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Thread: New board: The VIC-IIČ - PAL/NTSC switch board for Commodore 64

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    Retro YouTuber Starglider's Avatar
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    Default New board: The VIC-IIČ - PAL/NTSC switch board for Commodore 64

    'Ello computer cooks, I'm currently in the late stages of developing a brand new product for the Commodore 64 along with my talented friend Sean Harrington. Working title:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The "VIC two squared"

    After I produced a video about how to convert an NTSC Commodore 64 to PAL, I received a number of messages asking why nobody has made a "switch" that would allow both video chips to be present at once, and to easily switch between them both. And so the VIC-IIČ idea was born.

    Why would you want both NTSC (USA) and PAL (UK/Europe) video chips on a switch?:
    - Most games were written in Europe on PAL machines, so on NTSC machines they run too fast and the music sounds 'odd' to those familiar with the correct speed
    - Many demos came from demo houses in Europe and don't work right or at all on NTSC machines
    - Likewise several NTSC programs and games won't run right on PAL machines
    - Even modern games (like Sam's Journey cartridge version) are PAL-only and go crazy on NTSC machines
    - People who grew up with NTSC machines like the way PAL games sound in NTSC because that's what they're used to, but also want to run newer PAL games/demos correctly
    - And more reasons besides

    Turns out the answer to "why" nobody has done it until now is because it's quite hard!

    The solution boiled down to one product with 2 parts:
    - A red main backpack board that slots onto the VIC-II socket, pre-populated with both PAL/NTSC crystals, and breakout wires to connect to: A) the crystal pads, B) the PAL/NTSC jumper pads [both these factory items need to be desoldered first]
    - A yellow daughterboard carrying sockets for both VICs, that can be located in various places depending on your case or machine style, and should (in theory) also support C64C, SX-64, etc. Motherboards 250425, 250466 & more should work.

    The daughterboard contains the PAL/NTSC switch, that can be located in a case hole (it's not recommended to damage original cases in this way), or the board can be placed outside the case using the very flat flat cable through the user port.

    Early drawing by Sean:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Concept testing:
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    Board 3D printed mock-ups to test sizing:
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    Prototype PCBs in hand:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Video of the daughterboard testing the best trace paths:
    https://photos.google.com/share/AF1Q...FKOWJ6VTg3aDJn

    We just ordered the first prototypes from PCBWay.com China, who are working with us and being extremely helpful in getting this project off the ground.

    Despite the drawing the first version will support 6567/6569 & C64 85** VIC chips. C128 support may come later (that VIC has more pins).

    I'll be making a video about the development process at my channel.

    More details from Sean: http://www.amibay.com/showthread.php?p=913835

    At this stage we're gauging interest so we know what quantities we might be looking at.

    If you're interested, please reply below stating how many units you are interested in, and whether you'd prefer the kit or the ready made board (excluding VICs.)

    Whilst your reply doesn't constitute a "pre-order", you will be placed first-come first-served on the list and contacted when orders officially open.

    We're making these boards available at cost price (not for profit) to support our wonderful retro community.

    **** Live update - Current interest ****
    Kit: 30 units
    Ready made/unspecified: 17 units
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Screenshot_20180906-134141_Docs.jpg   20180905_000913.jpg   IMG_1762 copy.jpg  
    Last edited by Starglider; Today at 21:05. Reason: Number of units interested in
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    MC1173's Avatar
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    Please put me down for possibly (1) item.

    Obviously pending more info and price.

    Is there any way to order it in the opposite boot? Because of my location, I would prefer it to default boot in NTSC, and hold button during boot cycle for PAL when desired.

    Also, is there a way to connect the button to the C= key. It would be similar to booting into C64 Mode on a C128. That would be cool.

    I look forward to the updates.
    Last edited by MC1173; 11th September 2018 at 06:50. Reason: Poor spelling
    A500 (GVP - A500-HD+)
    Kickstarter C64c (Red, White, Blue, Clear)
    Vic-20 | C64 | C64c | C64G | SX-64 | C128 | C128D (CR)

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    Retro YouTuber Starglider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MC1173 View Post
    Please put me down for possibly (1) item.

    Obviously pending more info and price.

    Is there any way to order it in the opposite boot? Because of my location, I would prefer it to default boot in NTSC, and hold button during boot cycle for PAL when desired.

    Also, is there a way to connect the button to the C= key. It would be similar to booting into C64 Mode on a C128. That would be cool.

    I look forward to the updates.
    Thanks. Out of interest, what is the max you'd pay towards the cost price, considering the complexity of the two boards?

    We might be able to make the default location (PAL/NTSC) selectable via a jumper.

    We'll look into using the [C=] key instead of a button on the board.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by Starglider; 11th September 2018 at 07:58.
    Starglider aka Perifractic

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    Jameson's Avatar
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    How much for the banana?

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    Amibayer! demolition's Avatar
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    Bananas come in many sizes, so perhaps you could put an apple next to the banana.
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    Retro YouTuber Starglider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MC1173 View Post
    Is there any way to order it in the opposite boot? Because of my location, I would prefer it to default boot in NTSC, and hold button during boot cycle for PAL when desired.
    The button will now be a switch so you can leave it in whichever variant you desire; NTSC or PAL. Switching it when the power is on will have no effect.
    Last edited by Starglider; 11th September 2018 at 18:34.
    Starglider aka Perifractic

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    I'm interested in one as a kit if that's going to be an option, or even a bare PCB with a BOM. Part of the reason I enjoy this hobby is getting to make things myself.

    Will you open source the design?
    Last edited by oggie; 11th September 2018 at 17:52.

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    Retro YouTuber Starglider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oggie View Post
    I'm interested in one as a kit if that's going to be an option, or even a bare PCB with a BOM. Part of the reason I enjoy this hobby is getting to make things myself.

    Will you open source the design?
    We'll likely be making two versions, a kit and a ready to go (excluding VICs).

    We hadn't thought about open source until you asked but will discuss and evaluate. We want what's best for the community. Likely it will be published on GitHub from v1.0. Currently we're at v0.1.
    Last edited by Starglider; 11th September 2018 at 18:33.
    Starglider aka Perifractic

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    Amibayer! demolition's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starglider View Post
    What would you pay for a kit? We need to make sure we can cover the costs of the boards. They'll be provided at cost price. What feels right?
    Price discussions are not allowed here, so you should probably take that discussion in a different forum to figure out what your price point should be. My suggestion is that you approximate your costs of building an amount that you should be able to sell (maybe start with 25 pcs or so) so you don't set the price too low and then check whether that will scare off people or not. It is not uncommon for larger projects to charge the price up front and then ship them out later when they are ready. After the first batch, you are in a much better position to estimate the costs and workload so you can decide if you want to build a 2nd batch.
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    : Ethernet | A600 #2 : 010 : 2MB chip
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    I'm interested in the ready-to-go board, and I have a quick question: when you switch from NTSC to PAL, does the CPU speed go from 1.023MHz to 0.985MHz? Fortunately, I have a PVM that supports NTSC and PAL (60Hz - NTSC, 50Hz - PAL).

    Edit (09/20/2018): Withdrawing my interest for now since my car needs repairs. Darn potholes. Good luck with the project, man.
    Last edited by retro-pc_user; 20th September 2018 at 22:58. Reason: Interest withdrawn due to car problems

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