Archive for the ‘Jason’s News’ Category

Accosting cosplayers in Manchester

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

So last Friday saw Spencer and I piling worrying quantities of computer equipment into his surprisingly spacious Mazda and wandering over to Event City in Manchester for the Play Expo. Once there we unloaded and I started making things up planning the layout for the weekend and setting up the Oldschool Gaming computers.

Things didn’t go entirely to “plan” of course, the telly taken along for the VIC 20 decided to start ignoring its own controls and wouldn’t flip over to the composite input (so a CRT portable was blagged from the organisers), the monitor cables on the Amstrad CPC464 are becoming temperamental in their old age so it would occasionally drop green from the picture and the Spectrum’s VGA upscaler had sync problems so the picture would jitter and roll occasionally. Only that last one was an issue that couldn’t eventually be “fudged” on the spot.

The event was, as is always the case with Play, a huge amount of fun and our kit was set up in pretty much the right area, not too far from the “beaten track” but away from the louder areas to the point where Frank Gasking, Mark Ball and I could actually have conversations with people about the games and hardware on show without having to pretty much yell ourselves hoarse!

The machines themselves saw quite a bit of use over the weekend as well, with Commando Arcade on the C64 (which takes Chris Butler’s original 1980s code and yanks it apart to add the missing levels, stop the sprites flickering and generally improve things) seeming to be the most popular on display, even attracting some of the security staff… or at least I think he was?

I’d like to thank the people behind Play (and there are far too many for my still dessicated brain to remember even twenty four hours later so I won’t list names for fear of forgetting someone) for putting on such a great event and inviting me along to fill a very small corner of it, all of the people who stopped by for a chat, Mark and Frank for coming along with their own hardware and helping on the stall so I had a chance to wander around and Spencer for giving me a bed for the two nights and driving us around once again.

There’s a photo album to go with this post which is, for some completely unexplainable reason, just a teensy bit “cosplay heavy”.

Play 2014

Pictures taken in the run up and during Play 2014 in Manchester on the 11th and 12th of October.

Pimp my breadbin – part 3

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

There’s been a bit more work on the “pimped” C64 this weekend. The first job that really needed doing was servicing the keyboard, so the shift lock was unsoldered and the circuit board taken off, then the key tops removed so that they and more importantly the contacts on the underside of the plastic could be separated for cleaning:

And finally, all of the plastics were lobbed into a hot bath for half an hour to soak before literally being hung out to dry since we’ve got some surprisingly strong clothes pegs.

Then, after over two hours of methodically reassembling the keyboard whilst watching Strictly along with about a hour this morning to re-solder the shift lock and screw everything back together, it looks like this…

…which is probably how it’ll look in the Oldschool Gaming area at at Play this coming weekend. The badges and power LED still need to be changed out (I’ve broken the latter trying to get it out of the shell so it doesn’t work and couldn’t find any blue LEDs in my parts box anyway) but I’m quite pleased with how it came out after the cleaning and the shiny plastic was down to using WD40 on a cloth, a tip I picked up from a Retro Game Tech video on YouTube.

I did end up wondering something during this process as well, these cases are pretty robust so what happens if you put them in a dishwasher…?

The answer is that it didn’t do a perfect job (if I’d dried it before taking the “after” picture that might have helped) and will need a bit more TLC at some point, but the results were reasonable especially considering how grubby the insides of the case were going in, so that’s one to remember in future.

Pimp my breadbin – part 2

Monday, September 29th, 2014

It’s less than a fortnight until the Play Expo in Manchester so my thoughts have turned to preparing the computers that will be there under the metaphorical Oldschool Gaming banner (and at some point a literal banner will actually be purchased but in the meantime we have the cute little A5 standees). One of those systems will be the “pimped” C64… well okay, it’s still just a stock breadbin motherboard with a Nano SwinSID added so far, but after a bit of surprisingly industrious filing earlier it now resides in a C16 case!

It’s still very much work in progress because the keyboard needs to be completely stripped down and serviced, the case needs to go into the bath to clean it properly, the badge and power LED need changing… you get the idea. But the first steps have been completed with an unexpected degree of success; the cartridge port and RF modulator connector holes have been widened to allow for the differences between C16 and C64 motherboards:

The board seems happy with the new home (despite all the screws being missing apart from those needed for the keyboard) and it’s sat there running Shadow Of The Beast from cartridge right now because the SD2IEC that was being used for testing isn’t compatible any more; there isn’t a hole in the case for the cassette port it needs to draw power from.