June 1990 MCU Magazine

Table Of Contents



This newsletter is published monthly for distribution to members of the Memphis Commodore Users Club. It is in no way connected with the Commodore Business Machine Ltd. or Commodore Inc. and Commodore products (CBM, PET, C64, C128, VIC20, Amiga) are registered trademarks of Commodore Inc. The MCUC is a non-profit organization whose purpose is the free exchange of information & knowledge about the use of Commodore computer systems. Memberships are open to anyone; ownership of a computer is not required. Monthly meetings are open to the public & visitors are welcome.

Dues are broken down into three categories. Membership dues may be paid quarterly (3 months) at $6 or annually at $20.00. An associate membership is offered for those living outside a 45 mile radius of Memphis at $10 per year. All memberships are Family Memberships. Dues are not refundable.

Contribution to the MCUC magazine may be in any word processor. You may submit articles on disk, or a hardcopy, or upload to the MCUC BBS (276-6868). Other User Groups are welcome to reprint material from this magazine; we ask only that you give credit to the author and source.

The editor reserves the right to reject material submitted relating to illegal services, products or unethical practices. All material submitted becomes the property of MCUC. The 12th of each month is the DEADLINE FOR ARTICLES.


General Membership Meeting - First Tuesday of each month, 7:00 PM in Fulton Auditorium, State Technical Institute.

Beginner's Class - First Saturday after the first Tuesday. 1:00 PM Location to be announced each month.

Board of Director's Meeting - Monday after General Meeting. 7:30 PM State Tech, Rm 1106A in new building (near cafeteria).

128,CP/M,MS-DOS Sig Classes - Now meeting with the Memphis FOG group and Home Users Group. 4th Tuesday of each month at the Whitestation Library. Copy Session at 6 PM, Meeting starts as 7:00 PM.

Millington SIG - 1st Saturday 7:00 pm, Shoney's on Hwy 51 in Millington


President Bob Nunn
Vice President Bob Earnheart
Secretary Dick Coffman
Treasurer Wayne Moore
Librarian Jim West
Education Ron Montgomery
Newsletter Cheryl Nunn
BBS 362-0632
Sysop Andrew George
Co-Sysop Kevin Dunn

Advertising Rates

Full Page $20.00 1/2 Page $11.00
1/4 Page $7.50 1/8 Page $3.00
Business Card $3.00

Classified to Members FREE
All ads must be in by the 12th.
CIRCULATION: 300 copies

President's Ponderings


by Bob Nunn

The theme this month is hardware. It seems sometimes that we have had an article on almost every subject under the sun when it comes to anything. Then comes along someone sticking a couple of #2 chips into their 128 and boom 64K ram now online. This month we lucked out and found another winner. Make your own home-brewed light pen for cheap. I haven't tried this one yet but say get time before the meeting to put one together.

Speaking of light pens one of our demo's and reviews this month is on "Flexidraw". Dwight Campbell (Ex MCUC President) was kind enough to loan it to us to review and demonstrate. Perhaps this will give you an idea if a light pen might be something you want to add to your hardware.

Wayne Moore, our treasurer has consented to review and demonstrate 1541 Align from Free Spirit Software. I'm sure all of you would like to be able to diagnose and repair your own drives. We will be giving away FREE! this program at the drawing at the end of the meeting.

Bob Earnheart, now of Data Tech Services will be showing off the internals of all types of Commodore equipment. He has done this in the past for us and it sems like I learn something new each time. I hope you are looking forward to it as much as I am.

We have a great selection of disks this month. I went through my personal library and collected what hardware related programs I had and put them into a collection of diagnostic utilities. The drive alignment programs are worth the disk price alone not to mention all the other great programs. On this same disk KEVIN DUNN came up with another great program. This one is called Phone List and we may get Kevin to show this one off. A game disk, a music/graphic disk and another 128 selection, top this month off.

All in all, it sounds like an exciting meeting to me, hope to see each of you there.

Remember, bring a friend and you both get a disk-of-month selection free!

Secretary's Notes

Secretary's Notes 5/7/90

The official board meeting was called to order at 7:55 P.M. by Bob Nunn, President.

