Changing a Commodore PET right into a USB docking station

Changing a Commodore PET right into a USB docking station

Arduino CrewJuly twenty second, 2022

The Commodore 64 is among the most iconic computer systems of all time and it’s Commodore’s greatest recognized mannequin. However Commodore made many different well-loved fashions, together with the VIC-20, the Amiga, and the PET. The Commodore PET 64, which Commodore launched late within the mannequin vary’s life for academic use, was Dave Luna’s first laptop. Sadly, it bit the mud someday within the ‘90s and Luna was by no means in a position to revive it. In 2005, he tried to transform it right into a PC, however by no means accomplished the mission. Older and wiser, Luna was lastly in a position to give the PET new life as a docking station.

Docking stations are available in many varieties with many alternative functions, however the common concept is at all times to develop a laptop computer’s (or pill’s) capabilities. On this case, it turns the related laptop computer right into a desktop expertise with a devoted display and a full tactile keyboard. The keyboard wasn’t truly superb within the Commodore PET 64, however Luna has plans to improve it with a MechBoard64 to maintain the unique look with fashionable high-quality mechanical keyswitches. Because it stands, the PET 64’s keyboard connects to the docked laptop computer and a 12” TFT LCD display (rather than the PET 64’s authentic CRT monitor) acts as a second monitor for the laptop computer.

The display connects to the laptop computer via a WAVLINK USB 3.0 DisplayLink adapter, however the keyboard connection is extra complicated. As a result of the PET 64 was an all-in-one laptop, the keyboard interfaces immediately with the mainboard in a way just like right now’s laptops. There is no such thing as a USB interface or standardized output in any respect. For that cause, Luna needed to create his personal adapter. He used an Arduino Micro to scan the keyboard matrix’s rows and columns on the lookout for key presses. When it registers a key press, it sends the corresponding character to the related laptop computer through the USB connection. The Micro seems as a typical USB HID keyboard, so it doesn’t require any particular software program.

The result’s a practical laptop computer dock in a classic Commodore PET bundle. 

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