Building A New Commodore 64 In 2022 With All New Components

Call it fake or simply new, but when [DusteD] set out to build a brand-new Commodore 64 with only new parts, it resulted in Project MaxFake64 that is electrically and binary compatible with any genuine C64 out there. While not really ‘fake’ in the sense that a C64 emulator is fake, it is in the sense that it uses no parts produced before this millennium. This might actually be easier than getting a used C64 in fully working condition these days.

In total, the project contains an aftermarket C64 power supply by Electroware, a brand new C64C case, a C64 (ASSY NO 250407) mainboard based on the genuine board, a generic RF modular module, an FPGA-based Kawari VIC-II replacement, a 6502 MPU using a 6502-to-6510 adapter by Monotech PCs, a dual-GAL-based PLA replacement, EPROMs for the kernal, character and BASIC ROMs (with in-socket hacks), and a SinSID Nano as (temporary) SID replacement.

Issues discovered during the process include some cracking on the (transparent) C64C case and lack of availability on CIA replacements like the J6526. The keyboard will also be replaced at some later point, and items like the joystick ports were salvaged from an old C64 rather than purchased brand new. None of which are fundamental problems, and might actually make financial sense when it comes to finding replacement parts in the future.

16 thoughts on “Building A New Commodore 64 In 2022 With All New Components

  1. Schrodingers C64 build, is it all new apart from the joystick ports, or is it a “Ship of Theseus” level original that had everything replaced apart from the joystick ports.

  2. Hm. A part of me was looking for something to complain about, but there’s none. It’s an interesting project well done. Kudos! It even seems to have retained the datasette port, so someone can add hacky interfaces like that RTTY interface for Quick Brown Fox (QBF) program. That’s for example something emulators and most modern clones don’t support. Second is the SID support. It’s not limited to a specific model, so a SID with paddle support could be installed – for proper analog mouse support (GEM, Final Cartridge III).

  3. A used working C64 isn’t that hard to get. I picked up one from eBay not too long ago. The ad stated the that it was unknown if it was working or not, but it turned out to be fully working. The one I got from a pawn shop many moons ago only had a bad SID. Ended up replacing that with an FPGASID which gives me 2 fully working C64s sitting on my bench. Totally worth picking up a diagnostics kit if you want to go that route though. Got mine from Retro Rewind.

    1. You were lucky then, I guess. Both the PLA and the SID often do fail. Though the damage on the SID might be less obvious, maybe. Some users won’t even notice. It can still make sound, but it won’t sound right anymore. The paddle inputs on the SID, used by analog mice (not the joystick mice) often do break, too. Annoying if GEM is meant to run on that C64.

      Another trouble maker is the power supply, maybe. Many old, defective C64 PSUs provide too much voltage. This will cause damage on seamingly working C64s. Using modern “cheap” switching PSUs (those replacement PSUs) isn’t great, either. They have ripple and RF noise crawling into the C64. Lab PSUs excluded.

    1. I’m actually interested in a pi build to reduce the use of my four remaining 64’s. They need to go into serious preservation mode. Only one of them is untouched from factory as it’s running the 9V SID on a 12V board. Only due to how damn hard it is/was to get a 9V SID in New Zealand.

    1. DB-9 are generally not hard to source, but the C64 mainboard uses one with a different footprint than the common ones, the pins are further “inboard”, or “behind” the connector, so if you use a common one, it can’t be fastened via the screw holes in the PCB, and the connector will be further inside the machine. But still, it would be possible I’m sure, with some hackery, or an “extender” or something like that, I should have given that a shot instead of using original parts.

      1. So it’s mostly a result of building this on a board made for the original parts? I guess the next step would be to have a revised board to accommodate modern parts? But I don’t want to think about the cost of that much board area at a board house.

  4. “a C64 (ASSY NO 250407) mainboard based on the genuine board“

    What does this mean? Are there clones of the original pcb? Can I go to one of those pcb mKers in Chaina and have a original pcb clone manufactured?

    1. There is the SixtyClone boards that were reimplementations of certain revisions of c64 motherboard. There is also the fpga based replacements like the Ultimate64 or Individual Computer’s C64 reloaded.

    1. The cases are available in a variety of colors, including the original (and beautiful) beige one of the original C64c.

      To me, I wanted the transparent one due to the beautiful purple PCB, and because I couldn’t get myself to hide away the main part of the computer that I actually made.
      I’m also a sucker for transparent in general, love the transparent gameboy (still have the one I got as a kid) and the semi-transparent iMac G3, so yea, it’s just a matter of personal sense of aesthetics (and vanity, granted) for me :)

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