Tips for Protecting your Commodore Computer Equipment, Increasing its Life Expectancy and Keeping our Warranty to you from being Voided
By Reid Swenson, M.S.
Computer Bargain Store/
(Copyright 1984 to 2022)

If carefully followed the steps listed here should greatly increase the chances of your Commodore computer hardware performing well for many years and you will keep your warranty from us from being voided during the warranty period. If you do void your warranty we can probably still help you if you have problems but will not do so without requiring you to pay extra.

Keep in mind that we have replacement parts, chips, cables and components as well as a diagnostic chart, and connecting diagrams (that show you how to connect your Commodore equipment) which you may want to order if your equipment is malfunctioning. We also still do some repairs on Commodore hardware. See our Commodore listings or email us if you need help. Keep in mind that our time is valuable and we can only offer limited technical assistance when ordering. If you require in depth assistance and haven't ordered from us already and aren't planning to order anything from us presently we may need to charge you for our time.

This is not a comprehensive list of everything you could or should do to protect your equipment. We are only offering this advice (based on over 30 years of experience) to assist Commodore owners. We cannot accept responsibility for any issues or problems resulting from your use or misuse of this information. We are providing this as a free public service. You may print this copyrighted information, link to it or provide it to others using other methods as long as you do not modify it in any way without our written permission or sell this information seperately. You also may not delete our copyright notice, logos, graphics, company name or author's name from this article without written permission.

The Tips:

1. We took great care and time to test and pack your shipment before shipping unless you purchased an item which was being sold AS IS or Untested. If the package which you received from us was damaged as a result of shipping or handling or appears to be incomplete or was opened before it arrived to you it is important that you notify us immediately so that we can determine if we need to file a claim with the carrier.

2. If your equipment arrived in a cold month or on a cold day please let the equipment warm up to room temperature for an hour or so before attempting to use it. When equipment has been exposed to cold temperatures and is then brought into a warm home or office it is possible for moisture from the air to condense on cold parts inside the equipment and cause electronics to be damaged if power is introduced before the internal moisture has evaporated.

3. If you purchased your Commodore from us and it came with a power supply you must use the power supply that came with it. If you use your own power supply and your power supply blows out the Commodore computer we sold you our warranty to you is voided.

4. Static electricity can quickly and easily damage Commodore computers. Try to avoid using this equipment in areas where carpet produces static "shocks" whenever you touch something. If you must use your Commodore computer in such an area spray Static Guard (Alberto-Culver Company) found in the laundry and detergent section of most stores on surrounding carpet about twice a week (especially after vacuuming) OR use a humidifier or some other technique to keep the room and/or carpet from getting too dry. It is extreme dryness (primarily during the winter months when furnaces are burning all of the moisture out of the air) that causes static electricity usually.

The most susceptible area is the joystick ports. If you touch the joystick port pins by accident when turning the computer off or on you will probably discharge static electricity into the computer. This will almost certainly cause your keyboard and/or joystick ports to malfunction.

Also, don't touch your monitor or television screen with your hand while it is on or you will get static electricity on you. If you do get static on you please touch something that is grounded before touching the computer in order to discharge the static.

5. Don't connect or disconnect cables, cartridges or accessories to the Commodore computers while the power is on. Older computers like these weren't designed to allow this. Damage may occur.

6. Make sure you connect the cables properly. If you are using a monitor and reverse the audio and video connectors by mistake you may blow out the sound chip in your computer.

7. If the computer starts making a buzzing sound, getting a wavy screen or abnormal lines on the screen, flickering abnormally, cutting out, displaying weird symbols or graphics on the screen or exhibiting any other abnormal symptom when first turned on (or after it has been on for a while) your power supply may be failing and the computer could get blown out if you keep using the same power supply. If you buy a power supply from us without a computer we will only guarantee the power supply. We are not liable for damage to your computer if we sell you a used power supply which subsequently damages the computer so watch your computer closely for the first hour or so if using a replacement power supply from us. If the computer starts acting funny immediately turn it off before damage to the computer can occur.

8. Avoid setting the Commodore computers on your lap or on a carpet, couch or soft chair when turned on. These computers have ventilation ports on the bottom and need to have air circulating under them to reduce heat build-up. Always set the Commodore computers on a hard flat surface if possible.

9. If your Commodore computer has gone out don't try to use the same power supply on another Commodore computer. Weak or flakey Commodore power supplies might work ok for a while but when they have been on long enough they will blow out chips in the computer.

10. Use a spike voltage protective surge suppressing power strip to plug your equipment in to. Make sure that the outlet is properly grounded if possible because most surge suppressing power strips don't protect properly if left ungrounded.

11. Turn off the power strip going to your equipment when not using it. Even when the computer is turned off the power supply will stay warm if plugged into a live outlet. Prolonged heat build-up in the power supplies greatly decreases their life expectancy and ultimately result in the computer getting blown out as the power supply begins to fail.

12. Try to keep a little bit of air circulating near your equipment or use a small fan (if practical) to help move air to dissipate heat. Don't have the fan blowing dust into the computer or floppy drive though. If placing a muffin fan on top of the drive's ventilation ports it is best to have the fan drawing the hot air out rather than to blow dusty air in.

13. Don't eat food or drink beverages around your computer if possible. Sticky food, crumbs and spills can cause problems.

14. Handle disks properly by not bending them, touching the disk surface, getting them dusty or exposing them to moisture or magnetic fields.

15. The Commodore 1571 drive (designed for the Commodore 128 and 128D computers) has a bottom and top read/write head. The top head has a tension spring pressing down on the top of it. We've noticed that when there is no disk inserted and latched in the drive there is constant upward pressure on this spring which tends to distend it after a while so that it will eventually lose its tension and cause the head not to read properly. Therefore, we recommend that you leave a blank disk inserted and the latch latched down to lock the disk in place when not using the drive for prolonged periods. This will prevent poor tracking due to gradual loss of spring tension.

16. Don't stack books, papers or other items on top of or right near your computer equipment.

17. Avoid unnecessary moving of equipment and disconnecting of cables. The more you move things around and change them the more likely you are to damage something, connect it improperly or zap it with static electricity.

18. Don't let little children use the computer without proper training and/or supervision.

19. Don't tamper with the inside of the computer unless you know what you are doing and realize that you are voiding the warranty.

20. Unplug your Commodore equipment during severe weather, thunderstorms and when the power is experiencing fluctuations.

21. Try to locate your Commodore equipment in an area with minimal dust and pet hair. Consider getting a dust cover to place over the keyboard when not using it. If you need to wipe your computer off we recommend that you don't use any cleaner containing ammonia. We have heard that ammonia will cause many white plastics to turn a yellowish color. We haven't been able to verify this but we have had several of the white colored keyboards come it here that look like the plastic has been yellowed by some chemical unrelated to sun exposure or cigarette smoke so we think this may be the explanation.

22. If keys don't work you have either a bad chip, a bad joystick plugged in (which can make keys malfunction), or the keyboard must be cleaned. Don't try putting oil or other lubricants down into the keyboard mechanism or you will make things worse!

23. Finally, use common sense and treat your Commodore equipment with the respect it deserves.


Most of all, HAVE FUN!

return to main menu