Wellington Commodore Alert!

Introduce yourself. Tell people why you are interested in vintage computers and what (if anything) you've got.

Wellington Commodore Alert!

Postby SparkyNZ on Mon Dec 12, 2011 7:02 pm

Hi Everyone

I'm Sparky. I'm a 38 year-old Commodore obsessed import from the UK. I began my CBM life with the Vic20 I received for Xmas when I was 9. Not having the cash to afford games I learned to program my Vic in BASIC and machine code (hand assembling 6502 instructions) and ultimately upgraded to a C64 when I was 12. I typed in my first assembler program from INPUT magazine and took ages to realise the reason my programs wouldn't work was because the magazine had printing errors in the assembler listings.. I did eventually get the errata sheet by which time I was using the built in assembler of my Action Replay cartridge.. My next logical progression was of course the Amiga 500 when I was 17 followed not long after by an Amiga 1200 at the age of 20. I got into writing OctaMED modules ("mods") until I moved to NZ and got my first 'real' job of sitting in front of a computer 40+ hours a week..

I moved to NZ when I was 21 and was shocked and horrified to find that the Amiga didn't exist in the average Kiwi's lives nor shops. What had I done? I moved away from Europe and a stack of Pommie friends who loved Commodore machines as much as I.. I bought an A4000 pretty cheap in NZ and then realised I was wasting my time saving up for a 68060 card.. The Amiga and Commdore were dead - no afterlife in NZ whatsoever. So I got shot of all my Commodore gear and built myself a few PCs over the years. I'm a Windows and embedded software developer..

Over the last 10-15 years I've dabbled with heaps of Windows emulators such as VICE, WinUAE, Fellow, WinSTon etc.. But for some strange reason I got the itch to buy me a few C64s and Vic20 over the past few months. It all started when I began writing TrainTracker - an iPod "mod" composing app (unfinished) which also emulates the C64 SID chip. I just wanted to hear all those SID tunes from the day so I had to find a real C64.. But wait there's more.. I discovered a load of 'scene' Vic20 demos and I was blown away with what people have done with the Vic in the past few years. So now I have an obsession with the Vic - I want to try doing some cross development with the Vic, and even write some blip-blop tunes on the Vic.. and even support the real retro sound in TrainTracker.. Needless to say time is at a minimum these days! :)

Lately I've converted an NTSC and PAL Vic20 to output S-video, fixed a few C64s and a Vic.. I just can't help myself. :) I also try and compose music using Renoise these days but my last tune was finished 2 years ago this Feb.

So if anyone is interested in the 'demo scene', programming on the C64, Vic, writing mods, games, this and that, you're more than welcome to contact me for help or a good old blast from the past.

Cheers
Sparky(NZ)
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Re: Wellington Commodore Alert!

Postby tezza on Mon Dec 12, 2011 7:10 pm

Hiya Sparky and welcome to the forums!

I'm sure the progression from playing with Commodore home machines as a kid to working in the computer industry is a common pathway for a lot of folk, my younger brother for one.

Enjoy the community. There are a few Commodore nutters here. :)
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Re: Wellington Commodore Alert!

Postby WelshWizard on Tue Dec 13, 2011 10:05 am

Welcome aboard Paul You and Carcenomy should get on like a house on fire with his love of C64 and Amiga's.

Which part of the UK you in from?
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Re: Wellington Commodore Alert!

Postby SparkyNZ on Tue Dec 13, 2011 7:50 pm

WelshWizard wrote:Welcome aboard Paul You and Carcenomy should get on like a house on fire with his love of C64 and Amiga's.

Which part of the UK you in from?


Hi John. I nearly mentioned that you prodded me to join this site but I figured I'd waffled way too much anyway. :) I'm from a town called Consett near Newcastle, actually County Durham.

I'm sure Carcenomy and I will cross paths if that is the case. I'm not so much into my Amigas nowadays but I did spend a little time getting some double-height chars to work on the Vic lastnight with CBMPrgStudio. As usual I couldn't be bothered to fix TrainTracker's music player. I'm having a bit of a hard time getting my head around my own code where tempo handling is concerned. I just hope I pull my finger out before the new year as I'd love to get on with the editor which will be way more fun.
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Re: Wellington Commodore Alert!

