Saturday, October 15, 2016


A while ago I posted about Blu, my blue C64C. I made most of the SID comparison recordings with its 2 SID setup and, because the SID is a fragile chip I wanted to have something that would protect its circuits.

I asked my good friend Hermit (he is one of the developers of the new SwinSID Ultimate) if he's got an idea how I can do it. He took the question very serious and designed a circuit:

Let me copy-paste his words from CSDB, where the official release have happened:

"I designed this simple SID-protector some months ago as Vincenzo needed some protection for SIDs to record safely. I tested the circuit in ngspice (SPICE circuit simulator linux implementation), and Vincenzo built and tested it on real hardware. He didn't try to stress-test it for obvious reasons (too many SIDs died already in C64 history), but the circuit simulation shows that this simple circuit protects SID's output from overvoltages and reverse voltages/currents. If the diodes are of Schottky type (with enough reverse breakdown voltage for the task), the circuit can have less impact on the output signal due to the series diode and more protection in the negative voltage region on SID-output. 50V and more breakdown voltage diodes are preferred because in practice phantom power around 48V is the biggest that a mixer or other devices can drive to the C64 output by accident. 
If the diodes are normal-type (e.g. 1N4148), then D2 in parallel with the Zener doesn't do much and can be left off...
The circuit only worsk with DC output of the SID (or maybe the transistor current amplifier output) and provides DC output which should be filtered with a series capacitor to remove the DC component of the signal or connected to the transistor current amplifier in the C64. The latter hasn't been tested yet, Vincenzo simply used RCA sockets to directly drive the outputs out from the C64... That worked with both 8580 and 6581 SIDs despite the 6581 having incomplete (non-complementer) output...
We hope this can prevent some further SID-deaths for people who try it...

The only difference to the schematics is that I've used 1N4148 instead of Schottky diodes.
After testing this circuit I experienced a bit of volume-loss on the output level, but basically that's it. It worked so far without any further complications and it's small enough to fit inside the C64.

ps: in case you were wondering who is that Vincenzo guy Hermit' mentioned, FYI it's me, vincenzo /StrayBoom Music. composer, sound designer and owner of this blog.


Today's audio-visual experience: Offscreen Colonies by Conspiracy

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