6502 based learning in a familiar form factor

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The project encourages re-use of scrap readily available from the global recycling markets.
It's got a serial bootloader, I2C and SPI - ready to do your bidding!

KITS now available!

The project also aims to give students and hobbyists a strong foundation by focusing on the separate core system components rather than just teaching to use a black box.

Depending on interest and skill the 65uino can either be a tool to learn programming, an embedded hardware workshop, or a "learn to solder course" on SMD or THT level.

Inspired by my 6502 based "Single Breadboard Computer"( ) that seemingly does the impossible by squeezing a whole 6502 based computer onto a single breadboard, this project takes the concept one step further by successfully squeezing all the required components int

The concept is simple: Take integrated circuits out of the waste stream and reuse them to make the smallest possible environmental footprint of an electronics learning platform, that encourages real use in 2023 and beyond!
Since you can upload 6502 assembly code in a split second and immediately see the results on the OLED screen it's a great multitool that'll have you twiddling bits in no time!

By creating a stronger demand for used IC's we also encourage even more recycling of used parts, making an impact way beyond a single development board. 

Teaching electronics and computer engineering often starts with a relatively high level "Hello World" example of blinking an LED using C/C++, abstracting away all the necessary parts that makes it "go". Concepts like CPU, ROM, RAM, I/O, stack, and instructions are all hidden away so it's easier to focus on the task at hand - blinking an LED.

If your goal is blinking an LED, then there's nothing wrong with that. This project takes a different approach by going back to the basics and giving students a stronger understanding of the individual system components by giving the opportunity to understand what each IC does and why it's needed in the system.

Limiting RAM and ROM (severely)  also makes high level languages like Python or Arduino C less appropriate and encourages the use of assembly language instructions - even though the cc65 compiler will do a nice job for the 6502. 

*The board uses an Arduino-compatible form factor but is not compatible with the Arduino IDE(yet anyway). This means that many "shields" or add-ons will be compatible. (If they don't have particularly high demands for clock speed or RAM).

Since a complete 6502 based microcomputer, like an Apple II or my #ABN6502 SBC R1, usually takes up quite a bit of space the 65uino uses the 28 pin 6507 microprocessor instead of the 40 pin 6502. Inside the package you'll find the same silicon as a 6502, but with less pins broken out to the DIP package. 

Features of the 65uino:

  • 6507 Microprocessor running at 1 to 3 MHz
  • 6532 RIOT chip - 128 bytes of RAM, two 8 bit I/O ports and a hardware timer
  • Serial bootloader to allow fast coding without re-burning ROM
  • 4K of addressable ROM - PCB design accepts either a 24 or 28 pin EEPROM/EPROM/PROM. To be compatible with Arduino cases and footprint the extra 4 pin section of ROM can be broken off the PCB. 
  • Onboard 3v3 and 5V regulators
  • Onboard LEDs for power rails and "D13"
  • Onboard reset and user pushbuttons 
  • I2C, SPI and UART is implemented in software
  • Socket for 0.96" OLED i2c screen (and it works great!)

This project was inspired by my "Single Breadboard Computer". If you wan't to know more about the general philosophy and how to program a "bootloader" onto the 65uino, have a look at this video about the project that inspired it.

  • 1 × 65uino PCB - gerbers available on Github
  • 1 × 6507 Microprocessor Rockwell, Synertek, UMC - get em while they're used!
  • 1 × 6532 RIOT Rockwell, Synertek, UMC - get em while they're used!
  • 1 × 24 or 28 pin ROM 28C16 or W27C512 will do - or a modified SST39SF010 for that matter
  • 1 × 74HC04 Inverter IC or Single gate inverter DIP-14 / SOT23-5

View all 26 components

  • Crossover episode!

    Anders Nielsen04/10/2024 at 08:45 0 comments

    So what's going on with the #65uino at the moment? Nothing? 

    Actually, quite a lot! I'm using it as the prototyping platform for my #Relatively Universal ROM Programmer and wow do I have news about that. 

    I've written the 6502 assembly code to program Winbond W27C512's, which are some of the newer-ish ROMs, electrically erasable and all that jazz - as well as the 2732A's which are a bit older, requiring UV-C for erasure and 21 Volts for programming.

