Commodore C64 ITX PC – Part II ‘Keyrah arrives’.

Yay, today’s mail contained my R3play tickets and the the Keyrah circuit board for my C64 ITX PC project.

In the end I had to order the Keyrah from a supplier in Germany rather than Amigakit in the UK as they didn’t have any stock at the time – Their service was great and I’ve received plenty of order updates via email throughout the order/dispatch process.

The box contained the Keyrah board, USB A-B cable, instruction manual and a small screwdriver.

The Keyrah board is approx 4″ x 3″ and contains keyboard inputs for the C64, C128, C-16 and VIC-20. In addition, there’s also pin headers for the original C64 power LED that can be used in two modes. Either lit like the Numlock LED that you’d find on a regular PC keyboard or alternatively, to indicate which keyboard map has been selected – Original C64 for use with C64 emulators or Windows.

I won’t be using this feature though, as I intend to connect the original power LED to the PC power LED.

C64 Keyrah

The ports on the side of the Keyrah are designed to match those on the original C64 and contain two 9-pin joystick inputs. With these, it’s possible to connect older joysticks from the 8-bit/16-bit era for use with various emulators like Vice64.  The only restriction is that it only supports joysticks with one fire button but, to be honest, is exactly the same as the original C64 and therefore is perfect for this project. Mouse input is not possible with this board.

Two joysticks can be connected simultaneously making 2-up C64 gaming a possibility and are mapped to the cursor keys/spacebar or numerical keys accordingly.

Keyrah external ports

The keymap selection button has been styled to look like the original C64 on/off rocker switch. In the ‘up’ position, the  keyboard layout is the same as the original C64 and is mapped perfectly for Vice64 (or Yape for C16 keyboard layout). In the ‘down’ position, the keyboard layout is adapted for use under Windows i.e. the C64 ‘C=’ key performs as the ‘ALT’ key in Windows. The instruction manual provides a list of the keys and subsequent effect in Windows.

The USB port is used to connect the Keyrah to a USB port on the PC for use as a regular keyboard. Because I’ll be fitting the PC inside the C64 case, I won’t be using this external connection but will use the internal USB breakout pins on the Keyrah board. As a result, keyboard cables will be hidden inside the C64 case again, giving the illusion of using a real C64.

The next step is to fit the Keyrah and test it to see if all is working o.k. but I’ll be doing that this weekend when I’ve got a little more free time.


3 responses to “Commodore C64 ITX PC – Part II ‘Keyrah arrives’.

  1. Hi Stiggy,

    Right! D945GSEJT motherboard ordered (used from Ebay), C64 breadbin stripped and cleaned. Keyrah installed and C64 keyboard works as external USB device. Power adapter ordered. So far so good.

    I’ve also bought a tiny 2GB solid state drive that fits the motherboard.

    Still to order: 2.5″ SATA HD, laptop style optical drive, 2GB RAM.

    What I’m struggling with is the cables! Here comes a load of questions!

    Where would I get the cable to connect Keyrah to the motherboard? If the mobo comes without cables, I guess I need SATA cables and power cables for HD and optical drive – are these standard items? What connectors do I need? How about the switches for reset and on/off – are these standard items with standard connections? How about the little bits and bobs for locking the mobo and drives in position?

    Sorry for question overload!!

    Jeff (on a steep learning curve)

  2. Hi Jeff, fantastic news, glad to hear you’re on your way. At the moment I’m just heading out the door and heading out to work therefore will compose a detailed response to your questions later this evening.



  3. Hi Jeff,

    O.k, assuming that you recieve your Mobo without any cables, you will need the following –

    The Mobo supports x2 Sata devices and one 44-pin ATA device therefore you will need the associated data/power cables. These are all standard PC cables.

    The Mobo only has one 4-pin molex type socket to power your Sata devices therefore you will need to get a 4-pin molex to multiple sata power cable (basically you’ll have one 4-pin molex on one end and mulitple Sata type power connectors on the other end.

    You can get both of the above from pretty much any tech shop/ebay online but i prefer to get my bits n pieces from Maplin stores. You might pay a few extra pounds but at least you can drive down there and get the bits you need without having to wait for shipping etc.

    For PC header cables (power, reset, LED light etc), I used the original C64 power led (and cable) and attached it the relevent power led pins on the motherboard (hopefully you will get a layout diagram with the mobo when it arrives…if not, let me know and i’ll send you a scan of mine).

    I decided not to have a reset button and Hdd activity LED and opted for an on/off button instead as i didn’t want to spoil overall look of the C64 case with too many external buttons/LEDS. For this i used an on/off cable from another PC, wired it to a simple push button (again from Mapins) and wired to the power on/off pins on the motherboard. Hheader cables can also be brought from Maplins.

    For the Mobo mount I purchased four ‘motherboard standoffs’ from Maplins. These are made of nylon so can be trimmed down to practically any length and being plastic can be superglued to the bottom of the C64 case. I trimmed my standoffs down so that my mobo hovers a few mm above my case bottom.

    To secure my hdd from flying around inside my case i used little velco pads that have adhesive glue on one side and velcro on the other. Simply stick one pad to the case and the other to the hdd and the velcro hold is in place but is easily removable of required.

    I also used little adhesive pads dotted around inside my case. These provide a nice little loop hole so that i can insert tie-wraps to help secure some of the loose cabling and help air flow.

    For the Keyrah to mobo/USB cable, i made one my self using a four pin PC floppy drive cable. Each wire goes from the USB header on the Mobo to the USB header on the Keyrah.

    All of the above might sound a bit difficult, but it’s not really and as you work through each bit i’ll be here with words,pictures and greater detail for you.



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