Commodore 64 “breadbox”.
Recently, I retrieved a Commodore 64 “breadbox” version from my parent’s attic that was given to me by a friend in the early 90s. As I recall, it wasn’t fully functional even back then. It would halt as soon as a program tried to play any sound. But when I connected it now and powered it up, all I got was a black screen.
The broken ASSY NO. 250407.
I took it apart completely, even the keyboard, in order to give the case and all the mechanical parts a good cleaning. Then I went on to see what I could do to fix the “ASSY NO. 250407 REV.B” motherboard that I found inside. Continue reading
Following the first prototype of the LM1881 based SyncFix64 I made a few minor changes, improving the schematics and layout. Then I was ready to order the first batch of properly manufactured PCBs. The boards took a little over two weeks for production and shipping.
As hinted at earlier, I made a couple of mistakes when designing version 1.0 of the WifiModem64 and they will be fixed in version 1.1.
Still, with some minor manual modifications, those first boards are still usable. In short, RTS must be connected to WeMos D7 instead of D8 for the ESP8266 to boot reliably and the WS2812 LED must be connected to WeMos D5 instead of D0 if you intend to use it.
These are the step-by-step instructions to get WifiModem64 V1.0 on line: Continue reading
After the encouraging results of my first attempt to fix the composite signal from a C64, so that the cheap TFT monitor could display it, I shared the idea on Forum64 to double-check and get some feedback. Consensus seems to be that the circuit at least won’t hurt the video source. Since, in addition to that, it seems to be working for me, I decided to design a board for it in KiCAD.
The goal was to make it so small that it would fit inside the display’s case alongside the display controller, so I went for all surface mount components. To get immediate results, I created a single sided layout and etched the board myself using the toner transfer method. Continue reading
A couple of months ago I dug out my old Commodore hardware again and started tinkering with it – the goal being to finally try out a bunch of mods, hacks, and builds that I missed back in the day. To start with, I bought a cheap TFT display for around 13€ to connect to the C64 and C128.
It was meant to sit on my work bench to e.g. quickly test a naked C64 board. It wouldn’t matter if the video quality wasn’t great. But after I made the necessary adapter cable and hooked everything up, I was a little disappointed to find out that the display wouldn’t show anything other than a black screen interrupted by an occasional flicker. I verified that the display itself was working by connecting it to a Raspberry Pi and I double-checked the cable I had made. Continue reading
I’ve been playing with the ESP8266 since late 2014 and it was love on first sight: so many possible uses for such a small device at such a low price tag. And very early on I thought: wouldn’t it be great to build a WiFi “modem” from this? That shouldn’t be too hard. But I didn’t find the time to pursue the idea then. When I remembered again this summer, I was not surprised but still excited to find that others had had the same idea and hadn’t been as lazy as me.
Alwyz’s instructions on how to build such a device couldn’t be easier! I followed them and it worked like a charm. For the next months, my setup then looked like variations of this:
When I discovered the MMC2IEC / SD2IEC project by chance back in 2009, it made me dig up again my soldering iron and electronic components after many years of disuse. I built myself one of those devices on a prototyping board and had a lot of fun doing so. It was the first time that I got involved with micro controllers and I learned a lot in the process.
Now, many years and projects later, I was looking for an excuse to try out KiCAD and to learn how to design my own boards using it. I had already ordered a small PCB I found on the net as a proof-of-concept to see if the Gerber files I produce would result in working boards. When they turned out just as expected I was eager to create something myself. This was the perfect opportunity to revisit the subject and make myself a brand new SD2IEC.
I wanted the design to be based on Shadowolf’s latest version but also make my own additions and changes:
- The board should be able to tap into the cassette port of the C64 for power supply.
- It should be board for external use with proper connectors just like my first build.
- All components should be cheap to buy from Chinese suppliers.
So, this is the first prototype of what I came up with. I call it the “SD2IEC pluggable”:
The discovery of the SD2IEC back in 2009 rekindled my interest in electronics. I started this blog after I built myself one of those devices but I never got around to documenting it. At least I’d like to share the images I took during the assembly process now.
During the last few weeks since my first post about the Zsun WiFi Card Reader I learned a few things that I haven’t documented yet.
After I was able to confirm that my device has indeed PCB v2 but that flashing should work just the same, I tried the simple method described here:
- Insert a FAT formatted micro SD card into the reader and plug the reader into a PC (running Windows, in my case). The card should be assigned a drive letter, say “J:”.
- Connect to the WiFi access point created by the reader.
- Open http://10.168.168.1:8080/goform/Setcardworkmode?workmode=0
- Open the drive/card in the file explorer, create a new folder named “
.update.” and copy the
SD100-openwrt.tar.gz archive into it.
- Open http://10.168.168.1:8080/goform/upFirmWare – this should return status code “2”.
- Wait patiently for the described LED flashes!
- Connect to the new access point called “OpenWRT”.
- Open https://192.168.1.1/cgi-bin/luci and configure OpenWRT.
This worked like a charm (a big thanks to Warsaw!), but only 5 minutes later I managed to lock myself out with a bad WiFi config. Great. So I went ahead and soldered leads to the serial headers. But while I was able to receive and read the console output just fine I had no success sending any input to that console. Only today I learned that PCB version 2 is missing a jumper that needs to be connected in order to enable serial RX. Connecting this jumper has exceeded my meager soldering skills so far, though.
Fortunately, I learned another fact from a helpful comment on my previous post: By inserting or removing the SD card during boot, OpenWRT can be put into fail-safe mode that will reset the configuration. I kept inserting and removing it in quick succession for about 10 seconds in order to get the timing right. Now I’m able to connect to the WiFi again!
One of the images is showing an Ethernet cable attached directly to the board. This did not work for me and trying it was somewhat naive. It’s been brought to my attention that this might damage the SoC, too. If resetting an OpenWRT installation as described above is not enough, the best way to un-brick the device seems to be through the serial console as described in the comments.
I’m not sure where I read first about the $8 Zsun WiFi Card Reader and the attempts by the people at Warsaw Hackerspace to flash it with their port of OpenWRT. It made me curious, so I went ahead and ordered a sample. Shipping from China took a while but I received the tiny gadget yesterday.
So far I could confirm the documented root access to the stock firmware via telnet on port 11880 using the password “zsun1188”. I have not tried flashing OpenWRT yet as I am not sure which of the at least two different PCB versions I got. Could anyone give me a hint on this?