Commodore Service and Restorer - first steps for Commodore 64, 16, 116, Plus 4, 128
Commodore Service and Restorer Hungary
C= | service | Commodore | Commodore Amiga, Commodore PC | ZX Spectrum | Enterprise | Atari | Videoton TVC | CPC | HT | keyboard | upgrades | sales | contact
first steps: Commodore 64,SX-64,VIC-20,16,116,+4,128 | Commodore Amiga | ZX Spectrum | Enterprise | Videoton TVC | HT | Amstrad/Schneider CPC

First steps for Commodore 64, 64C, 64G, SX-64, VIC-20, VC20, 16, 116, Plus 4 and 128

I get a lot of e-mails and messages regarding the basic use of the Commodore 64, 64C, 64G, SX-64, VIC-20, VC20, 16, 116, Plus 4, and 128. Therefore, I will try to summarize the most important ones in a few lines.

I warn everybody that devices, which are more than 30 years old, will not work for long without restoration. A minor concern is that they might start at the moment, but stop working later. A major concern is the slow but highly damaging effect of electrolyte liquid in electrolytic capacitors or even IC death due to contact errors of oxidized IC sockets. But I could list more.

It cannot be predicted, how long these devices, which were designed to work for only a few years and still start after 30 years, will work later on. However, we can say that the devices, that were restored since 2018, still work well to this day. Moreover, there are quite a few gamers and musicians among the people, who use them day and night.

Regarding their storage, you must store them in a bag (does not need to be airtight), in their boxes, or in a closet. They won't survive in unheated rooms, attics, garages, or basements.

Connecting to TV
There are basically two ways to connect your Commodore computer to an LCD TV, one is with a traditional RF (radio frequency) cable. If you use an RF cable, the TV must be tuned to the UHF 36 channel. If someone has detuned the modulator, the image should be found around that channel.

If it's hard to find the image while tuning and it is only a black image, then the device is probably bad. This error cannot be remedied at home, please bring in or send me the device, and I take a look at it.

The second way is the Composite or Chroma-Luma, which is connecting to the device with a Video and an S-Video cable. You should know, that the outputs of Commodore Composite and Chroma-Luma are not the common Video and S-Video standards. Therefore, the image might not show up on LCD TVs. There is no such problem with an old CRT TV or display.

Forget about HDMI or VGA... There are convertible boxes for about 10-15.000 HUF, that can cope with them, but you definitely should read about them in forums exactly which models and types the thing works with. Don't forget that if it works with e. g. the 64, it might won't with the Plus 4. If you still want to use HDMI/VGA inputs, you can find assembled converters on eBay, that work with this HDMI or VGA, but it is not surprising that their price starts at 40-50.000 HUF. So everybody should consider this.

Turning on
Before turning on the computer for the first time, it is very important to check the voltages of the power supply first. Nowadays many power supplies die along with the computer. A typical case is when neither the power-supply nor the computer starts, then trying it on another computer we also kill that device too. You can check the voltage values with a multimeter, which nowadays you can buy for cheap. If you're not adept at that, bring the computer and its power-supply in my service and we turn it on together. Of course for free.

Commodore Service and Restorer Hungary | Commodore VIC-20, VC20 (kerek csatlakozós), 64, 64C, 64G, Plus 4 (kerek csatlakozós) tápegységdugó feszültségek mérése (PSU pinout)
Commodore VIC-20, VC20 (with round connector), 64, 64C, 64G, Plus 4 (with round connector) measuring power-suppy-plug voltage (PSU pinout)

There are also plugs, on which only 4 pins are visible. These are saving plugs, they can be used in the same way.

Commodore Service and Restorer Hungary | Commodore Plus 4 tápegységdugó feszültségek mérése (PSU pinout)
Commodore Plus 4 measuring power-supply plug voltage (PSU pinout)

Commodore Service and Restorer Hungary | Commodore 128 tápegységdugó feszültségek mérése (PSU pinout)
Commodore 128 measuring power-supply plug voltage (PSU pinout)
You can plug Amiga power-supply into Commodore 128 computers, BUT DO NOT TRY! Otherwise, the Commodore 128 will be completely ruined.

