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C64 cartridge ports: What the heck?

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Does anyone else experience inconsistent cartridge compatibility between different C64 systems?

 

For example, I have a Gorf cartridge that works fine in some systems and won't run at all in others (in such instances, the power LED is also dimmed). Likewise for my copy of Avenger--trouble is, they actually run in the opposite systems. :lol: :| :(

 

The physical fit seems to vary from system to system as well. I never had a problem installing, running, or removing my Defender cartridge until my new* JiffyDOS-equipped C64 actually physically broke it last night--some internal bracing broke inside the shell and the PCB got shoved up inside the cart.**

 

(*New to me; I've owned it for some time now but haven't really used it until I set it up in the living room a couple of weeks ago.)

(**Coincidentally, the exact same thing happened with my VIC-20 copy of Defender. Fortunately I just did a shell swap with some other junk Atarisoft cart and took care of it; unfortunately, C64 Atarisoft carts can't be opened without destroying them.)

 

What is it with Commodore cartridge ports and/or carts? Even my unmodded NES systems run carts more consistently than Commodore systems seem to!

 

(Hopefully this will all be moot soon--I have an SD2IEC on my Christmas list. :-D )

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Sometimes gravity tends to pull cartridges down which can cause not all pins to have contact. Have you tried holding the cartridge up a little, so it is perfectly linear to the port? You could try to put something underneath, a bit of a pencil eraser or whatever you have at hand that has the right height. I think the more loose the connector is, the more likely gravity will pull it.

Edited by carlsson

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Sometimes gravity tends to pull cartridges down which can cause not all pins to have contact. Have you tried holding the cartridge up a little, so it is perfectly linear to the port? You could try to put something underneath, a bit of a pencil eraser or whatever you have at hand that has the right height. I think the more loose the connector is, the more likely gravity will pull it.

 

Yes.

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Not a great design, shoving a cartridge in the rear of a machine. Trying to line it up blindly, et al. And then there were the (fairly sloppy) manufacturing variances throughout the years, so there's that too.

 

Vic-20 cartridge port has got to be the tightest. What a PITA that one was to change out carts.

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Not a great design, shoving a cartridge in the rear of a machine.

 

I always wonder what Commodore was thinking with that. Such a head-scratchingly inconvenient design, making you pull the computer out away from your setup and dishevel all the cabling just to see what you are doing with a cartridge. Makes about as much sense as the Atari ST systems that stuck the controller ports in a recess on the bottom the unit. Couldn't have put the port on the top like Atari? Or on the front like Texas Instruments? Or on the side like Radio Shack?

 

I agree that the VIC-20 might be the worst. The tightness is horrible, but it would at least be less horrible if the interface wasn't behind the computer. The huge cartridges are pretty awesome, though. :-D

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The huge cartridges are pretty awesome, though. :-D

 

I had a 24K RAM expansion cart for mine, it made the rest of my VIC-20 cartridges look small.

 

post-3056-0-73261900-1335283441.jpg

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If your power supply is weak that can also cause flakiness. The power drawn by a ROM is minimal, but you have to remember what crap those C64 power supplies were...

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The PSU issues were why Commodore created the special power supply unit for the 1764 REU. Great unit if you can still find one.

This is a thread from Lemon64 mostly on the topic of Cartridge expanders, but it touches on other ideas too.

 

https://www.lemon64.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=59536

 

Cartridges were quite popular with the C-64 and C-128 machines. If the cartridge was used too much problems could surface, but unless you are unlucky enough to get a secondary school system, no problems should show up.

There were hundreds of cartridges for the C-64 in many fields, not only games, but from music, to graphics, to various utilities.

 

 

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Yeah, when the floppy drive cost more than the computer itself, I could see why a lot of people would put that particular purchase off BITD. Gotta be the reason why cartridges were so popular on such a system. To this day, I still see a lot of C64's in the wild (consignment shops, thrift stores, garage sales, estate sales, flea markets, etc.) with no accompanying disk drive.

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