View Full Version : Commodore 64 Floppy Disk life

05-02-2010, 03:40 PM
I've recently obtained a whole bunch of C64 stuff from my dad, whose had this stuff sitting in the garage for years. The C64 works just fine, but my main problem is the fact that none of the floppies work, I'm pretty sure its from being out trapped in the heat and cold but I'd like to have some conformation. The floppy drive has been sitting out in the garage as well, but seems to work just fine, using a modern PC power supply cable with it won't harm it, will it?

On a side note, is there any decent way to transfer software between the C64 and my PC other than the cassette method? The crappy tape player I have right now distorts the signal in a bit. I've also got my his old Vic-20 as well, but it doesn't seem to work at all, the rf box doesn't send any signal out, though there is a monochrome monitor cable with it as well, where would I plug it in?

05-02-2010, 05:26 PM
If none of the disks work, and they don't appear damaged, I'd suspect the drive. Start by pulling the top off the drive and cleaning the head with a Qtip and some alcohol. If still no luck, you likely have a more serious problem. Too many possibilities to get into, but check out http://personalpages.tds.net/~rcarlsen/

Any power supply that provides the correct voltages and sufficient amps will work, as long as its connected properly.

Info on C64-to-PC transfers can be found at http://www.zimmers.net/anonftp/pub/cbm/crossplatform/transfer/1541-to-PC/index.html. Of course, for these to work you'll need to get the 1541 drive running properly. If your 64/1541 can't read the disks, you won't be able to transfer them either.

The VIC-20 doesn't have an internal rf modulator, and most of the external ones seem to be dead or dying. You need to tap into the 5-pin AV port on the VIC and route those signals to the composite (or 'video in') inputs of your TV. Ray Carlsen's site also has schematics that you can use to figure the pinouts.

05-02-2010, 11:41 PM
Using the tape transfer method is dodgy at best, and a pain in the ass. Loading games off tape is slow torture. Don't bother.

You can use an X-Cable and write .d64 image files to disk on the C64, assuming your drive works, and that you have the desire to either make one, or buy one, and then set up the software to do it. It sometimes likes to be finnicky.

or, you can get one of the carts that use SD cards to hold data (MMC64)

As far as the drive, lets get that bastard fixed.

Step 1) Your power cable is fine. When connected to the C64, and you power the computer on, does the drive make a little whirring noise, and the red light stays on for a few seconds? If not, make sure you put the cable in the right spots.

Step 2) What happens when you try to list a disk directory?

Pop one in and type

Load "$" ,8

then when it says READY, type LIST

See what happens.

If you get funny machine gun like thunking noises, the drive is out of alignment. If not, and the directory lists fine, try some more disks. See if you get consistent results (either successful or unsuccessful).

Also, what drive do you have? Is it a 1541?

If so, does the front of it have a press down lever in the center to keep disks inside? (Alps mech)

or, does it have a little arm on the left side that you flip down to keep disk in? (newtronics mech)

If its the Alps one, theres no nice way to say this: You're fucked, don't bother.

The alps ones are a pain in the ass to re-align, and often fall back out quickly, and then you will probably need to adjust the stepper motor, etc. etc.

It isn't worth it.

If it's the newtronics one, we can fix it alot easier :D

If you have spare money, find a 1571 drive, or find one of the available SD cartridges... theres the uIEC, the MMC64, and the 1541 Ultimate for starts.

05-04-2010, 12:19 PM
I have personally found C64 floppy disks to be pretty resilient. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s I acquired more than 700 C64 floppy disks worth of games, utilities and data. These have been stored poorly over the past 20 years -- mostly out in my garage, both during the summer and winter. A few years ago I started converting my disks over to D64 disk images, and I'd say I have had a 95% success rate.

Check your drive first -- clean and align it, or pick up another one. Worst case scenario, mail me your floppies and I will convert them for you. :)

05-04-2010, 04:47 PM
Sorry if this is a stupid question... but I have to ask since your original post is somewhat vague... do you know how to load stuff from a disk on the C64? It's not just a matter of sticking the disk in the drive and turning on the computer... the C64 doesn't auto-load from disk. You have to start up the computer, and at the READY prompt, type:


At this point, it will hopefully load the first program on the disk. Some programs will automatically start at this point, but many other will just show you another READY prompt, and you'll have to type:


In order to start the program. If that doesn't work, try the LOAD command without the ,1 at the end (some programs need it, some don't. Usually doesn't hurt to include it).


05-04-2010, 06:14 PM
Most likely it's the 1541. They weren't built like brick houses, like the Apple 2 drives were.

They would jump tracks, make all kinds of noises, load programs slowly, completely go out of alignment, etc.. I've repaired my 1541 many times, over the years. They're great little drives, new. But 25 years later, they take alot of TLC to keep 'em running.

But as for the disks, it's really hit-and-miss... I have most all of my old discs from back from my C-64 years. Alot of them still play just fine. But the ones that weren't kept in the sleeves were really the ones I had problem with. It's just like VCR tapes - you take care of them, they can remain playable for decades. But if you don't take care of them, things get ugly..

Another factor is the brand of the diskette. Most of the ones blank ones I had that survived were old Scotch, Verbatim, and Elephant brand. (I still have a bunch of those Elephant stickers in pristene shape, BTW :) )

Those old floppy disks hold up surprisingly well, given their names...

05-04-2010, 07:04 PM
the ,1 signifies that its an ASM program

If you flag a BASIC program with ,1 when you load, it wont work right

hence Load "$" ,8 instead of ,8,1


05-04-2010, 07:15 PM
Well, I haven't messed with anything yet but if it helps anyone out, my drive is indeed a newtronics 1541, and it is most likely the drive causing problems, if I actually type in the right command it makes spastic noise trying to find the program.

05-04-2010, 10:53 PM
Well, I haven't messed with anything yet but if it helps anyone out, my drive is indeed a newtronics 1541, and it is most likely the drive causing problems, if I actually type in the right command it makes spastic noise trying to find the program.

That's not all bad, then. I'm guessing the 'spastic noise' is the drive trying and failing to load, so the internal power supply, circuit board, and serial cable are all probably good. Again, cleaning the drive is the first thing to try, followed by alignment (but you need an alignment disk and a way to load it or a 'scope to do the alignment). It's also possible the head is worn out, in which case you're screwed. Good luck!