The commodore computer receives voltages directly from the power-supply and does not have special overvoltage protection. Thus, a bad power-supply can kill almost all ICs. Of course, everything can be fixed… but the question is, is it worth spending the money, or we’d rather wait a bit and we spend that money on something else? You can read more about power-supply problems here:
Commodore 64, 1541/II (1581) floppy drive is today’s modern power supplies

An eternal dilemma: yes, the different Commodore 64, 64C 64G, VIC-20, and Plus 4 power supplies can be used with each other. Any Commodore 64, VIC-20, and Plus 4 power-supplies with a round connector can be used for any computer type. Later the round power-supply connector on Plus 4 was replaced with a square-shaped connector. If you can’t get such power-supply, then you can exchange the PCB connector for a round connector.

Very important! Commodore 128 power-supply CANNOT substitute power-supplies for Amiga 500, 600, and 1200. Unfortunately, the connectors on these two models are basically the same, so they are easily interchangeable. If you plugged an Amiga power-supply into the 128, it will be very expensive to fix it. How do we know which power-supply we are holding in our hands? It is written on the bottom.

If we can't find the power-supplies of the Commodore 16 and 116 computers, only a 9V DC power-supply with an internal - contact, and an external + can be connected to it. This is called a reverse polarity connector. Usually, power-supplies with a normal connector (where the internal contact is +) can be purchased. The factory power-supplies are 800mA, which means they can deliver at least this much power. If it can deliver more than that, it's okay. Of course, the + power-supplies of ZX Spectrum 16K, 48K, and the power-supply of Enterprise can be used with the 16 and 116 computers as well. It is also true reversed, but the capacity of the factory power-supply of the Enterprise is 1,4A. You can use it for a trial run, but you should definitely look for a higher electricity power-supply.

There are such Commodore VIC-20, and VC20 computers, of which power-supplies are 9C AV with 2 pin connectors. Unfortunately, this type of connector matches with the 230V AC connectors of the old e. g. portable radios. Don’t plug this into the computer and into the outlet! You will need a 9V 2A AC power-supply for these devices. 2A load capacity is important, otherwise, it won’t start.

It is very important that all devices and accessories must be turned off while connecting them, before turning them on. Even the TV must be turned off, otherwise, after plugging in the video cable a couple of times, the SID will most likely be ruined. This is the result of 30 years…
Among the accessories, I would highlight the Cartridge, which you should also plug in or replace in the turned-off state.

It also matters, in what order you turn it on or off. After turning on the TV, turn on the floppy drive first and then the computer. In case of turning off, the computer first and then the floppy driver.

We don’t have to do much with the SD2iEC (floppy emulator) by Jácint Juhász, because this device receives power from the computer. It connects with the computer at the same time. You can read more about the SD2iEC here: SD2iEC developed by Jácint Juhász The SD2iEC by Sándor Éliás has its own power-supply, so it has to be treated like a real floppy driver, so follow the order above.

If you forget about the order, you will most likely kill a logic IC in the floppy driver or in the computer. Not a big expense, just annoying bringing it to me frequently.

In the case of 1541, 1541C, and 1541/II floppy drives a few basic errors tend to occur after turning them on. Such error is when the motor is constantly running and both LEDs light up, or the status LED flashes. Unfortunately, the PROM should be changed, not a big expense, but happens often. In the case of the 1541/II the root cause of this error can also be the death of the power-supply, you must measure the voltages of the power-supply. Another common error is the read error or no response to commands. The latter error is mostly caused by one or two logic ICs, while read error can be both logic IC and head error.

disk scanning
Once you’ve gotten this far, many people are wondering how to load a game…. let’s be honest, I wouldn’t think that after 30 years everyone could do it by heart.

It is really important to go through every disk, one by one before you jump straight into reading them. Almost all of these 30-year-old disks will work, even if we’re surprised by this. But due to improper storage, they can also cause damage. There are no problems with scratched disks, they can still be inserted into the floppy diver, maximum of one or two games will not start because of data loss. However, it is not the case with dusty and stained disks. In the former case, we scratch the head, while in the latter case we take dirt onto the head, thus creating an error that either the head or the driver is bad. You can read more about that here: Commodore 5 1/4 DS-DD disks.

