MiSTer FPGA - Retro Console Hardware

bigdogchris

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Anyone else messing around with MiSTer? I put one together recently and so far have been loving the experience compared to my RetroPie device. Setup was just as easy as a RetroPie.

MiSTer an open source console/computer hardware simulator project using FPGA hardware, similar to the Super Nt and Mega Sg projects. People create hardware cores that program the FPGA device to simulate hardware. It pretty much eliminates the issues you experience with emulation because the FPGA hardware is acting as the console. That means more accurate games with less slowdown, etc unless it was in the real game. Obviously nothing is perfect but many of the cores have been worked on for well over a year now. The only latency you have to deal with is input and display. But thanks to some creative people, they also have zero latency input devices that use real controllers (SNAC and BliSTer), and almost zero latency USB polling overclocking options available.

Other than the more authentic gaming experience, features like extra sprites, adjusting aspect ratio, adding filters, adjusting pallets and sound, etc. are all present as well.

The downside compared to say a RetroPie or other emulators is that features such as save states and pausing (games that don't have pause or saves) are not supported. You also have to make sure that you return to the menu before shutting off the game so that the core save game memory writes back to flash. There is still some slowdown in some games. Also, the cost is significantly higher than Raspberry Pi hardware as well. But I think those trade offs are some people are willing to make if you are interested in a more authentic experience.

MiSTer info.

A couple of the big players on YouTube are RetroRGB and SmokeMonster
 
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J3RK

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Best emu-simulation-environment I've ever used! My brother and I are both running them. Just put the 128MB memory module on mine.

The GBA core actually has save-states, so I'm hoping those will spread out to the rest of the cores eventually.

FPGA is night and day. I actually thought that maybe I was just getting old because I found I wasn't as good at action platformers anymore. Super Mario World for example. I mean, I was still ok, but not great. It turns out that I'm A LOT more sensitive to latency (only in the context of this type of game) than I had thought. Playing on the MiSTer I'm every bit as good as I always was, even with Megaman or other tougher platformers. I was really starting to wonder what the hell was wrong with me. :D I've been playing on emulators since early MAME, DOS emulators, etc. so I'm VERY familiar with the nuances, it just never really occurred to me that it might be latency.

I have to say MiSTer is spot-on. I love watching it progress too. I used to love that with emulators too until they reached a certain point in ubiquity where it wasn't as interesting anymore.

I agree with RetroRGB and SmokeMonster as good news guys. There are a few others too.

I'd also recommend www.misteraddons.com for acquiring the hardware. Mr. Pork Chop Express is great to deal with.

Also, most of the devs hang out on atari-forum. If you haven't checked it out, it's a pretty good spot for information.

Here's some pics of my MiSTer. I felt it needed a full custom case. :D My brother uses the acrylic one.
 

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J3RK

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Are those Retro-Bit Sega pads? Have you tried the USB Polling OC with them?

Yes, they’re the “Sega Collaboration” Retro-Bit pads. They work really nicely. I have not tried tweaking the polling with them yet.
 

bigdogchris

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Yes, they’re the “Sega Collaboration” Retro-Bit pads. They work really nicely. I have not tried tweaking the polling with them yet.
Cool. WIth one of the recent Mister updates they integrated the USB OCing with just a on/off in the scripts folder. Check it out!
 
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Geronimo

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Best emu-simulation-environment I've ever used! My brother and I are both running them. Just put the 128MB memory module on mine.

The GBA core actually has save-states, so I'm hoping those will spread out to the rest of the cores eventually.

FPGA is night and day. I actually thought that maybe I was just getting old because I found I wasn't as good at action platformers anymore. Super Mario World for example. I mean, I was still ok, but not great. It turns out that I'm A LOT more sensitive to latency (only in the context of this type of game) than I had thought. Playing on the MiSTer I'm every bit as good as I always was, even with Megaman or other tougher platformers. I was really starting to wonder what the hell was wrong with me. :D I've been playing on emulators since early MAME, DOS emulators, etc. so I'm VERY familiar with the nuances, it just never really occurred to me that it might be latency.

