C64/C128 Projects

C64 Tower Project Introduction

Maybe what makes the C64 unpopular is its mess around your desk. Many cables outwards(!) from your C64 and ends at the rears many many devices. Maybe you also have a cardridge port expander with many add-ons, such as REU, Swiftlink, Action Replay,... etc. And, of course you have more than one power supply. Maybe you have replaced your C64's main power supply already, to meet the requirements of a REU. And maybe what is most striking is, your friends' attitude to a bread box. It's likely that you have faced with their sarcastic(!) smile. So, whatever the reason is, we need an appearance change, a cosmetics miracle, a new presentative look for our commodores.

Let's begin with buying a high-tower PC case (or midi-tower, if you don't plan to put too much things in). It is better if it has a professional appearance ;-) . Then, we need cables. Shielded cables containing six wires is good enough. We need a few meters only. And we also need approximately one meter ribbon cable of twenty wires. To use original keyboard, we should buy a male-male switch box cable. You can find it in any PC products shop. And it's necassary to buy corresponding DB-25 female interfaces. one for keyboard case, and one for the rear of our tower. If you want to add a parallel printer interface, you need one more of these port interfaces.

... there are too much things to add ...

Actually I do own a self-built C64 Tower for one or two years. And belive me it's not a hard-to-do job. Trying to fit something into the tower case is what, the most annoying thing during the C64 Tower Project. You may need to cut corners of the boards, or you may need to reshape the inside of the tower. And you also have to be good at soldering. You need to much soldering for cabling the ports, keyboard, drive etc. But electronics part of the project is easy: only the 50/60 Hz. timer for TOD clock. ( I used a very simple circuit using a 555 IC and a few resistors. It's not exact but who cares :-) )

Firstly, you should try powering up your C64 with +5V supply only. You can use red wire of tower's supply. If you have noticed there are cables inside the tower case with 4 wires: 2 black in the middle, red and yellow at the sides. Yellow one contains 12V. Their currents are about 2.8A - 3.6A . So, attach some wires to red and black. Then tie the black wire to the ground of the C64 board. And, tie/solder the +5V to the appropriate place (after the power plug, before the first resistor [means: I don't remember where] ). After this wiring. turn off C64 power switch, and turn on the Tower. Your C64 must run at this stage. But you can get no sound, no 9V from the user port, and no TOD clock timing. As you may notice, SID chip is not required to power up a C64. Now if you are happy with this setup. Put the board into the tower, read my article on C64 keyboard, and make some cables to attach ports to the back of the Tower, you also need some metals/tins with the shape of those metal things screewed at the back of case. I used deodarant cans for this purpose, and made holes for the interfaces, such as [TV, composite, chroma/luma ] , [audio in, digitizer in, stereo audio out], [ keyboard, at-keyboard], [serial port-1, serial port-2], [joystick port-1 , and port-2] . Note that in the previous sentence, each enclosed brackets donote a metal sheet. (You need more than one can :-) )

If you want to get sound from your C64 tower, you need to wire 12V also. This stage is also easy. Locate the one big capacitor near the SID first. Then, attach/solder the black and yellow wires to the appropriate ends of this capacitor. That's it. And for the TOD clock you should build and solder the timer. The timer needs hooked up to TOD pin of one of the CIA chips. ( you also need to cut a trace near the AC-DC converter, but I forgot which).

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