Commodore 64 9600 baud WiFi Adapter

If you are a Commodore 64 user from back in the 80’s you probably remember the term Bulletin Board System or BBS.

It was basically a computer connected to several phone lines, and other computers could connect to it via a phone number. The computer used a modem to do the calling.

You could use it to talk to your friends, play online games, and to download files. It was all text based, but they usually managed to make the welcome screen and menus appealing with colors and ascii art, maybe something like this?

__________        __                 
\______   \ _____/  |________  ____  
 |       _// __ \   __\_  __ \/  _ \ 
 |    |   \  ___/|  |  |  | \(  <_> )
 |____|_  /\___  >__|  |__|   \____/ 
        \/     \/
Today we dont really have the old telephones anymore, and modems are a thing of the past. But many of the old BBS sites still exist, and if you want to access these old sites via your Commodore 64 it is still possible, but with a bit more modern approach.
DSCF0454
Thats where this Commodore 64 WiFi adapter comes into play. It lets you use your WiFi router to “dial” any BBS in the world for free using telnet.
This device turns your C64 user port into a WIFI-modem capable of dialing into BBS sites just like the old days
All you have to do is to connect it to your Commodore 64/128/PET user port and perform a few simple configuration steps to connect to your WiFi and you are up an running in minutes. My guide is based on the free program CCGMS 2017. You can easily download it from your PC, put it on a SD card, and load it into your Commodore via the Pi1541 that I make. The first time you need to setup your WiFi adapter. It needs to be done only once unless you later change your WiFi settings. This is how easy it is:
  • Plug the WiFi adapter into your Commodore User Port with the chip facing up.
  • Load latest version of CCGMS 2017
  • Press F7 to access the settings after the program has loaded.
  • Select modem type as User Port by pressing M several times.
  • Select 300 baud by pressing B several times
  • Press RETURN to go back to the terminal.
  • You can press return once more to get your modem info if you want. Its a nice way to verify your modem is working.
  • Go to Ascii mode by pressing F8 (SHIFT + F7)
  • Now we will connect to the WiFi. Enter your ssid like this: at$ssid=ssid
  • Enter your password like this: at$pass=password
  • After the = you obviously will write your local WiFi ssid and password.
  • Now press F8 to go back.
  • Type atc1 to connect. You may have to do this a few times if it wont connect.
  • Type the command at&p0 and press ENTER
  • Type the command at&k1 and press ENTER
  • Change the baud rate by typing at$sb=9600
  • Press F7 and select modem type as Up9600 Baud and then 9600 Baud
  • Press Return and type at&w to save the settings to the modem
  • Visit your favourite BBS. Try this command:  atdtparticlesbbs.dyndns.org:6400
  • Enjoy!

Warning! Do NOT connect the USB connector when the device is connected to the C64. It will destroy the device. It is only there for firmware upgrades via your PC.

UPDATED PCB!

The latest modems being sold now, feature a way to be able to use USB as powersupply to power the modem.
I added a jumper footprint at the edge of the PCB. It is by default set to use the internal power, but if you want, you can
cut the connection between the jumper pins. This will disconnect the modem power from the C64. Now you can use USB to
power the modem. Optional: You can solder in 2 jumper pins and use a jumper to enable/disable external power.

Common issues people ask about:
You can’t write anything.. no text appear on the screen, or text is only garble.
-It is usually because the user did not follow all steps in the setup above.
-Check your settings by pressing F7.
-Make sure you are on ASCII or ANSII mode while setting up the modem. (F8)
-Disconnect any cartridges and other devices connected to see if that helps.
-If your CIA chips are socketed, try to re-seat them. CIA chips can go bad.
-Make sure that your C64 is working properly. Try to clean the userport.
-If possible, try another computer or try a different power supply.

The device wont connect to your router.
-You might have to change your SSID or password if they contain unknown letters or signs.
Try to set it up with something simple, like all lowercase SSID and a simple password like 123456
-Sometimes a key on your keyboard is not working or needs to be pushed hard to register.
You could try to write the password and SSID in your startupscreen several times to make sure that
every keystroke is registering. Also make sure that all the F keys are actually registering the keystroke.

If you encounter problems or the firmware needs to be updated, here is how you do it.

  • Download the files from here
  • Disconnect the wifi adapter from the C64
  • Connect the card to a PC via the USB port on the adapter
  • Unzip the files and start the program ESP8266Flasher32.exe
  • Select the available serial port
  • If the wifi card serial port is not found, install the drivers from the zip file.
  • Go to the config tier in the flasher and select the flash file by clicking on the button that looks like a sprocket.
  • Go to operation and hit the flash button.
  • If your computer cant find the modem serial port, google and look for drivers for ESP8266 adapters.
  • Note that the tool might have problems on a Windows 10 computer. The problem is usually that it cant find the serial port.

This project with PCB and parts can be purchased on ebay:  https://www.ebay.com/usr/kirsti_73
or from Sellmyretro.com

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