on hand so have chucked that in for now - works like a charm. I don't know the history behind this thing but from what I understand these were used as replacements for the PLA back in the day, presumably an after market thing.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Next up I replaced the case badges with some very clean looking ones I pulled off a busted case years ago. The donor machine was NTSC and it turns out that this badge was a tiny bit longer than the recess on my PAL case - we're talking bee's dick here but it didn't fit. Some very careful sanding later and it's perfect.

    Nothing's easy though!

    [​IMG]


    And finally I cut off the remains of a busted motherboard mount and crafted up a replacement. I've also popped some rubber bumpers in a couple of places in the middle of the case to support the board - the mounts all run around the outside.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
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  8. Vanne

    Vanne Member

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    `Nice work BM, and thanks for chucking the pics in, looks really good. Is this the one that you painted with a rattle can? if so, that looks great man.
     
  9. OP
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    badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    Thanks Vanne! Yep one of the few paintjobs I've been happy with after countless attempts over the years - BMX's, PC cases, modal cars, actual cars - you name it I've done an average job of painting it :p
     
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  10. gdjacobs

    gdjacobs Member

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    IMO, a bad iron makes normal skills look bad. I'd recommend a TS100 or one of the other T15 compatible AVR driven models. You'll be amazed at the difference.
     
  11. OP
    OP
    badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    You're right I need to get serious - I also have the hots for a desoldering station (pun intended) but I should keep it simple and just get a good iron to start. To be honest it's the thought of having to do my homework and find a good one locally that's holding me back - old fashioned laziness.

    Baby steps on this project today, new feet. (Pun intended). (Wait does that even make sense?).

    I'd painted over the old ones and then tried to clean them up - they looked grim and were leaving marks so fresh rubber was in order.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. gdjacobs

    gdjacobs Member

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    The good news is that braid desoldering is easier with a good iron (and flux) as well.

    If you're interested, start with some of the options in this thread:
    https://www.eevblog.com/forum/reviews/(tip)-best-budgetcheap-soldering-stations-and-tools/
     
  13. nimmers

    nimmers Member

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    How good is the TS100! I've used the expensive Hakko stations and honestly my TS100 does the same quality work.
     
  14. gdjacobs

    gdjacobs Member

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    I've used OKI/Metcal Curie point irons and my Chinese T12 iron feels just as nice on both through hole and SMD work. I have an FX-888 as well and the T12 feels much more responsive (not that an FX-888 is a bad iron).

    In my view, the TS100 or one of the other T12/T15 models is the best initial investment for anyone who wants to do electronics work. There's literally no reason to look at anything cheaper.
     
  15. OP
    OP
    badmofo

    badmofo Member

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  16. gdjacobs

    gdjacobs Member

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  17. OP
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    badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    Thanks for the hot tips guys (wow I'm rocking the puns in this thread) I've gone with the TS100 - there's still some more soldering work left for this project so I'm looking forward to trying it out.

    The PLA clone showed up - this is a locally made 'OzPLA' but there are a few options out there these days. It's a dead boring chip really and makes no visible difference to user, it just needs to be compatible with edge cases like fast loaders, etc. This one claims to be and it's working fine for me. The only thing to get excited about really is that it produces no heat at all, so that's gotta be good for the other more interesting components like the VICII and the SID.

    [​IMG]
     
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  18. Vanne

    Vanne Member

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    Looks good man :thumbup:

    What's next?

    Should make an old skool type OCAU C64 BBS.. :)
     
  19. OP
    OP
    badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    Cheers Vanne - Australia post decide the next steps at this stage, I have heatsinks, an ARMSID, and new caps on the way. I the mean time I might tackle the LED, should be an easy job.

    I never did any BBSs on the C64, that came later for me on a DOS PC. I didn't actually own a C64 back in the either, just had access to one via a dodgy mate, so I'm not really sure where my love for them comes from. They're just such a capable and iconic 8 bit - way more than the sum of their parts as evidenced by the amazing worldwide community still using and developing for the C64.

    What's your C64 backstory Vanne? And did you have any luck with that C128?
     
  20. Vanne

    Vanne Member

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    Cheers man, really appreciating all the updates man. Got my C64 (original breadbin that i still have) in 84, and then pretty much stayed on that platform untill the release of the A500. During that time, we had a huge group of guys from my school that all had 64's and our school had 128's as school computers.. So yeah pretty much my whole highschool time we had a ring of guys doing programming and (to a certain extent) hacking on the c64. Lorts of games were swapped and ... *cough*... *cough*... thats how we got into it really.. that and trying to outdo each other.. lol it was a good time..

    The 128 is still there, but needs a new PSU (recapp) and a few bits here and there, but really is in great nick. Ive put it on the back burner while i am doing interviews trying to get my ass back to Oz. (well me and my family that is)

    Ill tackle it when i have a bit more time up my sleave. (ive been after a euro model C128 for a long long time)
     

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