Officers present;

Bob Nunn, Pres.
Ron Montgomery, Ed. Coord.
Cheryn Nunn, Newsletter Ed.
Richard Coffean, Sec.
Jim West, Librarian

The theme for June will focus on hardware. Demos for the month will be on hardware. Bob Earnheart will do a repeat performance using the internals from various drives and computers.

The board will review the exchange disk program with other computer clubs and evaluate its value to MCUC.

Meeting adjourned at 9:00 P.M.

Respectively submitted,

Richard Coffean, Secretary

MCUC On-Line

It's Finally Here!

by Andrew George

Well Folks the Hard Drive is here!!!!! Wayne Moore brought it by my house on the 30th of April! Kevin and I spent the rest of the day learning about and transferring the board over to it. There was a definite speed increase!! Now we will have that reliability that we need. We are also in the process of transferring the library to it. This takes a good deal longer than moving the system itself. Now that we have it, I have reinstalled the UD command. We are adding new directories all the time as the existing ones fill up. Close to 200 programs up and still 59000+ blocks free in that one partition!!! Not including the system and two other partitions. It was definitely worth the wait!!!!!!

We will cover the UD section now as we are transferring the library. I feel that this info would be useful. The UD's are divided into directories. Each directory has a different title. For instance : Utilities [General], Utilities [Disk] and so on. Each directory also has a number and the files in each directory have their own numbers. You can call these files by these numbers.

Now type UD from the main prompt. The system will read in the UD program and you will soon be at the directory or main UD prompt. The system will print out this info:

UD Board # and title of directory
Total number of new files
Total number of files
Credit Points

There is no need to worry about credits as the UD's are free.

These are the UD commands:

These are not all of the commands but they are some of the more fundamental ones. I would like to pat Kevin on the back again for the new modifications. He has written a module that will allow a user to read the new messages in all bases from the main prompt. This cuts out at least two commands and gets you into the new messages faster. I would like to thank John Blackmer for uploading the library to the new hard drive and the neat new text files!! I hope all these articles on Image will help all of you and encourage you to call your BBS!!!!!

Editor's Desk

In the Mail

by Cheryn Nunn

I was talking to Harv Slemmons the other day and was telling him that I wish all the club members could see the mail the club gets. That's impossible, but I could tell you about some of the stuff, couldn't I? So here goes.

Had a letter from Mike Hughes, VP of West Bank Users Group in New Orleans. Their group is trying to encourage the exchange of newsletters and disks also. We've added them to our exchange and anticipate borrowing material from them from time to time.

A letter from a Mike Henson who found our listing in the Compute's Gazette User group listing, and wrote for information concerning the club.

A nice letter from Darryl Sigur in Alexandria, LA, who had had access to some of our old newsletters we had mailed to the Page, LA. user group. He no longer has that access and wants to join our user group to have access and wants to join our user group to have access to the newsletters again. He said he had about worn March and April's issues in two. That's a very nice compliment, Darryl. Thank you!

From Thomas Hill in Ripley, MS comes a request for more info about the club. He works at a small college there that has nine C-64 computers.

This is just a sampling. We get about half a dozen letters each month.

Bob and I had a nice visit with Rick Ebenreck, who is a member of the St. Louis, MO. user group. They are a fairly good size group and cater not only to the C-64/128 people, but also Amiga and MS-DOS. We must have talked for four hours about ways to handle the challenges both clubs face. A real nice fellow.

I guess that's all. Hope you enjoy the newsletter this month and I apologize for being late last month. Cheryn

Member of the UGX on BIX, the
on-line service for computer-using
professionals. For information
call 1-800-227-2983.

Treasurer's Report


OPENING BALANCE 04-11-90 $1909.50
MEMBERSHIP DUES (7 Members) 150.00
TOTAL $ 451.50
NEWSPAPER AD (2 MO.) 49.68
BLANK DISKS (5.25) 240.00
TOTAL $ 1286.01
CLOSING BALANCE 05-15-90 $ 1074.99


Free Spirit Drive Alignment Review

by Wayne Moore

The Free Spirit alignment program is designed to be used on any 1541, 1571, SX-64 or compatible drives. The front side of the disk has two versions of the program on it, a 64 version and a 128 version. The back side of the disk is the calibration standard for alignment. The program is simple to use and it will answer the question "is my drive aligned". A note of caution here: if you have Jiffy DOS or some other disk speed up you may not get a true alignment reading. The program is designed to work with the standard Commodore disk set up and anything else may show alignment problems which do not really exist.

