Sunday 4 December 2016

World of Commodore 2016

The World of Commodore 2016 by the Toronto Pet Users Group happened this weekend at the Admiral Inn in Mississauga, Ontario. It's an annual tradition that I would never miss; an opportunity to reconnect with old friends and to make new discoveries in the multiple dimensions that exists in the thriving world of Commodore and the people who continue to push the boundaries of those dimensions.
This years event was a special one, with Bil Herd in attendance, possibly the best engineer who worked for Commodore, with his most notable achievement being the design of the Commodore 128 (regarded by many as the best 8 bit computer ever), and demonstrating incredible skill that would impress even Steve Wozniak in the ill-fated TED/264 series of Commodore computers. A great engineer who is also a very nice man and a great story teller, he graciously autographed the computers of those in attendance. If you want to keep up with Bil today, you can follow his blog at Hackaday.

The first presentation of the day was by Syd Bolton, who has a web page here and is best known for his Personal Computer Museum in Brantford, Ontario. A great speaker and story teller, Syd explained to us why Commodore is the best, sharing with us the delightful debates and arguments he used to have as a kid, and the comparisons we all made. Of course, he admitted what we all know; what makes Commodore best are the people.
It was really great to see Jim Brain of Retro Innovations in attendance this year with all of his toys for show and sale. One of the many projects Jim has been working on includes the Visual Memory Display with Steve Gray. Following Syd's presentation was Steve Gray's demonstration of the visual memory display, which is a 16x16 matrix of LED lights. Steve describes this interesting device here.
John Hammarberg returned this year to explain to us the making of the globe demonstration for the Ram Expansion Unit. He deconstructed the original demo for us, which can be seen on Youtube here.
At 2:00 was the moment we all were waiting for. The room was packed, standing room only, to listen to Bil Herd tell us stories about his days at Commodore. He wasn't pulling any punches as he punched through the walls to share with us details of a magical moment in time of what was once a great company. If you're interested, most of what he shared with us can be read in his interview here.
Up next was Jason Kolodziejczak with his presentation of Amiga graphics. It was a walk down memory lane, as he covered all the graphics programs and capabilities comprehensively, from Deluxe Paint right up to the 3D rendering software, all of which made the Amiga a great graphics and special effects platform for creative people everywhere.
Leif Bloomquist, a regular at World of Commodore, returned this year to demonstrate the SwinSID, which is a replacement for the SID chip. It brings to any SID-capable Commodore computer new and exciting features, at an affordable price. You can read more about it here.
After demonstrating the SwinSID, Leif introduced us all to the UniJoystiCle by Retro Moe. You can read more about this innovative use of modern technology on a Commodore 64 here.

Besides the great presentations, there were other displays of retro tech, like Josh Bensadon's loading of Micro-soft's 4k BASIC from paper tape onto an Altair 8800:
Daniel Kovaks also demonstrated his Vic 20 with Ultimem, his C128 with the 64NIC+, his Commodore 16, Amiga 1200, and 1541 Ultimate II:
One of my favourite things that has me saving up my dollars is the Vampire that's going to come out for the Amiga 500 and 2000 (currently available for the Amiga 600) which was demonstrated in one of Sunday's presentations by Ian Colquhoun, effectively an accelerator, memory expansion, digital video output, SD card, and fast IDE:
Of course, there was the freebie table, the raffle draw, and plenty of vintage and new Commodore hardware and software to buy. The day was so packed with Commodore (and some non-Commodore) goodness, it's no wonder that it had to continue on to Sunday. Unforunately, I couldn't make it to World of Commodore on Sunday this year, but maybe next year that will change. Until then, keep on retro computing with Commodore!

Wednesday 23 November 2016

Floor plan of the PaCommEx exhibit area

Here's a rough floor plan of the first floor exhibit area of the Living Computer Museum, our venue for the Pacific Commodore Expo NW.  Note where the PaCommEx tables will be, which is where museum attendees would have to cross to get to the stairway to the second floor.  (Layout not drawn to scale, as you can see the pillars are the same size as the elevator!  Wrong-o!)

Happy Thanksgiving!
Robert Bernardo
Fresno Commodore User Group

Monday 21 November 2016

Composite video from a Sears LXI

Here is what a Commodore VIC-20CR displays when the composite video is sent to a 13-inch Sears LXI television/monitor.  The LXI also has an IBM-type RGB digital connector in the back; when hooked up to a Commodore 128 outputing its 80-columns, the screen displays all the 16 C= colors except for Commodore brown.

