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Found my "Holy Grail" - Commodore SX-64!


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File this one under conquests at the flea market :-D ! I'm on vacation this week, and today, I picked up a fully working, practically new Commodore SX-64 for frankly a cheap price. I'm super-excited, because I never thought I would lay eyes on one of these outside of maybe a classic gaming convention or some such event, let alone actually have one in my possession. But lo and behold, here it is, and she works great.

 

It's a bit comical, actually, as I was able to get a discount of the sticker because it lacked the power cable with it, and I brought that detail up (nothing a quick trip to Walmart and a few more dollars couldn't fix, of course). The lady that sold it at the flea market had no idea what it was. She apparently thought it was some sort of fancy old military radio system or something like that (it was in a booth along with some of that type stuff: shortwave radios, scanners, reel-to-reel recorders, and the list. I just let her keep right on thinking that as she rung up the price, of course. :P

 

I've also picked up quite a number of Atari 2600, Intellivision, and Colecovision games while I've been here, as well as one Commodore 64 cart (Frogger II: Threedeep), which I have been able to test out on the SX-64 and can confirm that it's fully working. I'm also taken aback at just how great the screen looks on these things, as well. Everything is nice and sharp and clear, which I wasn't expecting given such a tiny screen, even though I knew in back of my mind it's a CRT.

 

So, for you other SX-64 owners out there, I do have a question. Has anyone tried a 1541 Ultimate II cart out on the machine and, if so, what's your experience with it? I know the built-in disk drive is set to automatically be device #8, and I'm assuming I will need to disable the internal drive in order to use the 1541 Ultimate II as Device #8 instead. I've not been able to do much research on that, and I'm just now starting my Googling of information like this, so if anyone can give me some pointers and places to look (beyond the usual resources like Lemon64, of course, which I will certainly peruse), that would be awesome.

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I have one of these in my collection as well, my uncle worked for Nabisco in the 80's and he bought it for work but didn't want to lug it around so he gave it to me in 1985. I used it in high school and college and it still sits proudly on my shelf to this day.

You made a great find!

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Nice find, indeed. I love my SX-64s (I have two, and am working on replacing the monitor with an LCD.) Yes, it is quite amazing how nice the images are on these little 5-inch screens. Sadly, I have no experience with the 1541 Ultimate II device. But I can say these are fun little boxes. I picked up my first one in high school for $250 (or thereabouts, I really do not remember exactly.) It was my pride and joy for the longest time.

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File this one under conquests at the flea market :-D ! I'm on vacation this week, and today, I picked up a fully working, practically new Commodore SX-64 for frankly a cheap price. I'm super-excited, because I never thought I would lay eyes on one of these outside of maybe a classic gaming convention or some such event, let alone actually have one in my possession. But lo and behold, here it is, and she works great.

 

It's a bit comical, actually, as I was able to get a discount of the sticker because it lacked the power cable with it, and I brought that detail up (nothing a quick trip to Walmart and a few more dollars couldn't fix, of course). The lady that sold it at the flea market had no idea what it was. She apparently thought it was some sort of fancy old military radio system or something like that (it was in a booth along with some of that type stuff: shortwave radios, scanners, reel-to-reel recorders, and the list. I just let her keep right on thinking that as she rung up the price, of course. :P

 

I've also picked up quite a number of Atari 2600, Intellivision, and Colecovision games while I've been here, as well as one Commodore 64 cart (Frogger II: Threedeep), which I have been able to test out on the SX-64 and can confirm that it's fully working. I'm also taken aback at just how great the screen looks on these things, as well. Everything is nice and sharp and clear, which I wasn't expecting given such a tiny screen, even though I knew in back of my mind it's a CRT.

 

So, for you other SX-64 owners out there, I do have a question. Has anyone tried a 1541 Ultimate II cart out on the machine and, if so, what's your experience with it? I know the built-in disk drive is set to automatically be device #8, and I'm assuming I will need to disable the internal drive in order to use the 1541 Ultimate II as Device #8 instead. I've not been able to do much research on that, and I'm just now starting my Googling of information like this, so if anyone can give me some pointers and places to look (beyond the usual resources like Lemon64, of course, which I will certainly peruse), that would be awesome.

