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Showing posts from February, 2020

Little scares with the Commodore 64: Blank screens and what to do about them

When you've had something major go wrong with a Commodore 64 it can make you nervous that something will go wrong with all C64s. The first second-hand C64 I bought from eBay (a "breadbin") was working fine for about an hour and then the screen went blank and never returned. It turned out the PLA and the SID chip had gone bad, and I'm currently waiting for the repaired C64 back. The second Commodore I bought, a C64C, was treated with caution when it first arrived and I insisted on doing one test turning on before recapping (having noticed some brown marks on one of the capacitors). It took all my bravery risking the recap, but I really wanted to protect the chips in every way I could. Recapping successfully completed, I've been building up my usage. Games have been loading great, and I'm protecting it with a power saver box, but once in a while, I turn it on to a blank screen which is either the normal screen without text or cursor, or it's completely bl

Loading Games on the Commodore 64: Troubleshooting Common Problems

If nothing loads, then you should look at problems with your datassette. The belt might need replacing, the alignment might need adjusting (through the small hole on the front of the datassette). But if games are fairly reliable to load, and it's a few that don't load, then don't give up on them just yet. Try the following: Read the loading instructions, most require Shift + Run/Stop to load but others prefer you to type the instruction Unplug all joysticks while loading, some instructions mention this explicitly, but it never hurts to try Rewind and fast-forward tape before loading to make sure there's not too much tension slowing the cassette down. You can also give it a shake to loosen things up. If you want to improve a datassette, there are a few things you can do: Use rubber renewal liquid on the pinch roller Clean heads with alcohol solution Purchase a copy of the Azimuth tape head alignment software. And if you are happy unscrewing the case Re

Retro gaming with the Commodore 64: Before you turn it on

You've bought a Commodore 64 off eBay or you've pulled your old machine out the loft and fancy some retro gaming. If it still works, that's great news, but that's not a reason to become complacent. There might be trouble ahead. Conversely, if it doesn't work that's not a reason to chuck it in the bin. Most Commodore 64s can be repaired and, if not, they have value for their spares (keyboards, chips, cases, and so on). Stop! Before you plug it in. Don't be too hasty, before you plug it in (or plug it in for a second time) test the power supply with a multimeter. The currents flowing from the power supply can rise to dangerous levels for the components inside or spike after a period of use. Here's an online guide to testing your power supply . Set multimeter to AC (V~) , turn power supply on, measure pins 6 and 7 , two pins at top of connector closest divot, should be around 10 volts . Anything over 11 volts is dangerous. Set multimeter to DC(V⎓