Blinkenwall controlled by a C64

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.

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[Jeri Ellsworth] on making her c64 bass keytar

[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.

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Refurbing a C64 with a Raspberry Pi

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.

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Two retro successes with a Commodore 64

Slowly but surely, Hackaday readers have been logging onto our retro edition with some very old hardware. Of course we’re featuring the coolest as retro successes. [azog] and [logik] entered the pantheon of brave souls who loaded up Hackaday with a Commodore 64 this week, and their builds are pretty impressive to say the least.

[logik]‘s build was nearly doomed from the start: he used a C64 found dumpster diving one day with a bad power supply and half-dead VRAM chips. The first order of business was getting the C64 talking to a PC with the help of a MAX232 serial IC and loading up 64HDD to transfer a copy of Novaterm. From there it was a simple matter of connecting to an Ubuntu box and pulling up our retro site with the help of a text-only web browser.

[azog] didn’t want to abuse Lynx with his submission so he connected a Commodore 64 Ethernet card and loaded up Contiki. The banner image (above) is the ASCII Hackaday logo rendered with the C64’s PETSCII character set, something I did not foresee when I created our retro edition. Still, freakin’ awesome.

As a small aside, we’re going to open up the comments for this post to suggestions and recommendations you’ve got for the Hackaday retro edition. What would you like to see? The Retrocomputing guide is woefully inadequate, we know, but there’s a project in the works (getting WiFi over a serial port on a 68k Mac) that should be well received.

[Jeri] builds a c64 bass Keytar

[Jeri] built this really cool C64 bass Keytar from a commodore64 and a cheap bass guitar. She’s using an FPGA to do the string detection and the key scanning, it then sends everything to the original 8bit sound chips. The reason that she is using a bass guitar is that the commodore sound chip only has 3 channels. There’s an interview with her from the maker faire, and if you keep watching, there are some other interesting projects too.

She notes that the implementation she went with has many performance issues due to the overtones the strings create when played. If she did it again, she’d go another route. Since [Jeri] has previously created the fully functional C64 games on FPGA, maybe she’ll add some video synth to this down the road.

Universal Commodore 64 cartridge speeds up demo production

As a life long lover of his venerable Commodore 64, [Frank] was looking for a way to speed up the development time when writing C64 demos. His solution is a universal C64 cartridge that will connect to a PC over a USB port.

The board is powered by a CLPD and a microcontroller loaded with code from [Frank]‘s previous C64 USB controller adapter. A 16 Mbit flash chip is able to store 31 classic games like Pitfall, Dig Dug, and Lode Runner.

On his Google+ announcement, [Frank] says this is a very early prototype. He plans on reducing the board size to fit inside a standard C64 cartridge, and the firmware for the micro and CLPD aren’t finished yet. That being said, [Frank] does have a board that does what he wants it to do: extremely rapid C64 development.

Check out [Frank]‘s demo after the break of him compiling and re-uploading a simple demo to his cherished computer in just a few seconds. That’s a lot faster than it would take with a 1541 Ultimate or other SD card reader.

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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.

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