FCUG celebrating its 35th anniversary,
Robert Bernardo
Fresno Commodore User Group

Friday 18 November 2016

In and around the Living Computer Museum

On the second floor, a VIC-20 being proudly shown
A block south of the LCM, Starbucks Headquarters
One of the spots where we can connect to power and video projection
Massive sound system

The giant screen we can use (projector not pictured)
The classroom/break-out room where we can have presentations
You can pull down power lines from the ceiling!
Back on the second floor, an A500 (mismarked as an A1000)
Computer cousins
A blue-labeled PET 2001
An exterior view of the LCM
Nearby Vietnamese restaurant open Saturday until 3 p.m.
Interior of Hooverville - our Saturday night dinner spot
Exterior of Hooverville (closed when the photo was taken)
Here are some photos inside and outside of Seattle's Living Computer Museum, our venue for the Pacific Commodore Expo NW.  I was not permitted to take a photo of the LCM's first floor exhibit area (where we will have PaCommEx), because it was still under construction, and it was to be a surprise when it opens.  However, I was able to take photos of the small details and of the classroom/break-out room.

Robert Bernardo
organizer - Pacific Commodore Expo NW

Wednesday 9 November 2016

Very custom power supplies from Ray Carlsen

Power supply for three, different Commodores
Power supply for a C64, a C128, and two 1581 disk drives
P.S. for too many Commodores and Amigas!
This one has 9V outputs, too
His universal p.s.... with an added digital display
Upgraded, internal p.s. for C128DCR
(photos by Ray Carlsen)
Ray Carlsen, veteran Commodore repair technician, has been producing his Commodore and Amiga heavy-duty power supplies for a few years. However, he likes it when the monotony of building the same p.s. over and over again is broken.  That's when customers order "very custom" power supplies, ones that are out of the ordinary.
I like the above universal p.s. with the display (but I was thinking of one with a VU meter!).

Robert Bernardo
Fresno Commodore User Group

Friday 21 October 2016

Pin-out for the Chalkboard PowerPad C64 cable

Hey, everybody!  If you need the pin-out of the special Commodore 64 cable for the Chalkboard PowerPad, here is the diagram.  Diagram courtesy of Mat A. via Roger V.P..

Robert Bernardo
Fresno Commodore User Group

Tuesday 18 October 2016

Photo and floor plan for CommVEx v13 2017

Photo of Maile and Ohana Rooms
Floor plan of Maile and Ohana Rooms

(photo and floor plan courtesy of

The July 29-30, 2017 Commodore Vegas Expo v13 will be at a different hotel, the California Hotel & Casino, 12 E. Ogden St., Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.  CommVEx will be in the second floor Maile Room.  Above are a photo and floor plan of the Maile Room (and its adjoining Ohana Room).

Robert Bernardo
organizer - Commodore Vegas Expo v13 2017

Friday 7 October 2016

Some choice photos from Amiwest 2016

Books seen at the Amiwest DevCon

Vampire 500!!!

Friday setting up

A3000's for repair at the classic clinic

Setting up the magnifying equipment

Free food for all on Friday!

Here are some photos from Thursday and Friday at the Amiwest Show 2016.

Robert Bernardo
Fresno Commodore User Group

Monday 3 October 2016

Amiga User Group of Victoria (Melbourne) meeting - Sept. 18, 2016

Battlestation II game controller
The back of the Battlestation
Close-up of all the ports in the Battlestation
A binder from David Broadbent
Textured cover
Micro 68000 bottom half of casing
The brochure that goes with the computer
Micro 68000 top half
Carrying case for the Micro 68000
Top and bottom halves joined together
With its semi-transparent cover
Developer David Broadbent
Close-up on the LED's
Application ROM's for the Micro 68000

Pico Tutor in a custom wood case
Pico Tutor written about in this magazine
Start reading!
And more reading
Computer board from Atlas-Titan rocket
Back of the board
Edge connector
All chips radiation-hardened
Commodore 64 in a new case
Paul's C64 set-up ready to play music
Game playing on the C64
And on the Plus/4
Set for 4-playing game play
Robert Bernardo and Kevin Tilley

Damien Stewart's Commodore 16
The C16 playing Thrust
Damien Stewart's Amiga 4000
Figuring out the start-up sequence on the A1200
Carrying case for the game controller (see the 1st three photos)
James Plummer

Robert Bernardo, Paul, Damien Stewart
The 3 Muskateers!
Damien's A4000 which runs too hot

The Amiga User Group of Victoria (Melbourne) meeting began at 2 p.m. (I was one hour late) and didn't end until 2 a.m.!  The longest club meeting I had ever attended.  Thank goodness there was a break for dinner, and friends Damien Stewart and James Plummer brought me to a nearby restaurant for take-away lamb and chicken shwarma.

Robert Bernardo
Fresno Commodore User Group