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While BeamRacer installation is a relatively easy task, requiring neither specialised skills nor equipment, a few preparation steps need to be taken in order to properly conduct the process. The assumption is that the person performing the installation does not have access to a specialised electronic workplace but is still comfortable with using common household tools.
Please read this document in full before proceeding with the installation - it's always better to know what lies ahead.
NOTE: We strongly suggest following the order presented in this document when you install your BeamRacer card
Since you don't have access to professional electronic workshop and tools1) you are going to need:
In some cases of computer mainboard and casing combinations you may also need:
We are going to work with static electricity sensitive devices. This means that you need to be well accustomed with the best practices and guidelines on avoiding potentially damaging electrostatic discharges. A good description and set of guidelines can be found e. g. on this "wikiHow" page.
The following needs to be done before the installation
If you are not familiar with the innards of your Commodore 64, we shall try to provide you more thorough instructions on the Computer Preparation page
The VIC-II chip needs to be removed from the computer's mainboard before it is installed on the BeamRacer. Since all known variants of Commodore 64 mainboard come with VIC-II installed in an IC socket, there is no need for any soldering. Still, the removal has to be done carefully to avoid any possible damage
On all older, “wide” boards VIC-II is not readily available after opening the computer case. It can be either closed inside a metal “can” with a specialised lid or covered with metal shielding plate. These have to be removed before the chip can be accessed for removal. Check the "wide" boards page for pictures of this family of boards with VIC-II exposed
On the newer, "narrow" boards the access is not restricted in any way.
Your VIC-II integrated circuit, which you just removed from your computer, needs to find its way onto the BeamRacer. Therefore
All “wide” Commodore 64 boards require that you place the rising and protective socket on the pins sticking out from the bottom of the BeamRacer board. This additional socket not only keeps the BeamRacer unit safely above the computer's mainboard but is also especially chosen to have flat pins, rather than round ones. Thanks to this no additional wear is imposed onto your original VIC-II socket when the expansion is installed.
NOTE: If your compouter's mainboard is one of the "narrow" ones AND your computer case is of the newer, “flat” type – the Commodore 64C units fall into this category – you may elect not to install the riser socket and follow the C64C specific installation procedure instead
Your BeamRacer is now ready to be installed.
VERY IMPORTANT – The two sockets MUST be 100% aligned. Inserting the BeamRacer unit misaligned can cause irreparable damage to your computer and/or BeamRacer!
NOTE: Before connecting power supply back to your computer recheck the installed BeamRacer board for any misalignment / visible pins. Proceed only if none found.
OFFposition. Correct otherwise
The red “POWER” led should light up immediately, shortly followed by a green “AUTOCONFIG OK”, and finally red “INACTIVE”. Once that happens, the venerable startup screen of your Commodore 64 should appear on the monitor.
NOTE: If you don't see the red LED light right after turning the machine on, turn it back off immediately (!) and follow the checklist in the troubleshooting section
All older, “breadbin” type of Commodore 64 casings should have no problems closing them after BeamRacer installation. The newer, “flat” casings of Commodore 64C should close correctly if the C64C installation procedure was followed.
As all BeamRacer units are fully tested for function before packing, there is virtually no chances (mechanical damage in transport excluding) of you receiving them DOA. If any of the following symptoms occur
the most probable cause will be an installation related issue. First and foremost turn the machine
OFF as soon as you notice the symptoms. Then
If none of the above yields any discovery/ies