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Picture of Turn a Commodore 64 Into an IOS Bluetooth Keyboard

This instructable describes how to turn a Commodore 64 computer into a bluetooth keyboard. It involves programming a micro controller with the Arduino IDE and constructing a circuit board.

Supplies you'll need (some are optional):

  • Commodore 64 with keyboard (remove mother board, it is not used)
  • (2) 74HC595 shift registers
  • (8) 1N4148 diodes
  • (3) 220 ohm resistors
  • (1) RGB Led (common cathode)
  • (1) Adafruit Feather M0 Bluefruit (other adafruit bluefruit nRF51 boards may work as well without modification to the instructions presented here)
  • (1) 18x24 hole protoboard (larger sizes will work)
  • (1) large breadboard
  • (~50) male-male breadboard jumper cables
  • (4) female-female jumper cables
  • (1) 3.7V lipoly battery back with JST connector (I used 2000mAh)
  • (1) slide switch (doesn't necessarily have to be a slide switch, any switch could work)
  • solder
  • solder flux
  • 30 guage wire
  • (3-4) 2mm x 8mm screws
  • (1) short male micro USB to female USB-A cable
  • (1) USB-A male-male cable (3-6ft long, for charging)
  • (1) 20 pin male pin header
  • (1) 4 pin male pin header
  • (1) JST PH 2.0 Plug Connector 100mm 2pin male connector wire (optional)
  • (1) JST PH 2.0 Plug connector 100mm 2pin female connector wire (optional)

Tools you'll need:

  • soldering iron with fine tip
  • helping hands or device to hold protoboard steady
  • wire cutters
  • philips screwdriver
  • tweezers
  • multimeter
  • 30 guage wire strippers
  • hot glue gun (optional)
  • 3D printer (optional)
  • computer with Arduino IDE installed

Step 1: Prepare Adafruit Feather M0 Bluefruit LE

Picture of Prepare Adafruit Feather M0 Bluefruit LE

First solder the header pins to the board if it didn't come pre assembled.

Here is a good reference for the Adafruit Feather M0 Bluefruit LE:

https://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-feather-m0-blu...

Update the board to the latest firmware. My arduino sketch will not work unless the board is updated to at least 0.7.6. If you are running older firmware the sketch won't work correctly or there will be performance issues. I confirmed my sketch runs flawlessly with versions 0.7.7 and 0.8.0. You can update the boards firmware over the air with your phone using the app Bluefruit LE Connect for (iOS or Android). I used the iOS app and you are given the option to upgrade or downgrade to many versions. Choose 0.7.7 or 0.8.0. I cannot guarantee that everything will work correctly for newer versions.

Next install the boards and libraries in the Arduino IDE needed for the sketch. Instructions can be found here:

https://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-feather-m0-blu...

Make sure you install both the Adafruit SAMD boards and the Arduino SAMD boards using the board manager.

Also, install the Adafruit BluefruitLE nRF51 v1.9.5 using the library manager

Confirm that your board is working correctly by uploading some of the example sketches that you should see under example->Adafruit Bluefruit nRF51 if you installed the library correctly.

Finally, after confirming that the board is working properly, upload my sketch using the files provided in this step.

abomin4 months ago
Hello! Could you sale me the Commodore 64 motherboard if you don`t need it?
JoroG abomin3 months ago
Разоплагам с 2 компютъра Commodore 64 , и 1 Правец 8д
EricHOlsen (author)  abomin4 months ago
Hi, unfortunately I don’t have the motherboard, I got this as a shell without one.
HelgeF4 months ago
Very bad and amoral idea!
There is far from an infinite supply of good looking, working C64s out there and those that are not working should be brought back to life in one way or another, or stored securely for someone to do it in the future.
Not, be raped like this.
The keyboard on the 64 is not even that good and not very suited for anything other than C64 stuff.
If you want good usable vintage looking keyboards, get an IBM buckling spring keyboard in good condition and use that with a converter.
This is just barbarism.
Arbormakes HelgeF4 months ago
This instructable is not a bad one.