    Either way, successful proof of concept and I now have PCB shields coming from a manufacturer - oh how I hope they work.

  • I'm giving away 25 8-bit motherboards!

    Anders Nielsen11/17/2023 at 13:06 0 comments the title of my new video. And that doesn't make it any less true :) 

    I got a sponsorship for a bunch of #65uino boards with the SMD components presoldered, 3v3 and 5V regulators, inverter, 1 MHz oscillator, LEDs, USB and passives, so you only have to solder(and source) the pinheaders and DIP-packages (or sockets might be more appropriate).

    I hope this'll get some 65uino-boards into more hands before the holidays next month :D

  • Making a 6502 VT100 Terminal (?)

    Anders Nielsen11/11/2023 at 20:35 0 comments

    Technically I might be redoing a lot of things that have been done before - some of them poorly even - but I like to learn new things and I don't mind sharing what I learned, even if it does sometimes expose my cluelessness :) 

    My last two videos on the #65uino project has focused on making it a bit more friendly as an old school computer terminal - and I used an old Raspberry Pi Zero W as an example of something that'll spit out VT100/ANSI compatible serial text, since I don't have a mainframe lying around to connect to. 

    I considered it a bit of a side quest, since I'd rather code Flappy Bird or something like it for the 65uino, but I got in the awkward situation of starting something I didn't want to leave hanging mid air. 

    I think I managed to round it off a bit after going through what hardware and software flow control is for serial data, but if I find an easy way of implementing a few more control codes I might go for it and expand a bit further.. 

    Either way - I'm certainly not any kind of done with the 65uino. 

  • Can a 6502 control a Raspberry Pi?

    Anders Nielsen09/26/2023 at 08:21 0 comments

    Yes - oh so absolutely. Though you might have to teach the 6502 a bit of good serial terminal manners. 

    In my new #65uino video I go through what it takes to make it act (almost) like a computer terminal of the 60s and 70s. And of course I also improve the 6502 SSD1306 library quite a bit. 

  • Fun, ROMs and controlling Raspberry Pi's

    Anders Nielsen09/12/2023 at 11:02 0 comments

    We're reached the deadline for the Wildcard challenge round in the Hackaday Prize 2023, but let me tell you this - the 65uino has years of projects ahead!

    I had a bit of a detour modifying ROMs bigger than 28 pins to work with the 65uino(video below) but I'm currently working hard on a video to finish the basic SSD1306 OLED library - and it's going well!

    At time of writing I have it working, perfectly entering text via serial, setting cursor locations etc, but the whole "video editing thing" also takes a bit of time, so that'll be a thing for later. 

    And I think I'll even have it logging into a Raspberry Pi! We'll see soon :)

    For now, there's the ROM thing if you missed it. 

  • Don't forget the pullups!

    Anders Nielsen08/14/2023 at 20:56 0 comments

    I've been thinking a LOT about the best way forward for the 65uino. 

    Ideally you should be able to make it from whatever you have lying around - basically as long as you have a 6507/6504, a ROM and a 6532 you should be good to go. 

    If you don't use the crystal oscillator inverter circuit though, only a single gate is used on the hex inverter, so I thought it was time for an optional minimisation - and put in a single gate SOT23-5 inverter so you can use that instead of a DIP14 '04/14.

    The idea here is that if you're comfortable with fine soldering for the SOT23-5 3v3 regulator and SMD oscillator, soldering another inverter shouldn't change things much - and if you're not comfortable with it, you might skip the 3v3 regulator and use the crystal oscillator inverter circuit instead.. Or have a PCB house do the SMT assembly. 

    Either way, I decided to make the SMT oscillator the default clock source since 1MHz crystals aren't actually that easy to come by but decided to leave in all the hackability. Philosophy: Make it easy to make one no matter if you want to do a lot of soldering or a little. 

    I really like the idea of making it so you can get a board in your hands and you just have to solder pin headers and sockets to the board and you're good to go - maybe I'll put a kit like that on Tindie, who knows!

