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N1NKM's
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Commodore home
page
Yep, that's me, HAMMING it up! ;)

My Commodore adventures! :)

The HOLODECK BBS I once ran on my C=64 is here!
I've put the old BBS online for all to see!
(It is all READ-ONLY, obviously.)
You can SEE IT HERE!!

This page is a WORK IN PROGRESS. (It is an offshoot of my HAM RADIO page.)
I hope to add more to it as time goes by.

I still enjoy the ol' Commie as a hobby. I don't always have time to tinker with it
but you can always check back now and then to see what's new. :)
Created: 08/08/2004
Updated: 04/26/2005
Updated: 10/20/2007
Updated: 11/11/2007
Updated: 05/24/2008
Small tweaks: 01/03/2010
More small tweaks: 08/10/2014


A C= 64 in a JOYSTICK!

Imagine being able to run a nearly pocket-sized Commie 64 for HOURS on 4 AA batteries? It's TRUE!
They actually re-created a true Commie 64 inside a JOYSTICK!! Check it out HERE! :)

My Commie system desk

As it was in 2004
My C64 setup in 2004


My trusty C64, alive after all these years! After I took my BBS down in about 1994, the system sat in storage until 2004! I used it for a month or so, then it sat dormant until 2007! (see below)

In this pic, you can see my 1571, CMD HD-40, the C64, an "EPROMMER64" Cart plugged in, (barely visible in front of the CMD drive) my C*Base dongle, and the monitor with a 1581 drive on top of it. Not visible: My 1200 baud modem, MPS1000 printer and several other C64's and a 128-D, all of which are in good condition. I have a C128 that doesn't "see" anything on the serial port. I suspect it's the 7406(?) chip, but (STILL) haven't had time to check it out.

After all these years, some of the old floppies were disintegrating! I didn't realize what was happening until too late for one of them... but was able to salvage the files on the others! That's where the XE1541 cable & it's software came in handy! It allowed me to copy those disks directly to D64 images on the PC quickly enough that the disks didn't disintegrate before the files were transferred. Thankfully, I had the wisdom to make more than one copy of important files, so nothing was really lost. :) WHEW!

A note about the EPROMMER cartridge... I bought it back around 1993, but it did not come with software... so it sat, useless, all these years. Through the wonder of GOOGLE, I found the software, created a disk from the D64 image, and and it works! :) Now the funny part... what can I do with it? Not too many uses for 2732 EPROMS these days! I guess I could just make nifty stuff for the C64! :) That is even still a distinct possibility... if time would ever permit me, anyway! :o

Here is a pic of the re-designed C= desk! (10/20/2007)
C64 desk
(Click pic for large version)

On the lower left is the P166 PC that is connected to the C= serial port. In this pic, it is running the DOS-based 64HDD software. You can click the link to visit their WEBsite, which IS STILL UP as of 9/19/2014! :)

SIDE THOUGHT:
This is a GREAT Thing to do with an old PC!! Build an XE1541 cable (not difficult) or get one from one of several sites that sell them, then connect it from the printer port of the PC to the serial port on your C= system. If you have ever wanted (but couldn't afford) a genuine Commodore-compatible HD, this truly is the next best thing! ANY old PC from a 486/33 on up will run this software! Yes, you could even grab a PC at "curbside special" and resurrect it for this! :) Got an old 1Gig drive? Slap it in, load any version of DOS (from 6.0 onward) or a free dos, and away you go! You can store a WHOLE LOT of C= software in a GIG! Since you won't NEED Windows on the machine, you'll have lots of room! If you have a larger HD, you can use Winows 98 or Ubuntu LINUX to get the machine online, and either download files directly into your C= directory, or transfer files to/from another machine on your LAN (this is what I am doing, here.) Thus, you can run a C= emulator in the PC, but then ALSO run the same programs on a genuine Commie!

