Jump to content
panamajoe

c64: poor quality?

Recommended Posts

Never had a C64 back in the day and just recently bought one. While i´m of course impressed with the amount of software/ games available and especially with the quality of the homebrews i´m really a bit shocked by the piss-poor built quality of the Commodore itself:

- cardboard shilding? really?

- heat problems 

- power brick is more of a fire hazard than anything else + it´s glued together (!)

- and that disc drive is slower than a dead dog

 

So: is there anything i can do about the heat problems and about the terrible power brick? Bought a Epyx Fastload Cart already to get that disc drive spinning...

  • Haha 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Even though I've never had to do this to my computer, can always ditch the cardboard and add some miniature heatsinks to the chips that get warm. Also, make sure the VIC video chip has good heatsink compound under its shield that doubles as a heatsink. 

 

And lastly, don't let the power brick sit on plush carpeting and check out Ray Carlsen's System Saver:

 

http://personalpages.tds.net/~rcarlsen/cables.html

 

Or just get one of his new power supplies if you're really worried about it. I have a few C64 power supplies in good condition myself (never had one go bad in 35 years), but I use his System Saver with them - just in case.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, many people simply remove the cardboard as it doesn't work regarding filtering out RF noise anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It was definitely cost-reduced to be affordable to the masses, which is why some corners were cut. However, I think the "unreliability" of them is overstated. Of all my circle of friends and their friends and their friends from 1984-1988 we never had machines die on us. Now, a couple of disk drives - yes for sure they got wore out/broken/misaligned but I don't recall failing machines. 

 

Heat sinks and power supplies are a modern "hindsight" concern to keep the old machines going a little longer- it didn't happen back then in the few years that they were in use in the 80's and everyone left them on half the day or more, flicking that power switch dozens or hundreds of times a day.

 

I'm sure others had a different experience, but that was mine. I used the hell out of my VIC-20 for 2-3 years until I got a C64, then used the hell out of that for 4 years until I got an Amiga 500, then used the hell out of that for another 4 years.

 

 

Edited by R.Cade
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Unreliability *is* overstated. As mentioned above, people really used and abused their C64's BITD with tons more lasting than not. And with the inherent joystick shuffling, I've only run across a handful that needed their DB9 ports resoldered after all these years.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The VIC and C64 (breadbin) were built to be used. The urban myth is when a C64 stop working, you put it in a drawer for a couple of weeks and it'll heal itself 🙂

But there are a few things that are prone to go bad on the C64. The PLA is destroying itself due to the process used in making that chip. It can easilly be replaced by a modern part. The 78xx voltage regulators also have to be eventually replaced as they also wears out eventually and fail. Replacement are readilly available also. And of course the resin filled PSU which everybody should trash and buy a modern replacement from Ray or Commodore4ever or make your own.

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, panamajoe said:

Never had a C64 back in the day and just recently bought one. While i´m of course impressed with the amount of software/ games available and especially with the quality of the homebrews i´m really a bit shocked by the piss-poor built quality of the Commodore itself:

- cardboard shilding? really?

- heat problems 

- power brick is more of a fire hazard than anything else + it´s glued together (!)

- and that disc drive is slower than a dead dog

 

So: is there anything i can do about the heat problems and about the terrible power brick? Bought a Epyx Fastload Cart already to get that disc drive spinning...

If you think the C-64 is such a bad computer, why in the world did you buy one? Since so many have lasted thirty five years, I wouldn't be to hard on them.

To address the heat problem, just remove the cardboard "RF shield", and maybe add a couple of heat sinks (to the PLA and VIC chips). That will work wonders.

The Epyx Fastload is good for speeding up disk access, but there are a lot of other options from Jiffy DOS to a Warp Speed cartridge. Jiffy DOS has the advantage of leaving the cartridge port empty for other use though.

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, motrucker said:

If you think the C-64 is such a bad computer, why in the world did you buy one? Since so many have lasted thirty five years, I wouldn't be to hard on them.