I have to say MiSTer is spot-on. I love watching it progress too. I used to love that with emulators too until they reached a certain point in ubiquity where it wasn't as interesting anymore.

I agree with RetroRGB and SmokeMonster as good news guys. There are a few others too.

I'd also recommend www.misteraddons.com for acquiring the hardware. Mr. Pork Chop Express is great to deal with.

Also, most of the devs hang out on atari-forum. If you haven't checked it out, it's a pretty good spot for information.

Here's some pics of my MiSTer. I felt it needed a full custom case. :D My brother uses the acrylic one.
Hi guys. I just received my 128MB card today, and should receive my DE10- Nano tomorrow, or Wed.

Where did you buy that case? Did you custom make it? I really was looking for a case like that.
 

J3RK

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Hi guys. I just received my 128MB card today, and should receive my DE10- Nano tomorrow, or Wed.

Where did you buy that case? Did you custom make it? I really was looking for a case like that.

I just responded to your PM about the case in more detail. It was a one off that I did, but I'm happy to post or send the drawings. It's a Front Panel Express project. Assuming you wanted it as-is (kinda expensive) you just submit the shopping cart, and then they do all the metal-work, and send it to you ready to assemble.
 
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bigdogchris

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I found out I can get a free CRT TV with component inputs on it. Anyone have luck with the analogue output over HDMI on this? I didn't buy the I/O board because I was hoping analogue over HDMI would work well for me.

Also, anyone know of a low latency, affordable active HDMI to Component converter? I was thinking I may need to do an HDMI to VGA active, then pick up the VGA to Component from misteraddons.
 

Geronimo

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I read that you should you should be able to use a cheap @ $5 passive to HDMI converter and a few changes in the Mister.ini file you you would be set. I'll try to find the post I read. It is called direct video.
 

bigdogchris

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I read that you should you should be able to use a cheap @ $5 passive to HDMI converter and a few changes in the Mister.ini file you you would be set. I'll try to find the post I read. It is called direct video.
Yeah, I was planning on using the Direct Video. I'm just looking for good options for the cabling.
 

bigdogchris

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I wonder if that new forum has to do with the atari-forum being down for over a week.
 

Geronimo

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I think that MiSTer is really gaining in popularity extremely fast, and moving foward. The ATARI forums are still down, and the MiSTer forum was started by Sorgelig himself. All MiSTer discussion is now over there. I think it was a good move.
 

bigdogchris

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I have the iBuffalo classic but the D pad isn't great; much too clicky. Response time is great though.
 

J3RK

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It took forever, but I finally managed to sort and fix my PC Engine CD collection so that it will work on MiSTer. It's flawless so far. Very impressive. I also tried out a few Capcom CPS1 games, and that seemed pretty good too. I hadn't updated my MiSTer in quite a while, because I had too many other things going on for a bit. Good to hear about the forum move. There wasn't anything wrong with the Atari ones, but I agree that a dedicated one is nice. I'll have to join today.
 

twonunpackmule

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This is on my list of things to tackle. However, stock is always iffy, and I seem to miss the boat more often than not.
 

Geronimo

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I have the iBuffalo classic but the D pad isn't great; much too clicky. Response time is great though.
I'm using the SN30 PRO PLUS in black wired via USB, but I'm going to try it via bluetooth, and give the PS4 controller a try. I also have a Logitech F710 as backup
 

J3RK

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Just start and buy the DE10 NANO, and a cheap micro USB OTG hub. That is what I did.