On top of that PC is my 1581 drive. Above that, on a home-made extension shelf are the monitor & keyboard for the Commie-link PC. (Adding that shelf made this whole expanded system possible!)

Next to the monitor are a 1571 with my CMD HD-40 drive on top. Next is the ol' C= 64. Below it is a new 1541 drive, but it's not connected. To the right of the C64 is the C= monitor. (I also still have the printer & other accessories mentioned above.)

On the bottom right is the home-made power supply for the C64 and the supply for the CMD drive.

The open binder is the C*Base 3.0 manual. All of my old BBS is still stored in the HD. I wanted to bring it up so that I could look through it and reminisce a little! :) I also transferred some of it to the WWW, so that an old friend who MET HIS WIFE on my BBS could look through it and share some memories with her. :)

You can SEE IT HERE!! (Only SOME is posted. Don't know if I'll finish it.)

I also have some "Modem Movies" stored there, and want to see them again. I would like to create a whole new section on this WEBsite, to make the Commie files I had on the BBS available to YOU to DOWNLOAD... but you know how LIFE is... no time for FUN things like that. I suspect that my CMD HD-40 is dying, so I HOPE to extract those files to the PC before it's too late! :o Don't know when that will be, though. :(

NOTE ABOUT MODEM MOVIES! A while ago, I was e-mailed a link to a PC-based ASCII MOVIE! :) This isn't as fancy as the Commie with nice graphics and color, but it is an AMAZING accomplishment! Check it out! You'll be glad you did! :) (It takes quite a while to play out!!)

telnet (not ssh) to towel.blinkenlights.nl

You can use the Run box in Windows by typing:

telnet towel.blinkenlights.nl

Someone had a lot of time on their hands!! ;) (Checked on 9/19/2014, IT'S STILL THERE!)


Misc C= software & files:

Here is a DISK IMAGE of the EPROMMER64 file: EPROM64.D64

Here is a DISK IMAGE of the BLITZ! Utility: BLITZ.D64

Here is a DISK IMAGE of the QuantumLink software: Q-LINK.D64
(QuantumLink was a C= 64 / 128 Online service that preceeded AOL. C= enthusiasts have set up a server to simulate it, but who knows if it's still active, now.)

ENJOY! :)

Closeup screenshot of my enhanced BASIC
Screenshot of C64

This is a closeup screenshot from the C64 system, above. It is showing my customized BASIC extension in operation. This is the boot screen, with an extra command typed in to make the colroful border. Instead of "READY", it uses "HELLO". :)

My "Custom 64" software patch makes use of modified ROM images, and several utilities which load into RAM above $8000. One of them is the wonderful MICROMON utility, loaded at $9000. My expanded BASIC resides at $8000, but doesn't use the whole 4K. It consists of 5 unique keywords, one of which is a universal tool to access up to 79 different ML routines. The command is CUST followed by a number, and any optional parameters. On screen, is CUST11, which makes that rainbow border. The command was made simply to "spruce-up" menu screens in BASIC. It puts up the colorful border, than waits for a keypress, which is returned in the CPU's accumulator.

I had hoped to make a disk image of my Custom64 system and post it here. I thought that maybe some others may enjoy it, but haven't heard anything from anyone since 2007! If I ever get a satisfactory DISK IMAGE going, I would also include an ASCII TEXT documentation file with it. Again, who knows if I ever will... :( Nobody has shown ANY interest, so it's a zero priority, now.

Putting a C= 128d to WORK!

C128 in WFIF studio!
Screenshot of C64

This is the old WFIF on-air studio. (Picture taken in June of 1995) The C128d and its monitor are the very bright things in the center of this pic. The C128d is a very nice machine! The metal case resembles the Amiga, with a 1571 floppy drive built-in. Sadly, THIS machine's keyboard was in less-than-perfect condition. I got it working, but there is a keytop missing. OH WELL.