 

Hi, I don't have an SX-64, but you *can* modify the drive numbers that you use from within the 1541 Ultimate II config screens. Just leave the SX-64 drive alone and configure the 1541U2 as 9 or something (It can emulate 2 drives). You'll also need an IEC cable to fit down to the back of the machine of course.

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I have one of these in my collection as well, my uncle worked for Nabisco in the 80's and he bought it for work but didn't want to lug it around so he gave it to me in 1985. I used it in high school and college and it still sits proudly on my shelf to this day.

You made a great find!

 

Hyperboy, I was looking at your avatar and thinking, "where do I know that from?" and then I realized, H.R. PufnStuf :)

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Hm. I remember some five years ago when it was said the going rate for NTSC SX-64 were $75 - $100, but I suppose those have increased in value just like everything else thus $100 today is a bargain whereas $100 in 2010 would've been the expected selling price.

 

The PAL SX-64 however already five years ago was up to five times as expensive as the NTSC, due to much fewer systems made and still available. I haven't checked recently, but I would assume the difference between PAL and NTSC has leveled out some, at least when multiples are considered.

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Yeah, I remember that the going price for Commodore stuff was a bit lower than it is now, at least as far as I can tell. Of course I'm from the southeast US, and Commodore 64 seems to be even more scarce here, especially in places like flea markets and the like. When you do happen across them, they typically ask for extremely high prices. For example, a regular old breadbin C64 would run you nearly $70-80 on a good day.

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I got my SX-64 for $80 at VCF about three years ago, but it was missing the original keyboard cord (came with a homemade one made of ribbon cable). The seller was trying to unload tons of stuff and was letting things go pretty cheap, and there was a crowd around his table as the show was closing up. I was surprised nobody bit on the SX-64 before I did. He even threw in a 1541 (he actually insisted I take one, since he had probably a dozen of them that he didn't want to pack back up)!

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I got my SX-64 for $80 at VCF about three years ago, but it was missing the original keyboard cord (came with a homemade one made of ribbon cable). The seller was trying to unload tons of stuff and was letting things go pretty cheap, and there was a crowd around his table as the show was closing up. I was surprised nobody bit on the SX-64 before I did. He even threw in a 1541 (he actually insisted I take one, since he had probably a dozen of them that he didn't want to pack back up)!

This one I have has the original cable with it. Of course if I hook the SX-64 up to my TV, I was thinking it might actually be nice to come up with some sort of extension cable so I could move the keyboard around a little more. Something to plug in between the existing cable and the port on the keyboard so I could set up the SX-64 on a table near the TV, and use the keyboard a little further away than the original cable permits.

 

One other thing, since I've gotten home from vacation, yesterday I decided to give the internal drive a little exercise (up to now, I've been using my 1541 Ultimate II) and it seems it has some issues. For one, the ejection mechanism doesn't quite work, as I had to manually fish a couple of disks out of the drive. Also, I'm getting read errors from the drive. They're partial read errors it seems. For example, when I instruct the drive to read the directory (using the 1541 Ultimate II's Action Replay cart functions), it will read part of the directory, then fail, give a few clicks to try to reset, and then give up with a read error. I assume these are issues that can likely be fixed, but given that I will use the 1541 U2 more than anything, I'm wondering if it would honestly me more trouble than it's worth, outside of just having the drive working for completeness sake. In the meantime, I've disconnected the drive entirely so my U2 can operate as device 8.

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  • 3 weeks later...

File this one under conquests at the flea market :-D ! I'm on vacation this week, and today, I picked up a fully working, practically new Commodore SX-64 for frankly a cheap price. I'm super-excited, because I never thought I would lay eyes on one of these outside of maybe a classic gaming convention or some such event, let alone actually have one in my possession. But lo and behold, here it is, and she works great.

