These are the informal
reports on meetings of the Fresno Commodore User Group. Not really
minutes, and not exactly news, we started this just to have a record
of decisions made, attendance, etc. Notes are co-written by
President Robert Bernardo and Treasurer Dick Estel, unless an
individual byline appears.
The latest report will
always be at the top, after that they appear in order with the oldest
years at the top. Don't know what year or month
you want? Start with the newest and read a few recent reports; then
go back to the oldest and see what was different. Some months are
missing and will be added if and when they become available.
Robert arrived at the Panera Bread meeting place first, followed by
David and then Roger. Setting up the equipment seemed to take longer
than usual, probably due to an abundance of small talk.
In old business, Robert reminded that the Commodore Los Angeles
Super Show was to happen in two weeks (the June 25-26 weekend). He
still had to edit the CLASS commercial and Roger’s GigaCAD-to-Blender
video presentation; he would do the former on Monday and the latter
on Tuesday. Talk wandered to Robert’s imminent purchase of a new
Epson EcoTank 3850 printer from Costco.com. David assured him that
the Epson would be a very wise purchase, remarking that the ink in
that printer would not be used up for a long, long time.
In a hardware presentation, David showed off his recently-received
A500 Mini, a machine he had ordered many months ago on Amazon.com.
Robert’s trustworthy Dell LCD monitor with its many video inputs
was not working; in fact, the members discovered that its inner
glass panel had shattered. Without a HDMI monitor, David couldn’t
power up the A500 Mini and demonstrate what it could do. However,
Roger and Robert were still very impressed. The Mini was solidly
built. Though called an A500, it was more like an Amiga 1200,
because A1200 applications could work on the machine. It came with
25 built-in games, had 2 USB ports, a USB-C power port, and the
requisite HDMI video port. Its keys and disk slot were there as
decoration, i.e., they were non-functional. It could be used with an
external keyboard and other USB controllers, not just with the USB
joystick and mouse that came with it. It could access a USB stick so
that more disk images and files could be loaded and run.
The A500 Mini was still listed on Amazon.com as being available,
whereas its sister machines, the 64 Mini and the 64 Maxi were
unavailable, and when found on eBay, were being priced at a much
higher price than when they were originally offered.
regards to the Epson printer mentioned above, Robert had printed out
the .PDF manual of the Retro-Printer Module. The print-out was very
thick! Robert still had not assembled the RPM with a Raspberry Pi
4b, and time was running out before it was supposed to be ready by
CLASS time. After reading the manual, Robert discovered that he
should have bought the pre-configured microSD printer driver
configuration card that was offered for sale. He now had to download
an image of the printer driver configuration and get it onto his own
card. However, he didn’t have the means to get that image onto the
card. He hoped that friend Larry Anderson, host of Portcommodore.com/class,
could help him image the card.
Robert also showed the print-out of the manual for the Mimic
System's Spartan. The Spartan was an add-on box which housed an
Apple II+ computer and which you attached to your brown Commodore
64. After participating in a discussion on the Commodore forum of
Atariage.com, Robert was convinced to exhibit his Spartan
(non-working due to power supply problems) at CLASS 2022. It was
last seen at the Vintage Computer Festival West in the mid-2000’s.
The Atariage discussion centered on the eBay sale of a nearly
complete Spartan (computer, original box, manual, foam inserts).
That eBay sale eventually ended at $3,650! And the computer was not
proven to be in working condition!
With the Dell LCD monitor broken, the software presentations had to
go through the club’s CRT monitor. First, Roger ran the CAD-M
program on the club C128 in C64 mode. He loaded up the CLASS logo he
had created. Very nice! In solid fill, the logo had been colored
nicely, and the lettering was well-formed. He tried to rotate the
logo, even though the computer was in 1 megahertz C64 mode. After
the members waited several seconds, the logo would finally move.
Later, they tried the logo on the Ultimate 64 and its 48 MHz.
acceleration. (See below)
Then they tried the new game, Amaurote 128, which had been converted
from the Spectrum computer. Though the opening screen loaded, they
could not get the game to run, neither in 80-column mode nor in
40-column mode. They successfully ran Amaurote 64 which used the
C64’s high-res screen. It was very interesting to control the
four-legged walking machine as it walked on the isometric pathways,
but other than that, the members couldn’t figure out the object of
the game, how to release a bomb, and the symbols at the bottom of
Other C64 apps that were presented: Junior Pacman, Ms. Pacman (both
games attracting the attention of others in the restaurant), the new
Empire Strikes Back, Street Fighter 2 demo, Italian Star Trek, We
Are Stardust, Tasered in the Crotch, and Playpiano. The last seemed
to be a program for playing music live, i.e., there was no way to
save any composition. Both Roger and Robert agreed that the program
would be easier to use with the Incredible Musical Keyboard, a piano
keyboard which laid on top of the C64’s keys.
Finally, Robert transferred the CLASS logo (mentioned above) from
Roger’s floppy disk to the Ultimate 64 SD card. Then he ran CAD-M
on the U64 and loaded up the logo. Even with the U64’s 48 MHz.
speed, the logo rotated very slowly, though nominally better than
the 1 MHz. original speed of a C64. Why so slow? It was a matter of
object complexity. Last year Roger drew the object C= on CAD-M. That
rotated speedily, even in solid fill. However, drawing CLASS was
much more complicated. Roger estimated that he had built the CLASS
object with 100 polygons, far more than the C= object. The U64 was
speedy but not speedy enough to overcome the complexity of drawing
all those polygons and rotating them. Roger said that the only way
to get more speed was to run CAD-M in VICE on a PC/Mac.
We had our biggest
attendance for many months in January, thanks to a new member and
the appearance of one we haven't seen for four years. Brad Strait
not only made a long overdue appearance, but he paid his dues and
said he would probably be able to attend more often. Meanwhile Bruce
Nieman, who attended his first FCUG meeting in December, joined the
Others in attendance were
Greg Dodd, Louis and Vincent Mazzei, Roger Van Pelt, Robert
Bernardo, and Dick Estel.
Dick presented the annual
financial report. The treasury was down slightly from last year, but
we have had very few expenses, so there will be enough for any costs
that are likely to come up during the year.
There was a lengthy
discussion of CommVEx. With the Plaza Hotel unable to guarantee a
room until April, Robert booked the nearby California Hotel. There
were certain limitations, including no Friday set-up and the need to
remove all equipment at the end of the day on Saturday. This did not
go over well with a number of people who have attended in the past,
and a "rebel force," including members of our now former
co-sponsor club in Las Vegas, are apparently planning a competing
event for the same weekend. CommVEx will proceed as planned, and
time will tell how things work out.
Robert discussed several
possibilities for demos at CommVEx, including some that would be on
video if the demonstrator is not able to attend.
Louis and Greg reported
that they are discussing the formation of a new user group, one that
will support all the many orphan computer platforms, such as Radio
Shack, Texas Instruments, Atari and others. The tentative name is
Classic Platforms United (CPU), and details will be revealed as they
Robert showed a section
of a new Brian Bagnall book, "Commodore - the Amiga
Years." The .PDF file was only available to Kickstarter
backers, Robert being one of them.
Also we saw the first 12
minutes of the new film, "Viva Amiga, the Story of a Beautiful
Machine" which had Amiga engineers and historians talk about
the history and current state of the Amiga computer. It is available
on Hulu and on iTunes, disc formats coming later this year.
Members watched as Bruce
booted up his Amiga 2000 for a quick look. This demo was very short
since he had to leave early, but we were able to discover that it
had a 68040 processor and a graphics card. Bruce said he will be it
back for the next meeting.
Roger displayed a
collection of updated Commodore games on a flash drive. They have
been configured to be as much like the arcade versions as possible.
We saw Frogger, Donkey Kong and Jr. PacMan, while Greg demonstrated
his proficiency, rarely getting "killed."
Driving from Stockton, president Robert arrived to the meeting 20 minutes early. He started setting up the equipment. V.P. Roger arrived later, and both of them set up their various computer hardware bits. Roger helped Robert set up the two Dell 2001FP monitors Robert had recently bought from the East Bay Area. The Dell’s had VGA, DVI, s-video, composite inputs, and a stereo headphone jack/stereo speakers. The Dell’s were not your ordinary
flat screen LCD monitors, because they could scan down to 15 KHz and thus were usable with classic Amigas with the appropriate RGB-to-VGA adapter. Also under s-video and composite modes, they were NTSC and PAL-compatible.
Eventually, members Brad, Louis, Vincent, and Greg came in, and everybody started ordering their food. While everybody waited for their food, Robert informed the group that Maker Faire was coming to San Mateo in May, and once again, an application was put in to have a classic computers’ exhibit. He also said he would be traveling to the Pacific Northwest in April so that he could check up with the Living Computer Museum, the venue for the June Pacific Commodore Expo NW. As for July Commodore Vegas Expo, he reconfirmed with Louis about the presentation on modding the Plus/4.
Just as the guys finished lunch and started seeing part 2 of the video, “Viva Amiga: the Story of a Beautiful Machine,” member Bruce dropped in, and Roger and he went out to bring in Bruce’s Amiga 2000 system.
As they were setting up, Robert showed the new Ray Carlsen power supply for the VIC-20 (early model) and the Canadian 3D-printed, VIC-20 cartridge case for the Final Expansion 3, Rev. 11.
Back to the A2000, Louis and Robert verified that it was running OS 2.0. Then Louis opened up the machine so that everybody could see what was in it – an A2320 scandoubler board for VGA output, a Progressive Peripheral & Software 68040 28 MHz. board with 16 megs of Fast RAM, a Supra board with 4 megs of RAM, a MegaChip for 2 megs of Chip RAM, and a Trumpcard SCSI board with a 120 meg. hard drive. It was a very capable machine.
However, on closer examination, Louis discovered corrosion “fuzz” on the legs of the old Ni-Cad clock battery. Both Robert and Louis urged Bruce to have the battery replaced as soon as possible so that no more damage could be caused. Louis even offered to replace the battery at the next club meeting, a task that would not be easy to do because the various boards and the internal power supply in the Amiga would have to be removed.
Then Robert and Roger concentrated on Commodore 8-bit business. Without JiffyDOS in the Vincent’s VIC-20, Robert couldn’t figure out the long commands to open the .D64 files on the Compactflash card in Robert’s uIEC-CF. Oh, well, the VIC-20 programs of $B, Maxi-Edit, and Cask Jumper would have to wait for another meeting.
For the final part of the meeting, Robert and Roger tried to make sense of the C64 educational program, “Bear Jam”, for the Chalkboard Powerpad. In past meetings Robert had brought what he thought were all Chalkboard Powerpad programs – Leo’s Links, MicroMaestro, and Leo’s Lectric Paintbrush. However, he recently discovered that Bear Jam was available for download, but he didn’t discover where the
instructions were. Thus, Robert and Roger were poking at the Powerpad, trying to make Bear Jam do something for some purpose. They found some pressure points on the Powerpad which activated some graphics on the screen, but what did they mean? After many minutes of trying to discover the meaning and the manner of the program, they both gave up and promised to make a concerted effort to find the instructions on-line.
For the March meeting, Robert and Roger were joined by Brad and two
of his children, William and Charlotte. The last time we saw William
was back in 2013, and back then
Charlottewas just born. The older sister, Katelyn, was not present at the
meeting, because she was at dance class, according to Brad. Robert
reminded the family of the SX-64 commercial that he had filmed,
starring Katelyn and William. Brad hadn't remembered that it was
posted to YouTube, and Robert showed him where it was. Brad popped
up the video on his cellphone, and the family enjoyed the
commercial. Robert reminded William that he was now famous.
and Roger had their usual two-item combination lunches, while Brad
ordered the easy-to-eat and fun cheese quesadillas for himself and
the kids. As lunch neared the end, Robert started with club old and
new business. He talked about the upcoming shows – the May Maker
Faire, the June Pacific Commodore Expo NW, and the July Commodore
Vegas Expo. Just as he finished his summary of the shows, a visitor
came in – Alex Lewandowski.
tried to view part 3 of the newly-released film, "Viva Amiga:
The Story of a Beautiful Machine, " but Robert couldn't find
the external speakers for the laptop which was to play the movie,
and so, the movie was delayed until the next meeting.
hardware, Robert showed the Final Expansion 3, Rev. 11, for the
VIC-20 – this time with the board and 3D-printed case all
assembled. However, he was without his usual VIC-20, because it was
under repair by Ray Carlsen. In a few days, he was to go to the
state and pick up the VIC from Ray. Robert then showed the new
SwinSID Ultimate. For about $34 from
Austria, the SwinSID U was advertised as a very proficient replacement for
the SID chip. Robert couldn't decide which Commodore computer would
Though he had a few PAL C64's with burned-out SID chips, he was
leaning toward installing it in his B128 which runs its SID chip at
2 MHz. With the chip running that fast, the SID would run hotter
(than its usual hot temperature) and be prone to failure.
borrowed Robert's Kim Uno (KIM-1 replica), and he actually knew how
to use it, except for discovering how to use its built-in Chessmate.
February meeting, Robert and Roger flailed around with the Bear
Essentials and the Chalkboard Powerpad for the C64; they had no
instructions nor the Powerpad overlay for the Bear Essentials, and
so, they were just poking at the Powerpad without knowing what they
were doing. This month Robert brought back the Bear Essentials and
Powerpad, but this time he had the instructions and a color printout
of what the overlay was supposed to show. Roger had more success in
finding the particular pressure points on the Powerpad and had the
Bear Essentials respond a bit more. However, without the
exact-fitting overlay, Roger was still estimating where the points
were and was not able to find all of them. All in all, getting to
use the program was partially successful. Robert had the idea that
the color printout of the overlay would have to be enlarged and
proportioned to the size of the overlay and be printed on something
had brought in the A2000 which will be at the May Maker Faire and at
the July CommVEx. Refurbished by Duncan MacDougall, this one was
loaded with a Blizzard 2060 50 MHz. board, 128 megs of Fast RAM, 2
megs of Chip RAM due to MegaChip, SCSI controller board with 8 megs
of RAM, NewTek Video Toaster, Digital Processing Systems Personal
TBC, A2065 Ethernet card, Digital Processing Systems Personal
Animation Recorder (PAR), OS 3.1, SCSI CD-ROM drive, 4 gig SCSI main
hard drive, 500 meg SCSI hard drive for the PAR. Robert brought up a
few windows to show what was in the computer, but mainly he had
brought it to show how
redid the cabling and cards inside the computer. With Alex's help,
he then tried to install more memory onto the Blizzard, but the eBay
SIMMs he had bought were too thick and wouldn't fit the SIMM slots.
He would have to buy thin-line SIMMs. At the end of the meeting,
when all other members had departed, he and Alex carried on with a
far-ranging discussion about classic Amiga and Amiga NG issues.
We started small but finished big as far as attendance was
concerned. Robert, Roger and Dick were present for the opening of
the meeting. Robert noted that a free condo room is available in
for the CommVEx weekend, to be used by a club member or a special
Robert also reported on his trip to the
, where he visited repair guru Ray Carlsen, and checked out our
location for the Pacific
Commodore Expo Northwest, scheduled for June 10 and 11 at the
There was preliminary discussion of the future of CommVEx.
This year's show will go on as planned, on July 29 and 30 at the
Plaza Hotel in
Las Vegas. With the increased room cost and the movement of a number of
regular attendees to another show, it's not certain that we can
continue with the show in
Las Vegas. A small room is now about $1,900 for two days, and the large rooms
that we have become used to the last two years are over $3,700. A
final decision will not be made until we see how things go at this
As he has done for several years, Robert will be attending Maker
Faire on May 19-21. He will be displaying a collection of
vintage Commodore machines. Due to the conflict with our meeting
date, the May FCUG meeting will be May 7.
We started watching the next segment of the film "Viva Amiga:
The Story of a Beautiful Machine." During this time we had an
infusion of guests, in the form of Roger's parents, Mary and David
Van Pelt, and his brother Aaron. During the early years, David made
use of computers in his work, and he was interested to see the new
hardware that has been developed for Commodore.
For the second time, Robert brought the new Final Expansion 3, Rev.
11, the cartridge for the VIC-20, with custom-made 3D-printed case.With the help of its manual, he and Roger figured out its RAM
options and DOS wedge.Then
they tried to run a new program, the "CGA emulator" which
needs 35K RAM, the maximum attainable on the Final Expansion.They did see a high-resolution, 320x200 screen, but the
graphic was corrupted, probably due to the fact that the picture was
for PAL video and not for NTSC.Then they tried to run Doom for the VIC, a program which also
needed 35K RAM. The
opening title screen ran, but then when the next part of the program
was called, it crashed, probably due to the fact that the SD card in
the FE was not a real disk drive and the program expected to load
from a real disk.Robert
and Roger decided that next time a real disk with Doom would have to
Five programs from OS4Depot.com were installed in the AmigaOne G4,
but the two games - Tux Football and Fighter - would not run.The successful programs that did run were the demos,
Ballfield and Etch-a-Sketch, and the emulator, ViCE (Virtual
In C64 software, the newly-made Bruce Lee II was tested.In this part-platformer, part-fighting game, movement was
smooth and the music was nice, but both Robert and Roger couldn't
figure out how to escape out one of the beginning levels.Then they turned their attention to which two-player game
would be used in this year's CommVEx game competition -- Way of the
Exploding Fist or World Karate Championship. After looking at both
of them, Robert and Roger decided that neither of the games had the
smoothness or the responsiveness required of a karate game.The search would have to continue.
May meeting took place on a day with fluctuating weather. It had
been 99 degrees the Thursday before our May 7 gathering, 69 two days
later. Sunday started out with a cold rainstorm and ended with
temperatures heading back up.
However, everything was just right inside Bobby Salazar's Cantina,
with a small but lively group. In attendance were Robert Bernardo,
Dick Estel, Brad Strait, and the latter's two youngest kids,
William, 7, and Charlotte, 4. Bruce Nieman came in later for a
At first it seemed to be stormy inside, when several pieces of
equipment failed to work. Equipment Manager Roger was ill, so Robert
had gone to his storage facility and pulled out a 1084-S monitor,
which he connected to his VIC-20. Although the monitor had been
working recently, on this day it displayed nothing but a narrow
horizontal line, leading to a couple of lame, flat-lining jokes.
No problem, we thought, as Robert set the VIC and the monitor aside
and moved his SX-64 into its place. However, the SX monitor produced
nothing but a plain, light gray glow, so it also was banished to the
corner. Using the BenQ VGA monitor, Robert set up his tower AmigaOne
G4, and finally we had a working computer, just as our food arrived.
Equipment matters were set aside as we enjoyed lunch and started the
official business meeting. Robert will be attending Maker Faire in
later in May, an event that draws around 100,000 people. A fair
number of them always stop and ask about the old computers he
displays, which this year will include a C64 and an A2000.
On June 2nd Robert will be at the William Shatner Weekend in
, where he will ask the one-time VIC 20 spokesman to autograph a
piece of Commodore equipment.
The big event in June is the Pacific Commodore Expo at the
, an event Robert is producing with the help of other Commodore
enthusiasts in the area. We had been told there could be no selling
at the event, but it has been determined that commercial activities
are allowed under certain very stringent circumstances, including
the completion of tax forms for three different jurisdictions and
obtaining a business license. In other words, we will not be
In CommVEx news, Robert reported that he will be putting
advertisements for the show on Craig’s List in several areas.
There will be a time change for our June meeting, scheduled for June
18, Father’s Day. Another group has booked the room we use at
that day, so we will start our meeting at
, and be out of the restaurant by
At the conclusion of business, we watched the final segment of the
movie “Viva Amiga: the Story of a Beautiful Machine,” this part
focusing on music creation, and a few minutes of the follow-up
movie, "Viva Amiga: the Bil Herd Story."
There was not much in the way of hardware and software demos, due to
malfunctions. William sat at the AmigaOne and wrote a short story
about Fire Monsters, and the rest of us discussed all kinds of
things, many of them computer-related.
By Robert Bernardo & Dick Estel
The meeting started earlier than usual --
rather than the usual
-- because another group had booked the restaurant room at 2. We
were to be out of there by
or so. We had three of our long-time regulars - Roger Van Pelt,
Robert Bernardo, and Dick Estel, plus two special guests. Dave Smith
was a member more than 22 years ago, and he joined the club that
day. He is now retired and is thinking of getting a Commodore system
set up. Alex Lewandowski, a
resident originally from
, had attended one of our meetings in the past, and this time he
brought in a special piece of equipment for our enjoyment. His
involvement with Commodore and Amiga began when he was about seven
years old in the 1980s.
