Quick Hack – Connect a C64 joystick to a PC

atarijoystickI’ve been trying to work on some CPLD stuff and have hit a brick wall. I’m annoyed. I need to have a break from the logic stuff so I’m finally going to do something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. I’m going to connect an old 9-pin joystick up to my PC so I can play some old Commodore 64 games.

This isn’t going to be a particularly elegant solution and I do have plans for a much better method in future but for now, this will suffice and will let me play some old games quickly. I’m also writing this guide as I go along so please excuse the present tense.

IMAG0298Let’s get started. I picked up a couple of these Minimus AVR devices a while ago to use in some arcade machines but still have one spare. I’m going to cheat and use the rather excellent KADE firmware for the device. The guys over at KADE wrote the software and developed a little PCB which connects to the Minimus board to make arcade interfacing simple.


I’ve dug out an old 9-pin breakout cable I made a couple of years ago and threw into the parts bin. It’s simply a 9-pin male port with wires connected to each pin and then a pin header soldered onto each wire to make bread boarding easy.


KADEoptionsThe first thing to do is head over to the KADE website and download their installer file. Run the setup file and a new icon will appear on your desktop (KADE loader). If you run the utility and go to help, there are some instructions to get you started with the programming of the Minimus so I won’t go over them here. The next thing you need to do is select the firmware options in the KADE utility. I’m going for “Generic Keyboard Encoder”. Follow the instructions to upload the firmware to the board.

Right, on with the hardware side of things now. It’s really not complicated at all. We need to find the pinout for the joystick in question. I’ve done the leg work, it’s here. Now it’s just a case of linking the correct pins to the Minimus board. I’m using a breadboard for now. I’ve used a continuity tester to check each 9-pin port pin goes to the correct wire. It looks like this.

minimuswiringNow it’s time to test it…

Grab your favourite C64 emulator and some games. I’ve opted for CCS64 as the emulator and I’m going to play Midnight Resistance.

There is also a keyboard test utility built into the KADE software. You can use that to make sure everything works first.

If it doesn’t work as expected, check your wiring. Mine seems ok.

The next step is to configure the keymap within your emulator itself. I wont go in to that here because each one is different. I’ve configured CCS64 with a custom keymap for my joystick and it works perfectly.

I’m now as happy as a pig in muck. I can play C64 games on my large TV without having to set the C64 up and have wires everywhere.

Feel free to contact us if you get stuck with this. We’ll be happy to help.

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