Before using a floppy driver, you should first know that a total of 4 devices (up to 4 floppy drivers) can be connected to the SERIAL BUS at the same time. If you use more devices, you should number them manually: 8, 9, 10, or 11. The order of numbering does not matter, we can number them reversed, but after that, it will be a bit more difficult to identify. Each disk drive is set to 8 by default.
(This numbering is similar to manually numbering old SCSI devices before turning them on.)

Scanning disks: LOAD "$",8 then LIST issue an instruction. LOAD loading, while "$" to list in the meantime. The 8 is the number of devices already discussed above. The $ itself is maintained in the CBM system and such a program name cannot be given.

Commodore Service and Restorer Hungary | Commodore 64, 16, 116, Plus 4, 128 első lépések
listing content of floppy disk

After you’ve listed the content of the disk you can load the game with the following instruction: LOAD "name of the program",8,1 then RUN

Commodore Service and Restorer Hungary | Commodore 64, 16, 116, Plus 4, 128 első lépések
load and start game from the floppy disk

You don’t have to be scared, it can take several minutes to load a program.

If there’s a number 1 appearing at the end of the command line when loading, it indicates that it should load. Many reverse the number 1 at the beginning, so if you type the instruction wrong while leading the disk content: LOAD ”$”,8,1 this interesting thing shown in the photo will appear. This is not an error, only the CBM system cannot interpret it.

Commodore Service and Restorer Hungary | Commodore 64, 16, 116, Plus 4, 128 első lépések
read incorrectly typed disk content, after 8, 1 was also used

For full disk games, this instruction is enough: LOAD "*",8,1 then RUN (if it does not start by itself).

Commodore Service and Restorer Hungary | Commodore 64, 16, 116, Plus 4, 128 első lépések
to the left: 1570, 1541 with shutter, 1541 with arm, 1541 in the middle, 1571, 1541/II, 1581 to the right: 1551

disk formatting
We must format the floppy disk before using it. Keep in mind that the Commodore 1541, 1541C, 1541/II, 1551, 1570 disk drives are single-headed, which means, only one side of the disk is used (always at the bottom). Therefore, in these drives, you can reverse the disks and you can write programs on both sides (just like the A and B sides of cassettes). Just don’t forget to hole the edge of the disk before using the other side (mirror image of the current cut).

Commodore also made such disk drives available that use both sides of the disks, together (double-headed, bottom and top), like PCs. Such drive types are the 1571 and 1581. The 1571 disk drives only the Commodore 128 computers can use, at least the double-headed method. However, it can also be used as single-headed for the 64, VIC-20, 16, 116 (with 128 in single-headed mode), and Plus 4 computers as well. In this case, it works like a normal 1541.

The 1581 is different because this is a 3,5” DS-DD drive. It is similar to Amiga and PCs, however, it can be used with any 64, VIC-20, 16, 116, Plus 4, and 128. Interestingly, the capacity of this disk is 3160 blocks. Not so many games have been made for this capacity size, but there are a good few to be found.

Formatting instruction: OPEN 15,8,15,"N0:GAME-A,01":CLOSE 15 where GAME-A is the name of the disk (in this case -A also indicates the page) and 01 is the serial number of the disk. Of course, you can arbitrarily modify them. The formatting takes a little bit more than 1 minute. There is a high possibility that the drive has a head-error, If READY appears too soon and the drive LED flashes quickly. 8 is the serial number of the device here too.

Commodore Service and Restorer Hungary | Commodore 64, 16, 116, Plus 4, 128 első lépések
formatting floppy disk

You can read more about Commodore floppy head error here: Commodore 1541, 1541C floppy driver head error.

For a sentence, I’d cover the double-headed Commodore 1571 floppy drives or their built-in version in the Commodore 128D and DCR. Many people are happy when purchasing or finding them, the single-sided Commodore 64 disks work perfectly in these drives. However, they forget to try double-sided disks. Again, a 30-year return, as a result of which you have a 50% chance of the upper head working. You can read more about this here: Commodore 1571, 128D, 128DCR floppy driver head error.

managing tape recorders
Among Commodore tape recorders, we distinguish two types of models: one is the butter-colour 1530 which is specifically for the 64 and 128 (and for early CBM computers), the second is the black 1531, which can be connected to the 264 series (16, 116 and Plus 4) computers. Of course, clone versions were also made of these tape recorders. What else you need to know about them is that each tape recorder is compatible with every Commodore computer, but you might need a plug converter to use them.

