Bartop Arcade Build Part 2

This is part 2 of the Arcade. The first post has the Arcade in a good working condition. This will cover some of the final touches.

I did a bit more work on the Marquee. I am in no way a graphic artist. I had downloaded some logos to do the initial graphic. I found some better ones to use and made some other changes to it. I then printed it out on my inkjet printer onto 3 sheets just like the previous test one I did on a black only laser printer. It turned out pretty well, I couldn’t do a full color graphic though. I think I will leave it at this paper graphics for awhile anyways.

For the Marquee there really aren’t any hot spots. I was thinking doing a frosted piece of Plexiglass behind the marquee to handle any hotspots, but that turned out to not be needed (with the paper that is). It is a little brighter than I think I want it, but I didn’t find it too distracting while test playing it. It is quite hard to photograph anywhere near properly though as bright as it is. I have at this point decided to not make a dimmer system for it. I have a couple of workable circuits that I have used for that in the past, I just don’t want to take the time at this point, when the biggest issue is taking photographs of it.

For the LCD I wanted to make a bezel/cover that went over it. To do this I put some 1/8th inch strips up the sides of the cabinet to rest the Plexiglas against. It slides up behind the Marquee bottom board, between it and the top edge of the LCD itself. For Mike’s it seemed he was putting the MDF strips up infront of the monitor? At least in his plans, that would have pushed it back, in my case with the thin strips they are even with the front of the LCD and are just guides to keep the plexiglass from flexing. Mike also had a small board along the bottom above the control panel, which I omitted due to the Plexiglas. I fitted the Plexiglas so that it just meets up with the back edge of the control panel. It is not held along the bottom and just goes up against the control panel board, so it can flex and make a gap there a bit. I may have to secure that in some way in the future, but currently it is minimal, and I do not want to make it difficult to remove the control panel if I can help it.

Above is the Plexiglas I was cutting for the screen. To cut it, I used a board and metal angle clamped together. I was cutting from the side on the right side where the knife is laying. Because the Plexiglas had a bad edge from when I purchased it, I needed to be sure to get one good long cut for the bottom edge. The top edge is hidden up past the marquee bottom board. This stuff is very hard, it is not the softer type so I found that it likes to fracture/crack. I managed to get a very good first cut on the top edge. The next cut, which I was doing in that picture really cracked up the edge. The last cut, cutting it down to the right width, that cut went very well thankfully. I had 1 factory edge and 2 cut edges exposed that turned out pretty well. It was very slightly too wide, to get it down to the right width I used some 180 grit sandpaper and a sanding block to get it just right.

The next part after fitting the Plexiglas was to get it in the final position with the LCD in place and the Control Panel in place. I then used a marker to mark the corners of the LCD behind the Plexiglas. I removed the Plexiglas, and monitor. I placed the monitor on the bench facing up and then placed the Plexiglass back over it using the marks I did while it was in the Cabinet to get a good view and check the marks were correct and centered properly. Once I was sure I had the corners marked correctly, I took away the monitor and flipped the Plexiglas to the back side. The back side being hte side that will in the end be toward the monitor itself once installed. From the back side, I cut into the protective plastic with a fresh Xacto blade around where the monitor will be placed, and removed the outer portion (yes only the outside part, not the center where the monitor will be). This left the “monitor area” covered and protected. I also kept the protective layer on the “front” side as well. Then I used some Gloss Black Rustoleum 2x Ultra Cover paint, painting that on the outer rim that I exposed by removing the film from it. This paint is on the back side of the plastic not the front, I have done this before for other projects. It leaves with me with a super gloss finish when viewed through the plexiglass and the paint won’t be touched so it won’t get scrathed. You could use any opaque paint color, in my case I was using Black due to the black case, red, blue anything really should work. Even Flat paints look super gloss from the front side. I have used dark flat primers before to get the same effect. The back is not flawless, it is not quite 100% opaque if back lit with a single coat(with more coats of paint it can be made fully opaque), but it is opaque enough for this use in my case with the single coat. Viewing it from the front the finish is flawless.

Above is the panel after painting it once I removed the protective layer from the inside. This reveals where the monitor will now be behind. The paint does take a while to dry well. I wanted to make sure it was good and dry before installing it, I didn’t want paint lifting where it meets the strips on the side. The final installation it went well, it is held tightly in place by the monitor at the top edge. I have a fair bit of pressure on the board there from the Monitor to get a little more tilt than the base will give on its own. I was very happy with the result.

Above you can see the thin strips the Plexiglas will rest on. After installing them I painted them gloss black to blend in. You can also see the door latch and spacer block to keep it from moving much. The little block at the bottom of the door is to keep it from going in to far, there is another stop block on the top corner as well, but it is out of view in the picture. The round speaker grills are again easy to see here as well as the chrome volume knob on the right.

Above is the Plexiglas installed with the monitor behind it before I removed the front protective film. Yes those are the wires leading to the front panel, when I reinstalled the panel I wrapped them up so they weren’t such a tangled mess. The monitor is there sitting on the blocking it is screw into the cabinet with. I have some pressure on the marquee bottom support board to get a little more angle out of it, as well as the block is a bit angled itself. I would have used the VESA mount board in the cabinet except this monitor doesn’t support VESA mounting. There are two screws in the back of the monitor base going into the block there. The block is built up so that the monitor was at the height I was going for, and it is secured to the bottom of the cabinet with 4 brackets with screws. I used brackets as I have it set so that I can get to the screws if I need to remove the monitor rather than gluing it in or putting in screws from the underside.

Above you can see the speakers installed before securing the wiring, the power supply board has been removed, or it would be attached there at the black and red wire, which now lead down to the 5Volt output on the Meanwell power supply below it. The other picture shows more of the internal wiring that goes to the Raspberry Pi, the two front mounted USB ports, the USB power cable which goes to the Meanwell 5Volt output as well. The safe shutdown/power up button wiring is there as well as the speaker input wiring. I ended up plugging the speakers into the Monitor’s Audio Output as I am using HDMI from the Pi. If I had plugged into the Pi I would have needed an audio ground loop isolator, because I have the Pi and the Speakers powered by the same power source. I had to do that with my Pi1541, and I had tested on this and had the same issue. Using the Monitor Audio Out that it gets from the HDMI input, lets me eliminate the need for that for this build.

Here is the back with the door latched of course. There is a fair gap at the hinge side, but with the wide hinge that does not show. I should have made it just a little shorter, it rubs easily, but I hope to not have to open it much. I also hope to not loose the keys.. You can see a bit of the run in the paint at the top, but it is on the back and shouldn’t be seen. Overall I have to say the paint turned out pretty good. There at the top, there is that extra T Molding strip on the Marquee Top. The Plug/Fuse/Switch unit in the back there can be wired a few different ways. The one I have has a lighted switch, that switch could be wired either as an Always On light even when turned off, or it can be wired at only to light up when the power is on. I have chosen to wire it so that it will only be lighted if the power is on. Some of them do come with a black switch and those don’t have lights in them. You could just switch the Hot line so that the light would not come on then because if the Neutral isn’t there it won’t light up. With the plug unit, again be certain they are secured well and not loose, a loose wire can cause heat and melting and potentially fire. I nearly soldered used solder and heat shrink on the plug unit for that reason, but I didn’t as then I would have to desolder it to ever remove the plug or power strip.

I had to edit the above picture, as the Marquee keeps washing out almost completely. That is the Marquee that is in it, I just took two pictures and over laid it over the lighter cabinet picture. The Marquee looks a little better in the picture than it looks to look at it. I did not remove the protective plastic from either side of the Marquee Plexiglas yet though. It turns out to be very hard to photograph this cabinet.

Above is the Pi 3B+ as it is sitting in the cabinet currently. I would have taken it out of the case and mounted it to the cabinet, but then I have to rig up a fan to it then. I may do that later. You can see in the picture the wires coming down to the GPIO Pins. The round momentary button on the back of the case there is wired to GPIO3 (Physical Pin 5) and Ground (Physical Pin 6) of the Pi 3B+. GPIO3 is a pin that will by default wake the Pi from a the shutdown/halt condition. Simply editing the /boot/config.txt file and adding the line “dtoverlay=gpio-shutdown” will activate GPIO3 to be a “shutdown” button. You can change the Pin that it will use for the Shutdown by defining the pin in the dtoverlay value. That will then make the other pin be the shutdown pin, but it won’t move the “wake/start” function from GPIO3. The Pi will start the Shutdown process as soon as it has been pressed. Once the Pi has shutdown, you can start it back up by pressing the button again (as long as you are using GPIO3 (Physical Pin5). There are other ways to set this up, they can include a delay where it will make sure the button is held down for a period of time, which could be handy to have. I went with the easiest option though, as I have the button on the back where it is not very likely to get bumped while the cabinet is in use. I found the instructions on how to set that up on this thread:

I did do just a little testing firing up one of my old 2600 games. Asteroids, I managed to roll over the score easily. I was playing on the easiest level though. I went back and started with the next level and that did not go so well.