Postby WelshWizard on Tue Dec 13, 2011 8:13 pm

Paul I spent a bit of time up on the Keilder Dam project back in the late 70's and early 80's when they were building the dam ( http://www.visitkielder.com/ )the biggest mud dam in the EU used to go shopping in Neew castle for the weeks supplies, .Got my first Pong type game in Hexham even got hold of a few motorcycles in New Castle upon Tyne, while I was there.
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Re: Wellington Commodore Alert!

Postby SparkyNZ on Tue Dec 13, 2011 9:10 pm

WelshWizard wrote:Paul I spent a bit of time up on the Keilder Dam project back in the late 70's and early 80's when they were building the dam ( http://www.visitkielder.com/ )the biggest mud dam in the EU used to go shopping in Neew castle for the weeks supplies, .Got my first Pong type game in Hexham even got hold of a few motorcycles in New Castle upon Tyne, while I was there.


Wow thats amazing! When I was 8 my parents made me skive off school so my old man could take his boat up to Kielder the day the Queen opened it. We spent the whole day being chased by some woman called Carol in an inflatable boat telling my Dad to slow down and stick to 5knots or whatever and then he'd sneak up some of the "legs" of the lake. Quite an amazing place - very brown water. One of the things images that will always be etched in my mind was going up on leg and seeing a road with white markings on the middle disappear into the lake. Now that was spooky! But spookiness aside, the funniest thing I remember about the opening day was when we got home. My Mam saw the Queen press a button and it showed all this water coming out of a huge pipe. She thought that was when the water was let into the dam to fill it up.. My Dad was in stitches saying "Yeah we just sat in the boat on the dry ground and the water filled up the lake and up and up we went." So funny.

Hexham is where I passed my UK driving test. Lovely little place (I was too chicken to take my test around Newcastle). But yeah we used to go to Kielder quite a bit. It was closer than going to Ulswater etc.

And.. just to put things back into Commdore land.. I didn't have a Vic the year that Kielder was opened. :) (But I did have a loan of my uncle's Texas TI99/4A - and what a heap of junk they were! :) ) Anyone remember "Inchworm" and "Marquee".. OMG.. :lol:

[Edit 1 hour later: This is sad.. I just downloaded the Classic99 Texas emulator, found a manual and typed in Inchworm! :lol: Time to go to bed I think. Enough nostalgia for tonight.]
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Re: Wellington Commodore Alert!

Postby Carcenomy on Tue Dec 13, 2011 10:04 pm

SparkyNZ wrote:
WelshWizard wrote:Welcome aboard Paul You and Carcenomy should get on like a house on fire with his love of C64 and Amiga's.

Which part of the UK you in from?


Hi John. I nearly mentioned that you prodded me to join this site but I figured I'd waffled way too much anyway. :) I'm from a town called Consett near Newcastle, actually County Durham.

I'm sure Carcenomy and I will cross paths if that is the case. I'm not so much into my Amigas nowadays but I did spend a little time getting some double-height chars to work on the Vic lastnight with CBMPrgStudio. As usual I couldn't be bothered to fix TrainTracker's music player. I'm having a bit of a hard time getting my head around my own code where tempo handling is concerned. I just hope I pull my finger out before the new year as I'd love to get on with the editor which will be way more fun.

Yeah I float around the place ;)

I grew up with 64s and A500s, and currently run a selection of neat Commodore stuff - I have a few 500s, a 1200, a beautiful condition CDTV and a half dozen breadbin 64s, in various stages of working. I'm also working on obtaining an SX64 and a mint VIC20... will post progress on those endeavours. If you need any 64 parts just sing out, I'm sure we can work out a deal.

Oh, and nice to meet you!

Nick.
Just the local Commodore hobo and middle-aged PC hoarder.
eisa on Trademe. A lasting reminder of a Compaq fetish when I was younger.
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Re: Wellington Commodore Alert!

Postby SparkyNZ on Wed Dec 14, 2011 5:38 am

Carcenomy wrote:I grew up with 64s and A500s, and currently run a selection of neat Commodore stuff - I have a few 500s, a 1200, a beautiful condition CDTV and a half dozen breadbin 64s, in various stages of working. I'm also working on obtaining an SX64 and a mint VIC20... will post progress on those endeavours. If you need any 64 parts just sing out, I'm sure we can work out a deal.


