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Blog posts and video from Steven as he “COMBS” through the minutia to discover tech, retro-computing, physical computing, gadgets and sci-fi.

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Latest Posts

  • AdaBox 019 (Macropad) Unboxing and Live Stream – September 07, 2021

    During Labor Day 2021, I opened a YouTube Live stream to share an unboxing of the Adafruit AdaBox 019. The box arrived several weeks ago. I kept putting it aside as I worked on other content for the blog and YouTube channel; however, I had an inkling of what was inside the box and was eager to open it up and start playing with the contents.

  • TRIMUI/Powkiddy A66 Gaming Handheld Console with 5000+ games – September 05, 2021

    In my last handheld gaming console post, I continue to describe my Amazon Prime day 2021 experience and the purchase of four retro handheld gaming consoles. The third handheld was the FateFan 500 handheld gaming console. In this video I look at the TRIMUI/Powkiddy A66. Spoiler alert: I LOVE THIS HANDHELD!!!

  • Wyze Buds Pro unboxing, setup, pairing, first use, and thoughts – August 31, 2021

    It’s time for another Wyze product first look. This time, it’s the Wyze Buds Pro. As a backer, I received an early pair of these new buds and, at the time of this writing, pre-orders are available for the next shipment. If you have questions about these new buds, this blog post and companion video can help as I unbox, setup, pair, and run the buds through a few use cases. At the end of the post, I’ll provide final thoughts. Let’s first dig in with my companion video.

  • Run a MEGA65 on your Mac using Xemu – August 31, 2021

    As a MEGA65 Dev Kit owner, I’ve created several posts to share what’s coming when my favorite Commodore “what could have been” retro computer releases. I’m not going in depth about the MEGA65 in this post and companion video; instead, check out my new MEGA65 page. In this post, I will show you how to get started with the MEGA65, on your Apple Mac computer, while you wait for the hardware to arrive.

  • Build MEGA65 Tools on Mac OS X (Intel and M1) | And an intro to the MEGA65 community – August 28, 2021

    Before I begin, I want to send out a huge thank you to Gurce Isikyildiz for his assistance with these instructions. My first attempts to build these tools were unsuccessful. I posted a comment on the MEGA65 Discord channel about my struggles. Gurce responded; however, after several Discord interactions, it became apparent, I needed help (on many levels but in this case; help with Terminal commands). The mega65-tools are meant to build on an Intel Mac, but not on a newer M1 Mac.

  • FateFan Retro Gaming Handheld Console with ~~500~~ games??? – August 21, 2021

    In my last handheld gaming console post, I continue to describe my Amazon Prime day 2021 experience and the purchase of four retro handheld gaming consoles. The second handheld was the LiNKFOR handheld gaming console.

  • LiNKFOR Retro Gaming Handheld Console with ~~380~~ 500 games – August 08, 2021

    In my last handheld gaming console post, I shared the my Amazon Prime day 2021 experience and the lure of handheld game consoles. In that post, I describe my use of the RetroFlag RPi Case for handheld retro-gaming and use this as a baseline for all other handheld consoles I will share.

  • Great Boy Retro Gaming Handheld Console with 380 games – August 01, 2021

    During Amazon Prime day 2021, the lure of handheld game consoles captured my attention. I use a RetroFlag RPi Case for handheld retro-gaming and enjoyed the process of assembly and configuration. You can see this process on my Install Super RetroPie on the Retroflag GPi Case blog post and companion video. It’s a great unit when paired with the Super RetroPie distribution.

  • Ten cool things you will do with a MEGA65 | Includes 2 bonus items! – July 26, 2021

    Commodore computing fans will soon have a new device to add to their collection of retro-computers, the MEGA65. In this blog post and companion video, I look at what makes the MEGA65 special and then share items one through five of the ten cool things you will do with the MEGA65 that you can’t do with any other Commodore-inspired recreations such as The C64. Spoiler alert: I include a bonus item to tide you over until number 6 through 10 drop!

  • Replacing my Original Commodore 128 and using a Keelog Power Supply – June 28, 2021

    As readers and watchers know, I’m slowly adding to my collection of retro and modern retro-inspired collection of computers. With a focus on Commodore, my collection now has one working and three “for parts” VIC-20s, a Commodore Plus/4, The VIC20, The C64 mini, and a MEGA65 DevKit. In this blog post, and companion video, I share my recent eBay purchase addition; a Commodore 128.

