A workspace in flux

Well, that’s wonderful. Now I’ve missed two posting deadlines in 2018… but at least the year is right first time in this post and I have something of an excuse too, the house has been turned upside down over the last month and a half so the heating could be upgraded. I’ve only just got myself a desktop – and more importantly, a desk – up and running in the last couple of days so my thrown together “work environment” currently looks like this:

With nowhere to actually sit down and work – and more pressing matters like making space for various engineers to work – it’s been quiet on that front to the point where the “planned” post that was going to appear yesterday has been postponed. It’ll probably turn up next Friday when there’s more time available.

One thing that turned up whilst moving storage boxes around was the little A4 whiteboard used to plan for Retro Gamer each month before that job was shifted over to a text file. The board itself wasn’t interesting until I turned it over to find the slightly smudged but still legible to do list for RG Rampage. And yes, my handwriting really is that horrific and pretty much always has been which is one of the reasons why I taught myself to type at the tender age of eleven.

Pimp my breadbin – part 3

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

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.