EVO64 was developed by Dr. Stefano (aka Auro) out of an interest to combine many of the best features that have become available for the Commodore 64, into a sleek and fully integrated system, that can be built using modern manufacturing processes, while still remaining completely true to the original system’s heritage and architecture.
For starters, EVO delivers the best retro video experience available, while remaining fully authentic. The integrated ClearVideo64c circuit provides vibrant colors and none of those distracting “jail bars” (inspired by work done by Jay Desmarais). Irrespective of whether your display supports a Composite or S-Video signal, both output formats are fully tunable, using a set of high precision potentiometers for micro adjustments. You’ll get the clearest images and the sharpest text that you can imagine.
EVO was designed with compatibility in mind. You’re free to use any VIC-II chip version that you prefer, from the old ceramic 6567 (NTSC) or 6569 (PAL) chips, which required 12v power, to the later generation 8562 (NTSC) or 8565 (PAL) versions, which switched over to 5v. It’s up to you. In fact, you can easily switch between them, with adjustable jumpers for voltages and to switch between PAL and NTSC oscillator crystals.
Similarly, you can choose any SID chip variant(s) that you prefer, from the earliest generation 6581, with its gnarly oscillators and filter glitches (operating at 12v), to the clean and pristine 8580 (operating at 9v). And as you would expect, EVO is also fully compatible with the most popular SID clones, like the ARMSID, the FPGA SID, the SwinSID and the SwinSID Ultimate, the BackSID, etc. Best of all, you can mix and match any combination of SIDs that you like, to get the best version of that retro sound you’ve been hearing in your head.
To ensure the best Dual-SID compatibility, EVO incorporates logic that has been inspired by the MixSID (originally developed by Henning Liebenau). This enables a second SID to operate in either a dual-mono or full stereo mode. By default, the primary SID will always listen on address $D400, which ensures 100% backwards compatibility. However, the second SID will receive notes and instructions from both $D420 and $D500. This enables support for hundreds of the most amazing sounding dual-SID tracks from the High Voltage SID Collection (HSVC), as well as great dual-SID capable games, like the new Mario Brothers. You can also make your own stereo music with composer software like the CYNTHCART. A simple jumper adjustment will allow the second SID to listen on $DE00 and $DF00 as well. This provides further compatibility, for tools like the MSSIAH music composition cartridge, and other music players.
And for the tried and true SID music fanatics out there, EVO has some special surprises, in the form of two custom developed “Tube-Based” Audio Preamp Modules that mount directly onto the main board. This approach provides the cleanest and most direct low noise listening experience possible from the original system architecture. They’re unlike anything you’ve ever heard.
EVO ROMs are fully reprogrammable and instantly swappable too. In fact, a single EPROM (the W27C010) can provide support for up to 8x different Kernel ROM images, as well as 4x different versions of Basic and 8x character sets. Bring along your own JiffyDOS or JaffyDOS (must be licensed to use). Experiment with blazing-fast load times, using DolphinDOS or SpeedDOS, etc. Switching between ROMs is as easy as moving a jumper cap. With larger EPROMs (e.g., a 29F040 or 27C080, etc.) EVO can store Cartridge images as well. This provides convenient access to the software you use most, like testing and diagnostics, or even music synthesizers, trackers, SID Players,etc.
EVO has a custom developed PLA chip (QAPLA’), which incorporates a series of logic algorithms that have been extensively tested against the most highly-compatible solutions currently available, such as the neatPLA, the PLAnkton, etc. So, there’s no need to worry about sourcing one of those increasingly rare and known to be volatile PLA chips, like the MOS 906114-01. There’s also no need to pay big bucks for a giant SuperPLA chip like the 252535-01. Your games and demos will work flawlessly.
EVO has electrical static discharge (ESD) protection for the joystick and I/O ports. This prevents static electricity and reverse voltages from damaging your system.
Most importantly, EVO is an excellent hands-on DIY project that’s simply Fun to Build. Most of the components from the original C64 have been modernized to use newer, low profile, surface mount equivalents (SMD/SMT), which will come pre-soldered on the final version of the board. These are also quick-and-easy to solder and replace by hand if needed, and they look great! There are multiple test points, which have been strategically placed all around the PCB, for your multimeter and oscilloscope. Other conveniences have been added, like an integrated tactile reset button that you can press while taking measurements, which saves you from having to power-cycle. There’s even a SMD LED that indicates the system’s power status, while the board is outside of a case. All of this makes it easy to build, convenient to perform testing and diagnostics with and it invites your creativity to design your own mods & upgrades.
Despite all the features and flourishes, EVO is still a fully authentic C64. It’s using real MOS chips everywhere it matters (e.g., the CPU, the CIAs, the VIC-II, the SID), although these are the only original parts that you’ll actually need to source for yourself.
This is retro, even better than you remember it!
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