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Last update: 2020-03-06

Arcade64 and Arcade1541 - Modding a Commodore 64 and 1541 in the Style of an Atari 800


Usually, when I am fixing old computers, I am trying to restore or preserve their original appearance. However, sometimes this is hardly possible. It was quite common at the time to drill holes into the case for reset switches or kernel switches and the like. Also sometimes retrobrighting fails or the case is just to stained and retrobrighting does not really help. In these cases I enjoy modifying the case as an homage to classic computers. In this case I had a Commodore 64 with lots of holes drilled into its case. I leveled out the holes and made it look like a classic Atari 800 computer.

For me personally the Atari 800/400 is one of the most beautiful if not THE most beautiful computer ever.

See for your self.

The Result

In direct comparison the original looks darker than the copy. However, the Atari computer is yellowed. If you take a look at the inside you will find that I matched the colors quite well.

The Starting Point

A Swiss Cheese

Many holes were drilled and cut into the case.

Plastering over the Holes

I first closed the holes with sheets of ABS. Then I smoothed it out with modelling plaster.

Fixing broken Clips

Also some of the clips that hold both parts of the case together were broken. I glued them and then reinforced them with thin sheets of ABS.

Fixing broken Floppy Slot

Also the floppy slot was broken. I stabilized it with thin sheets of ABS again.

The Design Idea

I was wondering how I could make it look nice again, when I saw the plastered case. Then I had the Idea! Make it look like an Atari 800. I had to spray paint the case anyways to hide the plastering.

However, the Atari 800 has a 5th pseudo function key which is actually the power indicator light. What I did here was to grind down a Commodore function key. The key was a retrobright fail and looked ugly anyways. For the power indicator light I opened a square hole into the top of the key. The idea was to place a plastic "window" in that hole. I took that "window" from a light switch.


I used these cut out foils as masks for airbrushing the logos. I decided for those typical 1970ies brown and yellow colors. These are also featured on Atari 800, 400, 810 and accessories of the time.

I am using the iconic Atari font. However, I did not call it "Atari". That would be to coarse. So I named it "Arcade" which is more subtle. Also this reminds us of the pioneering role Atari played in the early days of arcade and home video games.

The size of the logos is actually a bit too big maybe when compared to the size of the cases. But I did not want to make them smaller and more fragile. I did not want to risk failure when pulling them of after aribrushing.
On the other hand these big letters look somehow retro futuristic, like in sci fy illustrations from John Berkey, Chriss Foss etc.

Copyright Statement

FCA Workbench Copyright (C) 2020 Holger Zahnleiter


The information on this web site and the documents downloadable from here have been carefully reviewed and is believed to be reliable, but I do not assume any liability arising out of the application or use of any documents, programs or circuit described herein.
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