Sunday, 8 March 2020

Commodore 128 USB keyboard and USB joystick ports

This is another USB keyboard controller by request.
This time for the Commodore 128. The board fits into the case, with the two joystick ports where the originals were.
These are standard Commodore/Atari joystick ports with support for one to three fire buttons. No analogue inputs (i.e. paddels) or mice are supported.
The keyboard connector is unusual, it is like a 25 way D, but without a shell. I couldn't find a match for the original connector, so I am using a 25 way D with it's shell removed.
As with the original C128 board, it can also take a 25 way D right angled connector for the C128D.
This may also fit in the C128D-CR case, although this has not been confirmed.
The C128 keyboard is essentially the C64 keyboard with an extra row of keys along the top and a numeric keypad.
The controller can be mapped for desktop use, with each key doing something relevant to what is printed on it, or it can be mapped based on the positional mapping for the vice emulator. Here the top row is mapped as F1-F12 (apart from the arrow keys which are mapped as arrow keys). This always gets confusing, but when you press the key marked F1, it needs to send F9 through so that Vice can turn it back into F1. Confused? You should try doing that with a German keyboard on a UK computer using the USB keyboard protocol which is designed solely in terms of the US keyboard layout.
There is a third option which is to use the 40/80 switch to select between desktop and Vice mode. I haven't been able to source suitable LEDs to have red/green as used on the Commodore 64 keyboards, but 40/80 is a mechanical latching switch, so you can see which mode it is in.
There is a header for a 20 way Commodore 64 keyboard connector, this works in parallel with the C128 connection, useful if you want to use this to test keyboards.
These are available from my Tindie store, as usual, as a kit with a USB cable and some self adhesive mounting pillars.
I will have to put in something about it not working in reverse because people always ask, so no, this cannot be used to connector a USB keyboard to your Commodore 128. It's almost as if they haven't read my FAQ. But then again, they probably won't have read this bit either, so I don't know why I am typing this.

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