CommVEx XII and VCF West XI recap

Two weeks ago I attended the Commodore Vegas Expo XII, and last week I’ve been at the Vintage Computer Festival West XI.


As the name describes it, it was a Commodore Expo in Las Vegas. But the format is a mix between conference and expo. It is a real expo, but with the social part of a conference. It is friendly and casual.

People give talks in a very informal way. I gave a talk + live demo about the UniJoystiCle. Everything went well except that in the middle of the demo my phone’s glass broke. But that wasn’t an issue since the accelerometer kept working.

Doing the UniJoystiCle demo

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UniJoystiCle v0.2.1 released

v0.2.1 powered from a battery. Can be powered from USB as well

Changes in v0.2.1:

  • Commodore 64 works Ok when the UniJoystiCle board is unpowered. The issue was that the 4066 chips were in an unknown state when they were unpowered. In v0.2.1 the 4066 ICs get power from the C64 Joy #2 port
  • Smaller holes for the DC Jack making it compatible with “common” DC Jacks.

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Repairing the Commodore 1581 floppy disk drive. Part 2

I assumed that the Commodore 1581 was failing because of a bad WD1772 IC (as documented in Part I). So I ordered a WD1772 replacement + the IC socket, I developed some basic desoldering skills, watched some desoldering videos, and also got a cheap desoldering iron from Radio Shack:

Only $11 bucks at Radio Shack

So, I removed the board from the Commodore 1581 and started to desolder the IC. To my surprise the $11-buck desolder iron worked pretty well. I was able to remove all the solder from the the pins in a few minutes. The desolder iron just takes some time to reach the needed temperature, but besides that, it seems to be a great tool for occasional desoldering tasks (a hobbyist desoldering iron cost more than $250)

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The quest for the sacred diskettes

My Sacred Diskettes

In 1986 (or was it 1987?) I got my first computer, a Commodore 64. I started learning BASIC and during ’87 and ’88 I created some very simple games. Somewhere in ’88 I started learning assembly language (machine language to be precise), but I don’t recall coding any game using this language. If so, it must have probably been due to the fact that I lacked a good monitor.

Somewhere in 1989,  I switched to the Commodore 128. Whereas I continued creating games using BASIC, I also started coding some games in assembly language, profiting from the built-in C128 monitor, which was pretty decent.

In 1990 I started coding intros, doing some trainers, and re-cracking some games for a local computer shop (SADOI). And I kept doing that until 1992.

I stored all that sacred info (my games, intros, re-cracks, trainers) in my diskettes. At the time, my diskettes were my most valuable possession.

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Finally, a Drean Commodore 64c

As a kid, I always avoided the Drean Commodore. I didn’t like them because they were not compatible with the NTSC software.

As an adult, I really wanted one basically because I’m from Argentina, and the Drean was produced in Argentina. And I want to make sure that all the software that I develop works on a Drean.

And in my lastest trip to Argentina I was able to get one 🙂 The condition of the computer is Ok, neither great nor terrible. It works, although I need to do more tests. Here are some photos:

Playing Popeye. Sound and video work Ok.
Without the cover

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¡Arriba las Manos! (Hands up!) music disk for the c64

A few weeks ago, we,  the Pungas de Villa Martelli, released “¡Arriba las Manos!”, a music disk for the Commodore 64.

It includes ten 8-bit songs, an animated hi-res graphic, an easter-egg, and you can control it with a joystick, or a mouse or the keyboard! Not even Apple puts so much love in the UX like us (the future is the c64!)

God bless the c64 (and the c128 as well!)

UniJoystiCle: Giving Eagle a try

I like Fritzing. I think it is great for small projects and it is very easy to use. But it has its limitations when creating the PCB, mostly because its component library is not very complete.

Eagle, on the other hand, is more difficult to use. But its component library is very polished. Also, companies like Adafruit and SparkFun create components for Eagle, so that is a big plus if you purchase components from them.

So, I re-wrote the schematic again in Eagle, and then created this PCB:

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