Amiga and Commodore news and topics not covered in the other forums
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Seattle, WA, USA

by intric8 posted Mon Nov 05, 2018 11:09 am

While at PRGE 2018 this year, my good friend Mattsoft informed me of a new acquisition he’d made on the way down to the show: a boxed C128D. I wondered when he told me of this news if I might have involuntarily drooled for a moment, as he raised an eyebrow and offered it to me at his cost since he already had a mint one himself.

Somewhat guiltily, and perhaps too quickly, I greedily jumped at the chance! The US-version of the C128D always held my imagination. The thing almost looks like an Amiga 1000: a super slim case, elegantly designed yet with a metal casing instead of plastic. It's hard to imagine a metal case cost less than a plastic one, but it's true. By making the case metal, Commodore was able to remove the internal metal RF shielding they'd used in the plastic European version. And when you're building at scale, those fewer pennies added up. (Personally, I'll take a metal case!) On the outside it looks utterly graceful yet it stealthily has the strength of steel for support and protection. I just love it.

To be honest ,I’d never been a huge 128 fan, but the D is different. It’s simply gorgeous. Who cares if 99% of the software was made for it's older sibling? For BBSing, text adventuring or even word processing, the D freaking rocks.

So Matt and I made arrangements. I knew going in that the original keyboard had some minor UV damage, but other than that the whole thing appeared to have been boxed and waiting patiently for decades.

While I waited to collect the D, I happened to run across a NOS keyboard that was up for sale. The price was high (a bit too high for my blood). So I contacted the seller to see if he’d knock it down to a saner level. He quickly wrote me back and said that no, he wouldn’t change the price, but that he had an identical NOS keyboard he’d sell me for the price I suggested. Sold!

A few days later I received the NOS keyboard in the mail. It still had its warranty sticker on the side, never once removed or the keyboard case cracked open. I took a few pics - it was immaculate!

Then I waited for another couple of days and got the D. Matt had done an exceptional job (as usual) cleaning every little thing - even the box!

I hastily removed my current daily driver A1000 from my desk and began to set up the D. What a sight to behold!
I don't have a Commodore 2002 monitor, which is what shipped when the D hit the market. But the Amiga 1080 looks almost identical (and performs similarly). Alternatively, I could use an 1084S, too. But I'm digging this look.

I flicked on the power. What the… my screen was garbled and I never got a cursor. Such. A. Noob! Apparently if any of the keys along the top row are depressed (e.g. the 40/80 column key) the 128 won’t boot. Heart attack avoided, I put all of the locking keys in their normal positions and rebooted. It fired right up into 128 mode.

I began to test the keyboard.

Folks, for only the second time in my lifetime my NOS hardware had real issues.

The number “4” didn’t work at all, and four other keys (A, E, N and SPACE) only registered 50% of the time. I couldn’t believe it. I was crushed!

I sat there looking at the screen and looked at my watch. If I remember correctly, it was about 7PM. I grabbed the original keyboard out of the box and removed its case. Then, with a tinge of disappointment but resignation, I peeled back the warranty sticker on the NOS keyboard and carefully flipped up the padding on the little rubber feet that hide its screws.

I proceeded to swap every single key and spring between the two keyboards. Essentially, I took the guts from the old keyboard and used it with the NOS’s case, keys and springs. Matt had already cleaned the old keyboard down to a surgical level, so the process was almost therapeutic.

Since the case was pristine, I never had to remove the rubber feet entirely. So once I finished the organ transplant I was able to put the screws back in and simply pop the feet back down - the glue was still totally fine; I used dental tools when I lifted the feet originally so everything was still mint.

I hooked the new keyboard up to the 128D and fired everything up. The machine is 100% solid and the keys feel like new (because they are!). Everything registers perfectly - the keyboard is simply heavenly to type on.

I quickly discovered that the Ultimate II cartridge does not fit into the back of the 128D as elegantly as it does with the C64 - the DIN cables get in the way of each other.