I used the program to check the alignment on both a 41 and a 71. The program showed that the 41 did not need alignment but the 71 was slightly out. I followed the procedure and was able to improve the alignment on the 71. This is NOT a quick alignment. It is a slow process of trial and error. You MUST have a LOT of patience and time and, if the thought of trashing a drive worries you I would suggest you NOT attempt this. You must remove the cover to make any adjustments. This exposes the electronics and the drive mechanism. It would be possible to short out the electronics and/or damage the drive mechanism such that it is unrepairable or at least expensive to repair. But if you are careful and have some mechanical ability I feel you should have little problems using the alignment program.

The program has on-screen help and details of what to do in a step by step format. It will check the speed of your drive and you can make adjustments while watching the screen for changes. There is a bump test to check the 0 track position and make adjustments as needed. The head alignment is done by centering on the half track between tracks 16 and 17.

The program allows you to increase or decrease the head position by half tracks. Track 16.5 is the key track and should be checked from both the low and the high position to test for excessive slop in the head positioning mechanism.

I liked this alignment program better than some I have tried. Most assume you have a standard disk to compare to. This may or may not be true. It also gave me a better indication of where I was. Some of the indicators are, "Needs Alignment", "Unsatisfactory", "Poor", "Satisfactory", and "Excellent". I think this program would be a good addition to most Commodore users library.

NOTE: Neither I, nor MCUC, nor Free Spirit assumes any responsibility for using this program. All warnings should be read and fully understood before proceding.

Joy Riding Your Commodore

by John Blackmer

Since the Commodore series of computers make incredible use of the graphic and sound capabilities in the form of games, one of the most important pieces of hardware in your arsernal is probably the joystick. A few of the sticks I have used (and abused) didn't last very long, a cronic problem for this device. I friend of mine has about 25 of these things tossed into a corner of his room waiting to be fixed. You would think that this, the most abused piece of equipment would be built better. And they can be!

I bought one of those numbers that have suction cups to hold it to the table or desk. The cups lasted about 1 week! The stick itself died the next week. $14.95 down the drain. So I bought me a cheap little SLIK STICK, a hand held model. I still have it but the button don't work so hot and I've had to wrap it up with electrical tape to hold the case together! Seems I got so carried away, I stripped the 2 screws that hold it together.

The old ATARI style hold up pretty good on the inside BUT the cover of the stick keeps slipping off. Not to mention the quality of the contacts at the port end.

One of these days....I'm gonna get me one of them there fancy ergodynamiccally designed thingamajigs. I suspect they may be rugged enough to last for a while.

The ICONTROLLER by Suncom has been the best and most durable little stick I have owned. Designed for use with GEOS, it is permanently affixed to the right front corner of my 12B. The little sucker is always there when I need it for games or GEOS or whatever calls for it. I have used it for a year without a single problem! It even has a neat little port that allows piggybacking a 2nd stick. Its compact size makes it easy to navigate around the screen using your index finger and thumb only! The finger to move and the thumb to fire at all those nasty critters the game programmers dream up.

Speaking of dreaming, I keep having nightmares trying to figure out what to do with all those dead sticks my friend has. Surely, all those wires, pad switches and springs will be good for SOMETHING???????

The Lightpen Input

or How to Build your own Lightpen

by Jack Blewitt

Reprinted from The Hardcopy, Rockford, Il, May 1990

There are a number of Commodore fans who would like to test a light-pen but do not with to invest $50 to $80 for the professional "Inkwell" units. One solution could be to build one yourself for about $10. It will not be easy, but for a minimum investment and lots of soldering you can see if you REALLY want to use one. Here are two slightly different plans you can use to make your own unit. Both share some components like the "DB-9" connectors, the 100 ohm resistor, and a Photo-Transistor. Also, both are plugged into Joy Port No. 1. DO NOT leave them connected when not in use or they may cause keyboard or loading problems.

