Sunday 26 April 2020

Commodore 16 PAL to NTSC switchable conversion

This is an old post, preserved for reference.
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I was looking to test some upcoming game releases from The Future Was 8 bit, and I had a title for the Commodore 16 / plus 4. I like to test these on PAL and NTSC machines to make sure there are no issues. In the past I had converted a Commodore 16, but I couldn't locate it, so I converted another one.
I have some older post about converting a PAL VIC20 into NTSC. This required a change of a crystal, a ROM, the VIC chip and a few miscellaneous parts.
The TED series made this much easier. The only differences were the clock frequency and the KERNAL ROM. I think in the past I had fitted a crystal socket so I could switch between the 14.31818MHz for NTSC and 17.73447MHz for PAL.
I thought I would try a different approach this time. The clock circuitry is all arranged neatly below the TED chip, along with some potentially useful test points.
Rather than change the crystal, I went down the route of building a second crystal osciallator. The onboard one does the PAL frequency, so I just needed to built one that did the NTSC frequency. I build a fairly standard oscillator circuit around an inverter (I actually used a NAND gate as it made the layout easier, but the principle is the same).
I also added a '257 multiplexor so I could switch between the two clocks signals without running them through a switch or jumper. A rough schematic just to give the general idea.
The plan was to disconnect the clock signal from the output of the existing clock circuit, and feed that into the 257 mux. The output of the mux would then into the TED chip.
This is the board I am going to change, the transistor Q2 and resistor R7 on the right are the final stage of the original clock circuit, and TP is the test point with that signal on.
It didn't quite work out like that because the layout of the board meant I had to cut the link between the bottom of R7 and the collector of Q2 and rejoin them missing out the second (unmarked) test point.
I picked up the clock out (blue), clock in (green), ground  (black) and 5V (red) at appropriate points and wired to a 4 pin header.
There was loads of space in the C16 case to mount the board, I wanted it close by to keep the clock wires short.
The white wire on the left is used to switch the ROM image. I burned a 27C256 with both the PAL and NTSC KERNALs in.
Time to fire up, I am using the DIAG264 cartridge from TFW8b.
The refreshed version now comes in black and has a PAL/NTSC jumper.
First off, I will try the original PAL clock routed through the new board.
So far so good, this is an updated version of Diag264 by Rob Clarke. Time to give NTSC a go.
Excellent, that looks good to me. I also added a label to the mod board so I remember what this board does in five years time when I open up this Commodore 16 and stare confused at a bit of veroboard and a couple of chips on and wonder what I did that for.
So I am pleased I couldn't find the one I modified before, this has been a much nicer solution. This is my test board where I have ZIF sockets for the two most common chips to fail, the TED which is heart of the system (sound, graphics, IO etc.), and the 7501/8501 CPU (which from now on I intend to call Dougal).