The "Commodore 64 @ 933.000 MHz"
By JJ aka DocLorren
Posted on April 28, 2003
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Noticed the two Velcro strips on the DVD-player? They are the attachment points for the harddisk that is mounted on top of it (Maxtor D740X, 40 GB, 7200 RPM). Any concern about the robustness of this construction evaporated after playing with the optimal position of the harddisk. This is a very secure way to fix stuff. Below you see an overview of the, nearly completed system. I put in a round IDE cable because it looks a lot better and provides a cleaner space for (probably) better airflow. Also notice the abundant use of tie wraps on the ATX power cable and USB/Firewire cable for the same purpose.

On the right side the original C64 metal lid can be seen. Normally this would house the power connector, power button and the two joystick ports. I converted it by glueing a piece of aluminum on the backside and drilled holes in it to contain two leds and two push button switches. The green led is lit when in "sleep mode", the red led is the "on/off" indicator. The red button is for resetting, the black one for powering up/down the system.

Cables were soldered on the leds and switches and plugged in the board. The original power led on top of the C64 casing was connected to the harddisk led output. That way the disk activity can be easily monitored.

Ok, now with the bulk of the work done, this is what the (almost) completed machine looked like.

The two round openings on the back were subsequently closed by glueing another aluminum plate on the inside of the case. In one, a hole was drilled to allow for the fitting of the 12v power connector. The power for this C64 comes from a crude PSU originally manufactured to power camping refrigerators. For this humble but noble purpose, it delivers 13 volt and 5 amps, therefore it must also be able to provide the juice needed for the EPIA to play DVDs and do some background tasks. And besides it only cost 19.95 euros. You will be hard pressed to find a OEM PSU for that money. Excellent value I would suggest. Converting the cigarette lighter cable was a piece of cake.

After some preliminary test-runs the plans for incorporating the PSU in the C64 casing were rejected. Although the power consumption is low, things can get warm in there.

Once, I measured over 70 degrees from the CPU on an, admittedly, warm day while playing a DVD without any tasks running in the background. Probably the relatively poor airflow is to blame here. I am considering using the opening next to the power connector at the backside to get some airflow with a 40 mm fan located behind it. Maybe, it will not be necessary; I will have to do some more CPU-demanding tests here.

Ok, that is more or less how this Commodore got to run at a frequency 911 times its original speed. Last week I got hold of a box full with original Commodore goodies including a working C64, a PSU, datarecorder, joysticks and disk-drive (all this set me back a full 8 euros on Ebay, damn they get pricier every day), so a few things have been added on the to-do list:

- Getting the keyboard to function. I tried squeezing the standard PS2 foil in the keyboard but with limited success and destroying the original wiring. Neil who built the Commodore ITX-64 might provide a solution here.
- Fitting an optical mouse in the original joystick. This should be cheap, easy and fun to do. I"ll just have to provide some room and make the "fire" switch to function again :-)
- Hiding the camping PSU in the datarecorder. Fun and easy as well.
Incorporating an infrared led somewhere on the casing for communication with phone, PDA etc. The M9000 has fast-IR on board you know…
- Improving airflow to cool things down, as mentioned in the text.

Now that this little project is finished, I will have to find myself something new to pass time with. Maybe I should have closer look at that new M10000 board. Nice.

Hmm, tempting, maybe try a smaller HD drive, fit it in a different case. Maybe create a whole bunch of retro looking EPIAs. Let"s see, if we could just find something nice to put it in…

(Oh-oh, the Geek inside and Nostalgia took over again)

I"ll let you know when the new toy is up and running.