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dongfeng
February 15th, 2004, 09:36 AM
Well, the waiting finally paid off, I'm now the owner of a working Commodore VIC-20!

I bought it on eBay, quite a good deal as the case of the computer is really quite horribly discoloured... I will put the working insides of this in the case of my perfect (but dead) VIC-20 :)

If the case was in good order... it would sell for about 30 as I have seen similar systems sell for that... prices for VIC-20 systems have gone crazy lately.. look at this one! 60! (US$110) :shock:
http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3077022616&category=3544&sspagename=STRK%3AMEBWA%3AIT&rd=1

And there's loads of games with it too 8)

...and all for 8 (US$15) :D

http://i1.ebayimg.com/01/i/01/4f/b6/b7_1.JPG

there's more if it you can't see in the photo ^^v


Commodore VIC20 massive job lot, full working order, no reserve VIC20 Includes keyboard, tapedeck, all leads and 27 games. 2 joysticks and a pair of paddle joysticks. Also includes a 3K and a 16K expander packs.The games that come with the Vic 20 are Race fun, anti matter splatter, the catch, cyclons, critters, quakers, cyclons, frogger, centropods and pakacuda, all from rabbit software There is also phantom attack, submariner, hektik, crazy cavey, metagalatic llamas, Quasimodo, space pirates, bewitched, cosmiads, vic panic, asteroids, RIP, sub hunt, 3D maze and neutron zapper There is also two commodore vic20 introduction to basic tapes. There is also 8 books in the package, some are the original books you got with the vic20. If you need any more info just ask. Buyer to pay postage, happy bidding! Please check out my other auctions

vic user
February 15th, 2004, 11:21 AM
i think you got a great deal!

glad you have a spare case, as that was in god awful! :)

chris

carlsson
February 16th, 2004, 01:11 AM
Hm.. does this machine have grey function keys rather than brown keys as most VIC-20s used to have? It probably means it was a rather late unit, as the breadbox C64s had grey function keys but otherwise the keyboards are interchangable.

dongfeng
February 16th, 2004, 02:13 AM
they look brown in the photo... I'm going to use the case from my original (dead) VC-20 :)

http://www.howard81.co.uk/upload/vcf/vic20/DSCF0556.JPG

carlsson
February 16th, 2004, 06:49 AM
Ok - on the picture from eBay you pasted it looks grey to me. Btw, it's cool how you take pictures of your current machine ready to run a game, despite it doesn't output a useful picture. 8)

dongfeng
February 16th, 2004, 09:14 AM
I was testing the machine in the photo! I can run games no problem, they load perfectly... I can 'play' them and hear the music and sounds effects on the game. But... I cannot see anything but white :(

The VIC in the photos, we've had it from new (my grandfather was given it) and when I was young he used to write me programs to play 8)

I'll let you know about the colour of the F-keys when I receive the computer! I really don't know why the computer is that colour, it looks like someone has baked it in the oven :shock:

dongfeng
February 23rd, 2004, 06:47 AM
I received the VIC-20 in today! It works lovely, just like my original machine :) I've dismantled it already, to try and clean up that horrid case a bit... it's still yellow, but I removed and washed all of the keys so that is now perfect!

One question though, my original VIC when you typed: Load "reallycoolprogram" is used to say "Press Play on Tape", which I thought was really cool.
However, this new machine doesn't say that :x It just says: searching for reallycoolprogram

Anyone know why, or is it just the machine? The serial number is WGB67389. It seems to be an earlier machine than my original vic (my "new" vic has case "locators" on the rear of the case are more flimsy (and have broken on this one) and the chips are soldered directly to the board whereas my broken vic they are in holders.

I'll put some photos here later! :D

vic user
February 23rd, 2004, 07:59 AM
That's a new one for me.

The only thing I can think of, is if the cassette drive already had the 'play' button down.

Otherwise, it should prompt you to 'press play on tape', as you mentioned.

Chris

carlsson
February 23rd, 2004, 09:06 AM
Or if one of the VIAs or edge connector or tape recorder cable is broken so it doesn't detect whether PLAY is pressed down or not. Or if it has a modified ROM so a LOAD without device number defaults to disk drive (but then you'd get a ?DEVICE NOT PRESENT error unless that also has been patched away).