I want player 1 to be the left side, and player 2 to be the right side. I found after reinstalling the control panel that they were backwards. To correct his, I unplugged the joysticks from the USB ports on the Pi and swapped their positions. Joysticks are based on the USB Port they are plugged into. So Originally I must have had them in the other ports, and when I re connected them they were put in the opposite positions. I didn’t have to swap the control boards or anything.

The Pi is accessible from the back door if I need access to it. I can also easily remove the control panel. I have two brackets on the back of the Control Panel with screws into to keep it in from coming off. I briefly thought of making the SD Slot accessible on the Pi from the outside like I did with the Pi1541. It is a bit much with 3/4″ material though, and I don’t want the card to be to easy to remove and loose. If I want to add anything to it or make changes I have it connected to my wifi and I can access it over the network.

The Marquee top has some brackets and screws that I used to secure it to the cabinet. I want to have it remain removable to easily access the Marquee graphics etc if needed. If I make another I am thinking of making it set back just slightly then use painted angle metal pieces to hold the Marquee in place like full size machines did. This will mean there would be no T Molding across the Marquee Top and Bottom. It would make it so much easier to install and support the Marquee though. I think I will still use the light box design behind it. That worked great, and I hope Aluminum will distribute any heat from the LEDs which shouldn’t be very much. They are using nearly half an amp at 12volts, so there is some heat there over time.

So one may ask about what this project cost to build. In my case I believe that I have a little over $250 wrapped up in materials. I am not counting the Pi 3B+, SD card, Monitor or Power Strip. If those were purchased as well, I would have been looking at around $410. I did not include cost of Wood Glue, Brads, the bit of Aluminum sheet, as those are supplies I had around, as well as the corner blocks which are basically scrap wood. I did purchase a few tools, a 30mm Forster bit, a Slot Cutting bit for a router, and the Edge Guide Clamp, those items add up to around another $100. I now have those tools for future projects though.

I have enough MDF, LED strip light, hinge, Plexiglas and a few other bits for a second cabinet. I would need to buy some T Molding, Controls, the Pi, Monitor etc though. I would like to find a better way to cut the Plexiglas, the scoring it with a knife doesn’t work very well on this hard stuff, at least for long cuts. I managed to get it cut, but it could very easily have turned out bad. It really isn’t “Plexiglas” brand that I picked up, I think I have had some softer stuff in the past that was easier to cut, but that probably wouldn’t hold up well for this usage. I don’t remember Lucite cracking like this material has for me, I have used that in the past, it is pretty good stuff, although even more expensive. It has been quite a long time since I worked with it, so I don’t know if it was all that much more fun to work with.

In the end the cabinet is still difficult to photograph, at least with the camera I have. I guess Gloss Black is not much fun for that. Although it is not flawless, I am quite happy with the final result. Above the Plexiglas over the LCD is quite obvious though and gives a good view of how well that turned out for me. The little mix of colors of the buttons is that I purchase a Blue and Yellow set, and already had a white set. I felt mixing the colors gave a better effect.

Bartop Arcade Build Part 1

I have been wanting an arcade machine for a long time. These days there are a lot of options out there that make it easier to build your own. I purchased the Bartop Arcade plans from The Geek Pub He has several different plans, from a full sized stand up unit to a tabletop design, as well as the Bartop design that I went with. So you can pick which you want to go with, but be sure to buy the one you want.

It has been a lot of work. I mostly used a 50 In Clamp Edge And Saw Guide and circular saw to cut out the pieces. For the arc on the side cuts I used a jig saw, and I cut them out clamped together to get a proper match. With a table saw it would be much faster. I optimized the cut layout from the original to help me get some larger extra bits to work with in case I needed it.

I essentially cut out the parts the same as the plans. In the end I found there was an issue with the Marquee Top (B) and Top Door Frame (F). The Marquee Top and Top Door Frame should have been cut at an angle to meet nicely in the back. To correct this, I shortened the Top Door Frame a bit so that it just let the Marquee Top clear it. I then also added T molding to the back side of the Marquee Top, as it was now going to be an exposed edge. If I made another Arcade, I will be changing how I end up cutting that out. I may also make some other alterations to make it easier to put in the Marquee itself.

After cutting out all of the pieces, I did sand them all on both sides. You can see in the picture above that I laid them out on top of the second half of the 4’x8′ Sheet of 3/4″ MDF. This does only take half a sheet to make this unit. Depending how you build it though, you do need a bit of corner blocking to glue it up easily. In my case I could have used the “spare for lcd sides” cut into strips for the blocking. I also didn’t use the VESA mount on this build due to the monitor not supporting it. I did use blocking, partly the bit off the Door side, and mostly some old pine strips I had around.

Before assembly I used a slot cutter in a router for all of the T molding areas. I used a 1/16″ slot cutter. I took the pieces outside and use a clamp to clamp them down to my saw horse. Then it only took a couple seconds for each on to put in the slot. The biggest thing being to get the slot bit set perfectly center. The other thing, use a mask for this it was awful the first one blew back right at me. Beyond that it is easy to put in the slot.

I assembled the unit with corner blocking, glue and brads like was done by Mike at The Geek Pub in his video. Other methods could be used, if you want you can use screws. He mentioned Pocket screws, which I do have, but I didn’t feel like trying. I figured if I wasn’t careful they could split the mdf as well. If I used them I was probably going to still use glue too.. The blocking made it very easy to assemble. I was looking at trying to do it without putting in the blocking, but that made it difficult to get good alignment. The blocking makes it stronger too with more surface area for the glue.

I realized that I had not drilled for the speakers in the Marquee bottom board until after I had it installed. I used some Logitech 2 piece speakers for the arcade. Removing them from the shell, they have some 2″ speakers in them. I used a 2″ hole saw to make the holes in the board. I also had to drill for the volume control access. I removed the power Led from the board. While the board also had a Headphone jack on it, I decided it wasn’t practical to do anything with it. I needed a longer knob than the one it came with. That is also something I would do differently. Had I not already glued the board in, I would have carved out the back so I could have used a more standard length knob.

I then rewired the speakers for installation in the cabinet. I was going to reuse the original AC power unit so I setup to be able to put it in as well. Below you can see the speakers rewired to fit the cabinet.

These speakers operate off of 5Volts DC. In the end I didn’t like the exposed AC board inside the cabinet. I went with a Meanwell dual voltage power supply for the cabinet. This let me run the Raspberry Pi and the Speakers both off of the 5Volt DC on it. It also provides 12Volts DC, which is for the Fan and the Marquee lights.

The next part was the primer. I used the recommended Rustoleum Filler Primer. This is pretty neat stuff. It has a filler product in the paint. It looks like it is fuzzy, but it sands out amazing.

Don’t skip primer, It just won’t work if you are using MDF. I waited until the next day to sand it. I used 220 grit paper to take off the fuzz. I then followed up with some finer paper. From there I wiped it down with paper towels and brushed it well, then use a microfiber cloth to wipe it down. Then I painted it with some Rustoleum gloss black. I let that dry a day and took some 3000 grit to lightly sand any little bits that were in the paint. The paint I used is the 15 minute dry type to help keep the dust, bugs etc blowing into it. I found that it was better to do a single coat that caught most of the dust that got in it. Then I came back and did 2 more light coats after the 3000 grit. That later paint didn’t end up with as much dust in it. The last thing I did with the paint was a Rustoleum Clear Gloss coat. The Clear Gloss dried very fast, it was quite different and had a lot of over spray. When I was doing the painting I was wearing a mask as well. I was thinking of trying to polish it, but I decided I wasn’t going to be that crazy about it, and I wasn’t sure I had the clear on thick enough. I used 2 cans of primer and about 2 cans of the black. The clear coat was less than a full can. I did end up with some runs on the top back door frame piece. I used one of the spray handles for the cans, as seen in the picture below. That makes it much easier for me to get a decent finish and better control a well as saving my wrist.

Well, there were two other things I didn’t get drilled before the initial assembly. The first being the “safe shutdown button” for the Pi on the back beside the power jack. The other being the USB ports in the front right there.

Here is the safe shutdown hole in the back of the cabinet. I had to back bore it.

I had to backbore the Shutdown button here by the power port. The USB on the front nearly needed to be backbored as well. The USB port insert I used goes into a 30mm hole it barely has any threading with the 3/4″ MDF, but it was just enough.

The T molding is not too bad to do, but I wish it had went a little better. I got a section of 20′ and used all but about 18″ on this cabinet. There would have been that bit more if I had not put that additional piece on the back side of the Marquee Top. I am assuming I had the full 20′ I was to have received, but I can see how it did use that much. I just did it like Mike showed in his video, back cutting at the corners, and trying to put it in strait with a rubber mallet. I had a few issues here and there. I had some problem with snagging on the bottom and pulling it back out when moving the cabinet. I added some rubber feet and that should help to prevent it from dragging the edges too much in the future. I put a bit of glue toward the ends to help hold it snags a bit.

