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gizmo1990

C64 ownership at last - psu question

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I'm about to fulfil a boyhood dream and own a C64. Better late than never eh!? I've managed to get one that's supposedly tested and working, but I'm well aware of the issues with capacitors and the notorious power supply etc. Part of the reason for getting it will be the enjoyment of cleaning it up and ensuring it will last.

 

When it arrives though, I'd like to power it on at least once to ensure that it does actually work as per described. Then I can get down to the time consuming part of finding sufficient snippets of time to strip it down for cleaning and cap replacement. So, I intend to open it up, give the capacitors a bulge check and then, what?

 

Ideally I'd like to test that the psu is outputting the correct voltages before I flip the switch. Unfortunately there doesn't seem much info how to go about doing this? I'd of thought I'd be able to use a multimeter's probes stuck into the end of the psu connector, but I can't find any examples of this, which I find odd given the huge amount of info on the machine. Which leads me to think that this isn't the way to test the psu.. A little more info on this part reveals that a load may need to be applied to correctly test the psu? Which kinda defeats the purpose of checking the psu BEFORE connecting it to the c64.

 

I'm aware of the new Polish psu's for sale on eBay and also the over voltage protectors. However, I'd rather not fork out for one of those right now. Well, I can't afford it for one!

 

Anyway, are there any fine c64 owners here that could point me in the right direction? Basically any advice on a safe first boot would be greatly appreciated!

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I'd strongly advise against using an official PSU beyond your initial testing unless you're planning on using a Sav64 or similar. They're a timebomb and when they go awry they'll take your C64 with it.

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Thanks for the reply @Camel Aye I don't fancy using the psu at all really, especially as the one I'm getting is a black one, which are supposed to be the worst.

 

However I do need to check the computer works asap, so that I can sign off on the auction. The more I think about it the more I can't see any alternative other than buying one of those new Polish ones. All the other solutions will require too much time. The over voltage protectors seem like a bit of a waste of money too. They're almost as expensive as a new psu so what's the point.

 

 

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I got a PSU custom-made by this legend - http://personalpages.tds.net/~rcarlsen/

Cost me £160 delivered but mine powers a C64+1541-II or an Amiga 1200. He also does a couple of variations on the computer-saver. Definitely worth that at the very least. If your standard PSU goes it goes too fast to do anything. Yes, you want to get it sorted right away but as has been said it's essential to sort something out.

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Is this what you're looking for?

 

As it's been pointed out, the C64 PSU can be a bit of an issue - it powers both the C64 and the SID chip separately (which is why it's such a faff to get a replacement, it's not like you just need 9v). You can either knacker your C64 or knacker your SID. I've knackered my SID on a C64, but thankfully you can replace the chip. 

power.gif

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Thanks for the replies guys. Yeah I've seen those psu's by Ray Carlsen. Unfortunately I had to quickly unsee them as they are insanely expensive! For me at least.

 

I've found out that I can test the 5v line of the psu as no load is required. Doing so will at least give me an impression as to if the machine 'might' be working. ie if it gives out 5v then hopefully when the previous owner turned it on that part of the puzzle was fine.

 

It looks likely though that I'll be left with no choice but to fork out a considerable amount of extra cash for a new psu of some kind though. Urgh. :( Has anyone heard anything about these Polish ones on ebay? They're the best solution I can find right now. https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/New-Commodore-64-C64-and-C64C-replacement-power-supply-PSU-5VDC-9VAC-UK-plug/112636456654?hash=item1a39a7eece:g:TU0AAOSwVtZaBY2O

 

Of course, if money was no object then this guy's is the absolute BEST from what I've researched so far. The geek in me would like to own that just because it looks so damn cool! I wish I knew more about electronics! It's a fascinating vid for those with an interest in this stuff.

 

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The 64 arrived and it seems in pretty good condition. :) I've tested the psu's 5V output and it seems ok. I think I'm gonna risk a quick turn on just to check if the computer is working as stated.

 

Here's a thing though, I've not used a RF cable in eons! Do you have to tune the TV to a specific setting for the C64's output? I seem to remember something like that? I've an old Sony crt. Basically I'd rather not keep the computer on too long, I just wanna start it up, see if I get to a prompt, then turn it off. Therefore I'd rather not spend extra time tuning or faffing about. Can anyone help me with the actual procedure, so I know what to expect?