This machine was connected to a control box that turned AC power on/off for two cassette decks. The C128 ran a custom BASIC program that I wrote which relied upon the built-in TOD clock of the CIA chip for accurate timekeeping. This machine was used to power-up those cassette decks at preset times, to record programs off the satellite overnight and during the day. (Before the computer, we had to do it manually... while also being on the air! This is why we'd sometimes miss the recordings, or start them a few seconds late.)

It was quite primitive... all it did was START the decks as programmed. It was up to the staff to change the tapes, set the satellite channels, etc. Even still, once this was implemented, we were no longer missing any more program recordings! (If we missed one, we usually had a backup, but it became VERY hectic trying to record both your regular stuff AND the backups!) COMMIE to the rescue! :) The last person of the day would set the satellite boxes (2 of them) to the correct channels, put a cassette into each of the two decks, press a key on the computer, shut off the monitor, and go home. When I came in the next day (I was the Morning Announcer) I would take out those two tapes, pop in the next two, set the sat boxes, power up the monitor, and press a button. :) This enabled me to concentrate on being on the air, and let the computer start the recordings (there were about 8 a day) every half hour.

This system was in use for a few years before we got a nice, Windows 95-based, automation system. Naturally, it was leaps-and-bounds better technology. For one thing, it recorded directly to HD... no more tapes! But, now I'm going off-topic. ;)

My memories of C= BBS'ing...

One of the "coolest" things I remember about the C= BBS scene, was the very colorful text & keyboard graphics that many users incorporated into their BBSes and their online "signatures". My favorite things were the "Modem Movies"... these were, essentially, text files which "streamed" at the blazing speed (hehe!) of 1200 baud, and provided crude animation as the cursor moved back & forth, up & down, drawing new "scenes" one after another. Some of them were full-blown lo-res cartunes!

The creativity of the people who made these should never be forgotten! :) Sure, nowadays we have "YouTube" with true video files... but there was something special about actually having an enjoyable, watchable form of graphical animation/entertainment streaming at only 1200 baud! :) I vaguely remember one Modem Movie that was nearly 5 minutes long, and very well-written! I think it was about 20K bytes, if memory serves. I even wrote a BASIC program to watch those movies... but don't know which floppy disk it was on. I'd like to make a compilation disk of those movies & that program, and then create a D64 image. Now that I have this Commie-to-PC system redesigned and set up permanently, I would LIKE to do this, but NOBODY has shown me ONE STITCH of interest in that! So, I've only ported the message bases.
You can see those here.

I have not even powered-up the Commie 64 system since 2007. It is now 2010. That is a sad thing. :(

My lament of C= BBS'ing...

The two C64 BBSes that I used to run were first called "The Fellowship Hall" and then that was changed to "The HOLODECK". They both ran on the C*BASE BBS software. The Fellowship Hall was more-or-less forced "off-the-air" by some very determined snot-nosed punks with nothing better to do than wardial me. Wardialing was a primitive form of the now infamous DoS (Denial of Service) attacks. Since there was only ONE phone line, it was actually not too difficult to "clog the pipe" with just one wardialer.

From what I gather, these punks didn't like the overtly Christian theme of the Fellowship Hall BBS, so they took it upon themselves to make my life miserable! They repeatedly attempted to hack it and tied-up the phone line for hours on end. Caller ID was not invented, yet, so I asked the PhoneCo to put a tracer on my line. Supposedly, the kid's father worked for the phone company, so the punk found out and stopped his attack at midnight the day the tracer was to be activated. Nice kid. >:[

After my board was "resurrected" as "The Holodeck" with a Star Trek theme, things seemed to go a bit more smoothly for me. During the "downtime", I extensively modified the C*Base software, adding several security features. That helped SIGNIFICANTLY to stem the tide of abuse.