Commodore Service and Restorer Hungary | Commodore 1530 és 1531 magnó
Commodore 1530 és 1531 tape recorder-plug converters

Commodore Service and Restorer Hungary | Commodore 1530 - 1531 magnócsatlakozó átalakítók
Commodore 1530 - 1531 tape recorder-plug converters

With a tape recorder, loading is much easier, unless the head has been adjusted and e. g. on a cassette, almost every game was recorded with a different head position. In this case, we can tear our hair…

We distinguish two types of loading mode in the case of tape cassettes. One is normal loading. These are usually factory cassettes that we just need to put in and load. The other is called turbo games. For these games, you must first load a turbo program, such as ABC-TURBO, then you can load the game. The point of this is that the line length of the games is only a fraction of the normal load. Of course, you need to load a turbo program before every load.

This turbo program was recorded by everyone at the beginning of the A and B pages of the cassettes. You didn’t always have to fast-wind and then to the position of the game, but you could also load it from another tape. A more elegant solution was to use a turbo program that can be found on Cartridge so that every time you turn it on, the turbo program loads automatically and you only have to load the game.

Tape loading command: LOAD then RUN (in the case of factory cassettes, most of the programs start automatically while loading). After LOAD, we need to get the home screen back with the name of the game. This indicates which game we are loading.

If we don’t get back the home screen with the game name while loading, we’re either not at the beginning of the program or the position of the head is bad.

Another practical remark, almost all of our tape recorders, which have been turned on recently after 30 years, are useless due to elongation of the drive belts and contamination of the rubber rollers transmission conveyor. But, in many cases, there may also be problems with play due to delay of the belt drive clutch and aging of the rubber roller as written above. The combined defects of these can be noticed if the cassette does not reel or with a difficulty, in the worst case the rubber roller tucks the tape under. It is a good idea to send these tapes to a restoration before use.

I would warn everybody not to change tape recorders with the computer turned on. Who knows why, they’ll understand me, who’s not, they should not know. It is strictly FORBIDDEN to connect devices to a turned-on computer! Otherwise, we will meet a lot.

Commodore Service and Restorer Hungary | Commodore 64, 16, 116, Plus 4, 128 első lépések
Commodore 64C és 1541/II disk drive, 1530 tape

Commodore Service and Restorer Hungary | Commodore 64, 16, 116, Plus 4, 128 első lépések

Commodore Service and Restorer Hungary | Commodore 64, 16, 116, Plus 4, 128 első lépések
loading and starting a tape

Commodore Service and Restorer Hungary | Commodore 64, 16, 116, Plus 4, 128 első lépések
ABC-TURBO home screen

Every Commodore joystick is compatible with every Commodore computer. It doesn’t matter if we want to use it with e. g. a 16 or 64 Amiga, it can be used with every computer. With some criteria, we’ll need a plug converter for the 264 series (16, 116, and Plus 4). Unfortunately, these joysticks are no longer produced. Newly produced, arcade and fire button joysticks are still available. These work perfectly well, but you need to get used to their shape and grip.

Among joysticks we distinguish two basic principle-based contacts, one is the mechanical (this moves quietly), the other is the sprung (makes clicking sound while moving). Parts are no longer made for their reparation, so you can only get them from broken joysticks.

One of the failures of the mechanical joysticks is that the base itself that we press down every time, cracks, losing its flexibility and makes it hard to connect. In the case of the sprung one, the spring we’re pressing on stretches or snaps. In the last case, it is also a problem that the board gets worn on the moving part of the contact base that moves the spring, so it loses its conductivity. For this reason, we might experience often that our joystick makes clicking sounds, but the directions and the fire button are still problematic. It can be repaired only by replacing the direction or fire unit, but the question is, that how long will the new one work.

I recommend buying joysticks only if we bring a computer with us and we try the joystick with it. Otherwise, the purchase will only be a waste of money, and then we can argue with the seller… the term „untested” has also multiplied in such ads.