Here I have the control panel assembled and the USB ports installed after finishing the Clear Coat. I am using a Dell LCD that I had around. It was almost a perfect fit, and had HDMI input and audio output (no speakers internally). The control panel layout is in the plans as well, the template prints out on multiple pages that get taped together. I used a spray adhesive to hold it on like Mike suggested. It was a bit of a pain to remove all of the adhesive after the fact ( I used a different product than he had so maybe it is harder to get off?). The paper came off fine, but some of the spray stayed behind. I later used more of the templates in other areas and was careful to use as little spray as I could, that turned out better. I used the 2 player template and omitted 2 buttons, 8 was enough for me. You can choose to use the buttons you want. He also includes a 1 player layout template. The buttons I used are the pop in kind. I used a 30mm forstner bit for the hole with the 6 primary buttons, they went right in a perfect fit. For the Joysticks I used a slightly smaller sized bit, this didn’t cause issues in the travel of the stick. If I had used the 30mm bit, then the joystick washers wouldn’t have kept the holes covered at the maximum travel. For the smaller 24mm buttons I didn’t have the perfect drill bit for, so they were slightly loose, and a little glue on the bottom edge in a couple places to ensure they don’t move on me. The forstner bits do a very nice job, the butterfly bits I have are way too aggressive, but they are a weird type. The butterfly bits may be just fine if you are careful, mine are of a very aggressive verity that have a screw start point on them. I can’t hold them back or take it easy to get them started.. I used the bits in my cheap Harbor Freight Drill Press, which made the work go so nicely.

The one trick with the controls is they need to be wired identically, as the Pi can get confused if it has two of the same model of controllers with different layouts. I previously built a USB arcade joystick, with the same type of controls. I have wired both of the controllers on the Arcade as well as the separate USB arcade joystick the same so I can use it as a third player on the Arcade.

This was the first time I tried it out inside the cabinent. It is all together except the marquee and front plexi on the monitor. You can see the speakers in the top.

Here I worked on the Marquee light. I am using 12Volt White LED Strip light. I decided to build an Aluminum Light Box for it. I really didn’t have a good way to mount the LEDs otherwise, and I didn’t want the light going out other areas of the cabinet. The light box is about 1″ deep, and rests against the corner blocking, and almost against the speakers.

Here I am using clamps and a board like a break to bend the aluminum. It worked ok.
Here is the box. It was neater but I had it slight long and had to compress the ends down a bit.

Above you can see the LED Strip. I put it on the Sides not the bottom. This helps with Hotspots. In such a close space the points of light off of the LEDs would make hotspots all of the Marquee otherwise. Below you can also see the Speaker grills and volume knob installed. The Speaker grills are made from some 2″ desk grommets from the hardware store, and then covered in some speaker cloth (salvaged from an old speaker box I had).

Above you can see the back door. The door was slightly taller than it should have been, possibly a little wave and variation in my cuts for the back. The bigger thing was the that it turned out to be somewhat narrow, I am not sure if was my marking or cutting or what. The door Frame pieces seemed to all go just fine, but there is a bit more gap left and right. So I would watch for that if I make another. I wasn’t going to use a piano hinge for it, but due to the gap that was the only way I was going to be able to hide it well. I also decided to get a lock, not that I wanted to lock it, but that was the most elegant looking latching method, and also when moving I didn’t want a “semi-secure” latch that may flip open accidentally. The holes were drilled with other templates in the plans. The bottom is the 80mm fan pattern while the top two are the hole patterns for the suggested speakers. I used the speaker pattern holes just for additional venting on the door though. Here you can also see the door once it was installed with the 80mm fan 12Volt and latch assembly. The modification to the door frame top that I mentioned above did have the added benefit of adding some ventilation as well as there is a small gap there now. I like that bit of the change as heat will build up and would have caught in the top had it been sealed up. You can also see the wiring going to the power strip I put in there. It is wired directly to the rear power jack. I had it around and it was easy to work with. I really did not want to get an electrical box like the plans suggested. This was a bit easier and I think did a nice job. It also has the added benefit that in my case it is a surge protector and not just a temporary “power tap” as well, not just a power strip.

The power jack includes a switch and fuse. I like it, but some have had it has issues with melting. I could see that if the connections were a bit loose, that causes the conductors to get hot. The Safe Shutdown button for the Pi is also installed there. The button is wired up to the gpio on the Pi and the Pi is setup to use do a safe shutdown if it is pressed. It will wake the Pi after shutdown if pressed again. I will cover that in Part 2, it is quite easy with the Pi 3.

The Marquee just has some paper in it behind the Plexiglass to test the brightness. It is a little too bright. I am probably going to dim the LEDs a bit. I am not sure how I will do that but I have an idea. That will be in another post though. So this is Part 1 of at least 2 parts.

I have to finish the Marquee, if I make a dimmer for it that will be covered in another post. I am also going to put Plexiglas in front of the monitor to hide it. Once I have the Plexiglas cut for the front of the monitor I will be able to mount the monitor in the cabinet. The Monitor I have does not have a VESA mount, so I have secured it to a built up block that I will secure with some brackets to the bottom of the cabinet. I don’t know the exact final position until the Plexiglas is in. The Marquee top needs secured as well, but I have to finish the Marquee first. I do intend to keep the Marquee Top removable if needed, but not just friction fitted like it has been so far now. The Pi is also floating free in there. I have been thinking of pulling it out of the case and mounting to the cabinet as a bare board, but I do want to put a fan on it still if I do that. To start with the Marquee I will probably finish a design for it and reprint it on my inkjet printer instead for some color. I may get proper marquee made professionally later on. I may get some side graphics for the cabinet as well, but not full side covering graphics (not after the T molding is installed).

Commodore 64 Breadbin #2 Referb : 326298 Part 1

I picked up another Commodore 64 breadbin model. It had a rough time in storage from the looks of it. The system has been in a damp dirty storage area, there were several of them being sold by the same person, in similar conditions along with some other old 80s era computers like Apple ii systems. I guess they were stored in a basement somewhere that had some real water/moisture problems.

As you can see from the outside it is a bit dirty, and some keys were missing. This was I think the second best looking of the batch. Below you can see the inside, the paper shield was a mess, black mildew along the bottom. A good bit of dirt inside. After seeing it in the bag, I decided I wasn’t even opening it inside. So I took it out back and opened it there. I removed the cardboard shield and it went strait to the trash can. The case we taken apart and hosed down to get the worst of the dirt off. I wiped the keyboard down a bit and the board before taking them in. The case parts went it the tub and got a really good scrubbing.

I removed the RF Shield and cleaned the board with some 91% IPA. It turns out to be a bit of an interesting board. Yes the screws are mostly rusty, the RF Shield and Cartridge port plate tells a tail of too much water too. On close inspection the board looks ok for the most part, the legs of some of the components are rusted, I clipped a them and the tips just fell off. This board has obviously been worked on in the past. The inner cardboard sheet that was above the bottom RF Shield went strait to the trash, it was about as awful as the upper cardboard shield.. I kind of like this brass looking shield, but without the cardboard to go with it, I won’t be reinstalling it. I don’t care enough to make a new cardboard piece.

You may notice the wires in the above picture. This is a 326298 Rev A board. An early board that only has the 5 Pin Video port. This board was built in 82 based on the unsocketed chips. The board had extensive work done to it. All of the main chips are socketed. They are all dated second half of 84. The 5 Pin Video port was replaced with a full 8 Pin Video port. There are two wires running off from that port, and various cut traces on the top and bottom to separate out the additional pins. I think in the VIC II area there were possibly some other changes. The VIC II area cage was (and still is) rather rusted as well as the RF modulator top plate, and the RF Rca port was all rusted.

So after the ipa bath I hooked up the board.

It worked, no issues. Next I tested the keyboard, it worked, minus the two broken keys. Some keys were not very responsive though. I did a full teardown of the keyboard to clean it properly.

I first removed all of the keycaps with my keycap puller. I recommend one, they are rather cheap and good insurance to prevent breaking the old plastic. I next desoldered the wires on the ShiftLock key. I had removed the tape from around the keyboard, as you can see, to get to the screws under it. After removing the screws the board lifts off, and you can see the plungers then.

I took out the plungers and put them to the side, then took the keyboard frame and sent it to the tub and some warm very soapy water. I also soaked the keys in the soapy water. Then scrubbed the keyboard and keycaps with a toothbrush and rinsed them well and dried them. I also took the springs which were dirty and some were rather rusty. I put the springs into some White Vinegar. The Vinegar removes the rust, it does make the metal a bit dull looking. I expect if you leave them in too long you may break down the metal too, so I kept checking on them. They cleaned up well, the worst of them you could tell were actually pitted but were still in working order. I then washed the vinegar off with some water and dried the spring as best I could. I placed all of that on a towel to dry properly.

While that was drying, I took some IPA on a qtip and lightly wiped the contacts on the circut board. We don’t want to remove the conductive coating. If you clean too much of it off they keys won’t work. Next I took the plungers, and wiped the shaft part with a damp cloth to get any dirt off, I didn’t wipe the contacts on the plungers, they looked pretty good. They were mostly clean overall due to being covered by the keycaps and in the keyboard frame holes.

All of the good plungers and two broken ones.

Well, I had watched Perifractic’s Lego 64 videos, and I got an idea to try on the broken plungers. They did still work, as I had tested the keyboard with them, they just won’t hold a key now.

