Monday, 2 February 2015

Commodore 16 USB Keyboard

This is another of the USB keyboards which have been recently updated. The Commodore 16 USB keyboard is very similarly electronically to the Commodore plus/4 USB Keyboard, but looks very different.
Apparently a product of the Commodore marketing department, this is a plus/4 without the additional software, and with the RAM cut from 64K down to 16K. It sat inside a VIC20 / Commodore 64 style case, although it wasn't a commercial success as it wasn't compatible with either of those.
The board sits in the corner of the case, there isn't enough of it to fill the space the original VIC20 board took up. There is no hearsink on the TED chip as in the plus/4, so these do get hot and fail, along with the usual other candidates.
The USB keyboard conversion is similar to the other breadbin style cases, the keyboard is stripped and cleaned, and the controller fixed to the back. The connector is the same as the VIC20/C64 (and the Pet as it happens), but the pinout is different. Almost the same as the plus/4, but shifted down by one pin and different at one end.
As with the other keyboards, this can be supplied set to normal or emulator mode, or can have a mode switch and tricolour LED fitted to switch modes when you want. Although they keys are arranged differently, they are actually mapped the same as the plus/4, so the arrow keys are now on the top and the function keys on the side, but they appear identically to the software.
Normal mapping, with a green power LED, where the switches all work according to what is printed on them. The emulator mode maps the keys to work with Vice as a Commodore 264 series emulator, so you can run that and use the keyboard as if you were using a real C16, then switch to a web browser and check your email.
The Commodore 16 USB keyboards are on sale at my Etsy store. I could build one of these with integrated Raspebrry B+ (or rather Raspberry Pi 2 model B now), I haven't been asked for that option yet, but contact me if you want to order one. There is also a version coming soon with 9way D style joystick ports on the side, something the C16 never had itself. More details on that in the forthcoming Commodore 64 article.