Raspberry Pi Pico emulates the 6502 computer and runs Loderunner

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It’s no secret that the Raspberry pie can emulate a number of devices, and the Raspberry Pi Pico is no exception. In his latest project, Eric Badger demonstrates Pico’s ability to emulate a 6502 computer and shows a side-by-side comparison of the Pico running alongside 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. If you’re unfamiliar with the classic title, Loderunner is a 2D puzzle game that debuted in 1983. Its basic system requirements make it a fun choice for testing the limits of its Pico-powered 6502 emulator.

The original 6502 is an 8-bit microprocessor developed by a team that worked for Motorola on the 6800. There are similarities between the two, and the 6502 is a simpler version of the 6800 processor. Overall, the Pico is more than able to emulate the 6502 as it is a 32 bit microprocessor, but you can find many RP2040 Cards that would be fun to implement for a project like this.

Badger explains that the emulator only works 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 via a VGA port. This essentially turns the Pico into a fully-fledged computer system with input and output capabilities.

This project was inspired by Ben Eater’s work on 6502 emulation. Eater provides 6502 kits which can be purchased on its websitebut Badger proved the project could be done using a simple Pico microcontroller.

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

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