Commodore 64 Laptop


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Introduction: Commodore 64 Laptop

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.

Step 1: 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

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

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.

Step 4: Design Work

Time to start the design! Once again I did everything in Adobe Illustrator
because thats how I roll. I started the layout around noon on a Wednesday, with a goal of routing it Friday morning.

I used a lot of V-bits to give everything sharp angles and a very 80s feel. This includes the screen, which is recessed in the lid to allow room for the raised keys when closed. This top deep bevel matches up to the bevels around the lower portion when closed.

The case is in 4 parts, 2 for the lid, 2 for the base. Like the recent Xbox 360 laptops everything is curved, beveled, and slow to rout.

Finally I did a color revision of the laptop design (This was probably on a Thursday night just before The Office came on) This shows me how the unit will look and simulates the shading on all of the surfaces. I ended up going a darker beige when I painted it because light beige didn’t look quite right.

Step 5: Assembling the Keyboard Frame

Next I installed the parts around the keyboard frame. This includes the SD disk drive thing, the sound amp, 2 speakers (its not stereo but I wanted a full sound), volume slider, LED indicators, function keys and the Nokia LCD screen you can attach to the 1541-III-DTV for whatever reason. As usual black plastic screen door material was used to cover the holes.

All of this connects via 1 cable header to the main motherboard so its easy to take the unit apart when testing. This is in contrast to say my Xbox 360 laptop where there are& lets see& 4 different things you have to connect when placing the lid.

Step 6: Installing the Main Components

I laid parts side-by-side instead of on top of each other, it gives me a lot more breathing room with wires and is less of a headache.

As mentioned earlier I used a Gamecube power supply for this project. It plugs into the back, then goes to a big meaty PC power supply switch. When switched this sends 12 volts to the LCD, 12 volts to the SID and a switching regulator creates 5 volts for the C64 logic, audio amp and 1541-III-DTV.

The LCD is from AEI components and runs off the same single 12 volt power supply.

Audio amplification was done with an LM386 amp, pretty simple to wire up and can run off the main 5 volt rail.

Step 7: Testing the Unit

Before screwing everything together I test the unit to see if it's working, not on fire, if the 1541-III-DTV SD card is working, etc.

Looks good, so I can attach the McMaster-Carr friction hinges to the back, call it a day, and play some M.U.L.E.!

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    247 Discussions

    0
    jasonlbarrett
    jasonlbarrett

    2 years ago

    I love it. You're an inspiration Ben.

    0
    TravisM18
    TravisM18

    4 years ago

    Just another piece of nostalga.

    0
    TravisM18
    TravisM18

    Reply 2 years ago

    This makes me want to try Amiga operating system.

    0
    EricG170
    EricG170

    Reply 2 years ago

    Totally with u

    0
    Left-field Designs
    Left-field Designs

    3 years ago

    I may have missed this but you mention rewiring the joystick port, but what about the tape deck and cartridge ports? Are you just interested in running basic programming tasks on the cli?

    0
    TravisM18
    TravisM18

    4 years ago

    I think I would like a color LCD and make a ubuntu or linux mint pc using a pine 64 computer board. It may need a wifi modual but at 2.5-3.5w it can run droid also but would work for running emulators and web browsing and movies. They cost around 15 dollars for the low end the high end has 2 gig of ram but a quad core arm at 1.2ghz is pretty good for under five watts. I guess it would be a serious upgrade. But for nostalga a guy build an apple two wrist watch.

    0
    ReCreate
    ReCreate

    11 years ago on Introduction

    umm...that is a computer...right? What are its specs? And i never saw any processor or heatsink,so what is that?

    0
    Sandisk1duo
    Sandisk1duo

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    the commodore doesn't need a heat sink compare it's specs to something like an ardurino board

    0
    ReCreate
    ReCreate

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    oh...wow What is the commodore? Is it like an ancient pc or something?

    0
    Sandisk1duo
    Sandisk1duo

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    yep, back in it's day, this was THE computer to have

    0
    ReCreate
    ReCreate

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    i bet it can't run windows vista :P Anyways,what os did it run? windows1.0? DOS?

    0
    robotguy4
    robotguy4

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Did you mean?
    i bet it can't crash windows vista :P

    0
    robotguy4
    robotguy4

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    What I'm saying is Vista sucks. Not Microsoft. They suck too, but only because they consist mostly of engineers, not designers (and vice versa with Apple). Vista runs seems to run very slowly on most computers. I like XP better...

    0
    ReCreate
    ReCreate

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah, Though i like 7 Better than Vista, It still does not beat XP ;)

    0
    rawsketch
    rawsketch

    Reply 4 years ago

    Kiddo, FYI the C=64 OS (Commodore Basic V2) was licensed from Microsoft, created by a 22 years old dude named Bill Gates.

    0
    Macka
    Macka

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction


    How can being composed mostly of engineers make a company suck?

    What makes Microsoft suck is the people running the company, not the engineers. 

    Also, engineers are designers, they design structures, electronics, mechanical devices and software. No engineers and the world as we know it stops.

    What makes Apple suck is their entire model of hands off, don't touch anything, we control your computer, not you and not to mention the "every sale must make a minimum 25% profit".

    0
    robotguy4
    robotguy4

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Meh, good points. Understood completely and agree about Apple. Supposedly that was partially due to Steve Jobs realizing that not copyrighting the idea of a visual interface after Windows came out. Either way, its annoying. You need an Apple to make iPod apps... What I meant to say was "Microsoft seems to consist mostly of people who design with very little regard to design or usability for the user." Also, after using Windows 7, I think Windows is slowly getting better in this department... Or maybe its because I got used to Windows... Whatever.