Another Pi1541

I now have three working Commodore computers. Two 64s and a 128. I felt I wanted to have a second Pi1541. I didn’t have a non repairable 1541 laying around this time though. I do now have an Ender 3 Pro 3d Printer though and a little experience in working with it and 3d models. This gave me the interest in making a much smaller Pi1541 that looks a bit like the 1541ii. I figured that styling fit better with my Commodore 128 as well.

I didn’t need another Tapuino. There was talk of Steven adding .tap support to the Pi1541 back when I built my Pi1541 & Tapuino. That seems to not be making any real progress though so far, but it may yet happen. It may have and I missed it. Steven White and any other contributors have done a great job with the Pi1541 though. It is a great thing to have around.

My first Pi1541 case had so much room that I wanted to make more use of it, it has a 7″ Composite LCD than can be toggled between the Pi and an external input, an internal mono audio amp that can be toggled from the Pi (with a simple mixer to mix the stereo from the Pi) to an external input, it also has access to the USB, Network and HDMI from the Pi, as well as a bare Tapuino. It has controls on the front panel for the Pi1541 and Tapuino functions, as well as the SD Cards for both the Tapuino and Pi. I can take it and one of my Commodores and use it as a portable 7″ monitor with Audio for the Commodore 64 or 128. I can swap the SD Card and use the 7″ LCD for the Pi and run any other Pi OS, or connect the HDMI to a TV and use another Pi OS be it RetroPi or Raspbian etc…

This one was built to be more like the common Pi1541s out there. To be rather minimal in size, but do the job.

There has been a problem for me and the Pi1541 in that the Pi3B+ has gotten expensive with the release of the Pi4. I guess it is supply and demand. The Pi4 has a different architecture so it can not work as a Pi1541. I am betting there are quite a number of other projects that probably are in the same situation. Steven did come out with a Pi Zero version for the Pi1541, and as I was going for “Small”, and these are cheap I purchased one for my new Pi1541. Then I found out you have to overclock it, and it doesn’t support all of the features that the Pi3 does due to the more limited cpu and ram it has available to it.. So that idea was scrapped. There are other Pi3s though that are still more reasonably priced and support all of the same features with the Pi1541 as the Pi 3B+. So that brought me to getting a Pi 3 A+. They are slightly less powerful than the 3 B+ model, but they can still be purchased in some places for $25.00. Granted I can currently get a 3 B+ for $35 at which is where I purchased my Pi 3 A+ at for $25. Maybe there is less of a shortage right now. I still have a hard time spending $35 even when you can buy the more powerful Pi4 2gb for the same price (and the 1gb model for less)..

The next thing was to find a case design that I liked. I don’t like having bare boards laying around. I also don’t like simple block cases a lot of the time. I came across a case design on Thingiverse that I mostly liked.

Like I said I “mostly” like the case. Mike from thegeekpub used this case for the Pi1541 he posted a video on. It is styled after the 1541ii. It is listed as a “work in progress”, and kind of is. I made quite a number of mostly small changes to the case for my needs. Some were functional changes, some were cosmetic. The case is a 4 part case in the current design, the pictures at Thingiverse don’t all reflect that.

My prototype print. The only change being the rectangle LEDs at this point.

So let us go with the cosmetic first. I wanted Rectangle LEDs like the real 1541ii. My skills with 3d modeling are limited. That was one of the points of this project though, it was to help learn a bit more in that area. I use Design Spark Mechanical for 3d modeling. I have used Tinkercad for past simple models or modifications, but that certainly wouldn’t work with this project. My first attempt on the LED openings was to take the round holes and close them and put the rectangle openings into them. I managed that and made a prototype print of that for fit etc. I learned a bit with that and what I needed to make more adjustments with. I had to make the openings a little larger to accept the LEDs, also even then a bit of filing was done to the final print. The LCD wouldn’t quite line up with the LCD opening. The later “final” print I managed to move the LEDs stacked to the left edge like I wanted to start with. They were a bit easier to fit, but still took a little filing of the openings, it is hard to print a sharp enough corner.

Here you can see the LCD alignment issues a bit.

I enlarged and relocated the LCD opening a bit the alignment wasn’t quite right for my particular LCD. It may not be quite the same for all of these types of LCDs.. I also angled the top edge, as the depth that the LCD sets back made it so that I would have made it even taller making it odd to look strait on at. The other change I made to the face was cut a slot into it where the “disk” would have went. I like how that looks better.

I did not use a Pi Hat PCB, so in the back I needed to close the opening and make a circular opening for the DIN socket I used. I did that by adding on to the narrow “center” part of the case. Closing it was fairly easy, making the proper opening then for the Panel Mount DIN socket and screws was done as well. To provide some support when inserting the socket I put a lip on the inside of the top cover. This does not protect the socket when pulling it out though. If I had put the socket in the Top of the case, it may have been stronger but would have been more difficult to work with.

First prototype on the back opening. I didn’t make the “tab” tall enough. I don’t yet have the inner “lip” to help support the socket.

