Commodore 64 Maintenance

I gave my Commodore 64 its annual cleaning and took some pictures this time.

The top half of the C64

The first thing to do is pop open the case. This can be unnerving, as the back is held on with some plastic hooks. The front has 3 screws. Remove those and then carefully pop it apart. Open from the bottom, toward the front, like a clam shell.

Keyboard connector

Just don’t open it too widely yet. Some important things need to be disconnected.

The next thing is to remove two connectors. There is a 3-pronged connector on the right for the power light. On the left [pictured] is the multi-wired connector that connects the keyboard to the computer.

If you haven’t removed this in a long time, or even forever, then know that disconnecting this can loosen up some corrosion. These connections need to be cleaned. I used an electronics cleaner that I typically use with sound board sliders or guitar volume pots. It’s called DeoxIT D5.

Putting some in the connectors, I then put the entire connector on and off several times to ensure that corrosion was not present.

C64 Keyboard.

Then I took apart the keyboard and cleaned underneath the keys, and on the PCB as well. I used the cleaner under the keys, and wiped the board with some rubbing alcohol. I cleaned every single connection under the keys. There are two connections per key, so it took a while.

BEFORE: Note the old heat grease on the chips.

Next, remove the heat sink/RF shield. There was a bunch of white goop on some of the chips. This is heat grease, and it’s very important.

Initially, I just cleaned around all of this and put it back together. But after that, a few keys [T, U, I] were no longer working. So I ordered more heat grease and gave the chips a healthy application. I also bent the heat sink/RF shield clips that touched the chips, so that the contact would be better.

AFTER: Application of fresh heat grease.
Heat sink/RF shield

I plugged it all back in, and everything worked! Honestly, I had no idea about heat grease or what it was all about. I found out about it after doing a few Google searches. The heat grease was a $7 investment, and it saved this computer.

Looks like this beauty from 1984 may have yet another year of life in it.

Happily ever after…. the Commodore 64.

Published by DrumWild

Writing about drums, music, and philosophy.

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