Figure 'A' represents a plan that was published in "COMMODORE" magazine in 1987. The full article may be still available in your library. It is constructed inside a 3/4" Marking Pen case that has been cleaned out with soap, water, and alcohol. The hardest part should be placing the components and micro-switch into the housing. The more expensive photo-transistor will do a faster and better job but Radio Shack components are easier to obtain. Do not let direct sunlight hit the transistor or it may burn out. This unit also required two strand shielded cable.

Figure 'B' is housed in a regular pen, and uses the <CTRL> key to active itself. The entire unit is available as a Kit for $10pp from the address listed in the graphic. The only parts not included are: a housing for the "DB-9" connector and a (highly recommended) 16 pin DIP IC socket. It also furnishes complete plans and a Disk with sample test programs.

One simple program to test the Light Pen is as follows:

10 POKE 53280,1:POKE 53281,1
20 X=PEEK(53267):Y=PEEK(53268)
30 SW=-((PEEK(56231)and1)=0)
50 FOR T=1 to 50:NEXT T
60 GOTO 20

Once again I remind you that it is not as easy as it looks and should not be attempted by anyone not familiar with electronic kits. Both the Club and myself take no responsibility should anything go wrong. For the brave at heart, congratulations! For the others, I hope you have enjoyed this column anyway.....CUPID!

Panasonic KX-P1124 24 pin Printer

by John Austin, reprinted from ICPUG, England

Condensed by Cheryn Nunn

I have decided that this must be one of the better purchases that I have made as its versatility never ceases to amaze me. The first asset is obviously the quality of print you would expect to find over a standard 9 pin printer, even in draft mode, and the huge increase in speed afforded by modern technology printer, (192 cps draft, 63 cps in LQ mode).

The front panel of the Panasonic allows the user to define not only six different fonts but also pitch, form length, lines per inch, margins and macros, and also caters for a quiet mode when printing.

Friction fed single sheet printing is also possible without removing continuous fed paper by simply pressing two touch pads on the control panel and inserting the paper. Push and pull tractor modes saves that annoying loss of a sheet every time you start a fresh print session. Paper can be loaded from the front or beneath the printer.

The facility to store macros is another bonus as quite often when doing a newsletter rough print, I can set up user defined alterations to the standard features at the press of a single button and not have to program them each time I switch on.

No more dip switches. The front panel allows you to override factory settings without removing the cover. Among the choices are:

  1. Selecting printer emulation mode.
  2. Default print mode selection (courier, prestige, bold ps, script, sans serif and draft.)
  3. International character sets.
  4. Auto line feed on or off.
  5. Download buffer control.
  6. Alternate graphic mode.

Another feature is a print head heat detector that senses when the print head is too hot and halts printing until it cools off.

You can define your own graphic characters. The existing 6K buffer gives your fair scope but you will need the optional extra 32K buffer to make full use of the custom design draft and letter quality options. Using bit mapped graphics means you can produce special effects ranging from company logos to photo-like images.

The manual is a concise, comprehensive book that is easy to understand. There is a technical glossary at the rear for the real buff with address and data codes, and a quick reference card that aids the new owner over the first few days of use.

As for reliability, I have used the 1124 for almost three months, day in and day out and not a sign of misbehavior as yet. In all I would recommend anyone looking for a cheap, reliable 24 pin printer to look no further, especially with the inbuilt features.

Newsletter Staff

Cheryn Nunn-editor
Assistants-Harv Slemmons and
Connie Lincoln, Bob Nunn
Printer-Clarke's Quik Print, Brooks Rd.

Addenda C-64 Power Switch

by Ralph Phillips

The May MCUC Newsletter reported a failure mode of the C-64 power switch which can cause troubles from erratic operation to total failure. Moreover, the switch on the side of the C-64 does NOT turn off the power supply. It merely disconnects the mother board from its power source. Unless the power supply is turned off by separate means, it remains energized and continues to develop heat. Eventually that heat will dry out the electrolytic capacitors in the power supply and degrade its performance below tolerance. When that happens, you throw away the whole power supply because it cannot be repaired.

A simple solution to both these problems is to use an AC power distribution strip in which you have installed an auxiliary switch ahead of the last socket in the strip. With the C-64 power supply plugged into this socket, you can then leave the rocker switch on the C-64 in the ON position continuously, and turn the computer (plus its external power supply) on and off by this added switch. The added switch makes it easy to obey the manufacturer's injunction to "turn the computer ON last and OFF first." The idea of this sequence is to allow the switching transients from your monitor, your printer, and your disk drive to settle down without the computer itself being connected to the power source. Besides, if the added switch ever fails, it's easier and cheaper to replace than the one inside the C-64.