Hi Nick. Nice to meet you. I never actually did own a CDTV. I remember thinking they looked sexy in black.. but never could fathom out what on earth they were supposed to do (other than having a CDROM drive). I had a "Zappo" CDROM drive for my A1200 back in the day. That was cool - because I used to post my mods onto Aminet I used to get sent a free Aminet CD for contributing. I remember buying UFO Enemy Unknown - the CD32 version (not to be confused with CDTV) and then finding out that the regular disk versions were better (i.e. you couldn't save games on the CD32 version.. doh!!) It seemed to me that once again Commodore came up with a cool idea but hadn't quite something right.. (C16 pops into mind!)

The best place to get mint Vics from is the north of NZ ;-) I reckon NZ's ozone hole is what makes all the NZ machines go icky yellow. :) I bought 2 Vics from the USA and they are beautiful - white cream colour like they were when I was a kid. I received a genuine Commodore dust cover with the last one - so its getting some use now. Having said this, I was the wally that paid heaps for the PAL Vic down Chch a couple of weeks ago. If you saw the auction, there were no pictures of the machine itself - just the raggy box - but that machine was in neat condition (ie. seldom used). The C2N unit that came with it is boxed and immaculate. I don't know whether to keep it for collector's sake or sell it on. I've been tempted to get one of those "CD to tape" converter cassettes and try loading .TAP files retro style on the C64/Vic for a laugh.. but.. I don't really think I have time to sit and wait for tapes anymore in my busy life :)

Now that you mention C64 parts.. I am looking for an old Vic-II (breadbin) chip. I have a working breadbin C64 and another breadbin motherboard that works. Its just missing the Vic-II chip and I'd like to keep a 'breadbin backup' in case mine dies. Being a sound junky I just need to make sure I have a working home for my 6581 SID chips you see.. and.. the Vic-II chip in my current breadbin is missing pin 2. It was corroded and dropped off when I used the chip to test out the other motherboard.. so really I'm looking for a couple of old Vic-II (6569) chips but I won't be too greedy. :)

If you have any questions on the Vic, feel free to ask - although you may know way more than me anyway. :)
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Re: Wellington Commodore Alert!

Postby tezza on Wed Dec 14, 2011 6:03 am

SparkyNZ wrote:and.. the Vic-II chip in my current breadbin is missing pin 2. It was corroded and dropped off when I used the chip to test out the other motherboard.. so really I'm looking for a couple of old Vic-II (6569) chips but I won't be too greedy. :)


That's happened to me quite a few times when I've been repairing old gear. I've found you can usually solder on a new leg donated from a junk chip. If it's soldered on properly it's a remarkably durable fix. I've saved many a rare IC this way.
Tez (Terry Stewart) (Administrator)
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Re: Wellington Commodore Alert!

Postby Carcenomy on Wed Dec 14, 2011 5:38 pm

I saw you mention you had a few 64Cs... could probably work out a deal, it was all my extended family that had breadbins when I was growing up, but my personal 64 at the time was a 64C. The one I have at the moment turned up with a breadbin board that didn't work. I think there was five or six breadbins in my collection at the moment: one that works, one that's flakey and the remainder don't function with an assortment of issues, though I'm pretty confident that the VICs have survived in at least a couple.

The CD32 I'm quite familiar with too - I own a couple, although they're both pretty beat up too.

I'll start testing VICs next week while I'm on holiday for ya :)
Just the local Commodore hobo and middle-aged PC hoarder.
eisa on Trademe. A lasting reminder of a Compaq fetish when I was younger.
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Re: Wellington Commodore Alert!

Postby SparkyNZ on Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:52 pm

tezza wrote:That's happened to me quite a few times when I've been repairing old gear. I've found you can usually solder on a new leg donated from a junk chip. If it's soldered on properly it's a remarkably durable fix. I've saved many a rare IC this way.


Hi Tezza. Oh I'm terrified of soldering anywhere near precious chips. I destroyed a few in the past trying to fix CB radios when I was a teenager. Nowadays I have a heat clip for conducting some of the heat away but I still wouldn't tackle direct heat on a Vic chip unless I had some spares lined up. :)

Actually I don't have a lot of luck at all with soldering.. Any type of plug I buy.. I usually end up melting the plastic that hold the pins before I can get the solder (tinning) to stick. You should have seen the pins on my 6 pin DIN that I made for my uIEC card. Oh dear. :shock: I have 30 cables to make for work over the next couple of weeks. The guy at Jaycar recommended a flux pen. I used to think that too much flux stopped the solder from sticking but I'll give the flux pen a go.
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Re: Wellington Commodore Alert!

