SIDblaster/USB is a portable PC SID-synthesizer. Hook it up to your USB-port and you’re good to go. It is designed to work with a MOS 6501 SID. If you need to use a 6500 or 6502, the RNM-0512S needs to be replaced by a 5V to 9V DC-DC regulator.


SIDblaster/USB is partially HardSID-compatible (under Windows) in the sense that it can be used in many programs that support the HardSID by the means of a hacked hardsid.dll. Compatiblity has been verified with SidPlay2, SidPlay2/W and GoatTracker.


The decoupling capacitors (the grouped 100nF, 10nF and 4.7nF) should be connected near their respective circuits:

  • 100nF: FT232R
  • 4.7nF: FT232R
  • 10nF: PIC16F86


Two examples of compact pcb solutions (left: hole mount right: surface mount) that can be mounted in a small case. The AUDIO port needs to be wired to a suitable connector, for example a 3.5mm audio jack. The card is intended to be mounted in a case with tracks for the PCB. The height of the card needs to be adjusted to fit different cases. On the left hand side of the PCB is a USB-B port. You’ll need to open up a rectangular hole in the case for this port to slide through when the PCB is inserted.

Compact hole-mount solution. Verified, functional!

Ultra-compact SMT solution, only ~50% larger than the SID-chip. Not verified!

Component List

RefDes  Description                   @ELFA         @ElectroKit     @DigiKey
FERRITE Ferrite bead [1]              1x  N/A[2]    1x  N/A[2]
R1      Resistor 1k <=5% >=1/8W       1x 60-104-90  1x 40810310
C1,C2   Cer. Cap. 2.2nF 2.54mm >=15V  2x 65-180-62  2x  N/A[2]
C3,C7   Cer. Cap. 10nF  2.54mm >=10V  2x 65-181-87  2x 40512410
C4,C6   Cer. Cap. 100nF 2.54mm >=10V  2x 65-183-69  2x 40512510
C5      Cer. Cap. 1µF   2.54mm >=15V  1x 65-184-84  1x  N/A[2]
C8      Cer. Cap. 4.7nF 2.54mm >=10V  1x 65-181-20  1x  N/A[2]
P1      USB type A                    1x 42-707-40  1x 41002289
P2      Header 6p 2x3                 1x 43-717-12  1x 41001167[3]
U1      PIC16F886-I/SP                1x 73-873-52  1x 40361886
U2      FT232RL                       1x 73-206-59  1x 40359232
U3      RNM-0512S                     1x 69-073-94  1x  N/A
U4      MOS 6501 SID                  2x 43-783-60  1x 41003010[4]

  1. Not critical, may be bridged. Used to remove high frequency interferance.
  2. May have suitable replacement.
  3. Is a 1x40 header that should be broken into two 1x3 headers to replace the 2x3 header.
  4. Is a 1x40 header that should be broken into two 1x14 headers that will hold the SID.

Need to know

The PCB layout is missing a restor on the ICSPHDR between the VPP and VDD pins. This resistor MAY be needed for ICSP-programming using a programmer that requires external MCLR (ICD3 for example). The resistor should be between 1k and 10k (see programmer documentation), 4k7 worked well in our case. The resistor is only needed during programming, once programmed you can bridge VPP and VDD using a jumper. If internal MCLR is used, no jumper or resistor is needed.

Several of the capators in electrokits online catalogue are incorrectly marked in regards to pin spacing. All capacators should have a spacing of 2.54mm, allthough 5.08mm spaced capacators can usually be bent so that they’ll fit.

Depending on what version of the PCB-layout you have, it’s possible the the DC-DC regulator will not fit. This has been corrected in later revisions of the layout. The legs of the regulator can be bent so that they can be connected using a piece of wire.

Shock sensitivity

During shipping (using swedish postal service in a padded envelope) of the first SIDblaster from Sweden to Åland the SID-chip became dislodged from it’s socket. Apart from this and the fact that the CD was crushed it was in good shape upon arrival. If your SIDblaster is to be transported or otherwise roughly handled you might want to consider locking the chip down in some way.


If you are interested in the Windows software (hacked hardsid.dll with MinGW source), PIC firmware (.hex or assembler source) or gerber and excellon files for PCB manufacturing – you can contact me at the hotmail address “senseitg”. Either that, or you could drop by the research department next tuesday!

Completed SIDBlasters

STG’s SIDBlaster build notes:

  • Series 1455 case from ELFA
  • LEDs added for CLK and WRITE
  • ESD transient diode added on output
  • Chassis and USB shield grounded

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5 Responses to SIDblaster

  1. goto80 says:

    I guess I’m missing something. 6501 is a CPU, right? But what makes the sound?

  2. dude says:

    The 6501 is the SID – ie the device generating sound.

    The SID comes in different varieties, with the 6501 being the most popular.

    The CPU (or rather MCU) is the PIC16F886, a microcontroller from Microchip.

    The FT232RL handles usb communications

  3. Heffo says:

    The MOS/CSG part number for the CPU chip was 6501. The part number for the early 12v SID Sound Chip was 6581 and the later 9v SID Sound Chip was 8580. Just have a look at the markings on the SID itself.

    You have your part numbers confused.

  4. Lurker says:

    There’s obviously a misunderstanding, the numbers should be 6580, 6581 and 6582.

  5. dude says:


    According to the sources I find trustworthy, there is no such thing as a 6580.

    6581, 6582 and 8580 in chronological order.

    Most references to 6580 seem to be in forums and blogs and I can’t find a picture of a chip that reads 6580. Mine are marked 8580.

    It seems Heffo is entirely correct, and the wiki article uses the correct part numbers since the page was edited after his/her comment. Blog articles, even the ones that are direct copies from a wiki article, are and will not be corrected.

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