To address the heat problem, just remove the cardboard "RF shield", and maybe add a couple of heat sinks (to the PLA and VIC chips). That will work wonders.

The Epyx Fastload is good for speeding up disk access, but there are a lot of other options from Jiffy DOS to a Warp Speed cartridge. Jiffy DOS has the advantage of leaving the cartridge port empty for other use though.

 

i haven‘t said it‘s a bad computer, i said its build quality is poor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, panamajoe said:

i haven‘t said it‘s a bad computer, i said its build quality is poor

Compared to today's SMD chinsey Chinese crap, they're virtually bullet proof! The power brick might just be - literally. As in, it could stop a bullet.  🤣

  • Like 1
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The good Lord above knows I dislike cheaply made low quality stuff. Especially when it's passed off as being the good stuff.

 

But! In the case of the C64 (no pun intended) the low-cost basic materials and construction helped it become the #1 home computer of its time.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/1/2019 at 2:23 AM, panamajoe said:

Never had a C64 back in the day and just recently bought one. While i´m of course impressed with the amount of software/ games available and especially with the quality of the homebrews i´m really a bit shocked by the piss-poor built quality of the Commodore itself:

- cardboard shilding? really?

- heat problems 

- power brick is more of a fire hazard than anything else + it´s glued together (!)

- and that disc drive is slower than a dead dog

 

So: is there anything i can do about the heat problems and about the terrible power brick? Bought a Epyx Fastload Cart already to get that disc drive spinning...

 

The cardboard shielding was not unique. That was common in transistor radios and other electronics when a minimal amount of RF shielding was needed. 

 

Heat problems... should not be a thing, but even a little air circulation, such as a small fan or blower pushing air into one of the ports, can help.

 

The power supply is definitely a problem. Look into new power supplies from Ray Carlson or Commodore4Ever. 

Trust me, we've been complaining about the disk drive since 1982. And there are dozens of solutions. Epyx FastLoad or JiffyDOS are the two most reliable options, but plenty of others work. The best way to use those is to get an EasyFlash 3 and either download the Epyx Fastload Cartridge ROM (CRT file) or buy the JiffyDOS ROM overlays. JiffyDOS does require installing a modified ROM chip in your computer and 1541, so that's a solution for braver individuals. (I did it in my 128 and 1541-II, and it works great. I am also using a downloaded version in my Ultimate 64, which also works great.)

 

There are other options for storage, too. The 1541 Ultimate is among the best, although if you're going to go that route, you might consider the Ultimate 64, which is a complete replacement motherboard that outputs HDMI video and uses USB storage devices. Other solutions include the SD2IEC (fastest IEC storage, but not fully compatible), and the Pi1541. The Pi1541 seems like a great choice at first, but one you count up all the costs, it's no cheaper than a 1541 Ultimate II+. 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/1/2019 at 12:44 PM, save2600 said:

Compared to today's SMD chinsey Chinese crap, they're virtually bullet proof! The power brick might just be - literally. As in, it could stop a bullet.  🤣

 

Exactly.  These machines are around 35 years old and still going strong.  I spend ~$500 on a new phone these days and I am lucky if it lasts 4 years.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally on mine I simply removed the "shield" and set heatsinks on some chips that use to be hot and never have had reset problems.

 

On the other hand, forget it about the drive unit and get an SD2IEC or Pi1541. I own this last one and it's a real-time, cycle exact drive emulator that works like a charm. Be in mind that Epyx Fastolader works on SD2IEC but not on Pi1541.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

thanks for the suggestions! I ordered a SD2IEC and a new PSU. Might get rid of that cardboard too...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While the SD2IEC can be a handy addition, I would recommend getting a real disk drive too. Get a 1541 II to avoid the problems of the old 1541. The reason is simple, there are loads of programs that will not work with the SD2IEC. Having a real drive in your system will guaranty all your software can be used.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To be fair to all involved here, remember the Commodore 64 saw a massive number of failure returns to Commodore for refurbishment. 

