Putting every chiptune ever in an FPGA

Finally one device combines the power of the Commodore 64 SID, Atari ST YM2149, and Amiga MOD audio into one awesome box. It’s called the RetroCade Synth, and there’s a Kickstarter that is perfect for starting your chiptune composing journey.

[Jack]‘s RetroCade synth is connects directly to the Papilio One 500k FPGA. All the classic chiptune ICs can be emulated in this FPGA including the Commodore 64 SID chip, and an Amiga MOD player. Being a follow-up to [Jack]‘s previous FPGA YM2149 project, he also threw that chip into the project for good measure. While the RetroCade doesn’t ship with every old chiptune IC – there isn’t support for NES, Atari, GameBoy, or SN76489-based chiptunes yet – that is something [Jack] will add once the Kickstarter is completed.

After the break you can see [Jack] jamming out on his RetroCade project playing a YM2149, SID, and Amiga MOD sounds simultaneously. For $100, it’s comparable to the venerable MIDIbox SID, but also allows anyone to play whatever genre of chiptunes they desire.

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Getting a home built scanner from ’92 up and running again

In 1992, [Arpi] didn’t have much time for Ninja Turtles, Nintendos, and other wonderful wastes of time his fellow geeks were raised on. He was busy building a scanner for his Commodore 64. Although this very impressive build could have been lost to the sands of time, he pulled his project out of the attic for a “Try to use it again” party. Although this party is not a formal competition, we’re going to say that [Arpi] walked home that night with the most geek cred.

While there are no build details, there is a bunch of info to be gleaned from the gallery about how this machine was built. We’re pretty sure a good majority of the build was a typewriter at one point, and it looks like there’s a windshield wiper motor in there somewhere. Like this completely unrelated but similar build, [Arpi]‘s scanner uses a photoresistor and a few LEDs to transfer image data to the custom software. In case you were wondering, yes, the ancient 5 1/4 floppy disk was still readable – one of the few advantages of the huge sectors on these disks.

Check out the videos of this scanner in action after the break, and if you’ve got a decades-old hack sitting in your attic (remember that acoustic modem you built?), send it in on the tip line.

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C64 joystick adapter

[Marcus Gritsch] wanted to do his retro gaming using retro hardware… or at least using some retro hardware. Although he was playing his Commodore 64 games in an emulator, he figured that using an original controller would boost the nostalgia quite a bit. This is a vintage Competition Pro joystick that has buttons and a joystick of a similar quality to arcade hardware and a DE-9 connector. He managed to connect new to old by building his own USB to C64 joystick adapter.

His project started out by breadboarding a circuit based on a PIC 24FJ64GB002 microcontroller. This does all of the work, having native USB support, and no problem reading and translating the signals from the old hardware which are simply conductors for each internal switch that pull to ground when actuated. Once working, he soldered everything to some protoboard; a connector at each end, the chip itself, a voltage regulator, and some passive components. It’s a, robust build that should give him years of emulated fun.

Dedicated hacker adds USB capabilities to his Commodore 64

usb_basic_commodore_64

To say that Commodore 64 aficionados are a dedicated group would be quite the understatement. There are still quite a few individuals that spend all sorts of time building and programming for the C64 in order to make using them enjoyable, and to keep up to date with current technologies.

[Luigi] is one of these people. He wanted a way to easily transfer files between his PC and his C64 that was fast but cheap. To [Luigi], this meant USB file transfers, which would take quite a bit of work to implement. He started out by rolling his own BASIC interpreter which could eventually be extended to support USB. Using his BASIC-Plus interpreter, he was able to implement a USB Kernel, which could transfer files at 1.2 KB/s via a USB to serial adapter. Wanting faster file transfers, he built a USB to parallel adapter, which resulted in a nearly 8-fold increase in speed.

So, if you have been dying to have USB capabilities on your C64, look no further, [Luigi] has just what you need!

Continue reading to see a quick video of USB-64 in action.

[Thanks, Matt]

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Commodore 64 USB controller adapter for your PC

commodore_64_controller_usb_interface

[Frank], like many people, has a soft spot in his heart for the Commodore 64. He prefers to play his C64 games on his computer nowadays, but likes using his old school Competition Pro rather than some modern controller with remapped buttons. The only problem with using the controller is that his new computer doesn’t have any ports that accommodate its 9-pin D-sub connector.

The VICE emulator maps keyboard inputs to controller actions, so he decided to build himself a D-sub to USB adapter that implements a virtual USB keyboard. He wrote a firmware package for the Freescale MC9S08JS16L microcontroller that allows him to send keypresses to his emulator whenever he performs an action with his Competition Pro joystick.

The circuit looks easier to duplicate than some other C64 interfaces we have seen before, and as you can see in the video below, it works quite well. We imagine that this setup can be used to connect all sorts of old input devices to modern PCs with little to no tweaking.

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Modded C64 eye candy

“Everyone needs a hobby,” they tell us. For the blogger mysteriously identified only as “R,” that hobby would be an almost fanatical nostalgia for the Commodore 64 computer.

At first we thought this was a fan community site, but apparently it’s all the work of a single person. [R] has tweaked, extended, repackaged and resurfaced this 1980’s icon in nearly every imaginable way. They tend to gloss over the technical aspects of these mods, but that’s okay – the C64 is such an exhaustively documented system now that the site dwells mainly on the aesthetics and meaning of these reborn devices.

The 64 has made an indelible impression on electronic music, and the machines are still sought after by collectors, composers and circuit-benders. [R] pays homage by housing these vintage systems in styles reminiscent of even vintage-er synthesizers. Any one of these would warrant a post here, yet there’s a whole collection to browse. Check it out!

[via Retro Thing]

C64 interface for your computer

Before we get started, lets just point out that this C64 was broken. He did not take a functional C64 out of operation for this. What he did do, was to build a hardware interface for for his VICE system. For those unfamiliar, VICE is a cross platform C64 emulator. [Simon] points out that the old games just weren’t as much fun without the original hardware. Having a broken C64 lying around, he put it to good use. It now acts as the interface for all the original fun stuff.

If you are a fan of the hardware, but just want to interface it as a normal USB keyboard, that is possible as well.

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