During the business meeting, Robert reported on the Maker Faire in
May, where he set up several systems. Hundreds of thousands of
people attended this event and hundreds came through the Vintage
Computer Festivalers exhibit where Robert was. Many had questions
for Robert. The items that drew the most interest were the KoalaPad
and Flexidraw Lightpen. People were surprised that such items had
existed for the Commodore.
In June Robert hosted the Pacific Commodore Expo at the Living
, now known as the Living Computers: Museum + Labs.There were
between 10 and 20 people at the various presentations, plus the
casual drop-ins from regular museum visitors, making the total
between 50 and 60. The event will be back in 2018 on June 9 and 10.
CommVEx is coming up, and everything is ready to go. Paul Armstrong
will have sales tables, and Al Jackson will provide computer systems
as usual. Although it will not affect our plans, the rival event
planned for the same weekend has not yet locked up its venue, and
their funding may be in question.
For the hardware part of the meeting, Alex showed us his Amiga A600
installed in a MacroSystem
Casablanca case. This looked very much like a standard VCR and
was originally an Amiga in a case for video-editing. Alex had
installed a Vampire 600 accelerator and was continuing to work on
the machine. He also brought a Vampire 500 accelerator, this version
to go in an Amiga 500 or 2000.
Alex tried to run several Amiga game .ADF's (Amiga Disk Files), but
they weren't being recognized by the HxC Floppy Emulator he had
installed in the machine. He admitted that he had to tweak the
system some more. Near the end of the meeting, the restaurant
waitress said that the afternoon group had cancelled their
reservation, so we did not have to rush out at
. Even with the more leisurely departure, we were packing up by
so that Robert could get to Father's Day festivities in
the July meeting, members Robert, Roger, Brad, and David were
present. They talked about the upcoming July 29-30 Commodore Vegas
Expo v13.Brad was not
prepared to film any presentation for the expo, but Roger was ready.After the meeting, Roger and Robert would go to Bernardo
Studios, a.k.a. the University Inn Hotel, and Robert would film
Roger's two C64 software presentations.As the meeting progressed into old and new business, Robert
showed the website that had an auction listing for Admiral Kirk's
Commodore PET 2001 from the movie, "Star Trek II: the Wrath of
movie, the computer had been beautified with a chrome and gloss
black finish.It sold
for over $5,000 and with the auctioneer's profit margin, taxes, and
shipping, the computer came out to be about $8,000.
Though there was no Amiga content in the meeting this time, Amiga
fan and FCUG member Bruce Nieman came to visit for about half an
hour in the middle of the meeting.
For the hardware part of the meeting, the members helped David
relearn the C64 and 1541 disk drive that he was buying from the
club.They helped him to
load up disk programs and run them.
Later on, Robert showed off a few new programs for the VIC-20.
Meteor Wave was an interesting Missile Command clone in which you
had to stop the missiles from dropping on the city by touching a
lightpen in front of the path of the missile in order to destroy it.Robert remarked that it's the only VIC game program he knows
that uses a lightpen.He
then showed a nicely-rendered screen called VIC McKracken, a play on
the C64 game, Zak McKracken.The
screenshot looked so good that a person could mistake it for a
screenshot from that C64 game.As
usual, Robert couldn't make any headway in an adventure game, this
time the new Legend of the Lost Catacombs, though Roger seemed for
willing to figure out its command parser and map.Finally, using the full memory of the Final Expansion 3
cartridge, Robert tried to run VIC-20 Doom.He got as far as showing the title screen but after that,
of the meeting going on until 5 or so, Robert adjourned the meeting
an hour early, because he and Roger had to film the CommVEx
everything had been packed up, the two went off to the University
Inn Hotel where Robert proceeded to check in.The hotel had been the site of previous CommVEx films, and
this year Robert got a ground floor room -- no lugging equipment to
an upper floor.After
moving much C= equipment and film gear into the room, Robert and
Roger went to a nearby sandwich shop for dinner.Afterwards, they returned to room for a night of filming, and
it went on until 11! Not only did Roger do his two presentations,
but Robert also filmed a Commodore “commercial” for CommVEx.Roger left because he had to work the next day, but Robert
filmed a few more shots until he was satisfied.
Although we lost some long-time members this
year, we have added at least as many new ones, and several of them
joined the other “old-timers” for the August gathering at Bobby
Salazar’s Mexican restaurant.
was present with both his daughters, Katelyn (9) and Charlotte (5).
Katelyn had attended meetings now and then since she was five.
Charlotte was born after Brad became a member, and made her first
visit while still an infant, so the club has sort of watched them,
as well as brother William, as they have grown (part way) up.
Also on hand were Robert Bernardo, Roger Van Pelt, Dick Estel,
fairly new member Dave Smith, and Mike Fard, who joined the club
before the meeting ended.
Robert gave a report on Commodore Vegas Expo, held in
at the end of July. Although attendance was down, those who were
there had a great time, and the show will continue next year. We
didn’t quite cover expenses, and the room rates have increased, so
we will return to one of the smaller rooms for 2018. We may also
consider moving to a different city in the future.
Michael Battilana from
was in town for DefCon and visited during the off-hours of CommVEx.
He gave a C64 Forever package and an Amiga Forever package for the
raffle and also a web address which allowed CommVEx attendees and
FCUG members to receive a free download of Amiga Forever and C64
The September meeting date was moved to the tenth, since Robert will
be leaving for
shortly after that. He will visit
, attending Commodore and Amiga events and meeting with
international friends from years past. In
he'll search for the Mega65 computer (C65 clone) at Maker Faire. In
he'll meet with Commodore and Amiga programmers. In
he'll visit AmigaKit. In
he'll attend the meetings of the Lincoln Amiga Group (in
) and the Amiga North Thames group (in
Entering the wonderful world of hardware and software, Robert had on
display a Commodore PC20-III, a MS-DOS computer. The computer came
from the Sacramento Amiga Computer Club, and Robert was warned not
to power it up until it had its internal power supply thoroughly
cleaned of dust. Mike opened up the machine and discovered that it
came from 1987.
Robert loaded up a C64 Forever
2017 CD on his Windows XP laptop, and we explored its Commodore
emulation capabilities. The same process was followed with Amiga
Forever 2017 DVDs.
Meanwhile at the club C128, Katelyn took on all comers in Ringside
Boxing, the two-player, two-joystick Compute!'s
Gazette C64 game that was used in competition at CommVEx.
Later, Robert and Roger tried to run VIC Doom with its stiff memory
requirements on the VIC-20; unfortunately, they only got to the
opening screens and were not able to enter the game proper. They had
more success with the simple but fun VIC-20 game, Meteor Wave, which
required use of a lightpen to stop the falling meteors.
Robert was traveling to
on September 13, the meeting was held on September 10, the second
Sunday of the month. In attendance were Robert, Roger, David, Brad
and his children, William and Charlotte; and new member Mike Fard.Under old/new business, Robert reported on what occurred at
the Commodore Vegas Expo.He
was grateful that members of the Southern California Commodore &
Amiga Network had come to support the show and that newcomers had
come from the Defcon hacking show that was going on during the same
reported that Roger's filmed presentations had done well with the
also had a date for CommVEx 2018 – August 11-12.All he was waiting for was confirmation from the Plaza Hotel,
the CommVEx venue again.
He mentioned the October 21-22 Sacramento Amiwest Show and asked the
members if they needed anything from
.No one needed
anything, though Robert joked that Duncan, his friend from The Other
Group of Amigoids, was urging him to buy British computers, like a
The Educator 64 and Commodore PC20-III, which had been exhibited at
CommVEx, were shown at the meeting.Brad was most interested, and so, the E64's “hood” was
opened and the PC20 was opened so that he could peek inside.The PC20 was not working, and Robert would visit repair tech
Ray Carlsen in September to see if Ray could fix it.Robert showed the new Vampire 500 board for the Amiga, and he
showed the new Vampire 500-to-Amiga 2000 CPU slot adapter board from
Paul "Acill" Resendes.He remarked that now he has to install that hardware into an
A2000 and get the blazing speed promised from that set-up.
Everyone at the meeting, especially William and Charlotte, tried out
Computes' Gazette C64 Boxing game that was popular at CommVEx.In fact, it was hard to tear the kids away from the game.Even when the game was not running, William still liked to
type on the keys and see his letters up on the screen.
As the meeting drew to a close, Robert tried to run VIC Doom as he
had tried at the previous meeting.This time he used a PAL VIC-20 with the Final Expansion 3
cartridge set for full memory.As
with the previous outing, he did not get it to run.A bit more successfully, he (with a lot of help from the
ever-patient Roger) ran VIC Music Composer cartridge for the VIC-20.Certain keys did not work with the program, and Roger and
Robert did not know if it was a fault with the cartridge or with the
use of a PAL VIC-20.
October the club has its annual “picnic” lunch, in lieu of a
regular meeting. This year the members went to the new Dave and
Buster's Restaurant in north
. Dave and Buster's is famous for having dining combined with a huge
were one of the first ones to show up when the doors opened that
Sunday morning. Those who attended were David S., Mike F. and
Sherry, and Robert B.. The first table that they were shown was near
the arcade games, but because there was a great deal of noise, they
moved to another table as far away from the arcade as possible. They
ordered off the well-stocked menu, but they did not go overboard in
lunch, they wandered through the vast arcade. They were most
interested in the giant Space Invaders arcade game which stood 12
picnic lunches had not been known for being C= related, afterwards
everybody wandered off to Robert's car to pick up some C= gear that
he had brought in.
By Robert Bernardo & Dick Estel
With plans to take a new
cover photo for our website, we had a nice turnout in November.
was present with his two youngest kids, William and Charlotte. Also
on hand were Robert Bernardo, Roger Van Pelt, Dick Estel, and Dave
Smith. The members all had a Commodore shirt or logo as part of
their attire, and we managed to get a pretty good shot.
announced that the room in
has been reserved for CommVEx
V14, which will take place August 11 and 12, 2018. Closer in
time, Robert will be visiting Commodore repairman Ray
Carlsen in early December, and took requests to pick up one of
Ray’s Computer Savers for Brad and Dave.
told us of a C64 sighting – a scene set in a missile silo control
room in the TV show CSI:
featured a bank of what were clearly brown C64s, with the logo taped
his recent trip to
, there was a serious break-in at Robert’s house, so we discussed
what was taken, what was left behind, and various security measures
that are now in place.
to our demonstrations, Robert had brought a pile of new Commodore
, and set them up for testing by William and Charlotte. Titles
included Honey Bee, Jam It (basketball), and Snake. All the programs
worked well, although the kids had limited success with some of
set up his newest toy, an A.L.I.C.E. laptop, with dual boot system
– Windows 10 or Linux with Amiga emulation.
the last part of the meeting, Roger, Dave, and Robert ran various
VIC-20 programs, including some new British games also from
Robert Bernardo & Dick Estel
We had one of the best turnouts in a few months for December. On
hand were President Robert Bernardo, Secretary-Treasurer Dick Estel,
Board Member Brad Strait, Brad’s youngest daughter, Charlotte;
Dave Smith, Mike Fard, and newcomer Randy Stoller, who joined the
club before the meeting was over. Vice President Roger Van Pelt came
by briefly to drop off the equipment.
was time for elections, with one vacant position to be filled, the
board members slot previously held by Louis Mazzei. Dave Smith was
elected to the position, and all other officers were re-elected.
we got down to business, Robert told us about his latest mishap,
getting rear-ended near
. Before they could get their vehicles towed to a repair shop, he
and the guilty driver had to wait some time for tow trucks to get
through the heavy traffic that had contributed to the accident.
Robert’s tow truck driver went above and beyond the call of duty,
giving him a ride to the Trail
Band concert venue which was his destination. Though stuck in
a few days longer, he was able to drive his car out of the collision
center and visit Ray Carlsen in southern
. Robert dropped off four, flat C128's for him to repair and picked
up items left for him to repair back in September – a PET 2001-4,
a CBM PC20 keyboard, and a SX-64. He also picked up a couple of
Ray's Computer Savers which the FCUG members had ordered at the
November club meeting.
the December meeting, Robert distributed the Computer Savers to the
members, and he spread out a large pile of free programs that came
from a member of The Other Group
of Amigoids (Amiga club) in
. Of note were some 2-packs of Kodak-brand blank 5.25” floppy
disks with the original price of $9.95, marked down to $2 (and now
the Christmas giveaway, Dave had brought in a package of reusable
plastic water bottles, available to whoever wanted one.
keeping with a long-standing club tradition, we voted to make a $50
donation to St. Jude’s
Children’s Hospital in
. The institution has an enviable record in treating children with
cancer, all services provided at no charge.
loaded up a series of games for
to try. Brad and Mike joined in from time to time.
the meeting came to a close, Robert and Dave tried out more of the
new, commercial game disks from BinaryZone.org.
we lost some long-time members in 2017, we had even more new ones
joining us, most of whom were present at the January meeting. Those
present included Robert Bernardo, Roger Van Pelt, Dave Smith,
with daughter Charlotte, Randy Stoller, Mike Fard, Bruce Nieman,
Alex Lewandowski, and Dick Estel.
centerpiece of the pre-meeting random discussion was the latest
episode of the TV comedy, “Young
Sheldon”, which shows "The Big Bang Theory’s"
Sheldon Cooper as a nine-year old. In the January 18 episode Sheldon
got his first computer, a Tandy 1000, and demonstrated some of its
uses to his family.
official business, Dick asked the members to begin thinking about
backup plans in case someone in a key position is no longer able to
carry out his duties. No decisions were asked for at this time, just
that members give it some thought.
presented the annual financial report, which will appear in the
newsletter, and noted that our total assets increased by a small
amount in 2017.
was preparing once again to bring Commodores for the Classic
Computers' exhibit at Maker
Faire, May 18 – 20 at the
. The Classic Computers' exhibit has always drawn a great deal of
attention with our old computers, computers that many people had
thought were completely forgotten.
future events included Vintage Festival Seattle in February and Pacific
Commodore Expo in June, both in Seattle. None of the club
members had an interest in traveling to
in the winter.
fired up his laptop and showed segments of the new documentary, “The
Commodore Story”, which will have it first public showing at
on February 23.
Christmas had come and gone, C= "gifts" were still
arriving -- more software from John Yaccarine of The Other Group of
Amigoids (San Jose) and computer chips from Rolf Miller of the
former CIVIC 64/128 club (Ventura). The club members grabbed many of
these free items.
again we loaded up some of the BinaryZone.org games Robert had
brought back from
for testing by Charlotte and the other gamers in the club.
attendance is now the rule for the Fresno Commodore User Group.
Members in attendance at the February meeting were Robert Bernardo,
Dick Estel, Dave Smith, Roger Van Pelt,
, Mike Fard, and Bruce Nieman. Guests included Raymond Ciula, who
brought in some software and equipment to donate, and Duncan
MacDougall of The Other Group of Amigoids in the
area, who demonstrated a few demos on his PAL C128DCR (converted
from a NTSC C128DCR).
official meeting and the pre-meeting discussion covered a wide range
of subjects, mostly computer-related. The group wished Robert a
Happy Birthday, only one day late.
star of the show was a set of VR64 virtual reality goggles which
Robert had purchased from Jim Happel for $80. He loaded up Jim's
game, “Street Defender,” although it took some swapping of
equipment to find a Commodore that worked properly. The club C128
would not work, and Mike Fard diagnosed the failure being due to a
blown internal fuse in the power supply. They then tried to use
Mike's C64 which he had picked up from the free equipment of Raymond
Ciula. It powered up, but the keyboard did not respond very well, if
at all. Finally, they had to run the game on
's PAL C128DCR.
game showed the dual image on the computer monitor, with a
reasonably good 3D image in the goggles. With the goggles preventing
actual view of the keyboard, the big challenge was firing weapons
against the attacker by use of the F keys and turning the view
within the goggles by use of the Left Arrow and number 1 key. The
club's summarized opinion of the gameplay was that it was clunky,
because there was no use of a joystick.
then ran a very smooth shoot 'em up from his 1541 Ultimate drive,
entitled “Enforcer.” It was very advanced with smooth,
sideways-scrolling and lots of on-screen objects. He said that it
was the best one out there and that it had been developed in 1992.
On the 1541 Ultimate directory, Robert saw a game with the name of
“Clystron,” and he thought that with such a name, it must be
good. He was wrong! It had screen after screen of documentation
before it even came up to the game. Forget it! Then they tried a new
game called “My Life.” Though it had just one screen – a view
of a bedroom –
liked it, because it was a copy of the classic game, “Mikey.”
Because the club members did not know the object of the game, they
were not so enamored with it. Finally,
bought and downloaded the new, commercial C64 game, “Sam's
Journey,” from Protovision. It was a smooth and cute platformer,
saying it was the best one ever made.
For March we had Robert, Roger, Dave, and Brad and son William in
attendance. It's a good thing the guys were there to help out
Robert. In Robert's car, a five-foot long box had to be carefully
removed from the passenger compartment, and this box had the
necessary equipment for an Amiga computer demonstration!
In the talk leading up to the demonstrations, Robert spoke about the
Innovation Fair and how he was going to bring a SX-64 and a classic
Amiga to exhibit at the show. Then he spoke about the May 18-20
Maker Faire Bay Area and about bringing the same computers to that
show, in addition to a Texas Instruments TI-99/4A.
After lunch, the members couldn't wait to see what was in the
five-foot box. Robert opened it and showed the skiboard, skateboard,
and short surfboard which went with the Amiga CD32 game, Surf
Systems' Biff Boardin' /Urban Surfin' /Biff Select V2.03. Robert had
not brought the CD32 game console, but he would do so for the April
meeting. Nonetheless, everybody but Dave tried standing on the
boards, imagining how the game would play. The members urged Robert
not to show the boards at the upcoming shows for fear that children
would fall off the boards, injure themselves, and then sue for
damages. In the more controlled environment of CommVEx, Robert could
show the game and the boards there.
At the request of Robert, Roger brought in Jump Jet for the VIC-20.
Unfortunately, it was a .TAP file (cassette tape file), and Roger
couldn't run it off his SD2IEC drive which emulates a disk drive.
Then Robert tried to run the graphical adventure, Ultima IV
Remastered for the C64. This Ultima IV was an improved, bug-fixed
version of the original, and Roger had downloaded it from the
Internet and transferred it to disk. Again misfortune struck when
both Robert and Roger couldn't get it to run. The only thing they
could do was look at the original, which Robert had brought -- box,
instructions, maps, and all.
In preparation for the the August 11-12 Commodore Vegas Expo, Robert
showed the new International Karate Ultimate, which is set for the
CommVEx game competition. This improved, bug-fixed version of IK
played very smoothly and was great fun.
The members got to hear the music, the Commodore Rap, which was
archived on YouTube. Who would have known that such music existed
from the mid-1980's?!
Then they got to play with one level of the classic C64 game, Break
Dance. William was especially good at moving the joystick to control
his break dancer in the game. Back in the day, Break Dance received
a low rating from the various Commodore magazines. Seen through our
modern eyes, it now seemed a lot of fun.
Robert realized that Break Dance, which Roger had downloaded from
the Commodore Scene Database, was not complete; there was supposed
to be more than one level of the game. Finding a more complete
version was put on the to-do list. Robert said that both the
Commodore Rap and clips from Break Dance would be combined to make a
commercial for CommVEx.
For April's meeting Robert, Roger, Dave, and Brad were in
attendance. Brad's kids were not in attendance this month and were
missed. Dick Estel was not at the meeting, and he was missed.
Nonetheless, the members carried on.
Robert reported on the April 14 Livermore Innovation Fair (LIF),
which was a new venue in which to exhibit classic computers. He
noted that the booth area was small, and unlike the giant Maker
Faire Bay Area which had 100,000 attendees, LIF had hundreds, and
consequently, the number of visitors to the booth was much less.
Robert had brought a SX-64 and an Amiga 1200 along with an Atari
800XL while the others in the booth had brought an Apple II clone, a
MSX system, and more. The booth was outside in the courtyard of the
venue, and though covered by shade, the sunlight was still bright
enough to overwhelm the picture of the Dell LCD monitors that Robert
used. The visitors could only use the SX-64 comfortably because of
its bright, built-in CRT monitor. The lesson learned – bring CRT
monitors when using computers outside.
After lunch, Dave showed a video of the new C64 Mini (which was due
for eventual release in
). It was an interesting device with 50 built-in games and HDMI
output. However, the consensus was that without a real keyboard, it
was more of a toy.
