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Picture of Commodore 64 Laptop
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This is a fully functional Commodore 64 laptop using actual hardware, specifically the C64C motherboard which was one of the last and smallest revisions. It uses a Gamecube power supply in place of the original power brick.

It's much greener than using the original configuration because you:

a) don't need a CRT
b) don't need a slow, power-wasting disk drive
c) everything is powered by a single power supply.

Also this is one less Commodore 64 that will end up in a landfill, wasting away to nothingness after once being the greatest 8-bit computer of all time, 2nd only to possibly the Atari 800!

Plus all of the ribbon cabling was recycled from old computers - it's cheap, if not free, and doesn't goto waste.
 
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Step 1: Initial Hacking

Picture of Initial Hacking
As mentioned before this started with a C64C motherboard. Its smaller than most, but I needed it to be even smaller. I chopped off the power input/joystick end and also shaved off the cassette port tabs. I ditched everything about the original case design except the size - I wanted to keep the whole thing at 153 x 10.53, which is about the smallest it can get with the 153 LCD
screen involved.

Step 2: Modding the original keyboard

Picture of Modding the original keyboard
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The keyboard needed some hacking to make this size, specifically the function keys. I lobbed them off, bypassed the traces and then rewired the keyboard plug so the whole thing was thinner.

I recycled the original connectors so there was one less thing to buy!

The keyboard& with the function part sawed off. I opted to use the original keyboard because 80s computers had such great keyboards, why ditch em?

Step 3: Rewiring the Joystick ports

Picture of Rewiring the Joystick ports
A close up of the keyboard and joystick area on the motherboard. Some kind engineer put vias in for all the joystick connections, so even with the joystick ports cut off, it was easy to rewire. The new function keys are wired directly to the keyboard pins on the motherboard as well.
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nerd74735 months ago

Where can I get a cheap Vic 20?

nerd74735 months ago

Love it!

load"*",8,1 ahhh memories

great job

mbittle2 years ago
i found this cool, however I found by the makers of the commodore 64 this sweet but expensive new version of the c64
the Commodore64x
http://www.commodoreusa.net/cusa_c64.aspx
All hail Ben!.
wanna beco2 years ago
Whip that puppy out at a starbucks and there will be a "hipster-gasm". I miss my c64 more than I miss my high school friends!
You should make a Commodore 128 version of this
For all the sad people out there who don't understand why the C64 is still so important to so many, I've written a BASIC program for you:<br/><br/>10 REM * FOLLOW THESE STEPS AND YOU'LL SOON SEE *<br/>20 REM * WHY THE C64 WAS THE BEST SELLING *<br/>30 REM * COMPUTER OF ALL TIME *<br/>40 INPUT <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.computerbrains.com/ccs64/">WEB$</a>:GET CCS64<br/>50 INPUT <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.c64.ch/demos/realdetail.php?id=790">DEMO$</a><br/>60 LOAD "*",8,1<br/>70 PRINT "NOW I GET IT! A 1 MHZ PROCESSOR AND 64 KB RAM"<br/>80 PRINT "IS CAPABLE OF REAL-TIME 3D RENDERING,"<br/>90 PRINT "TEXTURE MAPPING, AND AMAZING SOUND!"<br/>100 PRINT "AND ALL THIS, FROM A MACHINE FIRST MANUFACTURED"<br/>110 PRINT "IN 1982 THAT SOLD UNTIL 1994."<br/>120 IF PCUSER$<>"SPEECHLESS" THEN END:REM * THERE IS NO HOPE FOR YOU, PAL *<br/>
whats sad is we could actually read that code logically and literally... why did monkey soft abandon Basic, the best way to introduce newcomers to programming?
A person who understands!
I LOVE it!
msholden6 years ago
Blast from the past. The Commodore 64 was great but I cut my teeth on a VIC-20 with 4K of available ram. After programming with the Commodores with very limited program memory you learned how to conserve memory and tricks. You could reach out and Peek and Poke to the 6502 registers. I built a speech synthesizer which worked with Allophones. Plugged it into the expansion port and had my 64 talking to me. I love your article which has peeked my interest. Unfortunately this showcases our age. Thanks!
Age is irrelevant we still can kick the butts of these young hackers, as soon as we find out where they hid our canes....
Wow , the memories come flowing back! Cobol, fortran, and Pascal were once words to my ear (still are). Thanks for the blast through time!
Your welcome,

Lets not forget the ELF, which was in electronic magazines way before the VIC-20. It programmed in Hex. Not to friendly but one of the forerunners as well. It was a hobby toy and I do not remember any thing else.

Does any one else?
No it doesn't. We haven't mentioned Sinclair-Timex yet. ;o)
Otherwise, Good on ya, msholden! You got it right. Mind if I add a few thought of my own?

