Amiga hardware info, help and support with a focus (but not limited to) North American NTSC experiences. Open to all.
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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA

by intric8 posted Mon Oct 15, 2018 7:02 pm

This is a quick photo essay and a few notes on how I put together my new C64 Reloaded MK2 by Individual Computers, which I just received the other day.

From the Individual Computers website:
The Commodore 64 Reloaded MK2 is a C64 Motherboard for building a C64 on your own. The board is shipped with empty ZIF sockets for the key chips such as CPU, port chips, sound/video chips. All other components are already assembled and pre-tested before shipment.


You supply 5 of your own chips. Once installed, the motherboard will automatically detect them and set things up. There is also a built-in configuration program you can use with another computer (preferably a PC) to change some of the auto/default settings manually, too.

The parts used in my project included:
  • C64 Reloaded MK2 motherboard
  • Brand new, never used Commodore 64C case, created from a 2015 Kickstarter
  • New case stickers (more on this later)
  • New metal C64C keyboard mounts
  • 12V PSU
  • 5 chips from a Commodore 64: I needed the CPU, at least 1 SID chip, a video VIC-II chip, and 2 CIA chips.
  • Transferring the LED cable
  • Last but not least, and original 64C keyboard
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Once I got the MK2 in the mail, I was ready to get started. (Or so I thought.)
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I ordered and received some new case badges to go along with my new case. I love the designs, but frankly I do NOT like the glossy nature of them at all. It makes them look cheap. And the print quality is not hi-res - it has noise in the colors! These were not done at a professional sticker shop. They're not horrible, but they won't do long-term. I'm going to try and make my own in the coming weeks (matte). Oddly, they are about .5 to 1mm too short vertically, too.
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Here's my new Kickstarter case ready to go. It's a bit brighter than the original 64C case, but I do like the color. And it only cost me $24!
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I had an original 64C that was severely yellowed on the bottom shell. The top shell had these quaint taped-on reminders for a word processor's functions. Regardless, the top shell is in pretty good shape, the the keys on its keyboard are near-mint. Perfect for a transplant.
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After opening the 64C's case, I could see its heat shield was heavily corroded but not complete trash.
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I removed the keyboard. You got to love how gloriously easy the 64 is to work on.
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When I took the heat shield off, three of the chips had thermal paste on them. Come to find out the heat shield won't fit over the MK2, so I didn't need to worry about reapplying thermal paste to the chips after the transplant.
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Side-by-side comparison of my NTSC 64C's populated motherboard and the MK2.
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The MK2 in the brand new kickstarter lower shell, with the lower heat shield below it.
My 64C had three socketed chips that I was able to easily remove and place into the MK2. I love the ZIF sockets for easy removal and insertion on the MK1. Both of my CIA chips, however, were soldered onto the 64C board! I quickly ran to my basement where I had a very old breadbin gathering dust that I'd retrieved from a gentleman's garage recently. It was beyond nasty but I was only interested in the chips. After popping it open it only had 2 socketed chips! I couldn't believe I was going to have to de-solder chips to finish this project.

Luckily my friend Matt had 2 spare CIA's and I was back in business. Whew! Total lifesaver - thanks, Matt! So be warned - before you buy an MK2 and think you're going to just swap a few chips, definitely open up the organ donor first and see if you have everything you need (or warm up your soldering iron!).

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The chips installed and the keyboard put into place.
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The new top shell added to the mix.
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The ports align perfectly. The MK2 really is the perfect blend of new and old. You get a brand new motherboard with energy saving features, and ports for your classic TAC-2 or Wico (or whatever) joysticks. Pretty spiffy. And no more scary power bricks of death. Just that new PSU you picked up from Amazon.
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It has the ports. All the ports.
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Here she is all buttoned up with that new temporary sticker.
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I peeled the old bottom serial number sticker off my 64C to put in the square of this new beauty.
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Power on. Hello, BASIC.


I live in the US and I use NTSC hardware. Thus, my chips are also NTSC. When I first turned the machine on hooked into my 1702 monitor, I got concerned. I see these strange wavy lines for about two seconds every time I turn the thing on.



After asking around, it appears everyone on NTSC hardware sees them, too, and they are not harmful. It's just the nature of the new motherboard when it hits NTSC chips. PAL chips don't seem to cause the same effect (especially when using an original CRT).

As my good friend Matt said, just turn the C64 on first, then the monitor. Problem solved. Hah!

The other oddity I encountered was the machine couldn't load disks. I could find the drive, but disks would never load.