In the last meeting, Robert had brought the skiboard, skateboard,
and short surfboard for the Amiga CD32 game, Surf Systems' Biff
Boardin'/Urban Surfin'/Biff Select V2.03. This month Robert brought
a boxed, Amiga CD32 console, complete with the new, heavy-duty, Ray
Carlsen power supply, instead of its wimpy, black, brick power
supply. However even with a new, heavy-duty power supply, Robert
couldn't get the CD32 game console to boot. Sometimes the CD32
opening screen would show, but the Surf Systems' disc wouldn't run.
Robert theorized that because the CD32 was European PAL and not
North American NTSC, the disc did not recognize the machine (Surf
company). Robert would have to come back to a future meeting with a
NTSC Amiga CD32.
Robert brought his C128DCR and SuperCPU 128 in order to run the new
alpha version of the game, Tempest for the C128. Tempest was a
classic, vector-graphics, arcade game, and programmer Robert Willie
built this C128, 80-column version. Unfortunately, the DCR would not
boot reliably with the SCPU connected. With Roger's help, Robert
opened up the computer and checked out the clip-on connections for
the SuperMMU board, a board necessary for the SCPU to run in C128
mode. The connections were tight. Not being able to diagnose the
problem, Robert realized that the machine would have to go to Ray
Carlsen for repair.
Brad and Robert brought in the latest Wi-Fi modems for 8-bit
Commodores, a pair of StrikeLink modems (two versions) and the
WiFi64 modem (from SharewarePlus of England). The StrikeLinks came
caseless, and the WiFi64 had a neat, little case. Brad's StrikeLink
was an early version, and Robert's StrikeLink was a later model. In
a side-to-side board comparison, the only obvious difference between
the two was a rearrangement of the components. The WiFi module used
in both was exactly the same. After Robert opened up the case of the
WiFi64, they compared its board with that of the StrikeLinks. Its
board looked exactly like the board and Wi-Fi module of the later
Roger liked how the WiFi64 came with printed instructions and a deck
of “playing cards.” Called Top Cards: BBS Edition, the cards
described every current Bulletin Board System for the Commodore,
including the Borderline and Cottonwood BBS's of FCUG member Andrew
Brad attached his StrikeLink to the club's C128, and Roger ran the
C64 terminal program, CCGMS. Brad's goal was to connect to the
restaurant's Wi-Fi and then cruise to various Internet sites. He was
able to get the modem to respond, but he was unable to connect.
Robert realized that the CCGMS they were using was version 5 and
that version 6 was the latest one. Perhaps the problem was the v5
software; perhaps v6 would have better results. Because Robert had
no Wi-Fi at his house, he lent his StrikeLink and his WiFi64 for
Roger to try out at his place. (Note: At his apartment, Roger was
able to connect successfully with both modems and CCGMS v6.)
The meeting ended with Robert, Roger, and David going through the
various C64 and C128 programs on the April, 1988 disk of Compute!'s
Gazette magazine. It was a time-travel trip to what was popular 20
years ago! For a simpler time, the disk had simpler games and
utilities. The question was would such programs hold the interest of
a Commodore user today. Maybe yes, maybe no.
Robert Bernardo & Dick Estel
The holiday and various obligations contributed to an unusually low
attendance at the May meeting – just Robert, Roger, and Dick.However, we had good conversation, ate a great lunch, and got
to see an unusual Commodore peripheral.
After setting up the computer equipment, we ordered lunch.Dick mentioned that the club library did not get much use,
which was fine with Dick, since he did not have to do any work as
librarian.He said that he
would bring a few of the educational game disks to the next meeting
to see if our junior associate members, William and Charlotte, might
Having finished lunch and business, we moved into the
hardware/software part of the meeting.Somehow, time had put the “hard” into “hardware,” as
three disk drives, including two recently donated by Rolf Miller of
, failed to load.Fortunately,
another Miller drive was retrieved from the trunk of Robert’s
Crown Vic, and this drive worked.
Robert started talking about Maker
Faire Bay Area which was held the previous weekend.As usual, Robert had spent hours manning his computers at the
Vintage Computer Festivalers' exhibit.As usual, hundreds and hundreds of fairgoers had gone through
the exhibit, exclaiming how they used to have the Commodores, how
they used to program the computers, and how they began their careers
with them.As usual,
there were the equipment breakdowns, like fellow exhibitors having
their Apple II not powering up and their C64 burning out its SID
Robert said that Maker Faire was good training for the June 9-10
Pacific Commodore Expo NW to be held at the Living Computers: Museum
+ Labs in
planned to bring 7 to 8 Commodore and Amiga systems to display.He also talked about his fears of being the only person to
exhibit at PaCommEx, the other exhibitors not responding as time
grew near or even canceling out of the event.His trip will include a stop to drop off and pick up
equipment for repair at Ray Carlsen’s, of course.
Robert gave us the latest on CommVEx in
, coming up August 11 and 12. Robert is trying to get a Commodore
engineer to attend who has possession of a legendary C65, serial #1.
Although we could not view it, Robert showed us the official Blu-ray
release version of The Commodore Story, which has been in the works
for some time.He was
able to pass around the book that came with the Blu-ray.
Unlike other meetings, this time Robert stuck to the presentation
because it was the 20th anniversary of Wheels 64/128, the compatible
OS for GEOS, we watched an on-line video of it in operation. Then,
he showed off the relatively-inexpensive ($42 US) SD2IEC drive from
Jason Micari of
; it came with a 3-D printed case, plugged into the cassette port,
and had a short, attached serial cable to which Robert connected a
serial cable extension so that it could daisychain onto a disk
We were able to see something old but new to us.Advertised as a "music synthesizer and multi-track
recording system," the
by Tech Sketch was software and a pre-MIDI keyboard that attached to
the user port of the C64.Accessing
the SID chip, it played 3-note chords and gave us a nice concert
with the pre-loaded songs that came with it.It was a big hit when displayed at Robert’s table at Maker
Faire Bay Area.Roger
liked how using the piano-type keyboard was a more natural way to do
music rather than composing music on a “tracker” with a screen
full of numbers and sliders.
Lastly on the C64 front, we looked at a disk from the library of the
defunct Diablo Valley Commodore User Group of
. Robert remarked that the 1990's game and utility programs were
Robert tried to run the Plus/4 disk magazine, Lone News 21, in C64
mode on the club's C128.Unfortunately,
the disk magazine wouldn't run, meaning that it required a Plus/4
computer so that users could view it.
Switching over to C128 40-column mode on the club's C128, we tried
out newer Manic Miner 128 and compared it with older Manic Miner 64;
the older version had music and animation, and so, the 128 version
was not an exact duplicate of 64 version.
The C128 system was set aside, and the VIC-20 was connected.Downloaded from links at the Denial VIC-20 Internet forum, we
ran the new game, Pyrotech, and the new demo/game, Dr. Ultra +
Snake.The graphic of
Dr. Ultra was particularly well-drawn.
Finally, we checked out the Amiga 2000 computer which Duncan
MacDougall of The Other Group of Amigoids had upgraded.He repaired its 28 MHz. 68040 processor board, installed a
DKB MegAChip for 2 meg Chip RAM, added 40 megs Fast RAM, attached a
Video Toaster board (but didn't install its software), and upgraded
the machine to the latest WHDLoad with more games.Robert and Roger played a few of those games which were on
the A2000's hard drive.
our meeting on Father’s Day presented some challenges. At least
one member who is the father of three was absent, and we assume he
was having fun with the young ones. In attendance were two fathers,
Dave and Dick, who had celebrated with their daughters earlier in
the day/week; and two non-fathers, Robert and Roger.
The restaurant was very busy by the time we arrived, and the staff
expected big crowds. We use a small banquet room at the back of the
restaurant, with about ten tables available for eating and our large
amounts of equipment. They asked us to limit the space we used to
just two tables in order to provide for large groups expected later
in the day.
We were able to do this, although we were interested to note that at
there were only 16 other customers in the restaurant’s dining area
and just a handful in the bar. They never placed anyone in “our”
Over the last few years we have talked about creating a new “New
Member Disk,” since the old one dates back to the 1990s and
definitely needs an upgrade. Robert had volunteered to take on this
job and reported that he is going to try to get it ready for CommVEx
in August. At the show, he will hand out copies as part of the
traditional gift bags presented to each person attending.
Back in the day (way back) all the library disks were brought to
each meeting. There has been little call for them lately, but Dick
reminded the members that all they have to do is ask, and he will
bring the desired disks (limited to one box) to any meeting.
Robert reported on the Pacific
Commodore Expo (PaCommEx) in
the previous weekend. Robert set up a number of systems, and to his
pleasant surprise, members of the Seattle Retro-Computing Society
and the Puget Sound Commodore User Group also brought in equipment.
A highlight of the event was the unexpected visit of Don Elman, a
former editor of Commander magazine, who spoke briefly on Sunday.
On Saturday at the show, Eric Hill spoke about making a new run of
the classic Rejuvenator board for the Amiga 1000 and about A1000
Kickstart mods which combined the Kickstart and Workbench into one
A considerable number of people came to the museum because of the
show, plus the “regular” museum visitors were surprised by some
of the exhibits and amazed to learn that hardware and software is
still being developed for Commodore.
The museum events' director was delighted with the success of the
show and offered financial assistance for next year’s event.
Before the show Robert dropped off a large number of items to be
repaired by Ray
Carlsen, who estimated the work would take 30 days. Robert
stopped on his way home and was happy to find that Ray had completed
all the repairs.
Some time ago Robert learned of a mini Maker
and finally received an invitation to apply to present an exhibit.
It will be at the public library in downtown
on December 1.
Next it was time for hardware and software demonstrations. Robert
received a 1541 Diagnostic Cartridge from Chris Zimmerman, who had
attended CommVEx previously. It was made by World
of Jani and turned out to include disk diagnostic features. It
loaded up and worked fine on our 1571 drive.
Then Robert showed off Toni Westbrook's Shredz64, a C64 music game
which is used with Westbrook's PSX-to-C64 adapter and a Guitar Hero
guitar. Robert had last shown this in 2008 at a club meeting and had
brought it back, because he had shown it at PaCommEx and was also
going to show it at this year's CommVEx.
From Ryan Sherwood of the Puget Sound Commodore User Group came 3
disks with the name of “Scibax Demo”. As Ryan had explained to
Robert, with the 3 disks a user could learn how to create C64 demos
with graphics and music. It was not as simple as it sounded. The 3
disks were full of instructions, examples, and music and graphics
creation programs. However, the user would still have to learn some
programming in order to connect all the pieces and complete a demo.
As member Dave said, it would take a lot of study.
The meeting finished with Robert and Roger going through several of
the programs on the SD card that came with Roger's SD2IEC card
drive. One such program was Pinball Spectacular, a C64 game that did
well in imitating the board physics of a pinball game.
July meeting drew a good crowd – Robert, Roger, Dave, Dick, Brad,
and his daughter Katelyn. Dick had brought part of the club’s disk
library, including the educational section, and we immediately put
Katelyn to work testing some of these programs.
There are 72 disk sides with educational programs, most of which
were originally created for the Commodore PET. They are fairly
simple programs, all in BASIC, but with a wide variety of subjects
and age levels. Since none of us but Brad knows what today’s fifth
grader knows, we asked Katelyn if she was familiar with negative
numbers, adverbs, and a couple of other subjects. The adverb program
offered a sentence with multiple choice answers, and she did well
but soon grew tired of it. A few of the listings offered two or
three words that would have fit the sentence, and it was necessary
to glean hints from the context.
After trying and abandoning a quiz on negative numbers (with complex
sign sequences such as 50 - -5 + +5 - +6), she enjoyed the more
basic math quizzes. Library disk copies are available to members at
no cost at the meeting (blank disk required) and can be mailed for
the cost of a disk and postage.
Robert handed out the two latest copies of the Interface, and we
again were reminded of our debt to Lenard Roach for producing this
publication from far off
Robert has ordered the newest Commodore computer, the Ultimate
64, and the first production run has begun, with delivery
expected soon. This is a modern board with the usual Commodore
connections plus HDMI and fits into a standard C64 case (not
specified if it’s the original brown, the later white, or both).
With CommVEx 2018 coming up August 11 and 12, Robert planned to film
several demonstrations with Roger that evening at a local hotel
(renamed Bernardo Studios for the evening).
We viewed part of a You Tube TV show with the “8-bit
Guy,” featuring an interview with Bill Herd and a look at the
C16 and Plus-4, with analyses of the pros and cons of these
now-obscure machines. The second half of the show will be viewed at
the August meeting.
We then loaded up a German language CAD program, Giga-CAD, whose
menus proved a bit challenging. Roger was familiar with this type of
program and was able to load existing graphics from the disk and
even draw a little. We learned the German words for “on” and
“off” (“auf” and “aus”). The user should be able to
rotate the drawing in any dimension, but we did not figure out how
to do that. Roger may try this at home.
Another German language program, Amiga Demomaker, stymied us
For the C64, we played a new version of Monopoly, which was touted
to exactly follow the game rules, and Exploding Fish, which had no
exploding fish! To satisfy Robert's flying needs, we also played
with classic games, FlyerFox, Falcon Patrol, and Falcon Patrol II .
To finish off the meeting and in honor of World Cup football
(soccer), we tried out the VIC-20 game, ASCII Striker, which was a
simple-looking program in which you had to shoot goals. We then
tried the VIC-20 game, Escape, which was supposed to be a top-down
game of a spaceship flying through corridors.Robert likened it to be more of a tank game, because the
sprites looked like tanks.
The end of summer meant that less members were at the August meeting, the absent members probably enjoying the last days of their vacations. Only Robert and Roger were in attendance. However, the low attendance did not stop the two of them from carrying on with the meeting as usual.
After setting up the club's Commodore 128 system and Robert's Amiga 2000 system, they ordered food, and soon they were deep into discussion. Robert spoke at length about the
August 11-12 Commodore Vegas Expo – the pre-show happenings which included meeting/speaking to Las Vegas C= enthusiasts, setting up all the equipment, running the show on Saturday and then Sunday, finding support from the Southern California Commodore & Amiga Network members who attended, relating his impressions of the raffles and the gaming, and talking to the hotel
about a 2019 show. Robert passed out a leftover CommVEx gift bag to Roger, and Roger was surprised at the variety of Commodore and Amiga items in it. Unrelated to
CommVEx, Robert also gave a reminder of the upcoming October Amiwest Show in Sacramento.
For a few minutes, Robert and Roger looked at one of the videos presented at CommVEx – the video of Roger describing the use of certain C64 software with a C= wi-fi modem. Of course, Roger didn't want to see too much of it (because he had already presented the technique in front of the camera), but Robert wanted to prove that with good editing, the many mistakes during the actual filming could be erased. Also, though the video looked dark when seen through the camera viewfinder, it came out perfectly exposed when shown on a
For the software part of the meeting, Robert had brought the SuperCPU 128 so that he could easily run the 3D Construction Kit game, A Chance in Hell. Unfortunately, the club C128 did not boot with the SCPU, only showing a black screen in 40-column C64 mode. Switching the SCPU from 20 MHz to 1 MHz did not solve the problem. Robert retrieved his C64C out of his car and set it up. Then he tried the SCPU with it. Again a black screen. Roger sprayed some DeOxit on the connecting edge of the SCPU, hoping that the chemical would clean the contacts. Some black oxide was wiped off, but that didn't cure the SCPU problem. Without the SCPU working, Robert didn't want to show the game running at the normal C64 speed of 1 MHz; it would have been unbearably slow.
Roger had brought the German C64 CAD program, GigaCAD, again, and though the SCPU would have helped make the program run more smoothly, Roger felt that even at 1 MHz he could show off what he had learned in the one month since he had been using the program. Then he went into an intense explanation of how the program worked, how to design objects, and how to render them in 3-D. Robert was very impressed, so much so that the rest of the meeting was devoted to GigaCAD, and the Amiga 2000 was ignored.
Cooler pre-fall weather brought out a good crowd, including a couple of members who have not attended in quite a while. On hand for September were Robert Bernardo, Roger Van Pelt, Dave Smith, Randy Stoller, Mike Fard, and Dick Estel.
Having recently paid his dues, Dick has been a member for 30 consecutive years. Dave countered by displaying a membership card from 1993, although he left the club for a long period, re-joining in 2017.
Robert will be going to Oregon for a Quarterflash concert and will take equipment to
Ray Carlsen for repair. In other travels he will attend the
AmiWest Show in Sacramento October 11-14, and then will have a table at the
Mini-Maker Faire in downtown Los Angeles December 1. With hardware from at least one other person, his table will be titled, “Classic LA Computers” (CLAC).
Robert reported on CommVEx, which had a decent attendance but did not produce enough revenue to pay for the room cost. A lower rate is available next year, and a member of TOGA, the Amiga group in San Jose, will sell some of the equipment Robert has in storage to pay down the deficit. Plans for CommVEx 2019 remain undecided at this point.
Next month will be the club’s annual “picnic,” which is now an indoor lunch at a different restaurant. Lunch is paid for by the club, and there will be no official demonstrations or business. The location will be the Elbow Room in Fig Garden Village.
After lunch we watched a video Robert shot at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, featuring four Commodore engineers in a panel discussion. Participants were Bil Herd, Leonard Tramiel, Hedley Davis, and Ron Nicholson. The event followed the showing of the film,
The Commodore Story.
Moving to our software demonstration, Roger had been working with the German C64
Giga-CAD program we first looked at in July. He and Robert used Google to translate the manual, and using the SuperCPU, Roger showed us how a drawing can be rotated in various directions for a 3-D view from many different angles. Roger’s work with this program will continue.
Using the SuperCPU with the 3D Construction Kit game, A Chance in Hell. Robert and Roger played with v1.1 of the game which author Steven Flanagan had just sent over. Version 1.1 was now further bug-fixed and enhanced for the SuperCPU. Steven also had sent the 3D Kit Game, the original demo game which came with 3DCK but which he had enhanced for the SCPU. Robert and Roger briefly looked at that game.
Robert fired up the Amiga CD32 and ran the very colorful and realistic program, Pinball Dreams, and several members tried their hand at it. Balky controllers prevented anyone from beating the high score.
Ending the meeting, the members played the new VIC-20 games, Spikes, Defense Shield, Alien Invasion, and Cavern Explorer.
in the day, the Fresno Commodore User Group had an outdoor picnic at
the home of one of our members. As our membership declined, we came
in from the outdoors and turned this annual event into a restaurant
lunch.However, it's NOT a regular meeting, because:
1. No official business is discussed.
2. There are no hardware or software demonstrations, and no
3. Families are invited.
4. The club pays for lunch.
5. We go to a different restaurant from the one at which we
Roger Van Pelt
, Dave Smith and Mike Fard gathered at The Elbow Room in
, a restaurant that has been in business in various locations since
We had a fun discussion of various topics, naturally including
computers. Sticking with the theme of ancient technology, Dick
reported that he has connected is 1970s Tandberg reel to reel
recorder to his stereo system, with mixed results. Tapes go back as
much as 50 years, and ancient splices do not hold up well. The
machine also produces an intermittent high frequency signal in one
channel, which interferes with attempts to copy the music to the PC.
Roger spoke briefly about his continuing work with the German
Giga-CAD program that we’ve been experimenting with since July.
Robert warned Roger to be ready to give a video demo for the next
Following another tradition, Robert brought gift grab bags for all
attendees. There was an extra one which we presented to our
Throughout the years, these events have always brought good food and
good company, and we hope to enjoy another one in 2019.
Robert arrived to the meeting first, followed by Dave, Roger, and
Mike, in that order. Roger set up the club C128 system, and Robert
set up his Amiga CD32 system. Mike was very interested in Robert's
Sony GVM-1311Q monitor, having never seen such a NTSC/PAL CRT
monitor like that one (it appeared at CommVEx, but Mike didn't go to
the show). Dave showed off his new 64 Mini which he had ordered from
Amazon.com, but Dave was not prepared to demonstrate it, saying that
he would save that for a future meeting.
The waitress was fairly quick this time with the orders being taken
efficiently; while the members waited for the food, the big topic of
discussion was the Camp Fire in Paradise, California; the Woolsey
Fire in the Malibu area, and the unhealthy/hazardous smoke covering
the valley all the way through Fresno down to Bakersfield. Robert
knew of a Commodore vendor who was in
; he hoped that vendor had survived the fire which wiped out the
town. Robert had also talked to Mario Luppi of the Southern
California Commodores & Amiga Network, the club based in
Northridge. (Mario and his wife visited FCUG in 2017.) The Luppis
lived in Westlake
Village, a city evacuated during the Woolsey Fire, and he and his wife saw
fire on the mountaintops as they were evacuated. Did their house
survive? They discovered that the houses on their side of the street
remained standing; the houses on the other side of street were
As the FCUG members chowed down on their food, Robert talked about
how SCCAN was going to have an exhibit table or two at the December
1 Downtown Los Angeles Maker Faire and two to three tables at the
January 5-6 Retro City Festival in Pomona. Robert spoke about how
FCUG has voted on donating money to a charity during the December
meeting. For the last several years, it had been to the St. Jude
Children's Hospital, but Robert thought that this year with the
disastrous fires in California, the club should donate to aide the victims. The other members
agreed with the idea.
