Calling an Expert | Three Commodore 64s Back from the Dead

I have had three Commodore 64 computers that were not functional. I was committed to fixing the computers to get them operational. One of these machines is my actual first computer from my childhood, the other two, not sure where they came from but were not functional. I identified on one that the CIA (complex Interface Adapter) chips. The other two machines, I was not able to determine the issue. Despite my watching of experts on YouTube, I lacked some of the tools to identify the issues as well as the skill and patience to do some of the work. I “worked” on these three systems on and off for about two years when I ultimately decided that I needed to phone an expert. If I continued at this rate, I would never finish any of this. I was also tired of pushing aside my C64s to work on other more pressing repairs.

Thanks to a Commodore 64 / 128 Facebook group, I connected with some very helpful people and one guy specifically, Bill, from the state of New York offered to repair the boards. Months later, after finally throwing in the towel, I contacted him and sent out the three boards, each, now numbered, to ensure they went back in their original enclosures.

Within just a few days of shipping out the boards. Bill received them, fixed them in short order and gave me rundown of the problem was for each board. The first board is the motherboard from from my childhood Commodore 64. This one had a bad PLA and 6 of the RAM chips were bad. I last used this specific machine in the 90s.

, Labor $40 parts $40 board Board 2 had two bad CIA chips. I did supply the CIA chips for it. I did know that they were bad but I lacked the patience and free time to replace them.

Board 3 had a bad 6510 CPU. I didn’t think that these CPUs went bad or at least it was very uncommon that they did go back.

What I found so remarkable about the repairs of these boards is that they were fixed for I consider very little money in a short time. I had spent several months, on and off working on these boards with no success. Did I want to spend nearly $200 on fixing old computers? No, but I am glad I did it. I started the process of “fixing” these machines at least two years ago. Thinking about it… it might have been longer but I would rather not think about how long I have been pushing these off.

When the box of boards arrived, it was time to put the machines back together. My very first Commodore 64, once had the brown function keys and lived in a bread bin case but today it has a keyboard with the gray function keys and is protected inside a rather beat up Slimline case. Although I realize that this case is quite rare and garners some “street cred” among the Commodore 64 folks, I am personally not so pleased with the case. I am quite certain I am going to put it in a new Pixelwizard case. That C64-C look with a bread bin beige is really calling to me..

The other two machines, I’m not sure where they came from. I was blessed with a gift, at some time, with some Commodore 64 computers, a Commodore 128 and a VIC-20. The latter two are for discussing for another time. One of these bread bin machines will stay, just as it is, hooked up and ready to be enjoyed at a moments notice. I really enjoy how these machines look and feel to use. They have been cleaned up, and tested fully functional after being handled by me and my oldest who also likes retro tech.

Final Thoughts

Although I am a self-proclaimed DIYer and like to do everything myself. I have decided that there are some things better left to experts, especially when you do not have the time. I could have fixed these, eventually, but how much longer would it have taken? I am very happy with what I spent and Bill from Utica was fantastic to work with. Sure, I took a bit of a leap of faith sending 3 Commodore 64 boards to a complete stranger on the Internet, and I am glad I did it. Having my original Commodore 64 functional for the first time since 1990-something has been an incredible bright stop for me.

Next, I will be making some decisions to transforming, through accessories, my Commodore 64 the machine I once dreamed of as a youngster. I want to transform this machine into the ultimate, super C64 setup for fun and productivity.

References

Commodore 64 Facebook Group
Commodore 64 Wiki Page

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