  • Connect a Commodore Plus/4 to a BBS using a Wi-Fi modem – June 07, 2021

    I’ve spent much time with the Commodore Plus/4, a Commodore computer I didn’t own in the 1980s, and while I’ve worked my way through chapters one through eight of the user’s manual, there are many other things I want to do with this capable 8-Bit, and unloved, Commodore computer and today is one of those things! In this post and companion video, I describe my experience connecting a Commodore Plus/4 computer to the Particles! BBS using a Commodore4Ever provided Wi-Fi modem and Telnet. It’s a lot of fun and I hope you enjoy this experiment and jaunt down 1980/90s telecommunications lane.

  • Commodore Plus/4 User’s Manual Chapter 8 - Making Sound and Music on the Plus/4 – May 14, 2021

    This last chapter in the user’s manual takes us on a musical and noise infused journey through Commodore Basic and the Plus/4 SOUND and VOL commands. The Plus/4 was not capable of the amazing sounds that come from it’s older brother and sister, the Commodore 64 or the 128. Heck, it wasn’t even as capable as the earlier VIC-20; however, with a little effort and creativity, you can put the two channels to use in business applications; the primary market for the Commodore TED series.

  • Commodore Plus/4 User’s Manual Chapter 7 - Using Graphics and Color – April 30, 2021

    In this Commodore Plus/4 retroCombs episode and companion blog post, I cover Chapter 7, Using Graphics and Color, of the Commodore Plus/4 user’s manual. If you are eager to create images on your Commodore Plus/4, this is the chapter for you. Chapter 7 include information to PETSCII, colors, graphics modes, and other commands to create static images an animations. It’s a fun chapter and one that took quite a bit of time to prepare.

  • COBI M113 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) Build – April 24, 2021

    In a previous blog post, I share my build of the COBI M60 Patton Main Battle Tank and compare my first experience with COBI to my lifetime experience with LEGO. There’s a lot of history in that post and companion video. I’d recommend you go take a read and watch and then return to this post.

  • Transfer BASIC Programs in Print to Physical Commodore Computers – April 16, 2021

    While spending time in the MEGA65 Discord group, I found a link to Weihnachten auf dem Commodore (WADC), or Christmas on the Commodore. There have been editions printed since 2018 and I ordered all three available editions. Inside pages are filled with type in BASIC programs for all manner of Commodore 8-bit computers. Below is an excerpt form the C64 Wiki page about these annual publications.

  • Wyze Watch Open the Box, First Use, and Wyze Band Comparison – March 28, 2021

    I think I have a smartwatch and fitness tracker problem. I’ve worn a WearOS watch for the past three years. It’s been and up and down relationship. Battery life on WearOS devices are horrible and a daily charge is required. I’ve owned a pocket FitBit so supplement the times when I forgot to charge my WearOS, but it’s days were numbered years ago.

  • Use the Retrohax.net mouSTer on the MEGA65 – March 20, 2021

    In this FAST LOAD, I try to get the new mouSTer from Retrohax.net working with my MEGA65 Developer Kit. Watch the video below and then come back to this blog post to see if I was successful. Spoiler alert; at first the device did not work; however, I get this wonderful USB HID to DB9 connection device working, and it’s not as hard as I imagined.

  • Nikki shares thoughts on 8, $12 Amazon St. Patrick's Day Gnome Ornament Faceless Doll Decorations – March 14, 2021

    In an impromptu video, I hold a mic in front of Nikki and ask her questions about her latest Amazon purchase, the St. Patrick’s Day Gnome Ornament Faceless Doll Decorations Green Clover Gnome Doll Ornaments Irish, Swedish Leprechaun for St. Patrick’s Day Party Christmas Elf Scandinavian Decoration (8 Pieces). WHEW! That’s a mouthful. What does she think? Watch the video below and then read the this post for additional gnome and behind-the-scenes thoughts.

  • Wyze Robot Vacuum Open the Box and First Use | Does it suck? – March 08, 2021

    It’s time for a Wyze product OPEN THE BOX and FIRST USE. This time, it’s the Wyze Robot Vacuum, the newest smart and app enabled vacuum from one of my favorite brands, Wyze. In this blog post and companion video, I open the box and use the vacuum for the very first time.

  • retroCombs: THEVIC20, THEC64 (maxi and mini) Firmware 1-5-2 Update – February 06, 2021

    This blog post is a companion to the my FAST LOAD video embedded below. During the video, I upgrade my THEVIC20 to firmware version 1-5-2. This firmware update includes new features for not only THEVIC20, but also for the THEC64 mini and THEC64. Watch the video to find out what’s new and then read my additional thoughts below for more information.