After the meal, Robert started up the CD32, and the others
concentrated on the various game discs for that machine while Robert
tried to run the newly-revised 3D Kit Game on the C128. He tried but
failed, because his SD2IEC card drive would not fit in the computer
with the SuperCPU attached. He'd have to wait until a C64 or a
differently-designed SD2IEC was brought to the meeting. However, he
was able to carry on with the rest of the demonstrations without
Among the various CD32 discs, the members especially liked the
cartoony and smooth-running Zool. Over on the C64 mode of the C128,
they tried out the new games – Shadow Switcher (a platformer),
Great Giana Sisters 30th Anniversary Preview (another platformer),
Knightlore (isometric graphic adventure), Tower of Rubble 64 (a type
of Bomberman), Hibernated 1-This Place Is Death (text adventure),
and their favorite, the atmospheric and gory Limbo Preview
(run-and-jump). Then they went into C128 mode with the 80-column
text adventure, Innuh's Pyramid. Finally, they closed out the
meeting by setting up the VIC-20 and running Chinese Patience (a
card game) and Morse, a program which lets the user practice Morse
code by pushing the firebutton on a controller and listening to the
dot and dash sounds while seeing the results on-screen. The 8K
RAM-expanded version of the program ran better than the unexpanded
version, but there was still some lag due to the firebutton
insensitivity of the particular controller used.
Robert Bernardo and Dick Estel
Robert had a Christmas present for the members and hopefully for
many Commodore fans – there WILL be another CommVEx
show! Commodore Vegas Expo v15 will take place August 10 and 11
(tentative on signing the contract) at the Plaza Hotel in downtown
Vegas. Although this will be the final CommVEx, all agreed that the
show has had an amazing run.
Receiving this news from Robert were Brad, Dick, and Dave. We said
that this news was like having dessert before our lunch!
Robert also noted that the third annual Pacific Commodore Expo
will be held in June in Seattle. And Robert is trying to coordinate a new show in May – the
Commodore L.A. Super Show (CLASS) at the Santa Monica Public
Library. We’ll have more information about all these shows in the
Dave once again passed around his C64
Mini, a game machine designed to look like a quarter-size C64.
which Brad and Dick had not seen before. A demo will be scheduled
some time in 2019.
Dick passed around a thank-you card from St.
Jude hospital, which has received our annual charitable donation
for the last few years. Because of recent devastating fires in
northern and southern California, the club voted to make a donation to the Red Cross disaster relief
fund this year.
It was also time for elections, with the existing slate of officers
being re-elected by acclamation. They are: Robert Bernardo,
president; Roger Van Pelt, vice president; Dick Estel,
secretary-treasurer; and Brad
and Dave Smith, members of the board of trustees.
Robert reported on his participation in Mini
Maker Faire in
the previous day. Over 8,000 people came through the downtown L.A.
library, with many of them checking out the Commodore and Amiga
units at the table Robert manned with members of Southern
California Commodore & Amiga Network (SCCAN).
On January 5-6 Robert will attend the 2nd annual Retro
City Festival in Pomona, which focuses on arcade and pinball games. SCCAN will have three
exhibit tables there.
Turning to hardware and software demonstrations, Robert set up his Amiga
CD32 and we tried several programs. Some would not load, and
some did not work past the menu, but Bump & Burn and Bubba 'n
Stix both functioned and were well-received by the members present.
More CD32 game discs were tried, and the quick-loading ones were
favored. Robert remarked that there is a new board that can be
installed in a CD32 console which gives a SD card solution, i.e.,
the programs would load more efficiently off a SD card instead of
the 2X speed of the CD32 disc drive. He was not ready to buy that
first order of business at our meetings is to carry in the equipment
This can be just a few items or a few tables full. Sometimes we have
as many as five computer systems set up, with no duplicates. More
about that later.
the various systems are set up and plugged in, with all the
peripherals needed for the day’s events.
when we have completed these tasks do we sit down, place our orders,
and attack the chips and salsa. The official meeting does not begin
until we’ve nearly finished eating, but there is always discussion
during lunch, mostly tech-related but sometimes straying far and
kick off 2019 on January 20, Robert, Roger, Dave, Brad and Dick held
forth on how various companies failed to capitalize on their main
product and either faded away (Commodore) or rose from the dead with
something entirely new (Apple). There was mild debate on whether the
iPhone will be the end of Apple; Mac almost was the end of Apple,
and the Amiga definitely was the end of Commodore. Brad pointed out
that Apple has billions in cash, providing a pretty good cushion
against future problems. The other unanswered question was whether
Tesla can survive without Elon Musk, with Brad noting that it has
barely survived with him.
Robert passed around the new book, “Commodore: the Inside
Story,” written by former Commodore
executive, David Pleasance. The book tells the story of David's rise
in the company and then the Commodore's downfall, all from his
also discussed the three shows that Robert and FCUG will present
this year, the first being the Commodore
Los Angeles Super Show (CLASS) on April 27-28. Plans to hold it
at the Santa Monica Public Library did not work out, and the venue
instead will be Toolbox LA, a
co-working space in Chatsworth. Robert will make the final payment
for the room early in February.
final Commodore Vegas Expo (CommVEx) in August is still in the
“very probable stage,” with the contract yet to be signed. The
final word should be out by late February/early March.
the insistence of club members, Robert also told us about his trip
, for a tour of the Star Trek
original series set. The tour was led by Captain Kirk himself,
William Shatner, still going strong at age 87. The weather was cold
with light snow, the plane trip frustrating, but all worth the
effort to stand on the bridge of the
. Robert remarked that this year at the William Shatner Weekend in
he will make an effort to interview Shatner about his involvement
to demonstrations, we finally got a look at Dave’s 64
Mini in action. This is a replica C64, about the size of a VHS
cassette, containing a modern game machine that emulates new and old
Commodore games under Linux. Dave connected a keyboard, a joystick
and a gamepad controller via 3-way splitter into the device’s USB
port. The display was fed into a Samsung HDMI monitor. Dave treated
us to several games, including Boulder Dash and Choplifter.
programming of the machine can be done using BASIC. There’s an
on-screen virtual keyboard which Dave said was very tedious to use,
but any USB keyboard can be plugged in.
Dave ran the very intriguing game, Digiloi, on the 64 Mini, Robert
loaded up the same game on the club C128 so that he could compare
the game's SID music between each machine. Digiloi was programmed in
assembly language using Commodore keyboard graphics. Considering the
limitations of the tools at hand, the game looked very good and
Robert had a packed agenda with various stuff for us to try out, the
rest of the meeting was devoted to testing the new Ultimate
64, a modern motherboard replacement for the C64. No legacy
chips were used in the U64 (Robert joking that it was a World War II
German submarine sunk in 1940). Robert had put the U64 in an
ordinary brown C64 case; however, if you looked around the back and
right side of the computer, you would see that it was not ordinary,
what with its dual USB ports, Ethernet port, HDMI port, missing RF
jack and channel switch, and spacing gaps where there should be
plates covering the holes.
connecting the U64 to Dave's HDMI monitor, Robert powered it on and
had to switch the monitor to 4:3 aspect ratio instead of its
standard 16:9 ratio. Then he showed the computer's configuration
menus which were accessed with the machine's multi-function switch
and the F2 key. With the computer configured (or so Robert had
thought), he ran the Digiloi game. There was no sound from the game!
Robert went back to the U64 configuration menus and verified they
were OK. Still no sound. Robert connected a regular A/V cable to the
back of the computer and hooked it into the monitor (which also had
composite and audio ports). Sound came from the game via A/V cable!
Finally, after going into the computer menus again and after much
thought, it was determined that the U64 was connected to the wrong
HDMI port of the monitor; one port allowed sound and the other
didn't. When the HDMI cable was connected in the correct port, there
was no problem with the sound.
ran several games from the SD card USB adapter connected into the
U64. He discovered that if you “Mount a D64” and then ran it,
the Epyx Fastload (a cartridge emulated in the U64) would work.
However, if you directly “Run a D64”, the fast loader would
it was time to test the U64's disk drive capabilities. He tried to
load and run several disks by using the club 1571, the club 1581,
and his own 1541. All failed to load and run. He could not even pull
up a directory. It was back to the configuration menus. IEC drive
and printer enabled... yes. Disk drive selection... change from
1541-II to 1541. Virtual drive disabled... yes. Still no correct
response from real disk drives Finally, on advice from Roger, Robert
reset all the menus back to original with the exception of the
enabling of the IEC drive. The real drives now worked correctly. The
virtual drive option had to be enabled (though that seemed contrary
to what Roger and Robert understood).
real drives working correctly, Robert loaded and ran 1581 Toolkit,
the FCUG membership disk, and even a German GEOS disk. However, the
GEOS disk only reached the desktop without any icons. Without a
mouse, further GEOS testing would be difficult. Robert had wanted to
test the U64's SID emulation (UltiSID)... would it recognize a
in order to test the UltiSID, Robert plugged in a Koalapainter
cartridge and a Koalapad into the computer. The U64 ran the
cartridge but did not respond correctly to the Koalapad. No matter
which way Robert moved the Koala stylus, he could not move the
screen pointer lower than halfway down the screen. Even
enabling/disabling the Paddle Control in the configuration menus
made no difference. The U64 had failed. If the UltiSID was inferior
to real SID chips, then the real ones would have to be installed in
the U64's sockets (the U64 had sockets for two actual SID chips).
Robert was now suspicious of U64's handling of paddles and a mouse;
further testing would have to be done with applications that used
paddles and a mouse.
By Robert Bernardo and Dick Estel
Nearly everyone who attended the February 17 meeting drove in the rain as they left their homes, with the temperature around 40. By the time we reached Bobby Salazar’s Restaurant in central Fresno, the storm had moved east, and there was blue sky above us. Even so, this cold storm brought snow to very low levels, down around the 1,500 feet level.
Inside the restaurant it was warm and cozy, and there was a good turnout: Robert Bernardo, Roger Van Pelt, Dave Smith, Brad Strait and son William, Dick Estel, and Randy
The main topic of the business meeting was the various exhibitions in which the club is involved. First up was the Commodore Los Angeles Super Show (CLASS) on April 27-28 at Toolbox LA in Chatsworth. Robert reported that Mark
Ripkin, who worked at Commodore late in its run, will be at this show. Robert also reported that the Livermore Innovation Fair was coming on May 4 and that the application for the May 17-19 Bay Area Maker Faire had been submitted. He showed the updated websites for the June 8-9 Pacific Commodore Expo NW and the August 10-11 Commodore Vegas Expo v15. The Pacific Commodore Expo was being held at the Seattle's Living Computers: Museum + Labs, and Robert remarked that Matisse Fletcher, the events' coordinator who was in charge for the last two PaCommExes had moved to the Burke Natural History Museum in Seattle. Though she had moved, PaCommEx 2019 was still a go.
We have now committed to holding CommVEx 2019 at the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas, the 15th year for this now-iconic event.
Robert was working on a video commercial for CLASS, and the script called for young students. After we finished eating, we went outside, and 9-year old William Strait made his TV debut in a small but significant role for the commercial. Robert also photographed a brown C64 sitting on Randy’s new Tesla, perhaps a contrast between old and new technology. Since some us had never seen such a vehicle, we were intrigued by the presence of front and back luggage compartments, and the lack of traditional dashboard items which were replaced by a large video display.
Returning to the meeting room, Robert presented a salute to Valentine’s Day by loading up Wordwriter by One Step Software and showing samples from a disk of “Love Letters 1: A Selection of Famous Love Letters.” The definition of “famous” is highly subjective, because most of us found these missives severely wanting.
On a laptop, Robert brought up the website, https://www.commodoregamebase.com. This is an extensive collection of Commodore games and other applications, sorted by model (Commodore PET, C128, and VIC-20) and arranged alphabetically. Each game has a screen shot, and the game can be downloaded and run with an emulator or on a real Commodore.
The new Ultimate 64 (https://ultimate64.com) returned for further testing. After running a few games from the SD card adapter attached to the USB port of the machine, the U64 began giving trouble, i.e., the screen was not being displayed. Even after a reset and after a power-down, the screen reliably did not come back on the U64. Robert and Roger spent the rest of the meeting trying to get the U64 running again. When they did get the screen back, they would go through the U64 menus, trying to track down some kind of setting that stopped the display. By the end of the meeting, they had given up on trying to solve the problem. Robert did say he would bring the machine to the next meeting of the Southern California Commodore & Amiga Network and have the members check it out, especially the one member who had the U64, too.
As usual, we met at Bobby Salazar's Mexican Restaurant. Robert arrived first and started taking down the chairs and setting up the tables in the back room. David came in later, followed by Roger. During lunch, Bruce came in but only stayed a few minutes.
For this meeting, talk centered around the first-ever Commodore Los Angeles Super Show. It will be held on April 27-28 at Toolbox LA in Chatsworth. Robert had already scouted the area for nearby restaurants to the venue.
After the discussion on CLASS, Roger talked about data transfer via television video! Various classic computers, including Commodore 64, could have received such data transfer when users in Europe watched certain
TV shows. There would be a flashing pixel(s) in the corner of the TV
screen, and that would be the data coming through to specialized receivers that the users would have. Then that data could be converted to a program on disk/tape! Roger showed a YouTube video that demonstrated how this was done.
Robert brought his
Ultimate 64 again, but this time with new firmware revision 1.10, a newly-painted case, and a new carrying case. He explained that the breadbin case was found in storage. It had already been painted black by a south San Francisco Commodore dealer who had converted an old C64 motherboard into what he called a “C64GS.” (Not really because a true C64GS had a reduced-cost/reduced-component board and came from
Germany.) Robert threw out the old board and installed the U64 board in its place. For added board support, he installed the 3D-printed brackets from CoreI64. The black paint needed touching up, and Robert went to a hobby shop, bought Tamiya Color Paint for Plastics, semi-gloss black; and
re-sprayed the case. He bought new chrome badges for where it said Commodore and Power on the case. He used the original dark brown keyboard to complete the look.
The carrying case came from Harbor Freight Tools. It had the aluminum frame/black plastic suitcase-look and came with a carrying strap. The interior was lined with pluck foam which was removed in spots to contain the U64 breadbin, the SD card-to-USB adapter for the U64, and the U64's power supply. Laid over this was a presentation folder that had color photocopies of the U64 website which briefly introduces the machine and its operation.
With the club C128 at the ready, Robert showed off the new 128 40-column games, Knight Lore v1.10, Two Days to the Race, and the Space Invaders demo. For the C64 side of the computer and with the use of the SD2IEC, we ran the new 64 games, Bruce Lee – Return to Fury, Boulderdash Junior II, and Street Defender v1.6 for VR64. We connected a VIC-20 and with the SD2IEC and ran the new programs, Go-moku (which needed 24K expansion), Two Days to the Race (which needed 32K expansion and played exactly like the C128 version), Snake, Spaceship, and Realms of Quest V Beta Track. The last program was not a game but a compilation of “music” to be used in the future game, Realms of Quest V. However, the term, “music,” must be used very lightly. The members agreed that each musical number sounded more like noise or special sound effects or highly out-of-tune compositions. (Ah, the look on their faces!)
The meeting ran long, and Robert was the last to leave. He stopped by the front counter to reserve the room for April. However, the counter person said that under a new restaurant policy, the room would have to be reserved with an $80 deposit which would be returned after the meeting. He paused for a second and went to the back room. Another counter person came out and said that from now on, the room would cost $100 a month (no return of money) and could only be used a maximum of 3 hours. He said that our group was taking up space that another group had wanted that day, even though we had reserved that room weeks in advance. Shocked, Robert replied that he'd have to discuss this with the club.
Thinking fast, Robert thought of where the club could meet for free. The idea came immediately. Do what the Southern California Commodore & Amiga Network did for its meetings -- meet at
Restaurant. Robert scouted the local Panera's that afternoon. The Clovis Panera was too crowded, and the north Fresno Panera was too busy and not conducive to setting up computer equipment. The last Panera on West Shaw Avenue proved to be a wonder. It was far less busy than the other two Panera's, had a restaurant area in the back with multiple electrical outlets, and even had a covered patio with electrical outlets. This was the spot for FCUG meetings from now on!
By Robert Bernardo
After 6 1/2 years at our previous venue, the Fresno Commodore User Group met at a new venue,
Panera Bread Restaurant at 3590 W. Shaw Ave. in Fresno. At that meeting were Robert, Roger, David, Brad, Randy, and Mike. With Robert leading the way, the group aimed toward the back of the restaurant, which was where most of the electrical outlets were. Taking over a few tables, Robert set down boxes of items to present and also set up a Commodore SX-64.
Unlike the previous venue where a waitress came to the table to take orders, the group went to the front counter and ordered food from there. It took a bit longer to place the orders, because most members were not that familiar with the Panera menu, but the food was ready far more quickly than at the older venue.
After eating lunch, talk concentrated on Commodore. The day before the meeting, Robert opened up “Bernardo Studios” at University Square Inn. At the studio, he and Roger spent hours filming a video, tentatively titled, “The C64, SuperCPU, and Giga-CAD.” With his knowledge of Computer Aided Design programs, Roger made a presentation on the German program, Giga-CAD, arguably the most sophisticated C64 CAD program. The video will be edited and shown at future C= shows.
Robert spoke about the Commodore Los Angeles Super Show which was to be on April 27-28 at Toolbox LA in Chatsworth, California. He was hopeful that it would be successful, though he acknowledged that he didn't know what attendance would be, i.e., would it draw outside people rather than those associated with the sponsoring club, the Southern California Commodore & Amiga Network?
Another topic of discussion was the
Four. Composed of Lego bricks, the Brixty Four comes in different versions – just the case, the case and the keyboard, or the case plus keyboard plus motherboard. A user could source his own parts (bricks) in order to build the Brixty Four, he could buy the parts from website, or he could buy the pre-built units from the site.
The pre-built option would cost hundreds of dollars! Robert showed one of the Brixty Four videos found on
On a side note, Robert told how a member of the Southern California Commodore & Amiga Network bought a MechBoard (fully mechanical, modern keyboard) for his C64C. That MechBoard cost $300!
Then Robert started opening boxes. First, it was a box full of new books, the book being “The Vintage Commodore 128 Handbook” by Margaret Morabito. The book, which originally was supposed to be published in 1985, had been held from publication, the author updating it and finally releasing it this year. The book will be sold at a discounted price at the Commodore Los Angeles Super Show and at the Commodore Vegas Expo.
In the other boxes were items from Tim Harris of SharewarePlus.blogspot.com. He had sent over these items to be sold at the above shows, with the monies going to pay down the costs of those events. The goodies were the C64/128 FM Radio Module, the Final Cartridge III+, LumaFix 128, the C64 Multicart+, Trackdisplay for the 1541-II, a Pi1541 (Raspberry Pi not included), the 1541 Diagnostic cartridge, cynthCART 64, and SD2IEC for the C64/128/VIC-20/SX-64 user port.
Robert was able to demonstrate some of those items on the SX-64. The Final Cartridge III+ was noteworthy in that it was a modded implementation of the classic FC3; the new version had more utilities available in its drop-down menus. The C64 Multicart+ came in a nice case and had 63 games built into it. The 1541 Diagnostic cartridge needed more instructions for interpretation of its results on the SX-64's built-in disk drive. The cynthCART 64 played its music well with the SX. However, because the SD2IEC was programmed as drive 8, it could not be used with the SX, due to that machine's disk drive already being drive 8 (the SD2IEC would have to be reprogrammed on a C64 that did not already have an attached disk drive).
David bought the Final Cartridge III+, and Randy bought the pi1541. Robert thanked them for supporting CLASS and
Because of the quick speed of Panera's service, the meeting was able to end earlier than it had in years past. After the meeting, Robert met with two of the Panera people who manned the counter. They reaffirmed that the club was causing no problem and that we were most welcome to have meetings in their restaurant.