If the chips are soldered directly to the board, I would say it is newer than your broken machine. My VIC-20s are as following:

Working, socketed, two-prong PSU: S/N WG C 6435.
FAB NO. 324002-02. ASSY NO 082369 (?). REV D. W-1894 HB.
(c) 1981 Commodore. Lacks a metal shield around the VIC-I.

Broken, surface mounted, DIN-style PSU: S/N WG C 120528.
FAB NO. 251040-01. ASSY NO 250403. REV D. W-1894 HB.
(c) 1982 Commodore. Has a metal shield around the VIC-I.

Since I don't have a working PSU to the later machine anymore (unless the C64C PSU would work), it doesn't matter much that it is broken and no obvious parts to scavenge unless I like to play with the soldering iron.

Interestingly both machines have the same revision number, but the boards are slightly different laid out. Also, the "older" machine has a higher FAB NO, although I'm not sure what it means. There is no ASSY NO on the board, but a sticker which says 082369 on the older machine.

(yes, to gather this information, you have to open the machine and unscrew the motherboard from the case, but it is a great opportunity to take away dust on the back side)

dongfeng
February 23rd, 2004, 01:35 PM
Thanks for the replies! :D

I have no idea why I don't get the "Press Play on Tape" message, I have dismantled the computer AND the tape deck to clean everything up (nice soapy wash and scrub for the cases). I freed everything up in the tape deck, but I still don't get the "Play" message. I will get my original VIC and tape deck next weekend and try it out!

Here's some pictures:

All the bits
http://www.howard81.co.uk/upload/vcf/newvic/DSCF0017.JPG

more
http://www.howard81.co.uk/upload/vcf/newvic/DSCF0018.JPG

The VIC before I cleaned it (yuck!)
http://www.howard81.co.uk/upload/vcf/newvic/DSCF0020.JPG

expansion! the 16k (brown) one doesn't work.. yet.. :x
http://www.howard81.co.uk/upload/vcf/newvic/DSCF0022.JPG

Start screen
http://www.howard81.co.uk/upload/vcf/newvic/DSCF0024.JPG

I will post the shots of the mainboard for you carlson, wait a while, ok! :D

vic user
February 23rd, 2004, 02:52 PM
Talk about a nice vic 20 starter kit! :)

I hope you get the 16K cart working, and all you have to do is fiddle with those external dip switches.

That 'creepy computer games' book looks way cool!

Hope you scan it :)

Chris

carlsson
February 23rd, 2004, 10:25 PM
6519 BYTES FREE? Was that with or without the Super Expander cartridge plugged in? Normally you should get either 3583 (unexpanded) or 6655 (Super Expander's +3K) at boot-up.

You may find that cleaning the connector on the 16K cartridge does wonders, or else you can try to get it out of its case (be careful not to break anything) and see if you get contact with the bare card.

Terry Yager
February 24th, 2004, 04:23 AM
The VIC (in America anyways) came in at least two different memory configurations. The early ones had around 2K and in the later version they kicked it up to around 5K. There were other differences as well, but I don't recall right now what they were. (Different power supply?)

--T

vic user
February 24th, 2004, 05:26 AM
Wow, I had no idea there were different memory versions of the vic 20 in the States.

Yes, I have seen only two versions for the power connections for the vic 20. Either the original two prong connector, (which runs hotter inside the vic I think), and the later version using the same DIN connector as the 64 etc..

I used to think you could tell which connector the vic used by looking at the case, specifically the vic 20 logo. I thought the old brass one was linked to the two prong one, and the rainbow colour spectrum vic 20 logo, was linked to the 64 DIN connector, but that's not the case.

Chris

carlsson
February 24th, 2004, 09:54 AM
Hm.. Terry, if you can back that statement with some source, it would probably be a great surprise to the community. The only thing I know is that Commodore later pre-installed 16K RAM into VIC-20 and sold it as VIC-21, but AFAIK all models had at least the original 5K RAM.

