Portable Commodore 64 Lives! | Hackaday


When you think of a luggable computer, you might think of the old Compaq or — if you are old enough — a Kaypro. But you don’t see as many Commodore SX-64 computers. [The 8-Bit Guy] has wanted one for a while and finally got one, but it wasn’t working. No problem! Just fix it!

The device actually looks sleek compared to some other portables of the era and had a color screen, but — probably due to the price — they didn’t sell very well. The outside of the device looked pretty clean other than some loose screws and clips. The space key was quite yellow but at least there was a keyboard cable which is nearly impossible to find anymore.

Turning it on just showed a white raster on the screen. The teardown is interesting. There’s quite a bit packed inside the little case. Of course, that means you have to pull the five boards out to get to them.

Removing the case caused the display to change a little. He pulled the CPU board out and started swapping chips with a working Commodore 64 until he found two chips that would prevent the known good machine from working. Replacing them did the trick for the CPU, but the keyboard was still not fully functional.

That led to a teardown of the keyboard, too. Some 3D-printed latches fixed the physically broken parts. The keyboard itself is unusual with a bunch of integrated keys and keycaps and a flexible membrane that apparently is a common failure point. However, you can get replacements, but the work looks like it takes a bit of patience.

Overall, the machine looks about as good as new. However, as [The 8 Bit Guy] points out, the color monitor was never very good and he explains exactly why that is.

We’d love to score one of these machines, even though the poor screen makes them less useful than a proper C64. We’ve seen someone add a second drive to these machines. If you want more detail about restoring the SX-64 keyboard, we’ve looked at that before, too.

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