By Robert Bernardo
We met for the second time at our new location, Panera Bread Restaurant on West Shaw Ave. in Fresno. Robert had come from Stockton, and though he had left early from that city, he had to pick up Roger who had no ride. Even so, they were able to arrive a bit early and set up the club equipment.
Because the weather was cool and there was a nice breeze, this time we met in the covered patio, and we were free to spread out our equipment over several tables. In attendance were Robert, Roger, David, and Brad.
Robert gave a report on the April Commodore Los Angeles Super Show. The show was a success with about 40 attendees, good presentations and exhibits, and a lot of enthusiasm for the venue, Toolbox LA in Chatsworth. Most importantly, the show made back its cost with a little bit of money left over.
The next event would be the May 17-19 Bay Area Maker Faire in San Mateo, and Robert intends to exhibit only two systems – an Amiga CD32 and the Ultimate 64 -- to that show. For backup, he will bring an Amiga 600 system. He will leave the rest of the Commodore hardware and software in his station wagon for the June 8-9 Pacific Commodore Expo NW in Seattle.
The big topic of software discussion was Super Mario 64, which had only been released a few days before our meeting. The programmer had worked on it 7 years, porting it from the Super Nintendo version. He then uploaded it to various websites so that people could download it for free. When Nintendo found out about the program, the company started sending cease-and-desist orders to those websites that carried the game. The game was erased off those sites; however, with some digging, a user can still find the game on-line!
Roger and David knew nothing of the furor. However, Brad had brought a disk copy of Super Mario 64, and that was run on the club C128. Robert also had his copy of SM 64, and that was run on his Ultimate 64 which had been upgraded to firmware v1.10. There it was, the game being run on 2 screens at the same time! Roger got behind one of the computers. With the game in his expert gaming hands, he noted that it was extremely accurate to the arcade version, even down to the hidden world.
Naturally, all this gaming brought out the interest of others sitting in the patio, especially from one little girl (Destiny?). She was very bright and inquisitive. She played with SM 64 for quite awhile, and afterwards, she kept asking for more and different games to play. Because the U64 was set up with a lot of games on its SD card, Robert had her play from that computer. Meantime, the two women that had brought her were content to continue talking with each other.
All the time was taken up with the games, and there was none left over for VIC-20 or Amiga software. Those computers would have to wait for another meeting.
By Robert Bernardo and Dick Estel
For the most part, the usual suspects showed up for the June meeting. Dick made what is becoming a rare appearance, his first since February and his first at the new location of Panera Bread Restaurant. Also present were Robert, Roger, Dave, and Randy. Dick observed that the new venue has a lot going for it, and he enjoyed the healthier food available at Panera Bread.
It's the season of shows, and Robert hasn't missed very many. He was at a William Shatner Weekend recently, and as usual got "Bill" to autograph a couple pieces of Commodore equipment - a VIC-1525 printer and an Amiga 600. In early June Robert and his big station wagon battled the steep mountains of Oregon, en route to the third annual Pacific Commodore Expo NW at the Living Computers: Museum + Labs in Seattle. Robert wisely took three days each way for this 2,000 mile round trip journey, and he and the vehicle both arrived safely, with stops in both directions to drop off and pick up equipment at Ray Carlsen's repair depot in southern Washington.
Attendance was down slightly at this expo, attributed to the fact that the weather was nice and people were taking advantage of the rare opportunity to be outside. Still there were nearly 100 people going through the museum on Saturday and maybe 60 on Sunday.
Now Robert is getting ready for a trip to Las Vegas, first for the Creation Star Trek Convention and then for the final edition of CommVEx at the Plaza Hotel and Casino, August 10 and 11.
Robert attended the recent Maker Faire in the Bay Area, where he saw and captured on film quick shots of a few Commodore luminaries - Leonard Tramiel, son of Commodore founder Jack Tramiel; Bill Seiler, Commodore engineer; and Jeri Ellsworth, who is developing augmented reality (AR) goggles for gaming. This turned out to be the final "big" Maker Faire, but a one-day event will continue in downtown Los Angeles.
As many of our readers know, Robert has a lot of Commodore equipment - in every room in his house, in a house that his mother owns in Stockton, and of course, in his vehicles. The house in Stockton has to be cleared out so it can be rented, which has led Robert to order a big 10 x 16 storage shed for his yard. While awaiting assembly, he has been forced to rent a storage unit in Stockton, so he gets to move that stuff twice. We encouraged him to take inventory and store everything in an organized manner. We concluded several years ago that he needs an intern to help with this task. Any volunteers?
After lunch, the presentations began. Robert connected the Tech Sketch Music Port keyboard to the club C128 and ran the software. The Music Port was the hit of the Commodore Los Angeles Super Show and the Pacific Commodore Expo NW, and Robert showed off new features of the software that he had learned at those shows. It was very sophisticated software which allows the user to choose instruments, to create custom sounds, and to record compositions.
Robert had recently picked up a collection of Commodore equipment and software from the San Diego area. He had given away most of that collection to the members of the Southern California Commodore & Amiga Network. However, he kept one item - the classic
Zoomer flight controller/steering wheel which connects to the joystick port. He found out that the Zoomer worked better as a steering wheel than as a flight controller, and so, the Pole Position driving game was loaded up from Roger's SD2IEC drive. The game worked very well with the
The Ultimate 64 was connected, and Super Mario 64 was loaded up. Randy tried out that combination for awhile, and afterwards, some SID music was played on the U64 so that the UltiSIDs in the machine could be compared to the original SID sound.
Finally, the Shatner-autographed Amiga 600 was connected, and Robert ran the game, Battle Squadron, which was popular at CLASS and PaCommEx. Roger commented that the game was true to the arcade version of Battle Squadron.
Robert Bernardo and Dick Estel
Once again we invaded the Panera Bread restaurant at Shaw and Marty
for the monthly meeting of the Fresno Commodore User Group. Present
were Robert, Roger, Dave, and Dick.
Dick dug out some stuff from the bottom of his “FCUG Briefcase,”
including a flier for The Write Stuff Companion, a collection of
articles and tutorials on The Write Stuff word processor, which the
club sold years ago (we can still find a copy if you’re
interested). In fact, Robert had many of the Write Stuff packages
with him in a box that came from the collection of Rolf Miller,
former editor of the CIVIC 64/128 Gazette newsletter.
Also in the pile was an August 1997 copy of the Commodore Product
Source List, a comprehensive listing compiled by Roger Long. We
speculated that not 5% of the items listed were still available.
Recently, Roger Long put out the list on Internet, editable by
anyone. However, Robert found out that it was not easy to edit the
list to include new resources and to delete the many old resources.
Robert gave up in updating it.
During lunch we discussed the vast number of old and very old TV
shows now available in our multi-channel, multi-streaming service
world. Some of the classics that have caught members’ attention
recently include The Cisco Kid, The Danny Thomas Show, and The Jimmy
Dean Show (where the Muppets made their first appearance). Dick’s
grandchildren were surprised when he told them Jimmy was known for
more than just sausage.
That “other” Commodore show in
recently announced that admission will be increased from zero to $35
this year. Apparently their business model of table rental only did
not work out. CommVEx continues to charge admission and provide free
Robert reported that he has signed up for the Downtown LA Maker
Faire, to be held December 7. That show will continue, even though
the Maker Faire parent organization was going through
He also gave us a look at the 2019 CommVEx commercial going up on
YouTube and featuring some famous Commodore names saying goodbye to
the show for its final appearance.
Robert has been cleaning out his storage house in
and moving the items to
. He ran across CAD 3D, which we loaded up on the club C128 to look
at, with Roger at the controls. It will require a bit of study at
home by Roger before we can enjoy this program to the fullest.
Robert connected the Ultimate 64 and ran the latest 2019 C64 games
-- Crystal Caverns, Death Weapon, Run Demon Run, Super Goatron,
Stercore XD, Super Galax-I-Birds, Robots Rumble, and the silly Royal
Hunt (the wild pigs of the forest hunt naked humans!). However,
immediately there was a problem. None of the games had any sound!
Robert couldn't figure out the solution. The audio settings in U64
were all correct. Were there bad speakers in the monitor? Robert
connected external speakers and still didn't get any audio. Was it a
bad HDMI cable from the U64 to the monitor? Unlikely.
Roger did some cross-checking. He took the SD card out of the U64
and put it in Robert's external SD2IEC drive. He connected that to
the club C128 and ran the programs. The sound was perfect coming out
of the C128! Were the U64 and its internal UltiSIDs faulty? Robert
ran some SID music out of the U64, and the sound was all right.
Everybody was ready to give up when Roger came upon the solution;
how about reverting the U64 back to its older firmware? Instead of
using the current v1.21, go back to the v1.18. Robert took a few
minutes to reinstall the older version. Voila! Audio problems
solved! The new games played back their audio correctly. Robert said
that he would e-mail Gideon Zweijtzer, developer of the U64, and
tell him about the v1.21 audio incompatibilities.
had a good turnout for our mid-summer meeting at the Panera Bread
restaurant that is our new gathering place. On hand were Robert
Bernardo, Roger Van Pelt, Dave Smith, Randy Stoller, Mike Fard, and
Dick Estel. Long-time member Keith Sohm, who has not been active in
the club the last few years, stopped in and was introduced to the
Dick announced his resignation as librarian effective August 31.
Roger volunteered to take over the task. It was noted that there is
virtually no demand for access to the library, but the disks need to
be maintained for historical purposes.
Robert reported that CommVEx V15 was a big success, with an increase
in attendance over last year, and the return of several long-time
supporters who had been missing in recent years. The event attained
a substantial profit. This was the final CommVEx, so by consensus,
the funds will be used to add more hours to the 2020 Commodore Los
Angeles Super Show (CLASS).
The annual club lunch is scheduled for October 20, with the Black
Bear Diner the tentative location.
’s version of this popular chain is located right across the
street from our meeting location. A final decision will be made at
the September meeting.
Demos began with video from CommVEx, with Saj Awan of
in which the Koala Pad is used with software to simulate the sound
of a Theremin.In the
same video, Saj demonstrates the PETpix 2.1, a specialized board
connected to the C64 user port and has a Raspberrry PI which is
streaming .MP4 video of any length into the C64.
Then we watched Roger’s presentation on video of Digi-Cad, a
German CAD program that Roger has been exploring for several months.
The video was shown at CommVEx.
To wrap up the meeting, Robert brought out his steering wheel
(flight controller) for the C64 and a few car-racing games were
September brought another good turnout, with Robert Bernardo, Roger
Van Pelt, Dave Smith, Randy Stoller, Bruce Nieman, and Dick Estel in
The October 20 meeting will be our annual club lunch, at Hometown
. Members are invited to bring their families, and the club pays for
Robert reported that CommVEx videos and photos are now on-line.
He will be going to the AmiWest show in
October 23 – 27.
Recently Robert made a trip to
, to drop off items for repair by Ray Carlsen, and to see the latest
descendant of the musical group Quarterflash, Ross-Frazier-Koontz.
He also met with people at the
and scheduled the date for the 4th Pacific Commodore Expo NW on June
13 and 14, 2020.
Robert also visited the Seattle Commodore Club, which meets in the
evening at the leader’s workplace. There were a dozen in
attendance. Activities were divided between gaming and hardware
hacking, with no formal agenda or business.
On his return back to
, Robert was happy to learn that Ray had already completed all
repairs, allowing Robert to fill up the tiny remaining space in his
We took a new group photo for the website. In keeping with our
interest in old technology, Dick used a Nikon film camera with black
and white film. The photo is now on
Moving on to software demonstrations, Robert loaded up several C128
80-column programs. First was a nice genealogy program, Pedigree 128
from Loadstar. It offered the standard ancestor tree display, with
options to print out the tree as well as additional notes that can
be entered about each individual.
Next was an 80-column graphic editor, Electropaint 128, a
color-graphics screen editor for the C128, in which you use PETSCII
keyboard graphics to create 80-column graphic screens for such
things like a BBS.
There was ST View ][, a C128 picture viewer for graphics that were
originally made on the
. The included pictures displayed very well!
Robert could not get Fast Hack’em 128 v.6 to work from the SD2IEC
drive, probably because the program was expecting a real disk drive.
However, he was able to run SIDPlayer 128 (for playing music
SID’s), Millifoot 128 (a game), and the ZED 0.77 text editor that
he’s been using for many years instead of a word processor.
Roger took over the keyboard for Home Designer, a cross between a
CAD program and a drawing program. We were able to create lines and
boxes, and with a little more research, we have high hopes for this
keeping with a tradition going back decades, the October meeting is
our annual picnic. Or maybe “picnic.” We used to have a potluck
picnic in the beautiful back yard of one of our members who has
since passed on. So we eventually transitioned to an annual lunch,
with a few well defined guidelines:
It’s held at a different restaurant from the one where we have our
held at a different restaurant each year.
is no formal business, no demonstrations, and only minimal
discussion of computer-related matters.
family members are invited, and the club pays.
This year we had seven in attendance – Robert Bernardo, Dick
Estel, Roger Van Pelt and his brother Aaron, Dave Smith, Mike Fard,
and his wife Sherry.
We ate at the Hometown Buffet, just across the street from our
regular Panera Bread meeting place. It’s an “all you can eat”
buffet, and we made a good effort to live up to the name. There’s
a big variety of food – a salad bar, two or three kinds of
chicken, pasta, vegetables, a ham and roast beef carving station,
and of course way too many tempting desserts.
We checked in with Robert on the storage building going up in his
back yard. It’s mostly completed, and he has started moving some
of his huge collection of Commodore, Amiga, and other equipment and
software into it. A film crew that’s been following him around for
a decade came up from southern
and spent the day filming some of the action. If this movie ever
gets released, it may rival “Gone With the Wind” – at least in
Robert also let us know that he will be attending a party put on by
Amiga engineer R.J. Mikel. The situation is somewhat complicated by
the fact that the event will be held at the Heineken brewery in the
, necessitating motel reservations and a long plane ride. We’re
looking forward to seeing photos and hearing about the trip at our
After three hours in the restaurant, we finally managed to get to
our feat and head out the door, vowing to eat no more until at least
the next morning.
November meeting started with Dave arriving early, Robert arriving a
few minutes late, and Roger arriving later. Because the weather was
good, Robert decided to set up all the computer gear in the covered
patio of the Panera Bread Restaurant. That decision would come back
to haunt him.
small talk and lunch, Robert talked a little bit of his job of
videotaping the presentations at the October Amiwest Show in
. He spent about 18 hours filming the event which spanned five days
and then many more hours editing the videos and uploading them to
then spoke about the upcoming Downtown Los Angeles Mini-Maker Faire
which was to happen on December 7. He would have Commodores, Amigas,
and a Texas Instruments TI-99A at an exhibit entitled, “Classic
Los Angeles Computers!” He invited all to come to the show.
brought in some hardware from the collection of the late Bogdan
Macri of the Southern California Commodore & Amiga Network. The
hardware was Hewlett-Packard graphing, scientific calculators, and
Dave and Roger picked up a few of them – all for free!
Robert, and Roger then tried out the latest C64 games -- Rocket 'N
Roll (shoot spaceships), Keystone Kapers (a platform game ported
from the Atari 2600), Croaky (a Frogger-type game), Alien 8 (based
on the Spectrum game where the player searches various rooms to
solve an unspecified mystery), and Zilsspleef (a game in which you
have to avoid hidden mines and solve an unspecified mystery, too).
Then there is the music player compilation, XOXOX Softpack (which
was incomplete because it was missing certain player modules).
Dave had to leave earlier than usual; the car exhaust coming from
was bothering him as the group sat in the restaurant patio. Robert
apologized and said that he didn’t know Dave had a sensitivity to
the air pollution.
Dave gone, Robert wrapped up the meeting by showing off the new C64
Halloween games – Luna (fly a witch and shoot the flying skulls),
Forbidden Forest (move a Rambo-type character and burn down spiders
with his flame thrower), and Get Witchy (a Flappy Bird-type of game
except the player controls a witch).
Robert Bernardo & Dick Estel
the roll call: Present were Robert Bernardo, Roger Van Pelt, Mike
Fard, Dave Smith, Dick Estel, and Randy Stoller. Roger’s brother
Aaron joined us for lunch only.
club voted to make a $50 donation to St. Jude’s Children’s
Hospital, a charity we have supported for many years.
being election month, the existing slate of officers was re-elected
by acclamation: President, Robert Bernardo; vice president, Roger
Van Pelt; Secretary-Treasurer, Dick Estel; and Board of Trustees,
and Dave Smith.
talked a bit about the Classic Los Angeles Computers exhibit that he
had at the December 7 Downtown Los Angeles Mini-Maker Faire, but he
talked more about how filmmakers Rory Muir and Jerold Kress were
still videotaping his Commodore activities (videotaping which has
carried on over a span of more than 10 years!). In fact, they
traveled all the way to
to film the building of Robert’s tool shed which will house
Commodore and Amiga hardware and software.
Commodore L.A. Super Show (CLASS)
returns for a second year,
April 25-26, 2020
. Our show in Seattle, the Pacific Commodore Expo NW (PaCommEx)
will take place June 13 and 14. More information about both shows is
reported that newly-built C64s, named the 64 Maxi, are now available
for pre-purchase in
. And the Commodore 65 appears ready to rise from the dead. Robert
has donated to a fund-raiser to produce moulds for cases for the
Mega65, based on the never-released C65 from CBM.We also saw most of a YouTube video created by the lead
Mega65 developer, a video in which he tells of the computer’s
showed the Ultimate 64 from the estate of the late Bogdan Macri, the
machine being valued at about $650 as customized with new
Kickstarter case and MechBoard 64 mechanical keyboard. We checked
out a number of programs saved on the USB sticks that came with the
computer. One was GEOS 64, which ran from .D64 file in joystick
mode, but did not recognize any RAM expansion because it did not
have the proper Configure file. Another one was
, but Robert died before he reached eastern
(OK, I don’t really know where the
goes, but he died pretty quickly.)
took a look at Lenard Roach’s bill and budget work disk 3.1, but
without entering actual data and without a connected printer, we
could not really appreciate all the program’s features.
also tried to look at our New Member disk, with plans to update it,
but the menu would not load. We have other copies in the library, so
hopefully we can return to this project.
started the year with just four in attendance. Was it the gloomy,
overcast weather? Or did they stay home to watch the
49ers on their way to a Super Bowl Championship? (Sorry, Lenard.)
the cause, Roger, Robert, Dave and Dick arrived at the Panera Bread
Restaurant ready to delve into the amazing world of Commodore. But
first we ate lunch, and the conversation during this part of the
meeting is often as interesting as the formal meeting or more so.
was a brief discussion of diets, particularly the paleo diet. No one
in the group was interested in exploring the possibilities of eating
as did our ancestors of thousands of years ago.
back a shorter distance in time, Dick reminisced about his early
days with the club, which he joined in 1988. At that time membership
was around 150, and we had a Thursday evening meeting as well as the
monthly Saturday morning meeting. Exploring the genesis of the club,
Dick had recently talked by phone with one of the three original
club founders. An article on the beginnings of FCUG will appear in
the newsletter some time during 2020.
topic of life expectancy came up, with someone questioning why in
1900 it was considered to be around 50 years. All of us had
grandparents or great-grandparents born before 1900 who lived well
past 50. Dick had read an explanation theorizing that the figure was
an average. With the high infant mortality rate of that time, the
average was based on a large number of people who lived less than a
year combined with those who lived into their 80s,
all this non-computer foolishness, it was time for business. Dick
presented the annual financial report, which will appear elsewhere
in this newsletter. Our total assets have moved up and down slightly
the last few years but have stayed close to $1,200. Income is nearly
all from dues, while the only expenditures were the club dinner and
a donation to St. Jude Children's Hospital.
reported on his planned trip to
in late February. He will visit four computer clubs in
, and also will meet up with Gaelyne
Gasson, a transplant from
who wrote about Commodore and offered various related services for
on to software and hardware, we made one small step in updating our
new members' disk which had been unchanged for perhaps 30 years.
Robert downloaded a text editor so that we could revise some very
outdated information in the welcome message.
Roger worked on that project, Robert loaded up the new version 1.2
of Super Mario Brothers 64, and several of us tried our hand at this
classic game converted from Nintendo. Though Nintendo had reportedly
tried to shut down websites that carried the game, the developer did
not care and released the bug-fixed version in December.
up was the C64 game, Gruniozerca, from
– a game where you control a guinea pig to catch the falling
carrots. The problem was the game came with confusing instructions;
when were you to catch the green or yellow carrots? Red carrots were
o.k. to catch for points.
new Elite 128 v2 was tried, but it always crashed, even though it
was the NTSC English version. Perhaps it didn't like the JiffyDOS on
the club's C128.
successful were the other C64 games – Manic Miner 64 (a
slow-moving platformer game, even in its new version), Super Vortex
(a vertical-scrolling spaceship shooter), Deer Creek (an adventure
in which the club members couldn't get very far), Kraken (guide a
swimmer in a maze with octopus obstacles), and Amazon Tales 2019 (a
sideways-scroller in which you avoid arrows and animals in the
jungle). Of all these games, it seemed that Amazon Tales 2019 was
the best of the bunch.
