ScuzzBlog: Diaries January 2024

Entry 20th January 2024: Post 1: C64 failure - Tales from the computer graveyard.

C64 failure - Tales from the computer graveyard.

Every so often I try to breath life into old kit that gave up on
me. I don't have many busted machines but a few sit sprinkled
around the floor in front of me. Amongst the VIC 20s there are a
couple of old style C64 machines that decided one day not to play
ball. Time to have another go.

First up I should say I have no electronic skills. I am a computer
enthusiast but I cannot solder and wouldn't even attempt to do so.
Such matters are reserved for trained individuals. I am likely not
only to bring harm to the kit but most likely myself.

When I started collecting computers I would buy broken kit with
the aim of simply swapping out where I can. Therefore I was never
truly bothered if a computer worked. I was more interested in the
aesthetic and the way they were put together. Saying that as time
has progressed I have dabbled a little with marginal success.

See my final comment on this matter.

Time to see if these C64s have magically mended themselves over
the years since last on the bench.

The first is a C64 that I did get working by swapping out the SID
back in 2018. I even did a blog about the computer and featured
some sounds to demonstrate my success. Sadly over the years she
failed again and so sits amongst the unloved.

I recall reading at the time that the C64 will boot without the
SID so I decided to remove the chip. Guess what ? She booted up.
The joy was short lived as whilst I typed a victory message she
again crashed and died.

Never mind.

To the second machine which has a broken key, poor thing. This
computer also did work in the early 2000s but then went walkies.
No surprises when I removed the SID to discover this machine still
shows only the grey/black screen.

This computer is a little later in the production years though
does have an odd mix of chips with a couple from 1982. On both
boards the chips are socketed. The first had the metal coated card
shielding. The second had the more robust solid metal.

I decided to risk my C64C to test the C64 power supply. Nothing
like sacrificing a machine to prove a point. She was fine and so
I left it to her to have the last word. What a trooper.

To my final comment, and truthfully a sentiment that I have very
strong views on. Personally I think it is time to call a halt to
using the kit when it gets to a certain age. I know many enjoy the
thrill of getting computers to work, but I sense it really is a
way of just proving that you can breath life into the old kit. I
doubt many actually spend much time with the computers after they
are repaired. Getting a thumbs up on a forum and maybe a sale on
Ebay of working kit is reward enough.

Thing is the computers are becoming very fragile. Whilst they may
appear to have fully recovered I sense the life is likely to be
short lived. What is worse is that often in carrying out the mend
there is chance of doing more harm. By the time some of these
computers have bathed in the hot sun for hours and had most of
their innards scrubbed and washed, I would think any number of
the components have become ever more fragile.

For me forty years is the normal cut off period at which point I
no longer switch on the computers. They have done their tour of
duty. So I no longer tax the Pets, Apple II's, Sharp etc and am
happy just to have them to look at. In future years when folk more
skilled than I acquire what I have then they can make the decision
whether to breath life into the computers.

I do think in trying to refurbish old stuff you gotta ask why you
are really doing this. If you are simply climbing the mountain
cus it is there or want a thumbs up on a forum I would simply ask
what happens after you have met the challenge? The reason is that
such tasks carry with them the risk of failure. For every successful
computer project there are any number of failures. Even the most
skilled computer repair guys make dreadful mistakes. Just that you
don't have to do anything in truth.

It's the classic Schrodinger's cat conundrum as to whether you view
a computer as alive or dead. If you don't ever plan on doing anything
with the computer then what does it matter. For me the joy is in
the having. Always has been. Everything else was just a bonus.

Would have been a happy day if I hadn't checked to see if the cat
was still alive. Just think about it.

C64 failure - Tales from the computer graveyard.

Commodore AT Emulator 2000

A word first from my favourite C64

C64 number one

The cat is alive.

Boo Hoo !! She died.

C64 number two

C64C has the last word

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Last updated 20th January 2024

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