  • retroCombs: Update the MEGA65 and utility software – February 04, 2021

    Updating the MEGA65 requires several steps that can confuse new owners (count me in that group!). This blog post and associated FAST LOAD video will demonstrate the process and serve as a reference to update a MEGA’s SD card essential files, MEGA65.ROM, core (bitstream), and the M65Connect software. Before reading the rest of the post, I recommend you watch the retroCombs FAST LOAD video. You will find it after the table of contents below.

  • COBI M60 Patton Tank and a COBI versus LEGO comparison – January 21, 2021

    I’m an Adult Fan of LEGO (AFOL) and a LEGO fan since my 1970s childhood. As far as I remember, LEGO has always been in my home and a part of my play. In the 1980s, I purchased a MEGA block space set but quickly found they were not the same quality as LEGO.

  • retroCombs: A review of the Commodore VIC-20 Games on the THEVIC20 and THEC64 maxi – January 16, 2021

    THEVIC20(C64) it is a divisive Commodore emulator. There are those, like me, who love that the system is keeping the retro-computing alive, while other lament that the system is nothing more than a mere emulated shadow of the original. Which ever side of the campfire you sit, my goal for this short series of videos was to shine a light on the games included with these systems. As I stated on several social media posts, the games are a collection of winners, stinkers, surprises and questions.

  • retroCombs: The Combian pi/400 Project. Use Combian 64 and a Raspberry Pi 400 to create the ulitmate Commodre computer emulator – January 10, 2021

    There’s a lot of excitement around the Raspberry Pi 400. I mean look at this thing (see image below). It’s a self contained Raspberry Pi with a keyboard and a form factor reminiscent of the original 1980s 8-bit computers; albeit, much thinner and lighter. Since I first learned about the 400, I had one project in mind and I’m happy to finally reveal that project in this post and the companion YouTube video.

  • retroCombs: 10 reasons THEVIC20 and THEC64 are a great retro-computing gifts – December 17, 2020

    Have a retro-computing fan in your life and don’t know what to get them? Or maybe you are looking for a little something for yourself, or maybe, just maybe, you need a last-minute suggestion for Santa? Here are 10 reasons RetroGames THEVIC20 (and THEC64) is the perfect holiday gift for all retro-computing fans.

  • OPEN THE BOX and FIRST USE: Wyze Cam Version 3 (V3) – December 06, 2020

    It’s time for another Wyze product OPEN THE BOX and FIRST USE. This time, it’s the Wyze Cam version 3 or Wyze Cam V3. In this video, I open the box (unbox), make all hardware connections, pair a camera to the Wyze app, share examples of image captures, and then compare these images with Wyze Cam version 2 (Wyze Cam V3 -vs- Wyze Cam v2). Check out the video below.

  • MEGA65 DevKit Open the box, assembly, and first use – December 01, 2020

    I’m really excited! I mean, 15 year-old boy excited. That’s how I felt while opening the box, unpacking, assembling, and turning on the new developer’s kit (DevKit) for the first time. Seriously, I’ve not been that excited about a package in some time; and this from the guy who has two brand new Mac minis (with M1 processors) set to arrive a few days before Christmas.

  • Commodore Plus/4 User’s Manual Chapter 6 - Beginning BASIC Programming – November 25, 2020

    In this Commodore Plus/4 retroCombs episode and companion blog post, I cover Chapter 6, Beginning Bplus4/images/screen-window.pngASIC Programming, of the Commodore Plus/4 user’s manual. In this chapter, we begin where everyone should with their Commodore computer; learning the BASIC programming language. In previous chapters we have dabbled with BASIC; however, in this chapter, we dive in and learn the “basic” concepts you need to begin your BASIC programming journey.

  • OPEN THE BOX and FIRST USE: Wyze Headphones – November 22, 2020

    It’s time for another Wyze product OPEN THE BOX and FIRST USE. This time, it’s the Wyze Headphones. As an early backer, I received a pair faster than most; however, you can now purchase your own pair and according to Wyze, they should arrive before the holidays. In this video, I open the box (unbox) and show you my experience turning them on for the first time. I also pair them with the Wyze app and see what features the app brings to this pair of headphones. Check out the video below.