So I found a Lego laying around. You see the full piece I started with there in the lower left. I cut it in half, cleaned the plunger up and fited it to it. I shaved it down to go into the plunger shaft a little for more surface area and strength. Then I glued it in with a combination of Bondic and Super Glue gel. I DID have to file down the Lego piece, it was too large and the Commodore Key cap wouldn’t go on it. I used my small Diamond Grit Needle Files from Harbor Freight (they are just small files, I got the Diamond Grit ones, they seemed to work well for me on plastics). I will say that the glue doesn’t hold well, these tops will come off. So it isn’t a great fix, but I think it will work. I am still waiting on replacement Plungers and springs for the keyboard. I put the one plunger back at the British Pound symbol location, but I put the other at another key that is less likely to see much use. The 8 key gets a lot of use.

Here is the keyboard frame after reassembly.

Here is the keyboard back together back in the cleaned upper case. I tested it and it all works. The * key doesn’t work very well though.. When I get the new plungers in, I will probably remove the circuit board again and check that key. I don’t know if it it is the plunger, or dirt, or the contacts on the circuit board. Other than that and the missing caps, the keyboard was quite responsive, better than my other C64. That one I did not remove the board to clean the contacts. Removing to swap the plunger and check that key isn’t too bad. I will only have to desolder the ShiftLock key and remove the screws. The plungers that I am not working with will all stay as long as the keycaps are still on the keys can’t come out.

I does look much better than it did, but it is very streaked. The Power LED plate was actually corroded to the point much of the paint was lifted and flaking off. Corroded Aluminium.. Ya, I guess a good bit of moisture for a long period of time. I plan to get a replacement Badge and maybe a matching Power LED plate, I just don’t know what I want to go with.

Next I started on some preventative maintenance as well as rust removal. I had already removed the rusty tops of the VIC II area and the Modulator top cover. I then desoldered the Cartridge Plate and the VIC II cage which is rather rusty. I did alot of cleanup on the RF Modulator cover and Cartridge plate. A combination of wire brushes, sanding, and polishing with the Dremel etc. To remove the stickers easily, I put a little WD40 on them and let it sit. When I was done they were pretty decent. I tried some Vinegar on the RF Modulator cover, but that removes the protective coating that was still on some areas of it, so I stopped that. I did soak all of the rusty screws (basically every screw in this thing) in the Vinegar to get the rust off. I also removed the Fuse holder pieces, and fuse, they were quite corroded. I placed them into the Vinegar as well (well not the fuse). The Vinegar did clean the corrosion pretty well off the Fuse holder, but it left those areas black, I then polished them back to a shiny surface before reinstalling them. When all the rust was off of the screws and Cartridge plate and RF Modulator cover, I put some “Teflon Non-Stick Dry-Film Lubricant” on them. Not to Lubricate them so much, but to put a protective film on them to help prevent them rusting again. I did the same with the keyboard springs after they were dry. I don’t use the stuff on plastics though it puts a white film on that is hard to remove. So I put it on before putting them in place.

I resoldered the Cartridge Plate back to the board. I also touched up some solder points on the board. The VIC II cage will not be going back in either. I think the VIC will stay cooler without it, and with a proper heatsink installed.

Here is the board reinstalled after cleaning up the rusty bits.

The board was tested again and still worked. So next I installed a few heatsinks.

The 5 Volt Regulator doesn’t have much of a heatsink on it. The Rivet is loose and the heatsink is spinning around. So I decided to remove it and fix that as best I could. I took the heatsink off of it. I placed it on a new 2 Amp capable 5 Volt Regulator, it wasn’t needed, but that is what I keep around. I was a concerned that with the age and heat that Regulator dealt with over the years plus that loose tiny heatsink that it really should be replaced before it fails. When these regulators fail they most often fail open, meaning they will push the full voltage through them instead of dropping it or cutting off the voltage completely.. That fries the ics in the board. I have not heard of them failing inside the C64, while they are the big issue inside the C64 power supplies. With that very tiny heatsink, which was also not making good thermal connection to the regulator I didn’t want to take a chance on it. This time I put a second folded back heatsink behind it with thermal compound between the heatsinks as well as on the back of the regulator and bolted it all together.

As far as the case repairs go, I guess I didn’t take any pictures to show that specifically. The top of the case is cracked in the front right corner, it appeared to have taken a hit to that corner. It also has 2 cracks in some of the screw supports. I used my solder iron on a lower temp to melt the inside of the crack in the corner of the case together again. Then I put some liquid Testors Model glue in from the back to smooth it out. That did start to melt the plastic, I removed the excess glue. I have found that if you use that stuff and it melts the plastic and there is too much excess glue the plastic won’t harden again. The one standoff in the top of the care there is cracked as well, I haven’t fixed that yet, I think maybe from the same trauma that cracked the top. Three of the standoffs that hold the keyboard in place were sheared off as well. Those I glue back on with superglue gel. I then clamped them for a day and left it sit. That will give me the best strength, they shouldn’t be stressed while it is curing, which is 24 hours to get to full strength per the manufactures directions that is. The clamping ensures they are down properly and the joint is thin and tight too. After that I put some Bondic glue around them, the Bondic won’t cure in the crack because it needs UV Light to cure. I have also found it doesn’t bond very well compared to Super Glue. It does retain some flexibility and have some hold, I find that can assist Super Glue because it holds so tight, but doesn’t flex and fractures.

This case is badly discolored and I don’t want to try to retrobright it. I picked up some Krylon Fusion All-In-One Paint+Primer “Matte River Rock” paint awhile back to potentially paint a 1541 case. The case had some small chips out of the bottom. I took some Tamiya Putty “white” and filled in and built up the missing areas. It is a potent thin putty that dries quickly, and sands well for me. I it seems to bond to the case plastic well (As the model glue fuses the plastic, so I would expect the model putty to grip it well too). When I was done with the physical repairs to the bottom portion of the case, I put a even coat of the Matte River Rock paint on it. It turned out well. After the paint dried I found a crack show in the center of the half circle of the video port in the middle of the case. I glued that with the Testors Liquid model glue, I hope it holds well. Later I will put on some epoxy to help give that crack a little more support (I should have used Epoxy on the keyboard plungers instead) . I think once the board is reinstalled it will have more support where that crack is as well.

I haven’t done anything to the top of the case so far except weld and glue the one crack. The one case clip on it is broken off and lost. There are also 2 screws posts in the top that are cracked. I have thought about getting one of Birt’s “Hey Birt!” case saver kits to get a new case clip, I could use one of the reinforcement pieces on the cracked stand off, and have spares for the future. As I have to fix that case clip, I don’t want to paint the case yet, I will likely scratch up the paint having it upside down for those repairs. I will put several coats on the case. I want to test the paint on something with a Matt Finish clear over it. Some paints don’t mix well, and can cause the lower paint to lift or got to a crackle like finish. I have found that even with paints from the same company.. So I will test the Krylon Matt Finish first on a scrap of similar plastic (probably a modern computer case bezel). I want to put the clear over it, even though I like the existing Matt Finish of the paint as it should help protect it better.

So for now that is about it for this C64. In the future I will be doing more to it. The remaining repairs to the case. That include the Clip and post repair as well as painting and installing a new Badge plate. Checking out the * key, as well as installing the replacement keys and springs. I also have a capacitor replacement kit for it. With the 84 Breadbin I already worked on, I had found some capacitors that showed evidence of failing, so I figure this one is going to be served well by replacing them. I do wonder if that, especially the ones in the RF Modulator, may make a difference in the video output. I may or may not install some additional heatsinks. The computer is working fine, but it does have bad jailbars, so I may do something with that too at some point. I don’t know of removing the modulator and building up a replacement would help that or not.

I would love to know where the other Breadbins that were sold with this ended up and see that they were properly cared for. There was a very interesting VIC that I would have loved to see, but I wasn’t paying that kind of cash for a VIC let alone one that looked like it spend a few years sitting in water.

Pi1541 in 1541 Case & Tapuino – Part 2 (Board Etching and Build)

Lets see what was left after the last post. There were quite a few changes to the board layout. I found several defects in the circuit diagram I had made.

There were corrections for the Pi1541 section, in that I had connected up one of the signals that I shouldn’t have. The removal of that bit made the design a bit simpler actually.

For the Tapuino side I had several missing connections. So the layout below is not the exact same layout seen below here. This one below is the corrected revision with a few additions as well.


Here is the design minus the Ground connections.

I built the Pi1541 section based on the Option B design, but with the additional signals wired in that were listed but not wired. That is why I have the second level shifter on the board. I sort of think of it as an Option B+ design, there are some others out there, but most are just plain Option B. It didn’t matter originally, but for some of the new features he has been working on, the additional signals are needed. The problem though was that the oAtn or OUT_ATN should not be wired up as it will never be used, so I had to remove that and I had to do some modifications to my prototype board below. I also added the Buzzer for the Pi1541 to the board design. The next changes were the missing connections to the 4052N on the Tapuino section. I was missing 4 lines going to the IC, two being ground and two to the ATMEGA pins. Some other additions are Read and Write LED Indicators to the Tapuino.

