Giving the C64 A WiFi Modem

If there’s any indication of the Commodore 64’s longevity, it’s the number of peripherals and add-ons that are still being designed and built. Right now, you can add an SD card to a C64, a technology that was introduced sixteen years after the release of the Commodore 64. Thanks to [Leif Bloomquist], you can also add WiFi to the most cherished of the home computers.

[Leif]’s WiFi modem for the C64 is made of two major components. The first is a Microview OLED display that allows the user to add SSIDs, passwords, and configure the network over USB. The second large module is the a Roving Networks ‘WiFly’ adapter. It’s a WiFi adapter that uses the familiar Xbee pinout, making this not just a WiFi adapter for the C64, but an adapter for just about every wireless networking protocol out there.

[Leif] introduced this WiFi modem for the C64 at the World of Commodore earlier this month in Toronto. There, it garnered a lot of attention from the Commodore aficionados and one was able to do a video review of the hardware. You can check out [Alterus] loading up a BBS over Wifi in the video below.

21 thoughts on “Giving the C64 A WiFi Modem

  1. A whole generation did grew up with Commodore and has still fond memories of it. I’m currently walking down memory lane with a SX64 restoration project.

    I dont get the extra display as the link is already serial. Why not add some AT commands liek they did it with the ESP-xx module?

    1. I enjoyed meeting the command line for the first time on C64.
      However, I admit not having to wait 5 minutes to load a simple program on an Apple II was almost magic.
      Now I find a quad core pi2 ARM7 @ 1GHz for $35, and ponder the possibilities.

      I find other’s nostalgic attachment to old C64 hardware odd, as I remember the countless downsides of these systems.
      =)

      1. Ahh because you do not understand the upsides. The 64 is understandable while a quad core arm running Linux is too complex for any one person to understand.
        Think of it this way. A modern Corvette is a much better car in every way than 1957 fi, or a 1967 L88 Corvette but they are still wonderful cars.
        Or to use airplanes a P-51 or Spitfire are terrible fighters when you look at an F-22 but they are still wonderful aircraft.

  2. You’d think people would move on to the arduino already, it’s still a bit dated but a hell of a lot better than the C64 at this point surely. And for more on-hands screen stuff and keyboard interface there is the raspi and similar. I really don’t get the concept of wasting time on a C64 at this point.

    Hell I think the even amiga time has passed, even for enthusiast and historians. But at least the amiga has/had an interface to a RGB display and some decent capabilities compared to the C64.

    1. Jay Leno has a Stanley Steamer (no relation to the Cleveland) so some people will always love some kind of old technology, no matter how old, in 100 years people will still be using Commodores.

    2. If you don’t get the idea behind playing around with old computer hardware, Commodore or otherwise, there is probably a lot you don’t get. Despite its age, the C-64 can still teach newbies much about computers in general, more so than can Arduinos and Raspberry PIs. Unlike the latter two, the C-64 is not at all opaque and thanks to its past ubiquity, extremely well documented. The others are fad toys with limited learning features. Also, programming the C-64 in assembly language does a lot to help someone fully understand machine concepts, such as memory maps, MMUs, registers, low-level operating system functions, and the like. You won’t get that from programming something that hides all that hardware from you with reams of code written in C.

      Keep in mind that new technology isn’t necessarily better technology. Sometimes reversion to older technology saves the day—or at least teaches one the principles needed to make new technology better than the old stuff.

      1. If you wanted to, you could also get the documentation for the AVR processor they use on the Arduino, and program it in assembler. It would teach you comparable stuff about memory maps, registers, low-level functions and the like. It may not give you exactly the same experience, but it would be close enough, and actually more relevant for today’s applications. Nobody in their right mind is going to design hardware with tiny external memories, and external peripherals, when you can get everything integrated into one cheap IC.

  3. Hey, I’m the developer of the hardware and wanted to respond to everyone’s questions about the MicroView screen.

    Three reasons for including it:

    1) It looks cool! The instant status updates have also proved to be handy.

    2) Mere mortals can’t reprogram the RN-XV firmware the same way the ESP8266 can be, unfortunately.

    3) It’s intended to be much more than a Wi-Fi solution, all the Arduino (MicroView) I/O pins are broken out at a header along the top so it’s also an easy way to use the Arduino as a bridge to the outside world for C64 hackers.

    Some examples:
    http://jammingsignal.boards.net/thread/35/fun-firmware

  4. I don’t get the hate on this site for anything retro. Just because someone still uses (and enjoys) old tech like Commodores, Atari’s or even vacuum tube calculators doesn’t mean they are wasting *THEIR* time. It might be a waste of YOUR time if you’re not into that sort of thing. And that’s fine. No one is asking you to be. But I thought the spirit of this site was: A) Person “hacks” up something he/she thinks is cool (useful or not). B) Person shares said hack on this site for others to enjoy, or…dare I say…learn from. C) Person receives *constructive* comments and/or criticisms. If you don’t share the view of the original poster, then fine. Don’t bother responding. The rest of us don’t give a shit what you think anyway. So how about stop wasting OUR time for once?

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