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c64: poor quality?

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18 hours ago, Papalapa said:

 

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 😊

I meant "guy" not "gay", sorry for the misunderstanding, sometimes not using my native languaje causes these problems 😖

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18 hours ago, newtmonkey said:

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!

You're right, the Commodore power supplies are dreadful and I also started to look for a replacement, but at the moment the VIC-20 and 64C have not had this kind of problems (I cross my fingers).

 

I was also looking for 1541 Ultimate II but price was double than Pi1541 that I finallu purchased (I already have the RaspberryPi at home). Obviously it owrks on VIC-20 and 64C.

 

 

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18 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 

VIC-20 has not S-Video unless you apply a MOD to the VIC circuit, it comes from factory with Composite Video only and, it's true, signal quality it's very bad.

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3 hours ago, 256 colors said:

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

 

Maybe so.

 

It is important to consider the demographics the 64 was marketed to, and the state of home computing at the time. Everything was still experimental. Come up with an idea, throw it at the wall, see if it sticks. Most early home systems were best at stoking the imaginations of young people. And to do that all you had to have was a simple physical embodiment of an idea. And the C64 was one of those products.

 

I had an Apple II when they first came out. And I wasn't really concerned with the build quality because I was a kid. I enjoyed all kinds of the imaginative adventures with that machine. Flying the Lunar Lander ship, "hacking" into NORAD. Controlling the "cable satellite" dish with the MicroModem II and listening in for messages from space aliens. Marveling over a good game of chess. Conversation with Eliza. Calling BBSes and wardialing. Graphing radio waves and background noise looking for AI in them. Sending subspace messages with a diode array. Writing stories. And more!

 

Had I gotten a C64 first I probably would have done the same thing. Point is I didn't need a tank-like $3000 PC to do that. And so these low-cost systems inspired a whole generation. Most everyone could afford one with a little savings.

 

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That ‘joke of a general home computer’ happened to have sold 10s of millions of units. If it were really as bad as you say it was then they wouldn’t have sold nearly as many. 
 

It was great for the price, bundled with really good software and despite its shortfalls made home computing affordable for families like mine. During Christmas of 85, the IIe cost over $2500 AUD for basic system, the TI and the 800XL was in the $800-$900 price range and you just got the machine with a power supply + tv modulator .

 

What did I get for $499? The c64, dataset unit, user guide, 4 really good programming books by Phil Cornes, 6 games plus a cart. Sounded like a much better deal to us and in hindsight it definitely was. That c64 lasted me until I bought an Amiga in 1990, so much for unreliability ?

 

Regarding the cardboard shielding in the first models. Nobody ever seems to mention the proper metal shielding Commodore switched to in the later C models which also acted as a heat sink for all the major chips, increasing the reliability of the machine.

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18 hours ago, 256 colors said:

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

You barely register on the troll meter... Go on 4chan to practice a bit.

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My C64 breadbin has probably the best svideo signal I've ever seen and I've owned many C64, from the first early model with 5pin video to the C128. This C64 doesn't have any jail bar or artefact. I'm even reluctant to recap it as to not jinx it... I use a new Commodore4ever PSU with mine.

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On 10/6/2019 at 11:33 PM, 256 colors said:

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

I know, right.  No one ever used the Commodore 64 for anything other than games.  No libraries, no accountants, no hotels, nobody.

 

nobody_vespa_cosplay.thumb.jpg.ec7180a42d9d3f8f4f0531ff9c69408f.jpg

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I got my first 64 in late 83; I think I went through three of them in the span of as many months before I got a stable one.

 

That one lasted for a decade despite daily heavy use.  Its replacement is still going strong - though I have modded it pretty heavily in recent years to eliminate the more vulnerable components. 

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On 10/10/2019 at 12:23 PM, Laner said:

I got my first 64 in late 83; I think I went through three of them in the span of as many months before I got a stable one.

 

That one lasted for a decade despite daily heavy use.  Its replacement is still going strong - though I have modded it pretty heavily in recent years to eliminate the more vulnerable components. 

My first 64 lasted one week. The warranty replacement lasted 3 days. My 3rd 64 ran for the next 25 years (and may still be running, as I traded it in the late 90s).

This was common BITD.  A local electronics dealer simply stopped carrying C64s altogether.

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Sorry, I haven't read every reply.  My apologies for any repeats.

 

First, you are correct.  Commodore was infamous for piss-poor quality.  Well, I would say Tramiel was more low quality than many of the engineers at Commodore.  From what I understand, potting of power supplies was/is a common practice.  In fact, it was to help prevent fires.  I even asked the retro community a while back.

