I recently purchased 155 Commodore VIC-20 motherboards from a place called “Fair Radio Sales.”  And while they were selling the boards at a reasonable cost, (around $3 plus shipping) they weren’t really selling many.  The problem was, they weren’t guaranteed to work.  So, I decided to buy them all and get as many of them working as I could.  Just by swapping chips around I managed to get around 80 of them working, and I could probably repair another 20-30 of them that have easy-to-fix problems if needed but they require soldering work, which I don’t have time for at the moment.

I felt I could sell the boards for $20 a piece plus shipping, now that they are working and since I’m already known in the community for selling Commodore stuff (where a Radio store was not).  So these are now available in the store, along with spare chips if you have a board you need to repair.

I also made another purchase at the same time.  One that was probably a mistake.  I also bought 55 Commodore-16 keyboards.  These are brand new, old-stock.  It sounded like a good idea because I was told these could be converted to work with the VIC-20 and C64 by simply changing some wires around.  Well, I looked up the matrix diagrams for both keyboards and checked to see how they were wired.  They are indeed very similar.  However, when I made the requried changes, everything wasn’t as rosy as I had hoped.

You see, there are fundamental differences between the keyboards, such as the fact that the C64 has 2 cursor keys and the C16 has 4.  But, physically the keys are the same on the boards.  There’s the same number in the same arrangement.  They just don’t all have the same labels.  So I figured, worst case, you’d simply have to “touch type” without paying attention to what the keys are labeled. However, that turned out to not be the case either.

So, the bottom line is that the keyboards do work.  But the cursor keys are not only labeled wrong, but they are in the wrong physical place on the keyboard too.  Also there is no restore key.  And a few other keys aren’t right such as the Pi and up-arrow keys and the @ symbol.  But otherwise, everything else works.

So you can use one of these keyboards on a VIC-20 or C64 for loading games from disk, etc.  But it isn’t 100% compatible.  On the bright side, it shares the same plungers with the 1st gen VIC/C64 keyboards, as well as the frame housing.  And the keys themselves can be fitted onto a C64 keyboard.  Anyway, not sure if anyone will find any use for these, but I’m selling them for $10.

Find this and other items in the store: http://www.the8bitguy.com/product-category/components/