Wednesday, 22 February 2017

A blast from the 8-bit past

I recently re-discovered my vintage VIC20 computer which was first released in 1981.  It had been hiding in the loft of plenty for some years so I got it down and decided to give it a whirl to see if it still worked.

One slight problem, the original power supply had mysteriously disappeared. I had a quick search on the online tat bazaar eBay for a replacement but alas there were none. Eventually one did turn up and after a few clicks, it landed on my doormat.

And there was much rejoicing!!!!

I duly powered my VIC20 on to see if it still worked, no magic smoke escaped YAY. I was presented with the classic start screen.

While looking for VIC20 stuff I stumbled across thefuturewas8bit website and saw the Penultimate cartridge which looked interesting. The Penultimate cartridge is loaded with 40 ROM images and has a 3-35k selectable memory expansion.   

PenUltimate  Cartridge

Magic time travelling tape.

I duly ordered one and it arrived just in time for a super 8-bit Christmas.  It was carefully packed and had some magical time travelling original Commodore logo packing tape on the box.  What a nice touch. When it arrived I gave it whirl on my VIC20, simply brilliant. Love all the old games, the menu system works a treat and it's very well designed. If you want your own then click here.

Unfortunately the good times didn’t last as my VIC20 soon failed.  When powering on it was displaying random characters, wouldn’t sync or just showed a black screen. Well that’s not good and after a bit of googling I suspected that the 6561 VIC (Video Interface Chip) chip had failed.  These chips are prone to failure due to age and they run hot.  

One bad VIC Chip

Well back to eBay to look for a replacement VIC chip, oh so they appear to be as rare as hen’s teeth. Plan B look for a VIC20 mainboard, luckily I managed to find a working tested one. It arrived a few days later so I removed the VIC chip and pressed it into service. Success my VIC20 was restored to full working order.

Replacement VIC20 Mainboard

Normal service has been resumed

Having treated my VIC to the Penultimate cartridge I recently bought myself a genuine recycled VIC20 plastic cased SD2IEC.  The SD2IEC emulates the classic Commodore 1541 Floppy Disk Drive and uses an SD card for storage.

I have to say it’s rather nice, I love the case as it matches my VIC20.  It’s another fantastic product from thefuturewas8bit.  After I imaged a SD card, I gave it a whirl well I’m really impressed.  Solid state flash memory is the future, all I can say is go buy one.

Limited edition genuine recycled VIC20 plastic cased SD2IEC

Giving my new SD2IEC a quick whirl