Commodore Service and Restorer Hungary | Commodore joystick -ok
Commodore joysticks

Commodore Service and Restorer Hungary | Commodore 16, 116 és Plus 4 joystick csatlakozó átalakító
Commodore 16, 116 és Plus 4 joystick interface converter

Commodore 128
Among Commodore computers, we distinguish three computer types. One listens to the standard 128 name, which is similar in design to the Commodore 64C engine room. It’s just the computer itself and doesn’t contain other built-in accessories like a floppy driver or a power-supply.

The other is the 128D, which is a portable version of a plastic case design. The keyboard can be attached to the bottom and has a foldout plastic carrying handle. This computer already has a built-in 1571 floppy driver and a power-supply too. Based on a horizontal PC case design.

The third, the 128DCR has a metal case, which is just like a PC, but not portable. This version also includes a built-in 1571 floppy drive and a power-supply. CR stands for „cost-reduced” design. Unlike the D, which literally includes a 1571 with its own floppy panel, in the DCR floppy electronics were integrated into the motherboard and a good few components were merged as a measure of the economy (I mean mainly while producing).

Each computer from the Commodore 128 computer family comes with a 128, 64, and CP/M mode. As three separate computers. Unfortunately, you can’t switch between the modes. At the start, we need to determine which mode we would like to work with. By default the mode 128 starts, if we choose. GO64 and RETURN, then Y our computer switches to mode 64. There is another way to get into mode 64, by pressing down the C= button, while start and we’re immediately in mode 64. You can activate the CP/M mode with a factory floppy disk. After inserting in the disk, turn on the computer, and the CP/M operating system DOS is already loading. I could not copy the CP/M disk yet, because of the protection sys file. Therefore, it is worth buying from someone as a factory disk. The GEOS disk can be copied or even created, and freely modified.

What you should know about the Commodore 128 is that no matter how much it is advertised, it is not compatible with our Commodore 64 computer. This means there will be games, that won’t work in mode 64. In this case, if we really want to play with that game, there is no other solution than getting a 64 as well.

Also, note that keys that are different from the 64 will be inactive in mode 64. But, this is understandable, because we get three separate computers in one case, and not three compatible systems, between which we can switch.

Because the 128 family knows the 80-columns mode, many people forget that the 40/80 Display gets pressed down every time, if this happens you’ll see only a blank screen in Composite (Video) and Chroma-Luma (S-Video) modes. This is completely normal, you simply need to press the button again and reset the computer.

Commodore Service and Restorer Hungary | Commodore 128 boot screen  Commodore Service and Restorer Hungary | Commodore 64 boot screen
Commodore 128 and 64 boot screen

Commodore Service and Restorer Hungary | Commodore GEOS 1.5 és CP/M 3.0 lemez  Commodore Service and Restorer Hungary | Commodore DEMO lemezek
Commodore GEOS 1.5 és CP/M 3.0 disks, DEMO disks

Commodore Service and Restorer Hungary | 2020 Commodore Szerviz 128 -as reklám
Commodore 128 family advertisement made for Christmas 2020

Commodore Service and Restorer Hungary | Commodore 64, 64C, 64G, SX-64, VIC-20, VC20, 16, 116, Plus 4 és 128 első lépések

entries, posts
pencil graphitization of keyboards?!
aging of rubber feet
Magyarization of Plus 4
death of Amiga 3,5" DS-DD disks
Commodore 5 1/4" DS-DD disks
how to use DS-HD floppy disks in Commodore Floppy drives
condition of Amiga factory floppy disks
1541, 1541C floppy drive head-error
1571, 128D, 128DCR floppy drive head-error
malfunction of Amiga 600, 1200 Delay and BPF
purchasing and replacing Delay and BPF
exchange of alkaline accumulator for CR2032 battery
Commodore Service and Restorer Hungary | Cloanto distribútor
Commodore Service and Restorer Hungary | Hyperion distribútor

Hungary 2730 Albertirsa, Köztársaság utca 2. | open: on MONDAY TUESDAY 9-17, Wednesday closed, THURSDAY FRIDAY 9-17, SATURDAY 9-12 (CLOSED on weekends and on holidays)
f: CommodoreSzerviz | e: | t: +36 53 317 202

Commodore Service and Restorer Copyright © 2018

group pages Napraforgó Szoli, PillePilla, SQIN Kozmetika, rendszergazda TÓTH, Commodore Service Hungary page