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Newsdee

MiSTer FPGA

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There are some upcoming features and cores which may bring more attention to MiSTer, so I think it's time to create a dedicated thread for it. 

 

MiSTer is not a monolithic project, but a framework where several developers collaborate for its expansion. Keeping up with latest changes and experimental work can be daunting for newcomers, but it is rather exciting. 

 

At the same time, setting up a MiSTer and running the stable cores is very straightforward, about the same complexity as setting up an Everdrive. Many are willing to help and the wiki is expanded regularly.

 

I will start with a few useful links to help newcomers. To start you only need the DE10 board and an SDRAM expansion. The rest can be added later if you need it (e.g. analogue video etc).

 

Official wiki (start here):

https://github.com/MiSTer-devel/Main_MiSTer/wiki

 

Official forums:

http://www.atari-forum.com/viewforum.php?f=117

 

Terasic webpage for the DE10-Nano:

(you can get one from here)

https://www.terasic.com.tw/cgi-bin/page/archive.pl?Language=English&CategoryNo=205&No=1046&PartNo=1

 

Amazon page for the DE10-Nano

(also from Terasic, but may have cheaper shipping

https://www.amazon.com/Terasic-Technologies-P0496-DE10-Nano-Kit/dp/B07B89YHSB/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?keywords=de+10+nano&qid=1564700785&s=gateway&sr=8-3

 

List of add-on resellers:

(only the SDRAM is needed if you just want HDMI)

http://www.atari-forum.com/viewtopic.php?f=117&t=33613&sid=9b2da79f8a9ceded1030f7cbdee8271a

 

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Speaking of which, I finally invested in a MiSTer setup, well most of it.   Bought an 32MB SD Ram module, USB Hub, I/O Board and Heatsink.   Will buy the actual DE-10 Nano in about a week or so.

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After installing the SD and testing video is working, I recommend adding the updater script:

https://github.com/MiSTer-devel/Updater_script_MiSTer

 

If your MiSTer is connected to the network (which you can see by it showing an IP in the OSD menu), it will download all the latest cores, the latest script utilities, cheat codes for consoles, etc.

Edited by Newsdee
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Wrt MiSTer, I like this review:

 

It seems level headed without much hyperbole.

 

NOTE: I find it mildly funny that with a dedicated thread very few are posting here their opinions (Was Kevtris thread more appealing for some reason?)

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It does not need hyperbole. A lot of negative comments are from people who haven't tried it or have misconceptions about it, e.g. thinking it's just another RPi.

 

It is not a commercial project. What this actually is, is a community of people building their own hardware for retro gaming for the fun of it. I think that is super awesome to both witness and participate in it. 

 

The "finished product" isn't perfect but there isn't anything like it either (especially at the price point). It does keep improving, and already works great even if you can't be bothered with the advanced features.

Edited by Newsdee

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59 minutes ago, Newsdee said:

It does not need hyperbole. A lot of negative comments are from people who haven't tried it or have misconceptions about it, e.g. thinking it's just another RPi.

 

It is not a commercial project. What this actually is, is a community of people building their own hardware for retro gaming for the fun of it. I think that is super awesome to both witness and participate in it. 

 

The "finished product" isn't perfect but there isn't anything like it either (especially at the price point). It does keep improving, and already works great even if you can't be bothered with the advanced features.

Almost, I personally don't like the subsidized nature of the base module for usages other than its intended engineering prototyping but it's a point always considered "moot" or irrelevant, so told I will probably cave once the NeoGeo core is ready ... although to be fair the current NeoGeo core is GPL2.0 so anyone could actually make a product out of it, the Genny and SNES are instead GPL3.0 more in line with a certain idea of openness of it all but less with anyone attempting to wrap them for commercial reasons.

 

 

BTW: as far as the developers of these cores go their usage of the base module is much more in line with expectations even if there's no intent to bring to market an actual product out of it ... I wonder if someone was to make a board with just the needed components (FPGA, integrated Mem, heatsink, 3 buttons, HDMI, more USBs) but at retail price likely around 500US$ mark, the FPGA alone is around 250US$ https://www.mouser.com/_/?Keyword=5CSEBA6U23I7&FS=True if a market would exist?

For a finished product I mean, with a case, all nicely integrated on a custom PCB designed specifically for it etc....

Probably yes, heck I spent that amount on a NeoSD ... lol.

 

NOTE: I am well aware that my usage of "teh romz" is not in agreement with their original intended purpose either (which is preservation, unless you own the originals and your own means to dump them .... or live in certain countries with more permissive laws wrt SW copyrights).

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I'm not sure there is any value added to make it a custom board. What problem does that solve?

 

I started following FPGA tech for gaming in 2013 when I got a MiST. Back then, the cheapest FPGA development board was about $350 and didn't even have USB connections. 