The board I etched was no the above design, to correct my prototype board, I had to cut the lines to the oAtn, removed the wire from the pin on the Pi for as well. I have added wires for the missing traces to the ATMEGA from the 4052 and grounded the other two pins. My buzzer is on the Pi header not the board, and I don’t have the additional Tapuino LEDs.

The images of the board below are the board made with the previous design. That is why it won’t look exactly the same. Some pictures show the corrections and some show how it was originally assembled.

First let us start of with the Toner Transfer process. To do a toner Transfer you need a piece of glossy paper. I initially purchased some Toner Transfer Paper, it was rather pricey for all the more use I get out of it. With Eagle I can not find how to “tile” my printout, so I am using a full sheet for any tiny board.. I found you can use magazine pages, so I tried that. It has worked out pretty well actually, although The first run didn’t. This is a more complex board, it is double sided, and it really is not easy to line it up properly. To do so, I printed out both sides. The top mirrored and the bottom not mirrored (as the bottom is printed mirrored already). I then lay them on top of one another and with light behind them I get them aligned. I then cut the sheets down. This gives me some registration of the alignment. I double and triple check alignment. I tape the two sheets together on two opposite edges with clear tape. I do not want the tape to overlap onto the circuit board material, so I had around a inch boarder around the board printout. If the tape overlaps the design it can make it not transfer properly. We need no assistance in having a failed transfer, that is easy enough to get without additional help.

That being said here is how my first try went.

My next attempt went much better.

With that transfer I just had to touch up some places with a sharpie in the ground plane areas. It was not easy to etch though. It took quite a few passes and pulling the board out as the toner ended up starting to lift in a number of areas. I don’t know if it was my toner (I think it is at least partly the aftermarket cheap toner), or the extended time it was taking in the etching solution for me. I was just using peroxide, vinegar and salt. It was taking a long time. I don’t have anything stronger here, but due to the time it took, I may try to pickup something else in the future.

Below is the completed board after etching compared to my printout samples. There is one bad short, I don’t know why it did that there. There are some areas that were a bit close. The transfer process is to put the board between the printouts, and use heat and pressure to transfer the toner from the magazine paper to the copper. The copper must be very clean and not tarnished. I sanded it with fine sandpaper, then cleaned it with some rubbing alcohol. You want “enough” heat but not too much, too much and the toner melts and deforms, to little and it doesn’t transfer. Too little pressure and it won’t transfer, it seems the more pressure the better. I use a small iron that I can put a lot of pressure on, but I don’t find it easy to do. Once the transfer is done (or you think it is), then put the board into some water. The magazine paper will break down and come off leaving the toner on the board (if it worked). Carefully wipe it off to get that white paper haze off of the surface. Then put the board into the etching solution. (I have some examples and details of the process on my Commodore Computer Saver post, which is a more recent post here.)

I was extremely happy to find out my alignment was nearly perfect. It etched well, although it took forever. This is the second board design I have etched, and only the third board. The first being an adapter board that was extremely simple. The other design I did, I had the traces closer together with less empty gap. The wider gap I had here between traces made it much easier to solder up as there is no solder mask present.

The next step was to drill all of the holes. That took awhile. It required some very small drill bits. I had picked up a set of very small bits from Harbor Freight last year for very little cost. They turned out to be perfect for the job. The only problem is it would have been forever with my pin vise drill. I went to the drill press (from Harbor Freight as well), and well it couldn’t hold bits this small. Well my pin vise drill is metal, and round if I take the bottom piece off. I carefully installed it into the drill press chuck. I tightened it just enough to hold it and left the other bit holding part inside the shaft of the pin vise to make it stronger.

I then went ahead and drilled out all of the holes. The smallest being the holes for the resistors and capacitors. The last board I did, I drilled some of the holes a bit large, that made it hard to get the leads to solder in with too much gap around them. This time I went with the closest size bit I could. That ended up being about 3 primary sizes, the smallest for the resistors and capacitors, then one for the Dip sockets and finally the pin header and other connectors. With a few larger ones for the mounting points on the PS/2 style socket and board mounting holes.

With this being a double sided board, and no plated through holes I had to pay special attention to assembly. I used Machined DIP Sockets for the ICs, as the top side of the pins can be accessed with them tight to the board, and some of the connections are only on the top of the board. I didn’t have a Machined socket for the ATMEGA, so I used machined strip headers for it taking care to make sure they were standing up strait. I did not assemble this board in the order I would if it had been a manufactured board with proper through holes. Normally I would put in the short stuff first, then the taller stuff later and the tall connectors last. I couldn’t do that, and get to the areas I needed to on the top side.

As I mentioned above there were some changes to the board after I etched it. The above image shows it as it was made initially. Below here is the revised board with the corrections. The removal of one resistor in the Pi1541 area, I also removed the one header by the Serial port due to there having been a short under it I had to remove. I didn’t need that header in there for my exact use. That header would be used if you wanted to put in a Second Serial port like the real 1541 has instead of the PS/2 type port I am using for my 7″ LCD interface. The same header coming off the PS/2 port wires to the removed header above the Serial port to enable it in that case. The cutting of one trace in the Pi1541 area by that resistor on the bottom side of the board. The additional two wires for the Tapuino between the ATMEGA and the 4052, as well as the added. Ground pins connected up to it. Again the below changes don’t need made to the “newest” design. These modifications are due to the earlier defective design I etched this prototype from. If you compare them there are quite a few changes between it and the revised design at the top of this post. This is how the board is in my drive now though. I have the Pi Buzzer for the Pi1541 directly on the GPIO of the Pi. I don’t have the Read and Write Status LEDs for the Tapuino, although I am thinking of adding them. It is worth noting that the pinout for the header that is going over to the Pi’s GPIO is different on this earlier board than the revised board. The changes were to move the Buzzer to the board, but also I swapped the positions of two of the signals to simplify the traces going to the Serial port.

Here I have the board installed into the chassis.

You may wonder about the Black Oval thing in the middle on the right, that is a Ground Loop noise isolator. It is between the Pi’s Audio Jack and the Audio Jack of the Little audio amp at the bottom of the case there. Without it, there is a buzz. I have used a couple of these things now for that kind of isolation. I believe they are essentially a transformer inside, so there is no direct electrical connection between the grounds.

I had mentioned in the last post that there was an issue with the Meanwell power supply needing a 200mA minimum load on the 12Volt rail. My solution to that problem was to install two 100mA rated fans. The one I put on by the little audio amp. The ic on it gets warm at higher volume levels, so I figured it was a good idea. The other fan I put on the top of the case by the Pi to cool it. The fans make very little noise and provide enough load to the power supply to be happy even with the Audio Amp off, which also runs on 12Volts. I don’t believe the fans are are really pulling 100mA, but they are close enough that everything is working well.

Yes the Pi1541 is working.

Here are some shots of the exterior of the Pi1541/Tapuino unit.

The Tapuino section is also working as well. Originally though, I couldn’t get the Tapuino to work with the 4052 installed. So I bypassed the 4052 with some jumpers into the IC socket and I was using it that way for awhile. The 4052 is not needed unless you want to be able to duplicate from another device into it. I put it in the design to have it “complete”. It lets you connect up either a physical Cassette and dub off of it, or another Tapuino (why?). To use it, there is the unused red header there in the Tapuino section that would go to the other device. I eventually came to the conclusion that the likely fault was the specific 4052 IC I was using. I was trying to use some 74HTC4052N ics, and they just wouldn’t work. I ended up ordering some 74HC4052N ics, and those worked perfectly. I try to be careful when ordering in ics, and the fact there are so many similar models it just doesn’t always work out. I don’t know what the difference is in the HTC that it won’t work in the place of the HC chips for this use. For the old 8bit stuff usually you use LS stuff, but these don’t come in LS. If you don’t want to duplicate tapes to the Tapuino, then you really only need to bypass the 4052 with two jumpers, you could even leave out the IC socket and jumper on the board.

I would like to post the board design in some way that it can be downloaded by others that may want to try to use it. I don’t know about making Gerber files though, I could post the Eagle files somewhere and then someone could do Gerber files themselves. Eagle is free for these small designs.

Referbishing a Commodore 64 326298 Rev A 1982(FAB 326295 Rev D)

I picked up another Commodore 64 quite cheaply. This poor system had been stored in some bad conditions. I am not sure the conditions, but it had been wet at one point at least and damp quite a lot. When it was put there, it was probably pretty rough looking as far a browning of the plastic. This was an early Commodore 64 from 82 originally. Oddly the serial number label had no serial number printed on it. I have seen some labels that ink can be removed from by some cleaners, so I don’t know if it had been wiped off or never had a number.

Internally it as all there. The old paper foil shield was dirty and had mold on it. There was dirt and dead bugs all inside it. The first thing I did was pull the paper shield and toss it out, I then pulled the keyboard and mainboard out. Next I hosed the worst of the dirt and bugs out of the case with a hose.

Next I removed the bottom shield from the mainboard. It showed quite a bit of corrosion on it.

Before I tried to fire the board up, I did a bit of cleanup on the board itself. Then I looked it over to see if anything needed addressed before trying to power it on. I first checked that the power switch was making good contact. I then checked the Fuse was good. I also pushed all of the socketed chips in to make sure they were tight.