    And if you noticed the title of this log - yes, don't forget the pullups. Even though i2c peripherals usually have enough pullup oomph it's bad practice not to at least have pads for i2c pullups - so I added them on the bottom side. Now they can be added later if they turn out to be needed for something - but I've set the value to NC for now though. 

    Same goes for pullups on the serial lines since it might be good practice - especially since the current code assumes the RX pin to be high unless we're in the middle of a serial transaction. 

    In the fringe case that someone would want to install an AT28C256 EEPROM that can technically be programmed in circuit(by code in RAM for instance) I added JP8 so it's easy to free the RW pin. However, that still requires you to at least NAND the ~OE line with the 6507 ~WE as well (and no NAND gate on board ATM). Doesn't hurt and makes it more hackable - you can also use it for banking ROM if you want to(that might be more fun!). 

    Happy hacking!

  • Educational, green, multitool!

    Anders Nielsen08/07/2023 at 07:38 0 comments

    In case you're wondering, then yes, the 65uino is absolutely designed to catch the essence of the Hackaday Prize 2023. 

    It's not just educational, it's not just green, it's not just a great piece of gear - it's all of the above! - and that's why I'm submitting the project for all three of those challenge rounds. And of course the wildcard!

    I've noticed some critics comment about the project being just a joke novelty, but I certainly intend to prove it's very far from a joke. It is called "challenge rounds" after all, so challenge accepted! 

    In my new video I hope to convince some of the doubters as I show how I coded the serial bootloader for the 65uino and work around the constraints of a limited platform. 
    I sincerely believe working in a resource constrained environment is a great driver for innovation. With 4k of ROM available and only 128 bytes of RAM you HAVE to come up with new and improved solutions for the task at hand - and with that comes a skillset you wouldn't get otherwise. 

    In the video below I give a little glimpse at how the 65uino is intended to be used - you'd be surprised how much functionality you can squeeze into 100 bytes of code in RAM when you have a powerful library of subroutines in ROM. The serial bootloader will certainly speed up development when I can just move the subroutine I'm working on to RAM instead of constantly burning the ROM. 

    Wish me luck!

  • See how I drive an SSD1306 OLED with i2c

    Anders Nielsen07/22/2023 at 19:34 0 comments

    New video out where I show how you can drive an SSD1306 OLED display using 6502 assembly - of course using the #65uino 

  • Reduce, reuse, recycle!

    Anders Nielsen07/07/2023 at 18:05 0 comments

    Of course I intended to get this log in before the end of the "Green hacks" challenge round, but only managed to get the actual board and code changes pushed to Github - I hope the judges noticed. 

    From the beginning this project really was meant to inspire you to do the same thing as many of my other projects: Save some nice old chips from the landfills instead of buying a new dev board! 
    And when you're done with it and the 6532, 6507, and ROM have found a new place somewhere, you still have a nice 3v3 + 5V voltage regulator that takes dupont or barrel jack input up to 18 volts, in an Arduino form factor - and has a nice little 1 MHz oscillator. 

    Not the worlds greatest feat of engineering but I hope it can inspire others to try to use what you have on hand before you buy new - and if you're a maker: To design for the fact that eventually your thing might need to be scrapped responsibly - so make it easy to reuse the parts. 

    On the code side there's a few spoilers if you're watching my video series on the 65uino - it has all the 6502  assembly code for showing text on the SSD1306 display as well as the bare minimum for interfacing with the BMP180 barometer and as you might expect from this sort of thing: It also supports loading code through the serial pins "D0" and "D1", at a whopping 4800 baud. 

    Speaking of: I updated the silkscreen so you don't need a computer nearby to figure out if you plugged anything in the wrong way - there is the slight confusion that D0-D7 on a 6502 usually refers to the data bus pins, but on an Arduino refers to the "[D]igital pins". 

    For good measure I also put the 6532 pin designations on the board - that should lessen the confusion. 
    Please note the silkscreen changes aren't in the gerber zip - so if you're sending it off to a manufacturer this week you might want to plot the gerbers yourself instead of the zip file. 

    Oh! And I slimmed the board a bit to make sure it fits in the "official" 68.6mm width of an "Arduino" - excluding the USB and cuttoff section of course. 

