Jump to content
OLD CS1

Are ANY C64 brick power supplies good?

Recommended Posts

I have about a half-dozen black bricks which came with original bread-bin C64s (and one early 64C,) model 251053-01 and -02, and about the same number of beige which came with 64Cs, model 251053-10.

 

These bricks are known for eventually sending fatal voltage through the computer.  Is there a cut-off for when they got better, or did they just never get better?  I would like to trim down spares and get good modern replacements for ones which I know will fail.

 

Any ideas?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe the answer is that the design never got improved. As long as you handle it with care, I believe the voltage regulator inside will stay in place and as long as it electrically doesn't quit working, overvoltage won't happen. But there are a few too many conditions there. Personally I've been lucky and used at least a half dozen various power supplies without a saver and all of those still behave as expected, but I'm fully aware of the risks. Sometimes I wonder if the 115V ones you have are more likely to fail than the 220V ones over here. At least ours got the specs updated along the way (e.g. 5V @ 1.5A later became 1.6A and 1.7A) though perhaps the circuit was the same.

 

I've seen some people producing aftermarket PCBs meant to be inserted in the power supply, utilizing the original 2x9V AC transformer but replacing the rectifier and regulator with modern components. Doing a such modification would void any electric safety regulations, but since you're dealing with 30+ year old stuff anyway, they might not be that electrically safe in the first place.

 

I don't know how much of the price for the newly manufactured power supplies are part costs and how much is labour and markup, but if it wasn't for electric safety, there would be a big market for DIY replacement kits instead of throwing away mostly fine power supplies just because one tiny component has failed.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks.  My experience with the C64 power supplies is not perfect, but the only failure I ever had was one just stopped working.  I replaced it and all was well.  But, like you said, given their age I am rather hesitant.  Not to mention the heat output tells me these things draw more power than a modern supply.

 

I could go a few routes here, including sell these and replace the ones I need with modern supplies, or just buy some savers.  Maybe chuck the oldest ones just to be sure.

 

Now, I have a few C128 power supplies which I can inspect and repair as necessary.  I feel far more confident in those, although I am sure they are also pretty inefficient.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, the C128 power supplies are built according to completely different standards. I've had such ones fail on me too, but the general consensus is that those won't damage the computer when the supply goes bad.

 

One could've wished that Commodore with the introduction of the C64C and different casing of the power supply, would based it on the already existing C128 one so the newer ones were deemed safe but it doesn't seem to have been the case. Instead you have those 1541-II and 1581 power supplies that also die like flies, except they don't cause overvoltage.

Edited by carlsson
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The North American, 115V PSU are the most dangerous to your computer. There was a very early run of PSUs that were not encased in Epoxy, and could be rebuilt. They had screws in the bottom so you could get in. The newer the PSU, the worse they usually are.

There is even a C-128 PSU that is dangerous! It apparently has a some what pyramid shape, with a label on the top. These were sold in Australia only, as far as I know (220v).

There is a thread about these C-128 PSU on Lemon64;

 

https://www.lemon64.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=75530

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The BEST modern replacement is from Ray Carlson.

The one I have from him powers, the C64, C128 and the Amiga all from the same unit.

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've personally known someone who lived next door exchange their c64c several times before they got a reliable one ( machines exchanged stopped powering up after a week or two ) that survived the summer holidays in 86. All of them came with the white brick with the embossed chicken head logo and potted inside.

 

So given they were new and those problems existed back then... the only suitable use would be as a doorstop.

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/23/2020 at 9:13 PM, Steverd said:

The BEST modern replacement is from Ray Carlson.

The one I have from him powers, the C64, C128 and the Amiga all from the same unit.

 

 

I currently use a 1764 PSU, but I know several people who use Ray Carlsen's power supplies,

 

https://www.carlsenelectronics.net/

 

and are quite happy with them. They are an excellent choice.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By the way, here is a replacement PCB meant to fit certain C64 power supplies, priced $35. It currently is out of stock, but likely there will be more boards at a later point. The manufacturer claims it also increases efficiency so you can draw 5V @ 2A compared to 1.5A with the old rectifier and voltage regulator.

 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/PowerUP-64W-Commodore-64-C64-PSU-power-supply-unit-upgrade-rebuild-board-/283368734901

Here is the manual in the mean time: http://docs.anemo.se/powerup-64w-manual.pdf

 

Given that the 9VAC transformer usually still is good, I wonder if other vendors have come up with similar solutions, or if it is deemed too unsafe to modify your old PSU to sell such boards.