 

https://retrocomputing.stackexchange.com/questions/4444/why-did-commodore-fill-their-power-supplies-with-epoxy

 

I think Bil Herd summed it up best:

Quote

Potting them was probably to protect CBM as it's hard to start a fire from within a pound of epoxy.

 

Having said that, it's wildly known that the PSU's of any Commodore are crap.  Especially the C64 and it is HIGHLY recommended you only use a modern solution.  Look around, there are many options these days.  I won't turn on my C64 without my modern PSU.

 

Also, I think most people remove that crap RF shielding.  If my neighbor can't microwave his bean burrito at 2:00 AM because I'm blasting aliens on my C64, then he will have to get over it.  lol

 

I prefer to remove the shielding and put heat sinks on most of the chips (along with recapping the board).

 

I like to think these days all of us retro computer guys and gals can finally get along and realize all of these wonderful 8-bit computers are great.  So, no more need for flame wars.

 

;-)

 

HAHAHA

 

 

Edited by cbmeeks

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29 minutes ago, cbmeeks said:

I like to think these days all of us retro computer guys and gals can finally get along and realize all of these wonderful 8-bit computers are great.  So, no more need for flame wars.

Old feuds die hard.  Some scores are left to settle.  The spirit of the Hatfields and the McCoys lives on. :)

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They're all cool (game and computer systems) for what they are. It's why most of us have and enjoy multiple systems. It's not like when we were kids and only had one system to "defend". Or try to rationalize and convince ourselves and others, that whatever we happened to be in possession of was/is the best. 

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1 hour ago, cbmeeks said:

Sorry, I haven't read every reply.  My apologies for any repeats.

 

First, you are correct.  Commodore was infamous for piss-poor quality.  Well, I would say Tramiel was more low quality than many of the engineers at Commodore.  From what I understand, potting of power supplies was/is a common practice.  In fact, it was to help prevent fires.  I even asked the retro community a while back.

 

https://retrocomputing.stackexchange.com/questions/4444/why-did-commodore-fill-their-power-supplies-with-epoxy

 

I think Bil Herd summed it up best:

 

Having said that, it's wildly known that the PSU's of any Commodore are crap.  Especially the C64 and it is HIGHLY recommended you only use a modern solution.  Look around, there are many options these days.  I won't turn on my C64 without my modern PSU.

 

Also, I think most people remove that crap RF shielding.  If my neighbor can't microwave his bean burrito at 2:00 AM because I'm blasting aliens on my C64, then he will have to get over it.  lol

 

I prefer to remove the shielding and put heat sinks on most of the chips (along with recapping the board).

 

I like to think these days all of us retro computer guys and gals can finally get along and realize all of these wonderful 8-bit computers are great.  So, no more need for flame wars.

 

;-)

 

HAHAHA

 

 

My first c64 PSU back in the day was bad. It only worked while it was cold. I had to put it between the windows during christmas season to be able to play during my days off. One of my friend took pitty on me, he was a electronics student at the time so he built me one from parts he had laying around. 

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If the C64 is taken care of right you would do the following:

 

1. Remove the cardboard covering the mainboard (if you have one of these that have it)

 

2. Apply heatsinks to all of the chips to keep them cool

 

3. Use a better PSU than stock (like a Ray Carlsen PSU) *or* at minimum get a PSU protector of some sort to goes in between the power connector and the C64 (Ray sells these as well)

 

4. Perhaps replace the PLA with a modern equivalent

 

 

As for disk drives...ditch them I say and use a C64 Ultimate II +

 

 

It takes some work to get a C64 reliable and working the way you want, so you have to be dedicated to the platform. People that grew up with it (like me) have that dedication so we can enjoy it as intended. The C64 may not be built as "rock solid" as other computers from the era, but I truly believe that out of all of them the C64 has the best experience all around (games, demos, apps, sound, graphics). This is subjective of course and everyone has their own opinion.

 

As for business use, my friends dad used the C64 to run his plumbing/heating business for two decades...so I did personally see it used for other uses than games :) Although that is admittedly the only instance I have seen! 

 

 

You know, most of the time when people say the build quality of the C64 is "poor" I have to really wonder what they mean. I mean, the PCB and layout is built just as well as most other computer mainboards I have seen from the area. So is that what they are talking about? Or is it the keyboard? That seems really solid to me too. I have to conclude they are referring to the case/housing. Ok, its plastic and not nearly up to par with Apple II stuff of the era....so I will give it that. Are they referring to reliability? Well I will agree that second hand reliability nowadays is not good, make sure you purchase from a trusted source and you will be fine.

 

End of the day, the C64 in my opinion is a very well built machine and if taken care of (many were not!) it works and works like a champ. The *only* other computer in the 8-bit era in my personal opinion (again, just my opinion...not starting a debate here) that compares is the Atari 800 line of computers. The 800XL comes to mind. Another great machine.

