The wait is almost over for VIC Expansion enthusiasts. After a significant delay, X-Pander 3 VIC units are nearing the end of assembly. As the photo shows, only the IO2/IO3 SWAP jumpers are left to assemble. We hope to add this to the store by the end of the week.
Given the width of VIC-20 cartridges, the finished units will have the switches located underneath the board, but will otherwise look identical.
As the picture suggests, the unit shares the same basic layout and operation as the X-Pander 64, but adds additional switches to control BLK and RAM lines.
The X Pander-3 VIC brings the ultimate in cartridge port expansion options to the Commodore VIC-20. The unit features 3 independently switched vertical ports and a companion horizontal port. Power, both I/O select lines, and all BLK and RAM select lines can be individually switched on or off, while the I/O select lines can be swapped on the second and third/fourth expansion slot. Units should be available for sale starting mid-January.
I just finished the order for 1000 22/44 .156″ card edge connectors. These will be used to create the 3+1 cartridge “slots” on the VIC version of the X-Pander 3 cartridge expansion system. Now, so secure more switches for the signal configurations.
It sounds like there is enough interest for a VIC-20 version of the X-Pander 3 expansion system. Thus, I’m sourcing the required parts for the units (the card edge connectors have the longest lead times and are the most expensive part of the design) and will work on the PCB design next week.
I thought I’d compose a quick note to let folks know that 64NIC+ Ethernet cartridges are in stock once again and the new X-Pander 3 3/4 slot cartridge port expander is finally in stock. I’m working to add 24/28 pin headers and cartridge cases to the store inventory.
Many apologies for the lack of postings, but I was preparing for the Cincinnati Commodore Computer Club EXPO (C4 EXPO), which happened over Memorial Day weekend, and I am just now getting caught up on postings.
Two weeks prior to the show, I shifted all focus to ensuring newly produced products would be available at the show. X-Pander3 expansion boards and 64NIC+ network cards were in production, but delivery had been delayed a week or so. This seems to always happen prior to a show, without fail. I spent evenings obtaining manufacturing and shipment statuses, making last minute parts purchases, and packing for the show.
The week prior to the show was spent traveling to Ohio, taking in some sights (Kings Island, for example), and spending time with the family. Since we were already on the road, I rescheduled last minute product shipments from China to arrive at the hotel before the show.
Though not the only reason, it is true I offer products for sale to finance these trips. I can enjoy catching up with old and online friends and relaxing and enjoying the hobby. This year was no different. I arrived mid afternoon on Friday, with the show room already open and a few folks setting up systems. Over the years, I’ve learned how to pack lighter, so my tables didn’t take too long to setup. Then, I spent time finishing some products for the show and chatting with the early arrivals.
I called it quits early Saturday morning (1AM or so Central), getting back to the room before 9:30AM. Traffic was lighter than usual, and seemed light all day. Sales were nominal, but steady. JiffyDOS sales were hampered by issues with my Willem programmer (after I returned home, I determined the configuration switches were faulty), preventing me from flashing some of the JiffyDOS versions.
Traffic stayed light all day, which is a bit disappointing because this is the second year traffic has been light. By afternoon, sales dissipated and I spent time fighting with the programmer. Oliver VieBrooks (Six of Style) came over late afternoon and we brainstormed on project ideas. Thus began the prototyping portion of the show. Given that sales had stopped, I decided to start on a project right then, and continued through the normal annual Saturday “C4 EXPO Golden Corral” dinner period (to be fair, I probably would have went, but we’d already enjoyed GC as a family earlier in the week).
Later in the evening, I worked on a project for Leif Bloomquist. Since the Fall ECCC ’09 show, Leif and I have been working to bring his VIC-20 MIDI cartridge to fruition. The main issue with the original design is the UART utilized, a MC6850 that is hard to source and pricey. I suggested rewriting the drivers to use the much more common 16X50-style PC UART ICs. I’d source a batch of them, but still needed to wire up one to Leif’s board so he could test.
By Sunday, I was out of energy, having worked on two prototypes the previous night. Thus, I packed up and left without much fanfare.
Seeing friends and talking hobby is always nice, but I feel the Memorial Day slot for this show hurts it quite a bit. Traffic was light, as previously noted, and sales were likewise light. Surprisingly, the Louisville crowd didn’t show, which hurt attendance more.
In my continuing effort to sell more products for your Commodore computer, I determined users would buy more cartridge-based solutions if they could plug more into their machine at one time 🙂 Thus, given the lack of cartridge expansion options on the market at present, I am producing the X-Pander. Modeled off the CMD EX-3, CMD EX2+1, and the FB-3XP, X-Pander offers the following features and design aspects:
- 3 upright expansion slots
- 1 rear-facing slot for larger cartridge options (REU, etc.)
- Each slot can be controlled via 8 DIP switches (GAME,EXROM,IO1,IO2,ROML,ROMH,POWER are selectable)
- Slots #2 and #3 can swap IO lines (IO1->IO2, IO2->IO1)
- Power LED indicators for each slot
- Switches are located on right side for easy access
- IO1/IO2 swap option located on right side for easy access
- Long throw “piano” lever switches used for ease of configuration
- Slot #3 can be accessed via top or rear port.
The prototype units have arrived and have been tested, production units are currently in manufacturing and should be in the store in a month. Current pricing estimates are $30.00.