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Commodore VIC 20 First Time Boot Suggestions

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Posted · Original PosterOP

I have no experience with restoring old electronics. I have some beginner to early intermediate hobbyist experience with electronics. Recently, however, I've added my first electronic machine to my collection of vintage/antique calculating machines: The Commodore VIC-20.

It appears to be in extremely good condition, however, I was only able to acquire it at a reasonable price because the box had water damage. The machine itself appears to be fine, and none of the manuals or other paperwork in the box show any evidence of water damage.

The machine is not in perfect condition, so I am considering actually using it to start learning how to program vintage machines.

What steps do I need to take before the first boot to ensure that I am the least likely to damage the machine?

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Please for the love of god DO NOT use the original power supply without testing it first. Commodore were not known for using the most high end components and the PSUs are now death traps. I've seen people on YouTube (I think it was a guy called Jan Beta) mod a modern switching mode PSU into an empty case so it looked original-ish but was a modern unit.


The board caps are another issue because again, cheap components. Its very recommended to do a full recap before powering on. Pretty sure you can buy a recap kit from somewhere with all the caps you need in one package. This isn't a major concern though as a blown cap can be replaced after the fact.

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I haven't worked much with old electronics either, but I do know that electrolytic capacitors can leak and go bad at a certain age. Crack the thing open, and more importantly, the power supply before attempting to power it on. I would also try to test the power supply before powering on the machine. Test voltage stability open circuit, under load, and short circuit/overcurrent protection if you can. Also check for corrosion on the board(s), maybe probe around some sketchy looking traces with your ohmmeter to ensure they're connected. Good luck and post updates!


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