Memphis Commodore Users Group is now a Recognized User's Group of Commodore Business Machines, Inc. Our ID# is 00044.

Pow, Pow, Power Pad!

by John Blackmer

Among the assorted whatzits and thingies one must have for the computer, one of the least used and often overlooked safety item is the surge protector. Many of us mistakenly use a standard power strip, that is, a non-surge protected extension of the 110 volt power outlet in the wall. When I first started computing I made just that mistake. I grabbed an apparently inexpensive unit. OH! it was fused and had 6 places to plug in my assemblage of power supplies and cords. BUT it was NOT surge protected! The difference is in the fusing; a FUSE protects by limiting the VOLTAGE that gets through to the piece of equipment. The SURGE PROTECTOR limits the AMPERAGE. So you see, there is a difference.

I solved my problem by buying a single outlet surge protector and plugging my power strip into it. The house I live in is very old and has no grounded outlets so I also had to use one of those adapter things that you attach to the screw in the cover plate. I'm sure you can visualize what the poor outlet looked like! Heck, I had 8 inches of stuff sticking out of the bloomin' wall!!

Several months ago one of our favorite sysops brought several AC POWER PADS to a meeting and, being a nice guy, I bought one!!!! It turned out to be one of the best buy's I've made through the club. It not only allowed me to get rid of the 8 inches of stuff coming out of the wall, it makes it much easier to switch between my array of drives, cleared up the tangle of wires behind my desk and provides excellent protection for my equipment.

It's just a "pad" that fits under your monitor with 5 outlets on the rear side of it and 6 lighted switches on the front. Each outlet and corresponding switch is labeled for each piece of equipment. The sixth switch is to turn the whole system on or off. IF you can find one or persuade that sysop to bring some more to the meetings, I personally recommend one for any computerist.

Flexidraw Review

by Cheryn Nunn

We said we were going to review Flexidraw, and I'm going to tell you a little about it, but the big discovery in using Flexidraw was the lightpen. Elsewhere you will find instructions on how to build your own lightpen and it just may be worth the effort.

First about Flexidraw. The menu gives the following selections; Flexidraw 5.0, Pen Palette, Transgraph, Sprite Editor, Sprite Animator, Display Pictures, and Follow Me!.

Flexidraw 5.0 is the main program. It will allow you to draw, fill, and manipulate your drawing. The documentation is easy to read and understand. Flexidraw can use graphics created with programs such as Computereyes and Print Shop. It comes with several fonts and can use many public domain fonts.

Pen Palette lets you add color to your drawing created with Flexidraw. The Sprite Editor is used to create sprites with the light pen which can be animated with the Sprite Animator.

Flexidraw comes with a library of pictures, symbols and 10 built-in fonts. You can also create additional fonts with Flexifont, a font editor.

geoBasic to be Released!

RUN Magazine is pleased to announce an agreement with Berkeley Softworks to market the long-awaited geoBasic program to GEOS users. Developed by the GEOS pros at Berkeley Softworks, geoBasic lets GEOS users program their own applications in Basic and take advantage of the ease of use of GEOS. RUN, which obtained the North American distribution rights, plans to begin shipping this product in mid-June of this year.

GeoBasic supports all of the features--pull-down menus, information boxes, icons and mouse pointer for easy point-and-click operations--that make GEOS so easy to use. Also, with geoBasic users can create program that use icons, menus, sprites and dialog boxes.

GeoBasic is a 40-column program that runs in C-64 mode on the 64 or 128 (prelimary testing of the product, however, indicates that is will also work in 128 40-column mode.) GeoBasic includes a text editor for entering and editing programs, menu editor, bitmap editor, icon editor and dialog box editor. It includes up to 104 new commands. It supports color and sound, text windows, drawing commands and mouse support, as well as structured loops, subroutines, mathematical functions and access to machine languange.

The disk, which comes with a complete operations manual, will sell for $39.95. See the ad in the May issue of RUN for ordering information. It is important to note that any questions regarding geoBasic should be directed to RUN, not Berkeley Softworks.