By Robert Bernardo and Dick Estel
Once again we had just four in attendance at our meeting – Robert
Bernardo, Dave Smith, Randy Stoller, and Dick Estel.Members from the Sacramento Amiga Computer Club were supposed
to make the three-hour road trip to
and attend the meeting, but they never appeared.
The big news during the business part of the meeting was a new
computer show in Los Angeles, City of STEM. It’s a month-long event in April; Robert will have a display
table one Saturday. The Downtown Maker Faire in L.A.
will no longer be “mini”; it will be a two-day event for 2021
with no show for 2020.
Robert talked about the arduous task of translating 69 pages of the
German instruction manual for the C64 desktop publishing program,
Pagefox. On his A.L.I.C.E. laptop, he has to type a page-at-a-time
the German into LibreOffice (an OpenOffice clone), copy it, dump it
into www.translate.google.com, copy the translation, dump it into a
fresh page in LibreOffice, clean up all the Google translation so
that it sounds like natural English, and then upload that
translation to Las Vegas C= enthusiast, Saj Awan, who will add in
the graphics from the original manual, and then finally make a .pdf
To kick off the day’s presentations, Robert passed around a little
box that he thought had been stolen during a break-in at his house
in 2017, but which he recently discovered. It contained a Vampire
accelerator board for the Amiga A500 and 2000, which he bought back
then for over $500. On Robert’s laptop the members watched an
on-line YouTube video of how to install it.
Robert talked a little about his first computer purchase in 1983, a
C64 for around $200. Although he coveted an Amiga 1000 in 1985, the
$995 price was out of reach at the time. In today’s dollars,
that’s $2,885! He had to settle for a C128 for $200.
On his Amiga 3000, Robert started some classic demos which he has
shown at the Commodore Vegas Expo, Bay Area Maker Faire, Pacific
Commodore Expo NW, and Commodore Los Angeles Super Show, the demos
being State of Art
and 9 Fingers, both by the group Spaceballs.
Then we tried out some recently-released Amiga games, like
Killerball (which looked like it was based on the cult movie,
Rollerball), and utilities like DPaint V (Robert worked on a
roughly-drawn starship Enterprise).
For the C64, we looked at the new Shoot’Em Up Construction Kit
When all the members had left, Robert starting packing up the
equipment but was delayed by a restaurant guest, Jose.He had a strong interest in classic computers and game
consoles, so Robert stayed and showed him the Amiga 3000 and the
Ultimate 64.For the
next 2 hours, Robert let him try Amiga games, like Shadow of the
Beast, Cannon Fodder, Star Wars, and Return of the Jedi, and C64
games, like the newest version of Super Mario Bros. 64.
meeting due to coronavirus restrictions
meeting due to coronavirus restrictions
meeting due to coronavirus restrictions
meeting due to coronavirus restrictions
meeting due to coronavirus restrictions
meeting due to coronavirus restrictions
meeting due to coronavirus restrictions
Robert Bernardo and Dick Estel
Many years ago the club had an annual picnic in October, actually a
potluck on the patio of a member who had a large tract of land and a
beautiful home on the edge of the Fresno-Clovis metro area. This
couple passed away in the early 2000’s, and after a couple of
half-hearted attempts to meet in another member’s back yard, we
settled on an annual lunch, which has a few well defined guidelines:
held at a different restaurant from the one where we have our
held at a different restaurant each year.
is no formal business, no demonstrations, and only minimal
discussion of computer-related matters.
family members are invited, and the club pays.
LUNCH IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS
Readers will certainly understand that this year we faced the
greatest challenge ever – where and how to safely gather under the
rules in place and within the members’ comfort zone. Fresno
just allowed limited inside dining, but most of us are not ready to
eat inside a restaurant. Some were even hesitant about the outside
seating many venues now offer.
President Robert Bernardo scouted a number of locations, and found
that Casa Corona, an excellent Mexican restaurant in northeast Fresno, had sufficient outdoor seating and separation that we were
comfortable scheduling our lunch there. As it turned out, we had
only five in attendance; we sat at three different tables, and no
other patrons were seated in our area. Attending were Robert
Bernardo, Dick Estel, Dave Smith, Roger Van Pelt and his brother
All of us had been adhering to safe practices – limited close
contact with family members, no close contact with others, and masks
in place when out in public.
We had not had a club meeting since February, so it was great to get
together with friends once again. Discussion revolved around what we
had been doing, how we were holding up, and especially Dave’s
regression to hippie days, since he had not been comfortable about
getting a haircut.
Robert reported that AmiWest is still scheduled to take place later
in October, with about 20 people expected. He was still uncertain
about being inside with that many people, especially for the several
hours he would normally spend at the event. With that uncertainty,
he decided not to attend. Instead, he is planning a trip to Washington, to take items to repairman Ray Carlsen, with no-contact drop-off
Where was the electrical outlet? In our first FCUG meeting since
February, Roger and I had arrived early to set up the computer
equipment in the patio of the Panera Bread Restaurant. The Covid
pandemic had canceled all of our other meetings for the year.
However, for October and November there was a relaxation in the
restrictions, and we decided to chance a meeting.
In October we had had our club “picnic” lunch in the patio of a
local Mexican restaurant. Even though indoor dining had opened up at
25% capacity at the time, we decided that eating outdoors was safer.
We decided that the November meeting would follow the same tack,
i.e., having a meeting outdoors would be safer than having it
Yet, to the surprise of Roger and me, the Panera Bread patio
electrical outlet was gone… sealed off with a metal plate. I
figured that the homeless were getting into the patio, and that was
the reason the outlet was closed off. Thinking quickly, we decided
to hold the meeting indoors. I found some socially-distant tables
near the front entrance, and that’s where we placed the minimal
set-up of an Ultimate 64, HDMI monitor, and 1571 disk drive.
Why the minimal set-up? Because our time was limited to 90 minutes,
the new rule at Panera Bread during this time of Covid. We had to
get in quickly and then leave quickly. Member David came in a few
minutes later, and we had to wave him into the restaurant instead of
into the patio.
After we ordered and received our food, we settled down to small
talk. But not too much small talk, because of our time limit. As we
finished the last of our food, I called the meeting to order. There
was no old business, but for new business we had two items on the
agenda. First off was our annual donation to a charity. In absentia,
treasurer Dick had recommended that we donate $50 to the Central
Valley Food Bank. Motion made, seconded, and passed.
Then I made the motion that we have the same roster of officers for
2021 as we had for 2020. Seconded and passed.
I mentioned to the group that in all the months we hadn’t had
meetings, I was still collecting software. Here was a chance to show
some of it in the brief meeting. Not really software but a hardware
update, I showed the new Turbo Mode setting of the Ultimate 64. In
Turbo Mode, the user can pick CPU speeds from 1 MHz. up to a
blistering 48 MHz., making the U64 the fastest implementation of a
To show off the 48 MHz. speed, I tried to run the latest 3D
Construction Kit updated game, A Chance in Hell. However, it was
taking too long to load, and I gave up. It would have to be
presented at another time. While we had been eating, Breadamp v.05,
a music player for the U64, had been playing in the background. Now
we had a chance to look more in-depth into the features of Breadamp.
First, on the demo playlist was the THX audio opening for movies,
played at 22 KHz in 16-bit audio. The other 3 music samples that
were played topped out at 15 Khz in 8-bit audio. Very clear sounding
and not rough like the usual C64 1-bit or 4-bit audio.
Because the U64 had been configured to display PAL video, we were
able to watch 3 of the 170+ nuvies collected on SD card. Having been
around since 2012, Commodore nuvies were composed of up to
approximately 760 still-frame NuFLI (Flexible Line Interlace) images
strung together to make a video. The collected nuvies were either
silent or had non-synced audio. (Well, there was one with synced
audio, but it seemed that for those creating nuvies, syncing audio
was difficult.) We watched the nuvies: C64- WebungRemastered 2019
(two Australian Commodore commercials put together), A-Team (opening
credits of the iconic TV show), and TMS-JCN (video captured of a
demo created on an Amiga and other computers).
Finally, we had to play a game. It was “Wreck It, Ralph,” a new
C64 game just released a few months ago. It was a marvelous
implementation with bright colors, beautiful characters, smooth
movement, and good music. Roger immediately sat down to play the
game and knew what to do, commenting that he had seen the animated
motion pictures based on the game.
While we carried on with the meeting, a young woman on the other
side of the nearly empty dining room had been watching us. Finally,
she spoke up and asked what we were doing. Roger explained about our
club, though she didn’t seem to know what Commodore was. It was
only later that I realized that we should have invited her to our
next meeting (whenever that was going to be).
We had come to the end of our limited time, though no one really
came to push us out. We disassembled the equipment, and before we
carried it out to the car, I opened up a box of C= stuff that Ray
Carlsen gave when I visited him in October. Almost all of it was
VIC-20 software and documentation neatly packed in plastic bags.
David got a Super Graphix Jr. printer interface. I handed over seven
VIC-20 cartridges to Roger for him to examine. His expertise would
come in handy for these rare carts which looked as if they were
meant to be used by ham radio operators. All of the carts had
typewritten labels from the company, “Kustom Computer Response,
Rt. 1 Box 57A, Helotes, Texas 78023,” with the programmer
identified as Harry M. Crouse. The carts came with names, such as
ARRLDXTEST and CQDXTEST (a few days later, Roger told me that ARRL
stood for Amateur Radio Relay League). The carts could be a subject
of a future meeting. However, because of the pandemic, a few days
after our meeting, indoor dining in Fresno was closed, and so, our
next meeting is delayed until indoor dining comes back. That
probably won’t be until some time in 2021.
a year and a half with only one meeting and the annual club lunch,
the Fresno Commodore User Group resumed regular in-person meetings
July 18, 2021
. Five members and two guests attended this “historic” event –
Robert Bernardo, Dave Smith, Roger Van Pelt, Bruce Nieman and Dick
Estel, plus Kevin Staszkow from Roseville and Mike Samboy from
Castro Valley. Kevin and Robert had first met maybe eighteen years
earlier at a Classic Gaming Expo in the Bay Area.
With the usual general conversation during lunch concluded, business
got under way. Dick noted that we had received several donations
from newsletter editor Lenard Roach. Our heartfelt thanks to Lenard.
Robert also turned in over $180 saved up from equipment sales over
the last year.
For various reasons, probably including a world wide pandemic,
Toolbox LA, venue for our Commodore Los Angeles Super Show (CLASS)
had gone out of business. Robert made several scouting trips to
looking for an affordable location and finally connected with the
Burbank VFW Hall. Our cost there will be $1,000 for the two days.
Happily, we have over $500 available from the last CommVEx show in
. The rest will come from admission and raffle ticket sales, with
the event set for November 6 and 7. The Southern California
Commodore & Amiga Network (SCCAN) will join us in sponsoring
this show. You’ll find details about the show, including scheduled
Robert reported that the Living Computers Museum & Labs in
is still closed, leaving the future of the Pacific Commodore Expo NW
up in the air.
Next Kevin entertained and enlightened us with several hardware
items he had brought, some of them previously unknown even to
Robert. First up was the Ultra 128 cartridge, a Shareware
Plus product containing 128 C64 games. With two
one-megabyte EPROMs, the Ultra Cart 128 had 128 8K and 16K cartridge
games. To access a particular game, you had to look at a paper
cheatsheet and find the binary value (for example, 5F) of that game.
Then you dialed that code into the cart’s LED screen by using the
cart’s switches. Then you hit the cart’s reset button to load
and run the game.
Another device with lots of games was another Shareware Plus
product, the Black Magic cart, designed with the same file format as
the popular Magic Desk from the 1980s. The Black Magic cart
contained four one-megabyte EPROMs, spanning 16 image banks of 256K
each, allowing the owner to use up to 320 disk-based games with one
cart. The many games were accessed through an on-screen menu. Click
here for more information on the DDI Ultra Cart 128 and the
Black Magic cart.
Robert plugged in a Commodore Datasette which very slowly loaded
“KaliedB2,” a recent Christopher McGee-designed, C64 BASIC
program that presented a kaleidoscope-like display which slowly drew
four matching figures on the screen (though not Mandelbrot
fractals). Before you ran the program, you had to choose from
between 1 to 50 iterations that would change how the program
calculated the display.
Kevin returned to the stage again with a VIC-20 cartridge, the Behr-Bonz
cartridge from Francois Leveille of
, the cart containing 127 of the most popular games for the VIC. We
watched as Roger briefly played Star Trek, Frogger, Demon Attack,
and a nice version of Choplifter.
The meeting ended with a review of which Commodore clubs are
active, followed by a brief history lesson. Kevin and Mike asked
what our plans are to mark the club’s 40th anniversary this
October; the answer was “we’re working on it.” They asked if
Robert founded the club, which led to a short dissertation on how
two clubs, FCUG and 64UM, became one in the mid 1980s, and a
recitation of the dates we joined – Dick in 1988, Robert in 1995,
and Dave in the late 90s with a break and a recent return. Everyone
else now in the club came along in the 21st century. None of the
founding members were still active and are mostly unknown. As we
parted ways, we looked at the YouTube video of a C64 demo which ran
just from a 1541 disk drive (no computer involved) and played
musical sounds from the drive while displaying patterns on the
screen. The creator was Matthias Kramm, and the demo was called, “Freespin.”
Member Roger arrived first to the meeting, followed by David and
then Robert who got there 10 minutes late. After the usual time to
set up the equipment, lunch was ordered. There was plenty of small
talk, especially about DVD recorders, while they waited for the food
and while they ate when the food arrived.
The meeting proper commenced with Robert asking on a vote to pay Ray
Carlsen $75 for a new power supply that could connect the club C128
or C64/VIC-20CR and a 1541-II/1581 (it had three connectors which
attach to those devices). He had already picked up the power supply
on a recent trip to Ray’s house in
state. Robert made the motion, it was seconded, and the club passed
it unanimously. Robert reminded the members of the October 16-17
Amiwest Show in
and the November 6-7 Commodore Los Angeles Super Show in
. Robert asked Roger whether he would do a CLASS presentation on CAD
3-D (wire-frame only) or the more sophisticated CAD-M. He also asked
if Roger wanted to do a video presentation or a live presentation at
the show. Roger remained non-committal.
First up on the meeting’s demonstrations, Robert showed a few new
programs from a disk sent in by Christopher McGee. One of the
programs was Kalied2, not to be confused with the earlier version of
Kalied2 presented at the July meeting. This new Kalied (short for
Kaleidoscope) asked for the number of iterations from 1-50. After
the number was inputted, you pressed RETURN, and the program
calculated and drew offset triangles on the screen, compared to the
non-offset rectangles of the earlier version. Then Robert tried out
Differentiator, a program which required a knowledge of calculus.
The members couldn’t get very far, because they couldn’t
remember their calculus.
Next, Robert had a presentation on the Deluxe Music Construction Set
run from his Amiga 600. The members marveled over its on-screen
piano keyboard and friendly user buttons. You could grab a note and
move it to the upper or lower music staff. Or you could press the
keys on the on-screen keyboard, and the notes would be placed in the
staff automatically. Then after you placed your notes, you could
press the PLAY button and hear your composition. The members
couldn’t figure out how to change the default musical instrument
of DMCS; Robert didn’t have the 120-page instruction manual, and
there didn’t seem to be one on-line. Roger was able to compose a
little ditty but didn’t save it to the hard drive.
Then Robert pulled out the new cartridge from Evie Salomon, the
BackBit Pro, with its removable, card-edge connectors for the
C64/128, the VIC-20, the Plus/4, and the Atari 800/XE. He explained
and showed the process of dropping programs from a laptop onto a
microSD card and taking that card and placing it into a slot on the
BackBit Pro. Robert had brought his Plus/4 for the presentation, and
so, the BackBit Pro was used with its Plus/4 connector. He plugged
in the BackBit Pro and powered up the Plus/4. No screen. He tried
again and got a shaky screen. He removed the cart and reinserted it.
(Ah, the problems of a dirty cartridge slot in the computer…) This
time upon power-up, he had the BB Pro start menu come up with its
selection of programs that Robert had just downloaded from his
laptop. With the use of the F keys, he showed that utility menus
could be brought up. Back at the start menu, Robert would cursor up
or down among the programs or folders and push ENTER to run the
program or go into the folder.
Robert had 3 new Plus/4 programs saved on the microSD card – Stop
the Express, Encounter, and Archaeologist. The programs loaded at
excellent speed from the BB Pro. They ran properly and displayed
opening screens. Unfortunately, the Plus/4 would not respond to the
joystick control nor to the joystick button. Was it a bad Plus/4
joystick adapter? Was it a bad TED chip in the Plus/4? There were no
music/sound effects. Was it a bad adapter to the external speakers?
Was it a bad TED chip in the computer? (The TED controls joystick
and sound.) A saddened Robert said that the Plus/4 might have to go
back to Ray for repair, though if it was a TED problem, Ray had no
more replacement chips. It was a rare chip to get, and there was no
modern equivalent of it.
After the Plus/4, Robert brought out the Ultimate 64 and ran the
classic CAD-M from Loadstar disk magazine. In this impressive
program, you could easily design an object in wire-frame, solid-fill
it, and rotate it. On the U64 with its maximum 48 MHz., the process
becomes even more fun.
With the help of Roger who also had experience with the program,
Robert showed off the CAD objects that came with program,
solid-filling them and rotating them, the objects being a butterfly,
a jet, and rat (hot) rod. Then Robert cleared the screen and
designed a C=, setting the points, filling it, and then rotating it.
He remarked that his goal was to design a Commodore Los Angeles
Super Show logo on CAD-M and then film it as it rotated. That video
would be used in a CLASS commercial for YouTube.
The presentation was not without a bump. Both Robert and Roger
couldn’t get a standalone program to run a CAD-M animation of its
own logo. David had to leave early, but Robert and Roger kept trying
to get the animation to run. The CAD-M instructions gave no help in
how to get the standalone program running. Half an hour later,
Robert figured how to do it. For the standalone program to work, the
machine language part of CAD-M had to be loaded in its part of
memory. The process was to load and run CAD-M, press the EXIT and
CLR button on its menu, and then load and run standalone program.
With the CAD-M animation now running, Robert wanted to know how to
keep the animation running continually (rotating round and round),
instead of stopping after 1 1/2 rotations. Robert and Roger looked
at the BASIC code of the standalone program, and though Roger was
able to make it run 2 1/2 rotations by changing its number of
statements, they couldn’t determine how to make it rotate
Finally, to wrap up the meeting, Robert ran the venerable Giga-CAD
program on the Ultimate 64. Giga-CAD had been a subject of 3 FCUG
meetings a few years ago and an on-line Commodore Vegas Expo video
starring Roger. Originally, Giga-CAD had been run off of disk where
load times were slow and the loading itself was sometimes
unreliable. With SuperCPU patches installed on the disk and with the
use of the SuperCPU, rendering and rotation of objects was
tolerable. However, the SCPU only had two speeds – 1 MHz. and 20
MHz. – and so that made for switching back to slow speed when
navigating through menus or setting points (20 MHz. was too fast for
controllability even with the patches installed).
This time Giga-CAD was saved as .D64 files on the SD card of the
Ultimate 64, and the U64 had speeds ranging from 1 MHz. to 48 MHz..
There was no disk drive to worry about getting too hot from loading
the many Giga-CAD component files. There was no SCPU to tax a weak
C64/128 power supply.
The Giga-CAD main program still took some time to load; the Super
Snapshot fast loader Robert had on the U64 was disabled or was
incompatible. Once loaded the program ran more smoothly whenever it
called its component files from the .D64s. Robert asked Roger to
play around with the program on the D64, Roger being the expert in
Giga-CAD. Roger took him a bit of time to recall how to use it; the
menus were in German, he had not used the program in a couple of
years, and Robert had not brought the translated, comprehensive,
printed instructions. However, as Roger got more into it, he began
to remember. He popped on a Giga-CAD object, skyscraper. At 48 MHz.,
it rotated better than at the 20 MHz. of the SuperCPU. In fact, he
and Robert tried other, various speeds in the rotational experiment
– 1 MHz. (C64 speed), 2 MHz. (C128 speed), 4 MHz. (Turbomaster
speed), and 8 MHz. (Turbo 8 speed).