 

Indeed $35 equals what Ray charges for the most basic power supply, consisting of two wall warts wired together, or $45 for the slightly more elegant model so money wise it would not be much savings to refurbish the old PSU instead of getting a new one, except that you get to maintain the look of the original PSU.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They do go bad, but not all of them. We tended to leave them plugged in 24/7 in the 80's, without a power strip. 

 

I've not seen the beige ones go bad on me, but if you are concerned, get a saver and you will be fine.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, R.Cade said:

They do go bad, but not all of them. We tended to leave them plugged in 24/7 in the 80's, without a power strip. 

 

I've not seen the beige ones go bad on me, but if you are concerned, get a saver and you will be fine.

I figure if I am going to invest in a saver, I am going to invest in a proper modern PSU.  When I can get to them, I am going to put the old bricks I have up for grabs.  Someone can gut them and replace the innards, use them until they die, or whatever.

Share this post


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

I figure if I am going to invest in a saver, I am going to invest in a proper modern PSU.  When I can get to them, I am going to put the old bricks I have up for grabs.  Someone can gut them and replace the innards, use them until they die, or whatever.

To each his own. Be careful who you buy a replacement power supply from, because you may get a worse one if you choose poorly.

 

There have been several complaints about the "Electroware" power supplies, at least.

 

I would stick to Ray Carlsen if you are in the USA, and possibly even if you are not.


There's even someone making a pigtail that goes from the C64 to dual 5.5/2.5mm sockets so you can choose your own 9VAC and 5VDC supplies individually.

 

 

Edited by R.Cade
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had an original power brick pop some components in one of my Commodore 64's when it went bad.  Fortunately the damage was relatively minimal: the system still powers on, still has good audio and video, but at least one of the RAM chips went bad, which I've read are usually among the first things to go when a power brick turns evil.

 

Since then I've followed the advice of, "Never use an original Commie power brick."  I keep a few for posterity, but all my daily drivers are run by Ray Carlsen's power supplies.  He even graciously took some commissions and made me a couple of supplies for my Atari 800XL's, so I could have some more reliable supplies for conventions and the like.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, R.Cade said:

They do go bad, but not all of them. We tended to leave them plugged in 24/7 in the 80's, without a power strip.

Age and blah... but generally I agree. I have and still am using a half dozen original PSUs without savers, and so far I have avoided getting bitten. Sometimes I'm thinking that the failing PSU mostly is a 115V thing but the design itself looks the same on the 220V supplies. As far as I understand, mostly it is a physical thing, that the voltage regulator comes loose from its PCB which causes it to malfunction but sure it could be strictly electronics related too, simply components dying due to age or heat. As long as you don't drop your PSU in the floor or otherwise knock it over, it would seem to be lesser risk that the regulator loses contact with one of its legs and thus better chances to avoid overvoltage. But if you're getting an unknown machine, you never know if the former owner practiced baseball with the PSU.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I recently ordered one of Ray Carlsen's mini C64 metal box power bricks. Its's safe, it was cheap ($55 IIRC), looks cute, has a nice green light and it works like a champ. There is no reason at all NOT to get one of these PSU's from him. He stands by his work and I fully trust it.

 

Let me add also that this is not the first brick Ray has built for me. Over the years he has build some half dozen bricks for me. Some very custom with dual C64 support as well as Amiga. He knows his stuff. Not to mention he is a really nice guy with a plethora of Commodore knowledge.

Edited by eightbit

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/28/2022 at 7:55 PM, carlsson said:

Age and blah... but generally I agree. I have and still am using a half dozen original PSUs without savers, and so far I have avoided getting bitten. Sometimes I'm thinking that the failing PSU mostly is a 115V thing but the design itself looks the same on the 220V supplies. As far as I understand, mostly it is a physical thing, that the voltage regulator comes loose from its PCB which causes it to malfunction but sure it could be strictly electronics related too, simply components dying due to age or heat. As long as you don't drop your PSU in the floor or otherwise knock it over, it would seem to be lesser risk that the regulator loses contact with one of its legs and thus better chances to avoid overvoltage. But if you're getting an unknown machine, you never know if the former owner practiced baseball with the PSU.

You are pretty safe, all things considered. The dangerous C-64 PSUs are the North American, units that are filled with Epoxy, color not withstanding and run on 115V. The European PSUs are slightly better made (and run on 220v mains).

Everyone should take the age of these power supplies into consideration if you are going to use them.

I have had several PSUs damage C-64 computers over the years, usually taking out most of the RAM chips, at the very least.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How reliable are vintage 3rd party power supplies? I picked up a Tenex branded one not too long ago in a nice metal case. Haven’t used it much but I’m thinking I just need to buy one from Ray and call it a day. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For those already sitting on a bunch of old bricks, I'd just get one of Ray's system savers and call it a day. Been doing just that myself for years with zero probs.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 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.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

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...