Point #1 "Radar Rat Race" for the VIC-20 was about the only game I ever got hooked on. When it moved to the C-64, I thought it lost a lot of charm and lost interest. I still miss it.

Point #2 Tight is right! GEOS and GEM operating systems were incredible. They essentially duplicated the features and capabilities of Windows 2.0 several years earlier. They ran faster on slower processors and did much more with less memory. Either would fit on a 170K floppy disk (complete with your application) and crashing had to wait until Windows before it became understood in our language. Crashes just did not happen on Commodores.

Point #3 The VIC-20, C-64, TRS-80, Atari 400 and TI-99 paved the way for home desktop computers. If today's computers and software were relatively as fast and efficient as these old timers you would never need to turn one on. Your task would be complete before the BIOS splash made it to the screen.
I ran a clone of Ventura Publisher (an early GEM based competitor to Pagemaker) on a C-64 to produce a 24 page newspaper for several years. Speed was not really a problem.

Laughing at these gray haired computer seems a lot like a gangsta with a 9mm Glock poking fun at Bill Cody's Single Action Army Colt.... not too smart.
HAY im only 20 but i did start on basic retro gear. i learned on the BASIC language (i hate C+,ok with C++) and programming on PIC chips with only 2K mem available. i made it sing Merry had a little lamb and light 2 LEDs. wow i miss high school.
JohnNNJ3 years ago
Doogie Howser called. He needs his laptop back.
Krayzi993 years ago
I must say, I cant join any of you. I'm only 13, not born into the era of c64... sad, but not. Yet, I want to make this. make this, and use it like I have before... Yes, cake is deserved by thee, ben heck. thou deserveth cake indeed.
lol. I don't really talk like that, of course.
jolsavicky3 years ago
My first one was a Vic 20. The hours I spent typing in the machine language programs to get a word processor. Loved that machine.
sqeeek5 years ago
AMEN to them having awesome keyboards. I need to find an old C64 and make a keyboard for my desktop... What happened to us? Now everyone likes sqooshy, cheap, rattly keyboards.
i use a bigger-type keyboard just because pressing those buttons have better feedback :D

THE KEYS

THEY
ARE
JUMPING
UNDER
MAH
FINGURZ

yes, epic.
thingy3 years ago
500000000 internet points. The C64 was my second computer(had a vic 20 before this) and had a-lot of fun with BASIC back in the day.
awesome, never played the thing but been listening to commodore 64 music a lot recently, check out Slay Radio.
MRedu3 years ago
Old is Gold...

Ahh.. c64.. I miss those days...
doomsdayltd4 years ago
im thinking of this project now since i have my hands on a commodore 64, but what i'll do is add a MSSIAH cartridge to it for music :D
ledartist4 years ago

Wow! I love the way it looks!
Somehow it looks more futuristic than today's high-tech gadget.

Anomn_Feck4 years ago
I absolutely love your work and have been following your projects for some time, you bring DIY to the next level and everything you do is awesome!!
MRHint4 years ago
Ben Heck, this is awesome! I can't wait to see your next project.
silvermane4 years ago
This is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen! Now can we get one made from an Atari 130XE or XE GS?
LoganMackey4 years ago
FREAKING AMAZING!
i loved my C64
Wolf Seril4 years ago
Woo now I have something to play Zorg on!
hobbyman4 years ago
your case design is so cool. What is it made of? how did you produce it?
looks like it came from a 3d printer but illustrator can not give a 3d output.
then how?

congrats anyway, beeing an ancient zx spectrum owner ( i still own 3 ZX48k and a ZX 81)
and a c64 admirer I see and understand the value of these projects. Well done.
Nastan hobbyman4 years ago
He imported the Illustrator files into a different program for a CNC router to cut it out.
That ^^

What is it made of? how did you produce it?
boothby1715 years ago
Face it, fellas--when real computer aficionados get together, they don't talk about "Oh, I'm liquid cooling my latest eight-core Xeon..." (wait..maybe they do), thet talk about their first Commodore, or Osborne, or how they had to re-order their FORTRAN deck when it spilled in the hallway
Lol I know a place out here in Utah that's been around for 50 years and never changed, called Central Utah Electronics. They still sell Vacuum tubes and original Kaypro Portable's for original list price o.O
Astinsan sqeeek4 years ago
They will be sitting on that kaypro for a while. 1800$ for a luggable 35lb computer... It better come with a dolly. hehe..

I remember the commodore and the atari. I didn't like the atari that much. They keyboard was the bubble key version. The commodore had its issues. It would overheat sometimes and would need to be re-soldered (never turned it) I still have my modem for the commodore 64 think its 75 baud. blazing fast! :)
COOOL! but useless:] still i admire the fact you stuck so close to the original board
ReCreate6 years ago
umm...that is a computer...right? What are its specs? And i never saw any processor or heatsink,so what is that?
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