Agreed. There are quite a few cores that do not need the SDRAM module. You can play quite a bit with even JUST the DE10. I was thinking about making a "mini" version for another room of the house or portability since my main MiSTer is so large. I was thinking of maybe building it into a small Pelican or Plasticase case.
 

bigdogchris

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I don't have the IO board, just a fan on top. But I was looking at the new version of the IO board and was thinking of picking that up. I'm confused if the button on the side is suppose to be a power button, does anyone know? My main reason for wanting the IO board is now they have added support for the three user buttons to allow keyboard remapping without needing to bring out the keyboard. Makes the portability of the Mister a lot better.
 

twonunpackmule

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Agreed. There are quite a few cores that do not need the SDRAM module. You can play quite a bit with even JUST the DE10. I was thinking about making a "mini" version for another room of the house or portability since my main MiSTer is so large. I was thinking of maybe building it into a small Pelican or Plasticase case.
Just start and buy the DE10 NANO, and a cheap micro USB OTG hub. That is what I did.

The issue is the cores I want to use immediately, use the sdram module.

Honestly, most of it is time. It's fire season currently and I wont have time to tinker. It'll have to wait. I just got a Rift S, and that'll soak up my free time.
 

Geronimo

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I'll give you guys just starting out some tips. These are things I learned doing a lot of researching and my own experience.

You DON'T need the IO board. A small heatsink, and, or a fan is recommended, so they make blank IO boards to just mount the fan.

I went ghetto for now. I'm powering an old 120mm fan I had laying around from the GPIO pins 9v line. It works well. YMMV depending on the fan. 2 out of my 3, all different brands, worked.

There is a digital and and an anolog IO board. Neither is required. They add 3 buttons, and other small nice features and misc. conviniences. The Analog let's you output to 2 devices via HDMI and analog at the same time. The digital Frees up the 2nd GPIO pins for maybe more options down the line, like a 2nd memory stick, etc..... and adds a power switch. You can add a cheap HDMI to VGA adapter, and edit the .ini file if you need analog output with no IO board

You don't NEED the USB board. You can use a MICRO USB OTG that came with an android phone, and use any USB hub you have laying around.

You only need the keyboard to set it up one time. You can set up a button on your joystick or pad to bring up the MENU and navigate. After that, you don't need the hub or the keyboard, unless using the PC cores, or the DOOM core, or you want to add USB Bluetooth, or USB WIFI.

Look up RetroDriven and use his "ALL IN ONE" SCRIPT after you set up the SD card. You will thank me later.
 
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Geronimo

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Here is my current setup while I sort out the case situation. I have a 128 memory stick on it. Looks ugly for now, but the cheapest you can do. You can see the white SAMSUNG OTG adapter from an old android phone I had laying around.
 

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twonunpackmule

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Here is my current setup while I sort the case situation. I have a 128 memory stick on it. Looks ugly for now, but the cheapest you can do.

I really want the case when I order one. I have plans to tie the device with my Sony PVR.
 

Geronimo

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I really want the case when I order one. I have plans to tie the device with my Sony PVR.
I'm case-less for now while I wait for the LL COOL JOY. I will buy the latest digital IO board at the same time. I plan on making a custom case.
 

twonunpackmule

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I see. Your very much right. Better protect that investment. I don't really ever touch my DE10 NANO, and I always unplug it after playing and if I need to handle it.
Yea, I fried a Raspberry PI last winter. That was actually cased too.
 

bigdogchris

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Picked up a free CRT with Component input. Plan on using Direct video putput over HDMI. I've done some reading that Mister over analogue (using direct video hdmi -> component) won't work with Gameboy because the output is different format and frequency. Before I buy anything, are there any products that would fix the GB output and also help with connectivity?
 

bigdogchris

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Looking at this more, I didn't realize Direct Video won't work out of the box with component; it requires a Sync On Green (SOG). Glad I haven't bought anything yet. Looking at the instructions on installing a home made SOG circuit, I don't know how I would connect to the pins without interfering with the adapter end, I'd have to cut into the cable to access the wires on the individual pins I take it?

Based on this it seems like a simpler, albeit more expensive, option would be to just buy the IO board with VGA output and a VGA to component cable. The VGA output is 240p, even on Gameboy, which solves that problem. I also don't know for certain if my TV supports 240p with component. I'm doing some reading that the component shares the same path as composite, so I could verify the TV supports 240p by hooking up my SNES or Genesee to the composite port. If it works on composite, then component would also work. Thoughts?
 

