In the C64 demoscene there are a ton of awesome software hacks that push the Commodore 64, the 1MHz 6510-based computer from 1982, to its limits. Most of these C64 demos are very much limited by the hardware inside the C64, but the demoscene is always coming up with new ways of pushing the envelope. [No Quarter] just sent in one of these software hacks that propel the capabilities of the C64 into the realm of absurdity by playing full length songs directly from the floppy drive.
Playing a song on the C64 begins with an Amiga and a Perfect Sound digitizer to convert the digital audio file into a 4-bit sample. Once this sample is transferred over to the C64 where it was manually timed so streaming it off a 1581 disk drive would result in the song playing at the correct pitch. It’s an amazing work of optimization; the audio data is streamed off the disk just as fast as it’s played from memory, an amazing data throughput rate for the ‘ol C64
After the break you can see [No Quarter] playing Led Zeppelin, Bon Jovi, Shania Twain, and Extreme. A very, very cool project and with the addition of a C64 hard drive makes it possible to have a media player for the C64.
Continue reading “Playing Led Zeppelin on a C64″
[Armin] recently pulled out his Commodore 64 and looked back on the projects he did as a kid. The surprising thing is that we’re not talking quite as far in the past as you might image. He was 13 in 2002 and the family didn’t have a PC. But more than a decade before his father had purchased a C64 and [Armin] dug into the manual to teach himself how to code. This week he connected the old hardware to his video capture card to give us a demonstration on what he accomplished.
He had seen Windows 95 at the local computer club and figured why not program a clone of the software for the machine at hand? He called it Windows 105 (because that number is higher than 95) and worked out ways to mimic programs like DOS, Corel Draw, Notepad, and some of the programs from Microsoft Office. They didn’t include all the functionality of the real thing, but the look was there.
The story does have a happy ending. [Armin’s] parents saw what he was doing and managed to pick up a PC for him to play with. Now he’s a professional programmer looking back on the formative years that got him there. We’ve embedded one of his demo videos after the break for your enjoyment.
Continue reading “A nostalgic look at what a 13 year old can do with a C64″
For those of you that like to play dance games, but [DDR] for the [PS2] uses too modern hardware for your tastes, [Hardsync] may be for you. Although the chiptune-style music coming out of the [C64] may not appeal to everyone, one would have to imagine that a game like this could have been a huge hit 30 years ago.
As for the hardware itself, it does indeed use one PS2 element, the dance mat. It’s hooked into one of the C64 joystick ports. In this case, the cable was cut, but it would also be possible to make a non-destructive adapter for it so as not to interfere with any future PS2 fun.
The program is made so that fellow retro-dancers can make their own songs. Each song is a discreet file, and can be reconfigured to your own personal mix. Be sure to check out the video after the break of this old-school dance machine in use after the break! Continue reading “Hardsync – DDR Reimagined for the C64″
[Blark] picked up a couple of Commodore 64 machines on Craig’s List so that he could play around with the SID chips inside. But there’s some other fun stuff in there and his attention was drawn to the PROM which stores the kernel. He thought it would be a fun adventure to build a ROM dumper capable of storing binary images.
In the video after the break you can see that when powered up the dumper immediately starts streaming hex values to the terminal. The system is set up to feed a Python script which packs the data stream into an image file. The reading is done by a PIC 18F4520, streaming the data in at 9600 baud with a generous delay between each address read to get the cleanest read possible. He had a bit of help from the AVR Freaks to get to this point.
We’d guess he’s going to pull the image off the chip several times and compare results to filter out any possible data corruption. From there we’re not sure what he’ll do with the files but there’s always the possibility of making is own emulator using this kernel image.
Continue reading “Dumping a C64 kernel”
Looking for a dual monitor setup for your Commodore 64? Look no further than the C64 controlled Blinkenwall put together over at Metalab.
The Blinkenwall is 45 glass blocks serving as a partition between the main room and the library over at Metalab in Vienna. Previously, the Blinkenwall was illuminated by 45 ShiftBrite RGB LED boards controlled by an Arduino connected to a Fonera router over a serial port. The Metalab guys have an awesome web interface that allows them (and you) to compose 45-pixel animations and play them on the Blinkenwall.
The new hardware update includes a Commodore 64, a Final Cartridge III, and the ever popular Commodore tape drive. now, instead of sending animation patterns over the Internet to an Arduino, the folks at Metalab can write their animations as 6510 assembly and save it on a cassette.
Yes, this may be a bit of an anachronism, but think of the possibilities: Prince of Persia on a 9×5 display, or just a light show to go along with some SID tunes. You can check out the video after the break.
Continue reading “Blinkenwall controlled by a C64″
[Jeri Ellsworth] finally set aside some time to talk about the build process for her Commodore 64 bass keytar. We think what started by taking a band saw to the guitar body ended up as a fantastic new instrument.
When she was showing off the project at Maker Faire we really only got a cursory look at what it could do. Her most recent video covers all that went into pulling off the project. Once the bulk of the guitar body was gone she tore the guts out of a dead c64 in order to mate the case with the guitar neck. Always the craftsman, she altered the computer’s badge to preserve the iconic look, then went to work adding pickups to each string using piezo sensors. This was done with Maker Faire in mind because magnetic pickups would have been unreliable around all of the tesla coils one might find at the event. These were amplified and filtered before being processed via an FPGA which connects to the original c64 SID 6581 chip.
Continue reading “[Jeri Ellsworth] on making her c64 bass keytar”
When [Carl] first heard of the Raspberry Pi, he immeidatly though how freakin tiny this board is compared to a Mini ITX motherboard. After ordering a Raspi, [Carl] decided to put his barely-larger-than-a-credit-card computer inside a Commodore 64.
[Carl]’s updated C64 functions exactly like the original – the 30-year-old keyboard works thanks to the help of a Keyrah keyboard and control port adapter. This adapter was soldered to a stripped USB cable, allowing [Carl] to keep the finished project looking very clean and tidy. Of course, the composite, HDMI, and Ethernet ports are broken out, allowing for this computer to connect to any network or TV.
For a final touch, [Carl] painted the case. He originally wanted to spray on a black, red, and purple motif to match the Raspi, but he eventually settled on a beige and red style. [Carl] really put together an awesome build, and for much, much less money than the rereleased C64 Windows-powered monstrosity goes for. You can check out the build log video after the break.
Continue reading “Refurbing a C64 with a Raspberry Pi”