Release Day!

MEGA65 Projects

MEGA65 platform release v0.96 is now available! This release is a culmination of 14 months of improvements to the FPGA core, the MEGA65 ROM, and system software. You can also now download the final version of the new User’s Guide PDF and Intro Disk software package. Everyone who owns a MEGA65 is encouraged to upgrade.

For the MEGA65 delivered in 2022…

If you own a MEGA65 delivered in 2022, sign in to Filehost with the account you used to redeem your owner code, then download MEGA65 release v0.96 for “R3” boards. If you don’t yet have a Filehost account, register for one, then select “Redeem Code” from the user menu and enter the nine character code printed on the piece of paper that was included with your MEGA65. This gives you access to the release packages “with ROM,” and a few other things.

Download The MEGA65 User’s Guide, 2nd edition PDF, and follow the instructions in the chapter, “Upgrading the MEGA65.”

You will want to update the factory core in slot 0 to this release. Please see the “NOTE” in the User’s Guide about upgrading an R3A MEGA65 for the first time: there’s a little trick required to start the flasher from the v0.96 core in slot 1 to flash the v0.96 core to slot 0. Don’t worry, it’s easy, just don’t miss the note. For a more detailed version of these instructions with photos, see Visual Guide to Flashing Slot 0 without JTAG.

Lastly, download M65Connect v2.3 for Windows (Intel), for Windows (ARM), for macOS (Universal), or for Linux (Intel). This powerful desktop application includes new features and enhancements for transferring files between your PC and your MEGA65, with support for a new feature in the v0.96 release: file transfer over Ethernet. See the User’s Guide for more information, as well as the new M65Connect section of the Wiki.

For Xemu users…

If you don’t yet own a MEGA65 and use the Xemu MEGA65 emulator, you can upgrade the MEGA65 ROM to the release v0.96 version, ROM 920395. Download the ROM 920395 diff files, then follow the instructions in the ROM FAQ to construct the mega65.rom file. The M65Connect app includes a built-in ROM patching tool for this purpose. See also the Xemu MEGA65 Quickstart.

The release v0.96 ROM requires a recent version of Xemu, dated December 2023 or later. If you haven’t updated Xemu in a while, get the latest “stable” version.

The MEGA65 User’s Guide, 2nd edition PDF has been fully updated with information about recently added features to BASIC 65.

For DevKit owners…

Release v0.96 is available for the MEGA65 DevKit. Download and install the mega65r3 release package, as above.

An important note for this case: the v0.96 core flasher does not yet work on the DevKit. You can use the v0.95 core to flash the v0.96 core (such as in slot 1), but be sure to keep the v0.95 core around (such as in slot 0) for flashing other cores.

This shortcoming will be resolved in the next few months with a follow-up release.

For Nexys dev boards…

The v0.96 release is not yet available for FPGA development boards, such as the Nexys. This will be addressed in a follow-up release. Please continue to use v0.95 for now.

For those who are about to rock…

The MEGA65s that will be delivered in June 2024 will have this release installed at the factory. We plan to do another release before then, so you’ll want to check for newer versions and upgrade shortly after receiving your computer.

Reminders of other things you can get

As I mentioned in the previous newsletter, you can now purchase the MEGA65 User’s Guide, 2nd edition, in print form. Orders so far have been arriving on doorsteps all over the world, and it turned out great! Don’t miss the UG2 FAQ that answers a few anticipated questions.

The 45GS02 Quick Reference mousepad and poster are still available. I added this article to Filehost with a few action photos.

More MEGA65s will ship in June of this year, and they will include a massive new Intro Disk software bundle (registered owner version). Download this for your own computer and copy all of the files to your SD card. This is a superset of the software that was included in 2022, including updated versions of previous titles.

What’s new?

Notable changes in the MEGA65 firmware from release v0.95 to v0.96 (see the core changelog for a complete list):

  • Ethernet file transfer support; use the new M65Connect app (or command line tools), and see the User’s Guide, 2nd edition, for instructions
  • New core selection and flashing menu, capable of flashing slot 0 without a JTAG adapter
    • Can configure core slots to be selected automatically when different types of cartridges are connected, so a C64 cart can auto-boot into the C64 core instead of the MEGA65 core
    • Core file selector supports long filenames
  • New hardware typing event queue, enables faster and more accurate typing
  • Improvements to the chipset, Freezer, SD card utility, and Configuration utility
    • Fixed mouse handling in port 2
    • Configuration utility now prompts to power cycle on exit, to avoid confusion
  • Support for the upcoming R6 main board (and intermediate test versions R4 and R5)

Notable changes in the MEGA65 ROM from release v0.95 to v0.96 (see the ROM changelog for a complete list):

  • Screen editor and KERNAL use the new hardware typing event queue, for faster and more accurate typing
  • 80 x 50 text mode: press ESC then 5 (press ESC then 8 or 4 to select 80x25 and 40x25)
  • Default sprite images, including a mouse pointer in sprite slot 0
  • GO64 mode now displays a custom banner instead of the C64 banner, so it’s easier to distinguish between GO64 mode and the C64 core
  • Support for booting MEGA65 cartridges, based on the MEGA65 cartridge protocol
  • Run/Stop-Restore now restores the character set
  • Improvements to the Monitor, Renumber, BASIC commands, DOS
  • For this release only: the ROM will detect whether it is being run with an older core or Xemu version, and halt with a message. Be sure to use the v0.96 core or a recent version of Xemu with this ROM.

What’s next?

A big blow-out party! Or maybe just some rest and relaxation. It’s been a long haul, with some heroic efforts from the development and testing team in the last few weeks. Everyone has chipped in to make this release and the next delivery batch of MEGA65s the best as they can be.

The core team will proceed with working on a follow-up release, currently expected to be called v0.97 and released in a few months. This will include some clean-up tasks that were deferred from v0.96 to hit the batch #3 delivery schedule, including full support for DevKits and Nexys boards.

As for ROM development, there’s exciting news! We’ve been focusing primarily on bug fixes over the last year, mostly to ensure we’re making the best use of the very limited space we have for new ROM code. The next ROM beta test will include the results of a project I’ve been working on to make more code space available for new features. I have taken this opportunity to implement a bunch of features requested by the MEGA65 community over the last two years, and these will also be included in the next beta. Remember that beta releases may have bugs, so thanks in advance for your patience, and your bug reports! Stay tuned to the Discord for an announcement, very soon.

And one last obligatory plug: My contributions to the MEGA65 project, including this newsletter, are made possible with support from retro computing enthusiasts like you! Please consider a monthly donation. Visit

Thanks all! Back again in March with another full issue.

— Dan