J3RK

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Looking at this more, I didn't realize Direct Video won't work out of the box with component; it requires a Sync On Green (SOG). Glad I haven't bought anything yet. Looking at the instructions on installing a home made SOG circuit, I don't know how I would connect to the pins without interfering with the adapter end, I'd have to cut into the cable to access the wires on the individual pins I take it?

Based on this it seems like a simpler, albeit more expensive, option would be to just buy the IO board with VGA output and a VGA to component cable. The VGA output is 240p, even on Gameboy, which solves that problem. I also don't know for certain if my TV supports 240p with component. I'm doing some reading that the component shares the same path as composite, so I could verify the TV supports 240p by hooking up my SNES or Genesee to the composite port. If it works on composite, then component would also work. Thoughts?

Sorry, I'm not much help in this department. We got an 86" TV for the living room, so my studio/game-room inherited the older 65" screen. I'm just using HDMI. I haven't tried dabbling with analog video. I find the general response to be quite adequate, and still blows emulators out of the water in that department. If a nice component monitor fell into my lap, I would of course get to work on all this myself. :D Hope you get it sorted out!
 

twonunpackmule

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I finally got mine over the Christmas weekend. Slowly adding more and more to it. Got the consoles that interested me up and running. Will tackle MSX soonish. That's a bit more complicated. Though, I think i want to get a good CPS romset first. I got a few up and runnning but the vast majority I had don't seem to work with the core. So, I'm trying to get a new set.

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J3RK

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Nice!!

Yeah, a new set should help you with the CPS stuff. Mine's working pretty much flawlessly. I say pretty much, but it is flawless for the games I play. (Pretty much Final Fight, Ghouls n Ghosts, Strider for the most part.)

My next step is to build (or buy) a new arcade stick setup, and add proper spinners to it. (for both arcade games that use them, and the Bally Astrocade)

The 486 core is actually starting to mature nicely as well, so I'd like to start playing my DOS games on that instead of DOSBox at some point. Then my computer trio (C64, Amiga, and DOS PC) will be perfect. Glad to see more people using it from here.
 

twonunpackmule

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Nice!!

Yeah, a new set should help you with the CPS stuff. Mine's working pretty much flawlessly. I say pretty much, but it is flawless for the games I play. (Pretty much Final Fight, Ghouls n Ghosts, Strider for the most part.)

My next step is to build (or buy) a new arcade stick setup, and add proper spinners to it. (for both arcade games that use them, and the Bally Astrocade)

The 486 core is actually starting to mature nicely as well, so I'd like to start playing my DOS games on that instead of DOSBox at some point. Then my computer trio (C64, Amiga, and DOS PC) will be perfect. Glad to see more people using it from here.
I have a collection of sticks. HAHA! I'll probably grab a spinner at some point. Waiting on my SNAC adapters to arrive from the UK. I could possibly use my old Pong Paddles from the Atari I have in storage.

It's funny because I'm currently restoring an 89 Turtles Arcade Cab. Now, playing with this I want to use it within the cab, but I think PI is still the better option until this matures a bit more. I love how easy it is to program controls for this. Easily the most painless thing I've had the pleasure of working with. I wish the PC could be that painless.
 
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Geronimo

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Have you guys seen that you can now use a raspberry pi as a MIDI device. It fully integrates with the Mister now. 👍 You can attach it with a home made USB connection, or they have already released a top hat that you attach. You build it yourself, or wait for shops to carry it.
 
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J3RK

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Have you guys seen that you can now use a raspberry pi as a MIDI device. It fully integrates with the Mister now. 👍 You can attach it with a home made USB connection, or they have already released a top hat that you attach. You build it yourself, or wait for shops to carry it.

Yeah, I just noticed that maybe a week or two ago. I have a real MT-32 in my basement, but it's huge, and I'd much rather build a tiny Pi box that does this. Very cool!

In fact, there's plenty of room in my case to put something like this. I could just have it internal.
 
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