Looking over the board it was dated as 1982. There are some odd things about this board, it has had all the main chips socketed (all “wide” chips). The main chips are also all dated 1984. Three of the ram chips have been replaced and are also dated 1984. The remaining chips are all from 1982.

Here you see all t he main socketed chips. CIAs, the 3 Roms, the CPU, SID, PLA and VIC II from 1984

The next odd thing about this board is that it has a 8 Pin Video Socket instead of the 5 Pin Video Socket that was originally on it. julrod over at Lemon 64 said he had heard that Commodore service centers had upgraded the 326298 boards with 8 Pin Video Sockets. I have yet to test if the 8 Pin socket includes the added Chroma signal for S Video like video output. Looking around the 8 Pin Video socket I saw 4 cut traces (some on the bottom some on the top) around it and there are two wires on the bottom side leading off to points on the board.

Here are the two wires off of the Video Socket, you can see some of the cut traces too.

I connected the cleaned up board to a display and my power supply. It actually came up to the normal startup screen showing all of the memory. The video was noticeably poor compared to my other later Commodore (a 1984 model). It has bad Jail Bars on the screen for one. I then connected up my full test harness an test cartridge. The board passed all of the tests. I fired it up with my Pi1541 and started up a game.

The next day I spent doing a lot more cleaning of the computer. The case was cleaned with some CLR Mold and Mildew cleaner, a brush and a toothbrush. It still looks bad due to the lack of the badge, the bad browning of the plastic. The plastic is streaked oddly in the browning as it isn’t very uniform. The top has a crack on the right front corner. Three of the mainboard mounts are sheared off. The narrow right tab is missing that holds the back on. Two keys are missing and the posts are broken on the keyboard. The keyboard worked, but it wasn’t very responsive. It is quite dirty as well of course.

Most of the screws are rusty. Some of them are very badly rusted, anything in the “front edge, including the base screws. I put them into some vinegar. After soaking in it for awhile, the rust was removed from them. It left them looking a bit different, but they were in much better shape. I also did the same with the keyboard springs.

I removed the cage around the VIC II area. It was quite rusted, and I don’t like them anyways, as it makes it hard to get to the parts inside. It may be a decent heatsink for the VIC II though, I replaced it with a real heatsink though. The computer has a factory mistake where R10 by the VIC is 300 Ohms where it should be 120 Ohms. Ray Carlsen recommended putting in a 220 Ohm resistor in parallel across the existing R10 to bring the resistance to what it was supposed to be. This corrects the resistor in at R10 brings the strength of the Composite Video output to what it should be.

Here you can see the new Blue 220 Ohm resistor stacked on the original R10 just to the right of the VIC II

Here is the keyboard disassembly.

I lightly cleaned the keyboard pcb with some IPA. Once it was put together again, it did seem like it was more responsive. I haven’t tested it fully though. Keep in mind that too much cleaning of the contacts will rub the carbon off and they won’t work properly.

For the keyboard I turned to a little inspiration from Perifractic at Youtube. I had to tear down the whole keyboard to clean it properly. It also wasn’t making good contact on some keys, so I decided I would clean the pcb on it. I don’t have spare keys, or posts. I decided I would try repairing the broken keyboard posts with some pieces of Lego Cross posts. It does look like it may work, I don’t know for how long though. The one key the “pound” key is one that I doubt I will end up using, so having a repaired post there shouldn’t be a big deal. The other key was the 8 key so I decided to move that post to another position where it will get less use. To do this was a combination of a drill bit, using a Dremmel, and Xacto knife. While the Lego Cross axel looks like the key post top, the problem here though is that it is just a bit too large. A Lego piece that accepts the Cross Axle will go on a Commodore Post, but a Commodore Key won’t got on the Lego Axle. I don’t know if some of the Lego Axles are a little different or what though the ones I had wouldn’t work with the keys properly. I ended up using a small file to file them down to a more fitting size. I found that superglue won’t get a great bond on Legos, Bondic doesn’t either. I did try some model glue, which was said to be able to fuse Lego pieces. I don’t know how well it is holding. I may eventually replace the damaged posts, but for now they are hopefully ok. I still need to get 2 springs and two keys.

I reassembled the keyboard with the repaired posts.

I also took the top off of the Modulator and cleaned and polished it up. The plate on the Cartridge Port had some bad rust on it as well. I desoldered it from the board so that i could get it properly cleaned up. They both turned out to be a good improvement. I was going to paint these pieces but decided not to. Instead I put some teflon liquid to try to protect them from rusting quickly. I also used it on the screws. It puts a bit of a coating on stuff and is used to protect tools from rusting as well. The other part/parts I pulled to clean up were the two parts of the Fuse Holder. They were badly corroded. I desoldered them and polished them.

The board now looks quite better. I also installed heatsinks on the VIC II, SID, PLA, and CPU.

The conditions left the metal plate around the power LED corroding and the paint lifting off. I ended up cleaning it as best I could. I have to figure out what to do with it for painting etc. The main case badge was missing, and from the condition of the browning of the plastic , it must have been missing for a good while.

In an effort to get the old case looking a little better, I scrubbed the case with a paste of Baking Soda to get some of the marks off of the plastic. It did get rid of some of them. The plastic is still streaked brown.

For the crack in the right front corner on the top, I melted the plastic from the inside with my solder iron set to a lower temperature. This held the part in place, but for the crack on the outside, I used some model glue, that seems to have fused the plastic there pretty well. I also put a little on the inside to even out the melted plastic. Be careful about getting too much of that stuff on the plastic, it will dissolve it making it soft. It may not harden properly again if that happens.

Some of the pins in the components were rusted, and rusted badly on the bottom side. So I thought I would just clip them closer to the board. When I clipped at least two of these they just came right off. They were rust clear to the solder. I don’t think they were rusted below the solder. I tried to remove as much rust as I could. The presence of rust encourages the formation of more rust unless I am mistaken in what I have heard.

So far restoring this old beat up 64 has mostly been a lot of cleaning and some physical repairs. I did do the R10 fix. I still have more to do with it, and I am not sure when I will find the proper replacement keys. I was thinking of just ordering any key to put on the keyboard so I have a full keyboard, but I am not sure yet. I will probably recap the board. I have to fix those 3 board mounting standoffs that are broken off. I may fix the broken case tab on the right as well. The heatsink on the 5 Volt regulator is a bit loose, so it won’t be making the greatest thermal transfer to it. I will see about fixing that up before using the computer too much as well.

I am looking at the options for replacing the case badge. I also plan to paint this case and not to try and retrobright it or anything like that. The letters on the keyboard keys are also yellowed. On the left side it isn’t too bad, but as you go across the keyboard it gets quite bad. This computer will never be the best show piece. I think I like it though for the 8 Pin Video on the early board, and the main chips being socketed. I could easily use this board to test most of the typical breadbin primary chips. Being is such poor physical shape gives me a bit of freedom as this case will never be “like new” again, I can do what I want and not have to feel like I am harming it. It is a bit unique and it will remain so. I didn’t check the Chroma output on that 8 Pin video port yet, but I will get around to that probably later this week.

Once I was done cleaning it up, and I finally put the keyboard back together I fired it up again to try out a game again. I “think” it looks a little better onscreen. It still has noticeably worse jail bars than my other Commodore 64. I am only using it on my little 7″ composite display so I don’t know how bad for sure until I put it on a bigger display.

As I make progress on the restoration of this Commodore 64 I will probably do a followup post on it.

Pi1541 in 1541 Case & More (Bare Tapuino, Audio & Composite LCD power) – Part 1

I am looking to put a Pi1541 in a spare 1541 case I have. It seems a bit roomy for such a thing. So I am looking to put some additional items into it. 

I plan on putting in a Tapuino (Bare Tapuino). The controls for the Pi1541 and the Tapuino will be installed into the 5.25″ drive plate. 

I also have a 7″ LCD TFT display, commonly used for Backup Cameras in cars I guess. I have shown it in my other blog posts here when testing the C64. The LCD runs off a 12Volt supply, it typically shows that it is drawing around 250mA of current at 12Volts. I have picked up a MeanWell dual voltage power supply. It has 2 inputs, so I will be wiring it to the Pi as one input and to an external port to have it connect to the C64 etc if I like. The harness that it came with has a PS/2 type connector, so I will put a pass through in the 1541 case to allow easy disconnect.

I am looking to also put in a small mono audio amp with control on the 5.25″ plate as well. The amp will have an input in the back of the case to accept input from the C64/128 etc. It also has a switch to get the audio from the Pi instead, I don’t recommend flipping the switch with the C64 connected and powered up though. Also the C64 etc should always be OFF when plugging or unplugging it, as well as the device it is plugging into for safety.

Power will be handled by an internal MeanWell supply or two, using the original power connections and switch off of the back of the 1541. 

I am mounting the Pi above the power switch with the USB and Network port accessible. I also want to make the HDMI accessible too. The Pi’s card slot will be extended to the front of the 5.25″ plate to aid in swapping the cards. 

I figure if the Pi’s ports are accessible, and the card slot. I can easily swap the card and run other things on the Pi. That is if the gpio connections wouldn’t cause a problem. 

