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11 November 2020

FAST LOAD: Upgrade THEC64 mini firmware (v.1.4.2)

by Steven B. Combs, Ph.D.

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:

  1. The 64 includes some not-so-great games.
  2. While you can load your own games, you couldn’t have more than one on a USB drive.
  3. The tiny keyboard isn’t functional.
  4. The UI includes a cumbersome virtual keyboard (not great for adventure games).
  5. The joystick includes a few buttons to emulate keyboard controls; however, that too is a cumbersome process.

THEC64 mini

Luckily RetroBiz does include an easy firmware upgrade; and while it won’t add a physical keyboard, updates can fix many of the other limitations. Before I write about the firmware upgrade process, please take a look at the retroCombs FAST LOAD (around 5 minutes) below.

YouTube Video: FAST LOAD: Upgrade THEC64 mini firmware (v.1.4.2)

In the video below, I demonstrate how to upgrade the firmware on THEC64mini and demonstrate what I get for my efforts:

Download THEVIC20/C64 Firmware 1.4.2

As of 2021-01-20, the most recent firmware has been pulled down from the Retro Games website. Several viewers and readers have asked me if I could provide. I will post here until someone tells me I need to take it down. This is done as a public service to owners of THEC64, THEVIC20, and THEC64 mini until the 2020 Christmas release is online.

Download theC64-1_4_2.bin firmware

Process Overview

Now that you’ve seen the video, below is an overview of the steps:

NOTE: The process below also works for the THEC64 (maxi) and THEVIC20.

  1. Power down THEC64 mini.

  2. Visit https://retrogames.biz/support/upgrade-thec64-mini.

  3. Download the latest firmware, in this case v1.4.2, to a FAT32 formatted USB drive.

  4. Plug the USB drive into THEC64 mini.

  5. Power on THEC64 mini.

  6. Using the Joystick, navigate to Device Settings (the wrench icon).

  7. Select System information.

  8. The current THEC64 mini firmware will recognize the new firmware on the USB drive with the following:

     Firmware update found: theC64-1_4_2.bin
     Do you wish to uppgrade this firmware?
     Close                             Apply
  9. Choose Apply and the upgrade screen (images of a USB drive, status bar, and mini) will appear. Once the upgrade is complete, THEC64 mini will reboot with the new firmware.

That’s all there is to it!

What’s next?

I have another device on order from Amazon, [THEVIC-20](https://amzn.to/3pjwVk2). I had [THEC64](https://amzn.to/3ePEKsJ) on order and then cancelled that order when it didn't meet its availability date in the United States. The same day I cancelled the order, I found vendor on Amazon that would ship a [THEVIC-20](https://amzn.to/3pjwVk2) across the pond at a reasonable rate. My preference was Commodore VIC-20 styling since it was the first computer I owned back in 1981. I have four original VIC-20s in my basement (in various states of repair) and will compare this newer product to its older inspiration. More blog posts to come!

Anyone else enjoying THEC64 mini, maxi, or THEVIC-20](https://amzn.to/3pjwVk2)? Let me know by leaving a comment. I would also love to read your tips and tricks for getting the most out of these little Commodore recreations.