| 2003 C64 Melbourne Expo
Held on Sunday, 28th December 2003. Organised
and part-sponsored by 64HDD. Notes and pics by Nicholas Coplin.
In the spirit of other great retro gatherings, an
Australian Commodore C64 Expo was organised for the holiday season.
Melbourne was selected as the location since I was visiting family
there. I also expected the userbase to be greatest there based on
the number of 64HDD registrations. The event attracted over twenty
C64 enthusiasts, plus myself, helpers and an assortment of spouses
|Duncan's demo: - Duncan, the youngest
C64 fan there, started the demo's with a review / demo of the
Retro-Replay cartridge and the ethernet adaptor. He's lucky
enough to have a Ethernet LAN at home which allows connection
of the C64 to the net using the Contiki OS. Duncan felt the
Contiki system still had a little way yet before it offered
a "seemless" integration of the various functions (surf, download,
etc) but it was impressive to know that each could be manually
|Mike's demo: - Mike brought along his heavily modified SX64. This unit
had been Mike's main machine since the late 1980's and had over
the time been fitted out with a number of customisations. The
key chips such as PLA, SID, VIC had been heat sinked to provide
improved thermal protection. Switches allowed for rerouting
of an external video signal to the internal monitor or for the
internal monitor to be switched off when an external monitor
was used. The SX64 also featured ROM and JiffyDOS switches,
etc. Mike also brought along his "pride and joy" CMD hardware
- a RAMLink and HD. Mike went through the various advantages
and disadvantages of the various mass storage alternatives including
the CMDs, IDE64 and 64HDD (Mike has them all, so certainly knows
|64HDD demo: - I did a demo of 64HDD covering both the basic and advanced
setups. For some attendees this was their first intro into the
world of cross-platform transfers. For experienced users, I
also did a demo of the Pwr-Load system for 64HDD to show the
speed-up possible and did also an overview the upgrade ROMs
|Stacey's Demo: - Stacey who came up all the way from Geelong had a C16
to show off (unfortunately not working) as well as his C64 connected
to a PC running the freeware version of 64HDD. Stacey showed
the ease with which he could load up from D64s and demo'ed a
few Jeff Minter classics. A bit of discussion followed about
the game scene in general.
|Ian's demo: - Ian (or some of you may better know him as THE VORTEX
or QUACKER) brought along a couple of things to demonstrate.
Firstly, there was his "tower" a C64 in a tower case with integrated
CMD HD and RAMLink. Though there are pictures of the beastie
on his website (look for "spacetaxi"), nothing beats having
a first hand look inside the case to see all the details. The
main demo was that of an alternative Commodore to PC (and vice
versa) copier called F-COPY. The system relies on software on
both the C64 and the PC, and a specialised cable connecting
the machines. It certainly seems a very fast way to transfer
images and Ian is very pleased with the reliability of the transfers.
More details also on Ian's website. The alternatives are programs
like TRANS64 and StarCommander, which may be more familiar to
those with X cables. The final demo by Ian was of his C64 based
"appliance controller" and a hilarious recount of his antics
of when he first started building this userport controlled box
all those years ago.
|Bruce's SX64: - In contrast to Mike's modified unit, Bruce had brought
along a very mint SX64 specimen. A bit of a pop-quiz on the
SX's history surrounded this little demo.
|George's demo: - George brought along a rather neat collection of magazine
articles, flyers and Commodore brochures. Many of these items
of memorabilia were in mint condition and of great interest.
Made us all wonder why we didn't collect and keep all those
Commodore promotional items....
|Edward and group demo: - Edward demonstrated his most recent acquistion - a *working*
Plus/4. Seeing a working specimen of this machine was certainly
a treat for many viewers. Following this Edward, Grant, Jaymz
and Bill demonstrated some of the stuff they have been working
on with regard to sound techniques on the C64. The guys had
a MIDI cart, some software in development and ultimately hope
to release an alternative modern day synthesizer application.
The guys recounted stories of where and how they jam with their
Commodore, and are also big '80 Casio keyboard fans/collectors.
Most of the lads are local to Melbourne, whilst Ed still lives
|Megacart demo: - I followed up with a brief demonstration of the "megacart"
- a 64-in-1 cartridge for the C64, something which is a bit
of a "world first for the C64". I demonstrated requested
classics such as "Wizards of Wor" and Gyruss. So far
have built four of these, and hope to finalise a new design
(easier to build) early in 2004.
Wrap-up, Prizes, George's market
and Free table:
Door prizes were frequently drawn with items such as software,
books and PwrROMs given away. Unfortunately with so many great demos,
there was no time available for the programming competition or for
viewing highlights of the 2003 SWRAP Expo video. After the formal
demo's were finished, George got out the Commodore gear that he had
for sale. Money and parts were changing hands fiercly with George
under clear instructions that he wasn't going to be taking anything
home! Consequently, there were some great last minute bargains to
be had. The free table was also a success with everything quickly
gone, including an orphan 8088 Ericsson PC "laptop". A late arrival
was a tortured Apple IIe which showed some significant scaring after
its encounter with the pavement (second storey "freefall" test I'm
told.....) but even this was not a complete loss as it was quickly salvaged
for its 65xx components. A few gathered around to see the diagnostic
testing conducted on a "dead" C64 - the Expo unfortunately did have
its casualty with Edward's C64 suffering a RAM failure (at least it
wasn't a PLA....).
Based on the success of this year's event the attendees were keen
to repeat the showing in the future. With myself being based in
Perth though, it would be easier for someone based locally to support
it. If Commodore users in Perth are interested in doing something similar , just
get in touch! Special thanks go to those who helped promote
the Melbourne event, those that worked behind the scenes on the
day, and to those who kicked in a few bucks towards covering the
costs of the venue, etc.