October 3 2018 Meetup #5 Notes

Had a superb club meeting this Wednesday with a bit of Fall crispness in the air.

Matt brought some remarkable hardware with him. First, he brought his (simply awesome) Amiga 600 MiSTer machine. One really can’t appreciate how special this box is until seen in-person. We flipped from a C64, to a black-and-white Mac, to Amiga, to a Sega Genesis playing Sonic! And each core looked (and sounded) really damned good.

Next, he slid his brand spanking new Ultimate 64, which he put inside an original C64 bread bin onto the table. Both the MiSTer and the U64 were hooked into the same HDMI monitor. Then he fired up a game on the MiSTer. After a few moments, we flipped to the U64 and fired up the exact same game to compare.

At first, there was stunned silence in the room.

The U64’s audio crackled and popped. Matt had warned me this was the case, but I still couldn’t believe how bad it was. We test another game and experienced the same thing. To be clear, Matt’s U64 is outfitted with a REAL SID chip, too (unlike the MiSTer, which sounded excellent even via emulation).

I could see the tension on Matt’s face. I could feel it.

However, he happened to pull down a fresh from the oven firmware update that afternoon, and he flashed the U64 right then and there.

After a few minutes he fired everything back up again and… the audio was MUCH improved! Everyone was smiling at that stage. You could still here little pops and ticks during certain operations, but the overall audio experience was vastly improved. Well done, Gideon!

Next – and this nearly brought a tear to my eyes – Matt brought in his fully refurbished Vectrex. To my surprise, some of the club members in attendance had never heard of it. Someone did rightly notice that it’s form factor (released in 1982) looked almost exactly like the eventual 1984 Mac. Coincidence?!

In any case, I bought one back in the day with Christmas money I’d received from my grandfather. Back then, incredibly, they retailed for only $50. On Ebay, good luck finding one for less that 10X that amount these days. Some day…

I used to play that machine with my brother into the wee hours. And the games were not easy – but they were gorgeous and fun, unmatched by many of their pixel-based competitors. And some of the home-brew games that are still being made for it? Folks, they are VERY high-quality. Everyone was extremely impressed.

Thanks for bringing that old Vectrex in, Matt.  That really made my day. And the Ultimate64! I was highly encouraged after the firmware update. That MiSTer build of yours really is remarkable.

And the day kept on getting better and better! Club member Christian asked me to bring my Rejuvenator’d A1000 in again. He’d acquired some more modern RAM and soldered it to some adapter boards. We then proceeded to add it to my 1000, and in a few moments swapped out my 1mb Agnus with an 2mb version from an A3000.

Flicked on the switch.

And suddenly, we were all looking at (most likely) one of the only Amiga 1000’s anywhere around for hundreds if not thousands of miles fully equipped with 2mb of chip RAM and running an ECS Fat Agnus! Simply amazing! I may have embarrassed Christian by thanking him more than a few times. (Thanks, Christian!) 🙂

It was a really, really good night.

Christian also took a close look at new member Ron’s sick A1200. Some surgery was performed but it sounds like she may need more.

Now many of us are looking forward to going to PRGE in a couple weeks. We’re so lucky – the whole retro community is so lucky. These are great times indeed.

August 22 2018 Meetup #4 Notes

We had a really great showing for the club meet this week, with eight members in attendance.

Rob brought his Compaq Deskpro 2000: Pentium 166, 32 MB RAM, VGA and a Sound Blaster 16. It was a very snappy system and – for me at least – brought back a lot of good memories thinking of my step-dad on his beloved PC’s in his computer room. When you see that teal, you know. (Forgot to take a pic, dang it!)

I brought my A1000 that has a fully installed Rejuvenator board. Beyond playing some demos, I cracked open the case so some of us could observe the board while discussing next-steps for reverse engineering it.

Christian brought a few things. He first hooked up a very unusual and quite cool looking (and rare) Commodore PC 20-III.

This is an old 8088 PC-compatible business machine – you know, from that era when Commodore really lost their way. He proceeded to launch Spacewar on the box, which was pretty cool to witness. The Spacewar we saw was the 1985 version by  B. Seiler in 1985, based on the 1962 original.

Next, Christian was gracious enough to show us a quick soldering demo so we could understand how he went about things. He did this after we all marveled over his GBA1000 work at the previous meet in July. I got a few great tips in just a few minutes, and have already ordered a decent pair of flush cutters.

Handy tip: Sometimes the best way to desolder something is to solder it first. Sounds strange, but it works.

He proceeded to show us his process for quickly soldering surface mounted chips using the naked eye. I wish I had eyesight like that! Due to our pretty dim lighting situation, we all helped out with some hilarious phone flashlights. Hah!

Matt brought a ton of extra stuff he picked up recently from a retiring Commodore Group leader (and librarian?) and placed them on the floor for anyone that wanted anything. There were magazines and tons of loose and boxed software, some in mint condition. It was a very cool mix of productivity and creative software as well as games. Lots of games.

As usual, a really great and fun evening. If this meet did one thing, it reinforced that they go by way too quickly!

Now that we have 4 club meets under our belt (and at least two more before the 2018’s end) I think it may be time to create a logo for this club. And maybe some shirts.

— Eric/intric8

 

the 1985 PC version of Spacewar!
Commodore PC 20-III
Christian at work, the club holding up our phone/flashlights to assist.
Christian using his phone as a magnification tool.

July 18 2018 Meetup #3, Notes

We had a great turnout and good times at the 3rd SEA-CCC meet-up last night with seven total members in attendance.