Postby SparkyNZ on Wed Dec 14, 2011 8:06 pm

Carcenomy wrote:I saw you mention you had a few 64Cs... could probably work out a deal


I ain't selling them! :) Or giving them away! :lol:

Carcenomy wrote:I'll start testing VICs next week while I'm on holiday for ya :)


Thanks I'd appreciate that. :) I can't believe how much stuff I've had and gotten rid of in the past few years. A few years ago I bought boxes full of C64s, software and books for a pathetic $40. After the ex gave me an earbashing, I sold it all. But what bugs me most is that I sold a Vic book - Compute's "Programming the Vic". Now why did I do that?? I have it in PDF, but out of all things I could have gotten rid of .. why did I get rid of that book? But yeah its strange the way prices of things are going on TM and eBay these days. A few years ago it was "junk" and now the silliest of things seem to be sought after.

One of the other cool machines I owned was actually an A500+ that I was given. I had a dead A500 and managed to squeeze the A500+ motherboard into a desktop PC case and made a seperate keyboard out of the dead A500 by hacking up the plastic. The most expensive part was an IDE controller/68030 board with 8Meg of RAM which I bought from Power Computing in the UK (may have been a Viper board????). It had a 3.5" standard IDE drive and CDROM. Cool machine for an Amiga! Still had the crappy Commodore monitor to put up with though. :)
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Re: Wellington Commodore Alert!

Postby Carcenomy on Wed Dec 14, 2011 11:15 pm

The 500+ is one of those incredibly awkward machines really. The soul of a 500 with the KS2.0 and ECS of a 600. The additional integrated RAM and the built-in RTC was nice though! Funnily, as we speak I'm waiting patiently on my 500 to finish formatting its hard drive - finally got around to popping a SCSI drive in the 590 I bought several years ago. The only 50-pin SCSI drive I had left was a 2GB Seagate, and I tellsya what it takes a really long time to format a drive that size using FFS... at its current speed I'll be lucky if it's completed by morning.
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Re: Wellington Commodore Alert!

Postby SparkyNZ on Fri Dec 16, 2011 5:57 am

Carcenomy wrote:The 500+ is one of those incredibly awkward machines really.


I remember everyone telling me to stay well clear of the A500+. Sure enough I bought a secondhand A500 with KS1.3 in the UK. Cost me UPK300! That was one of the most amazing nights I ever had. I spent all night watching PD animation demos such as Walker and the intro for Killing Game Show. But I think I devoted most of my time to It Came From The Desert. That had me hooked until around 3am or so. I'd never experienced something which such cinematic eerieness and realism. I had the 1Meg expansion with the machine when I bought it and bought KS2.0 with a switcher. The best upgrade I bought for that machine cost more than the machine itself - it was a GVP harddrive with 2Meg of RAM. Once I bought that, the whole Amiga changed from floppy frustration to a real computer. I learned to program in C.. (still doing that today -well- C++) and tried my hardest to learn how to program the machine in assembler with DevPac at the same time.. oh.. and keep writing music. I had my finger in too many pies but I had the time. I actually ran WB1.3 for ages with the harddrive and it was only when more and more utility programs came out that needed WB2.0 that caused me to make the shift. I think the only negative reception the A500+ got was similar to the release of Windows 98 - you know - "this game doesn't work therefore its a load of rubbish". ECS had the Productivity mode I believe so you could use a VGA monitor without that horrible interlace flicker. Looking back the A500 with the harddrive was pretty cumbersome - the A1200 (and A600) certainly tidied it all up into a small package.

Speaking of C/C++ I suppose I should go to work.. at least its Friday! :)
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Re: Wellington Commodore Alert!

Postby SparkyNZ on Thu Dec 29, 2011 5:33 am

Merry Xmas everyone!

What a time I've had blowing up Vic 20s.. Well not quite. I had a go at a 16k expansion mod. I got 8k working fine and then when I tried to add a second 8k chip I thought I'd killed one of my ROMs.. turned out the soldering on the top of the board had come undone but I didn't discover this until I installed sockets on the motherboard.. Now after lots of soldering/desoldering I think I've fried one of the new RAM chips as I keep getting a black screen when one is installed. Oh the joys of messing around with stuff I shouldn't be.. I just hope I get it all working again before the end of the year!

Paul
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