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Raspberry Pi Pico Emulates 6502 Computer and Runs Loderunner

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: Eric Badger)

It’s no secret that the Raspberry Pi can emulate a number of devices, and the Raspberry Pi Pico is no exception. In his latest project, Eric Badger demonstrates the Pico’s ability to emulate a 6502 computer and shows a side-by-side comparison of the Pico running next to an Apple II computer.

According to the video description, Badger developed this homebrew emulator and ported a copy of Apple II’s Loderunner to test it out. If you’re unfamiliar with the classic title, Loderunner is a 2D puzzle game that first debuted in 1983. Its basic system requirements make it a fun choice for testing the limits of his Pico-powered 6502 emulator.

The original 6502 is an 8-bit microprocessor developed by a team that used to work for Motorola on the 6800. There are similarities between the two, and the 6502 is a more straightforward take on the 6800 processor. Overall, the Pico is more than capable of emulating the 6502 as it’s a 32-bit microprocessor, but you can find plenty of RP2040 boards that would be fun to implement for a project like this.

Badger explains that the emulator runs solely on the Raspberry Pi Pico and also supports a handful of accessories. Users can connect a PS2 keyboard or even an Atari joystick for input devices. Video output is possible using a VGA port. This essentially turns the Pico into a full-fledged computing system with both input and output capabilities.

This project was inspired by Ben Eater’s work on 6502 emulation. Eater provides 6502 kits that can be purchased on his website, but Badger has proven the project can be tackled using a simple Pico microcontroller.

If you want to get a closer look at this Raspberry Pi project, check out the demonstration video Eric Badger shared on YouTube to see it in action. This video shows not only the 6502 emulator but compares it to an original Apple II running the same application, so you can see how well the Pico operates compared to vintage hardware.

Ash Hill
Ash Hill

Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer at Tom's Hardware US. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting.

  • King_V
    This made me giggle maniacally....

    Then it made me wonder if there's a C64 emulator that runs on the Pico.

    Then it made me wish there was a way to read my old 5-1/4" disks. I created around a dozen custom levels (from silly/stupid to challenging) on Loderunner for the C64 back in the day.

    Then I realized that, while I have a bunch of floppies from back then, I don't have the collection that had all the video games on it... and now I'm a bit bummed.

    Still, this brought back some memories...
    Reply
  • artk2219
    King_V said:
    This made me giggle maniacally....

    Then it made me wonder if there's a C64 emulator that runs on the Pico.

    Then it made me wish there was a way to read my old 5-1/4" disks. I created around a dozen custom levels (from silly/stupid to challenging) on Loderunner for the C64 back in the day.

    Then I realized that, while I have a bunch of floppies from back then, I don't have the collection that had all the video games on it... and now I'm a bit bummed.

    Still, this brought back some memories...

    You could at least pull the data if you wanted, you just need to find a working 5 1nd 1/4 drive then you could pick this adapter or one like it. Though this site looks a little less than super secure, so maybe use a gift card or something.

    http://shop.deviceside.com/prod/FC5025
    Reply
  • King_V
    artk2219 said:
    You could at least pull the data if you wanted, you just need to find a working 5 1nd 1/4 drive then you could pick this adapter or one like it. Though this site looks a little less than super secure, so maybe use a gift card or something.

    http://shop.deviceside.com/prod/FC5025

    Ok, so, not sure if I entirely trust that site, but, that is actually still VERY intriguing. I'll admit a bit steeper than I'd expected in price, but, I guess it's a niche product. And, they provide the software for multiple platforms. Hard to argue with that.

    I do have some C64 disks in a case in my basement. Mostly programs I'd written myself, if I recall correctly, though there's other stuff. The disks haven't see a drive in something like 25 years, though. The other floppy case with the games disks is gone forever, unfortunately, along with my Loderunner levels.

    Oooh, and I still have, in original box with all the accessories, Ultima V. Sure, I know it's out there in emulator world, but it would be amazing if my original disks still were readable.
    Reply
  • Stesmi
    There's always the KryoFlux.

    https://www.kryoflux.com/?page=kf_features
    Handles 3.5", 5.25" and some 8". Not cheap, but the amount of work they must have put into it ...

    // Stefan
    Reply
  • abufrejoval
    That inspired me to run it again and show it to my kids, using a Windows based emulator.
    And I had to find this to find the proper keys (http://www.entropymine.com/jason/lr/misc/controls.html) and remember to activate caps lock, because the original Apple ]







    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    King_V said:
    Oooh, and I still have, in original box with all the accessories, Ultima V. Sure, I know it's out there in emulator world, but it would be amazing if my original disks still were readable.
    The only reason to read disks THAAAAAAT old would be to archive them in digital form, like really they could turn into dust just touching them. (Well ok no, but they are extremely likely to fail)
    In other news:
    CAqJKelw2_4View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAqJKelw2_4
    Reply