  • Of course it does I2C!

    Anders Nielsen06/17/2023 at 12:50 0 comments

    As usual it took a bit longer than expected but I'm happy to announce I finally released my video on I2C on a 6502.. Or 6507 in the case of the 65uino. 

    I thought I could squeeze in the whole concept of i2c as well as making a somewhat complete SSD1306 OLED library in 6502 assembly into a single video, but that would've been way too long, so actually using the display with a small font will have to wait for next time. The video is already pretty compressed as it is. 

    I hope you'll enjoy it. 

View all 17 project logs

  • 1
    Send gerber files from /hardware on Github to your favorite board house
  • 2
    Source the IC's
  • 3
    Solder away! (Make sure you use a socket for the ROM at least)

    If you use an SMD oscillator instead of the crystal, then C1, C2, R3, R4 and Y1 should not be populated/NC and J6 must be cut open with something sharp. 
    It's also a good idea to start with the SMD components first and then by order of lowest profile.

View all 6 instructions

Enjoy this project?



don.vukovic wrote 06/19/2023 at 04:25 point

What editor and compiler was used in the video ??

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Anders Nielsen wrote 06/19/2023 at 10:59 point

The example code is configured to be assembled and linked with the cc65 toolchain - and edited using any text editor(I still use Atom at the moment). More info on Github.

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Ken Yap wrote 03/29/2023 at 04:22 point

Cool. 👍 I almost wish I had more history with the 6502 but the KIM-1 was the extent of my involvement, and there are no '02 chips in my junk^Wspares box, and I have forbidden myself to buy more retro stuff before using up existing, er spares, first.

Will you also create an Arduino toolchain?

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Anders Nielsen wrote 03/29/2023 at 08:03 point

I'm hoping the total cost to put one together will be lower than a meal at a local burger joint, hoping that'll tempt more people into trying even if sourcing the used chips can be "interesting" - but not hard.
Using this system with the Arduino IDE has some of the same challenges as the ATTiny10 series - not a lot of RAM, a different instruction set than usual and an external programmer needed being the main thing.
It might be fun to explore how much it will take if there's time left over.

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M. Bindhammer wrote 03/28/2023 at 18:29 point

I share your love for vintage chips. And nice project! One more small tip: No components should be placed close to the mounting holes. For example, if the holes are 3mm in diameter, leave enough space so that the M3 screw head cannot touch any components or pads. That's already not solved optimally with the Arduino boards.

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Anders Nielsen wrote 03/28/2023 at 23:17 point

Good point. I just tried to clear up some space and did manage to make room for even an M3 nut on the "top" holes.  The 6532 won't budge that much, but I did manage to move it a few fractions of a mm.  The bottom left hole will be partially obscured - especially if it's used with a socket.  Thanks for the advice!

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Timo wrote 03/28/2023 at 17:57 point

Neet project.

Just an idea: You could replace the EPROM with the FRAM FM18W08 from Cypress. That would enable bootloader like the arduino bootloader on your board and you could change the code without removing the EPROM from its socket. You can also use the free FRAM as RAM and you would have more than 128Bytes. And like an EPROM it will keep your program after power down.

The FM18W08 works with 5V supply and has almost the same pinout as the EPROMs you chose. With a small adapter it should be a drop-in-replacement.

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Anders Nielsen wrote 03/28/2023 at 18:25 point

Cool idea! Not quite a drop in though, since it needs ~CE toggled on every read - that might not be a problem though unlike the ROM that doesn’t care if CE is low several cycles in a row.

But by the look of it, that part does cost more than the rest of the board combined at 12$ in single quantity XD

Worth looking into though! Or just a system writable ROM.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Timo wrote 03/29/2023 at 17:06 point

Ah, i didn't check the datasheet carefull enough. ^^

Toggeling CE might be possible just by combining CE and the clock with an AND. Although i didn't check if you have some gluelogic left.

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Anders Nielsen wrote 03/29/2023 at 17:35 point

If I swap out the hex inverter for a quad nand it might work - the 6507 might be too picky. I can test it on the breadboard version but I’ll need to get my hands on one of those FRAMs.

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