If Dong is experiencing 6519 bytes without a cartridge, either there is some extra RAM inside the machine or something is screwed inside. It is a typical symptom if the cartridge has bad contact, but I don't quite know how it comes. There probably is a plentiful of POKEs and other things one can issue to test that the machine is OK.

carlsson
February 24th, 2004, 10:09 AM
Of course, Terry might mix it up with the UltiMAX, which was a 2K console predecessor to the C64 with touchpad keyboard. There are a few references to a 2K VIC-20 on the net, but in most cases they seem to be mentioned by people who haven't been close to a VIC in twenty years and can't recall even half of the technical details they pretend to know. :o

Terry Yager
February 24th, 2004, 11:41 AM
Hm.. Terry, if you can back that statement with some source, it would probably be a great surprise to the community. The only thing I know is that Commodore later pre-installed 16K RAM into VIC-20 and sold it as VIC-21, but AFAIK all models had at least the original 5K RAM.

If Dong is experiencing 6519 bytes without a cartridge, either there is some extra RAM inside the machine or something is screwed inside. It is a typical symptom if the cartridge has bad contact, but I don't quite know how it comes. There probably is a plentiful of POKEs and other things one can issue to test that the machine is OK.

Hmmmmnn... This page has the early ones at 4K(?). I dunno, I'll keep checking.

http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?c=252

--T

Terry Yager
February 24th, 2004, 11:47 AM
There are a few references to a 2K VIC-20 on the net, but in most cases they seem to be mentioned by people who haven't been close to a VIC in twenty years and can't recall even half of the technical details they pretend to know. :o

Heh-yah...sounds like me all right...old-timers disease settin' in I guess.

--T

Terry Yager
February 24th, 2004, 12:02 PM
carlsson,

Hmmmnn... This page (linked to from your page), has it at 3.5K. Seems to be a lot of confusion about this. (So it ain't just me?)

http://www.gondolin.org.uk/hchof/machines/vic20.html

--T

carlsson
February 24th, 2004, 12:49 PM
Ok. To clear the confusion, I present a complete memory map. :)

$0000-03FF: 1K of "low" RAM, mainly system memory but in theory possible to use for your own needs if you bypass both Basic and Kernel.
$0400-$0FFF: Empty slot where the 3K expansion cartridge fits
$1000-$1DFF: 3.5K of "user" RAM
$1E00-$1FFF: 0.5K of screen memory (which is part of the user RAM)
$2000-$7FFF: Three empty slots of 8K each (total 24K for expansion)
$8000-$8FFF: Character ROM
$9000-$93FF: I/O blocks address space (VIC-I, VIA etc)
$9400-$97FF: Colour memory RAM in nybbles (four bits/byte)
$9800-$9FFF: I/O blocks address space (probably for expansion)
$A000-$BFFF: Empty slot for 8K RAM/ROM (games cartridges etc)
$C000-$DFFF: 8K Basic ROM
$E000-$FFFF: 8K Kernel ROM

So the user RAM is 4K, but 0.5 kB is "stolen" by the graphics. Here we get 3.5 kB. Since it is possible to fill the screen memory with code or data, some people still see it as 4 kB (but beware of clearing the screen!). If you add the "low" RAM, we end at 5 kB. If we also count the 1 kB of nybbles as 0.5 kB of RAM, there is a total of 5.5 kB...

Your suggestion that there was a 2K machine is surely possible, but it
would break compatibility with the 3.5/4K machine, just like a machine expanded to 8K breaks compatibility - the screen memory is moved from end of RAM to start of RAM to allow a continuous block of memory for Basic.

Did this confuse even more or clear any questions?

dongfeng
February 24th, 2004, 03:11 PM
Hi~

I'm sorry to say, my VIC is not special, I simply had the 3k memory expansion installed when I took the photo :lol:

I've got the Vixen cartridge working now too, so an extra 16k! I opened it up as per your suggestion and cleaned the contacts. I also opened up the vic again and took some pictures of the underside of the motherboard. Still no "press play" message despite cleaning the datasette up, I will bring back my original VIC's datasette at the weekend.