The last part was the bottom of the case. With that I made a change to one of the standoffs, with the Pi3A+ it had a component on the bottom hitting and pushing it off the standoff. I didn’t want to damage my Pi.. I think a Pi3B+ doesn’t have something quite as close to that spot. I closed some of the opening in the bottom where the SD Card opening is, I didn’t want it any more exposed that required, it was only a minor change. The more important change was on the side where the Power, Audio and HDMI ports are. For one I closed the areas up a bit, raising the bottom up, the top down, putting in a bit of a panel at the one place that didn’t have one. I also had to widen them, I couldn’t get my cables in at the ports, and it wasn’t because the openings were shorter now. Maybe some cables are a bit more slim, but mine are not. My final intention was to take some thin plastic something like a transparency and cut the USB, HDMI and audio/video jack out to use as a backer to close the rest of the opening and not block access to the ports to make it a bit cleaner. I haven’t gotten around to that. I did do something like that on my large Pi1541 for the one port in the back.

Here you can see the Pi3A+ installed in the prototype case. There is room for a Pi3B+ but the usb and network ports would not be accessible. Those little blocks on the right side that do not exist in the upper center part are areas I added some material on the bottom part to make the openings look a bit neater to me.

For the inside I did go with hand wiring everything using some protoboard. The front control panel being fairly easy to do, short of alignment of the LCD. The buttons as designed work great, it is an great design.

Here you see the back of the control board in the front. The LCD and 5 buttons are on the front side.

For the Pi1541, well I make what I call an Option B+SRQ design for the Pi1541.. This is Steven’s Option B plus another Level converter and wiring up the SRQ lines. I will have to update this post with the schematic. You can find the schematic though that I used on my Pi1541 + Bare Tapduino project. Just note that one includes a Tapduino in addition to the Pi1541 section. I can’t find an Option B+ wring diagram, it has been unfortunately rather vague on how the later additions to the Pi1541 are wired up. For my reference I did modify the Option B wiring diagram to be a Option B+ but as I didn’t make the original diagram I won’t post the modified one. The SRQ is required for the high speed emulation of the later Commodore drives with the 128 I think.

I don’t believe my schematic is the best to follow. I think a Wiring Diagram is generally easier for someone to follow. The schematic below is from my Pi1541 + Tapuino The SV2 header goes to the Pi to various pins. I am sorry it is not the best to follow.

To make the main Pi1541 board section, I used another piece of protoboard with my required IC and two level shifters. Also the filter capacitor and resistors etc. Everything connects back to this board, then this board goes off to the Pi3A+.

Here is the start of the main interface board. It had a lot to add yet.

Below is the completed electronics. The White 3d printed parts were the final parts I made. The front being the LED placement, LCD Opening and Slot changes. The middle ring with the back tab at the proper length. The interface board is mounted with the two screws that hold the middle ring in place as well.

Completed internals

Below are pictures of the completed Pi1541.

Final front. There are some 3d printing minor defects.
Here you can see the LCD Alignment is much better that the prototype.
The port in the back with the tab height corrected, it also has the supporting inner lip on the top cover. Still with the yellow bottom. Then the odd bonus of seeing the Pi LED in the back.
The side view with the yellow bottom. The USB and HDMI are just a bit narrow. Yes the PLA case is a bit translucent.
Might as well have the top view too. Yes that is my Pi1541 schematic in the background.

I figured I would do some size comparisons to my other 1541 drives.

Here is my 1541ii drive with it. I used the same Green and Yellow LEDs. I have seen other 1541ii with different colored LEDs though?
Here is is with my 1541, and my Pi1541 + Tapuino. It is far more compact.

Does it work? Yep.

I have printed a white bottom for the drive and installed it. The difference being the color and slightly wider openings for the USB and HDMI ports. Over all this Pi1541ii design should be easy for someone to build for the most part. With a Pi1541 Hat that fits the alignment of the original case, just print the original center part without the tab added. It can accept a Pi3B+ as well as the A+ just fine. Then the only bit to custom build is the front panel board, sure a pcb could be designed for that to even make that easy.

If anyone wants the modified 3d models I should be able to get them to you. If there is interest, I would probably look into the option to post them as a modified design on Thingiverse. I have never looked into that though and do not know what is involved. I don’t think the support rim on the top cover should get in the way of the Din plugs in the back if they line up properly. The main modifications were the tigher fit on the bottom, as well as the changes on the front of the case.

You can check out the Pi1541 site for the basics and the wiring diagram for the Option B design. It is just adding the SRQ lines with another level shifter, I tend to label it as “Option B+” or “Option B + SRQ”. There are people making pi1541 hats that include the SRQ lines, but I have seen no official diagrams posts, they are just doing it the way I am not that I am the first to do it. The SRQ I believe is needed for the 1581 Commodore 128 high speed transfers. All of the required pins are labeled on the GPIO header in that diagram. There are what I call the Option B Plus Pi Hats out there for sale. That is why I don’t understand why there has been no Option B Plus wiring diagram posted.. You can also now use a Rotary Encoder to replace the UP/Down and Select buttons. I like the idea of the Rotary Encoder, but it didn’t fit the case design. For my Pi1541 + Tapuino I did use a two way toggle switch for the Up/Down controls to eliminate a button. I might have used a Rotary Encoder on it had that been an option at the time, as I could have used it to replace 3 of the buttons (Rotary Encoders have rotate left, rotate right, and have a button that you can press them in).


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