U64 maximum speed was fine for rotation and rendering, but it was
not good for menu navigation and placing points; maximum speed made
the cursor too jumpy. After some experimentation, Roger found out
that 1 to 2 MHz. was the appropriate speed for fine placing of
points on the Giga-CAD screen, and 4 to 5 MHz. was good for the
drop-down menu navigation. Roger asked for a way to get to these U64
speeds without having to go through the U64’s set-up menu, i.e.,
perhaps a key combination to change speeds. Robert assured him that
the only way (and a disadvantage) was to go through the U64 set-up
menu. As the presentation ended, Robert encouraged Roger to make a
follow-up video of Giga-CAD and its use with the U64. Robert could
even loan out a spare U64 so that Roger could do his experiments.
Roger was non-committal.
Fresno Commodore User Group (FCUG) is getting back to almost normal.
We still have to wear masks in some situations, but we are confident
that the people who frequent our meeting place and other locations
we are likely to visit are the type of people who have the good
sense to get vaccinated, so our worries are few.
On September 19 Roger, Robert, Dave and Dick met at the Panera Bread
Restaurant that has proved to be one of our best-ever meeting
places. On this particular date, we drew the attention of four other
patrons who spoke to us briefly, all of whom had owned vintage
Commodore machines back in the day.
The main order of business was our annual October club “picnic,”
which has for many years actually been a lunch at a different
restaurant, with no equipment set up. We considered two excellent
restaurants, and Dick called them to see about reservations and what
things were like Sundays at
Neither location accepted reservations. The Black Bear Diner
reported that “Sunday morning is the busiest time of the week.”
Sal’s Mexican Cantina told us, “When we open the doors Sunday at
11, there is a line of people waiting to get in.”
Our mission was simple. Find a good restaurant that people don’t
go to. Did we succeed? We’ll find out October 10. We chose
DiCicco’s, probably the oldest Italian restaurant in
. Different family members have opened locations around town and in
nearby cities, but we will be going to what we consider the
“original.” It’s not actually the original building, but
it’s in pretty much the same location and boasts that Frank
Sinatra ate there when he was in town.
This year’s lunch will be special in that it marks the 40th
anniversary of the founding of the club. About two years ago Dick
spoke by phone with one of the founders, Chuck Yrulegui (roo-LEE-ghee).
He told us that the club was started by himself, Doug, and Kurt (he
could not recall the last names). Chuck produced the newsletter the
first year. We’ll have more about this in a future newsletter.
Robert reported on a couple of upcoming shows – AmiWest in
, and of more interest to FCUG members, the Commodore Los Angeles
Super Show (CLASS), to be held November 6 and 7 at the VFW hall in
. The building includes a bar, and one entrance to the building is
through this bar. Masks are required in the bar, but not in the
section where the show will be held. The show is co-sponsored by
FCUG and by the Southern California Commodore and Amiga Network (SCCAN).
Robert had invited David Pleasance, head of Commodore Business
Machines UK, to CLASS, but because of pandemic travel restrictions,
it was doubtful that he could get from
in time for the show. However, other guests would be at the show,
like Marc Rifkin of Commodore Business Machines (US) and Lenard
Roach, author of Commodore books and editor of The Interface
This led into a discussion of active Commodore clubs. The Clark
County Commodore Computer Club (5C’s) of
maintains an ambiguous website, but former members recently
confirmed that the club is no more. This organization partnered with
FCUG to present most of the Commodore Vegas Expos. As so often
happens, the club was held together by one or two individuals, and
the passing of their president and the loss of their meeting place
spelled the end of the club. Robert mentioned that there was the
Central Texas Commodore User Group, and Dick verified that it was up
and running. (The FCUG website has a listing of active
clubs known to us.)
Before going into hardware/software presentations, Robert talked
about his discovery of the Retro-Printer
Module, a device from
which would allow classic computers to print to modern USB printers.
The RPM uses a Raspberry Pi computer to grab the data coming from
the classic computer and then translate it into data the USB printer
understands. The RPM not only is for Commodore computers but for
other classic computers, like Spectrum, Atari, and more.
With Robert’s Amiga 600 set up, the club members looked at the
Deluxe Music Construction Set for the second time. However, this
time Robert brought the comprehensive DMCS manual. Roger promptly
started going through the book in order to change the default
instrument that the program uses. He was able to change the
instrument, but he couldn’t figure out how to use/play it.
Robert had brought a box of used, 5 1/4” disks that he recently
obtained from a former C64 user. The members looked through the
disks with David picking up at least one and Roger taking a few. On
David’s disk marked Trek, Robert became excited into thinking
there were Star Trek programs. That excitement became disappointment
when the disk directory was run and none of the programs were Star
Trek-related. On one of Roger’s disks, there was a BASIC program,
Lunar Lander, written by the famous Jim Butterfield. The members ran
the program on the club C128 (in 64 mode). Like later Lunar Lander
programs, the player had to maintain thrust on his spaceship while
trying to soft-land the lander and not crash it into the surface.
This was a simple program; the spaceship was built from DATA
statements, and the resultant sprite resembled an upright oval.
Robert wondered whether more DATA statements could be added to build
rocket ship fins on the oval and make it look more spacey.
At the August FCUG meeting, the members tried out the new BackBit
Pro cartridge with Commodore Plus/4. This month it was time to try
it with various other computers. First, it was with Roger’s
VIC-20. No matter how many times Robert inserted the cart with its
VIC adapter into Roger’s VIC-20, the opening screen would not come
up. Thinking the cartridge port on that VIC was faulty or dirty,
Robert tried out the BB on his VIC-20. No response… just a blank
screen. However, when he then tried the Behr-Bonz multi-cart from
Francois “Leveille” Eslapion, he got an instant response right
into the game selection menu.
Then Robert tried the BB with its Atari adapter on his Atari 800XL.
(An Atari computer in a Commodore meeting!) The results were
slightly more encouraging. Out of roughly every 12 insertions, the
BB would be recognized twice. Most of the time, he got a blank
screen, or he would be put into the Atari’s self-diagnostic
screen. When BB was recognized, he would get the menu. Sometimes
pressing SPACE would select the game, sometimes not. On the BB’s
microSD card, he had a .crt copy of Star Trek: Space Operations
Simulator. However, he could not figure out how to start it from the
BB menu. He pushed the RETURN key, the SELECT button, even the
button on the joystick in both port 1 and port 2. Nothing. He tried
other keys. Nothing. However, when he inserted the original Atari
Star Trek: SOS cart, the game came up right away and was playable.
Then he tried out BB with its C64/128 adapter in the club C128. Once
again the BB was only recognized sometimes, no matter how many times
the cartridge was inserted and reinserted into the C128. When it was
recognized, he would easily cursor down the menu and press RETURN on
the game he wanted.
Robert and Roger thought and thought. It couldn’t be that all the
cartridge ports in all the computers were dirty. And why did the
same computers respond correctly when a more standard cart was
inserted? Conclusions? The BB was unreliable. Roger called it
(Robert reported all of this to BackBit developer, Evie Salomon. She
decided that the cartridge firmware needed to be updated and that
the cartridge could have cold solder joints. She asked that it be
returned to her for repair.)
in the day, the club held an annual picnic in October, at the home
of a member who had a large tract of land and a beautiful home on
the edge of the Fresno-Clovis metro area. This couple passed away in
the early 2000’s, and we eventually settled on holding an annual
lunch, which has a few well-defined guidelines:
It’s held at a different restaurant from the one where we have our
held at a different restaurant each year.
formal business and no demonstrations are given, and discussion of
computer-related matters is minimal.
members are invited, and the club pays.
This year we called a couple of places in advance, only to learn
Sunday was their busiest time. We settled on DiCicco’s, probably
’s oldest Italian restaurant in continuous operation. There are
six locations in the Fresno-Clovis area, as well as
, Kingsburg, and Oakhurst (in the foothills).
The DiCicco family emigrated to the
after World War II and came west in 1952. The “Four Sons of
Italy” bought an existing restaurant and prospered. We ate in the
location considered the “original,” although it is a few blocks
from the actual spot.
Different family members branched out and opened other locations
over the years, and it has been a Fresno-Clovis favorite for roughly
Robert Bernardo, Roger Van Pelt and his brother Aaron, Dave Smith,
and Dick Estel were in attendance, and all agreed that the food and
service were excellent.
Conversation ranged over a variety of topics. One was the closing of
Rasputin Records (CDs, DVDs, etc.) in the old Tower Records building
and the re-opening next door of the Mad Monk, with an even bigger
inventory than Rasputin’s.
Robert and Roger told of their project to film a demo to be shown at
the Commodore LA Super Show (CLASS) in November. “Bernardo
Productions,” set up in the University Square Hotel the previous
evening, had to deal with the usual glitches, keeping them up ‘til
The relative merits of Dish-TV, DirecTV, cable, and the increasing
rates were thoroughly reviewed with some discussion of how to obtain
discounts. There was a related financial topic, the scarcity and
excessive cost of DVD recorders.
Despite being full of pasta,
calzone, pizza, and/or spaghetti, we
managed to conclude the lunch with dessert – for some of us a
modest piece of cheesecake, and for Aaron, a sinfully decadent
“Chocolate Madness” – dark chocolate cake, dark chocolate
frosting, and more.
At our November meeting we will have our usual program, plus
observance of the club’s 40th anniversary.
first it looked as if the attendees at our 40th Anniversary club
celebration would be the “usual suspects” – Robert Bernardo,
Roger Van Pelt, Dave Smith, and Dick Estel. As we were helping
Robert bring in equipment from his car, a man got out of the vehicle
parked next to Robert’s car and said, “Hello, Robert.” It was
Andrew Wiskow, from Riverside County, and his son Alvin. Andrew had
joined the club years ago and drove up from southern California a
few times, bringing little Alvin with him. Military service and his
subsequent civilian job prevented Andrew from visiting us for a long
time, but a schedule change allowed him to join the special
celebration. “Little” Alvin was now 20, about 6’ 3”, and
best of all, able to share driving duties.
As we were setting up the equipment, we talked to a couple eating
next to our tables. They were familiar with the C64 and had used one
for record-keeping in their photo business back in the day.
When the meeting got under way Dick reported that we had been
receiving donations from Interface Editor Lenard Roach every few
weeks, which the club greatly appreciated. Then the membership voted
to make our annual charity donation, $50 to St. Jude’s
Children’s Hospital in Memphis.
Robert reported on the Commodore LA Super Show (CLASS) held November
6 and 7 in Burbank. Attendance was 27 people, slightly down from the
first CLASS in 2019. Among those attending was Mark Rifkin who
worked at Commodore Business Machines from 1988 to 1993, and David
Pleasance who worked at CBM UK from 1983 to 1994 and who video-conferenced
CLASS attendees were enthusiastic about continuing the event next
year. A major part of CLASS was funded from remaining CommVEx funds;
with those funds and CLASS 2021 ticket and raffle sales, there was a
$24 profit to be applied to the next show. With rent in the $1,000
range, paying for a 2022 event will be a challenge. CLASS used to be
in the spring, and CLASS 2022 will probably move back to spring with
a May date.
Dave Smith brought a number of old newsletters printed out from the
Internet, most from Australia and most from 1981 (FCUG’s founding
year). One single issue was a half-inch thick; most were the more
typical ten or twelve pages. Dick brought the first issue of the
FCUG newsletter from November 1981. About two years ago he had
talked to the man who produced the first year’s newsletters.
For the presentation segment of our meeting, Robert showed a few
minutes out of the Roger Van Pelt video on CAD-M, a Loadstar 64
program from 1986. The video was filmed for CLASS 2021, and
subsequently, it was put on YouTube. CAD-M was a sophisticated but
easy-to-use computer aided design program which ran adequately on
the C64 but runs much faster with acceleration from a SuperCPU or
Robert had the Ultimate 64 set up, and he described its functions to
Andrew and Alvin. He mentioned that it was out-of-stock at the
moment, due to parts shortages caused by the pandemic.
Then Robert showed some hardware and much software that he bought
from Wayne and Sonia Aller at CLASS 2021. The Allers were university
professors who had a Studio City (Los Angeles) business, CompuLearn,
which taught kids about computers. With VIC-20’s and C64’s, they
taught children such as Colin Hanks, son of actor Tom Hanks; and
Ahmet and Moon Zappa, the kids of songwriter Frank Zappa.
The hardware included a boxed Wico trackball, a Tech Sketch LP-10S
light pen, and a Chirpee voice recognition module. The software was
composed of several educational programs – Match Maker Spanish,
Batalla de Palabras, Hop Along Counting, Lion’s Workshop, Trains,
and In Search of the Most Amazing Thing – and the Chirpee voice
recognition software, Studio 64 music creation program, and the
Micro Illustrator program that went with the Tech Sketch light pen.
The educational programs were saved for another meeting, and Robert
started off with the Chirpee module and its software running off the
club C128 and its CRT monitor. Out of the several programs on the
Chirpee disk, Robert ran the Balloon program in which the player had
to fly a balloon by speaking into the module, “Up” or
“Down.” Robert had some success with flying the balloon, but
when Andrew tried it, the microphone in the module did not respond
to his voice. Because much of the program was written in Basic,
Robert thought that with compilation or with acceleration, the
program would respond better to voice commands.
Robert had brought chocolate cake for the 40th anniversary of the
club, and as the club members took turns at Chirpee, the cake was
passed out. It was totally devoured!
Next up was a look at the Studio 64 music creation program running
off the C128. Not as sophisticated as the Deluxe Music Construction
Kit for the Amiga which was demoed in past meetings, Studio 64 also
let the user put musical notes on a staff for playback.
Interestingly, the notes were made of PETSCII characters and thus
appeared graphically rough in appearance.
After a quick look at Studio 64, Robert connected the Tech Sketch
light pen to the C128 and ran its Micro Illustrator program. Robert
had connected the light pen to the wrong joystick port, and the
program was not responding correctly because of that. However,
before he could correct this and run the program again, Dave had
investigated why the restaurant was so empty. Where had everyone
gone in Panera Bread? He returned to the meeting and stated that
because of a lack of employees, management had decided to close the
indoor dining area at 2 and to keep the drive-through open. It was
almost 3 when we discovered this.
Feeling guilty for going so long past closing time, the members
decided to stop the meeting right there. The equipment was hurriedly
disassembled, and Andrew and Alvin left for the long drive back to
southern California, saying that they would return for another
FCUG continued celebrating its 40th anniversary with its December
meeting, but only president Robert and v.p. Roger were there.
old business, Robert remarked that he still had to post his
left-over photos from the Commodore Los Angeles Super Show 2021. In
new business, it was time to hold FCUG elections. Robert motioned to
keep the same 2021 officers for 2022. The motion was seconded and
For CLASS 2022, Robert said that there was $26.00 which was the
remainder from CLASS 2021. CLASS 2021 had started off with a $400+
amount to devote to the show. With only $26 this time, the show
would be hard-pressed to break even with only ticket sales and the
show raffle to cover a $1,000 Burbank VFW venue fee ($1,200 if the
venue decided to raise rates). Robert and Roger bounced around ideas
to raise money for CLASS. Sell items on eBay? Possibly. Raise CLASS
admission? No. Because CLASS 2022 was going to be in the spring and
the last show had been in November 2021, the show would have to be
organized relatively quickly. Who would be the CLASS presenters?
Podcaster Doug Compton from
? Repairperson Paul Resendez from southern
? Musician Seth Sternberger? David Pleasance talking about his book,
From Vultures to Vampires, volume 2? Roger Van Pelt giving a
presentation on how to convert a C64 Giga-CAD object to Blender?
Then Robert and Roger proceeded to the presentations of the day.
Robert showed off the new C128 commercial game, “Attack of the
Petscii Robots,” the first commercial C128 program in decades.
(Attack also sold in C64 and Plus/4 versions.) The Attack program
disks (a 5 1/4” 1571 disk and a 3 1/2” 1581 disk) came in a very
professional-looking box, along with a color manual and a C64
adapter for the use of a Super Nintendo joypad. The SN joypad would
conveniently place several buttons in-hand which was necessary for
easy gameplay. Without the joypad, control was left to keys
scattered across the C128 keyboard. Attack wouldn’t load with
JiffyDOS, and Robert turned JD off. Roger found that the graphical
adventure game itself had sprites on a colorful, bit-mapped,
graphical background; that’s on 40-column screen. At the same
time, on the 80-column screen, a map would be shown of the game
area. Unfortunately, Roger brought the wrong club CRT monitor and
also had not brought an 80- column cable. The next meeting, he’d
bring the correct items and a SN joypad, too.
Then came the C64 games. Slip Stream was a 3- D shooter; you flew an
angular spaceship, shooting the objects that appeared before you in
space. It was hampered by a very slow loading time and somewhat
monotonous music. Based on the novelette, the Briley Witch
Chronicles was another graphical adventure game with good graphics.
Like the above Attack of the Petscii Robots, it would take several
hours to get through the game. Then there was Sonic the Hedgehog, a
port from the classic Sega game. Authentic to the original game,
Sonic was declared a milestone in C64 programming by those who
0thought that a port was impossible. However, to do its amazing
scrolling background and gameplay, the game needed a Commodore RAM
expander (1700, 1750, 1764, or emulated RAM expansion in the
Ultimate 64 or Turbo Chameleon). And it took a long time to load as
it put all that data into the RAM expander. This was version 1.0 (at
the time of this writing, the improved 1.2 and cracked versions had
On another table, Robert had set up the Amiga 500 with v8
motherboard and a Vampire 500 v2 accelerator, which made the A500
hundreds of times faster than its original specification. First,
Robert loaded up SysInfo, a little Amiga utility which calculated
and displayed the speed, identified chip versions, and showed the
amount of RAM in the system. The utility confirmed that the
A500/V500 combo was one of the fastest classic Amiga computers
available these days!
Then Robert ran a full-screen, HDMI version of Doom. This notorious
first-person shooter used lots of computer resources, but on the
A500/V500 combo, it ran smoothly and without any problem. To further
show the speed of the combo, Robert ran a MPEG video, “Gali the
Alligator,” a bit of computer animation which was a funny spoof of
a kids’ TV show. It, too, ran smoothly. However, due to funny
“gore,” it was not meant to be shown to young children.
Unfortunately, a child with her parents was passing near when the
video was running and saw the animated puppets being slaughtered.
The child was amused, as were her parents. Robert could only
sheepishly say, “Sorry!”
Finally, Robert got into what the A500/V500 combo could emulate. It
had many emulators on its Compactflash drive, like C64 and two
Macintosh emulators. Robert said that one of the Mac emulators,
Fusion, had come with a folder full of apps, which worked for awhile
but then deleted those apps (Self-destruct? Virus? Autodelete after
trial run?). The apps were replaced by a video entitled, "Don't
Copy that Floppy," filmed by the software industry. In the
part-humorous, part-serious, early 90’s video, a rap song asked
people to not copy disks! Both Robert and Roger laughed at the
cheesy acting and the boring industry types in the video.
Like what had occurred in November, Panera Bread decided to close
its doors early at
, due to a lack of workers. And so, Robert and Roger had to cut
short the meeting, leaving out further investigation into the Amiga
500/Vampire 500 combo and other new C64 games.
Most of the regulars and a couple of our occasional attendees made
up a group of five for the first meeting of 2022. These were Robert
Bernardo, Roger Van Pelt, Dick Estel, Randy Stoller, and Bruce
Nieman. It was noted that Robert had been president for 25 years.
Most small organizations like ours are held together by the efforts
of one dedicated member, and we appreciate that Robert is filling
We had planned to hold the Commodore LA Super Show (CLASS) in
mid-May, but the venue was not available, so the dates will be June
25 and 26 (a change from the dates we discussed at the previous
meeting). The CLASS location is the Burbank VFW hall. More
information is available on the event
website, the Commodore
Forum, and on Facebook at the Commodore Los Angeles Super Show
– CLASS page.
Robert had set up the Commodore Amiga 500 with Vampire 500
accelerator. Usually, our meetings were very 8-bit oriented, and
member Bruce, who was a big Amiga fan, listened politely to that
talk. However, with the emphasis on Amiga this time, Bruce’s
interest shot up. As Robert spoke of how an Amiga 4000 was repaired
at CLASS 2021, Bruce chimed in on how his Amiga 2000 needed repair,
too. Randy jumped into the discussion by asking what was wrong with
the A2000 with Bruce answering it was having hard drive problems.