Matt M. brought his exceptional A600 MiSTer, which really is a sight to behold. It has stability and power (if you want it), plus the graphics looked spot on. Very eye-opening to see that compact form factor kick so much butt. Definitely not a DIY project for everyone; it’s not exactly plug-and-play. But if you have the determination, passion and know-how – wow. It was really impressive. And at least according to Matt it’s way more “real” feeling than his rPi experiments.

Eric H. brought his breadbin C64 with WiFi WiModem, UII cart, Magic Voice synth cart and 1702. Eric gave a demo of the Magic Voice synth voice which no one in attendance had seen (or heard) before, which was cool. Shame so few consumer programs were ever made for it:

Recreational: Gorf and Wizard of Wor
Educational: Counting Bee, A Bee C’s, The Spelling Bee, and The Magic Garden Talking Book Series
Business: Magic Desk 1+

We played some Gorf with the voice turned on. Ha. Ha. Ha. 😉

Christian S. brought his mind-bending GBA1000 computer for all of us to drool over. Over “42 total hours” of work to get the machine flying, according to Christian. After looking at the insanely tiny surface mounted solders he performed by hand (and the zoom on his phone’s camera) I couldn’t believe it. I know it would have taken me more like 400 hours, and I still would have failed. Simply remarkable level of skill required. But wow – the machine was essentially an A3000 tucked inside the A1000’s beautiful frame. Simply gorgeous. Thanks for bringing that to the user group for us to see, Christian!

Finally, based on the generous 8-bit donation the club received recently, most folks went home with something to play with or turn into a future project.

It was a great time. Can’t wait for the next one! (Details for Meet-up #4 will be available soon.)

— Eric (aka intric8)

 

 

New Donation to the Club Received

A very large and generous donation was made to the SEA-CCC this week. Read more about it here.

We very much appreciate it, and will do our best to find homes for all of this wonderful hardware and software (half of it has already been claimed in less than a day!).

 

June 13 2018 Meetup #2 Notes

We had a great time at the Seattle Commodore Computer Club last night!

Attendees:

  • Eric Hill
  • Matt Martin
  • Rob Robland
  • David M.
  • Lucas Walter
  • Zade Alisdairi (honorary guest)

It was really a great showing and good times were had by all. We had three main systems set up:

  • Amiga 1000 Phoenix with 1084S monitor
  • Commodore 64 breadbin
  • Atari XEGS (mint!) with 1702 monitor

And there was also a gorgeous mint Atari Lynx with a brand new screen being handed around as well.

For games, we spend most of the night on the two 8-bit machines. An epic game of Archon between Zade and Eric got things going (Eric rocked, natch – dark side FTW) on the C64. Some of the games on the XEGS included River Raid, Robotron, Pitfall II and Joust, among others.

Lucas brought a stack of Amiga disks he’d kept for years and was pleased to find the majority of them still worked. Sadly a handful are going to soon become drink coasters, but nothing lasts forever. On the bright side, his original copy of Aaargh! worked flawlessly.

Thanks to everyone for coming out. It was a total blast.

The next meet-up date will be determined soon and posted on this blog. Stay tuned!

Some pics from the night’s festivities:

The legendary (and bizarre) 3D Amiga game MindWalker
Matt showing his stuff on the CBS Electronics classic “Mountain King”, a very interesting and slightly creepy game.
It was nice to learn that Lucas’ original disk of Aargh! worked perfectly.
One of the scenes from Aargh!
Lucas watching an animation of Fred Astaire dancing in a desert, found within the sample files of Deluxe Paint III.
I hadn’t played Archon in many years. I used to play with my brother (who always kicked my butt BITD). It was SO much fun. Such a great 2-player game.
From left to right: David, Lucas, Zade, Rob, Matt
My dog Jean Luc: a C64 image file stored on an Ultimate II cartridge plugged into a C64 breadbin (off-camera) and connected to the 1084S composite ports
From Top, clockwise: Zade, David, Rob, Matt. Eric and Lucas are off-camera.
Rob having just finished one of the games on the C64, which was borrowing the 1084S monitor with the Amiga 1000.

 

May 9 2018 SEA-CCC Kick-off Meeting Notes

We had a total blast!

Matt titled this, “Deep Thoughts, by MattSoft”

Machines in attendance from Matt Martin:

  • C64 with RPi3 brains
  • Amiga 500 with RPi3 brains
  • Playstation 3 HDMI monitor for C64 and Amiga 500
  • Absolutely mint Apple iigs (gorgeous screen!)

Machines from Eric Hill:

  • Amiga 1000 Phoenix
  • Amiga 1080 monitor
  • Amiga 1000 Rejuvenator Board
  • Amiga 1000 fan replacement contender

We fired up games, loaded demoes, dialed into ParticlesBBS off the A500/Pi3 and most important talked about everything. Pizza and local beer was close at hand, too, to keep the energy flowing.

Awesome time! Next meet is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, June 13, 2018. Same times, same location.

 

Inaugural Kick-off

The very first meeting for the Seattle Commodore Computer Club (sea-ccc) is set: we will meet on May 9, 2018!

Informal Agenda

  • Quick around the room where we introduce ourselves
  • Brief chat on whatever projects we’re each working on or hoping to start soon, if any 
  • Scene news (I’ll bring whatever I’ve heard, and everyone is encouraged to chime in with whatever they’ve heard, too)
  • Bring in any hardware you’d like to show-and-tell
  • Will fire up some games to compare across some systems.