 

There were some FPGA computer clones already, but Till Harbaum's MiST stood out as the cheapest (about $220) and had very convenient USB ports for keyboards and gamepads. The others had PS2 and could only handle DB9 joysticks.

 

There were three main caveats with MIST: the FPGA reached full capacity with some later cores, there was no way to give it a good native HDMI output, and it remained a bit obscure in the broader FPGA developer community, so new devs appeared only sporadically.

 

Then the DE10 came out as a low cost but powerful FPGA dev board for students and universities. It solved the three major issues of the MiST: the FPGA is huge, it comes with USB and HDMI out of the box, and there are now plenty of devs who already own the board and may stumble upon MiSTer later on. And to top it all off, it manages to be cheaper than a MiST (that is fully custom made).

 

In a way it's like a PC.... generic purpose hardware that the community has customized in ways that would not be possible with a commercial product.

Edited by Newsdee

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Thanks for starting this thread. I want to get a MiSTer eventually but had no idea where to start. Those links at the top will be very helpful when it comes time to get one of these.

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Austin's comment applies to me, too. I'm interested in it but getting started seemed daunting. It still kinda does, for that matter.

 

I'm in it for the NeoGeo, though (PCE CD would be nice, too), so 64 MB SDRAM boards need to become widely available before I jump so that it can play the vast majority of games. There are people that have been playing with that quantity of RAM, but 32 MB seems to be all that's available for sale. :(

 

Looking at probably $250 or so for a case, a DE10-nano board, a USB OTG hub, SD, and SDRAM. Considering the utility of the setup, it's not a bad deal in a world where we gladly pay $215 or so after shipping for a single-system FPGA Analogue console. 

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The Neogeo core is still under develolment and the memory needs may still change. At least, I can tell you the latest beta build already runs most games with only 32MB.

 

One thing that may not be obvious (it wasn't for me) is that "OTG" is just a fancy name for hubs that plug to micro USB directly. You can also use any regular hub with a micro USB to full USB adapter (USB-A), which is basically an "OTG adapter cable". 

 

If you feel the price of the MiSTer is high, you can start skipping a case and use the 8GB SD card that comes with the DE10 Nano. Plus get an OTG adapter cable to reuse any old USB hub you may have. 

 

A few cores run without SDRAM, but I do recommend to get that board to run all MiSTer cores. All in total would cost you $150 to $160 (plus shipping) before you spend more into it.

 

Hope that helps clarify some things amd make it easier to start.

Edited by Newsdee

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  Yeah I was super critical of the MiSTer because for awhile there I felt they didn't take user experience seriously.  Preservation has always been touted as the goal for open source cores and MiSTer, but until recently it just didn't have a great user experience with its 2+ frames of lag and horrible HDMI scaler.

  Well now that is changed, so I felt it was the right time to invest in a MiSTer for my own personal use.  I bitched enough to Rysha over the year about some changes/features I thought should be in the MiSTer, and whether I had any part or not of convincing people to add those things I'm just happy they have been implemented. MiSTer is turning into a really solid multi system FPGA system. Now we just need those direct to FPGA controller adapters to bypass USB polling for even lower lag.

Edited by SegaSnatcher

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Yes, a lot of people have joined and are now working on various cores and central features. It does make it a bit hard to keep up but there is clear progress.

 

The overclock on Super FX (for smoother 3D) was a great surprise, for example.

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17 hours ago, Newsdee said:

....

 

One thing that may not be obvious (it wasn't for me) is that "OTG" is just a fancy name for hubs that plug to micro USB directly. You can also use any regular hub with a micro USB to full USB adapter (USB-A), which is basically an "OTG adapter cable". 

 

....

Not really, OTG is the spec that allows a normally slave USB device to become master, it is what allows your phone to be connected to a PC and be a storage device (slave) or connect to the phone a USB stick and make the phone the master (so from the phone perspective it is the stick that is a storage device).

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB_On-The-Go

"An OTG cable has a micro-A plug on one end, and a micro-B plug on the other end (it cannot have two plugs of the same type). OTG adds a fifth pin to the standard USB connector, called the ID-pin".

 

In practice it just means that you can plug KB, pads etc.. to the connector in question (the DE10-nano board is the host) and in some circumstances instead have the DE10-nano being the slave (I am not sure MiSTer has a use for this configuration).

 

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7 hours ago, phoenixdownita said:

Not really, OTG is the spec that allows a normally slave USB device to become master

Right, however for our current usage (adding USB ports for peripherals to MiSTer) the device stays being the host. So a regular hub will work with the caveat that it can't power everything you plug into it. A powered hub solves that.

 

The reason why I highlight this is that MicroUSB OTG hubs are becoming harder to find now that USB-C adoption is rising.

Edited by Newsdee

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Well it's nice to see MiSTer coming along and growing. This year or next I think I'll build one into my mini-xt PC. It's already crowded in there with an R-Pi and some other stuff. But it looks kinda cool in a haphazard hackjob way.