  • FAST LOAD: Upgrade THEC64 mini firmware (v.1.4.2) – November 11, 2020

    One of my favorite retro-computing devices of 2019 was THEC64 mini. I love that it was a mini recreation of the Commodore 64 that not only looked like the original, but when plugged into an HDMI monitor, would also play Commodore 64 games built-in or on a USB drive. Upon release though, there were limitations:

  • retroCombs: FAST LOAD - Install DirMaster on Linux – October 22, 2020

    There are many modern retro-computing applications available that run (see what I did there?) on modern computers to support our hobby. Longtime retroCombs readers and watcherknow I like to take a modern spin on retro-computing and integrate new technology and apps with the old.

  • Commodore Plus/4 User’s Manual, Chapter 5 - Numbers and Calculations – October 18, 2020

    In this Commodore Plus/4 retroCombs episode, I cover chapter 5 of the Commodore Plus/4 user’s manual. In this chapter, Number and Calculation, I learn how to use the Plus/4 as a calculator in immediate mode, create a function, and learn more about working with numbers in Commodore BASIC 3.5. I even combine some things we learned in previous chapters to amp up our programs. It is a packed chapter and even though I’m no math teacher;Getting Started_ I, “begin to acquaint you with some of the characteristics and capabilities of the Plus/4, and how to take the first steps toward programming with your computer.” We spend more time learning how to use the keyboard, correcting mistakes, creating simple programs, and then I shope I do the concepts justice. This is one chapter where I find the User’s Manual a bit lacking but adequatew you how to use windows on the Plus/4. No, not the operating system, but another unique feature of the Plus/4’s BASIC.

  • OPEN THE BOX and FIRST USE: Chromecast with Google TV (and the Google TV Android app) – October 11, 2020

    During Google’s 2020 “Launch Night In” event, the Chromecast with Google TV was announced. Not a surprise, not much is anymore; however, even when the whispers of this device echoed in the halls of the Internet, I was intrigued. Prior to this purchase of this device, I owned the two following Android TV devices:

  • retroCombs: TEDuino: A Modern TED (264) Series Commodore Datasette – October 04, 2020

    As part of my Commodore Plus/4 series, chapter three of the user’s manual includes a section on using a Commodore Datasette and a 1541 Diskette Drive. In a previous post, I assembled the modern replacement for the Datasettdisk drivepi1541); now it’s time to build a Datasette replacement called, the Tapuino.

  • OPEN THE BOX and FIRST USE: VictSing Wireless (USB and Bluetooth) Mouse – September 19, 2020

    My trusty 2010 Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000 gave up the electronic ghost this past week. Over time, the device became less trustworthy. Is ten years the life span of an electronic rodent? Not sure, but the mouse served me well until recently when the cursor began to lag and the connection to my Mac mini would drop.

  • REVIEW: Lenovo YOGA TAB with Google Assistant – September 02, 2020

    I posted an “open-the-box” video for the Lenovo Smart Tab with Google Assistant. In the video, I menn a video review. Many folks called me out for not producing this video so I decided to provide my revie i ut the video in question below and afterward, read my review.

  • Commodore Plus/4 User’s Manual, Chapter 4 - Getting Started – August 30, 2020

    In this Commodore Plus/4 retroCombs episode, I cover chapter 4 of the Commodore Plus/4 user’s manual. In this chapter, Getting Started I, “begin to acquaint you with some of the characteristics and capabilities of the Plus/4, and how to take the first steps toward programming with your computer.” We spend more time learning how to use the keyboard, correcting mistakes, creating simple programs, and then I show you how to use windows on the Plus/4. No, not the operating system, but another unique feature of the Plus/4’s BASIC.

  • OPEN THE BOX (BAG): ORIA Precision Screwdriver Set, 86in1 Magnetic Repair Tool Kit with Portable Bag – August 29, 2020

    This is the companion blog post for a quick open the box (bag) video, streamed on YouTube live, for the $25 ORIA Precision Screwdriver Set, 86 in 1 Magnetic Repair Tool Kit with Portable Bag (#ad). In this video I show you all the parts and pieces and, yes, I eventually got all the tools sorted into their proper location (see the video thumbnail).

  • OPEN THE BOX and SETUP: Wyze Cam Outdoor (Squirrel Cam One) – August 17, 2020

    I’m a WyzeYZE fan! Except for the WyzeYZE Lock (#ad), I “reckon” I have at least one of every product and not because they are sent to me to review–I purchase every WyzeYZE product I review. Although, if you are out there WyzeYZE…I’d consider review units as long as you know they will get an honest and objective look.