 

It's a bit comical, actually, as I was able to get a discount of the sticker because it lacked the power cable with it, and I brought that detail up (nothing a quick trip to Walmart and a few more dollars couldn't fix, of course). The lady that sold it at the flea market had no idea what it was. She apparently thought it was some sort of fancy old military radio system or something like that (it was in a booth along with some of that type stuff: shortwave radios, scanners, reel-to-reel recorders, and the list. I just let her keep right on thinking that as she rung up the price, of course. :P

 

I love Flea markets! I have found some great deal (and still do) from Local area flea markets. I sorely miss my SX-64. Wish I had never sold it, but hindsight is always 20/20. I used to use my SX at our User Group meeting for presentations of new software. Had the small screen aimed at me, and also had a huge projection TV connected so the entire group could see it easily.. We demo'd everything from games to GEOS on that machine. I'm sure you will enjoy your find. Wish I could run across an SX 64 for what you paid. Treat the machine with care.

 

 

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rockman_x_2002 wrote:

 

> ...it seems it has some issues. For one, the ejection mechanism doesn't quite work, as I had to manually fish a couple of disks out of the drive. Also, I'm getting read errors from the drive.

> They're partial read errors it seems. For example, when I instruct the drive to read the directory (using the 1541 Ultimate II's Action Replay cart functions), it will read part of the directory,

> then fail, give a few clicks to try to reset, and then give up with a read error. I assume these are issues that can likely be fixed...

 

If you can, try to clean the heads on the mechanical disk drive. If that doesn't solve the read errors, then you may have an alignment problem in the drive.

 

Truly,

Robert Bernardo

Fresno Commodore User Group

http://www.dickestel.com/fcug.htm

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  • 1 month later...

Wow rockman... where were you that you found such a "productive" flea market? Your home or someplace you had travelled to for vacation?

 

I love finding places like that, but I always have to drag my wife... :(

 

It was when I was on a family vacation down in Orange Beach, AL. We'd already went to several flea markets in the area, and I'd found a few odds and ends things, but this one was in an old shopping center. Looked like at one time it might've been an old Walmart or some similar type store.

 

As far as retro stuff goes, it really didn't have a ton. There was a booth up front that had a few Intellivision, Colecovision and 2600 carts, and I bought a few of the more reasonably-priced ones (most were way more expensive than they ought to be). The other booth was in back, and it had the SX-64 that I picked up, along with a few early 2600 titles boxed and complete (we're talking Breakout, Casino, Combat, and the like, as well as a boxed and complete Star Raiders with the touchpad). I didn't buy the games because I already have all those things, and figured I would leave those for some other lucky person to pick up and have a good find.

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Do you actually play games on it or just keep it for collector purposes? They really look great, but is the screen too small for gameplay?

 

A little of both. It's mostly for collector's purposes, and I keep that one out in my shop primarily. My main one that sees the most use I keep in the house, and it's an older breadbin C64 that I've had for a while. A bit handier to hook up as I don't really have a place to set the SX-64 and hook it up to the TV and all that.

 

As for gaming on it, the screen is actually surprisingly clear. The only time you get text that you can't see is when you have games or demos that use tiny tiny text (i.e., something like an 80-column mode size text). But for most other stuff, everything's just fine.

 

One project that I have for the SX-64 is using it as decoration. I want to come up with a sort of Pip-Boy type program that runs, shows Pip-Boy on the screen, and does little random things and animations. Just a fun little app that doesn't really do anything except be something to enjoy looking at. This idea stemmed from a joke from work. Not long after I got the thing, I mentioned something about it to the guys I work with, and they said they wanted to see it. So one day I brought it in and set it up so they could have a look. One of them commented that it looked like something straight out of Fallout, and that's when the idea for Pip-Boy 64 came about. :lolblue:

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Well, I finally got around to taking a few pics of the SX-64, as promised (even though I'm a day late). But here they are all the same. In addition to the machine itself, I got in close to take a few screenshots as well so you could see how the screen is.

 

As you can see, it's actually quite plain for a 4" CRT, and everything's perfectly legible on the screen. Only when you have programs with thin, tiny text would you really have any issues.

 

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It's a COLOR screen???? Wow! I would have expected for the era, and for the sake of weight and power saving, a monochrome CRT!

 

At the time these were sold, Commodore had announced an SX-100, which was basically this machine with a monochrome monitor. They also announced a DX-64, which was supposed to have a second floppy drive where this thing's storage bay is located. Neither of those machines made it to market because the SX-64 was a commercial flop compared to the original C64 model.

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