Commodore C64 ITX PC – Part VI ‘ITX testing’

With my new ITX motherboard arriving the other day I spent this afternoon testing it and getting the PC components ready for installation into the C64 case.

The box contents include the ITX board, x2 Sata Cables, x1 Sata/molex power cable. I/O backplate, driver CD, motherboard diagram and registration document (also containing a nifty Intel Atom sticker!).

Intel D945GSEJT ITX motherboard with Intel Atom 1.6mhz CPU. I’ve already fitted the SO DIMM containing 2Gb of DDR2 ram.

You can see here, how slim this motherboard is compare to a penny.

I/O ports comprise of DC mains socket, audio jack, VGA & DVI ports, e-Sata port, x2 USB ports and LAN socket. Note, there is no PS/2 port (although there’s pins on the motherboard to connect one should you wish to make up your own.

The first thing I needed to do was to make appropriate header cables for the on/off button, reset button and power LED. I’m still unsure if I want to install a HDD activity LED yet so that might come later.  For now, I just wanted to check that the board was working o.k. so diving into my spare parts box, I found an on/off button and LED that used to belong to another PC front panel.

My initial problem was that the header block from the old PC wasn’t wired in the same order as the header pins on the ITX board. It was also contained in one large single block rather than modern individual header blocks. Second problem was that I also had to make room for the original C64 power LED header block.

I had a look online to see if I could source the parts locally (and without having to wait for delivery) but alas no. Plan ‘B’ was called for…I went to fetch my tool box 🙂

Inserting a small screwdriver I was able to move the locking plastic lug and remove all of the existing cables.

…and using a sharp knife was able to slice away a block of four.  Two for the power switch and two for the power LED.

It’s a bit rough at the moment but I’ll soon have it tidied up. At the moment, this is the power switch and power LED fitted with room for the other header cables.

With that done, I fitted the nylon motherboard standoffs (thanks for these Bobby!) and connected the 2.5″ SATA hardisk and temporary DVD drive. Note, the motherboard does supports IDE devices but has the smaller 44 pin IDC fitted.  Finally, the audio, VGA, power and USB wireless keyboard dongle was fitted.

What a mess 🙂

Woo, green light…so far so good.

Always a sweaty moment, time to press the temporary power button!

‘Big blue flash time!’

Having a look around the BIOS settings. All the usual setting were here and a few extra’s to play with. For now, just checking the memory & HDD have been detected and to note the CPU temperature.

Formatting the harddrive. I should really think about setting up a work area out in the garage. Making a right mess in the kitchen 🙂

…and there we go, Windows XP (MCE edition) and Intel drivers installed.

Next on my list of todo’s was to fabricate a male to male header cable to connect the internal USB header on the motherboard to the internal usb header on the Keyrah. This will ensure that the cable is hidden inside the case as opposed to an external USB cable.

Originally I was going to take two spare USB header – USB A port cables found in most PC’s, cut off the USB port and solder them together (thus making a male to male header cable) however, I didn’t really like this idea. I could solder the bare cable to the Keyrah which I seen done before but…hmm, didn’t want to slip and bugger the Keyrah!

So, with that in mind I headed on out to our local Maplins electronics store to see what I could find and then onto my friend Andy’s house to pick up his Dremel which I’d need to cut  C64 case for the motherboard I/O back panel.

Whilst I was there and browsing at various cables, I picked up a better red power switch that looked much better than the temporary solution I’d fitted. It kinda reminds me of those switches you used to get on C64 reset/action replay cartridges.

Maplins also had a Dremel (well a Rolson rotary tool kit) on sale too so I picked one of these up too. Always wanted one myself and saves me having to disturb Andy.

Tomorrow i’ll finish off making the header cable and them start putting all the various bits together.





3 responses to “Commodore C64 ITX PC – Part VI ‘ITX testing’

  1. Pingback: World Wide News Flash

  2. Hi Stiggy,

    I am having real trouble with the motherboard! No matter what I do, I can’t get any output on any monitors – I tried 5 (LCD and CRT) and a projector and no signal.

    I am on my 2nd motherboard and having the same trouble.

    Am I missing something?

    Power LED is on. When no RAM installed, I get the normal 3 beep error code (mono speaker attached for testing). Fan powers on, HD whirrs, CPU heatsink warms up – everything seems fine but NO DISPLAY!!!!

    I’ve hunted the Net for an answer and tried the Intel forums but very little help there.



  3. OH NO! Sorry to hear this Jeff.

    It all sounds rather strange that after two motherboards and five output devices you still can’t get a picture.

    Are you using the same VGA or DVI cable during your tests i.e maybe a loose pin or faulty wire).

    I’m assuming you’re using your regular PC TFT monitor for testing your new board and said TFT works just fine on your regular PC?

    I can’t see anything wrong with the way you’ve got it set up. Even with bare bones i.e no ram, no hdd, you’d at least get something on the screen.

    As far as I’m away there’s no dip switches on the motherboard so it wouldn’t be anything like that.

    How are you powering your board? Are you using an external laptop style psu. If so, what are the details i.e voltage etc?

    I’ve sent a copy of this response to your email account as I’m guessing you check your mail more often than checking comments on my blog.



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