 

Out of the original list presented, I find the power supply the worst indictment.  I remember those damned things failing back in the early days.  That any of them have survived is a nothing short of a miracle.

 

The rest is meh to me.  Heat problems?  Playa please... like no one has ever experienced the 99/4A's "coffee warmer."

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, motrucker said:

While the SD2IEC can be a handy addition, I would recommend getting a real disk drive too. Get a 1541 II to avoid the problems of the old 1541. The reason is simple, there are loads of programs that will not work with the SD2IEC. Having a real drive in your system will guaranty all your software can be used.

 

That's true, the only problem is that Pi1541 do not works with Fastloader cards. It works in two different modes: Browser mode emulating SD2IEC and Real-time cycle-exact mode that is were is fully 1541 drive compatible. This allows to load and run practically any ROM unlike the SD2IEC that cannot run some ROMs.

 

I even tried to disable the Epyx Fastloader card and disable when the Pi1541 enters in 1541 emulation mode but is not possible. On the othewr hand loading times are not exaggerated.

Edited by Papalapa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, motrucker said:

While the SD2IEC can be a handy addition, I would recommend getting a real disk drive too. Get a 1541 II to avoid the problems of the old 1541. The reason is simple, there are loads of programs that will not work with the SD2IEC. Having a real drive in your system will guaranty all your software can be used.

 

 

That's true, the only problem is that Pi1541 do not works with Fastloader cards. It works in two different modes: Browser mode emulating SD2IEC and Real-time cycle-exact mode that is were is fully 1541 drive compatible. This allows to load and run practically any ROM unlike the SD2IEC that cannot run some ROMs.

 

I even tried to disable the Epyx Fastloader card and disable when the Pi1541 enters in 1541 emulation mode but is not possible. On the othewr hand loading times are not exaggerated.

 

Edited by Papalapa
Dupe, not possible to delete post :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, OLD CS1 said:

To be fair to all involved here, remember the Commodore 64 saw a massive number of failure returns to Commodore for refurbishment. 

 

Out of the original list presented, I find the power supply the worst indictment.  I remember those damned things failing back in the early days.  That any of them have survived is a nothing short of a miracle.

 

The rest is meh to me.  Heat problems?  Playa please... like no one has ever experienced the 99/4A's "coffee warmer."

 

The "C" model that I own was really improved in heat matters, I add some heatsinks on some chips but preventivelly but it doesn't get really hot during the work.

Also, my TI-99/4A is last version (v2.2 1983) with the new power supply at only 18vots and also is not like a coffe warmer

So, I can say that I'm a lucky gay 😊

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got a couple of C64cs off of Ebay, one NTSC and one PAL, and both worth great (the NTSC unit together with disk drive).  However, soon after, the SID chip in the PAL unit died.  I ordered a replacement and replaced it, but I'm convinced it was the power supply that fried it.  I ordered a modern replacement power supply shortly after from Ray Carlsen (awesome quality unit, and on top of that simply a wonderful human being overall), and I've been enjoying C64 goodness ever since.

 

Get that 1541 Ultimate II if you ever get a chance to.  It's definitely worth the money.  I think for a PAL C64 you can get away with an SD2IEC (happily installed in my PAL c64 actually), but for playing disk games, the Ultimate II can't be beat.  Such a fantastic product!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You also forgot the terrible video quality from S-VIDEO with piss poor jail bars since the VIC20 up to last C16/PLUS4 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, 256 colors said:

You also forgot the terrible video quality from S-VIDEO with piss poor jail bars since the VIC20 up to last C16/PLUS4 

Now you're just trolling.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

S-video is just fine. Usually don't see jail bars on the breadbins, but the later style 64c you do. Same with the XE's, XEGS, top loader NES, Sega Model 2 and probably the 3 from Majesco (can't remember).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And you also forgot 1541 drive that costs as much as the C64 yet as slow as the a tape drive 

In fact add epyx fast loader for more expenses just to get reasonable  speed and dir function basic never really had

 

C64 was a joke of a general home computer it was only ever good for games when reliable

Edited by 256 colors
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...