What’s this? It’s the BeamRacer video enhancement for the Commodore 64 by Mad Hackers Lab (@beam_racer)! Let’s try putting it in my C64C… (thread)
BeamRacer intercepts the VIC video chip to provide a programmable coprocessor with its own instruction set and memory. The coprocessor frees up the main CPU to do other things while it drives the VIC. To install, simply move the VIC to the board and put board into the VIC socket.
In a breadbin C64, the BR board uses a socket riser (included) to clear components on the motherboard. The thinner C64C is a tighter fit and requires careful manipulation to bend capacitors out of the way, re-soldering if needed. I kept my RF shield in but it can be removed.
If all goes well, you’ll see no change! BR stays dormant until awoken with a register “knock” sequence in software. There are a few demos in a Github repo today, with more coming very soon! These images are all driven by the BR and are not CPU demos.
The BR does not generate a video signal on its own: it’s still using the VIC for everything. But modern hardware and precise timing make obscure VIC tricks discovered over the years easier to use, with potentially higher resolutions and more colors! studiostyle.sk/dmagic/gallery…
Here the BR is manipulating raster lines of the normal text mode for a trippy effect.
BR’s VASYL processor can be controlled with raw assembly code, and BR includes a library to make this easier, all well documented. There’s also an optional BASIC overlay for experimentation or full programming, with VASYL disassembler, and hex literals why not!
Sample code and docs are still in progress but in decent starter shape, with more coming very soon. I had no difficulty assembling the demos with cc65 and copying them over via USB stick and my Ultimate 1541. Repo: github.com/madhackerslab
Overall BeamRacer is off to a really cool start and is already fun for developers and tinkerers, with tons of potential for expansion. No doubt it’ll be a while before there’s a killer app and an install base, but keep it on the radar. Follow @beam_racer! beamracer.net
(Originally posted to Twitter on September 16, 2020. It received 114 likes and 16 retweets.)