Changing a Commodore PET right into a USB docking station
July twenty second, 2022—
The Commodore 64 is likely one of the most iconic computer systems of all time and it’s Commodore’s finest 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 instructional use, was Dave Luna’s first laptop. Sadly, it bit the mud someday within the ‘90s and Luna was by no means capable of revive it. In 2005, he tried to transform it right into a PC, however by no means accomplished the undertaking. Older and wiser, Luna was lastly capable of give the PET new life as a docking station.
Docking stations are available many varieties with many various functions, however the normal concept is all the time to broaden a laptop computer’s (or pill’s) capabilities. On this case, it turns the linked laptop computer right into a desktop expertise with a devoted display and a full tactile keyboard. The keyboard wasn’t really 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 (instead of 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 instantly with the mainboard in a fashion much like right now’s laptops. There isn’t a USB interface or standardized output in any respect. For that purpose, Luna needed to create his personal adapter. He used an Arduino Micro to scan the keyboard matrix’s rows and columns in search of key presses. When it registers a key press, it sends the corresponding character to the linked laptop computer by way of the USB connection. The Micro seems as an ordinary USB HID keyboard, so it doesn’t require any particular software program.
The result’s a purposeful laptop computer dock in a classic Commodore PET package deal.