Power supply

Next, I need to power the 6502. The 6502 can be powered from any voltage in the range of 1.8 to 5V. I will be using 5V, as this will be suitable for other ICs that I will be using. Pin 8 is connected to the positive rail and pin 21 is connected to the negative rail.

I will use a voltage regulator to allow for a flexible input voltage range and to make sure that the output remains at 5V. I will be using a 7805, which will allow me to use an input voltage in the range of 7 – 25V. I also want to use the 7805 because it was introduced in 1972, meeting my criteria of being of the era. The 7805 can be used with currents up to 1.5A, which should be fine, as I don’t imagine that the current requirements of the computer to be anywhere near this. At high currents the 7805 will need a heat sink, I will keep an eye on the heat generated from the 7805 as the project progresses. The 7805 is very robust, it has built-in protection against overheating and short circuits.


Figure 1 shows the connections for the 7805. There is a ground that is common to the input and output voltage, a connection for the input +V and output +V.

7805 power supply voltage regulator 6502 65c02
Figure 1. 7805 voltage regulator connections

The voltage regulator will work without any additional components, providing a fixed 5V. However, there will be some parasitic inductance, which can cause problems with digital circuitry. Therefore, to improve stability and to reduce inductance, I will add 2 ceramic capacitors, see figure 2. These should be as close as possible to the terminals as possible. The fixed 5V will then have less ripple and provide the computer with a more reliable 5V. The reason why I will use ceramic capacitors and not electrolytic is that they are faster.

7805 power supply voltage regulator 6502 65c02
Figure 2. 7805 voltage regulator with capacitors

There are two more components that I would like to add to the circuit. These are diodes, one connected in the reverse bias configuration., figure 3. The reason for adding a reverse-biased diode is to prevent damage to the 7805 in a situation where a charge stored in the output capacitor sends a reverse voltage to the voltage regulator. The second diode is to protect my computer if the power supply is connected the wrong way round. This could happen because power supplies that are terminated with a barrel jack can be centre-positive or centre-negative! Centre-positive is more common and how I have designed my circuit to work. If, however, a centre-negative power supply was connected, my computer would not be damaged, as the reverse-biased diode would conduct. I have used two 1N4001 diodes, which have a maximum rated current of 1A. As mentioned previously, I don’t imagine the computer to draw more than 1A, so this should not be a problem!

805 voltage regulator with capacitors and diodes
Figure 3. 7805 voltage regulator with capacitors and two diodes

Minimum voltage

7V is the minimum voltage that can be placed at the input of the 7805, to make sure that the output is always at 5V. Less than 5V cannot be used because of the dropout voltage of the 7805! Dropout voltage is a feature of linear voltage regulators, of which the 7805 is one. One of the disadvantages of linear voltage regulators is that they always need to be supplied with a voltage higher than the voltage that they need to output. How much is known as the dropout voltage. If you look at table 1, you will see a section of the 7805 datasheet that specifies this to be 2V.

7805 voltage regulator dropout voltage
Table 1. 7805 dropout voltage

This means that the minimum input voltage = output voltage + dropout voltage. Therefore 5V + 2V. However, there is more to consider. There is a side-effect of using the reverse-biased diode! When used this way, this diode will have a voltage drop of 0.7V! Therefore. the minimum input voltage = output voltage + voltage regulator dropout voltage + diode voltage drop, 5V + 2V + 0.7V = 7.7V. Therefore the minimum voltage that can be used is 7.7V. In reality the voltage drop of the diode is approximate. Therefore any voltage at 7.7V or above is fine.

Maximum voltage

Figure 4 shows a section of the datasheet of the 7805. From this it can be seen that 35V is the maximum voltage that I could use to power my computer.

7805 voltage regulator maximum voltage
Figure 4. 7805 maximum voltage

Wasted energy

This ‘wasted’ voltage is dissipated as heat. Therefore, the higher the difference between the input voltage and the output voltage, the greater the wasted energy and the more heat that is dissipated. This can be reduced by using an input voltage that is close to the output voltage + the dropout voltages.

Assuming a current of 1A, take a look at these two calculations:

(7V – 5V) x 1A = 2W

(35V – 5V) x 1A = 30W

This shows that with an input voltage of 7V, 2W of power is being wasted. However, with an input voltage of 35V the wastage is 15 times greater!

Therefore, to minimise wasted energy, I would like to use a 7V power supply but in reality a voltage of 7 – 35V will work.


I have built a circuit to clean up and supply 5V from any power supply that is in the range of 7.7 – 35V. Figure 5 shows the circuit so far.

6502 circuit so far power supply 7805 capacitor
Figure 5. circuit so far