I am going to design a board for the main Pi1541 circuitry as well as the Bare Tapuino and LCD connection. I am not sure of my ability to make the board myself. I was originally going to go with a single sided design, but it ended up getting more complex. While I possibly could have still done it with a fair number of jumper wires on the other side, I think it would have just been to messy for my taste. If I can’t make the board, I may look at ordering one from one of the pcb manufacturers.

Here is the first mockup of the front Panel. The Pi1541 and audio volume control for the audio amp is on the left, with the Tapuino controls on the right side. This was before I started cutting the mesh panel for the controls.

Here is the panel after I got it all cut out. I did put fresh coat of black paint on it. It wasn’t the most fun to get correct. The LED holes are slightly off, and I have adjusted the leads on the LEDs to shift them a little. The buttons seem to work well, and the LCDs are fine. The holes were done with my cheap Harbor Freight Drill press. The LCD and SD Slot openings were done with the Dremmel and a cut off wheel mostly.

The Tapuino is based on the Tapuino design that has the option to do tape copies with another cassette or cassette emulator. My unit won’t have that connected up, but I figured the design should have it. I couldn’t find the 1.7? schematics that include addtional status LEDs as well as a buzzer/speaker. I am not sure I want the buzzer, although it was neat idea I guess, and I don’t need the status LEDs, I have the LCD which shows the status fine.

I am building the Tapuino with a bare ATMega instead of using an Arduino Nano or Pro Mini or such. I have partially built up the Tapuino on an Uno, and on the Bareduino for some testing. I should really finish building it up on a breadboard to verify it actually works before etching the board though.

Here is one of the latest designs for the board printed out for fit testing. You can see the MeanWell supply there at the top left. I did mount the supply close to where it is sitting, but I did turn it to get acess to the ports, and also have metal to get it properly screwed into. The Raspberry Pi is mounted there to the left. I used some M2.5 salvaged screws and a metal plate. I used salvaged heavy wire insulation as custom height standoffs for the Pi. The screws pass through them tightly and it keeps the board from getting down on the metal plate below. The plate is mounted to the holes where the regulator heatsink had been mounted to the frame. That lets the Pi get good ventilation as well being at the vents. I retained the original power jack, switch and fuse and run that into the MeanWell supply. When I did the mockup fitting I found the design (laying there to the left of the case) that I had was over too far. I squeezed it down a little. While it cleared the Pi pretty well, it would have interfered with my SD Card extension. You can see the little bit of of white strip there going under the fake circuit board. It is also that wider white flat cable going up past he power supply. The latest change to the board is I have extended it and put the mark in for the third screw in the upper corner.

Here is where I started putting in the openings for the port on the Pi. I started by drilling the holes near the corners. After that I largely used the Dremel to open the bulk of the holes. For the finer fitting I used a fresh Xacto knife and some small hand files.

I was very happy that I was able to leave the posts between the ports and that I didn’t have to open them up with gaps between them. So here is the side of the case with the Pi in it when I was basically finished with it. There you see the Network card and USB ports opened into it.

I have mounted a HDMI extender as well, that is in the lower portion of the case.

Here is the front panel installed and the Pi1541 powering up. I have the audio amp off, and the Tapuino isn’t present inside. Also the Tapuino is powered by the C64 Cassette port anyways.

Here is the additional rear port for the Tapuino. It is a 6pin Din to a C64 Cassette edge connector connector. The cable is an old Cat5 Stranded wire cable which is very flexible and actually nicely durable. The shell on the Edge Connector is a DB15 shell that I had to work the holes a bit to get aligned well enough to get screwed in.

Here is the custom cassette cable.

Here is the current state of the back of the case. The left RCA port is the Video IN for AV2 on the LCD Monitor output. The red jack is the Audio in for the internal speakers, with the switch beside it to switch between that jack and the Pi for Audio. The Pi Audio is mixed with some 470Ohm resistors to prevent damage to the Pi as I am mixing the Stereo inputs down to Mono on it. The wire there in the one old Serial port hole is the PS/2 like connection for the LCD Monitor. I am using a temporary cable I made up for that until the board is etched though. The last thing I am thinking to add is a Reset button for the Pi. I didn’t put one on the front, for one there is not much space, and I don’t want to accidentally hit it.

The Pi is intended to have the card swapped and be used for other things. So for other setups I plan to take and setup one of the front buttons as a Safe Shutdown button. Then the Reset button on the back would be the power on button to wake it from that state.

Here is another shot of the monitor on the Pi1541 powered up.

Without the custom board, the Pi1541 isn’t complete and the Tapuino doesn’t exist except the control panel though. So here is the internal as it is setup awaiting that. I have most of the wiring done, and the header cables made up now.

Here I have removed the Pi. I needed to install the header to the Run pin on the Pi. I had wanted to show the mounting bracket a bit as well. So that made it convenient. The Pi is fully removable by unplugging cables and taking out the 4 screws. In the picture you can see the HDMI extender there below the plate as well as the hole in the plate that lets the heat sink on the bottom of the Pi to come through it. The 4 small holes in the plate are where the Pi screws in. There you can see some although maybe not all of the various headers. The long on on the left being the Tapuino port cable. I really wanted to leave enough to get the case open safely. The headers are not keyed(blocked holes), so I want to be able to easily double that I have connected them all up correctly without fighting the cables. You can see the little speakers mounted up where the old physical drive was. The speakers were salvaged from some old unknown laptop years ago I believe. They were stereo speakers, but as my Amp is Audio, and it was happier driving them in series than even a single one (too much power was going to burn up the little tiny amp). So they are wired up in series to lower the overall output, but driving both speakers at once. The little mono audio board is there as well. The little black thing on between the speakers there with ROHS on it is an ground isolation device, because the Pi and the audio amp were on the same power supply I was getting some interference.

Here I have reinstalled the Pi after putting on the little blue header pins for the Run connector. You can see the 12pin connector that will goto the Pi1541 section there. You can see the temporary PS/2 type connector that goes to the LCD laying below the case, the proper connector is already on it, so that it will just plug strait into the circuit board when it is ready. The three sets of wire that will goto the Tapuino section are there as well, the flat ribbon from the SD card slot, then one for the buttons and one for the LCD although the ends of them are obscured.

Here is the Pi header. I didn’t have a header that was large enough to connect it all up in one piece. The remaining pins are not being used. Some go off to the front panel, the smaller wires blue and white and one red one on the second 5Volt pin. The others are going to a 12pin 6×2 header that will then plug into the Pi1541 board that I haven’t created yet.

I have run the audio from the Pi for a good burn in while running in Linux playing some Youtube videos. If I turn the audio up to where it is nearly distorting it does start to get very warm. So I probably will have to watch that I don’t overdrive it and burn it out, but if I keep the volume reasonable it should be just fine.

Here is a shot of the latest board layout. I just did some work on it last night to extend it up for the third mounting hole there. There are some other minor adjustments compared to the paper printed mockup shown above. The Tapuino and the Pi1541 board are completely independent but just on the same board. You can see the DRV LED header there in the upper right. That header is to goto the original Green drive LED on the case front. It will be an always on light when the main power switch is on.

With the free version of Eagle it limits your building area, so that is at the extreme top edge of usable board area in the free version. If I could have put it at the extreme top I would have though. It is also right at the far right edge as well. You can extend the board itself, and you can put Text on the extended area, as well as that through hole mark for the screw. There is a little room to go further left, but I think the bottom is about as far as it can go down. It is a little trick there with Eagle to find your edges.

If you look at the Pi1541 section, you will see some additions based on Steve’s Wiring Diagram for the Option B hardware. I while haven’t seen any boards using those additional signals he said that it would work with the current firmware, and that it is for some later additions.

I guess I will need to work out the Pi Reset/Restart button location and wiring and testing. I then also am thinking of painting the plastic case as it is a bit oddly discolored. and has some writing scratched into the one side. I figured on filling in the scratched on letters, and then painting it. I want to save that for a bit later though, so there is less risk of damaging the paint while building it still. Also if you look at the pictures you may notice things like the external Audio and Video jacks are not yet connected up. That is due to the interest in painting the case before installing them permanently.

I also have not yet worked out the issue in that the MeanWell supply I picked up needs a minimum load on the 12Volt line. I did try with a load resistor, and that worked, but it is wasteful, and generates that much heat 2.5Watts? I don’t want to introduce the heat inside the case. I would then need a fan, but I was thinking if I would want a fan, why not just get a fan that would use the current itself. I did have a small 12Volt fan that uses 200mA of current, but it was way to loud. The way I have been using it so far though is to always have the LCD connected up. That puts sufficient load on it, but my intention is for the LCD to be optional and not always connected.

I will post an update once I get the board made up. I may post another on testing though if anything interesting comes up.

