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Non Functional Goodies

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Product Description

We're sure you've clicked on this link, wondering why a company would openly advertise broken items for sale.  Have we lost our sanity?  Are we trying to determine the naivety of potential customers?  Do we wish to inflict hours of frustration on classic computing enthusiasts?

Hmm, we won't discount those theories.  However, our primary reason is much more mundane.  Honestly, some of the items we receive from manufacturing do not work.  In the beginning, when time was more plentiful, we diagnosed the issues with each non-working item and fixed them.  But, as the product list expands, and time is needed for more valuable tasks, the box of non working items waiting for diagnosis grows larger.

Something must be done.  Since "crowdsourcing" is all the rage these days, we're going to crowdsource this task.  The effort goes like this:

  1. There's a small "entrance fee" to this effort.  We've listed all of our non-working items on this page at greatly reduced costs.  This is done for two reasons.  It allows us to recoup a bit of the cost to manufacture these products, and it also ensures we target people genuinely interested.  So, to "join", you simply buy one of more of the items.
  2. We mark the item as non working, and ship it to you.
  3. You figure out what is wrong with it.  We'll provide schematics, firmware, etc., but we're not doing the debugging.  We have no idea what ails these boards.  Break out the scope and logic analyzer and have at it.  Note that we make no promises the unit is repairable.  It's the gamble you're taking.  So, if you buy one of these, assume the money is gone forever, and if the unit can be repaired, you can think of it as finding free money!
  4. When the issue is identified, you fix it.  We can't promise replacement parts, but if we have it sitting on the shelf and can send it, we'll try to do so.  Don't count on it, though.
  5. When the issue is resolved, you have a working unit.  Enjoy.  We'll support firmware upgrades and usage questions on these units just like any other.  However, we're not supporting the unit misbahving or replacing the unit if it fails at some point.
  6. We don't mind you selling it to someone else, but you have to let the buyer know the constraints as well.  Fair is fair.  Remember, we're marking the units, so we'll know if it comes back to us.

(OK, so it's not exactly crowdsourcing, but that's our story, and we're sticking to it!)

Yes, the system could be abused, but our customers are not like that. Right?  In any case, we'll keep at it until it fails to work, or we run out of stuff (which will never happen permanently, as there's always duds in each batch).  Spare us the commentary on finding better manufacturers who can assure 100% working stock.  We're pretty sure that's not possible, but even if someone else could do better, they can't do it at the prices we currently pay for manufacturing.  The tradeoff is fine.  Even if we never sell a single broken unit, we're still satisfied with our manufacturing partner.  They provide good quality at a great price, and we can pass that on to our customers.

So, if you love the smell of vaporized flux in the morning, leap for joy when seeing bus cycles displayed on your scope, and can convert logic analyzer graphs of serial data into actual data elements, this store item may be of interest. If you have some cash burning a hole in your pocket and you have copious amounts of free time and great quantities of patience, click on that "buy now" button and await your borked treasure.  However, if you need to search the web for truth tables for NAND gates (or even what a NAND gate is), can't understand the X10 switch on your scope probe, or burnt yourself in the last 12 months on your soldering iron, these are not the products you are looking for.


  • The XPander-3 VIC technically works, but it has the following issues:
    • The switches to enable/disable power and IO signals are too close to the 22/44 pin connectors.  Thus, cartridges with their shells will not fit.  Relocating the switches under the PCB will address the issue
    • The 2 unconnected cartridge port lines were run to each expansion port.  But, some newer VIC-20s and some cartridges ties those lines to various voltages or use them in special ways.  Thus, they should be discconnected at each expansion port connector to prevent any possible damage to the VIC-20.  We won't take responsibility for frying a VIC-20, so we're selling the current units as "broken"
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Product Reviews

  1. Great idea 4 Star Review

    Posted by on 11th Mar 2015

    I love the fact I can buy cheaper items and can tinker with them myself trying to get them to work.

    Also love that covering your (Jim) otherwise loses.

  2. X-pander3 Vic-20 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 21st Dec 2014

    What can I say but an absolutely wonderful device. Sturdy and well constructed it works very well. As stated, the switches do interfere with the cartridges but rather than relocate the switches i opted to remove the cases from my cartridges. On a daily basis i use 2 16k ram packs and a machine code monitor cartridge and they all co-habit wonderfully.

    In short the X-pander 3 Vic-20 is well worth the money.

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