I pulled the case apart and swapped the CIA chips. I have no idea why that would matter, but it fixed my problem. Everything works perfectly now. Machine is rock solid and gorgeous.

Love it!
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User avatar
Bulletdust

by Bulletdust posted Tue Oct 16, 2018 12:42 am

Is it normal for the screen to look so stretched or is that just a tweakage issue?
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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA

by intric8 posted Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:01 am

You’re probably sensing some camera distortion.
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Bulletdust

by Bulletdust posted Tue Oct 16, 2018 3:16 pm

How good would it be if they allowed for both PAL and NTSC VIC-II chips, allowing you to switch between the two when needed?

Nice build, One of these days I plan on making use of my kickstarter case and doing something similar.
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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA

by intric8 posted Tue Oct 16, 2018 3:47 pm

@Bulletdust That would be pretty crazy.

Also worthy of note: apparently if you use a WiFi modem in the user port some users have reported visual noise. It was a fixable problem with the MK1 but not the MK2 based on the design.

It would be interesting to test if a modem that used an external source of power would make the interference would go away (like the Paul Rickards modem, but for C64).
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Bulletdust

by Bulletdust posted Tue Oct 16, 2018 5:33 pm

intric8 wrote:@Bulletdust That would be pretty crazy.

Also worthy of note: apparently if you use a WiFi modem in the user port some users have reported visual noise. It was a fixable problem with the MK1 but not the MK2 based on the design.

It would be interesting to test if a modem that used an external source of power would make the interference would go away (like the Paul Rickards modem, but for C64).


Visual noise? Really? That's annoying. I remember making a user port to RS232 converter a loooong time ago that I used to use to connect a modem to my C64 in the day, I wish I still had it to connect Paul's fantastic modem to the C64 - It really is a great modem and with the latest modem update on the Amiga I've noticed something about file storage on the device?
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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA

by intric8 posted Tue Oct 16, 2018 5:50 pm

Re: visual noise with WiFi modems, yes. It's a known issue.

From the Individual Computers wiki:
The WiModem from CBMStuff has no proper filtering in its VCC connection and draws excessive power in short pulses, which causes visible artefacts in the video output and noise in the audio. This is not a Bug! of the C64RMK2 - but a problem of the device, the vendor of the device must use proper filtering in such cases. (This might be true for other devices based on the ESP32 wifi modules)


I spoke to a gent from Belgium named Bart about this very topic on Twitter, who has done extensive tests, and he said:
The WiFi modem video noise on the MKI is because using the icomp replacement 8701, swapping it for a real MOS 8701 or a TOLB fixes the issue completely. Unfortunately there's no 8701 slot on the MKII so you'll be stuck with the wifi modem "interference" issue forever.


That's when Paul Rickards pondered a question hypothetically asking if we used a modem with external power if the interference would go away. TBD on that.
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Bulletdust

by Bulletdust posted Wed Oct 17, 2018 1:00 am

If you do decide to get better decals made up intric8 be sure to let us know! I know that personally I'd love a nice looking decal for my kickstarter case.

You've motivated me, I think I should look at building a 'modern' 64C!
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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA

by intric8 posted Wed Oct 17, 2018 9:14 am

Mini-update:

My UII cart works perfectly with the MK2. Final step - to see how bad the WiFi modem noise issue really is for myself. I'm prepared for the worst, but I need to see it before I start searching for a solution.
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JimDrew
LHC, AZ

by JimDrew posted Thu Oct 18, 2018 4:47 pm

The reality is that the problem resides with the MK2 (and MK1 when using the fake 8701 replacement board). Unfortunately for users, the MK2 has the fake 8701 replacement built-in, with no way to replace it with a real 8701.

ANYTHING that pulls any amount of power from the USER PORT causes the MK2 to have visual noise. The problem is with the 8701 replacement logic. That chip is a VCO (voltage controlled oscillator). It is way too sensitive to changes on the 5v line. If you use any device that pulls 5v power from the USER PORT you will see this problem occur. You can verify this easily yourself with any EPROM programmer, like the Jason Ranheim's Promenade or any of the old German programmers. Likewise, the Covox Voice Master digitizer, and the Jameco RS-232 adapter, etc. all "cause" the same problem with the MK2. Trying to pass the blame on to the WiModem is ridiculous.

So, if you have a MK1 and see this problem, just rip that fake 8701 board out and replace it with a real 8701 and the problem never occurs. Those with a MK2 should look for a MK1, or power any USER PORT device with a separate 5vdc supply source.
Jim Drew, CBMSTUFF.COM

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