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Blog posts and video from Steven as he “COMBS” through the minutia to discover tech, retro-computing, physical computing, gadgets and sci-fi.

retroCombs Playlist

Commodore Plus/4 Series

21 June 2020

retroCombs: Pi1541 Assembly and First Use

by Steven B. Combs, Ph.D.
tags: commodore - retro - plus4 - raspberrypi - raspberrypizero - 1541 - software - diskdrive - sd

In this supplemental episode to my Commodore Plus/4 series, I share my experiences assembling the Pi1541 Hat for a Raspberry Pi Zero. In the episode, I solder a pin connector onto the Raspberry Pi Zero, solder and assemble a serial cable with two 6 pin DIN connectors, assemble the whole package, and start up the Pi1541 for a first use. For some extra fun, be on the lookout for a cameo appearance from Nikki and a former vice president!

YouTube Video: retroCombs: Pi1541 Assembly and First Use

In the video below, you will see my process for assembling a Pi1541 hat for a Raspberry Pi Zero and share my first use.

Below are the links mentioned in the video:

  1. PiDRIVE ZERO Raspberry Pi HAT pi1541 1581 Commodore 64, 128, and Vic-20 Emulator with OLED display
  2. Commodore4Ever
  3. Pi1541 Project
  4. Raspberry PI Zero
  5. Raspberry Pi Header
  6. 6 PIN DIN Connectors
  7. Serial Cables
  8. Electrical Wire
  9. microSD Card
  10. microUSB Cable
  11. USB Charger
  12. SD2IEC

Random Thoughts

Assembly of the Pi1541 was easy. The hardest part was soldering the header pins on the Raspberry Pi Zero and especially those 6 PIN DIN connectors. The cable I created worked; however, it wasn’t as flexible as I wished. I found cables on eBay and they arrived just in time for me to film the demonstration of the Pi1541. I’ll use the cable I created for another project.

This was one of the few projects where everything worked on the first attempt. I was surprised and happy. Usually my projects end up with several hours of troubleshooting.

The user experience for this device is spot on. While I know I have some things to learn about the device, upon first use, it seems to live up to it’s reputation as a “cycle-accurate” device that provides exceptional compatibility with software titles, cracks, and disk loaders. The only issues I had were with PAL software and my video capture device. I’ll need to look into that one.

I mention in the video that I have plans for a Pi1541 for the Raspberry Pi Zero case. That planning is well underway and I even have a couple of prototype prints from my 3D printer. This project was a wonderful way to spend a Father’s Day weekend!

I still have some things to learn about this device. I need to determine how to create a blank image on the SD card as well as format the device using the Plus/4. That’s next on the workbench; how to use this device with the Plus/4.

I’m also intrigued by a similar project, the Tapuino. I’m currently planning to build that project and share my experience as part of this series. It’s ingenious and will make a good supplemental device to the Pi1541.

That’s it for this post. It’s a short one but jam packed with the links you need to duplicate my project. Let me know if you have any questions using the comments below.

Join the Fun

Help make this series better! Post feedback, questions, and ideas. Let me know if you are following along. Let’s make this a community project. For now, Leave your comments and thoughts below or in the comments under the YouTube video.

🕹️ retroCombs, OUT!

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