Regarding the VIC21, I am almost certain that was just a publicity stunt to sell the leftover VICs when they weren't selling well. They simply stuck a "Super VIC 21" sticker over the original logo on the box and stuffed an external expansion cart in the box! As so: http://www.zimmers.net/cbmpics/cvic1.html

I still don't know if this VIC is newer or older than my original. The case on the "new" vic seems to be a poorer design on the inside. I will post some pictures as soon as my friend returns my camera cable :x

I'm pretty sure my original VIC was one of the last ones ever made - commodore may have been using up old cases (hence why my UK machine has a German-spec VC20 badge). I will go and look at it next weekend.

vic user: I will scan in some of the books sometime! you might have to wait until easter when I get to use my scanner as I don't have it here ;) maybe I can use the one at University... I will see!

thanks for the info everyone!!!

Terry Yager
February 24th, 2004, 04:38 PM
Ok. To clear the confusion, I present a complete memory map. :)

<map snipped>

Did this confuse even more or clear any questions?

Ok, I give up. (Tired of searching the net). I bow to your clearly superior knowledge of C= hard/software. <scraping, bending, bowing> I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy...

--T

carlsson
February 24th, 2004, 11:00 PM
I bow to your clearly superior knowledge of C= hard/software.
Hey, I'm sure there are other areas of this board where you know more than me. That's the point of specializing into something. The most horrendous "technical specification" I stumbled upon yesterday while searching the net was this:

Both the VIC-20 and C64 were based on the Z82 processor (err.. what is that - a combination of Z80 and 6502?). The VIC had 2 kB of memory and a 20x20 resolution (22x23), while the C64 had 40x40 (40x25). Both had sixteen colours and three channels of sound plus noise (which is pretty close to the truth). They use 5.25" floppies which can store approx 650 kB per disk (try 166 kB per disk side).

Regarding the screen shot was taken with 3K Super Expander plugged in.. I just did my homework and found out that the cartridge adds 3K but steals 136 bytes of these at startup, so the number 6519 is correct after all. Sorry, but I hadn't realized this was happening.

When you open a graphic screen, it allocates even more memory and leaves you at 3069 bytes (3K) remaining. There is a Finnish web page about the Super Expander with home-made examples if you like:

http://www.ntrautanen.fi/computers/commodore/archive/vic_super.htm

vic user
February 25th, 2004, 04:00 AM
dongfeng wrote:

vic user: I will scan in some of the books sometime! you might have to wait until easter when I get to use my scanner as I don't have it here maybe I can use the one at University... I will see!

That would be super amazing! Even the table of contents before Halloween would be cool :)

Chris

Terry Yager
February 25th, 2004, 04:21 AM
The most horrendous "technical specification" I stumbled upon yesterday while searching the net was this:

Both the VIC-20 and C64 were based on the Z82 processor (err.. what is that - a combination of Z80 and 6502?). The VIC had 2 kB of memory and a 20x20 resolution (22x23), while the C64 had 40x40 (40x25). Both had sixteen colours and three channels of sound plus noise (which is pretty close to the truth). They use 5.25" floppies which can store approx 650 kB per disk (try 166 kB per disk side).

Heh! That is a good one...I missed it somehow. Wow! 650K drives wouldn't that be nice?

Hey, thanx for the link but um, my Finnish is, uh, a little rusty. Pretty pictures, tho. Speaking of pictures, a friend of mine used to have a picture of the Windows 3.1 splash screen for his C-64. Have you ever seen that one? Kinda cute...

--T

carlsson
February 25th, 2004, 02:43 PM
Well, the 5.25" drives using 96 tpi and double density should put some 500K per disk using both sides I believe - isn't that typical CP/M systems? I'm not too familiar with the different tpi rates and density vs how data is stored on different formats, but given maximum tweaking and compressing data internally it might work. Remember the 5.25" HD disks for the IBM PC stored 1.2 MB each and they're still 5.25" although with a more dense storage space.

I don't know about the splash screen in C64 mode, but I do have a modified splash screen for the Amiga which looks like the Windows 3.1 one. It has the peculiarity that it opens its own screen and you have to close it afterwards, or else it sits in the background and takes memory.

Terry Yager
February 25th, 2004, 03:25 PM
Well, the 5.25" drives using 96 tpi and double density should put some 500K per disk using both sides I believe - isn't that typical CP/M systems? I'm not too familiar with the different tpi rates and density vs how data is stored on different formats, but given maximum tweaking and compressing data internally it might work. Remember the 5.25" HD disks for the IBM PC stored 1.2 MB each and they're still 5.25" although with a more dense storage space.

