Making retro Atari 65XE as USB-keyboard for a modern computer. And will leave the opportunity to use this Atari in native mode. The Arduino Leonardo used for connect Atari's keyboard to an USB. With an UNIX this keyboard will works without any restrictions. With Windows need to switch on an USB-mouse at BIOS startup for the booting with this keyboard. For Apple or others need corrections within Arduino program for the keys order correction.

There are no other reasons besides a nostalgia.

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Step 1: Only 34 Soldering Points Is Need to Make

This Atari 65XE is near 30 years old. And he works. For add one more function for him - the USB-keyboard - is needed only Arduino Leonardo, not a lot of wires, an USB-cable. No a DC-adapter of Atari will need for this function.

Only 34 soldering points is need to make. Because the pitch of contacts on slots of the Atari's keyboard and on Arduino is 2.54 mm, the process of soldering is easy.

Step 2: Place Arduino Under the Case & Mark Some New Keys

After soldering wires from Arduino to J8 connector of Atari, Arduino can be placed at any cozi position under the case. An USB-cable need to be connect to Arduino and let out from the Atari's case. Now possible to use this Atari like regular USB-keyboard.

Not all keys of the retro Atari is correspond to keys of a modern PC-keyboard. Some keys of Atari will be with 2 functions to make all PC's comands. It is possible to make some differents layots within the Arduino sketch. Within the layot of the Arduido sketch thats here, mainly keys of Atari corresponded to PC-keys, but this ones are need to be noted (tabled on the picture here).

Step 3: Flash Arduino Sketch Via USB

Flash Arduino Leonardo is easy via an USB. So, download:

* - because here all ICs of Atari is stayed in his places (that makes possibility of Atari to work in the native mode) when Arduino scanning the keyboard's matrix, time to time some random signals is appears from a chips. Mainly them affects keys "Pause" and "Control" as tested. Some protection from this signals is maked within the Arduino sketch and was tested. But if libraries "keyboard" and "keypad", that is developed independent will change incompatible, some weirds can ocured. For this case here fixed for download the versions of libraries that was tested with the Arduino sketch. This libraries will be need only if the Arduino sketch will no work with actual libraries.

In addition to the USB-keyboard usage it remains the possible to enable this Atari in the native mode. But, of course, not at the same time when he are connected via an USB to a PC like a keyboard.

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    3 Discussions


    8 months ago on Step 3

    Hi. Thanks for this. I'm wondering, can i use this with my Atari 600 XL?

    1 reply

    Reply 8 months ago

    I have heard the Atari 600XL has very good one keyboard tactile. Theoretically - yes, this must work with Atari 600XL keyboard with some but no global changes within Arduino code (becase keyboard layots have some differences between 600XL and 65XE). On practise... if no unsolder the keyboard's slot from Atari mainboard, chips of Atari will makes time to time some random signals being powered from Arduino's 5V. While testing with Atari 65XE I was noted this ones and was take in account within Arduino code. But what signals will be in Atari 600XL case, I dont know and I have no Atari 600XL for testing. Same time if you ready to unsolder the keyboard's slot from Atari mainboard, then may be this tested case is best for Atari 600/800XL?:


    10 months ago

    Did you just have this keyboard lying around? I feel like there's a story there.... thanks for sharing this on Instructables!