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Interesting thread. I too didn't realise C64 PSUs were such a problem. One day I hope to dig my old 'breadbin' style one out of the loft and get it working again. The power light just stopped coming on one day and now I'm thinking the PSU may have fried it one way or another. I have a grubby 64C as well which I got from a market stall and worked the last time I turned it on but it's not got the same appeal at all. Looks like some investment may be needed to even test them.

 

Good luck with getting yours working safely.

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23 hours ago, gizmo1990 said:

The 64 arrived and it seems in pretty good condition. :) I've tested the psu's 5V output and it seems ok. I think I'm gonna risk a quick turn on just to check if the computer is working as stated.

 

Here's a thing though, I've not used a RF cable in eons! Do you have to tune the TV to a specific setting for the C64's output? I seem to remember something like that? I've an old Sony crt. Basically I'd rather not keep the computer on too long, I just wanna start it up, see if I get to a prompt, then turn it off. Therefore I'd rather not spend extra time tuning or faffing about. Can anyone help me with the actual procedure, so I know what to expect?

 

One of the (many) benefits of Commodore's being slightly higher technical level than Spectrums (and I owned a Spectrum) is that they had a composite video/audio out already built in.

 

You just need to buy the cable, but it only costs a few quid.

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Thanks guys. I think I'll grab that eBay cable before I test power it on. I'll update here with the results!

 

Regarding the psu itself, I think I'm going to go the wall wart method. All the other solutions are too expensive at the moment. Even the Polish one will add up to £45 odd and there's some debate in the community about whether it's any good any way. Apparently it suffers from video interference.

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On 03/09/2018 at 18:18, gizmo1990 said:

Thanks guys. I think I'll grab that eBay cable before I test power it on. I'll update here with the results!

 

Regarding the psu itself, I think I'm going to go the wall wart method. All the other solutions are too expensive at the moment. Even the Polish one will add up to £45 odd and there's some debate in the community about whether it's any good any way. Apparently it suffers from video interference.

What PSU did you end up going for and are you happy with it?

 

I've just dug my breadbin and mucky 64C out of the loft. So I'm looking into where to go for the PSU. Tempted to give the 64C one a try...

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@Big Swifty I tested the c64 with the original psu, just to check it worked, which it did. :) I wouldn’t dare run it any longer tho, the scare stories about psu’s blowing are too numerous. C64 chip replacements are becoming more and more expensive too.

 

I’m currently building a refined wall wart psu, basically wiring 9v and 5v power supplies together in a little enclosure. Almost finished it, I’ll post pics when it’s done. I love little projects like that. The alternatives were either too expensive or didn’t offer enough confidence in the product, ie the Polish one.

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@gizmo1990 Ok thanks. Building one is probably beyond my skills and confidence but I'd like to see yours when it's done. I'll do some more research on the off the shelf options, I'm not bothered about inteference etc. I just want it to be safe for the 64C and then for the breadbin if I can fix that. What made you doubt the Polish ones, safety or quality of the end result?

 

I need to power an Excelerator + disk drive too so need to find out how reliable those PSUs are and if they are bad too then one of those on ebay which powers both at once could be the cheapest.

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@Big Swifty The Polish one just seemed to exist in a vacuum. In that the c64 community seemed to know very little about it. And given that the community is comparatively large and active, I found that odd.

 

The maker also took over 2 weeks to reply to me after answering an initial question very quickly. His response regarding the possible interference issue seemed a little odd too. Basically saying that the culprit was likely poorly made video cables. In that case, why wouldn’t Mr Carlsen’s psu’s suffer the same issue?

 

Anyway couple all that with the price knocking on the door of £50 and it just seemed too much to risk on a punt. That’s just me though! There might be more info now regarding his psu’s. I just reasoned that for the same cash I’d be able to expand my knowledge, end up with a quality psu and have a few new tools/materials left over.

 

It’s worth mentioning that there are also fused adaptors that you can purchase which plug in between the c64 and the original psu. They work by cutting the current to the c64 if the 5v goes, saving your chips in the process. Might be an option? When I looked at them tho I thought they were quite pricy, given their one shot nature, around £25-£30 I think?