A 96tpi drive under CP/M would usually store up to around 800K, depending on it's formatting (bytes/sector, etc). These were known as "quad density", but they were never very common. They used regular DSDD media, no special QD disk was needed. A double-sided, double-density 8" drive would format out to 1.2Mb (assuming 1024 bytes/sector). The formating of those drives is the same as the IBM 1.2Mb 5.25" format, which makes them a suitable replacement drive for a CP/M system, once you get the cableing right. No BIOS modification is necessary when doing that swap-out.

--T

carlsson
February 26th, 2004, 04:59 AM
I have at least two or three 96 tpi DSDD disks (which are Commodore formatted, so a waste of resources as the 1541 formats 35 tracks in single density). One of them is a Luxor ABC disk, which tells me that the Swedish ABC-800 system, which was Z80 based but not CP/M compatible AFAIK, also took advantage of this format.

Terry Yager
February 26th, 2004, 06:05 AM
I have at least two or three 96 tpi DSDD disks (which are Commodore formatted, so a waste of resources as the 1541 formats 35 tracks in single density). One of them is a Luxor ABC disk, which tells me that the Swedish ABC-800 system, which was Z80 based but not CP/M compatible AFAIK, also took advantage of this format.

Yeah, my PMC Multi-Mate used 96tpi, under CP/M v. 3.0, at least it did until it died. I also used to use 96tpi drives with my Tandy CoCo 3, under OS9 Level II (a Unix-like operating system for 68xx-based machines). It doesn't surprise me that the C= 128 could use them also. (Did it require a 1571, or what?)

--T

Terry Yager
February 26th, 2004, 07:39 AM
OT (non-Commodore) post:

The Victor (Sirius) 9000 used to use 96tpi drives too, IIRC. It was an MSDOS&CP/M-86 machine, but was not IBM compatable. That whole machine was a strange animal, especially the disk system. The disks were 600K for SS, and 1.2Mb for DS drives, but the formatting was very strange. They did not use fixed sector sizes. The data was packed in at the same density on the outer (longer) tracks as on the inner, but the # of bytes per sector was greater. The drives themselves were a special, variable-speed thing. The motors in them were quite loud, but I never minded. Listening to them was like music to my ears. When doing an operation that accessed the whole disk, like formatting, it kinda reminded me of a sports car winding out thru it's gears as the drive changed speeds:
hmmmmmmnn...HMMMMMMMNN...whiiiiiiinnne...WHEEEEEEE E!, then, if it was a double-sided drive, it would suddenly down-shift and start all over again going thru the "gears" because the Victor 9000 only formated one side of the disk at a time. The head-load mechanism on them was pretty loud, too. I used to love listening to them, and watching the lights blink back-and-forth when copying a disk. Looked and sounded kinda like a RR crossing's semiphore lights going off. Kerchunk, kerchunk, kerchunk! Blink, blink blink! Loved it! (The Victor 9000 also has the prettiest built-in character set I have ever seen in a computer, kind of a seriph-type font that was just a joy ot look at). I really miss my old Victors.

--T

carlsson
February 26th, 2004, 11:02 PM
The C128 probably had to be as backward compatible as possible. Its native drive is the 1571, which is a double-sided drive but still formatting 35-40 tpi single density AFAIK. Besides in 1985ish, other disks like 3" and 3.5" were on their way in so it wiser to consider moving to this technology. I don't know if the CBM/PET series with their 8050 drives and what it is called are formatting QD, but I believe so.

Victor/Sirius is not as off-topic as you might think. Datatronic, the Swedish agent for Commodore Business Machines, at least partially bought Victor/Sirius and for a short while offered both brands to their resellers. Commodore themselves later opened their own local office and took over the Commodore computers completely. I even believe Chuck Peddle of 6502 fame was deeply involved in constructing the Victor machine, but I would have to look up that.

Terry Yager
February 27th, 2004, 06:47 AM
The C128 probably had to be as backward compatible as possible. Its native drive is the 1571, which is a double-sided drive but still formatting 35-40 tpi single density AFAIK. Besides in 1985ish, other disks like 3" and 3.5" were on their way in so it wiser to consider moving to this technology. I don't know if the CBM/PET series with their 8050 drives and what it is called are formatting QD, but I believe so.

