Building A Replica Final Cartridge III

The Commodore 64 was the computer of the 8-bit era, and remains the highest selling computer of all time. In addition to disk and tape drives, it also had a cartridge interface. A popular extension cartridge was the Final Cartridge III, which offered a variety of disk utilities and a GUI. [Greisi] was in possession of a no longer functional cartridge, and decided to reverse engineer the device.

[Greisi] started by desoldering all the ICs and mapping out a schematic for the board. The design centers around common parts for the era, such as a UV-erasable EPROM and some 74-series logic. [Greisi] decided to then modernise the design and make some improvements. Adding a fuse should avoid the cartridge catching on fire, and a bunch of decoupling capacitors on all the ICs should reduce noise. A FLASH chip is used instead of the old school UV-erasable part, which makes writing to the device much easier.

It’s a great build performed in a stunningly tidy workshop, and [Greisi] has provided the schematics and PCB designs to the public here. That means that many more users can build their own Final Cartridge III without having to hunt for original hardware which is growing scarcer. You can learn more about the Final Cartridge III on Wikipedia.

We’ve actually seen the Final Cartridge III before – used in this blinkenwall installation. Video below the break.

[Thanks Adrian!]

25 thoughts on “Building A Replica Final Cartridge III

  1. nice job.
    There has been a lot to do about the FCIII the last few years. It is certainly a nice cartridge and I still use one (in case of software debugging using real hardware) from time to time. You might want to look into this (requires translation if you don’t speak dutch):
    It’s about adding extra features to the cartridge to make it even more useful.

    Also I’m much amazed about your extremely tidy desk. It looks so nice and clean… wow!
    It almost looks more like a studio then a workplace.

    Have fun with the hobby.
    Kind regards,

    PS: nice job on the other projects on your video channel.

  2. “The Commodore 64 was the computer of the 8-bit era, and remains the highest selling computer of all time. ”

    I’ve read somewhere the Raspberry Pi has surpassed that record.

      1. “and remains the highest selling computer of all time.”
        So you are arguing the Raspberry Pi wasn’t released within “all of time”? ;P

        Seriously though, according to the March’17 issue of MagPi, the c64 sold 12.5 million units since release, and all Raspberry Pi models counted together just exceeded that number in Feb’17

        However they also mention that prior to that month, the c64 was the 3rd best selling with the Pi at 4th, and after that month the two swapped places. They don’t seem to mention what they believe spots 1 and 2 are, nor provide any references or anything. So there is plenty of room to argue over any such claims.

        1. Number 1 and 2 were PC and Mac. I don’t agree with their logic, as even “Mac” covers 40+ models, and “PC” is such a generic mess. I’m not sure how many models of C64 there were, but lumping all RPis together from Arm11 single core through quad core 64 bit models is cheating in my mind. The C64 remains the king, until someone can outsell Commodore without using counting their entire lineup. Should we add Vic-20s and Pets to the count for C64s? Of course not, and neither should we count RPi Zero and RPi 3 as the same board. Marketing BS.

        2. Like for example the C64 is a single model vs all the different variants of the Pi. To be a fair comparison they would need to include the C16 C128 and Plus 4 at least.

          1. If you’re just sticking with C64 compatibles, then only the C64, C64C, C64, SX-64, C128, & C128D should be counted. As in, you could take the same piece of software and run it on all of that hardware with no modifications. That’s still a ton of machines.

            I remember when iPad sales figures surpassed that of the C64, and people started calling it the best selling computer of all time. People will keep looking for the next thing to say dethrones the previous record holder, but really it’s all a game of qualifiers.

    1. > I’ve read somewhere the Raspberry Pi has surpassed that record.

      That’s an open question, at least for another few years.

      The ‘official’ stats for the C64 put it somewhere in the range of 25-30 Million. This is from Commodore, and if you ask Bil Herd, that’s what he’ll tell you. Of course, this is also from Jack Tramiel, who…. let’s just say he promoted himself very well.

      However, if you try to figure out how many C64s were produced independently (see: German Tank Problem), you come up with a much lower number. Somewhere around 12-15 Million. Counting *all* versions, the Pi has surpassed this.

      Again, this is comparing apples to oranges; the C64 remained relatively unchanged – yes, there were silicon revisions, but they were backwards compatible. Yes, there were design changes too, but a C64 produced in 1982 was functionally identical to a C64 produced in 1992. We’re not going to be able to say that about the Pi. Additionally, the C64 was a *home* computer, meaning all you needed to do was plug it into a TV. The Pi doesn’t have this – you need a keyboard, and everything else.

      Taking all that into consideration, everyone is wrong. There are far more than 30 Million of the latest iPhone released than either the Pi or the C64, so we’re all arguing about nothing.

      1. Wikipedia citations state between 12.5 and 17 million. Sure, it’s a lot, but any computer model that sells for 12 years is bound to sell TONS. Today’s models would easily outsell it, but the current model’s lifespan is counted in months.

    2. reasoning in absolute numbers does not make sense. check how much is costs to get cheap meal today in a burger joint, check how much a raspi costs, compare to that price of the C64 when it was sold, and how much a similar meal would cost at that time, then bring the numbers in. If the C64 at that time was as cheap as the raspi is today, i would have sold much more. we are saturated of cheap electronics today. it costs nothing compared to decent organic food, and not much in piza units

  3. It feels weird to me that it was easier for him to replace a 74’133 with a 74’30 and 74’10… but that’s how legacy stuff works.

    D2 and D5 are a diode OR gate. D1 and D4 are a diode AND gate.

    1. For some people, but for others not. Look at the Monitor of the FC3, which is better than the one in AR5 ot AR6. Then you have the FC3-fastloader which is fully compatible to SD2IEC’s. The fastloader of the AR modules don’t work with these hardware. So there are points where the AR6 is stronger (freezer, hacking and patching possibilitys and so on), but also points where FC3 is better. This is the reason, why both of these modules are legends among C64 users. And bringing more tools to the FC3 is a superb idea.

  4. I downloaded the files and thought I might be able to upload them to OSHPark to make the PC board. No dice==there are a bunch of things missing (according to their web site). Oh well.

  5. This is a good hardware-project, but nearly all comments here make no sense at all and are about “which product was sold much” and such shit. Strange.

    The FC3 and the AR6 are superb hardware-moduls. And bringing more tools to the FC3 is a very good idea.

  6. I’m unable to source the switches for this in North America. APEM PHAP3305B only seem to be available in Europe. Any other replacements with the same specs out there? I couldn’t find one on

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