Robert said it could be cured by replacing the drive mechanism with
a solid-state solution, the SCSI2SD board (SD card to SCSI connector
on the A2000). Bruce also wanted certain programs found and
restored. Robert and Randy said that .ADF (Amiga Disk File) archives
were on the Internet and that .ADF’s could be run like a disk from
a Gotek drive, essentially a unit which took USB sticks and ran the
.ADF’s off the sticks. Bruce didn’t know about .ADF’s and
Goteks; Robert said that he would bring his external Gotek for Bruce
to try out at the next meeting. In fact, Bruce said that he would
bring his A2000 to the next meeting… no easy task because of the
computer’s bulk and weight.
One game for which Bruce had been looking was found on Robert’s
A500/V500. The game was part platformer, part exploration. Though
Bruce played it on the Robert’s A500, he really wanted it back on
his A2000. Robert and Randy assured him that the game could be found
on the Internet as an .ADF or as a WHDLoad game. Bruce didn’t know
what WHDLoad was, and Randy explained that they were formally
disk-based Amiga games which had been converted to run off a hard
Then Robert showed off more of the capabilities of the A500/V500,
the fastest classic Amiga you can get. In the desktop folder of
Videos, he ran the MPEG-1 video of a Megan Trainor song. The
computer ran the video with perfect sound sync, though there would
be the slightest video “stuttering” at times. He hadn’t
downloaded any MPEG-2 videos to try out, though he surmised that the
computer would have a harder time at running them smoothly due to
their larger file size and higher resolution.
To finish off the meeting, Robert ran Lightwave v3 on the Amiga.
Lightwave was the 3-D rendering program used to create scenes for
movies and TV shows, such as
5 and Seaquest DSV. Immediately, Roger’s interest was piqued,
because he was the default go-to guy for Commodore CAD programs (and
knew how to use Blender on other computer platforms). The Lightwave
menus were hard to read (which Robert discovered later was the fault
of his LCD screen); if Roger stood back, he was just about able to
read the menus. He went straight to loading in an object, rotating
it, moving the camera around, and then rendering the object, all at
a speed hundreds of times faster than the original Amiga.
He was very curious to play with the system even more, but Robert
had to leave for
. Robert promised he would bring back the A500/V500 for the next
meeting. Before everybody departed, Robert apologized for not
showing the new Attack of the PETSCII Robots for the C128. Though
there was an 80-column mode element to the game, the wrong monitor
was brought which required a different 80-column cable. However,
that did not stop discussion of the game. Inside the game box was a
Super NES controller adapter to connect the controller to the
computer user port. Randy explained that the game was far easier to
control with the SNES controller rather than with the use of keys
scattered across the Commodore. Roger and/or Randy would bring a
SNES controller to the next meeting. And Randy gave to Robert a 3-D
printed case for the SNES adapter, so it could look more finished.
Stockton two hours away, Robert arrived first to the meeting place.
He was able to start setting up the equipment, and soon member Dave
joined him, followed by Roger. They ordered lunch, and near the end
of it, Robert commenced the meeting. Having no old business to
discuss, Robert went into new business. First new business… the
preparations for the June 25-26 Commodore Los Angeles Super Show.
Robert had made the down payment for the venue, the Burbank VFW
hall. Roger agreed that his CLASS video presentation, C64 Giga-CAD
objects being converted to Blender, would be filmed in April or May.
Second, Robert said he had applied for exhibit tables at the April 2
City of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) festival at
the Columbia Memorial Space Center in Downey, California. He was
still waiting approval for one or two tables which would show off an
Ultimate 64, an Amiga 500 with Vampire 500 accelerator, and possibly
more. Also in new business, Robert reported that a new,
long-distance member had joined the club, and he would need a New
Member Disk. A brief look at the New Member Disk directory showed
that the opening text file had to be revised (the late 1990’s text
file said that a free C64 would be given to new members!) and that
certain utility programs (which were already on the 1541 Test/Demo
disk) could be replaced with something else, like a fun game. Robert
made a motion to update the disk, and the members approved the
motion unanimously. Robert would take the disk and modify it
said that he had ordered the Retro-Printer Module from England.
Consisting of a “hat” to be attached to a Raspberry Pi 4b
computer, the RPM would let the user use a modern USB printer with
Commodore computers. The module itself cost over $115! Roger was
very interested in having new printers for Commodores. Dave talked
about the best Epson printers which used individual tanks of ink,
thus cutting down the cost of buying all-color-in-one ink
cartridges. Dave said the best deal on Epson printers was through
Costco. Using the laptop, Robert went to Costco.com and found some
likely Epsons to purchase.
going to the hardware/software presentations, Robert showed a few
minutes of the "FX-Grabs 3" Tape (Video Toaster "Kiki
Effects" raw footage studio shoot)” which was on YouTube. In
the early 1990’s, NewTek’s Video Toaster was the premiere,
low-cost, NTSC video switcher for the Amiga 2000/3000/4000. Built
into the Video Toaster were special effects that could be overlaid
onto broadcast video. The effects included Kiki Wipes (and more),
named for actress and Newtek spokesperson, Kiki Stockhammer. In the
video, Kiki was directed to go through various motions in front of a
only showed about 4 minutes of the 30-minute video; as Kiki went
through her silhouetted motions in front of the camera, it was too
provocative to keep showing, especially since restaurant goers were
passing by! Robert said that if the members wanted to finish seeing
the rest of the video, they could go to this
link. There was also an 8-minute video of Jack Tramiel, head of
Commodore Business Machines, filmed in 1983, but Robert decided to
show that at a future meeting.
the new Unijoysticle 2+ and a little bit of its accompanying
video. The Unijoysticle 2+ was an adapter that connected to the
computer joystick ports and would let the user wirelessly use
Bluetooth controllers, joysticks, and mice. It worked with Commodore
and Amigas (adapters may be needed, depending on the computer).
Robert had brought two Bluetooth NES-style joypads, but he forgot to
charge them up, and so, the demonstration with the Unijoysticle 2+
was put on hold until the next meeting.
showed off the Muppet Learning Keys, a very large tablet built by
Koala Technologies, the same company famous for the Koalapad drawing
tablet. Muppet Learning Keys came with a box but with no
instructions nor floppy disk for the C64. Fortunately, Robert had
downloaded the .D64 of the Muppet Diskovery Disk from the Internet,
though unfortunately he had not found the instructions on the Net.
He connected the MLK to the Ultimate 64 and ran the likely LOAD file
from the disk. Though the U64 had a built-in SD drive (i.e., no
mechanical drive to slow a LOAD), the .D64 still took a long time to
load, and Robert thought this would test kids’ patience (young
children were the audience for MLK). With a lot of poking at the MLK
keys, Robert and Roger discovered that the cursor keys and the
RETURN worked but couldn’t get the other tablet keys to do
anything. Some animal images appeared on the screen, but without the
instructions, Robert and Roger didn’t know what to do with them.
Conclusion – some success with MLK but more had to be learned.
(Weeks later on the Commodore 64/128 forum of Facebook, Robert was
finally able to find a user who uploaded the MLK instructions to
Last played at
the January meeting, the C128 version of Attack of the PETSCII
Robots returned, but this time the correct 40/80-column monitor was
available. Now the members could see the game in 40 columns, and
with the push of a switch, in 80 columns, too! It was a revelation;
not only was there a 40-column opening screen to the game, but there
was also an 80-column opening screen. The members saw the game map
on the 80-column screen; in fact, they could navigate the game by
going through the map and then switch to 40 columns to see the game
in close-up detail. Very sophisticated! On the 40-column screen, the
robots looked like the Daleks from Dr. Who.
There was a
little bit of confusion on how to activate the Super Nintendo
gamepad to be used with the game, but Robert and Roger figured it
out by a careful reading of the opening menu. With the SNES gamepad
connected to the C128 user port via an adapter, the gameplay was
excellent and very convenient. No more poking at various keys on the
C128… Just use the buttons on the gamepad.
To end the
meeting, the members looked at some C64 games – the new games,
Retaliate, Berzerk (PAL), and Santa Force; and the classic games –
Pooyan, Katakis, and Boom. Retaliate gave the player no weapons at
the start, Santa Force had Santa in his sleigh shooting at enemies
in the sky, and Berzerk (PAL) had lots of speech but no background
scrolling. Pooyan was cute with the player having to shoot balloons;
Katakis had good music, interesting enemies, and a nice background;
and Boom, which was a Doom clone, failed to load.
Robert Bernardo and Dick Estel
With four members present - Robert Bernardo, Roger Van Pelt, Bruce
Nieman, and Dick Estel – the meeting started with the announcement
that the April meeting will be on the 10th, since our regular date is
Robert brought us up to date on two events coming up in southern
. Sponsored by FCUG and the Southern California Commodore & Amiga
Network, the Commodore LA Super Show (CLASS) will take place June 25
and 26 at the Burbank VFW Hall. Red Martian, a Commodore musician from
, will perform at the event. The official website of the event is http://www.portcommodore.com/class
Robert will have two Commodore/Amiga tables at City of
on April 2. STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
(More information at https://www.cityofstem.org/).
Also in April Robert will travel to
for the Vintage Computer Festival East. He had not attended this event
for a number of years, but the 2022 event would mark the 40th
anniversary of the C64. How could he resist? https://vcfed.org/events/vintage-computer-festival-east/
At the end of May, Robert will attend the Hollywood Charity Horse Show
(http://horseshow.org) which is
hosted by Commodore advertising veteran, William Shatner. When Robert
asked for suggestions on what C= items Shatner should autograph (if
there is time at this year’s abbreviated event), Roger thought of a
Commodore calculator – small and easy to carry.
It seems that our presence at Panera Bread nearly always attracts the
attention of a few other patrons. Most of those who ask us about our
activities turn out to have used a Commodore or other computer from
that era. In March we had three “visitors” who stopped by briefly.
With old and new business done, we went into the main hardware topic
of the meeting, fixing Bruce’s Amiga 2000. At first glance, it
seemed that everything was all right with the machine; it booted
correctly into the desktop screen, OS 3.1 running correctly. However,
on closer inspection, all was not well. The mouse was half-functional
with the right button not working, a detriment when you have to
activate certain menu items with that button. The graphics card
external port was loose in its mount. The worst was that there were
about two dozen games that seemed installed but really weren’t. When
you clicked on a game icon, the computer asked for the game disk. All
game disks had been lost; thus there was no way to start the games. At
first, Robert thought that the games could be made playable with the
use of a Gotek card drive, i.e., run a disk image (.ADF, Amiga Disk
File) of each game off the Gotek. That would entail the purchase of a
Gotek from amigastore.eu located in
Bruce didn’t want to go through that; he just wanted to run the
games directly off the hard drive. For that, WHDload would have to be
installed on the drive. WHDload is an application which takes formerly
disk-based programs and runs modified versions of those programs to
work off a hard drive. Robert didn’t know the process of installing
WHDload, but Duncan MacDougall, member of
’s The Other Group of Amigoids and visitor to FCUG a few years ago,
knew how to do it. Offering to transport the A2000 to
, Robert asked Bruce to bring back the computer another time.
Diagnosing the A2000 took up most of the meeting, but after that was
finished, it was time to move on to lighter fare. Robert ran various
new games off the Ultimate 64, the games being U-Type (a shooter with
the title playing off the well-known game, R-Type), Lane Crazy (the
balls looked more like slugs), Bagman 2 (collect moneybags in this
platformer), Space Planters (strategy/puzzle), and Tutankham (a maze
game). To end the meeting, the members viewed the Commodore nuvies,
CVGL 15 Convention, HomeCon66, HomeCon 67 (all three were composed of
video and still shots taken at gaming shows), and Miami Vice Nuvie 20
(the opening titles to the classic Miami Vice TV show).
On a cool Sunday morning, five faithful FCUG members gathered at the
Panera Bread restaurant. On hand were Robert Bernardo, Roger Van
Pelt, Dave Smith, Bruce Nieman, and Dick Estel.
brought in a Canon EOS 10D camera body he wanted to sell, having
recently acquired a new Canon EOS Rebel T7. The old lenses fit the
new camera, so Dick kept them, and gave Dave a good price on a
venerable 10D. This triggered a discussion of cameras, lenses, and
prices, which continued over lunch.
usual, our computer set-ups attracted the attention of a few other
patrons. One told us that a C64 was his first computer, and he was
eager to tell his 14-year old daughter about the sighting. A teenage
boy was especially interested, and we gave him a phone number and
our website for further exploration.
to official business, Robert and Roger were planning a video session
in which Roger will record a presentation on converting C64 Giga-CAD
objects to Blender, the presentation to be shown at the Commodore LA
Super Show (CLASS) in Burbank in June. More information is available
us some of his photos and video, Robert reported on his attendance
at the April 2 City of STEM festival in Downey. He had set up three
systems – a SX-64, an Amiga 1200, and an Ultimate 64. Murphy’s
Law reared its ugly head about three hours into the day when the
SX64 stopped working. The Amiga lasted another three and a half
hours and also gave up the ghost. Happily, the Ultimate worked
perfectly all day.On
Robert’s to-do list for future such events – bring back-up
Robert estimated attendance at about 3,000, dozens of whom stopped
by his tables to see and play with the old and new classics, like
Oregon Trail, Donkey Kong, Ms. PacMan, Super Mario Bros., Sonic the
Hedgehog, Star Wars, the Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the
In addition to the Vintage Computer Festival East in New Jersey
later this month, Robert is planning to attend the Vintage
West Festival at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View in
Robert also gave an update on the psychology experiments conducted
by Dr. Nancy Dess of Occidental College in Los Angeles. She used
Commodore computers and other equipment to control and log her work
with rats subjected to various types of stimuli. The equipment had
been in use until 2020. She was retiring and was donating all her
Commodore items to Robert. The day after the City of STEM festival,
Robert went to the college to talk to the doctor, pick up the items,
and take more photos. He showed us those photos but forgot to bring
the Dess disks which had the specialized programs on them. FCUG has
of Robert’s photos from his original visit with Dr. Dess.
Eventually, the new photos of Robert’s latest visit to the college
will be posted.
Roger gave Bruce a GO-64! Interface cartridge for the Amiga
computer.He had found
it at a Clovisantique store
and had bought it for $10.The
cartridge would connect to the external disk drive port of an Amiga
computer and then with a serial cable, you would connect a Commodore
1541/1571/1581 disk drive to the Amiga.Then you would run the GO-64! disk which would start a C64
emulator on the Amiga.With
the emulator running, you could then load disk programs from the
above drives into the emulator and run them.Robert said that he had the same interface and would look for
the disk(s) and instructions for Bruce.
Moving on to computer games, Robert loaded Cloneimals, the first and
possibly only 80-column scrolling game for the C128. Robert bought
the program in 2008, but developer John Brown had provided him with
a new and improved version (better scrolling and collision
detection). The program used software-created sprites (not hardware
sprites) to create the shooter and targets.
Robert had downloaded an archive of about 500 Commodore 128 text
showed the first two to us.The
first one was Ten Little Indians.At the start of the game, you find yourself in a railway
carriage and only have a limited number of responses before the
tried the game twice, but no matter what text command he used, the
game didn’t understand.The
second was the 7 Doctors, which seemed based on Dr. Who.This text adventure was more sophisticated and understood
more commands than Ten Little Indians.You start the game by being in the phone booth (Tardis), and
Roger figured that you have to find your way out of it to continue
the adventure.Through much
trial-and-error, Roger finally used the command, “pull lever,”
and the door to the booth opened.That’s
how far we got into the game before going on to the next program.
and 500 C128 text adventures were not the only surprises at the
meeting. Robert showed off the new Flight Simulator II XL, a
bug-fixed version of the original 1984 program.The XL version was
just a couple of weeks old. Both Robert and Roger took turns trying
to fly the plane off the runway, but they didn’t know where the
throttle was to accelerate.They
both crashed into the water near the runway.They would have to study of the FSII flight manual in order
to pilot successfully. Robert didn’t know how the XL version
compared with the SuperCPU version of FSII.Roger mentioned that his brother would be very interested in
this program since he flew model airplanes.
Robert had some games that would not load, but he finally loaded
Sever the Wicked, a game in which you only had 24 seconds to shoot
as many skull sprites on the screen, and there were dozens of them
to shoot.Roger was able to
get to 76 shot in 24 seconds.
Then Robert loaded a game that FCUG newsletter editor Lenard Roach
had been developing, the Bible Trivia Game.Lenard said that it was a Wheel of Fortune-type game, but
Robert and Roger thought it was more a multiple-choice type of game.You were presented with a question and had to pick answer A,
B, or C.If you picked the
correct answer, you had some music and a flashing screen.If you picked the wrong answer, you got a strange-sounding
beep.Robert thought the
program needed some color graphics to break up the boring text, and
both Robert and Roger thought the rapidly-flashing screen was too
irritating.However, there was
a flaw which Robert and Roger observed and about which Lenard had
warned.Sometimes, after the
correct answer was picked, the game would break instead of playing
music – a Data Overflow error.The
guys examined the offending BASIC line but could not see anything
wrong with it.They examined
the lines around the offending line.Still
nothing.Though Robert was not
a programmer with good debugging skills, he thought that running the
program through the Blitz 64 compiler would reveal all the bad BASIC
lines.(In the compiling
process, Blitz 64 lists all the bad lines and then stops the
compilation of the program.)With
all the bad lines revealed, then Robert could try to debug them or
give those lines over to somebody else on-line to debug.
Speaking of Wheel of Fortune, Robert ran the classic program in
hopes that the phrases could be modified for Bible Trivia.Except for the opening menu, he found nothing which gave
access to the phrases already built into the program.He even ran a program which purported to be an editor for the
Wheel of Fortune.That
program came with no instructions on how to save any new phrase
Just in case Blitz 64 wasn’t good enough in making a BASIC program
run faster, Robert showed off some more compilers, Laser Basic
Compiler, Basic Boss Compiler, and Diablo Compiler v3.2.The first two ran, but the Diablo refused to run.Roger joked that it would have been contradictory to have
Bible Trivia compiled with Diablo (the devil!).
As at the March meeting, Robert ended the April meeting by showing
the latest C64 nuvies – three from gaming shows, HomeCon 57,
HomeCon 68, and CVGL 16; one of the Yesterchips’ Museum, and one
which was a commercial for Forum64, the German on-line discussion
forum for Commodore.
Fresno Commodore User Group’s May 2022 meeting brought together the
“usual suspects” – Robert Bernardo, Roger Van Pelt, Dave Smith,
Bruce Nieman, and Dick Estel.
The big event of the day was to be a group photo, to update the
website front page. Alas, it was not to be. Dick had a new camera, and
despite a lot of research on You Tube, had not fully mastered some of
the settings. Using the self-timer, Dick was not able to get fully in
the frame before the shutter went off, and he was just a blur in all
the photos. A couple of weeks later he found that the self-timer was
set for eight seconds, not the ten he assumed, and also that he could
select a 14- second delay. A re-take will surely produce better
Also in the realm of photography, Robert and Roger were going to
re-activate Bernardo Studios, to film a presentation for the Commodore
LA Super Show (CLASS) coming up in June. Their efforts produced much
Robert reported on the Vintage Computer Festival East in New Jersey.
Speakers included a dozen former CBM engineers, like Bil Herd and Dave
Haynie. Though Robert had arrived on the Thursday before the
festival’s start on Friday, by the next day he was suffering from
severe jet lag. However, he filmed about 13 hours of
Commodore/Amiga-related video at the festival, and when he returned to
California, he posted all of video to YouTube.
He considered that the greatest festival moment was when the dozen CBM
engineers gathered on-stage and spoke for 2 ½ hours; when would such
a gathering happen like that again?! Robert also met a few fellow
Californians who had traveled all the way to the festival, too,
including Erik Klein, organizer of the Vintage Computer Festival West
in Mountain View. VCF West was going to be on a different date this
year, and that will allow Robert to attend and have an exhibit table
Robert showed a Raspberry Pi 4b which will be connected to the
Retro-Printer Module that allows the user to connect modern USB
printers to any Commodore. However, the equipment had not been
assembled nor configured yet. In fact, Robert had not yet bought the
modern printer; he had been eying the Epson EcoTank 3850 printer from
At the end of the club meeting, Robert and Roger tried out three new
VIC-20 games: Bloody Xmas, Mystic Sword, and Jovian Moon Lander. In
Robert’s opinion, the best of the bunch was Jovian Moon Lander,
because it had the characteristics of previous Moon Lander games
(overcoming gravity, using retro-rocket fire) and combining those
characteristics with rescuing people and having to land on various