  • Commodore Plus/4 User’s Manual, Chapter 3 - Using Software – August 02, 2020

    In this Commodore Plus/4 retroCombs episode, I cover chapter 3 of the Commodore Plus/4 user’s manual. This chapter is dedicated to Using Software and there are several ways to load and save software using; cartridges, datasettes, and diskettes. In this post and the accompanying video, I cover each auxiliary storage device in detail; however, I add a modern spin and instead of the original devices; I use a new 264 diagnostic cartridge, a Tapuino, and a Pi1541.

  • OPEN THE (ADA) BOX: Adafruit Industries ADA BOX 015 – July 31, 2020

    I don’t know why I started my subscription to Adafruit’s ADA BOX plan so late in the game with box #014. To make it happen, I cancelled the subscription to the Field Notes Quarterly and reallocated this “fun-money” to the quarterly ADA BOX. That was a good move for me. While I enjoy the Field Notes subscription, these paper products have stacked up and it will take me years to use them!

  • OPEN THE BOX: TASCAM DR-40X four track linear PCM digital audio recorder – July 28, 2020

    I purchased another tool to add to my podcast and YouTube tool chest, the TASCAM DR-40X audio recorder (#ad). In the short video below, I open the box, share some accessories, and attempt to turn the unit on, and record for the first time. Along the way, there were a few hiccups; however, after a bit of trial and error (and some instruction manual time), I was able to record samples that I include in the video.

  • retroCombs: The Tapuino Project - Build an Arduino powered Commodore Datasette clone for the Commodore Plus/4 – July 19, 2020

    As part of my Commodore Plus/4 series, chapter three of the users manualincludes a section on using a Commodore Datasette and a 1541 Diskette Drive. In a previous post, I assemaeme replacement for the disk drive](https://www.stevencombs.com/pi1541) now its time to nt called, the Tapuino.

  • HOWTO: Easy to Build LEGO Minifig Display with IKEA Lustigt – July 06, 2020

    It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything LEGO related. I wouldn’t say that I’m in my “dark years;” however, my LEGO hobby has been put on hold for some pressing work concerns and priority with other hobbies (I have way too many); namely my new fascination with the 1980s era Commodore Plus/4 computer and the use of modern devices to make that device even more enjoyable to use in 2020s.

  • retroCombs: Create a blank .c64 disk image for the Pi1541 or SD2IEC – June 27, 2020

    In my last post and video, I shared my experience with the assembly and first use of a Commodore4Ever Pi1541 for the Raspberry Pi Zero. Not familiar with the device? Take look here for more information.

  • retroCombs: Pi1541 Assembly and First Use – June 21, 2020

    In this supplemental episode to my Commodore Plus/4 series, I share my experiences assembling the Pi1541 Hat for a Raspberry Pi Zero. In the episode, I solder a pin connector onto the Raspberry Pi Zero, solder and assemble a serial cable with two 6 pin DIN connectors, assemble the whole package, and start up the Pi1541 for a first use. For some extra fun, be on the lookout for a cameo appearance from Nikki and a former vice president!

  • Commodore Plus/4 User’s Manual, Chapter 2 - Using the Keyboard and the Screen – June 10, 2020

    In this Commodore Plus/4 retroCombs episode, I cover chapter 2 in the user’s manual entitled, Using the Keyboard and the Screen. This chapter is chock full of keyboard instructions to help the user move around the screen, change text highlighting, modify lines of code, and create special characters.

  • Commodore Plus/4 User’s Manual, Chapter 1 - Unpacking and Setting Up – June 04, 2020

    In the next Commodore Plus/4 retroCombs episode, I open the Commodore Plus/4 manual for the first time to look at Chapter 1: Unpacking and Setting Up. Since the previous episode was an Open the Box, unpacking is already complete so this episode focuses on setting up the computer. Watch the video below and then come back to this post to read some additional thoughts, find links to everything mentioned, and learn a few more additional tips.

  • Creating my YouTube retroCombs video bumper – June 02, 2020

    On 2020-05-23, I began a new series of YouTube videos about the Commodore Plus/4. You can learn more about the first episode and the series here. In preparation of that series, I created a video bumper; a short 14 second brand animation to introduce all retroCombs videos. In this post, I’m going to share my process. This post is not a step-by-step tutorial, but rather a description of the tools I used and the flow to put it all together. Let’s take a look at the bumper first in the YouTube video below.

  • Commodore Plus/4 User’s Manual, Chapter 0 - Open the Box – May 23, 2020

    Today I unveil the first in a new theme of posts, retroCombs. This theme is devoted to my love of retro computing and gaming. I have a couple of retro posts on the blog, but now I have a brand theme to tie them together. The first post to receive the brand is part one of a new series on the Commodore Plus/4 computer.