There is nothing wrong with experimenting.

I know it is not as good as modern keyboards,
but it sure looks nice.

There are a few working commodores here:


https://www.youtube.com/user/adric22/search?query=commodore
HelgeF Arbormakes4 months ago
You are depriving the world and future generations of a working or potentially working C64.

Even if you save the PCB and PSU, chances are high that it’s going to get lost or damaged mechanically or electrically when separated from the cabinet.

Just for you having a bit of “fun” for a few days until you quickly realize how useless it is, how much space it occupies on your desk for noting really gained, because you’ll still need a normal keyboard there for real work.

The author should take this down, not to give stupid people, with more money than sense ideas, that make them scour eBay.
Arbormakes HelgeF4 months ago
I agree with everything you have said, except the first 6 words of the last sentence.
If the author did not do this, the commodore may have ended up in the trash, or on ebay where:
"stupid people, with more money than sense ideas" will buy it and kill it.

At least that is not happening, and anyway in one the replies to someones comment, THE AUTHOR SAYS HE BOUGHT IT WITHOUT THE MOTHERBOARD.

Let this end our debate.
HelgeF Arbormakes4 months ago
Even without a PCB this is still very valuable to the C64 enthusiast. You can easily find naked boards with a few defective chips. With this and the chips, you have a functional good looking machine.
Or you could get one of the two new boards that are manufactured currently. Have a look at Lemon64.com for more on that.

The point is not to encourage this kind of ahistorical barbarism. Of course it would be worse if it was thrown out, but that is not the point.
These things are not made anymore. Never will be again either, at least not exactly like this. And a surprisingly large number of them have been lost. They are not yet very scarce but they could be soon, especially with inconsiderate behavior like this.
Arbormakes HelgeF4 months ago
I guess you're right.
We should save C64s.
TNT_694 months ago
This is really a crime! Are you out of your mind? How can you destroy a C64?
theguido4 months ago
We are moving this week and I was ready to throw my old C64's in the trash, but this may be a cool use for them.
Don't throw them away! :-(
Can I BUY it from you so it doesn't get trashed?
C64, real ones, can carry a lot of memories from good teenagehood time for many peoples, and working C64 are getting rare now.
Neither of them work. One was damaged by water several years ago. The other had a massive corrosion from something I couldn't figure out. I had both of them since I was about 5, along with the disk drive and a cassette deck, but those items were sold a long time ago.
Broken is ok too! There are always parts to be scavenged!
TheRealAnubis4 months ago
Cool project!
I do a lot of c64 repairs, so I'm always looking for parts. No matter how corroded or trashed the mobo is, I can usually use something!!
COREi644 months ago
I have to say this is a clever project, however, it needs to be tempered with some responsibility as caretaker of this old tech. As mentioned in a previous comment, there are a finite number of these computers in the world, and it decreases every day. I think it's great when people come up with clever ways to use old tech, but it should be done such that the process can be seamlessly reversed. 3D printing can be utilized to mount connections, and pins can be used to interface with the keyboard cable so the original housing/components aren't permanently altered. The goal should always be to keep the hardware in tact so it can be easily returned to its original condition. It appears that you did this and I applaud you for that.
EricHOlsen (author)  COREi644 months ago
Thanks, and yes it could easily be restored to a regular Commodore 64 with a little alcohol and a Phillips screwdriver.
Arbormakes4 months ago
Great idea!
KrisF234 months ago
This is the coolest project ever. I almost never comment here but I had to. Learned how to program my first language on one of those a 1541 and a TV adapter. 16 glorious colors baby. Too busy at the moment, but I will definitely be hitting up e-bay at some point and looking this tutorial up. Thanks. (P.S. to Alex in NZ, IBM had the best keyboard of the time. It was tactile as the C64 is not but you are right, it was still a really reliable board).
Alex in NZ4 months ago
Nice recycling :-) Thank you for sharing your work.
Plus, CBM were always famous for having really nice keyboards to type on, so now you've got a decent input device.