The Commodore 1541 floppy diskette drive is notorious for breaking down. The Commodore SX-64 floppy drive is no different. As I continue my Commodore SX-64 restoration, I find that the 1541 floppy drive doesn’t read diskettes any more and makes a chattering sound when attempting to read a disk. In this video, I walk through how to diagnose the SX-64 floppy drive as well as possible remedies before finally replacing the 1541 mechanism with a standalone drive.
The Commodore SX-64 keyboard is usually the first thing to fail on these old systems. As such, I need to repair the keyboard on this SX-64 restoration. To begin, I’ll need to DIY an SX-64 keyboard cable from a 25-pin serial cable. I’ll use the SX-64 replacement keyboard cable to diagnose problems with the membrane keyboard itself and resurface the SX-64 membrane keyboard. Finally, I’ll rebuild the plastic shell of the SX-64 keyboard with Bondo automotive filler in order to get the SX-64 keyboard as close to the original stock look as possible.
In my quest to restore the Commodore SX-64, my first obstacle was the lack of video signal on the internal monitor. I needed to diagnose the Commodore SX-64 video signal before I would be able to move on to any other Commodore SX-64 repairs. In this video, I will go through the process to diagnose a Commodore SX-64 blank screen and step through how to repair a Commodore SX-64 blank screen. In this video, I’ll go over how to build a DIY Commodore AV cable, how to reseat Commodore chips, and how to replace a Commodore PLA chip.
I was having a little trouble working on my Commodore SX-64, trying to diagnose a blank screen, so I needed to attach the Commodore 64 to a TV. Unfortunately, with these retro computers, the cables seem to vanish into the dustbin of history. So, to fix my borked Commodore SX-64, I needed to hack together a DIY Commodore AV cable. This 5-pin DIN AV cable is compatible with all Commodore models as well as the Atari 800 series and TI-99/4 among others! This video will show you how to DIY a Commodore 64 AV cable with just a few commonly-available components!
Music by EOX Studios
My friend Jon Esparza (@jonscrazytweets) discovered a rare Commodore SX-64 while going through his late father’s storage unit. Knowing that I was a retro computer enthusiast, he gave me a call to see if I was interested in doing something with it. So of course I took a road trip to south San Diego to see this “Commodore laptop” in person (and get some bomb tacos)! Jon was kind enough to let me take this Commodore SX-64 off his hands and see if I could get it in any better shape than it’s currently in. This is going to be a rough Commodore restoration, so be sure to stay tuned for the next installment!
Check out more Commodore SX-64 videos here
Watch the complete Commodore SX-64 restoration here
Check out Jon’s Crazy Stuff: http://jonscrazystuff.blogspot.com/
Music by EOX Studios “You On The Dance Floor” by Silverimage “Space Traveler” by Anders Enger Jensen Used with permission, available from http://eox.no or on SoundCloud https://soundcloud.com/eox-studios/
One of the finishing touches that got cut from the Project Essex Commodore SX-64 restoration video on element14 presents was replacing the “transit card” (officially known as the “Head Vibration Protector”) from the 1541 floppy diskette drive. The transit card is a specially-shaped piece of heavy card stock that slides into the disk drive and holds the head assembly in place to prevent damage during transit and is essential to taking proper care of the SX-64 due to its “portable” nature. This card will replace Commodore part number 251171-03 and fits all Commodore 5.25″ floppy disk drives.
To build it, I printed the attached PDF at 100% (no scaling) on 110lb card stock paper, then glued a second sheet (doubling the weight) before cutting out the design. You’ll need to cut out the center hole for the spindle to fit through as well.
Slide the card into the drive like any diskette and close the latch any time you’re going to be moving the assembly (or just keep it in there for storage)!
My first computer and game console was the Commodore 64. I still remember those halcyon days with the hulking keyboard/computer assembly connected to the back of the beautiful wooden console television we got as a hand-me-down when my grandparents upgraded theirs to a new Curtis Mathes from the company store in Austell. I can close my eyes and instantly be transported back to the late-1980s, sitting crosslegged in the living room floor, turning the television dial to channel 3 with a satisfying “kaCHUNK” giving way to the unbearable roar of analog snow. With a flip of the switch from “TV” to “GAME” on the small black box dangling from the antenna connection, the snow gave way to the low hum that an old CRT emits when forced to display a static image–the one that changes pitch slightly depending on the color displayed. I had Frogger on cassette tape and it took what seemed–to a child, anyway–to be hours to load, but it was all worth it when I finally managed to beat the preset high score!
The Commodore 64 taught me more about electronics than any single device and begat a lifelong affinity for computers, games, programming, production, and tinkering that persists to this day. Without the Commodore 64, I may never have desired a world beyond Cobb County, Georgia. The gentleman in the video–microcomputing heavyweight Jim Butterfield who, let’s face it, is nearly comical in his blasé approach to the presentation (“It’s a pretty good computer”)–walks us through the entire setup and use of the C64 in a 2-hour-long celebration of the classic machine.
Yes, sir, Mr. Butterfield. Yes, sir.