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.
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.
Older Meeting Reports
Below this point, reports are in chronological order, oldest
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.