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On 10/7/2019 at 4:58 PM, shoestring said:

That ‘joke of a general home computer’ happened to have sold 10s of millions of units. If it were really as bad as you say it was then they wouldn’t have sold nearly as many. 
 

It was great for the price, bundled with really good software and despite its shortfalls made home computing affordable for families like mine. During Christmas of 85, the IIe cost over $2500 AUD for basic system, the TI and the 800XL was in the $800-$900 price range and you just got the machine with a power supply + tv modulator .

 

What did I get for $499? The c64, dataset unit, user guide, 4 really good programming books by Phil Cornes, 6 games plus a cart. Sounded like a much better deal to us and in hindsight it definitely was. That c64 lasted me until I bought an Amiga in 1990, so much for unreliability ?

 

Regarding the cardboard shielding in the first models. Nobody ever seems to mention the proper metal shielding Commodore switched to in the later C models which also acted as a heat sink for all the major chips, increasing the reliability of the machine.

unfathomable to even consider how many programming/UI/UX/music/IT General maybe even some video/art careers were spawned from the c64... As much as I love - and when I saw love, I mean it like most people cannot even grasp - the 8 bit Atari like - I have to say that commodore hit a fucking home run with the c64. as an adult it makes me somewhat sad that I didn't get a 64 instead of a 800xl.... Then again, I owe my entire livelihood (and its pretty decent) to the 800xl so who knows...….

 

I own a 128 with fastload, sd2iec, and a wifi modem... bbs'sing on old school petscii boards is so cool.. seriously pondering putting up my own if I can ever find Blue Board (https://www.blueboardbbs.com)... 

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That last post reminded me of all of the Commodore 64 run BBSs back in the 1980s. Many of those systems had hard drives and ran 24/7. Not bad for such a "poor quality" computer, is it?

 

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8 hours ago, doctor_x said:

unfathomable to even consider how many programming/UI/UX/music/IT General maybe even some video/art careers were spawned from the c64... As much as I love - and when I saw love, I mean it like most people cannot even grasp - the 8 bit Atari like - I have to say that commodore hit a fucking home run with the c64. as an adult it makes me somewhat sad that I didn't get a 64 instead of a 800xl.... Then again, I owe my entire livelihood (and its pretty decent) to the 800xl so who knows...….

 

I was pretty much that way with the Apple II. I learned so many basic concepts and how-to's on that machine it's enough for many chapters. Of course the specifics are long outdated by some 40 odd years, but the direction and svelte mobility of thought continue to be refined and applied today. Across many technical disciplines.

 

I got going in the very late 1970's with it all. And the Apple II was pretty much the only game in my town. Aside from TRS-80. It was my grandparents that highly recommended I get something with color graphics and that seemed to be an important factor. But not the only one. They said I'd be bored with monochrome.

 

I got to looking at a picture of the II series motherboard and it had hundreds, no, thousands!! of chips. Some were bigger. And the biggest one of all was the main controller of the whole shebang. I knew it was a smart computer then. And they were all lined up is perfect order. Aesthetically pleasing and futuristic. Unlike my toy room at the time.

 

I even imagined programming (or somehow getting) a Dr. Theopolis type program. After all he had 6 chips going, and the Apple II had a thousand!! So yeh..

 

In an alternate timeline I could have just as easily got going with a C64 or Atari 400/800. They were good machines. I was already invested and entrenched in the Apple II ecology. And I *did* get a 400/800 and a 64 later, though. I used them for gaming and entertainment mostly. The Apple continued to be my general-purpose computer right up to the time of the later Amiga models and 386/486 PC era.

 

 

 

 

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On 10/18/2019 at 9:08 PM, cbmeeks said:

Also, I think most people remove that crap RF shielding.  If my neighbor can't microwave his bean burrito at 2:00 AM because I'm blasting aliens on my C64, then he will have to get over it.  lol

That is because US norms were crazy.

It's probably why most European computers never or hardly made it to the US.

If you open an European computer like the Amstrad CPC or the ZX Spectrum (to name the msot famous) then, you have ZERO shielding to be seen.

Second-generation Intellivision (brown model but with smaller motherboards) sold in Europe also came without RF shielding; I suppose Mattel saw they could save some money by not putting one in European models.

I even saw a few European-made Pong where even the RF output had only a folded metal sheet vaguely above the components, not a solid case like the standard RF units you usually see.

Seems like we never died from all that RF leakage.

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All I know is that my 30 year old cheap C64 breadbins are still going strong whereas my $3000 crApple iMac I bought back in '08 died one day after its warranty ran out.

 

Those power supplies though...

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