I recently purchased 155 Commodore VIC-20 motherboards from a place called “Fair Radio Sales.”  And while they were selling the boards at a reasonable cost, (around $3 plus shipping) they weren’t really selling many.  The problem was, they weren’t guaranteed to work.  So, I decided to buy them all and get as many of them working as I could.  Just by swapping chips around I managed to get around 80 of them working, and I could probably repair another 20-30 of them that have easy-to-fix problems if needed but they require soldering work, which I don’t have time for at the moment.

I felt I could sell the boards for $20 a piece plus shipping, now that they are working and since I’m already known in the community for selling Commodore stuff (where a Radio store was not).  So these are now available in the store, along with spare chips if you have a board you need to repair.

I also made another purchase at the same time.  One that was probably a mistake.  I also bought 55 Commodore-16 keyboards.  These are brand new, old-stock.  It sounded like a good idea because I was told these could be converted to work with the VIC-20 and C64 by simply changing some wires around.  Well, I looked up the matrix diagrams for both keyboards and checked to see how they were wired.  They are indeed very similar.  However, when I made the requried changes, everything wasn’t as rosy as I had hoped.

You see, there are fundamental differences between the keyboards, such as the fact that the C64 has 2 cursor keys and the C16 has 4.  But, physically the keys are the same on the boards.  There’s the same number in the same arrangement.  They just don’t all have the same labels.  So I figured, worst case, you’d simply have to “touch type” without paying attention to what the keys are labeled. However, that turned out to not be the case either.

So, the bottom line is that the keyboards do work.  But the cursor keys are not only labeled wrong, but they are in the wrong physical place on the keyboard too.  Also there is no restore key.  And a few other keys aren’t right such as the Pi and up-arrow keys and the @ symbol.  But otherwise, everything else works.

So you can use one of these keyboards on a VIC-20 or C64 for loading games from disk, etc.  But it isn’t 100% compatible.  On the bright side, it shares the same plungers with the 1st gen VIC/C64 keyboards, as well as the frame housing.  And the keys themselves can be fitted onto a C64 keyboard.  Anyway, not sure if anyone will find any use for these, but I’m selling them for $10.

Find this and other items in the store: http://www.the8bitguy.com/product-category/components/

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13 Responses

  1. Christian

    If I need some VIC-20 stuff I’ll give you a holler! That’s a ton of boards!

    Reply
  2. Rob

    Are the C16 keyboards still 100% compatible with your C16 motherboards?

    Would you be willing to do an upgrade to 64k on a C16 motherboard for an extra fee?

    Reply
      • Mike

        In your video you said something about non-working VIC boards? Are the on/off switches the same as a 64c’s? If so I would love to buy a couple. Mine broke and trying to find new ones or at least ones that work.

  3. Tom E

    The Commodore 16 keyboards will work with the Keyrah v2 device. The Keyrah converts a Commodore keyboard so it can be used as a USB keyboard. In my case I’ll be using the C16 keyboard with a Raspberry Pi. At $10 the price is nice for a project like this.

    Reply
  4. Noah

    So, I’m new to this. I’ve seen most of your content and I think I have the hang of it. So I’ll contact you if I can.

    Reply
  5. Ronnie Cassinello

    I see that a week in, Dave has done the smart thing with the Keyboards and doubled the price! 😉

    Reply
  6. Matt Jenkins

    I am typing this comment using the C16 keyboard that Dave just sent me 🙂

    I have converted it to USB so I can finally type on my PC using a *real* keyboard for once.

    I am just in the process of blogging how I did it…

    Reply
    • Matt Jenkins

      Oh, and thanks to the magic of xmodmap I now even have the keyboard mapped almost properly. A few things are not quite right, but it’s close.

      I even have the ♥graphics♥ keystrokes mapped to the closes unicode equivalents… ├───┼───┤ ╰╯ ●○ ▇▆▅▄▃▂▁ etc 🙂 Just such a shame xmodmap won’t do strings, otherwise the number keys could give me ANSI colour control sequences…

      The worst thing though is a lack of a TAB key. You don’t realise how much you use it until it’s gone.

      Reply
  7. Tim

    I am in dire need of a Vic-20 motherboard, do you have any left? I have an empty shell and keyboard. I have another one too that does not work. Will have to see if I can get it working.

    Reply
  8. Matt Jenkins

    I found a github repo for a 6502 port of GCC. I’m wondering how hard it would be to create some form of debugging interface to a VIC20 board to allow programming of it using the Arduino API (or some cut-down variant of it if g++ doesn’t want to compile – it’s still cloning at the moment… massive…).

    I guess replacing the ROM chip with a flash chip wouldn’t be too hard. I’d just need to create an interface to the cartridge slot to allow direct access to the flash chip for reprogramming. And then, of course, include core components of the existing ROM within the API to keep things like the VIC chip running, which should be fun to do…

    Would there be any interest in such a frankensteinian beast, or is this just one of my stupid late night ideas again?

    Reply
  9. Justin

    My grandpa had a original nes but threw it out when he got the new nes classic i was sad when i herd he threw it out

    Reply

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