For about a month, the board ran in "stealth" mode while I was developing/debugging the system. By "stealth" I mean that when you connected, all you got was a connection. No prompt. You had to type a special password (which I had personally given to a handful of my best users) and hit enter. There was no prompt, no keystroke echo... you typed "blind", and had 2 attempts. If you failed, it simply dropped carrier and ignored the phone line for 5 minutes. A successful password gave you the BBS login screen, where everything else was "normal" after that. The hackers finally gave up, and the Holodeck was born. It ran that way for about a year.

Little by little, users stopped calling... not just my board, but ALL Commie BBSes! <:'( They were becoming "traitors" as I called them... leaving the beloved C=64 behind, and moving over to the PC. When my board first went up in 1991, and for several months into 1992, it was constantly in use! No sooner one user would log out, another was logging in! (I even had to rewite the BBS logoff/reset/wait-for-call routines to speed them up!)

Eventually, that slowed down until it got to the point where there was ONE user, who called once a day, to see if there was anything new. He'd log in, see that he was the last user online, and log back out. That went on for about a month. That's when I KNEW it was time to pull the plug. <:'( I had the 2'nd phone line taken out, and that was it. It was a sad day. <:( sniff!

I still used my trusty Commie 64 with the SPEEDSCRIPT word processor, for writing and printing letters. Matter of fact, I DID MY RESUME' ON IT!! LOL! That was the last time I needed it! (I was "downsized" in 2007, so guess what?! I retrieved it from the Commie and ported it to the PC where I edited and printed it.)

After about a year, I, too, ended up becomeing a "traitor"... I got my first PC, a 486/25. That was when the poor Commie went into storage. It took 10 years, but I finally dug it back out, dusted it off, and made this WEBsite to document my efforts... if anyone cares anymore. :(

A few thoughts on what's left of the Commie Scene

It is good to see a number of WEBsites with people still interested in the Ol' Commie 64 and it's cousins! :) I am thinking that it's going to become a little bit like model trains... a hobby that is not HUGE, but has a very dedicated following. :) Unlike stamp or coin collecting, model trains and Commie systems are things you can PLAY WITH! :) That's part of the fun of enjoying them as hobbies! I have spent MANY AN HOUR in the soft glow of my TV connected to the C64 (and VIC20 before that) working on software, tinkering/hacking (in the GOOD sense of that word) with the software AND HARDWARE of the machines. Then I discovered C= BBS'ing in the late 80's, right at its peak.

SIDE NOTE:
http://web.archive.org/web/20090227000858/http://cmdrkey.com/ There WAS a WEB-based BBS there that WAS dedicated to discussions and HELP for Commie users! It wasn't exactly a Commie BBS... but it was a BBS about Commie software and hardware! :) There WERE some knowledgeable and helpful people there!
Since some time in 2009, the site went DOWN.

This link will take you to the WAYBACK machine archive of the site. Most of the links on the archived site don't work!

Here is a discussion on Hack-A-Day that not only has some great info and links, there are folks who actually worked for Commodore involved in the discussions! People like Bil Herd! Hackaday.com

Now, it's all just a small but apparently SHRINKING, devout group of people who support and particiapte in C= hobby computing. One thing that does surprise me, is the RISE in prices on the hardware!! Usually, you can snag a WORKING C= machine at a yard sale for only a few bucks... but some online retailers are getting well-over $100 for refurbished units! WOW! It almost makes me want to go tag-sailing, and scarf as many Commies as I can, and offer 'em online for "just $49+shipping!" Hehe!! ;)

I can be reached via e-mail: N1NKM2@AOL dot COM

Take me HOME...


Legal Notes:
The C= logo and name "Commodore" are trademarks of (SOMEONE!!!)
and are only used here for reference purposes.

OK, I cry ***UNCLE***!!!! I have changed the copyright notice on the bottom of this page AT LEAST FIVE TIMES, now! Will SOMEONE just BUY the Commodore name, and HOLD ONTO IT for a while?? The last 5 links I had have become broken! Sigh... Well, to WHOMEVER owns the Commodore logo and name, all rights belong to that party, and no infringement is intended... whomever you are!! ;)