But more importantly, the 128’s internal floppy drive (set to 8) conflicts with the Uii. Yes, you can change the Uii’s drive to 9, but most of the software ever written wants to run off of drive 8. So unless surgical modifications are made to the 128D (something I’m not inclined to do at the moment), the Ultimate isn’t really a viable solution for me right now.

This means - at least for now - I’ll be running disks with the D. This presented another new challenge. How should I create disks for the 128?

More on my answer to that soon.
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by robdaemon posted Mon Nov 05, 2018 11:28 am

I'm currently using an SD2IEC with my 128D. I had to configure it as Unit 9, which is a royal pain. Lots of things don't work with it.

I'm planning on putting a switch in it at some point to make the internal 1571 be unit 9. I'd like to keep the physical floppy drive around, but use my SD2IEC as my primary drive.

On my 128D, I have two monitors - a Commodore 1802 for 40 column mode, and an Amdek Color 600 for the RGBi. You don't really use both of them at the same time, but apparently it's possible to do both. I also used a 25 pin serial cable to extend the keyboard cable so I could get it a little further away from the machine. You might be able to see my Commodore 1750 REU in the back - it's pretty large, so I have to pull the 128D even further away from the wall to plug it in. (also, it doesn't seem to be working)

dual head 128D

I chose to make the 128D my primary 8 bit Commodore and put my 64C in the closet.
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by McTrinsic posted Mon Nov 05, 2018 1:25 pm

Get a Kryoflux.

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by Dynamic_Computing posted Mon Nov 05, 2018 8:05 pm

Nice! So beautiful! I just got a traditional 128 and upgraded it with the 64K VDC chip mod, and I am really enjoying it.
I almost bought a 128D a month or so back, but it had no keyboard, and the keyboards O found cost more than the 128D!
She is plugged into a nice 1902 monitor, but the monitor is starting to crackle a bit. It won't be long for this world if I don't fix it soon.
I transfer all my files to my VIC 20, C64 and C128 from my Amiga. I just hook my my 1541 with a custom cable and use Easy1541 to transfer anything to the drive. Works like a champ!
@10marc1 on Twitter
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Seattle, WA, USA

by intric8 posted Mon Nov 05, 2018 11:51 pm

Man - I would love to know that process of yours (and where you got that cable). Do you have a video for that and I missed it? Sounds epic!
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by TjLaZer posted Tue Nov 06, 2018 1:15 am

Nice! Looks in minty shape! You can probably fix the keyboard with the non responsive keys. Just take it apart and clean it and see if that helps. Not sure if this keyboard uses a mylar like the Amigas do.

I make C64 disks with my SD2IEC and use a program called SDBrowse. Works wonderfully! I have the SD2IEC set as 9, and my 1541 as 8. Since I like to use real disks most of the time, this setup works for me. Then I use the program to copy D64 images to real disk with the program. It's a SD browser/GUI and has a built in copy feature to copy images to real disk.
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by McTrinsic posted Tue Nov 06, 2018 2:57 am

I guess he is referring to a device such as this, where pure boards without case can be obtained much cheaper: ... 3236483185
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by McTrinsic posted Tue Nov 06, 2018 2:58 am

What I forgot: with more than one system, you should really consider a Kryoflux.
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by joethezombie posted Tue Nov 06, 2018 11:07 am

intric8 wrote:I hastily removed my current daily driver A1000 from my desk and [...]

You did WHAT!?? :lol:

intric8 wrote:I flicked on the power. What the… my screen was garbled and I never got a cursor. Such. A. Noob! Apparently if any of the keys along the top row are depressed (e.g. the 40/80 column key) the 128 won’t boot.

So, with the 40/80 key down, output is directed to the RGB output port. With the 40/80 up, CVBS is active. So the 128 was probably booting, just displaying from the port you weren't connected to.

If you switch 40/80 mode with the keyboard while the machine is on, a runstop-restore is required to flip the video to the new port.

Great job on the keyboard repair, very nice to have a working unit.

Here's mine paired with a Magnavox display, showing both modes (there's a toggle inside the monitor flap to select the input):


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Seattle, WA, USA

by intric8 posted Tue Nov 06, 2018 11:14 am

That is a SWEET display, Joe!

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