 

I figure if I'm going to get into (and support) FPGA emulation, this would be the way to go. It looks generic enough that any one failing in the "supply chain" won't derail the whole ecosphere. In other words it's not a house of cards. Unless I'm missing something??

 

Is there any one vendor that sells all 4 expansion options? The SDRAM, I/O, USB, and RTC boards.. as a package deal or just for convenience?

 

Edited by Keatah

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1 hour ago, Keatah said:

Well it's nice to see MiSTer coming along and growing. This year or next I think I'll build one into my mini-xt PC. It's already crowded in there with an R-Pi and some other stuff. But it looks kinda cool in a haphazard hackjob way.

 

I figure if I'm going to get into (and support) FPGA emulation, this would be the way to go. It looks generic enough that any one failing in the "supply chain" won't derail the whole ecosphere. In other words it's not a house of cards. Unless I'm missing something??

 

Is there any one vendor that sells all 4 expansion options? The SDRAM, I/O, USB, and RTC boards.. as a package deal or just for convenience?

 

Misteraddons sells pretty much everything you'd ever need to get setup.

 

That said, I was somewhat of an early adopter myself and have really enjoyed watching the community grow over time (much quicker lately!)

 

MiSTer is quite a fun project to be a part of, even if it's just on the side of testing out new cores and improvements as they come out. It's not what I'd call overly cryptic, but there is certainly a fairly high barrier to entry when compared to "plug and play" FPGA or RPi-based solutions that basically require no user configuration or involvement outside of initial installation.

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Which part do you find complex? I'd say MiSTer setup is close to the one of an Everdrive or other flashcart. To me it does seem easier than an RPi, but that may be subjective. 

 

Keatah, if you are concerned about hardware supply, the DE10 Nano is sold in quantities to university students (unrelated to MiSTer and probably in bigger volumes) and the other components are open hardware ie. anybody can download the schematics+BOM then solder their own (or ask a friend):

https://github.com/MiSTer-devel/Hardware_MiSTer

 

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My MiSTer showed up, and it's not exactly plug and play wrt the HW.

I bought an all-in-one IO+RAM+RTC+VGA+FAN board so it's literally only 2 things to plug together yet it's clunky as hell.

The rickety result is in dire need of some sort of case, we'll see what I'll get.

I couldn't care less for VGA out but the all-in-one board was decently priced so I didn't care, I know I'll have to chase a new version once they settle on the 64MB or 128MB solution for NeoGeo .... oh well, I'll cross that bridge once I come to that, no hurry and the all-in-one will get me started (buying the 3 boards separately was a hassle but would have allowed replacing the RAM only once they make up their mind, probably would not have needed the RTC and VGA but it is what it is)

 

But yeah ... kit-style project definitely.

If I'm lucky I may get to test it in a week or so when I have a little more time, and the energy to actually plug it in an Ethernet socket (I don't want to figure out which WiFi dongle works/doesn't work at this stage).

I do have the MakerSpot USB hub, can't remember if I have a USB keyboard laying around, plenty of mice instead, I've switched to a laptop years ago, but I ordered the RPi4 Desktop Kit with keyboard and mouse so one way or another I'll be set ;)

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22 minutes ago, SegaSnatcher said:

Looks like MiSTer passes the Tyson test.  Here's a video I took of myself beating Tyson.
 

 

What was your setup? Did you use the serial IO or was USB enough? And is it using VGA or the HDMI out?

 

In any case this is a nice achievement, well done!

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Just now, Newsdee said:

What was your setup? Did you use the serial IO or was USB enough? And is it using VGA or the HDMI out?

 

In any case this is a nice achievement, well done!

HDMI out into a Plasma Display with 28ms of lag and using a M30 2.4Ghz controller via USB.  

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I've got to ask again, how come now that there's a dedicated thread for MiSTer we do not see the participation of those so into "Analouge is evil, MiSTer for president" camp?

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I love BOTH: I have a Mister setup and a MegaSG (and a MIST). I will continue to support FPGA projects and look forward to announcements of the news of the handheld and whatever Analogue's "8" is. For MiSTer, I look forward to cd based cores.  Question: hardware-wise, how is the nano board when it comes to video?  Not that I think I'd use it for such, but would a VLC media player type of thing be possible?  If CD console cores are forthcoming, I assume FMV is possible, obviously. What is the ceiling of video possibilities? Before cd cores, would an earlier technology like Laserdisc be simpler to start with?

 

Imagine an arcade perfect Dragon's Lair/Daphne-like core in a cabinet without the need for clunky disc access... that might actually be BETTER than arcade perfect. So is a Laseractive or even earlier 1985 RDI Halcyon in theory possible in FPGA? Dare I even laugh to myself at the possible Action Max core? 

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