Disks of the Month

June 90 Utilities


ALIGNMENT TEST.............1541 TESTER
ALIGN CHECK V2......CHECKER 1541/71/81
DISKVIEW 2.C...............VIEWS DISKS




The above screen shows the programs on June's Utility disk. Some of the Highlights of the disk include Aligncheck v2 and Alignment Test, which we released last year, and Phonebook v1.0, another great program from our own Kevin Dunn (Disk Handler), a rolodex replacement. The Micros'n Chips series are hardware tutorials covering the detailed operation of the C64 computer.

June 90 Fun Disk

World of Madness - The reason it's called this is because when you turn up the volumn, you're sure to drive someone crazy!!! Plays popular software theme songs.

June 90 Games

          MCUC JUNE 90 GAMES

ODIN...................GOOD SPACE GAME
3-D DEMO...............IMPRESSIVE DEMO
3-D FILM 4...........IMPRESSIVE DEMO 2


Look for Irain, a very interesting graphic display, The Realm, an arcade type game, Gin Rummy, very sophisticated but a little slow, and another Tetrys-clone. One of the best on the whole disk is the 3-D Demo.

June 90 128 Disk

        MCUC JUNE 128 DISK

QLINK/1581........USE YOUR 81 ON QLINK
DISK TIDIER.128............SCRATCH E-Z


This 128 disk is full of a variety of progams from disk utilities, to games, to label printers. Some of the highlights include QLINK/1581 which lets you log on to Q-Link with your Q-disk, then switch to your 1581 for downloading and buffering. Joe's Labeler/80 is an excellent 5 line label maker for 80 column, no graphics but you can do expanded text. Bust Copy128/80 lets you make copies on your 1571 in burst mode.

Order the June Disks of the Month by sending your request along with $2 per disk, $5/3 disks ($1 P&H plus $.25 for each disk over 3) to:

PO Box 34095
Mephis, Tn 38134-0095

Data Tech Services, Inc.
6850 Hillshire, Suite #21
Memphis, Tn. 38133 901-385-7987
We are a full service repair,
sales, training company for all
types of computers (except Macs).
Thank you for your support.
Due to our increased overhead we
can no longer offer club discounts.

Now Available! MCUC Custom Notebooks Just $5.50

Comes with specially printed inserts for the sleeves on the outside of the notebooks. The insert for the back of the notebook features commonly used commands for easy references.

Put your Members Packet, to be released this month, in a notebook with the disks. Keep everything in one handy place.

Organize your MCUC Newsletters. Keep them in one handy notebook for easy reference.

Also good for GEOS, Jiffy Dos and Maverick manuals, or binding any documentation up to 8 1/2" by 7". Perfect protection for original disks.

Member's Packet

The new Member's Packet will be available at the June Meeting. Don't miss it! Why would you want the new Member's Packet?

  1. More Programs. We've picked the latest and best of public domain programs, updated from the last Member's Packet.
  2. More Tutorials. Easy to follow instructions on using many of the progrmas.
  3. Updated Disk List. A complete List of Disks of the Month releases since October 1988.
  4. 128 Stuff! We've pulled together some of the latest and best of 128 stuff for your 128 owners.

Don't forget, the MCUC notebooks are now available also, so you can pick up your copy of the new Member's Packet and purchase your notebook at the same time!

Games on CD for the C64

reprinted from the Fox Valley Computer Society via Input/Output, AZ

Check the Commodore Clips section in the April issue of Compute!s Gazette (page 4) for the information on a new peripheral coming from Camerica for C-64 users...a CD player interface that lets you play games using your standard CD player and C-64 system. The package includes the interface and a CD filled with 30 arcade games from Europe. It works like a tape drive; simply select the desired CD track to load the desired game. Supposedly a typical CD could hold up to 150 games for an 8-bit computer! They expect a mid-summer release, and cost is set at $49.95

Camerica, 80 Orville Drive, Suite 202, Bohemia New York 11716


Officers Articles 3, 4, 5
Disks of the Month 12
Feature Articles
Free Spirit Drive Alignment Review 6
Joystick Comments 7
Build your own Lightpen 8
Panasonic Printer Rev. 9
Addenda Power Switch 10
Power Pad Rev. 10