I'm not sure what disk format the PET used.


Victor/Sirius is not as off-topic as you might think. Datatronic, the Swedish agent for Commodore Business Machines, at least partially bought Victor/Sirius and for a short while offered both brands to their resellers. Commodore themselves later opened their own local office and took over the Commodore computers completely. I even believe Chuck Peddle of 6502 fame was deeply involved in constructing the Victor machine, but I would have to look up that.

I didn't know that Commodore had anything to do with Victor/Sirius. Thanks for pointing that out. Yeah, Chuck Peddle designed both the Pet and the Victor 9000. Old.computers.com has a pretty good write-up:

http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?st=1&c=210

Documentation for Victor/Sirius machines is very rare to find these days. Sometimes the docs are more valuable that the machines themselves. This is because they didn't come supplied with any documentation. The docs were only distributed to the dealers, on the theory that the dealer should set the customer up with all the hardware & software they would need, and the computer should be so easy to use that documentation was unnecessary. If you ever run across any docs, grab them up...very collectable.

--T

carlsson
February 27th, 2004, 10:20 AM
The PET series used an IEEE-488 interface, and the following drives seem to have existed or were planned but never released:

2031/2041/4031 = 1x 5.25", 35 tpi, 170 kB single sided
2040/3040/4040 = 2x 5.25", 35 tpi, 170 kB single sided
SFD1001 = 1x 5.25", 77 tpi, 1 MB double sided
8050 = 2x 5.25", 77 tpi, 512 kB single sided
8061 = 2x 5.25", unknown capacity
8250 = 2x 5.25", 77 tpi, 1.05 MB double sided
8060 = 2x 8", 750 kB
8280 = 2x 8", unknown capacity

Compare to the IEC (serial) and later drives:

1540/1541/1542/1551/1570/SFS841 = 1x 5.25", 35 tpi, 170 kB single sided
1571 = 1x 5.25", 35 tpi, 340 kB double sided
1572 = 2x 5.25", 35 tpi, 340 kB double sided
1581 = 1x 3.5", 80 tpi, 800 kB
1563 = 1x 3.5", unknown capacity

Regarding Victor and Commodore; it was the local agent/distributor who acquired some of it, not the mother company (AFAIK).

Terry Yager
March 3rd, 2004, 04:26 PM
The PET series used an IEEE-488 interface,


Ah,yes. The ever popular "gibb" socket. (Ever wonder why it's pronounced "gibb" even though it's spelled HP-IB?)


Regarding Victor and Commodore; it was the local agent/distributor who acquired some of it, not the mother company (AFAIK).

But still, the Chuck Peddle connection is significant...

--T

barryp
March 3rd, 2004, 07:13 PM
Ever wonder why it's pronounced "gibb" even though it's spelled HP-IB

IIRC, it's also GPIB - General Purpose Instrument Bus.

Confirmation anyone?

Terry Yager
March 3rd, 2004, 07:43 PM
Ever wonder why it's pronounced "gibb" even though it's spelled HP-IB

IIRC, it's also GPIB - General Purpose Instrument Bus.

Confirmation anyone?

Close, (I googled it):

General Purpose Interface bus, also known as HP-IB. The standard bus used for controlling electronic instruments with a computer. Also called IEEE 488 bus because it is defined by ANSI/IEEE Standards 488-1978, and 488.2-1987.
www.allaboutmems.com/glossary.html

Thanks, I don't recall ever hearing that translation before.

--T

barryp
March 4th, 2004, 06:13 PM
Close, (I googled it):

General Purpose Interface bus

I always seem to forget the ultimate cofirmation, but of course when I go on Jeopardy I'll be on my own @;^}

I guessed Instrument since that's what (I think) its main use is.

Terry Yager
March 4th, 2004, 08:08 PM
Close, (I googled it):

General Purpose Interface bus

I always seem to forget the ultimate cofirmation, but of course when I go on Jeopardy I'll be on my own @;^}

I guessed Instrument since that's what (I think) its main use is.

"Instrument" sounds like a very good guess to me. Did H-P actually invent the bus, which was subsequently "standardized" by the IEEE, or what? (I do remember that HP-IL stands for Hewlett Packard Interface Loop. Does it have an IEEE spec too?)

--T