Commodore 1541ii Replacement Power Supply

My 1541ii didn’t come with a power supply. I initially tested the drive with some pins on power leads from my variable power supplies. That worked to test that it was functioning. It certainly wasn’t the best way to use the drive long term. I had a MeanWell dual output 5Volt and 12Volt supply I picked up for another project and had ordered in a 4pin Din connector. The next time I used the 1541ii drive, I had wired it up with that drive. Well right as I started using it the drive failed on me (see prior post). It turned out the SRAM failed for some reason. I don’t know if it had anything to do with the MeanWell supply or not. That supply requires a minimum load on both outputs for it to work properly. I don’t know if it wasn’t getting that load and was sending the wrong voltages to the unit.

After that I went back to using my regulated variable supply for the 12Volts and a 5Volt fixed bench supply I have to test the drive from there on. The MeanWell is intended for another project, but it my not be used for that project either as I don’t think I will be providing the “minimum load” on it.

I decided to order in a used dual voltage power adapter from Ebay to become the new supply for this drive. The one I picked up is 5Volt 1.5Amp and 12Volt 1.5Amp. So it is more than sufficient for the job, provided the quality and condition of the unit is good.

The supply I picked up to convert for the 1541ii

All I really needed to do was cut off the existing 4Pin Mini Din connector and replace it with a properly wired 4Pin Din connector. While I could have purchased a cheap new supply and done the same thing with it, I felt this “old” supply was probably going to be better quality than the cheap replacements. It did come in looking a bit dirty like the picture above, but it cleaned up well and tested fine.

Here is an image of an original supply. Notice the Pinout there. Only 3 of the pins are used on the 1541ii Supply. It is said that the ratings on these original supplies were rather low, potentially causing them to overheat and be unreliable. That sounds a bit like the original Commodore 64 supplies now that I think of it..

Image of an original supply.

Here is the supply with the connector changed out.

While I don’t normally wire the “ring” of the Din Connector up to anything, I did wire the second ground to it as it was a convenient way to keep it out of the way, and I don’t know if that 4th pin goes to anything inside the 1541ii. I probably should have taken pictures of the connector before closing it up.

After soldering on the wires to the pins in the Din connector I insulated all the pins and wires with Liquid Electrical tape. It has a bit of hold to the wires, but mostly is to help prevent shorting in the connector in case a wire pulls loose. There isn’t much room in there to get normal heat shrink on the pins, as it is best to keep the casing to wrap the clamp part of the connector to. I did the same thing with the Commodore 64 power connector, and my new video/monitor cable.

I did put a piece of heat shrink on the cable under the strain relief cover of the Din plug. That piece of heat shrink builds up the end of the cable just a little and makes the strain relief bit grip well. Without it, that relief tends to pull back easily and will likely tear prematurely. I have done the same thing on my Commodore 64 Power Supply’s Din plug. I wish I had done it with my new video cable I made. My old original video cable could have really used it as well, but I don’t want to take apart the connectors and redo all of the soldering on them. There is a bit of risk in damaging the Din plugs as they melt easily when the heat is applied to solder and desolder the wires.

The supply seems to work fine with my 1541ii. The Din Plug quality is rather lacking though, I think it will hold up ok, but the fit isn’t the nicest.

Commodore 1541ii Repair. already..

Watching some videos, I noticed the 1541II had a grounding wire going from the one screw on the mainboard up to the right side of the drive assembly. I happened the have a braided ground cable of approximately the proper length that I salvaged recently and was on the bench still. I cut it down a bit and soldered a second lug to it and put some heat shrink on that end. The original one that I saw was not insulated, but as this one was already covered in heat shrink I figured I would leave that. I also picked up some new 10uF 25Volt Panasonic Electrolytic caps with my last order from I figured I would swap out the 3 original capacitors on the board. I went ahead and replaced the capacitors and reassembled the drive with the additional of the grounding strap. I had rigged a Meanwell dual voltage power supply with a power cable for the drive and figured I would test it out. I fired up the Final Cartridge III+ and brought up the Disk utility and checked the status of the drive, it came up normally. I attempted to read the disk and it failed then it started blinking an error. I turned it off and reset it and then it only blinked the light with a somewhat slow blink and kept turning the drive.

I rechecked everything, made sure again the capacitors were installed correctly, that nothing had shorted. That the power supply was supplying the proper voltages. I swapped the VIA chips. The board is fully socketed, so I removed and reinstalled all of the chips. I used my IC identifier on all of the 74 logic chips and they all read fine. I don’t know if that IC checker is just an identifier, or if it really checks for proper operation. I also tried both in normal mode and in JiffyDOS mode.

After all of that I also tried powering the drive with my fixed 5 Volt linear power supply and my variable regulated supply set to 12 Volts. The same results pretty much every time. I did a search and couldn’t find anything on that issue. So I had done all I could, I went to the Lemon64 forum to see if I could get any feedback on the issue. Someone pointed me to Ray Carlson’s 1541II troubleshooting text file, and after reviewing it there was a reference that the issue may be the SRAM and if not that the next would possibly be the DOS Rom.

The SRAM socket was an ugly thing so I figured I would start replacing it. I pulled that cut up socket and installed a new old stock one I had around. That didn’t fix the issue though.

Here is the old “socket” (for U5) after removing the solder. The socket for the 7406 (U7) is also desoldered. That socket was not seated flush to the board and was leaning toward the U5 socket making it just a bit too tight a fit. I put it down flush to the board like it belonged.
The board after removing the socket.
New Old Stock socket on the left and the original “socket” on the right.
Here is the new socket installed for U5 before putting the chips back. Yes it seems to be a gold plated socket.

Next I desoldered the SRAM chip from my spare 1541 board as it is the same type of chip on it. I installed the salvaged chip and the drive worked. Well it quit blinking constantly.

I then assembled the drive and connected it back to my Commodore 64. I went to check the status and it came up normally. I went to read a disk and it just error blinked. So I took the top back off of the drive, it seems the head wouldn’t move under it’s own power. I checked if it was free, and it would move with the power off, but there is some resistance. I don’t know how free it should normally be though. I then used the Alps drive test built into the Final Cartridge III+ to move he head around, it moved out but it didn’t move back the first time. The next time it did move back. I tried a few times and then I put in a disk. I was then able to read the disk normally. I read a few of the programs on it and it seemed to be working again.

I am going to get some silicone grease put on the rails to keep them freed up. I hope this drive will keep on working properly now. I am on to getting a proper power supply wrapped up for it as well.

Commodore 5 1/4″ Drive Transit/Transport Card

I currently have a 1541 and a 1541ii drive. Neither (as well as the third parts drive) came with their Transit Card. I found info on the cards at Ray Carlson’s site. The cards are to protect the heads from banging around and getting damaged while being transported. They do a combination of pushing the head to the back by the head stop position and hold it there during transport to prevent damage to the drives.

So I took the images from Ray’s site into Gimp 2 and recreated the text and boxes etc. I did grab a color copy of the commodore logo from a Google search, and put on it to replace the original. It worked out great, except my printer can’t handle cardstock that is stiff enough to make the cards. I did a test print on some cardstock, but it was too lightweight. I then used that as a template to mark and cut one onto a heavier piece of stock that worked out very well. The overall dimensions minus the back tab are 5.25″ by 5.25″ with the 7/8th inch tab offset on the back. The card needs to be stiff enough that the tab on the back does not bend when inserted. If the card it too wide, of course it won’t fit into the drive. If it it too deep it will not let you latch the drive shut on it. The second card I cut from the thicker material did fit my 1541ii drive fine, but my Alps drive didn’t latch because it was hitting the front of the card just a little bit. I knew it was slightly deeper than the original I had printed, but that showed there isn’t much wiggle room in there. I trimmed that little bit of excess off of the front of the card and it fit perfectly in to the ALPS drive.

The shape of the card is based on the 251171-003 that fits the 1541, 1541ii and 1571 drives. It is a bit of a pity that I spend so much time recreating the card graphics, but I can’t print one on heavy enough stock with my printer. Overall I think it turned out well though.

Yes, I know I did not put in the proper foreign characters..

The base information for the card was from Ray Carlsen’s site:

Commodore 128 Power Supply Recap

I also have a Commodore 128 and original power supply. The supply was in working order. As had a capacitor kit for it, I figured I would take care of replacing the Capacitors in it. The main trick is that my supply’s model number doesn’t match the contents.

The model on this drive seems to indicate the internal supply should be
310416-05 but the internal is actually a Mitsumi 252449-01. I checked the supply before so I knew which kit I needed.

The supply came with 4 plugs in the screw holes in the bottom. They aren’t always the easiest to get out. One was already missing and the next two came out easily. The final one I ended up drilling a small hole in it to pull it out. I wasn’t worried about putting them back in.

The supply with the original Capacitors.
The new Capacitors.

This a rather simple job. There are only two capacitors in this model of supply. The replacement ones are a good bit shorter, and have a very slightly smaller diameter. They are good quality and 105 Degree rated, as well as low ESR types for proper operation in this switching power supply.

Here you can see all of the flux still over the bottom of the board from the factory.
Here is the board after I switched the Capacitors and cleaned the flux from it.

Here is the board after installing the capacitors. I also touched up a few other connections. I cleaned the old flux from the board as well, it looks much better cleaned up.

Here is the completed supply reinstalled in the case with the old capacitors beside it. I tested them and they do appear to likely be fine. I will still trust the supply to hold up with the new ones in long term.