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Thanks for the info @gizmo1990. I've decided to give the Polish one a go, the ebay feedback seems ok and on the basis that as an ebay seller you don't seem to have much option than to give the buyer their money back if a complaint is raised I thought it was worth the risk. I'm also keen to get one sorted before I break from work for Christmas so I can tinker around with it whilst on leave. It should arrive at the beginning of December so I'll let you know here how it goes.

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Cool dude, yeah definitely keep us posted, very interested in knowing how it goes. I'm sure it'll be fine really, I was just under time pressure to get something sorted and the cost was a little prohibitive. I've certainly spent a lot more time than I'd of liked putting this diy one together, that's for sure!

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Never thought about the PSU issues. I've been mooching about looking to get my first c64 too. I have a retropoweredDC multi PSU for my NES, SNES, MD and N64 which is great plus cuts down on the number of wall warts needed.

 

Can't believe there isn't something similar on the Commodore front, especially with such an active fan base. Still have a couple of Amiga's in the loft with their original PSU's too - guess I shouldn't run them anytime soon either!

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@gizmo1990 the Polish PSU arrived last weekend by UPS on time and well packaged. Only got around to trying it out this weekend and it works fine for the 64C and even got my breadbin further than I remember it getting, with the correct start up screen at first then a few seconds later going to all blank blue or scrambled characters. My only issue is that the sheath on the end which goes into the C64 pulled back a bit when I disconnected it so not great build quality there. Not worth returning it for but I'll contact them and see if there is a quick fix or some money back. I'm happy that I can now test out my games but pretty pricey for what it is.

 

There is some comment on it from lemon64 too, generally a thumbs up but with a comment that the output may be too low for power hungry add ons if I'm reading it correctly. Can't seem to link to the post directly but this is the text:

 

"Glad you got it working. That looks like a decent PSU that you bought, never seen it before. My only reservation is that it has 2.0 amps of power on the 5 Volt line instead of 3 so as to cover the REU. Fine for a stock C64 and most things you plug in to it as the standard 64c was 1.7A IIRC. 

Not sure how it would hold up if you added a RAM expansion or other more power hungry devices. The Heavy duty PSU that came with the 1764 REU was rated for 2.5 or 3.5 amps depending on the model they gave you. Who knows it may work fine with an REU. The way I see it, if you are going to go through the trouble of building a replacement PSU, don't skimp on the power."

DSCN5841.jpg

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Interesting. I remember the power supply for my original C64 (old brown fudge model computer, yellow/brown/grey wedge-shaped power brick) blowing up and needing a replacement.

 

The new one (a non-Commodore one) was loud and buzzy, got really hot and smelled of burning plastic. It was probably a death trap. It also seemed to screw up the colour display from the machine itself as it heated up - yellow and white gradually turned to grey.

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Yeah, the problem with the he c64 was the dual voltage it needed - one for the computer and one for the SID chip. I’ve had a similar issue with a Spectrum +2b I’ve picked up (without PSU). The previous spectrums just used a standard 9V PSU and then split the voltage internally - the +2a/+2b and +3 had the PSU split the voltage, meaning it’s a nightmare to pick up a replacement. 

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Bump! I finally finished building my power supply and have just turned the C64 on using it. Works perfectly! :) I'll post some pics later if anyone is interested.

 

One bum note however is that the 1530 data cassette that I bought separately doesn't seem to work. None of the units keys work and I can't hear its motor. Can anyone suggest some good trouble shooting guides? Also, my unit has a bare metal wire connected to the end of it's plug? It looks like it could be a ground wire? The instructions mention nothing about it. Does anyone know where I'm supposed or even IF I'm supposed to plug it anywhere?

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Got the tape deck working! Not sure what I did but giving it another go seemed to jolt it into life. I did give the plug a blow plus open it up and wrap the ground wire into it. But that was it. It did throw up the following error the first time around.

?DEVICE NOT PRESENT   ERROR

But the next time it loaded the cassette (Starglider!) fine.

 

@Vespa Alex Thanks a lot for the offer! :) I may still take you up on it if that's ok? I'll see how mine holds up. I'm just waiting on Gunship arriving before doing some prolonged testing.

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